Category Archives: Interviews

8/16/17 Andrew Bacevich on Trump’s eventual Afghanistan decision

Andrew Bacevich, author of “America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History” joins Scott to discuss his article for The American Conservative “Yes Congress, Afghanistan is Your Vietnam.” Bacevich explains that the division between Trump’s advisors on how to proceed in Afghanistan has created a stalemate in the Oval Office. It’s noteworthy, Bacevich says, that there hasn’t been a comprehensive report from the Trump administration outlining the United States’s foreign policy mission. On the one hand it seems like Trump has handed the reigns over to the military in certain conflicts and has been controlling in others, which has created disarray Bacevich says. Bacevich contrasts Donald Trump with his predecessors George W. Bush and Barack Obama who, by comparison, are intellectual stalwarts. Bacevich says the one possible benefit of Trump’s erraticism is that he has, so far, rejected U.S. foreign policy of the past 25 years. But while Trump may have noninterventionist tendencies, his lack of a coherent, principled plan means that he often veers off course into violent conflicts all the same.

Andrew Bacevich is a Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at Boston University. He is the author of a number of books including “America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History” and is a regular contributor at The American Conservative and TomDispatch.com.

Don’t forget to check out Scott’s new book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan.

Discussed on the show:

  • “Thousands More Troops Needed To Break Afghanistan ‘Stalemate,’ General Warns” (NPR)
  • Erik Prince
  • “Bannon & Kushner Want to Outsource Afghanistan to Mercenaries,” by Mark Perry (The American Conservative)
  • James Mattis
  • H.R. McMaster
  • “The Knives Are Out for Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster” (Foreign Policy)
  • “I agree with Pres. Obama on Afghanistan. We should have a speedy withdrawal. Why should we keep wasting our money — rebuild the U.S.!” (Donald Trump, via Twitter)
  • John Bolton

Quote of the show: “In comparison to Trump, George W. Bush looks like Bismark.” —Andrew Bacevich

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8/16/17 Phil Giraldi on the DNC: Was it a hack or a leak?

Executive director of the Council for the National Interest and former CIA officer Phil Giraldi returns to the show to discuss his latest article for The American Conservative, “Hack or Leak: Who Really Stole the DNC Files?” While there isn’t conclusive evidence for any of the potential explanations for how the information got from the DNC computer to WikiLeaks, Giraldi explains that no one seems to be particularly interested in investigating who was responsible. Did the Russians hack the DNC? Giraldi believes that the U.S. has no chain of evidence leading them to the conclusion that Russia is responsible. However, Giraldi cautions that, even if the information was leaked rather than hacked, it wouldn’t remove Russia as a suspect. What about the Seth Rich theory? Giraldi believes Rich is at the top of a short list of potential leakers, but that there’s still plenty of unscrutinized evidence. Giraldi then discusses the upcoming Ron Paul Institute’s Peace and Prosperity Conference where he will be speaking on September 9th. Finally, Giraldi touches on his article for The Unz Review, “Israel’s Chorus Sings Again” about U.S.-Israeli relations and the outrage against Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster’s relatively cool approach to Israel.

Phil Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest a former CIA case officer and Army intelligence officer. He has been a contributing editor at The American Conservative for nine years and writes regularly for Antiwar.com.

Oh, and buy Scott’s new book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan!

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8/8/17 Ramzy Baroud on the Palestinian response to the Jerusalem Attack

Editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud returns to the show to discuss his latest articles, “The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians into a Corner” and “Power to the People: Why Palestinian Victory in Jerusalem is a Pivotal Moment.” Scott and Baroud begin by discussing the history of the ’67 War, its basis in false propaganda, and how the deliberate plan put in place 50 year ago remains today. Baroud then explains the context of the clash in east Jerusalem, where Israel has used the al-Aqsa clash with Palestinians as an opportunity to permanently control Haram Sharif. According to Baroud if Israel fully controls Haram Sharif then there’s nothing left to fight for in Jerusalem for the Palestinians. Baroud details how this is just the latest act of aggression in Israel’s steady creep into east Jerusalem and how, through continual pressure and coercion, Arabs have now become a minority in east Jerusalem. Finally, Baroud explains why a two-state solution would be an impossible endeavor and how effectively the Israelis have manipulated the language of the occupation to flip the victim narrative on its head.

