What is Foreign Exchanges?

One of the things I've noticed over several years studying Islamic history and US foreign policy is that it's hard for most Americans to get a handle on what’s happening overseas. We have a media that, when it bothers to dig in to international affairs at all, usually does so in furtherance of the conventional DC wisdom. This makes it very easy for our foreign policy to be hijacked by forces that want perpetual war, a massive military state, and the continued forcible expansion of American empire.

Foreign Exchanges exists to try to change that. My nightly international news roundups collect important stories from around the world and give them to you in an easily digestible format with the context (and sometimes commentary) that you need to stay on top of what’s happening. I look for interesting perspectives on world events and US foreign policy and try to bring those perspectives to you along with my own take on those perspectives if I think it’s applicable. I also write occasional pieces about aspects of world history that I hope might familiarize people with other parts of the world (at the very least, I hope they’re interesting).

If people naturally fear the unknown, then the antidote to that is knowledge. If ignorance breeds apathy, then the solution is less ignorance. If we’re going to fight for a smarter foreign policy in Washington when we need to combat that ignorance. That's what I'm trying to achieve.

Who are you?

I’m Derek Davison. As I said above, I’ve spent several years studying US foreign policy and Islamic history, and it’s been my privilege to share what I know and my perspectives on world events for the past several years at and that’s the way it was, LobeLog, on Alhurra TV, on Newsy, and on a variety of podcasts like Chapo Trap House and The Michael Brooks Show.

If you need to get in touch, email me at fxsubstack@gmail.com.

Why subscribe?

As those of you who followed me at my old site and/or at Patreon know, I produce a lot of material. Most of that is going to be available to paid subscribers only:

World News Roundups

These will come to your inbox just about every night (I do take Saturdays off). A couple of nights each week I’ll make them available to the public, but if you want to stay on top of the news the only way to do that will be to subscribe.

“Today in History” Posts

These posts, which will be available to the public, cover important events in Middle Eastern, North Africa, South Asian, and European history. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.

Weekly “Ask Me Anything” Threads

Every Monday I’ll be posting a new “ask me anything” thread where subscribers can ask me about whatever’s on their mind and I’ll do my best to answer. Occasionally I might do that in a short audio segment, which is a nice segue to the next thing on this list.


Although time constraints prevent me from recording podcasts as often as I would like, I do still get together from time to time with scholars (historians mostly) to talk about what they’re studying. I try to keep these discussions free from current events or politics because I think all of us, me in particular, need a break from those things every now and again. Recent topics have included the Mamluk Sultanate, the history of steppe nomads, and early Islamic history.

Subscriber Essays

When I am able, which I confess is not as often as I would like, I’ll be writing essays in response to requests from subscribers. These often revolve around a historical topic (usually related to the Middle East) but I’m game for whatever is on your mind (within reason). As with the podcasts, subscribers have full access to my backlog of essays, including those I recorded before relocating here to Substack.

Columnists and Guest Commentators

I’m always looking for other voices with other areas of expertise to contribute to the newsletter. Though these are generally offered free to the public, your subscriptions help make it possible for me to offer those writers compensation for their time and effort.

Thanks for reading this and I hope to see you around here!

To find out more about the company that provides the tech for this newsletter, visit Substack.com.

Subscribe to Foreign Exchanges

Daily roundups of world news and thoughtful commentary on US foreign policy.


Writer of the Foreign Exchanges newsletter, co-host of the American Prestige podcast
Daniel Bessner is the co-host of the American Prestige podcast.
Assistant Professor of International Studies, University of Washington
I teach in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Cincinnati. I work on a range of topics connected to Islam and politics.
Historian and Associate Professor at Arizona State University
Historian at Yale. Author of "For Might and Right." Next book (with Van Jackson): "The Rivalry Peril: How Great-Power Competition Threatens Peace and Weakens Democracy" (Yale University Press, January 2025).