Episode 23, Westeros, IR Theory, & The Iran Nuclear Crisis

On this episode, Nicholas, Stephen, and Toms discuss the possible resolutions of the Iran Nuclear Crisis. Will the United States and Iran ultimately end up in a shooting war? Can a new deal be salvaged? Or will the world end up holding its breath until 2021?  Then, the team gets nerdy to discuss how International Relations theories can be explained and analyzed using the popular TV series Game of Thrones.


The OE Blog Post: What are the Alternatives to an Iran Nuclear Deal?

The OE Blog Post: Panel Discussion: What would a War against Iran Look Like?

Secondary Sanctions on Iran

The OE Blog Post: The China-America Trade War Explained

The OE Blog Post: How Oman Can Save the Iran Nuclear Deal

Iranian IRGC

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif Sanctioned

Gulf of Tonkin

Political Tribes Book

Mutually Hurting Stalemates

Political Order & Political Decay Book

Episode 22, One European Army, With One Purpose

On this episode, Nicholas, Stephen, and Toms discuss the problems and pitfalls surrounding European collective security. Since the end of the Second World War, the standard power dynamic in Europe has been that of the victorious Soviet (and later Russian) forces versus the various nations of Western Europe (with strong backing from the United States). With the world heading towards a multi-polar system of several powerful nations dominating world affairs, European nations have increasingly talked about the need for a more limited security partnership, one that would be exclusive only to Europeans and would not rely on the United States as heavily. What are the challenges of providing for collective European security? Do we risk another devastating European war if we get this wrong? Then, the team discusses their thoughts and predictions just before the final episode of the epic series Game of Thrones. Beware of spoilers!



Military Industrial Complex

Financial Times article about PESCO

Angela Merkel discusses U.S., Russia, and China as adversaries.

Nord Stream Pipeline

China Belt and Road Initiative

Episode 21, Map Shaming The Golan Heights

This episode takes a deep dive into America’s recognition of the area known as the Golan Heights as part of Israeli territory. Stephen and Nicholas debate the importance of this measure and discuss the impacts (if any) that this will have on the average listener. Is this the sign of more change to come, or merely a recognition of the decades-long reality of this region of the world?


Golan Heights Blog Post

Jerusalem Status Blog Post

1967 Arab-Israeli War

2019 Israeli Elections

Netanyahu Promises West Bank Annexation

West Bank Settlements Map

Nord Stream Pipeline

Episode 20, Another Brick In The Wall

On this episode, Nicholas and Stephen tackle the immigration debate. In particular, we break down the main solutions being pursued by various nations to the problems of immigration including the benefits and risks of each. These include walls, temporary asylum, permanent citizenship, deportation, and refugee camps. Then, the team pivots to a quick summary of the crisis in Venezuela and asks the question, “Does America’s current actions qualify as an interventionist coup?”


Stephen Howard

Second Generation Radicals

Hannah Ardent

Long-Term Immigration Benefits

Current Refugee Numbers

Refugee Camps in Chad

American Refugee Committee

Venezuela’s Political Crisis

Russian Intervention in Venezuela

For Fun: Pink Floyd “The Wall”

Episode 19, Parenting Tips For International Intervention

On this episode, Nicholas, Stephen, Valida, and Matthew debate the criteria and preconditions needed to justify international intervention. In other words, when would the United States be justified to conduct a military intervention in a dictatorship or humanitarian crisis? Is there ever a justification, or should policymakers look only towards furthering American interests? Matthew and Nicholas also provide a few parenting tips that can be applied to international disputes.


League of Arab States

The Future of War: A History

General Eric Shinseki

Obama Red Line Speech

Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons

Copenhagen Theory

Episode 18, The Next War To End All Wars

On this episode, Stephen and Nicholas discuss the possibilities of World War III and what that might look like. For decades, the world seems to have taken for granted the idea that large scale wars by great military powers is over. But what are the prospects for a global war? The team also takes a deep dive into current nuclear weapons technology and how those weapons might be used in a tactical sense in a theoretical Third World War.

Disclaimer: Though we discuss possible uses for nuclear weapons in a global conflict, it should be noted that this is not an endorsement of such tactics. We bring these up to highlight how deterrence must be considered in a whole range of different scenarios in order to prevent this type of catastrophe.

xXx (Action) Film

RAND Report on US Military Capabilities

Marshall Plan

Thomas Schelling: Arms and Influence (book)

Russian Nuclear Missile

US Nuclear Arsenal

Episode 17, One Strategy To Rule Them All

On this episode, Stephen, Valida, and Nicholas discuss America’s grand national strategy (or lack thereof). First, the gang breaks down the importance of having an overarching policy strategy and how the United States can benefit from a more focused global policy. Then, the team offers their own ideas for what should become America’s national strategy for the next decade.

Orientalist Express Article

Dean Acheson

Venezuela Refugees

American Troops in Africa

Burundi Ethnic Cleansing

Bonus Content:

Episode 16, Trade, Tariffs, & Tacky Pick-up Lines

Puns and bad pick-up lines abound in this episode of The Orientalist Express podcast. This time, the team analyzes America's increasingly aggressive trade policies and how effective they may be in achieving the administration's stated goals. Nicholas, Stephen, Matthew, and Toms also consider how national sovereignty is factored into trade deals across large organizations like the European Union. 