Ramzy Baroud is a US-Arab journalist and is the editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of“My Father Was A Freedom Fighter: The Untold Story of Gaza.” His latest digital project is “Palestine in Motion,” intended to give a holistic understanding of the lives of Palestinians as told in their own words. Follow Ramzy on Twitter @RamzyBaroud and read his work at RamzBaroud.net.

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8/8/17 William Astore on how Trump is right to be skeptical about Afghanistan

William J. Astore returns to the show to discuss his latest article for Antiwar.com “On Afghanistan, Trump Is Right To Be Skeptical.” Astore discusses Trump’s apparent cognitive dissonance: he’s happy to bomb the Middle East indiscriminately, but is skeptical of escalating troops in Afghanistan and speculates that it’s Trump’s impatience, which is frequently a danger, which may be a saving grace in Afghanistan. Astore thinks Trump might have a nose for a losing approach, and that the last thing Trump wants is to be associated with what he believes is a losing effort in Afghanistan. But Trump, like Obama, faces increasing pressure from his generals. Scott and Astore discuss how the lack of an anti-war movement both in politics and in society generally have incentivized Barack Obama and Donald Trump to fold to the national security state and prolong the wars. Finally, Astore is particulary worried that the latest propaganda that Russia and Iran are backing the Taliban could lead to something far more serious.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He is a contributing writer at Antiwar.com and TomDispatch.com. Read all of his work at his website BracingViews.com.

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8/8/17 Trita Parsi on Trump’s motivation to end the Iran Deal

Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council, returns to the show to discuss Donald Trump’s motivation to spurn the Iran deal. Parsi explains that the Iran Deal is in danger because of an inexplicable desire on Donald Trump’s part to destroy the deal, dating back to his campaign. Parsi speculates that, in addition to Trump’s opposition to Barack Obama, his hatred of the Iran Deal is the result of his seemingly new infatuation with the Saudi Arabians who have been vehemently opposed to the Iran Deal from its inception. Trump’s plan appears to be to make Iran’s life as difficult as possible such that Iran will ultimately break the deal. Making things worse, even some of the so-called adults in Trump’s administration believe that a limited conflict against Iran in Syria and elsewhere would convince Iran to back down. Parsi explains why history shows that a U.S. conflict with Iran is highly unlikely to achieve its goals. Finally, while Iran and the United States appear to have common cause in the Middle East, the ultimate question and tension between the two is who will be the dominant power in the Middle East? Parsi explains that the desire to be hegemon will ultimately prove to be the stumbling block.

Trita Parsi is the president of the National Iranian American Council and the author of “Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy.” Parsi is the recipient of the 2010 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. Follow him on Twitter @tparsi.

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8/8/17 Muhammad Sahimi on Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on the local Shiite population

Professor of chemical engineering at USC Muhammad Sahimi returns to the show to discuss the latest Saudi crackdown on the local Shia population. Sahimi explains how Wahhabi clerics have ratcheted up tensions and violence against Saudi Shiites who face continual oppression from the Saudi government. Saudi hostility toward Shia in the region often receives attention, but now it’s time to pay more attention to how they treat their own people, Sahimi says, which includes mass torture and execution of dissidents. Sahimi explains that the reason we don’t hear about Saudi atrocities in the United States is because the Saudis are protected by the establishment in the United States and believes that the Saudis are exploiting its alliance with the U.S. and its fear of Iran to lobby the U.S. to fight Shias in the Middle East.

Muhammad Sahimi is the NIOC Chair in petroleum engineering at the University of Southern California and a contributor at Antiwar.com and the Huffington Post.

