War & Peace (Season 2)
War & Peace (Season 2)
Podcast / Europe & Central Asia 18 minutes

War & Peace (Season 2)

In Season 2 of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope cover issues such as nuclear weapons proliferation, cybersecurity, as well as specific conflicts in Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and beyond. Episodes from other series of War & Peace can be found here: Season 1 and Season 3.

Episode 22: Defusing Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean

Tensions flared in the eastern Mediterranean in mid-2020 when Turkey sent seismic research ships into waters contested with Greece and the Republic of Cyprus. While neither Turkey nor Greece seeks war with the other, competition over sovereignty and natural resources is reviving long-running geopolitical rivalries.

To discuss the various interests at play in their maritime standoff and how actors such as the EU and U.S. can help push the parties toward reconciliation, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope are joined by Nigar Göksel, project director for Turkey. Together, they draw on key findings detailed in Crisis Group’s latest report on the issue – “Turkey-Greece: From Maritime Brinkmanship to Dialogue” – and assess whether recently restarted talks between President Erdogan and Prime Minister Mitsotakis signal a positive turn in strained relations and might lower the risks of regional conflict.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, explore Crisis Group’s analysis on our Eastern Mediterranean Rivalries page.

Episode 21: Understanding the Russian-origin Muslim Diaspora

Successive waves of Muslim-origin migrants have fled Russia since the 1990s. While some simply sought a better life, hundreds of thousands left due to conflict or persecution.  Jean-François Ratelle, professor at the University of Ottawa, joins Olga and Hugh for an in-depth look at the resulting diaspora across Western Europe, Ukraine and Turkey.

Together they unpack Crisis Group’s latest findings, from the various obstacles migrants face in transit and their increasingly cold reception in host countries to the way gender norms have evolved once settled. Jean-François explains that by oversimplifying the needs and experiences of such a diverse group, government policy has tended to alienate rather than support Muslims of Russian origin, to everyone’s detriment. These unique insights and ongoing research, he hopes, will help temper security concerns by informing a more nuanced approach to integrating these communities in their respective contexts. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, browse Crisis Group’s Special Coverage page for our developing series on the Russian-origin Muslim diaspora.

Episode 20: The Under-loved Logic of Nuclear-free Zones

In 2004, the UN Security Council recognised that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery constitutes a threat to international peace and security. While common discourse has generally normalised the existence and purpose of nuclear weapons, a growing movement within international relations is calling for a world without them. Is a new normal under construction?

María Antonieta Jáquez, counselor at the permanent mission of Mexico to the UN and member of the Mexican foreign service since 1994, tells Olga and Hugh that this is already the norm for most of the world. In fact, the shift against nuclear proliferation gained traction as early as the 1960s, underpinned by principles of international humanitarian law and embodied in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). While 116 countries have signed such treaties since then, the question remains: have nuclear weapons really deterred wars? Jáquez makes the case for global disarmament and shares what inspires her diplomatic efforts to bring about a new reality in a field often too preoccupied by theories of deterrence and power projection.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 19: Venezuela’s Multifaceted Crisis and Europe

Venezuela’s multifaceted crisis has no solution in sight: from the massive migration problem – the number of Venezuelan refugees surpasses the Syrian crisis this year – to widespread hunger, the need for a regime transition and a shortage of vaccines against COVID-19. What can the European Union (EU) do to push for a sustainable future in Venezuela?

In a special episode prepared in collaboration with the Open Society European Policy Institute, Olga and guest co-host Mariano de Alba talk to Venezuelan activist Roberto Patiño about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and Roberto’s social initiatives, which feed thousands of children daily and provide hot meals during the pandemic to health workers. They discuss what a possible transition would look like in Venezuela and the importance of negotiation. They also talk about what role the EU could play to this end and the recent agreement between the World Food Programme  – funded by the EU and U.S. – and Maduro’s regime. Roberto says Europe should take more political risks with respect to Venezuela and lead the multilateral game in Caracas.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information explore Crisis Group’s Venezuela page and read the report, Comunidad Venezuela: Una agenda de investigación y acción local.

