November 20, 2017

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Program Notes

We begin with an analysis of how the Trump Administration’s foreign policy looks like from abroad one year after an “America First” isolationist whose business empire has been built upon shady financial deals with kleptocratic families and despotic regimes around the world, became President of the United States defeating a former Secretary of State who got three million more votes than he did. Thomas Wright, a fellow and director of the Project on International Order and Strategy, as well as a fellow in the Center on the United States at the Brookings Institution, and the author of “All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the 21st Century and the Future of American Power”, joins us. We will discuss his article at the Irish Times, “In the age of Trump, maybe it gets worse from here” and the apparent retreat underway around the world of democratic institutions and the rule of law because of Trump’s embrace of criminal regimes and powerful despots he appears to admire. We examine the consequences of the unprecedented comingling of the Trump family businesses with US foreign policy and whether, in spite of the crippling of the Department of State under Rex Tillerson, the generals surrounding Trump can prevent the ship of state from sinking America’s standing and reputation around the world.

Then with the recent veto by the Russians that shut down a UN inquiry into the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against his own people, as Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers head for a Pyrrhic victory in Syria, a country that has been torn apart and largely destroyed, we speak with Firas Fayyad, an award-winning Syrian filmmaker about his latest film “The Last Men in Aleppo” which won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. He joins us to discuss the work of the White Helmets who are the subject of his film. They are ordinary Syrians who dig men, women and children out from under collapsed buildings, often with their bare hands, risking their lives as Russian bombs rain down on civilians as their city Aleppo is gradually turned to rubble.

Thomas Wright | Firas Fayyad

A View From Abroad of Year One of Trump’s Foreign Policy | A Syrian Filmmaker on the White Helmets and the Destruction of His Country