Background Briefing: January 8, 2020
Iran “Stands Down” But the Long War Continues
We begin with the calibrated response by Iran in its retaliation for the U.S. killing of General Suleimani and assess whether the regime can bridge the gap between promising the Iranian people it would “crush the bones of the Americans” with the reality of many of their missiles targeted at empty fields. Suzanne Maloney, a Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy in the Center for Middle East Studies at the Brookings Institution and a former U.S. State Department Policy Advisor on Iran whose forthcoming book is The Iranian Revolution at 40, joins us to discuss what appears to be a victory for President Trump who announced today that “Iran appears to be standing down”. We will examine the possibility of Trump using the move by the Iraqi parliament calling for U.S. forces to leave their country as an excuse to fulfill his campaign promise of getting out of endless wars in the Middle East, overruling his hawkish advisors Pence and Pompeo. But by no means is the long war with Iran over as the U.S. will continue its economic warfare against Iran and Iran will continue its use of proxies to attack American targets. Meanwhile the protests by Iraqis against Iran’s heavy-handed presence in their country are likely to resume as are the protests inside Iran against the unequal distribution of wealth to the religious establishment and the Revolutionary Guards as Iran’s theocratic regime continues to squander the country’s human and natural resources.
Australia as the Chernobyl of the Climate Crisis
Then we go to Australia to speak with that country’s leading novelist Richard Flanagan, the winner of the Man Booker Prize whose latest book is First Person. He joins us to discuss his recent article at The New York Times, “Australia is Committing Climate Suicide” and elaborate on his comparison of a continent of fire to the collapse of the Soviet Union as Australia is becoming the Chernobyl of the climate crisis. With its appalling leadership void and a media dominated by Rupert Murdoch, Australia will never be the same lucky country as now its angry populace is poised to rise up from the ashes and take back their country from the useless global-warming denying politicians in the pockets of coal barons who abandoned them.
Has McConnell Outmaneuvered Pelosi?
Then finally we get an update on the standoff between Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell now that the Majority Leader has announced that all of his caucus are with him in refusing to have witnesses at a senate trial he will control. Frank Bowman, a Professor of Law at the University of Missouri School of Law and a former federal and state prosecutor whose latest book is High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment in the Age of Trump, joins us to discuss whether the House should have subpoenaed John Bolton earlier or should now take him up on his offer to testify.