There are a lot of experts that you may have heard on the news in the past few weeks. People who know a great deal about Hamas or Hezbollah or Iran or China or Russia—regional experts. There are also many subject matter experts who can tell us about cyber warfare or decolonization or, for example, the way that foreign governments have influenced higher education in America. All of those stories are important, but each one of those topics gives you only a slice of the whole story. What if you want to understand the whole thing?
That’s when you turn to Walter Russell Mead.
Mead, who is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, a professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College, and the author of many profound books, is able to connect what can seem like disparate dots and pull them together to show us the big picture. That’s especially critical right now. Because despite what you read in the headlines, this isn’t just a war between a terrorist group called Hamas and a small Jewish country called Israel. This is the bleeding edge of something much more widespread that has the potential to touch the lives of every American.
Right after we recorded this conversation with Walter, Yemen declared war on Israel—with Houthi rebels firing missiles at the city of Eilat—and, in a major provocation from China, Israel was removed from Baidu Maps, China’s digital maps, late on Monday night. Though I didn’t get to talk to Walter about these discrete developments, in many ways they confirm exactly what Walter expresses in this conversation: that this war isn’t just a regional conflict. That it is representative of a world, as he puts it, “spinning out of control.”
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