Episode 62: Getting Totalitarianism and Grading NATO’s Strategy

Relevant Reading:

Could It Have Been Otherwise?
Stephen Sestanovich

Maximalist: America in the World from Truman to Obama
Stephen Sestanovich

Why We Need Totalitarianism
Aviezer Tucker

Good evening, listeners! We have an excellent episode for you this week as host Richard Aldous talks with Stephen Sestanovich about the state of Russian-American relations, and asks Aviezer Tucker why we need a more refined understanding of totalitarianism.

We’re first joined by Stephen Sestanovich, professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who examines the claim that the West provoked Russia through NATO enlargement. He says the West’s post-Cold War strategy was risky but not foolish, and notes that even as it expanded NATO the West attempted to mollify Moscow through other forms of cooperation, like arms-control agreements and trade expansion. He discusses the problems with the once-seductive idea of bringing Russia into NATO, and argues that enlargement has stabilized Europe in such a way that Putin’s recent aggression matters less. How ironic.

Then we welcome to the show Aviezer Tucker, the author of The Legacies of Totalitarianism: A Theoretical Framework to be published later this year, and an associate of the Davis Center at Harvard University. He explains the distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, and tells us why that difference is so important—and so useful—to keep in mind when examining the world today. He outlines what kinds of questions one might ask to determine the differences between totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, and grounds the discussion by taking a look at the present-day governments of Greece and Russia.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and follow our host Richard Aldous @RJAldous and Stephen Sestanovich @SSestanovich on Twitter.

Published on: April 14, 2015
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