Stories from the Backchannel

Stories from the Backchannel is a CNAS podcast program that examines the stories behind some of America's most important national security moments. Hosted by CNAS Middle East Program Director Ilan Goldenberg, the podcast’s second season invites listeners behind the scenes of a major presidential campaign, crafting the world’s biggest budget, traveling to Iowa with Xi Jinping, and a firsthand account of serving in the U.S. military as a young woman in Iraq.


Season Two

Episode 1: Working National Security on John McCain’s Presidential Campaign

Richard Fontaine spent years advising leading figures in American foreign policy, but working for the late Sen. John McCain was unlike anything he had experienced before. Now Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security, Fontaine sits down with Ilan Goldenberg to discuss Senator McCain's legacy, detail stories from his time working on Capitol Hill and the 2008 McCain presidential campaign, and recount lessons learned from a storied American statesman.

Preview: Stories from the Backchannel: Season Two

Now more than ever, Americans are interested in the people working behind the scenes on consequential national security decisions. In Season Two of Stories from the Backchannel, host Ilan Goldenberg sits down with experts from across the U.S. foreign policy landscape to discuss their experiences and roles on the front row of history. From working on major presidential campaigns to crafting the world's largest budget, this season's guests will shed light on the places where key national security decisions happen.

Listen to the trailer for Season Two of Stories from the Backchannel.

Season One

Episode 1: Unavoidable Russia

In our first episode, Unavoidable Russia, Amb. Victoria Nuland recounts her time as one of America's leading diplomats on Russia. Listen below:

Episode 2: When Middle East Peace Almost Happened

Featuring Martin Indyk, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel.

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Episode 3: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War

Featuring Paul Scharre, Director of the CNAS Technology and National Security program.

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Episode 4: The Iran Nuclear Negotiations

Featuring Wendy Sherman, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs.