« The Weeds

The blob is back

2020-12-08

Alex Ward joins Dara and Matt to analyze the Biden national security team.

Resources:

"The revenge of the blob" by Alex Ward, Vox

Why Nations Fall

White paper

Hosts:

Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Slowboring.com

Dara Lind (@DLind), Immigration Reporter, ProPublica

Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), Staff Writer, International Security and Defense, Vox

The Weeds is a Vox Media Podcast Network production

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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hello welcomes another episode of the reads on the box media podcast network? I met with place yes here with Republic as Dara Lindh and boxes own Alex Ward, who is joining us to talk about the by national, secure the team as it is emerging late breaking. We have, I guess, a defence secretary Peck, as of last night and Biden started with the Secretary of state. Security adviser, you an ambassador, I'm so you know he's he's, put an emphasis, unkind of rolling this out and Alex you. You had a kind of take on this that relates to an idea that is called the blob, and so I think a good place to start is like
What is the blog? What is that a very bad movie, but in dc- and I should say that there be a piece on us that comes out before this episode, so you can check it out either way. The blob was a name that Ben Roads is a very prominent Obama. Foreign policy- gave gave to the foreign policy in DC, his basic argument was the US leaders, leaders on centrist Democrats and Republicans effectively followed the same grand strategy since nineteen forty five after World war, two in which the United, was a free trade and promoting human rights and democracy and us, military in all this stuff in, of course, made model along the way, multiple caveats to that, and it should also at the blob includes the plethora of experts and whoever their think tanks and even foreign officials who tried invalid The way you have more policies run and his, your claim was there like these? eyes are leading us to ruin and that Obama was trying to change the way foreign policy was
doc did, in fact, Obama saw him if a bomb and his team- Saddam's authors, insurgents against this, so called blob for the anti expert professional class, and then Trump basically ran on anti expertise in all aspects x, and so that was anti blog, and I guess my sort of take here is that after roughly ten years of having presidents stiff arm this, this foreign policy elite establishment and mine is welcome them back with open arms into his inner circle. Tony blanket long term. Adviser secretary of State Jake's elevate now so long term, adviser and or Hillary Clinton, protege, national security adviser, Lloyd, Austin Secretary. Former four star general and then we go. We go on and on and on. National intelligence will oversee All seventeen intelligence agencies helped redact the Senate intelligence Torture Report and was a big report of Jon Warfare, so it's almost there last shot in a sense to show that we are not the
ah were the right stewards, american foreign policy. Despite all this criticism and there's always a lot push back against that among progresses, particularly, but so I want sharp sharpen roses blob point of little because he was a little weird because part of what made his critique of the blob strain. Is that the blob ran through the Obama administration. Right, like roads was expressing not a contrast between the Obama team and its opponents, but a contrast between himself personally and his allies like like, Dennis Mcdonna and I think he would want you to believe Barack Obama himself and other people who served in the Obama administration. So it's it's a fine great distinction Tony in April Haines. These people you're, referring to they had high level roles under under Obama,
The the idea was that Obama had sort of he had opposed the Iraq war right, and that was an important reason that he rose to pray. In its original Eddie, and there was a smallish group of people rallied to Obama Standard early right, and then there was this much bigger group that sort of wound up populating administration and there was always some tension between the, like gee up bomb on people and the sort of broader democratic party like necessary apparatus, Yes, indeed particularly disagreed about a rank. Then, lot of raw just critique and Obama's critique by the end of the national security think tank world.
