Day: September 16, 2019

Background Briefing: September 16, 2019


Tehran’s Not-Too-Subtle Message to the White House

We begin with heightening tensions in the Gulf following an Iranian strike by drones and cruise missiles on two key Saudi oil facilities which has Trump threatening in a tweet that the U.S. “is locked and loaded” but has the Saudis meek and terrified at the same time exposing their military as a paper tiger despite the billions they spend on the latest U.S. weapons. Joining us is Mansour Farhang, professor emeritus of international relations at Bennington College who resigned as revolutionary Iran’s first ambassador to the United Nations when Khomeini’s regime refused to accept the UN’s recommendation to release its U.S. hostages. We will discuss the not-too-subtle message Tehran is sending the White House that as long as you are conducting economic warfare against us and we can’t sell our oil, then your friends the Saudis and Emiratis won’t also be able to sell their oil. And while Trump does not want a war that will drive up the price of gas at the pump which will hurt his reelection chances, he is incapable of recognizing it his obsession with undoing Obama’s achievements that has brought him to this crisis. Although the U.S. could do great damage to Iran’s military and Revolutionary Guards Corps, the IRGC just reminded U.S. military planners what they could do to the huge U.S. airbase in Qatar which might explain the Pentagon’s reluctance to get into another war in the Gulf. But with diplomacy the only option to get out of this hair-trigger situation, Trump might have to make concessions to Iran to get them to the table, the very thing he accused Obama of doing.


Did Iran’s Hardliners Sabotage a UN Meeting Between Trump and Rouhani?

Then we look into the spike in oil prices following the Iranian attack on Saudi refineries and oilfields and the extent to which that will benefit Russia whose leader Vladimir Putin was meeting today with Erdogan the leader of a NATO country Turkey, and Iran’s Foreign Minister, in which Putin joked that maybe Saudi Arabia should buy some Russian air defense missiles like the ones Turkey just bought.  An expert on global resources and energy security, Paul Sullivan, Professor of Economics and the National Defense University joins us to discuss the likelihood that hardliners in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps were behind the attack aimed at preventing a meeting at the UN between President Trump and Iran’s President Rouhani.


Is Being a Politician as Usual Now a Liability?

Then finally we speak with Michael Kazin, Professor of History at Georgetown University and author of “The Populist Persuasion” who is writing a book on the history of the Democratic Party. He joins us to discuss the most recent Democratic presidential candidates’ debate and the punditry that followed and analyze whether politics as usual and particularly being a politician as usual, is becoming a liability and that candidates who don’t sound like politicians and can speak directly to the American people are the most likely to get elected in the future.