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8/7/17 Daniel McAdams on how the Russia sanctions will be used against Americans

Director of the Ron Paul Institute Daniel McAdams returns to the show to discuss his latest article, “Russia Sanctions and the Coming Crackdown on Americans“. McAdams details the phony justification for the sanctions, how hardcore neocons are leading the Russia hysteria, and why it poses a serious threat to our first amendment rights. Scott and McAdams discuss whether Trump is totally and completely lost or whether he has one or two good instincts and if they will be revealed when he finally makes a decision on Afghanistan. McAdams explains why the neocons are flourishing under Trump and how both sides of the Trump administration divide (the nationalists and the neocons) are both pro-war in different ways. Finally, Scott asks about Venezuela and wonders which is to blame: the inherent problems of socialism or American intervention.

Daniel McAdams is the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and the cohost of the Ron Paul Liberty Report. Follow him on Twitter @DanielLMcAdams and read all of his work over at Antiwar.com.

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7/27/17 Josh Ruebner on latest anti-BDS bill

Josh Ruebner, director of the U.S. campaign for Palestinian Rights, and author of “Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace” joins the show to discuss his latest article “New U.S. bill would punish settlement boycotters.” Ruebner explains how the act would criminalize U.S. corporations and individuals for supporting or furthering the impact of a boycott against Israel. Despite obvious major free speech restrictions the bill has support from both Democrats and Republicans, many of whom are already backing off their commitment to the bill. What’s really disturbing about the bill according to Ruebner is that companies could be criminalized even if their business decisions had the effect, but not intent, of furthering a boycott on Israel. Beyond that, if the bill became law, Attorney General Jeff Sessions would have the power to throw someone in jail ostensibly for their political beliefs. Ruebner explains how the bill has already created blowback against AIPAC and Israel: Constituents are pressing members of Congress on this issue for the first time and the progressive wing of the Democratic party is feeling more emboldened to speak out in support of the Palestinians, making it clear that the base of democratic voters no longer on board with Israeli policy of the past. Finally, Ruebner discusses the necessary conditions for a political solution between Israel and Palestine and how the BDS movement has successfully convinced companies to divest from Israel.

Josh Ruebner is the director of the U.S. campaign for Palestinian Rights. He is the author of “Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace” and the upcoming book “Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State?“. Follow Josh on Twitter @joshruebner.

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07/27/17 Conn Hallinan on the Persian Gulf Crisis

Foreign Policy in Focus columnist Conn Hallinan returns to the show to discuss his latest article for Foreign Policy in Focus, “The Tortured Politics Behind the Persian Gulf Crisis.” Hallinan details the reasons for the rising tensions between Qatar and their former friends in the Gulf over. According to Hallinan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are angry about Qatar’s largely independent foreign policy, which Qatar has used to develop relationships with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. For Saudi Arabia, who’s leading the blockade of Qatar, this is just one of a series of really inept steps that the Saudis have taken, which are destabilizing the country. Donald Trump has been generally supportive of the blockade in spite of the fact that the largest U.S. base in the middle east is in Qatar. All of this makes U.S.-Iranian relations that much more tense. Scott wonders what would happen if the United States broke the Iran Deal, and whether or not a war with Iran might be on the horizon. Scott teases his upcoming book on the never-ending war in Afghanistan. and Hallinan explains why the conflict between India and Pakistan is the most frightening stare down in the world today. Finally the two discuss the rising tide of populism in the United States and Europe.

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7/27/17 West Virginia House Rep Pat McGeehan on his “Defend the Guard” bill

West Virginia House of Delegates representative Pat McGeehan joins Scott to discuss shis “Defend the Guard” bill. McGeehan discusses his attempts to defang the empire from the bottom up by passing a bill refusing to allow their state guard services to be nationalized and used in unconstitutional wars. McGeehan’s bill stated that no West Virginian guard unit could be deployed overseas without an expressed declaration of war from the U.S. Congress. He then relays a story about how adjutant general of the West Virginia national guard addressed him about the bill after receiving a call from the Pentagon, which threatened to move the West Virginia national guard onto the BRAC List or relocate them to other states. The bill didn’t pass, but the movement seems like it’s catching momentum.

