Un-Diplomatic Podcast
Live Show! China, US Grand Strategy, and the Inequality Problem

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Live Show! China, US Grand Strategy, and the Inequality Problem


This is a special drop for patrons of the newsletter!

I just gave a talk to a section of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs—a great group of a couple dozen Gen Z’ers, at a nice little bar in Wellington. What started out as shooting the shit about foreign policy turned into a live show of the podcast.

In this live show, I put three propositions on the table and explained what I meant—Un-Diplomatic regulars will be at least somewhat familiar with all these themes:

  1. Sino-US rivalry is not a struggle for hegemony or domination.

  2. US grand strategy is one of primacy, and the requirements of primacy today conflict with the requirements of peace in Asia and the Pacific.

  3. The root-cause of our problems with China is inequality—at multiple levels, but especially within China.

Along the way, we talk about policy thinking as a practitioner versus as an IR scholar; speaking truth to power; job prospects for Gen Z; why New Zealand’s priority ought to be preventing another Gallipoli; and more! Some gems herein:

  • “In a system where you create mass immiseration—where you squeeze the people to the point they cannot fucking breathe…how does that regime stay in power? Authoritarianism is a tool to maintain that system.”

  • “Chinese maritime incursions, grey-zone activity—it’s symptoms of deterrence success…they do those things because general deterrence is working.”

  • “Ethnonationalism is a story you tell yourself to force competing classes in society together…Nationalism is the force that tells poor people not to rise up against rich people.”

  • “Gen Zers in the West have a lot in common with Gen Z in China…both are coming up in a system that’s fucking them over…it’s just a more Orwellian system in China.”

  • “Of China’s many bubbling crises, the overproduction of elites and high youth unemployment is the biggest one.”


(quick note: I’ve gotten a surge of new subscribers lately—welcome! I just want to say that I see every note or message you leave. I appreciate all of it, sincerely!)

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