Michael Hastings, author of the infamous article “The Runaway General” in Rolling Stone magazine, discusses the seeming resolution of Iraq’s incredibly lengthy government-formation process; the firm Shi’ite grip on power and long-term marginalization of Sunnis (exemplified by their go-to man in government, the Shia Ayad Allawi); Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s conflicted and complicated relationship with Iran; and the remarkably successful Gen. Petraeus Iraq surge (narrative).
Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent, discusses the embarrassing performance of what was supposed to be an impressive display of U.S. military power in Iraq, the bitter sectarian divide remaining from Iraq’s civil war of 2006-07 and why Kurdish autonomy my be preferable to true independence in the short term.
Michael Hastings (audio begins at 19:30), author of the article “The Runaway General” in Rolling Stone magazine, where he is now a contributing editor, discusses why the AfPak War – unfortunately – lives up to its name, the large increase in drone strikes during Obama’s presidency, the elusive “inflection point” at which combat casualties permanently decline and why the “surge” in Iraq can’t be duplicated in Afghanistan.
Andy Worthington (audio begins at 35:45), author of The Guantanamo Files, discusses the proceedings at Guantanamo that are grinding to a halt, why “material support for terrorism” charges have no relation to war crimes and should be tried in federal courts, the political realities that make Guantanamo’s timely closure highly unlikely and the 58 Yemeni prisoners still in custody despite being cleared for release.
Michael Hastings, freelance reporter, author of the book I Lost My Love in Baghdad and the article “The Runaway General” in Rolling Stone magazine – which brought down General Stanley McChrystal, commander of the Afghan War – discusses the rules of engagement for American forces in Afghanistan, public support for a timeline for withdrawal, the failure of the operation in the small town of Marja and the reluctance of Kandahar leaders to go along with repeat of the same in their city, the corruption and ineffectiveness of the Hamid Karzai regime, the current move to change from the ridiculous CNAS COIN doctrine of nation building to the less ambitious Joe Biden plan for endless targeted raids.
Michael Hastings, author and contributor to True/Slant.com, discusses the backlash against religious political parties in Iraq, why Ayad Allawi’s thuggish past has increased his popularity, the massive security apparatus that enables an Iraqi Prime Minister to act like a strongman and why Iraqi Kurdistan is likely to become an independent state in the not-too-distant future.
Michael Hastings, author of the article “The Day Democracy Died in Iraq,” discusses US withdrawal plans that are hinged on an orderly Iraqi election in March, the surge’s failure to effect Sunni/Shia political reconciliation, Ahmed Chalabi’s involvement in banning Sunni and secular candidates and why the promise of military aid will likely guarantee Iraqi acceptance of US forces remaining beyond 2011.
Michael Hastings, author of the article “Afghanistan: Does this make Obama a chickenhawk?” discusses MoveOn’s halfhearted criticism of Obama’s Afghanistan War escalation, how hawkish rhetoric fails to disassociate Democrats from their “mommy party” image, jargon-filled war policy discussions that ignore real-life suffering and why the seemingly mysterious motivations of U.S. occupation are best understood as a convergence of self-interested parties.
Michael Hastings, author of the article “Obama’s War” in GQ Magazine, discusses the skepticism among some high-ranking military officers about the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, the inevitability of diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban, the permeation of Afghan society by the drug trade and the frightening talk about a 25 year U.S. committment to Afghanistan and the broader region.