Episode 18: Peacemaking in Cyberspace

What happens behind closed doors during peace talks? Adam Cooper, senior program manager at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and host of The Mediator’s Studio, talks to Olga and Hugh about the hidden world of peace diplomacy and how social media has changed it. 

Adam shares what he has learnt from talking to seasoned mediators on his podcast, the challenges they face behind-the-scenes, especially when online disinformation has to be factored into the process. They also discuss cybermediation as a response to the increased deployment of digital tools by conflict actors, the question of who is responsible for monitoring the dissemination of harmful content online and other negative – and positive – cyber trends on his radar.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

For more information make sure to listen to The Mediator's Studio podcast and to explore Crisis Group's Peace, Justice and Reconciliation & Technology and War pages. 

Episode 17: Has the Spread of Nuclear Weapons Added to Global Stability?

Maintaining the balance of power is considered essential to stability and peace. What happens when nuclear weapons enter the equation? Petr Topychkanov, senior researcher at the SIPRI Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Program, tells Olga and Hugh that nuclear proliferation in South Asia has lessened the intensity of traditional warfare fuelled by local geopolitics. Together they explore what his findings mean more broadly for doctrines of deterrence.

It’s not just new nuclear states that pose new challenges for conflict prevention. Petr weighs in on the question of how inclusive and transparent arms control discussions should be, given China is currently excluded from the U.S.-Russia strategic dialogue and the UK has opted for a nuclear policy of ambiguity. He also discusses how artificial intelligence, among other new technologies, is altering the nature of warfare and to what extent nuclear weapons encourage restraint in the face of these growing capabilities.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information:

Episode 16: Colonial Amnesia and Racial Justice in Europe

The Black Lives Matter protests that engulfed the U.S. last year sparked similar anti-racism demonstrations in London, Paris, Brussels and several other cities across Europe. The challenge now is how to channel this newfound momentum into meaningful conversations and concrete changes, both nationally and regionally. 

Dr. Liliane Umubyeyi, research coordinator at Avocats Sans Frontières, and Dr. Amah Edoh, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and African Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tell Olga and Hugh about a global conference they recently co-organised that brought together scholars, activists and policymakers from Africa, Europe and North America to explore how to do just this. They discuss why these grievances came to the fore amid a pandemic, the need for transnational spaces that allow for the continued exchange of ideas and best practices, the way some states use “colonial amnesia” as a political strategy, the intersections between race, gender and class and the challenges that arise from pursuing redress through the judicial apparatus.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.  

For more information, visit the event website here.

Episode 15: What’s the Point of Nuclear Weapons Today?

Nuclear weapons sometimes sound like a throwback to another era, but they don’t just remain on stand-by. Nuclear-armed nations are investing heavily in creating more sophisticated and diverse nuclear arsenals. 

After the end of the Cold War, NATO, like the U.S. and Russia, significantly reduced its reliance on nuclear weapons and nuclear policy took a back seat. Then came the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014 and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. Since then, there has been a renewed interest in nuclear capabilities and a focus on the alliance’s nuclear policies to make sure that NATO forces are a deterrent to Russia. 

Jessica Cox, Director of Nuclear Policy at NATO, explains to Olga and Hugh why nuclear weapons still matter to the alliance and to what extent nuclear powers like Russia pose a threat to NATO allies. They also talk about the latest nuclear technology, the alliance’s deterrence capability and why NATO does not support the nuclear ban treaty that entered into force in January. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

Episode 14: Europe’s Colonial Legacies

Indonesia was the first country to proclaim its independence after the Second World War, setting in motion a significant chapter of post-colonial history by doing so. In his latest book, Revolusi, Belgian cultural historian and prolific author David van Reybrouck examines the Dutch East Indies’ past and places it in a global context. A five-year project spanning over 200 interviews with living eyewitnesses, he tells Olga and Hugh why he undertook it, and how (spoiler alert: even the dating app Tinder helped him out).

In both his new book and his previous volume on Belgian colonial history, Congo: The Epic History of a People, David says his hybrid read-and-interview research technique allows him to challenge political myopia in former colonising countries and set the stage for a fuller reckoning of the way Europe has hidden the darkest pages of its colonial history.

