cover art for Rational Security: The “Up in Flames” Edition

The Lawfare Podcast

Rational Security: The “Up in Flames” Edition

This week, Quinta and Scott were joined by Lawfare Contributing Editor and Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Eric Ciaramella to talk over the week’s big national security news, including:

  • “Prime Deliverables, in Two Days or Less.” The Biden administration and its European allies coughed up a number of big wins for Ukraine at a meeting of the G7 and subsequent Ukraine peace summit this past week, ranging from a new U.S.-Ukraine security agreement to a commitment to provide $50 billion in assistance derived from frozen Russian assets. But are these measures game-changers—especially with political changes in both Europe and the United States on the horizon?
  • “Trying to F Us.” Policy advisors to former President Trump reportedly have some big plans for government employees if he is elected to a second stint in the White House—including the return of Schedule F, an reorganization of the civil service that would have gutted job protections and made it easier to replace civil servants with partisan loyalists. How big a problem are these plans? And how feasible are they really?
  • “Revenge of the Nerds.” A little known intelligence agency within the State Department—the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, or INR—has gotten some great press of late, celebrating several notable analytic victories it’s secured, often in dissent from the rest of the intelligence community. Is there some secret to INR’s success? Or is it overblown?

For object lessons, Quinta shared more important NJ political corruption news. Scott awarded his song of the summer to “Right Back to It,” the single off Waxahatchee’s phenomenal “Tiger’s Blood.” And Eric recommended “Sovietistan,” a travelogue about Central Asia by Norwegian anthropologist Erika Fatland.

To receive ad-free podcasts, become a Lawfare Material Supporter at You can also support Lawfare by making a one-time donation at

More episodes

View all episodes

  • Lawfare Daily: Trump Trials and Tribulations Weekly Round-up (July 18, 2024)

    This episode of “Trump's Trials and Tribulations,” was recorded on July 18 in front of a live audience on YouTube and Zoom.Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes spoke to Lawfare Legal Correspondent and Legal Fellow Anna Bower and Lawfare Senior Editor Roger Parloff about Judge Cannon’s order dismissing the classified documents case against Trump, Trump’s motion to vacate the New York conviction, and took audience questions from Lawfare material supporters.
  • Lawfare Daily: Rebecca Crootof on AI, DARPA, and the ELSI Framework

    Rebecca Crootof, Professor of Law at the University of Richmond School of Law and the inaugural ELSI Visiting Scholar at DARPA, joins Kevin Frazier, a Tarbell Fellow at Lawfare, to discuss the weaponization of emerging technologies and her role as the inaugural ELSI Visiting Scholar at DARPA. This conversation explores the possibility of an AI arms race, the value of multidisciplinarity within research institutions, and means to establish guardrails around novel uses of technology.To receive ad-free podcasts, become a Lawfare Material Supporter at You can also support Lawfare by making a one-time donation at
  • Rational Security: The “Million Dollar Babydog” Edition

    This week Alan, Quinta, and Scott were joined by Lawfare Executive Editor Natalie Orpett to talk through one of the most eventful weeks in national security news in recent history, including:“Too Close for Comfort.” Former President Trump narrowly avoided an assassination attempt this past weekend that ultimately left one rally-goer dead and two others critically wounded. While Trump and President Biden both made calls for national unity, several of Trump’s close allies were quick to blame the Biden administration’s rhetoric painting Trump as a threat to democracy. What will this historic event mean for the 2024 election—and for the rise in political violence and related rhetoric that’s preceded it?“Cannon Fodder.” After months of glacial judicial proceedings, federal District Court Judge Aileen Cannon finally did what many of her critics had long expected and dismissed the special counsel’s criminal case against former President Trump, based in large part on an aggressive reading of the Appointments Clause and narrow reading of the legislation allowing for the special counsel’s appointment. How credible is her holding? And what will it mean for the future of the trial?“Hillbilly Pedigree.” Former President Trump opened the Republican Party’s national convention this week by announcing his new pick for Vice President: J.D. Vance, the first-term senator from Ohio, author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” and a one-time critic of Trump who has since become one of his most aggressive ideological allies, going even further than Trump on issues ranging from economic populism to opposition to U.S. support for Ukraine. What does his nomination mean for the race, for the Republican Party, and for the future of national security policy? For object lessons, Alan shared how he rediscovered his love of video games. Quinta brought us another update from the Garden State, regarding the conviction of its senior senator. Scott shared a great story from political history, about the origins of the weird relationship between Richard Nixon and NBA star Wilt Chamberlain. And Natalie endorsed her latest TV indulgence: the HBO show Hacks.Promotion: Use code RATIONALSECURITY at the link here to get an exclusive 60% off an annual Incogni plan:
  • Lawfare Daily: Michael Beckley and Arne Westad on the U.S.-China Relationship

