Background Briefing: March 2, 2020


Trump’s Afghan Peace Deal Blows Up Two Days After it is Signed

We begin with the Taliban resuming their war against the Afghan Army just days after agreeing to a peace deal with the United States signed in Doha on Saturday. In spite of Secretary of State Pompeo expressing hope that negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban would begin, fighting will now resume between the two sides calling into question the utility of the peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban that excluded the Afghan government. Thomas Barfield, a professor of Anthropology at Boston University where he directs the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations who is the President of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies and the author of Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, joins us. We discuss whether we are back to where we were when Trump pulled the plug on the peace talks and whether the Taliban who control the countryside and the Afghan government which controls the cities, can reach a compromise given how much the war-weary Afghans yearn for peace. The Taliban are demanding the Afghan government hand over 5,000 of the 10,000 Taliban prisoners they are holding, something the U.S. agreed to but not the Afghan government, so it remains to be seen whether a deal over the prisoners can be struck and how many U.S. and NATO troops will remain in the country in spite of the Taliban’s insistence that all foreign troops leave.


E.J. Dionne Discusses His New Book Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can unite to Save Our Country

Then we speak with E.J. Dionne Jr., a columnist at The Washington Post, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a visiting professor at Harvard University, and a professor at Georgetown University about his new book, just out, Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country. With Buttigieg and Klobuchar dropping out to help Biden ahead of Super Tuesday’s big haul of delegates, the divide between moderate and progressive Democrats becomes more stark and alarming, raising the specter of progressives and moderates feuding while America burns? Or will these natural allies unite to focus on saving democracy, the rule of law and our future on a planet endangered by global warming? We will discuss what can be done to unite progressive and moderate Democrats so that they do not blow this historic chance to save the United States from four more ruinous years of Donald Trump who will further weaken our national security at the behest of Vladimir Putin, hollow out and purge our government of professionals and stack it with incompetent loyalists, fill the courts with far right and unqualified judges and turn the Supreme Court into a reactionary bastion for corporate and oligarchical power while shutting the door on ordinary Americans as the faux populist tilts the economy even further towards enriching the already rich while shafting middle class and working Americans.