Early last month I had an interesting chat with Dr Andrew Exum, a senior Obama administration official at the Pentagon. A fellow lover of the Arabic language, Exum holds a PhD from King’s College London and is a former US Army Ranger. Once upon a time, he was also a terrific blogger – running the handle Abu Muqawama (Arabic: “father of the resistance”) over at the Centre for New American Security.
Recently unpersoned from his role as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy by the Trump White House, Exum is now a contributing editor at The Atlantic with plenty to say about the early days of this, the incoming administration.
Our chat centred around topics related to the habits, intentions and morale of the American “mukhabarat” (as the Lebanese-Iraqi comedian Karl Sharro jokingly referred to the US security apparatus) in the midst of Trump’s rise to the Presidency. Beyond this, we also covered themes as diverse as rugby versus NFL; the art of the garage benchpress; and the likelihood (real or imagined) of an authoritarian regime emerging in the United States. I caught him in the middle of a workout so some of the more extraneous parts of this conversation have been cut for brevity.
It should be noted that this post does not signify the launch of a new podcast. The connection quality and audio is, at times, less than perfect and very little editing went into the final product beyond tacking on the enchanting sounds of Naseer Shamma’s oud at the beginning and end of the track. For your enjoyment only.