    On today’s episode, Matt Gluck, Research Fellow at Lawfare, spoke with Michael Beckley, Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts, and Arne Westad, the Elihu Professor of History at Yale.They discussed Beckley’s and Westad’s articles in Foreign Affairs on the best path forward for the U.S.-China strategic relationship—in the economic and military contexts. Beckley argues that in the short term, the U.S. should focus on winning its security competition with China, rather than significant engagement, to prevent conflict. Westad compares the current moment to the period preceding World War I. He cautions that the U.S. and China should maintain strategic communication and avoid an overly narrow focus on competition to stave off large-scale conflict.They broke down the authors’ arguments and where they agree and disagree. Does U.S. engagement lower the temperature in the relationship? Will entrenched economic interests move the countries closer to conflict? How can the U.S. credibly deter China from invading Taiwan without provoking Beijing?To receive ad-free podcasts, become a Lawfare Material Supporter at You can also support Lawfare by making a one-time donation at
  • Lawfare Daily: The Limits of Cyber Subversion, with Lennart Maschmeyer

    Eugenia Lostri, Lawfare's Fellow in Technology Policy and Law, talks with with Lennart Maschmeyer, Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich, about his new book, “Subversion: From Covert Operations to Cyber Conflict.” The book explores how subversion works and what its strategic value is, and how technological change alters its reach and quality. They talked about the promise of subversion as an instrument of power, the tradeoffs required for covert operations, and how current doctrine should consider cyber capabilities.To receive ad-free podcasts, become a Lawfare Material Supporter at You can also support Lawfare by making a one-time donation at
  • Chatter: Politics and National Security in the Star Wars Universe, with Chris Kempshall

    The Star Wars universe gets a lot of attention for its lightsabers, space battles, and witty droids. But over the decades, a rich lore has developed around its history and politics. Dr. Chris Kempshall researches and writes at the intersection of real-world history, with a focus on the First World War, and the Star Wars universe. His books include The History and Politics of Star Wars, which analyzes various aspects of Star Wars compared to our world, and Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of the Galactic Empire, an examination of the Empire from the perspective of an in-universe historian. Chris joined David Priess to discuss World War I-themed video games, how Star Wars creator George Lucas used history, how to get one's hands around the ever-expanded lore of Star Wars, why the movie sequels differed from published books about the aftermath of the Empire's fall, the structure and operations of the Empire, the problematic politics of the Republic, the treatment of non-human species and droids in Star Wars canonical works, controversy over the redemption of Anakin Skywalker, fan theories about the extent of Emperor Palpatine's manipulation of events and about the evidence that Jar Jar Binks was a Sith, and much more.Works mentioned in this episode:The Star Wars canon, across all mediaWorks in Star Wars Legends (formerly the Star Wars Expanded Universe)The Chatter episode National Security Insights from Board Games, with Volko RuhnkeThe book British, French and American Relations on the Western Front, 1914-1918 by Chris KempshallThe book The First World War in Computer Games by Chris KempshallThe book The History and Politics of Star Wars by Chris KempshallThe book Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of the Galactic Empire by Chris KempshallThe Sharpe Series of books by Bernard CornwellChatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.See for privacy and opt-out information.
  • Lawfare Daily: Judge Cannon Dismisses Classified Documents Case Against Trump

    On July 15, Judge Cannon granted former President Trump’s motion to dismiss the indictment brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith for the alleged mishandling of classified documents. She found that Smith was appointed as a special counsel in violation of the Appointments Clause of the Constitution.In a live podcast recording, Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes talked to Lawfare Executive Editor Natalie Orpett, Legal Fellow and Courts Correspondent Anna Bower, Senior Editors Alan Rozenshtein and Quinta Jurecic, and Columbia Law professor Michel Paradis about Judge Cannon's decision, what Special Counsel Jack Smith may do next, how the Eleventh Circuit may rule on an appeal, how Justice Thomas’s immunity concurrence plays a role, and more.To receive ad-free podcasts, become a Lawfare Material Supporter at You can also support Lawfare by making a one-time donation at
  • Lawfare Daily: DHS Assistant Secretary Mary Ellen Callahan on AI Threats

    Mary Ellen Callahan, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary, joins Kevin Frazier, a Tarbell Fellow at Lawfare, to discuss the DHS’s recently released report on the potential of AI to lead to the production of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) threats. Assistant Secretary Callahan shares the origins of the report, its key findings, and DHS’s next steps. This conversation also explores pre-existing enforcement gaps in biological and chemical regulations and ongoing efforts to bolster AI expertise in the federal government. The DHS report is available here. More information on the AI Corps is available here.To receive ad-free podcasts, become a Lawfare Material Supporter at You can also support Lawfare by making a one-time donation at
  • Lawfare Archive: An Address by NATO's Secretary General

    From March 22, 2014: On March 19, the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) hosted NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen for a Statesman’s Forum address on the importance of the transatlantic alliance and how the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is evolving to address new common security challenges. As the crisis in Ukraine shows that security in the Euro-Atlantic area cannot be taken for granted, the secretary-general discussed NATO’s essential role in an unpredictable world. He outlined the agenda for the September NATO summit in Wales as a critical opportunity to ensure that the alliance has the military capabilities necessary to deal with the threats it now faces, to consider how NATO members can better share the collective burden of defense and to engage constructively with partners around the world.Anders Fogh Rasmussen took office as North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 12th secretary-general in August 2009. Previously, he served in numerous positions in the Danish government and opposition throughout his political career, including as prime minister of Denmark from November 2001 to April 2009.Brookings Senior Fellow and CUSE Director Fiona Hill provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.To receive ad-free podcasts, become a Lawfare Material Supporter at You can also support Lawfare by making a one-time donation at