McGeehan also describes his history in the military, explaining how the number of innocents slaughtered in Afghanistan changed his views on U.S. foreign policy. Those experiences changed McGeehan from a George W. Bush guy to a Ron Paul guy.

Pat McGeehan is a two-term representative in the West Virginia House of Delegates and a graduate of the U.S. air force academy. He is the author of “Stoicism and the Statehouse.” Follow him on Twitter @McGeehan4WV.

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7/27/17 Gareth Porter on Barack Obama’s policy of arming jihadists in Syria

Gareth Porter returns to the show to discuss his latest articles for the American Conservative, “How America Armed Terrorists in Syria” and “How CIA and Allies Trapped Obama in the Syrian Arms Debacle.” Scott and Gareth discuss how U.S. national security policy since Obama took office has been largely been, either directly or indirectly, in support of al-Qaeda and that unlike George W. Bush, who empowered al-Qaeda accidentally, Barack Obama did it with full understanding of the likely consequences of his policies. Gareth then explains how U.S. policy in the Middle East, and in Syria particularly, changed with the outbreak of the Arab Spring, which the U.S. saw as an opportunity to foment revolution with the goal of regime change. According to Gareth, Obama’s advisors failed to warn him that arming Assad’s enemies in Syria would increase the role of Hezbollah and Iran, and ultimately backfire—just another example of how the U.S. foreign policy machine is always able to rationalize their views, no matter how ill-fated, in order to advance their supposed interests. Gareth also explains why the Iran Deal pressured Obama into opposing Iran everywhere else in order to placate Saudi Arabia and many of his advisors, including David Petraeus. Finally, Scott and Gareth touch on the considerable role Israel and the U.S.’s Sunni allies in the region play in determining U.S. policy.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist on the national security state and author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter.

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7/27/17 Daniel McAdams on the latest Russia sanctions

Executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Daniel McAdams returns to the show to discuss his latest article, “House Passes New Russia Sanctions, Pumps Adrenaline into Cold War 2.0.” McAdams recaps the latest vote for sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, which passed nearly unanimously, why the overwhelming support makes it unlikely Trump will veto the bill, and how sanctions on Russia will act as a form of protectionism for the U.S. energy industry with far reaching consequences for the European and U.S. economy. Dan and Scott then revisit the Bush years, and lament that it’s unlikely even Jeb Bush would have surrounded by as many neocons as Trump has. Finally, McAdams discusses how spending trillions of dollars a year on phantom threats around the world such as Iran and North Korea has done serious damage to the U.S. economy and the lives of ordinary people and why, if you’re really concerned about the Russians, the looming danger is the eventual collapse of the U.S. dollar.

Daniel McAdams is the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and the cohost of the Ron Paul Liberty Report. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielLMcAdams and read all of his work over at Antiwar.com.

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7/27/17 Elijah Magnier on the U.S. abusing the Sykes-Picot Agreement in Syria

Veteran war correspondent Elijah Magnier joins Scott to discuss his recent article, “First ‘Islamic State’ and then the US breaches Sykes-Picot with one objective: the Partition of Syria and Iraq.” Magnier explains how the U.S. is aiming to partition Syria and Iraq by placing permanent bases in northeast Syria and why, despite a potential ally in the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, the U.S. is unlikely to be able to cut off Bashar al-Assad from the rest of Mesopotamia for long. Magnier says that America’s policy towards an independent Kurdish state has changed as the Kurds have come to represent an expedient ally in both Iraq and Syria. But an independent Kurdish state will, even with American support, have massive problems, which Magnier details. With Iraq in disarray, particularly in the majority Sunni areas, the longstanding Sykes-Picot agreement may be on its last legs. With the fight for Raqqa against ISIS nearing its conclusion, the question of what comes next looms.