They also discuss what David calls a new kind of evangelisation, in the form of exporting the Western model of elections-based democracy, and his case for a lottery-based system. Drawing on his book Against Elections and innovations already taking place in Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands, he explains what makes elections another way of empowering elites, why exporting the Western version of the ballot box elsewhere is wrong, and how an alternative model that returns policymaking to citizens might be a solution. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 13: Planning for Nuclear Armageddon

While the threat of imminent nuclear armageddon may not be at the forefront of the average person’s mind today, it was a real, globe-spanning fear not so long ago during the Cold War. Absent the treaties and confidence-building measures developed since to mitigate the risk of such an event, U.S. and Soviet civil defence then was totally consumed with the daunting task of planning for the worst.

So how does a state prepare for the event of a nuclear attack? How do you ensure continuity of government in a country laid waste? How conscious are ordinary citizens of this reality and how involved are they in preparedness efforts?

Olga and Hugh debate these all-important questions from the height of their salience to now with Edward Geist, policy researcher at the RAND Corporation and author of the book Armageddon Insurance: Civil Defense in the United States and Soviet Union, and Ivan Kalugin, Moscow-based researcher and Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) affiliate. Together they discuss how the two superpowers went about tackling them, from the survivability of essential infrastructure and public information campaigns to the logic of mutually assured destruction and the rumoured existence of automatic launching systems known as the ‘Dead Hand’.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 12: Police, Protests & Populism in Central Asia

Central Asia is no exception to the protests that have emerged with renewed vigour on a global scale, a phenomenon made more visible against the backdrop of COVID-19 restrictions. 

Although the grievances driving them are context-specific, deep socio-political divisions and populist leaders are recurring themes, says Dr Erica Marat. A professor at the U.S. National Defense University and a post-Soviet security expert, she joins Olga and Hugh to discuss what connections can be drawn between collective action and protest-policing dynamics spanning the U.S., Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. 

Central Asian regimes bear the legacy of the Soviet era, and yet even the most autocratic among them are in constant adaptation, borrowing tactics from around the world to survive. Protest movements are evolving in the same way. Erica shares her findings about these trends, explaining the rise of ‘uncivil’ society, who the so-called “Kyrgyz Trump” is, and why Kazakhstan is a repatriation model for ISIS-affiliated citizens. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more analysis, check out our Central Asia regional page.

Episode 11: Reviving Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia

Thirteen years after Kosovo broke away from Serbia to become de facto independent, political inertia continues to stall the largely European-driven dialogue process aimed at reaching an understanding between the two parties and thus securing lasting stability for the region. On the back of our recently published report, “Relaunching the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue”, Crisis Group’s Balkans expert Marko Prelec joins Olga and Hugh to examine why that is. 

Taking a step back from the state of talks today, Marko lays out the historical context for the current impasse, and what the obstacles have been to changing the uneasy status quo. Beyond leaving the door wide open for the dispute to escalate, Kosovo’s unresolved status has tainted domestic political discourse and continues to bar both it and Serbia from accessing the European Union and otherwise participating in the international community.

Failure to breathe new life into talks also comes at a human cost, he explains, having met people on both sides whose lives are curtailed by mutual non-recognition. Does the new year bear any signs that Pristina and Belgrade are willing to make the compromises necessary to resolve their dispute?

Tune in to find out!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, read our new report Relaunching the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue.

Episode 10: Turkey’s Trials and Errors

Ankara’s assertive foreign policy choices delight many at home. But they can puzzle and anger its counterparts as Turkey experiments with increasingly militarised postures in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, the South Caucasus and the ongoing wars in Libya and Syria.

Ambassador Selim Yenel, Turkish ambassador to the EU until 2017 and now president of the Istanbul-based think-tank Global Relations Forum, joins Olga and Hugh to help make sense of what is driving Ankara in a changing world. Together they dive into the making of a regional power, the costs of undercutting dialogue with hard-power moves, the imperative of undergoing reforms at home, and what can be done to revive Turkey’s EU accession process. 