Is that they were operating on behalf of foreign governments. Essentially, I think I think roads referred to Massachusetts Avenue as Arab occupied territory? point, which is a mean spirited way of putting it, but not untrue, that Gulf monarchies, part of their foreign policy strategy, was to subsidize foreign policy work in the United States, something I found hosting the weeds, awhile it was like I was like I want to get some experts on Central America and the Show- and I like, went to the main think tank websites and make their work. Danny I mean, I want to say there like a literally isn't any such already exists. But it is just a big difference between the net or of people doing Middle EAST stuff and people do. Latin America staff has to do with like what there's funding for. Obviously the United States is is much much closer
to El Salvador than to the United Arab Emirates much more alike want interest in in the Persian Gulf. Because that's what there's finance support for and now we're looking at. The sort of collapse of that strain of Obama administration. Thinking in favour of what was just like the other half of the administration ray. I mean what makes this a little tricky and lake You know the the Central America versus the Middle EAST thing is particularly, I think illustrative here is like, as Alex said initially were when we're talking about the blob we're talking about both people who are responsible for making? U S, foreign policy and the ideas that are guiding? U S, foreign policy and, like obviously, is especially
we're talking about foreign policy personnel? You have to root those ideas through people you don't just get to like come into office and say this is instead of Creating a secretary of state. You like nominated grand strategy, and then everybody who you appoint has to follow that to the tea bade. In addition to the argument of here, the peep here is the money that is going into making foreign policy in DC and the people who are on the receiving end of that. There is also this kind of like nineteen forty five grand strategy, You know this deep: the idea that these people are promoting have such a strangle, hold on what acceptable price It is odd that, like, of course, you're going to be spending more effort on the Middle EAST, Non Central America on a risk Lord or like, eaten in twilight struggle. The Middle EAST is a much more important region of the world in central and South America are like this idea of what is important and what the big bad. What what the
regional battle grounds are and who the powers power, who the relevant stakeholders are in. Battlegrounds is something that you can under. You can see a world where that's a little bit more responsive to like post one thousand nine hundred and ninety one changes. Then the then the foreign policy consensus head, has grown to understand, but lake. The price with routing ideas through people? Is you can't really tell if the selection is happening, because the Biden Incoming Administration wants to promote a certain idea of America's role in the world or whether it's happening, because these are the individual people that they trust in any given circumstance? And that is something that we've seen a little bit of You know the way in which these cabinets elections are happening with a lot of lobbying and, in their defence case, against the presumptive separated
defence Pick Michel, Flournoy, and now this election of somebody who like was of Lloyd Austin, who wasn't really on the who wasn't seen as a contender for the spot spot on election day does make. It seem a little bit What's happening is in fact the selection of particular people driven by commitments. That Biden has to various kinds Twenty cent his party there was a lot of progressive argument against Flournoy because of her work as a consultant and the inner clients that she had there and partly to the commitment that
and dividend campaign made to having the most diverse cabinet in history, which, as we've seen in the weeks after the election, appears to be intention with the kind of Natural Biden World picks who would have by default, been a lot of white people, and now there appears to be a little post facto scrambling to make that promise a reality. Well, let's start at the State Department, because I think that's where that really comes together, because Blink Tut Tut Tut began can be sector state. He was a deputy secretary of state right at the end of your bombing restriction, but he got to be deputy secretary of state by being like like a job, I got right. Like date, they have a very like so who, who is he that what's the blanket story, so Tony Blair has been with abide in really since two thousand to perhaps earlier. But anyway he was staff director on the Senate Form Relations Committee. When Biden was the chair by
comes in to the White House. He is a national security, to buy it in also becomes an adviser, two Obama, and then, in that second term, heads over the state Department to be the deputy secretary state, where he learns a lot more about the building that number to the State Department is really more like an internal role. Nazi still has a very big external is, is the state department after all, but that person is of like, like the manager of the building and so learned a lot about it. It's internal look lucky isn't certain terms. A who use ie is long seen on this world. Guy he grew up in Paris for little bed, and your he's kind of a centrist person, not very ideological s, interests tend to not be for what worries some people- and I am saying this interesting facetiously Jesse Darras Face yet thank you at any time, testing is extremely visual. Medium refuses. Hence it s this
be it the worry with with blinkin and is like you, and by, and have a pretty big mine Maldon. So there's two concerns one is that don't belong to push back to this or general options and ideas, they might be a lot of group think, and this will come up again, as we mention other people that in the cabinet. And then the other worry is actually like violent blank. Really diverge on only one area, and that is Intervention Biden, is more on the strain side in general, although he kind of goes with the flow with the democratic foreign policy views of the day today, it is more restraining and so he's more restraining, but he show a lot of those inclinations bring about administration whereas blinkin, for example, was for intervention in Libya and he was for intervention in Syria and today blinking saying we should have done more in the air. We actually failed. We could have gone and all sooner we could have bit more to help the civilian situation and part of that is
No he's gotta familial history with the Holocaust, and he from what people say about em they he is always thinking about. You know these human, facts of wars and an end to the atrocities that happen and so ass things to happen throughout the world? He has least. That lends, in his mind, does not mean dominates how it views the world, but it is part of him, and so this is the concern, but why, when it suited to an extent like put a pen in blankets, substantive views, and just note that is set up to potentially be one of the most influential secretaries of state that we ve had a long time. Because often would you get at Secretary of state is something like the Hillary Clinton or Colin Powell. Role with a person is selected because it's a prestige, cabinet job, and you start if I'd want that persons.
On on your team. But then that means not unnecessarily somebody who's, influential to you personally or to who external stakeholders see as collecting your views, and so in Lincoln you have a situation where the Secretary of State will be genuinely a close advisor to Joe by Somebody who knows by very well and who Biden for decades has like talk to about foreign policy, use, but then also because he was deputy secretary of State- is much more experience with the state department as an institution Then carry or MIKE Pompeo or you know any of our recent secretaries of state. So. You should have see why he makes a compelling choice right, like you are Joe Biden- and you like have known Tony blink in and like
For a long time. You have the opportunity to put a well qualified person whose also like a body of yours, into this prestige job. Right there had been a lot of discussion. I was talking to a source and the transition before election and she does not farm policy person at all. But you saying to me: look binds, gonna want to give the job to time blanket we're gonna walk him through how, if it Susan Rise, then everything is good, but if it goes to Tony Then there were all these terrible, downstream consequences as he tries to make diversity stuff work.
