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The Brookings Cafeteria

Jul 5, 2019

The authors of a new book argue that national security “fearmongering” is causing U.S. leaders to focus more on the threats that Americans perceive—like terrorism and nuclear war—than the ones that exist at home, like gun violence and the opioid crisis. In Clear and Present Safety: The World Has Never Been Better and Why That Matters to Americans (Yale University Press), Michael Cohen and Micah Zenko argue that “The American public is being fed, by politicians and pundits alike, a steady diet of threat inflation that has made them deeply fearful of the world outside their borders.“

In this episode, Thomas Wright, director of the Center on the United States and Europe and senior fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy at Brookings, speaks with Zenko, a columnist at Foreign Policy, about the premise of the book, the geopolitical risks that do exist, and what role foreign policy might play in the 2020 presidential election. Zenko explains why the mid-1990s were the most dangerous time to be alive, the wide array of domestically driven risks, and why these factors matter more to American security than distant threats.

Also, meet Christen Linke Young, a fellow in our USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy. Find out what she’s working on and why she recommends reading both Dreamland, by Sam Quinones, about the rise of the opioid epidemic, and Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace.  

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The Brookings Cafeteria is part of the Brookings Podcast Network.