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The Emotional Fog of War — with Arwa Damon and Faisal Al Yafai (The Lede Podcast)

Entered in News & Politics Podcast


Undoubtedly some of the most significant geopolitical events of 2023 were the October 7 attacks in Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza. While many legacy media institutions and foreign policy magazines considered the political and economic impact of the war, or located the war in its historical context, we felt it was important - especially considering the long-running nature of the conflict - to consider an alternative angle that had not yet been explored in popular media. 


The episode explores the profound influence of emotions on decision-making, particularly in the Gaza conflict. Arwa Damon, a veteran correspondent with over a decade of experience in war zones across the MENA region, highlights that fear serves as a driving force, justifying military and political actions with far-reaching consequences. The episode delves into the emotional intensity within Israel and Palestine, emphasizing how it clouds judgment and distorts decision-making. Damon also addresses the global division of opinions and the war's multifaceted nature, involving disinformation and manipulation.

The team’s primary objective was to offer a nuanced perspective from someone intimately familiar with the situation. Damon, drawing from her extensive experience in war coverage, brought a depth of insight that allowed listeners to grasp the emotional complexities influencing decision-making in the midst of conflict. Amid the intense emotions surrounding the war (which is indeed the theme of the episode), our goal was to present a balanced and informed discussion, allowing listeners to gain a clearer understanding of the nuanced aspects often overshadowed by emotional intensity.


The plan of action and execution involved the following steps:

  1. We noted that Arwa Damon had recently written two articles for the podcast’s parent magazine around the subject of trauma, which we felt would benefit from further discussion in the podcast medium.
  2. After agreeing an interview with Damon, the producers crafted a script that aimed to make the most of Damon’s unique insight into the issue of trauma through both her many years’ experience as a war correspondent and her subsequent work as the founder of a nonprofit that provides medical and mental health care to child victims of conflict or natural disasters.
  3. The discussion was led by our seasoned host, Faisal Al Yafai, International Editor at New Lines magazine who has reported from across the Middle East, from Eastern Europe, Russia and Indonesia. The script was to act as a roadmap for Al Yafai, who has hosted a variety of guests since the show’s inception in 2021. During the interview, Faisal encouraged Damon to explore how her theories about trauma impacted the world of politics, identifying for example that politicians frequently use collective pain and trauma as a route to political power, and suggesting that might create a perverse incentive structure to manufacture further trauma.



The final result was an episode that leveraged Arwa Damon's expertise and insights, and navigated the intricate landscape of trauma and its political ramifications in war-torn regions. During the interview, Al Yafai adeptly steered the discussion, an approach which unearthed compelling revelations, such as the manipulation of collective pain for political gain, offering listeners a deeper understanding of the dynamics at play.


The episode's success was evident in its ability to fulfill our primary objective: providing a nuanced perspective on the emotional undercurrents of conflict. Damon's seasoned analysis shed light on the profound impact of fear and trauma, enriching the discourse surrounding the Gaza conflict. Moreover, the episode garnered positive feedback from our audience, indicating a resonance with the nuanced approach we undertook. By presenting a balanced and informed discussion, we succeeded in elucidating the complexities often overshadowed by emotional intensity, thereby achieving our goal of fostering greater understanding amidst the fog of war.


Video for The Emotional Fog of War — with Arwa Damon and Faisal Al Yafai (The Lede Podcast)

Entrant Company / Organization Name

New Lines Magazine


Entry Credits