Conversations with History

Limited Military Action in the Post-Cold War World
Micah Zenko
Fellow in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations for a discussion of his book, Between Threats and Wars. Topics covered include the political goals of US foreign policy after 911, the unique qualities of non state threats to American security, the efficacy of discrete military operations for dealing with these threats,the development, role, and limits of drone aircraft technology, and the conflicting views of the military and civilian officials on the use of limited military action.


Lt.Col. John A. Nagl
Headmaster of The Haverford School

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Dr. John A. Nagl for a discussion of his life as a scholar/soldier in the U.S. military.  After recalling the highlights of his career, Dr. Nagl, focusing on the problem of counterinsurgency, analyzes the army’s failings as a learning organization.  He discusses the trajectory of military thinking after the Vietnam War and the long struggle to recognize the unconventional ways of warfare conducted by insurgents and terrorists.  He describes how a group of innovators in the military came to draft the US Army/Marine Corp Counterinsurgency Field Manual. With the completion of that document and the subsequent change in leadership in the Pentagon and in Iraq, the U.S. reversed the course of the war and set the stage for withdrawal from the conflict.  

Force and Diplomacy
Karl Eikenberry
Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and former Commander of Coalition Forces

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Karl Eikenberry, who commanded coalition forces in Afghanistan and served as U.S. Ambassador there. Reflecting on his career as soldier and diplomat, Ambassador Eikenberry recalls his formative experiences and compares the skill set and challenges of the two postings. He evaluates the volunteer military force, analyzes the situation in Afghanistan as the US stands down, describes the problems posed by exit strategies after intervention, and reflects on the implications of the rise of China and the US pivot toward Asia.

James Mattis
General U.S. Marine Corp (Ret.)

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes General James Mattis (U.S. Marine Corp. ret.), former Head of Central Command for a discussion of his military career. Topics covered include: his formative years, the skill set and temperament required to be a marine, his command philosophy, his battle experience in Afghanistan and Iraq, the role of the military in securing peace, the contribution of the military to the policy debate, and his advice for students as they prepare for the future.

The Military in the Post 911 World
John Philip Abizaid
Commander of the U.S. Central Command (2003-2007):

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes General John Abizaid for a discussion of the role of the military in the 21st century. Drawing on his experience as commander of the U.S. Central Command, he discusses the problems confronting the next President in the Middle East. He analyzes the lessons of the Iraq War and reflects on issues such as intelligence, the Geneva Conventions, and the role of military contractors.