Arguing that Turkey’s recent shifts have been more reactive than proactive, Ambassador Yenel urges all sides to cool down rhetoric and calls for a return to more empathetic diplomacy. Even if NATO member Ankara has made mistakes – for instance in the purchase of S-400 ground-to-air missiles from Russia – he says others have too, and thus Turkey deserves to be met halfway.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, explore Crisis Group’s Turkey page and visit the Global Relations Forum website.

Episode 9: Europe Has Much to Prove in 2021

With the international system in major flux as we turn the page on 2020, Ambassador Gérard Araud believes one main thing is clear: 2021 opens a new, more dangerous chapter.

A Crisis Group trustee who represented France on the world stage for over three decades, most recently as ambassador to the United States (2014-2019), Araud gives Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope a decidedly sceptical take on the state of power politics, describing destabilising international rivalry, leaderlessness and a descent toward the law of the jungle. 

Together they also touch on why Brexit has only just begun its destructive path, how the impact of COVID-19 is accelerating the surge in nationalism testing Western societies and how the interlocking crises in the Eastern Mediterranean reveal where the European Union’s strengths and weaknesses really lie. 

Ambassador Araud does highlight one hope: that the urgency of transnational risks, particularly on the question of climate change, could propel a multilateral coalescence around ways to address them. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, read Ambassador Gérard Araud’s weekly column in Le Point.

Episode 8: Personal Reflections on 2020, between Europe and the Middle East

“I think I should kill you”. 

So began one especially fraught encounter in Hugh Pope’s critically acclaimed memoir, Dining with Al Qaeda, now out in an updated edition. He joins Olga Oliker as co-host-turned-guest for this week’s episode to reflect on how his three decades of reporting in the Middle East remain relevant for Western readers grappling to understand the region today. 

Olga and Hugh then reflect on the year that was and how COVID-19 became a phenomenon that has both disrupted life as we knew it and accelerated broader geopolitical trends. While physical borders have been reinforced and personal horizons shrunk to the here and now, the unprecedented reality of lockdown in a digital era has also allowed for a reimagined sense of identity and community. 

What big questions remain to be unpacked on War & Peace in 2021?

Tune in to find out!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

You can learn more about Hugh's book, Dining with Al Qaeda, here and make sure to check out our Covid-19 Pandemic and Deadly Conflict page.

Episode 7: Twenty-first Century Threats

Sir John Sawers, former chief of the British secret service MI6 and Executive Chairman at Newbridge Advisory, joins Olga and Hugh for a dynamic conversation on the changing global balance of power and emerging threats that will shape multilateral diplomacy. 

Drawing on 40 years of international service, Sir John describes how Western interventionism has evolved since the early 1990s, the implications of a rising China and declining U.S. for the international system, what motivates and hinders Russia at home and abroad, as well as how medium-sized powers are exploiting these fluctuations along the way. 

He also outlines a major concern: how will advances in the virtual sphere increasingly impact the physical world?

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 6: The Future of NATO

The geopolitical landscape has transformed dramatically since NATO was established in 1949. As a transatlantic alliance that seeks to safeguard democratic values and the rule of law, how well has it adapted through the years and what should its priorities be going forward? 

Who better to dive into these questions with than Rose Gottemoeller? The former NATO Deputy Secretary-General (2016-2019) was the organisation’s most senior woman official to date. She was previously the chief U.S. negotiator on arms control, and is today a distinguished lecturer at Stanford University and research fellow at the Hoover Institution. She joins Olga and Hugh to share her thoughts on the challenges of rebuilding the transatlantic relationship, responding to emerging threats outside of NATO’s traditional mandate and preserving its core principles in an ever-changing world.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 5: Europe’s Impact Depends on Internal Strength, Not the New U.S. President

The prospect of a Biden administration brings new opportunities for European security and foreign policy, but many challenges remain. Joining Olga and Hugh to discuss the evolution of U.S.-Europe relations and its impact on the world is Nathalie Tocci, Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali and Special Adviser to EU High Representative Josep Borrell.