Then it wound up being the case. I think the election outcome just meant that rice would have been UN confirmable so that obviously tilts the balance, but so much of what we seeing elsewhere elsewhere in the cabinet flows from the from the fact that they of penciled in an in an african american woman for the most prestigious job in the cabinet. Wound up going to a white man which really changes the math and everything else, because rice and then JANET Yelena Treasury and Michel for noise defence. That would have been like the most diverse cabinet ever, whereas Blinkem Yellin Foreign, I would be in all white cabinet right and it's just the switch of one person, but that sort of pushes pushes down and is clearly one of the primary reasons that that boy still got into contention at defence. I mean
he's a four star general. He, you know a good reputation, but he was not like on the agenda prior to the election, but there came to be a premium on finding african american candidates for different sort of jobs, and that created the was. There was a lot of criticism. People were off thrilled with the idea of Michel for Norway, a defence, but she had air of inevitability about her, that sort of went away. So, who is she and who is Austin so Michel, Flournoy long time. Defensive All you know she was the number three must have more person at the Pentagon under Obama to the policy planner Yonder sector defence policy. The person who is really in charge of making sure the department in the military had the right resources and He is in place as they went about doing, thing around the world, then she left she found a think tank which not he's also founded safe.
It also founded a think tank. All the centre for an american security, which is pretty establishment, left, leaning, necessarily think tank, so I can group called West Exec advisers which, by the way, cofounder that group Tony Blinkin Secretary of state and worth the car and base that they're trying to reveal at the moment. The concerns with her outside of the contracting and all that she was a decent proponent of the word Afghanistan, in the surge in that rank, a lotta, progressives, HAWK issue and I'm really singing hawkish on China felt that the US did need to sort of confront the chinese threat, but do so with technology. Was purity and all the other issues and she was pretty conventional and and there is a concern that she was going to be more interventionist on other issues, Lloyd, asked in the thing
we know about him, as you know, an inspiration to a lot of no black, not commissioner troops units of you of roughly, like roughly fifty percent little bit last for roughly fifty percent. Of those that are enlisted are people of color and the others. But it's not the case in the offing core, and so the fact that he went to West point nineteen. Seventy one is the only one to rise of four stars in from that class and It is a black man is a pretty inspiration story then became the first like man to also lead your command, where most of our wars are fought in. His sword is seen as the most prestigious military organisation, however The knock on him is that he's not we will have many opinions on things that in fact, is kind of a pushover, MIKE when looking for- and I was talking people last night- you know that for water is use, one of the things that he believes, and they all point me like this one interview that he sort of given he's very
Camera is known as the invisible generally just does not like talking about his thoughts or being in front a brass, which is just not exaggerate. If your sect f and like you very conventional views in the sense of like oh yeah, China and Russia, a threat and whatever, and he mostly believes that in the Middle EAST you know ISIS is bad and we got to have the politics of a rock right to make. ISIS, two point doesn't come back but sort of the main grace. I should to finish on him. And, I think, we're the main distinguishing factor before noise. Is that the belief in this the main theory floor, I would have been an activist for her views and Austin won't be asked in has many I'm like said, I want more troops in Iraq and the need to amend the Obama administration. They found restrictions that no one he's like ok will withdraw its troops. As Biden remembers being was watching Obama get boxing
the Pentagon when he didn't want to send a lot of troops, Afghanistan, so many additives doing so. I think this is a super important point, because I have been needling political science twitter for the past twelve hours about there's. This theoretical concern that it's bad to have a recently retired general as Secretary Defence and the official reason that most of the sceptics give is that I don't want a secretary of defense who, in effect colludes with top military brass to box the president in that's totally reasonable thing to worry about in life if it happens, but I think it's important to know that when you look at specific individual right, like the actual idea here, is that Austin,
the big, both Austin, an foreign I are known to buy, like he's not a stranger to this world order either of these people and the assessment is that in the real world Austin is more likely to take orders from the White House than formerly aren't. You can also see. That is a downside, but it means just like well what the actual policy debate is here is the opposite of the kind of like completely abstract version of shore. I am happy that there are going from our budget what I do want to come back to that civilian control. Think, as I do think you can have both. You can believe both those that no I'd You should totally talk about this. I will thank that appears to be a cause. I mean that a lot of the question here is when is selection of cabinet appointees about external facing concerns, and when is it about the voices in the room? So yeah look,
