Joe Lauria returns to the show to discuss the battle for Mosul, and the degree to which the Iraqi army has defeated the Islamic State. Lauria details the awful destruction of the war: thousands of civilians have been killed, and at least 850,000 people have fled since the fighting started last October, though the origins of the conflict trace back to George W. Bush’s decision to invade in 2003 and the role of the U.S. in aiding ISIS’s rise. Lauria then discusses what’s next: a referendum in Irbil for Kurdish independence from Iraq, the United States attempt to break up the “Shia crescent” between Iran and Syria, and how Donald Trump’s uncertain but aggressive plan in the Middle East makes the situation somehow even more volatile.

Lauria is the author of “How I Lost By Hillary Clinton” and a contributing writer at Consortium News. He is a former UN correspondent and wrote at the Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @unjoe.

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