The EU is tethered in some ways to U.S. leadership, but not entirely, says Nathalie. Developing its internal strengths will be key to greater impact in the conflicts and crises unfolding within its sphere of influence. 

A steady decline in the American-centred liberal world order has meanwhile made way for competing visions of the values and principles that underpin global politics. Where does this leave European hopes that a Biden administration will strengthen multilateralism? 

Tune in to find out!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, explore Nathalie's monthly column for Politico here.

Episode 4: Why Gender Matters in the Fight Against Terrorism

2020 marks two decades since the formal integration of gender into the UN’s mandate of conflict prevention and resolution. According to Aleksandra Dier, Gender Coordinator at the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), the inclusion of gender-sensitive analysis has lagged far behind in the global effort to understand and fight terrorism. 

She joins Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope for a wide ranging conversation on the value of gender as a cross-cutting lens in the counter-terrorism field, touching on how extremist groups across the ideological spectrum exploit gender dynamics and norms in their recruitment strategies, the gendered impact of counter-terrorism measures and how well legislation at the national level is keeping up with these insights.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, see the UN Analytical Brief on the prosecution of ISIL-linked women here and explore Crisis Group’s Gender & Conflict page. 

Episode 3: Russian Digital Diplomacy

Hugh and Olga are joined this week by Oleg Shakirov, Senior Expert at the Center for Advanced Governance and Consultant at the Moscow-based PIR Center, for a discussion on how Russian foreign policy and diplomacy have evolved in the 21st century. 

Oleg describes Russia’s launch into the digital age over a decade ago, and the ways it has since harnessed these new platforms to project its desired self-image into the public sphere. By asserting its place in the virtual realms of real-time politics and competing narratives on disinformation, Russia has joined its Western counterparts in transforming the status quo of international relations. 

Has Moscow managed to tilt the balance of power in its favour?

Tune in to find out!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, see Oleg's research into Russian aid during the COVID-19 pandemic here.

Episode 2: Rethinking an End to Ukraine’s Costly War

Why have ceasefire agreements repeatedly fallen apart since the war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region erupted six years ago? And how has this political inertia shaped the lives of civilian populations divided by the line of separation? 

Drawing on the two latest instalments in our Peace in Ukraine series, Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Ukraine Katharine Quinn-Judge unpacks these questions with Olga and Hugh. Fighting between government troops and Russian-backed separatists persists at a slow simmer, says Katharine, a result of the failure to achieve a lasting ceasefire at the front line. European leaders have met with both sides over the years to broker peace, but agreements have faltered in the face of unwillingness on either side to compromise on their respective narratives of the broader conflict. 

A sense of urgency over securing a political solution has been lost with the advent of COVID-19, and it remains to be seen how long the current truce will hold. In the meantime, the dynamics of the war have altered the socio-economic landscape of frontier villages beyond recognition, a double-edged phenomenon, Katharine explains. Breaking the deadlock will require a fundamental rethinking of who stands to benefit from establishing zones of disengagement and a recentring of the humanitarian imperative in future negotiations.

The question of whether the Ukrainian government envisions the eventual reintegration of separatist-held areas will be ever more critical as the years go by. Tune in to find out more!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, see our reports: Peace in Ukraine (II): A New Approach to Disengagement and Peace in Ukraine (III): The Costs of War in Donbas.

Episode 1: How a Bad Brexit May Sour European Security Cooperation

As the end of the transitional period and negotiations for Britain to leave the EU draws near, a ‘no-deal’ or a very limited deal is increasingly likely. Even if a deal is reached, it will be far from a comprehensive framework on how to integrate the two trading systems and contentious issues are likely going to be kicked into next year. Future negotiations could spill over into important areas such as defence and security.

Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, co-Chair of Crisis Group's Board, joins Olga and Hugh for the first episode of a new season to discuss what both a ‘no-deal’ and a limited deal would mean for the future relationship between the UK and the EU, as well as their respective relationships with other actors such as the U.S., NATO and Russia. They also discuss Malloch-Brown’s work as chair for the Best for Britain campaign to keep Britain in Europe, what Brexit tells us about the state of global politics and what must change to better address the concerns of today.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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