I think you can believe that asked in his more malleable than Flournoy thy thing, and I think, that's part, that's like case a for his selection on the civilian bit whether or not you agree with it. There is a genuine case for it, so, first of all, based on a law right, We can't have civilian control. Sorry, we can't have someone who retired from the military in first it was within ten years now, it's seven years in charge, it's only been waved twice and they're supposed to be an exceptional cases like marshal and then made the fact that the last waiver was four years ago cause a bit the problem, but here's or that the main reasons that at least you know when I pull civilian Terry leaders near they tell me again, take it or leave it. But first is that having someone who was recently in uniform effectively, we in civilian control, ripening Congress created the Secretary s position, to have civilian oversight and to have the chairman of joint you to staff the top military advisor to provide military advice that is sort of a clear, distinct
and if you put someone who was recently in uniform at top that some along those lines to being afore our general is in and of itself somewhat political right. You don't get there without having a bit of political ability, but it is still different than being a civilian politician and learning the policymaking skills that are required for that job. Being a secretary of defense is really about like values of policy choices and a lot of research. Haven't really dealt with that throughout their decades on career, also parochial biases and the closeness with serving with officers right and in a time like this, when such divisions between the civilian military world, particularly in the Pentagon. No one wants it to look like you know the person at the top might side of one side. Other and the last one is, is polarization right. The military's was to be a political completely. No one wants it. Look like the: U S, military on one side or another, and when you have, for example, like even at that arc where there was tons of images of like troops, support us and whatever there's this
You are like out. Another is on our side, her or not, and of course, people, the military have their own political views. That is very clear. Try to skew and when, when I can, but in the grand scheme, you try not to make that happen. So again, you can buy it or not, but that's the do. I find a decent, persuasive argument for why this kind of nomination is is not sound. I think the last point right on the participation of military is by far the most sways of wine. What's interesting to me about that. Is that the thing that really did, though, to me, was not trump making made secretary of defense but the elevation of other generals to other situations, like John Kelly, wound up not succeeding really as chief of staff, but it was like putting a former general in at Homeland Security, which was then at the centre of so many political
Controversies and then him becoming chief of staff ride like that. You know what really giraffe like military stuff into the heart of party politics, complete with like they were. These weird, like Kelly, was mad at Obama because of like something that happened at some dinner rate but dared you're. What was that about? I genuinely do not even remember this. I didn't like it was personal. You no, but I also think that having- and this is something that we kind of saw- in some of the contemporaneous postmortem rooms of the trunk administration, as it was developing that, like her a critical mass of former generals in the top levels of the trumpet ministration lead to them, trying to create their own kind of counter power base, which was seen as the adults
the room because that's how they wanted to represent themselves and also because in a cabinet full of outsiders, they were actually less outsider you to the political process than some of the other people, but was also characterized by a certain contempt for civilian national politics. And that's what really struck me from the Kelly ERA, is his ability to turn his his military career into the idea that any criticism he made of an elected politician was valid because it was coming for a place of great sacrifice and like he shouldn't, have to deal with this crap, and that, I think, is the realm concern about sieve mill stuff in an environment where nobody else knows the playing field that not at all the concern here, because you have, as I was saying earlier-
secretary of state, who knows foggy bottom super well, who's like who knows how to work that side of the machinery. You have a bunch of people who have already been in the federal policy making process, and you know how to pull the levers and converse I think there's a strong argument that, if you're already a media shy person and you're being put into a position that you know is is being scrutinised for not opt for you're, not trying to assert yourself, as a representative of the military that that is likely to make Austin Ale. ES assertive secretary of defence than he I've been on the margin because he's concerned about the civilian military stuff and that kind of brings us back to the idea of like what is the purpose of selecting Lloyd Austin? Is it a question of external facing diversity, or is it the kind of external ideological pressure pressure that existed on noise?
