Background Briefing: December 19, 2018


Trump Gives Erdogan Permission to Slaughter the Kurds

We begin with the sudden announcement by President Trump that the U.S. is pulling out the 2,000 troops it has in Syria starting immediately in a move that was done against the advice of Secretary of Defense Mattis and other top military leaders which has shocked Republican Senators like Lindsay Graham who are warning Trump he is repeating Obama’s alleged mistake of withdrawing from Iraq too early allowing ISIS to fill the vacuum, but this time Trump is allowing ISIS to live on and fight another day just when the Islamic State is all but finished off. Thomas Nichols, a professor of national security affairs in the National Security Affairs Department at the Naval War College whose latest book is “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters”, joins us to discuss this unbelievable strategic retreat by the U.S. from a tiny military footprint which acts as a tripwire holding the Assad regime, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Turkey in check. In a recent phone conversation with Erdogan Trump appears to have given Turkey’s autocratic leader who is threatening to invade northern Syria, permission to go ahead and slaughter the Kurds who are the only boots on the ground who have helped the U.S.-led coalition rid Iraq and almost all of Syria of the scourge of ISIS which has now been given a reprieve. We will try to assess why Trump overruled his top military, diplomatic and national security advisers to essentially reward Putin and the military contractor Raytheon which now gets to sell Patriot missiles to Turkey.


Trump’s Stunning Strategic Blunder Will Suck Israel and the US Deeper into Syria

Then we examine further this stunning strategic blunder by Trump and Trump alone, in which in trying to avoid George W. Bush’s blunder of getting bogged down in Iraq, Trump is expanding the war and adding to the bloodshed in Syria, making it increasingly likely that Israel and the U.S. are probably going to be sucked deeper into the Syrian quagmire in the future. Nicholas Heras, a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security working on the Middle East who served as their tenth Ist Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich Jr., USA Fellow and who is the author of “From the Bottom, Up: A Strategy for U.S. Military Support for Syria’s Armed Opposition”, joins us.


An Examination of Some of the 17 Investigations into Trump

Then finally with Trump, the Trump Organization and his family now the subject of at least 17 different investigations, we will examine some of these with Justin Elliott, a reporter at ProPublica where he covers money and politics and has an article “Trump’s Inauguration Paid Trump’s Company – With Ivanka in the Middle”. He joins us to explore Trump’s self-dealing in which the non-profit set up for his inauguration was overcharged by his hotel in Washington and just before Florida’s Attorney General Pam Biondi dropped Florida’s suit against Trump University, her campaign got a $25,000 check from Trump’s charity the Trump Foundation which New York’s Attorney General has just shut down.