Background Briefing: October 21, 2019
American Convoys Abandon the Kurds as Putin and Erdogan Meet to Carve up the Spoils
We begin with the ignominious withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria in convoys sporting large American flags which local villagers left to the mercy of the invading Turks and their murderous proxies are greeting with curses as they toss rotten vegetables at the departing military vehicles. Amy Austin Holmes, a fellow at the Wilson Center and a Professor of Sociology at the American University in Cairo who has spent a decade living in the Middle East and the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria and is the author of “Social Unrest and American Bases in Turkey and Germany Since 1945”, joins us. We will discuss the war crimes being committed by Erdogan’s shock troops, the so-called Free Syrian Army comprised of Arab jihadis who along with the Turks, are not abiding by the ceasefire Pence and Pompeo “negotiated” in their cave-in to Erdogan. And with Erdogan meeting with Putin on Tuesday in Sochi, Russia just hours before the ceasefire expires, we will assess what kind of deal Putin will make since it appears he is now in charge of Syria’s future and the fate of the Kurds and will be mediating between the Kurds and Turks and the Syrians and Turks. Since Amy is the only scholar and analyst on the region who has actually studied the composition of the SDF, the Syrian Democratic Forces Trump sold out, we will discuss how the SDF is not an exclusively Kurdish force but rather is made up of Kurds, Arabs, Christians, Yazidis and Turkmen, a fact that Amy pointed out at a conference off opposition leaders recently in Turkey which led to her being vilified in the Turkish media which is almost entirely under Erdogan’s control.
How American Labor Can Be Re-Empowered
Then we speak with Steven Greenhouse, a reporter with The New York Times who covered labor and the workplace for 19 years and is the author of “The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker”. He joins us to discuss his latest book just out, “Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor”, and we will look into the recent strike by GM workers and the history of strikes at GM, as well as how labor’s decline has magnified inequality and injustice in America as corporate leaders reward themselves to excess as they cut their worker’s pay and benefits while recruiting cheaper part-time labor. We also examine how labor can be re-empowered and the need for publicly-financed elections to break the grip of big money from corporations and oligarchs like the Koch brothers so that crippling labor laws can be changed to make the American Dream attainable for working and middle class Americans.