Didn't exist for Austin, or is it the idea that team Biden has a it has a vision in mind and what doesn't particularly want other people with strong independent views of how the world should work like the pattern that we're seeing from that stretches back to the veep stakes that includes the the kind of Flournoy like pre modems, and that it will also seem to a lesser extent interior, where it seems like the Biden. Administration is less enthusiastic about Deb Holly she's been getting a lot of grassroots enthusiasm, but does like the idea. The idea of a first native secretary of the Interior so they're, trying to pivot that in future yes M from her, is a particular candidate. To like the general idea. Is that we're seeing a pattern of various an obvious is an obvious name being floated for a position name gets criticized
by Anonymous Biden, world sources, other people get put forward, who were not previously in the conversation and who may not check the like who may not have via mashed obvious qualifications- and you know in the Harris example that end end up working in the no example it did, and it does strike is relevant that these are in all three cases, women who are being undermined by the by anonymous sources. You know who appear to long time, Biden, World AIDS. I think with that, let's take a break and then what's pivot closer to the White House. If you're, a gig worker or self employed. There's some good news about PPP loans. You might want to consider millions of Sir employed workers may qualify for up to fifty thousand dollars in one hundred percent forgivable loans? You might be one of those millions as the leader ppp loans. Womply can help you find out. They've helped over three hundred thousand in small businesses across Amerika get a ppp loan funds are limited
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org, you know, I think, part of what dare is saying there right is to an unusual extent. Biden is stalking a cabinet with, like people bid nose and people Biden has worked with closely, which I think you know going back to what Alex that like yes, this is the first time in ten years we ve had a non insurgent foreign policy nomination team, but is also the first time in ten years that we ve had an incoming president, who actually has spent enough time in Washington to have a critical mass of people he's been working. Well, maybe you could accept. There's like three thousand political appointments in the executive branch which, like one Obama, had to fill them you know was like ok, that's going to be like a lot of people he's never but but Biden in fear He could stop the government with like people. He knows quite well. I have weird criticism: that's getting fluted anonymously in some of the DC press, like people who were on the Biden campaign
for a long time who are mad that people face. He is less early lake adopters the campaign are getting these nominations before them and like in no cases this someone for whom, by and had a crappy relationship. Previously, it's just a question of: do you earn loyalty points for having into the campaign early, as opposed to being somebody who is who has been in the democratic policy apparatus. Well, so let's talk about it. I guess a typical arrangement is that the national security adviser is like somebody who is is close to the to the president. I think there was a lot of early thinking that the blinkered would be national security. Wiser I've been said, it's gonna be Jake Sullivan, hoo, hoo, hoo hoo is jigsaw than he is sort of broken out of the national security world over the past few years, But now is going going back to his roots. Yeah
Jake, a sort of this you know Minnesota, wonder kinda. In many people's, my high rise, the relatively young guidance forties, was posse plain directorate. The state depart Men was an adviser to bind in the White House. As a major player in Hillary Clinton, major by We greens campaign on foreign policy and the sort of scene is like the next generation or an effect sort of the bridge between this democratic on a foreign policy makers and or the next squad coming through. Bu. It didn't seem like he was going to get national security advisor for the reason that Lincoln was going to get the job and then on top of that Sullivan roughly for the past four years years has been focusing alot more, not not completely, but a lot more on domestic issues. In the foreign policy world. He has been doing a lot. Of work on well. How could we actually but diplomacy in the Middle EAST? How could we still can IRAN, but in less antagonistic way, in the? U S make foreign policy decisions with a middle class added thinking, but the middle class at its centre
you can roll eyes that, if you'd like to know some people do, but what kind people I've talked to you about Jake. Is that he's very you know the kind of guy I talked to him on occasion to Kind Guy smart guy, respected by a lot of people, elders and younger and what's interesting, him is that people especially progressive see him someone who is at least sympathetic to their cause right while binds team if you dont want except return of the blob, maybe except a team of friends- Sullivan definitely among the friends he's in that friend, the Biden Friend Zone Hike has but he's someone who's at least willing to extend a hand outward. Our left word is particularly and did seem to also learn a lesson from the Trump here But there is concerned with that. So when you speak in that General DC foreign policy elite of like liberal international order and deterrence and reassurance and
your credibility and all these of nebulous terms that they that they throw out here. And to go well, look like okay, so we make ex decision. But what does that mean for people in Colorado? Was I mean for people when I awoke and when we will have its free greater, whether its of a military purchase. So the fact that help Merci, from the White House, you know, d in all of the National Curdy apparatus is actually incurred, to a lot of people, but as we noted earlier, while There's a lot of inflows, of course, literally being invited here every day. The person who probably one of the most influences the guide soggy bottom, it wait instruments. It did this a little bit of an inversion of that the patter that that has existed in some recent presidencies. So. Women's clears interesting. I mean he, he worked Fur Clinton at the State Department, I'm starting as he's pretty young guy, so he was very young back then- and I didn't know him at all- I never spoke to him directly
