From 2012 to 2015, Evelyn Farkas served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, where she was responsible for policy toward Russia, the Black Sea, the Balkans, and Caucasus regions and conventional arms control.
Farkas is now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, and I asked her on the show to explain two of the issues that worry me most right now: the horror that has befallen Syria, and the risky belligerence that has overtaken Russia.
If this sounds like a tough episode to you, give it a chance. This conversation doesn’t presuppose deep — or really any — knowledge of either conflict. Farkas is clear, thoughtful, and insightful, and at a moment when Syria is destabilizing Europe and Russia is destabilizing the United States, it’s more than worth taking the time to dig into both.
Along the way, we talk about Farkas’s time in Bosnia, her frustrations with President Obama’s hands-off approach to the Syria conflict, why she’s sick of “slippery slope” arguments in foreign policy, the ways in which the lessons of Yugoslavia and Bosnia collided with the lessons Iraq and Afghanistan, and what to make of Russia’s hack of the US election.
Also, a number of you have asked me to start putting book recommendations in the show notes, so here they are:
-David Rhode’s "Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica, Europe's Worst Massacre Since World War II”
-Peter Pomerantsev’s "Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia”
In the days since our interview, I picked up “ Nothing is True,” and Farkas is right: it’s amazing.