Day: September 18, 2018

Background Briefing: September 18, 2018


Russia is Giving Israel a Free Hand in Syria to Go After Iranian Targets

We begin with the diplomatic tensions erupting from the shoot-down of a Russian military aircraft in Syria which was blamed on the Israelis although it was the Assad regime’s barrage of anti-aircraft fire which downed the aircraft killing all 15 aboard. Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma who writes “Syria Comment” a daily newsletter and blog on Syrian politics, joins us to discuss efforts by Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russia’s President Putin to calm the tense situation in a crowded airspace in a volatile area of combat with multiple local and international forces butting up against each other. Since Israeli warplanes were attacking Iranian targets in Syria at the time the Russian maritime reconnaissance aircraft was shot down by the Syrians, we analyze the apparent agreement between Russia and Israel to allow the Israelis a free hand to go after Iranian and Hizbollah targets in Syria. And we will assess the deal between Russia and Turkey to create a buffer zone on Turkey’s border with Idlib to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe confronting three million civilians trapped with the last jihadists fighting the Syrian regime. With Russia winning in Syria and bolstering ties with Iraq and Iran, the bitter irony arises that after the U.S. spent over $5 trillion dollars and lost thousands of American lives, it looks like the Russians have ended up with the spoils from our pointless and endless wars.


Trump and His Fellow Authoritarian, Poland’s President Duda, Field Softball Questions From Regime-Friendly Reporters

Then we assess today’s White House visit by Poland’s President Duda followed by a press conference at which both authoritarian leaders Trump and Duda were able to choose softball questions from regime-friendly reporters. Charles Kupchan, a former special assistant to President Obama for National Security who was Director for European Affairs on the National Security Council under President Clinton, joins us to discuss the key issue Trump and Duda did not mention and that is the growing authoritarian nature of the ruling party in Poland and their takeover of the country’s media and courts.


Trump’s Escalating Trade War With China

Then finally we speak with Scott Kennedy, the Director of the Project on Chinese Business and Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and author of “Beyond the Middle Kingdom”. He joins us to discuss China’s tit-for-tat response to Trump’s escalating trade war after $200 billion in tariffs were slapped on them on Monday and the likelihood that before long there will be tariffs on all Chinese imports with the exception of rare earth minerals. We also discuss the mysterious disappearance of China’s biggest movie star.