those twenty years and then he continued to work in farm policy under Obama. I didn't he was the policy director of Clinton's campaign in twenty sixteen, I just bought a system which is an unusual trajectory right normally in a campaign farm policy stuff foreign policy is never that important to president campaign. How dare you you know how to Harry now, so you don't normally no policy director can be an expert in everything, but it's like it's very eccentric to be with somebody in a career path that creates a certain amount of fungibility among areas of domestic policy, so that somebody who has the requisite level of experience in domestic policy knows a lot of the issues Presidential campaign will be taking on, whereas that is not the case with foreign policy necessarily and then he wound up the Clinton lost, and so he
you know, I don't know like a lot of people who are involved in the club campaign, spend a lot of time, thinking that over and what and wound up playing a comparable role for Biden. So now he comes in this national security advisor like he was. He was when he was Clinton, policy director. You would say he had way more foreign policy experience than somebody normally in that role. Now is national security advisor. He has way more domestic political experience than a typical national security advisor like he has, been in a Gillian meetings with people just like democratic. People and like annoying groups and people who are worried about poles and people who are worried about winning elections in Wisconsin, this is not the normal background for National Security Visor, like I, don't think You know what, whether you you talk about job Jones Susan Rise, sorry candy rise
none of them were in those kind of discussions like well. The steel workers won't like it. If we come out for a fracking ban like it's a different kind, I should say, though, very briefly, that part of the region I think Sullivan got. The job is three reasons, one very close to bid. We knew that it's a signal that when foreign policy decisions are made, the domestic policy concerns are also considered, which is something Biden is wanted to sort of portray right and then three is just sort of not seen as hockey. She's seen is a bit more progressive and so the fact that she's really in ships and all that he's sitting in the White House. He also is a bit of a symbol to folks that, like this is beyond the known obscured by certain sorry. I should mention of a fourth which, as he does I political experience and that actually mean if you think about like, do no burn scowcroft, for example, here pretty bad. Getting his president's reelected are like Kissinger didn't do do great, keeping his boss in line, so there was tons of
region of like Donna Linen and others in the Obama administration, but yet because they were like all their political hacks just sort of dallying in foreign policy. Well, they help their boss carry elected and so the fact that Jake can sort of this sort of a centre point of all of these different considerations, it makes sense that he'd be there and also- and he I'm sure, he's thinking about this. This is wholly in dishes for Secretary of state down the line. I want to highlight what you're too about about him not being seen as a hawk, because the other thing, the other relevant characteristic of Joe Biden as a politician that I see really shaping these cabinet pixel, In addition to, like he's been there a long time, he has people he trusts he wants. The people he's trusted to be close to him is that he is good at constituency, management right, and so it's been very actually been fairly.
Surprising, given the tone of left criticism of the Biden campaign that there has not been that, like the people who actually chosen for cabinet positions, have not received the level of criticism that one might have expected when a model democratic from a moderate Democrat from his campaign, or for that matter, like a lot of the real criticism has been saved for people who either haven't, ultimately been nominated or has just been more. Vociferous, then after people are nominated, presumably because signals are being sent through back channels that, like It's really you you'll get get next time and if you think about the diversity concern from a constituency management perspective, the people who are asking to be loudest voices for more diversity in the cabinet picks. Aren't the people who were leading the kind of reckoning around the denial of opportunities to black. Africans in the middle of twenty twenty there, like the congressional black caucus and other incumbent politician insider groups,
Who are seeing diversity as a matter of representation, not as a matter of we need to get different kinds of voices with different kinds of expense. Answers in the room, and so that to me, does a lot to explain the you know the Sullivan, an austrian elections, and particularly Jake Sullivan, is serving a is sir, is serving a role that they can point to win looking at progressive groups who would otherwise be more antagonistic toward the the administration, Lloyd still, on the other hand, is serving the role of being able to eight point to go back to Jim Kleiber say we are listening to you. We are taken you seriously. I you, you know you felt so strongly about this- that you felt the need to pump Lee pressure us, which is not something you as a long time. Elected official are generally going to do and
No, we are, we see, was a valuable enough member of our coalition to take those concerned seriously, but you see up until Shirley RAP on that no way this tension between a democratic party, that is increasingly invested in the importance of a descriptive representation at and diversity, and the question of like do you elevate leaders who make that real rights alike come a Harris's. Inner circle of people just like involves a very large quantity of black women like authentically right and if anything, she would probably have to like studiously, diversify or GM away from that.
Where is brightens like a seventy eight year old white Guy, you know, and he raking. Nobody he's like given these cast in this way right, in which he needs to assemble a team. That is not that, while simultaneously being an air of renewed? You know experience and competence. The federal government, which limits the pool of people you can be dealing with two people who were lected during an era where diversity was not achieved. Concern re right, exactly that cost thing you could do is say like fuck, the pipeline, I'm leap, I'm leapfrogging that would soon extent trumps. Cabinet great was like a bunch of people who was a little like really that guy, but like that's not by
temperament and there's also, we didn't even get to that spelling. There's a bunch of people like other, got just like Biden, folks kicking around the White House in sort of nondescript portfolios, plus John Kerry Sunday? Who knows why, as like, like a climate Sorry in a cabinet position like climate secretary of the cabin position and now he's going to serve under blink in at the State Department, but also have a White House office, I'm so confused by this. That seems like an awful lot of real state aid? I don't know. Maybe this is just me being like it's very weird to be talking about office space as a thing that is going to exist in the near future.
