NATIONAL SECURITY PODCAST: Kelly Magsamen on US National Security Policy

In this episode of the National Security Podcast we talk to Kelly Magsamen about American national security policy - what is driving it, where it is going, and if we’re headed into a cul-de-sac of policy failure. We also find out if the Obama administration moved too slowly to counter China’s militarisation of the South China Sea or whether it was a mistake by Beijing to even build bases amongst its Southeast Asian neighbours. And we ask considering the global rules-based order, why should we care anymore and did it ever even matter?


Kelly Magsamen is the vice president for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress. Prior to joining American Progress, she served in various national security positions. Magsamen was the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs and performed the duties of assistant secretary of defense. In these positions, she was a lead adviser to the secretary of defense for U.S. defense policy and strategy across the Indo-Asia-Pacific, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Prior to her tenure at the Pentagon, Magsamen served on the National Security Council (NSC) staff for two presidents and four national security advisers. As special assistant to the president and senior director for strategic planning, she was responsible for long-term planning and helped craft the 2015 U.S. National Security Strategy. She also served as senior adviser for Middle East reform during the height of the Arab Spring. As NSC director for Iran, she was responsible for coordinating U.S. policy on Iran. Magsamen began her government career as a presidential management fellow at the U.S. State Department, where she worked on Iraq policy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, at the U.S. Mission to NATO, and as special assistant and chief of staff to the counselor.

Chris Farnham is the presenter of the National Security Podcast. He joined the National Security College in June 2015 and is currently Senior Outreach and Policy Officer. His career focus has been on geopolitics with experience working in and out of China for a number of years as well as operating in Australia and Southeast Asia.

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