Over the next few months, editors at The New Republic are choosing their favorite episodes of The Politics of Everything.
Summer Pick #1
Episode 24: “The Case of the Sick Spies”
In late 2016, staff at the American Embassy in Havana began hearing strange noises and experiencing odd symptoms: headaches, nausea, dizziness. Had they been targeted by a secret weapon, perhaps deployed by Russia? Hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to four people who have closely followed Havana syndrome, as the collection of ailments came to be known: Jack Hitt, who covered the story for Vanity Fair in 2019; Tim Weiner, author of The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia, and Political Warfare 1945–2020; Adam Gaffney, a physician; and Natalie Shure, a columnist for TNR who covers health policy. What was the diplomatic context in which Havana syndrome appeared? Why is the secret weapon theory so attractive? And is there a likelier explanation for the mysterious illness? The show, which originally aired in February 2021, has been updated to account for more recent developments.