Mangier also explains the origins of al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Jabhat al-Nusra, its close ties to ISIS, and its growing tension with the other jihadist groups in the country. Thanks to a constant stream of support from the international community, including funding and weapons from the United States, al-Aqaeda will be difficult to eradicate. The eventual battle for Idlib could be as brutal the battle for Mosul. Like Mosul, Idlib is full of citizens, and currently controlled by al-Qaeda. Finally, Magnier describes how the Americans have tried to control al Qaeda in Syria, which started as a small and has steadily grown with direct and indirect U.S. support and explains why you can’t just pull the plug from al-Qaeda and expect al-Qaeda to go away.

Elijah Magnier is the chief international correspondent at Al Rai and a political and terrorism/counterterrorism analyst. Find all his work at elijahjm.wordpress.com and follow him on Twitter @ejmalrai.

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7/19/17 Daniel Davis on the victims of the long war in Mosul

Afghan war whistleblower Daniel Davis returns to the show to talk about his latest article, “I Interviewed the War-Weary Residents of Mosul. The Fight for the City Is Far From Over.” Davis talks about his trip to northern Iraq, heroic stories of everyday people resisting ISIS in Mosul, and rumors of Iraqi soldiers committing atrocities against suspected ISIS members.

Davis explains that the war against ISIS isn’t over: ISIS members are supposedly shaving their beards and pretending to be fleeing refugees leading to rumors of ISIS sleeper cells. The fight against ISIS is part of an ongoing Sunni insurgency in Mosul against the Shia, Kurd, and Christian population that goes all the way back to 2004. The U.S. latest worry is that the fall of ISIS in Mosul will create a true “Shiite Crescent,” necessitating U.S. presence in eastern Syria to break up the Iranian power corridor. Scott and Danny discuss how this is just the latest in a long line of U.S. foreign policy decisions that have ultimately empowered Iran in the Middle East. Davis explains that the U.S. can’t kill its way out of the Middle East and that there are good people throughout the region who are suffering immensely. Finally, Davis suggests that Kurdish rule in Iraq seems like it might be the best way to bring about peace and he and Scott discuss whether the United States should help the referendum for a fully autonomous Kurdish state.

Retired lieutenant colonel Daniel Davis did multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan during his time in the army. He now writes for Defense Priorities and National Interest.

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7/19/17 Ramzy Baroud on how Israel is suffocating the Palestinians in Gaza

Dr. Ramzy Baroud, author of “My Father Was A Freedom Fighter: The Untold Story of Gaza,” joins Scott to discuss the Israeli suffocation of the Palestinians in Gaza. Baroud explains how the nearly two million Palestinians living in Gaza are managing to subsist despite heavy restrictions on their life, including physical confinement and outright bans on farming and fishing. The suicide rate in Gaza is dramatic and on the rise as people have started to lose hope—and things are only getting worse. Baroud tells the story of a woman with breast cancer whose permit, which she needed to travel in order to receive chemotherapy, has been denied by Israel. She’s one of thousands of Palestinians who have been denied life-saving treatment.

Baroud details how Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made life for Palestinians that much worse and how the United States torpedoed a chance for a political solution in 2006 when Condoleezza Rice divided a peaceful coalition in Palestine. In doing so, the United States and Israel have made the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible. Israel has subsequently pushed the Gazans to the brink of starvation to break the will of the people and force them into accepting a deal in Israel’s interest. That new, misguided solution is directed by Mohammed Dahlan who is attempting to create a peace deal with the Sisi government in Egypt to open the borders with Palestine. Baroud claims this will create a split between Gaza and Palestine that will ultimately make life worse for the Palestinians. Further, such a deal would no longer demand the lifting of the Israel siege of Gaza and would create the appearance of an inter-Arab affair, removing responsibility from America and Israel. Finally, Baroud shares the books on Palestine he most recommends.

Ramzy Baroud is a US-Arab journalist and is the editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle. His latest digital project is “Palestine in Motion,” intended to give a holistic understanding of the lives of Palestinians as told in their own words. Follow Ramzy on Twitter @RamzyBaroud and read his work at RamzBaroud.net.

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Ramzy Baroud’s Reading List:

The Question of Palestine, by Edward Said

In Search of Fatima, by Gahda Karmi

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe

Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide, by Ben White

Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa

My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story, by Ramzy Baroud

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