That's true right I'll just say. The only thing that other bothers me about carry is like. He has the roller decks and foreign leaders have his number. If they don't get like something done with Lincoln. Let's say: Lincoln stands them off, they're gonna call Harry and they're gonna try to worry it's. Actually. I get the notion of having a top negotiator as sort of a climate secretary but you're causing a big problem, and I'm sure Lincoln is not one hundred percent thrilled with us well and go. What I was going to say is that just like early speculation about presidential personnel is always you should discount it like thirty percent, because it's just always a question of how does this work in practice? Right? There's like a big,
mark as to like what John Kerry going to do and like one thing he might do, is quit and frustration after eight months. Oh I disagree, I mean, probably not. I just mean you don't know right, because there's no such thing, there's no job title that says like well, the president takes this person's advice seriously or members of Congress see this. Guy is credible rate, but that's really important trade as an administration shakes outlay. Who'd foreign leaders think speaks for the president who can make a deal that sticks? Coup has clout and capital hell? Who can negotiate with Republicans who get invited to the important meetings and like we just don't know like you have to get to see how it how it plays out? So it was in a break,
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under the auspices of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and its use, is the it uses. A set of data sets the that kind of span a very long period of time to talk about the effects of what we now kind of. No, as the Red Lining maps, the government developed maps assessing the creditworthiness of various neighborhoods that ended up do their bit that treated. How many non white, and specifically black people, were in a neighborhood as an indicator of low neighbour value and low credit worthiness. It looks at the effects of those maps on vat on outcomes for people who were born forty plus years after that it uses up a data
known as the Opportunity ATLAS developed by Roger Teddy and a bunch of other folks that looks at outcomes for people were born in the late nineteenth seventies early nineteen eighties and shows that there is a substance, you'll correlation between whether your neighborhood was considered in a second or third terror. Third versus fourth terror valuable on those red lining maps and how your how the people who were born you know a generation or two after that, in those places ended up having you know what what their life outcomes ended up being their income, the likelihood that they were incarcerated, etc, etc. So it's a fairly- and this is- and I apologise to the both the authors and listeners for this, because this is
method. Illogically right on that line of its explained clearly enough in the paper that I think I get it, but I, but not so simply that I can easily represented you guys it's them. It's really innovative stuff kind of putting an or putting some arbitrary lines on a map and a seeing what the difference between those arbitrary lines in the lines that were actually drawn historically looks like in order to assess. Ok, how much of what we are seeing here is the product of where things were already trending in the early nineteenth thirties versus the effect of this policy. Intervention had. But it is a pretty persuasive case that you know even through what we think, massive transformations in the urban landscape. You know the decline. Explicit, red lining, white flight urban, disinvestment that the
Give government decisions of the nineteen thirties really did play a big role either in kicking a lot of that process off, or at least in reifying. You know, a point in time in the nineteen thirties vit was super. Not great black white inequality and veto preventive end and providing a drag on any subsequent efforts to ameliorate that. So I can't really speak you domestic. This domestic it just I'm just it, I don't uncover think about. However, it made me think about a book called why nations fail and that book is it's a great battle, big thick, but you should reading as it gives you tons of great anecdotes for cocktail parties when, whenever we have those again, but the reason to read this book is it makes pretty clear that there's always in this. An international relations of like need this,
I met with where you are matters, and you know, population density in all these things are the most important factors in terms of your country's ability to to grow and been for you individually to be economically successful. But what it shows is like no actually just away like governments. Do their thing: using examples like look at North and South Korea right pretty similar, that's right in the same area, very different economic prospects, look at El Paso taxes and in war as Mexico, right literally next to each other, different economic opportunities and so As I read this paper, I was thinking it's re. It goes back to its, not just like you know how much can grow out of the ground and water, the business as they are, and all that it really comes down to policies made it the governmental level in a federal and and lower that impact comic well being, and so, if that works clearly at the global level for this bay.