Global Minnesota

Trade Deficits

Washington Consensus

Episode 15, The Clash of Civilizations

On this episode of The Orientalist Express, Nicholas, Stephen, and Valida analyze the classic theory by Samuel Huntington known as the "Clash of Civilizations." Written at the end of the Cold War, this theory stated that global conflict would start to fall along cultural lines rather than purely ideological or economic ones. After three decades, does this theory hold up?

The Clash of Civilizations

Subdivisions (Rush)

The Looming Tower

Uyghur Camps

Offshore Balancing

Episode 14, The OE Goes Global

On this episode, the Orientalist Express goes global as we introduce two new contributors and try desperately to avoid talking about the British royal wedding.  Sebastien Mouret joins the team as a student of international affairs from France, while a Latvian specialist under the name Daniel Storm also makes a debut appearance. They join Nicholas, Matthew, Stephen, and Valida for a discussion of the Iran nuclear deal and its fate after the U.S. withdrawal this month. Then, the gang takes a look at the tense situation in Israel and Gaza, as the United States opens up a new embassy in Jerusalem. 

ZTE Embargo

Hannah Arendt

Lebanon Civil War

Iran Nuclear Deal

Jerusalem Embassy


Episode 13, Better Call Cohen

On this episode, The Orientalist Express welcomes a special guest to discuss the recent raid on the law office of Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen.  Criminal defense lawyer Grant Miller joins Nicholas Hayen, Stephen Howard, and Matthew Spencer-Kociol to discuss the implications of attorney-client privilege and how it could relate to a future criminal case. Then, the gang examines the recent strikes against Syria in response to its continued chemical weapons use. Did the president have the correct authorization to issue this military intervention?

Attorney-Client Privilege

2001 AUMF

Episode 12, Hey Let's Cyber

This episode is all about "the cyber." Nicholas. Matthew. Stephen, and Valida team up to discuss the emerging problems of cyber warfare. How is cyber warfare different from conventional warfare and is any deterrence possible? Then, the team breaks down the issues surrounding the proliferation of social media, Cambridge Analytica, and the role of these in waging information warfare.

Office of Personnel Management Hack

Russia Infrastructure Hack

Spear Phishing

The Sisyphean Task

Episode 11, A Clockwork Democracy

On this episode, Stephen, Valida, and Nicholas are joined by our newest contributor Matthew Spencer-Kociol. The discussion this time is all about the process of democratization, or how a nation chooses to adopt democratic governance over authoritarian rule. Stephen also reveals a telling secret about his true reptilian identity.

Rentier State   

Hegemonic Norms

Washington Consensus  

WTO – World Trade Organization

Joseph Nye Soft Power

Walt and Mearsheimer  

Episode 09, Someone Called The Police

On this episode, we continue our back to basics approach by looking to further understand the Liberal International Order. Nicholas, Stephen, and Valida discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of the order as it pertains to the everyday American. From economics, to human rights, to global security, there are certainly benefits and drawbacks that an American-led power structure seem to provide.

The Liberal International Order Explained

Panel Discussion: The Liberal International Order

Episode 08, Explaining The Liberal International Order

In our first podcast of 2018, we introduce our newest contributor Valida Azamatova. She joins other South Dakota State University grads Nicholas Hayen and Stephen Howard to begin our back to basics approach to educating people about foreign policy and international relations. We begin by talking about the foundations of what is known as the "Liberal International Order." (Not to be confused with American liberal political ideas.) Then, the team makes some predictions about possible hotspots for conflict in 2018.

Thucydides Trap

Ukraine & Russia

China in the South China Sea

The Liberal International Order

Episode 07, Tehran Up the Nuclear Deal

With the international agreement over Iran’s nuclear weapons program in doubt, Nicholas Hayen and Stephen Howard discuss the possible impact of re-imposing sanctions. They also debate the larger impacts of this decision on the Middle East and the possibility of that the U.S. Congress will try to stall on the question of Iranian sanctions.

Rational Security Podcast


Iran Nuclear Deal Blog Post

MEK Definition

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps

Kurdistan Blog Post

Balkanization Definition

Episode 06, Totally Not Rational Security

As a tumultuous summer draws to a close, Stephen, Kurt, Brandon, and Nick discuss the active debate surrounding ISIS fighters and their future in a post-caliphate world. Should nations attempt to rehabilitate returning fighters who have surrendered, or deny them re-entry into their home countries? Then, the team answers one of the most divisive topics in modern international relations: Is the world safer with nuclear weapons?

Nuclear Security Link

Nuclear Stockpile Report

Syria Conflict Live Map

Second Strike Capability

Rational Security Podcast

Episode 05, Democracy Inaction

At the 101st day of the new administration, Stephen, Kurt, and Nick react to America's increasingly cozy relationship with dictators, authoritarians, and leaders who project strength.  Is this policy just a reflection of realism, or should the U.S. do more to promote democracy and human rights throughout the world?  Then, the team discusses the recent referendum in Turkey and why some people would vote away their own democratic powers.  Lastly, Kurt and Stephen revive our Key Terms segment with a look at Populism and Illiberal Democracies.



Liberal International Order

Liberal International Economic Order

Ross Perot

Fethullah Gulen

NATO Article 5