Benjamin Sledge is a wounded combat veteran with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving most of his time under Special Operations (Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command). He is the recipient of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and two Army Commendation Medals for his actions overseas. He was at the front line of some of the deadliest battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, served in Special Operations Command, on the Pakistan border after September 11, and eventually in the deadliest city battle of the Iraq War, Ramadi. In this interview, I speak to Benjamin Sledge about the realities of war, how soldiers prepare for combat, and what war reveals about the best, and worst, of humanity. In this conversation, Sledge reveals an unflinchingly honest portrait of war that few dare to tell.

Thought Economics

It’s easy to overlook the underlying strategic forces of war, to see it solely as a series of errors, accidents, and emotions gone awry. It’s also easy to forget that war shouldn’t happen—and most of the time it doesn’t. Around the world, there are millions of hostile rivalries, yet only a fraction erupt into violence, a fact too many accounts overlook. Christopher Blattman is the Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at the University of Chicago. He is co-lead the university’s Development Economics Center and the Obama Foundation Scholars Program. In his new book, Why We Fight, Christopher Blattman reminds us that most rivals loathe one another in peace. War is too costly to fight, so enemies almost always find it better to split the pie than spoil it for everyone or struggle over thin slices. In those rare instances when fighting ensues, we should ask: What kept rivals from compromise? He combines decades of economics, political science, psychology, and real-world interventions to lay out the root causes and remedies for war, showing that violence is not the norm; that there are only five reasons why conflict wins over compromise; and how peacemakers turn the tides through tinkering, not transformation. In this interview, I speak to Professor Christopher Blattman about why we fight, the root causes of war, and how we can effectively move to peace. We talk about how to build resilient societies, how best to detect fragility, and the remedies that shift incentives away from violence and get parties back to dealmaking.

Thought Economics

We are living through the most prosperous age in human history, but we are hurtling toward destruction. People are more listless, divided, and miserable than ever, and our civilization faces numerous existential threats, any one of which could take us out – whether it’s climate change, a Carrington Event, a nuclear exchange set in motion by wealth inequality, a refugee crisis, or revolution. We modern humans have become a threat to our own existence, yet we are resting on our cultural laurels, lulled into a false sense of security while speeding toward disaster. In this interview, I speak to evolutionary biologist and professor, Bret Weinstein who- alongside his co-author, Heather Heying has done empirical work on sexual selection and the evolution of sociality, and theoretical work on the evolution of trade-offs, senescence, and morality. In this interview, Bret distils more than 20 years of research and first-hand accounts from the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth to offer a robust scientific framework for understanding ourselves – both as individuals, and in relationships with others – and why the novelty of the modern era is killing us.

Thought Economics

David Miliband is President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where he oversees the agency’s humanitarian relief operations in more than 40 war-affected countries and its refugee resettlement and assistance programs in over 20 United States cities. In 2019 alone, the IRC provided 1,474,900 children with schooling and education opportunities, provided 1,756,000 people with clean water infrastructure, admitted 122,100 children for urgent nutrition treatment, provided vocational and livelihood support to over 226,100 people, helped 151,700 mothers deliver new-borns and offered safe space to over 165,000 women and children. In this exclusive interview, I spoke with David Miliband about the work of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and how we can create a better world for individuals fleeing conflict and disaster. In this exclusive interview, I spoke with David Miliband about the work of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and how we can create a better world for individuals fleeing conflict and disaster.

Thought Economics

In one of the darkest moments of modern civilisation, over six million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany in a state-sponsored genocide.  This event (The Holocaust) killed over two-thirds of Europe’s entire Jewish population. It took decades for the Jewish people and the rest of the world to make-sense of what happened during World War II, and for most of us- it is impossible to imagine how the very few survivors of such atrocities could rebuild their lives, but some did; and those individuals have gone-on to become ambassadors of hope, of peace, and of reconciliation at a time where it would appear our world has not just forgotten the past, but is doomed to repeat it.  I had the privilege of speaking to three Holocaust survivors who have gone-on to become humanitarians, peace-activists and educators. Walter Ziffer (author of ‘Confronting the Silence, A Holocaust Survivor’s Search for God’), Iby Knill (author of ‘Woman Without a Number’) and Eva Schloss MBE (author of ‘Eva’s Story: A Survivor’s Tale by the Stepsister of Anne Frank’).

Thought Economics

In this exclusive series of interviews, we speak to seven experts on conflict and peace building.  Four Nobel Peace Prize Winners; Prof. Jody Williams (Chair, Nobel Women’s Initiative), Dr. Shirin Ebadi (Human Rights Lawyer and Educator), President Maarti Ahtisaari (Former President, Finland and Founder of CMI – The Crisis Management Initiative), Lech Wałęsa (Former President, Poland) alongside Marina Cantacuzino (Founder, The Forgiveness Project), Ben Ferencz (Former Prosecutor, Nuremberg War Crimes Trial) and Bertie Ahern (Former Taoiseach – Irish Prime Minister).  We discuss the causes of war and conflict, the impact of these phenomena on society, and look at what it will take to achieve a world at peace.

Thought Economics

In this exclusive interview series, we speak to Nobel Prize Winning Economist, Edmund Phelps (Director of the Columbia University Center on Capitalism & Society and the McVickar Professor of Political Economy at Columbia University), Professor Lawrence ‘Larry’ H. Summers (Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University. He served as the 71st Secretary of the Treasury for President Clinton and the Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama) and Professor Sir Paul Collier (Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School, Oxford  & director of the International Growth Centre). We look at the story of modern capitalism, the benefits it has brought, and the challenges it has created. We explore the ‘post crisis’ economy, the role of government in society, the relationship between capitalism and conflict, inequality and look at what needs to be done to ‘fix’ our global economy, and the science of economics itself.

Thought Economics

The greatest humanitarian crisis in history, is also the greatest crisis of our humanity.  To learn more about our global refugee and migration crisis, we speak to Gulwali Passarlay (Afghan refugee, author & Co-Founder of My Bright Kite), Professor François Crépeau (Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants), Pierre Krähenbühl (Commissioner General, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine – UNRWA), Alexander Betts (Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, University of Oxford), Catherine Woollard (Secretary General, European Council on Refugees and Exiles, ECRE), Professor Michael Lynk (United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967), Dr. Hanan Ashrawi (PLO Executive Committee Member, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council & Founder of MIFTAH), Professor Noura Erakat (Human Rights Attorney & Activist) and Professor George Rupp (Former President of the International Rescue Committee, IRC).

Thought Economics

In these exclusive interviews, we speak to Kailash Satyarthi (Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Human Rights Activist), Carolyn Miles (President and CEO of Save the Children), Dr. Jean Zermatten (Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child) and Georgette Mulheir (CEO of LUMOS).  We look at the plight of children worldwide- discussing issues ranging from poverty to exploitation, health to education, climate change to conflict, the media and more.  We also look at the fundamental role of children in human progress, and why they are key to the future of our society.

Thought Economics

In these exclusive interviews, we speak to Moisés Naím (Distinguished Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, former Minister of Trade and Industry for Venezuela and Executive Director of the World Bank) and Admiral James Stavridis (Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University and former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO). We discuss the fundamental nature of power, how it shapes our world economically, politically, socially and how it impacts the lives of every single individual on the planet.

Thought Economics

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