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Background Briefing: February 4, 2019

 

Trump Angers Iraq’s Leaders and Endangers American Bases

We  begin with the backlash to President Trump’s announcement that he was keeping U.S. troops at a base in Iraq he described as a “fantastic edifice”, “because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran”, which prompted an angry response from Iraq’s president who reminded Trump the U.S. had not asked Iraq’s permission, adding that “we live here”. An expert on Iraq, Juan Cole, a professor of Modern Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan joins us to discuss his article at JuanCole.com “Trump to Keep Troops in Iraq as Spies on Iran, but determined to withdraw from Syria, Afghanistan”. Given that the Iraqi government is dominated by pro-Iranian Shiites, in blowing America’s cover story that we are in Iraq to mop up what is left of ISIS, Trump’s ignorance of diplomacy and amateurism in foreign policy, combined with a racist dismissal of the local natives, is likely to make the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq more tenuous. Particularly now that Trump has said our troops are there to spy on Iran, which is sure to outrage Iraqi Shiites who might redouble their efforts to kick the U.S. military out of their country.

 

 Mounting Pressure on Virginia’s Governor

Then we assess whether the growing pressure on Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam to step down will eventually result in the Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax taking over even though sexual assault allegations against him have resurfaced on a right-wing website which Fairfax has dismissed as “a totally fabricated story out of the blue”. Andra Gillespie, a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University and author of the forthcoming book out soon, “Race and the Obama Administration: Symbols, Substance and Hope”, joins us. We discuss whether a “#MeToo” moment for race relations has arrived in the midst of universal condemnation of racist images in Northam’s medical school yearbook that came out as recently as 1984.

 

SPLC Sued By Founder of the Proud Boys, the Bodyguards for Roger Stone

Then finally we examine the lawsuit brought by Gavin McInnes, the founder of the Proud Boys, against the Southern Poverty Law Center for describing his former organization as a “hate group”. Brian Levin, the Director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino who previously served as Associate Director of Legal Affairs of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Klanwatch/Militia Task Force, joins us to discuss his forthcoming “Report to the Nation: Hate Crimes” and how the Proud Boys have been acting as bodyguards for Roger Stone.