Also seems to be working, quite literally at the street level. So you know the one thing that made me think of is I've been talking to historian who works on sort of housing issues and he was expressing some free duration, with the way that this or that the issue will see maps work. Is this meat instrument right, so you can sort test them, and but it's gone from being dislike thing over about american history that nobody knew about to the cinders become incredibly widen, we discussed thanks to China, has he codes, but also a lot of academic economists can have utilizing this. This is your policy instrument and he was seen me that
What we need a little bit more inquiry on is like do these maps just track residential segregation patterns and the segregation patterns? Have this long term influence, or is it actually the case that the Hlc MAPS. Are having a long term causal impact, because those are different things for policy design It seems a little. You could lead to the conclusion that, like actually this one federal programme about housing loans had these incredibly long term
consequences, or it could be that this was not that big of a deal policy wise but happens to have given us a very detailed set of maps about segregation. We like to talk about census, papers right, and so we haven't yet had the release of the one nine hundred and forty census public data, but so a different set of researchers, including the authors of the distinctive names paper that we talked about a couple of weeks ago. They have a method to track block level creation based on census, data right so with the nineteen forty census comes out
he'll be able to do that for this time period, and then you can. You can run it both ways. Rightly, you can see if there's a mathematical construct that is more or less productive than the angel I'll see maps themselves, and then it can tell us more. Like did Sdr, give us a set of interest maps about segregation or did he'd like ha eyes this. Equity, because this is a really different stories about America. But that's also. A lot of what this paper is trying to do is to answer that question and Heaven help me. I'm gonna have to get into methodology here, but they know cut one of the instruments they use. Is they do this? You know
This grid overlay look at B. You do the pretend that those grids were the same things as as the lines drawn and in red, lining and kind of measure like in a fine segments that act as it that have the same that have the same characteristics between size of that line prior to the drawing of that map that the actual map lines didn't say. Okay, so, given that begin, roughly say that this line looks like segregation as it existed at the moment, this lap this map drawn. Do we then see a bigger? Do then see the same kind of divergence between sides of this line that it could have been a red line, verses this line that actually wasn't. I do find that there's in that there is a substantial difference there, the other thing that they do. As you know, if you think about the way that kind of spatially drawing neighborhoods works, you will often find yourself with you know. There are it's obvious that there are like,
Three sides of you know of an area, but like it's not really clear. On the fourth side, when that shades into a different neighborhoods, they find these particularly arbitrary. Looking in terms of what the difference in character six, was on either side of the line on the red lining maps and they then- and they do show that like there is a difference in how those sides work after the line Drawn so there you know, I would love to see how you're you know how historian friend were the would react if that doesn't like. This is an effort to start to deal with that problem, that lake and there, the authors of this paper. Don't say this is a definitive intervention on the side of yes, red lining caused all of these problems. But when I was saying kind of like refying
point in time. I think that that is cave. The implication of where the authors end up is that, yes, there were existing patterns of segregation that, in a bit resulted in unequal opportunity, even innovate in nineteen thirty four map, but a map drawn in nineteen thirty, three, like determined the outcomes in the subsequent decades threat, determined the possible outcomes and the subsequent decades, even in cases where those trends where it is obvious in nineteen. Thirty. Three also just a small point on this- that I think people may not know is that if we go back to that the battle day, its right of segregation of the Supreme Court in in a ruling in I forget opposing the teens or the twenty years, but like before what you think of as the civil rights movement,
ruled that explicit racial zoning was unconstitutional, like at a time when you could have segregated schools, segregated water, fountain, segregated buses, Et Cetera, Et Cetera. There was this kind of land use. I mean, of course today you would say. Well, of course, you can't do that, but at a time when you could do tons and tons of stuff that would be unconstitutional today, you couldn't have explicit ah racial. Racial zoning was so the deplore. The ability of this programme being significant, you sort of elevated because you did. The housing was like a state of exception to Jim Crow in an odd way until mortgage on occasion picture oh yeah, or you could argue that it ended up being four runner of what we saw in the post, Jim Crow era, where you have to find increasingly indirect ways to talk about black people
more yards eddied. Yes, I mean there's that there's a great paper called the racial origins of zoning added. It goes into this that it's like me, you cities would actually higher consultants who would help them draw up facially race, neutral zoning rules. That would promote segregation, but the point just being that, like court right now, land use as one of the lowest levels of scrutiny of anything when in the judicial system, but like a hundred years ago, was the opposite. There is one question that I, like are you mad about a point that eighteen shouldn't go unmentioned in this paper, which you know it also which confirms what previous economists have also found, which is that the biggest difference is we in the neighborhood that work wouldn't put redlined or like given the lowest rating and the next step up, but the difference between that next step up and step up after that, right, like what you might call yellow lining, because the seagrave neighborhoods were,
Nate Yellow. While the degrade neighborhoods were designated red- and you know the the others don't go into a whole lot of detail on any speculation, any speculation as to why that the case or for that matter, what really went into determining something at a bee level versus the sea level. But do you many thoughts matters, someone who's like much more burst in this than I am on, whether that's a significant finding and if so, why that might be. I mean I think it brings the empirics into line with fury right, which is that, like red lining, is this famous for use built around the the red zones? Red stands out on a map like it's it's more striking way by like in theoretical terms, there is very little demand for investment capital in the least desirable neighborhoods, so it's unlikely that policy shifts would really change that right. The yellow zone is
There is some demand for capital right, but if you steer people toward it right, you could have a lot right. So today we do the opposite of this right. So today, like the white part of DC or any city, you basically can't build new houses Wait which doesn't mean you build new housing in the poorest parts of the city, because people who live there, emails you create this gentrification frontier like in the yellow. And so the ninety thirties paradigm was the opposite of that. You were like steering investment away from the Yellowstone into the white neighborhoods, because at that time the people the whenever it wanted presidential investment with which they generally don't now read. So it's less it's a little less snappy then like the red lining
constructive. But it's it's like. I think what you would say on the basis of abstract principles, and they seem to be showing that that's what what happened, that you you steering away from that, the second to lease desirable neighborhoods. I guess the weeds abso thanks Alex for joining us and explaining all this, I'm thanks as always to our sponsors. These will be back right.
Transcript generated on 2021-05-13.