Background Briefing with Ian Masters Russia Files

September 16, 2018

A Compilation of Recent Interviews

Patriotism as the Last Refuge of the Scoundrel in the Oval Office
The Former Cyber Czar on Russian Meddling in the Upcoming Election
Evangelical Pastors Campaigning Against Republicans
Program Notes

Today we compile recent interviews we felt worthy of revisiting. We begin with an interview on the 17th anniversary of 9/11 with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson the former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and discuss how Mohammed Bin Salman the de-facto leader of the country most responsible for 9/11 and for propagating global terrorism, Saudi Arabia, along with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, are goading President Trump into a war with Iran and possibly Syria too. With National Security advisor John Bolton, a protégé of Trump and Netanyahu’s biggest backer Sheldon Adelson itching for a war and a desperate and paranoid Trump liable to initiate a “wag the dog” war to rescue the Republicans from defeat in November and stave off the possibility of impeachment if the Democrats take the House, conditions could not be more ripe for another catastrophic intervention in the Middle East. If Trump fires Secretary of Defense Mattis as expected and decides he needs the mother of all distractions, the question arises will the war-weary American public rise up in protest? And since Trump has proclaimed today’s anniversary of 9/11 “Patriot Day”, will Trump’s base, urged on by hyper-jingoism from Fox News, create a sufficient war party to con us into another war using patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel in the Oval Office.

Then we revisit our interview with Richard Clarke who served three consecutive presidents as Special Assistant to the President for Global Affairs, National Coordinator for Security and Counter-terrorism and Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace whose latest book is “WARNINGS: Finding Cassandras to Prevent Catastrophes”. He joins us to discuss the probability of Russian cyber-meddling in the November election and the unprecedented dangers in having such a reckless and compromised president who is acting more like a tool of a foreign power than a defender of democracy.

Then finally we go to an interview with two evangelical pastors who have broken with Christian fundamentalism and are now campaigning against the elite evangelicalswho are the enablers of President Trump and the Republicans, under the banner of a new organization Vote Common Good. Robb Ryerse, the founding pastor of Vintage Fellowship in Fayetteville, Arkansas and political director of Vote Common Good joinsDoug Pagitt, the co-founder of Vote Common Good who founded Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis, Minnesota, join us to discuss their political journey and the destination they want for this country.

Lawrence Wilkerson | Richard Clarke | Robb Ryerse | Doug Pagitt


September 13, 2018

The 10th Anniversary of the Wall Street Crash and Paths Not Taken
Flooding From Florence Will Spread Pig Feces Across North Carolina
Pompeo Certifies Saudi War Crimes
Program Notes

We begin with the 10th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008 which triggered the Wall Street crash and speak with Jesse Eisinger, the Pulitzer Prize-winning senior reporter at ProPublica who covers Wall Street and finance. The author of “The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives”, he joins us to explore the paths not taken by President Obama who bailed out Wall Street in the greatest transfer of private debt into public debt in the history of the world in which Wall Street was rewarded for its reckless and criminal behavior and Main Street got stuck with the bill. We discuss the extent to which the economic crisis of 2007 to 2012 morphed into the political and geopolitical crisis of today as the unfairness of the 1% stiffing the 99% aroused right-wing nationalism both in the United States and Europe and helped install Donald Trump in the White House. Unfortunately instead of a backlash of social justice, populist anger was cynically captured by a con man who used the rage and alienation to gain power then screw his voters to reward the super-rich in the upper echelons of the Forbes list of billionaires, an exclusive club which Trump has always so desperately aspired to join.

Then with Hurricane Florence striking North Carolina, we  examine an aspect of the damage from flooding which does not get the attention it deserves in spite of the devastating experiences from prior hurricanes. Matthew Starr, who works with the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation in North Carolina on their Muddy Water Watch program, joins us to discuss how there are 62 industrial swine operations within the 100-year floodplain with 366 within 100 feet of the floodplain. This means these vast so-called lagoons filled with pig feces and urine will be flooded and the contamination will spread into the rivers and streams polluting vast swathes of the state.

Then finally, with Wednesday’s certification to Congress by Secretary of State Pompeo that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have shown “demonstrable actions” to limit civilian casualties in their war on Yemen, we speak with Kate Gould, the Legislative Director for Middle East Policy for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Quaker lobby in the public interest fielding the largest team of registered peace lobbyists in Washington D.C. She joins us to discuss how much the U.S. has blood on its hands from providing the Saudis with refueling, intelligence and targeting in a war the U.N. describes as causing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Jesse Eisinger | Matthew Starr | Kate Gould


September 12, 2018

Extreme Weather Now the New Normal
The EU Censures Hungary’s Victor Orban
Are China and Russia Becoming Allies?
Program Notes

We begin with the huge hurricane bearing down on the Carolinas and analyze why increasingly destructive and costly floods, fires, droughts and hurricanes are happening with more frequency and intensity as extreme weather becomes the new normal. Michael Mann, the Director of the Earth Systems Science Center at Penn State University who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with others on the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change and author of “The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy”, joins us. We will discuss the disconnect between the reality facing us and the planet and the policies of the Trump Administration which go beyond denial to outright hostility to the modest efforts so far to deal with the worsening climate crisis. As global warming makes the Atlantic Ocean warmer, hurricanes are moving north from their usual trajectory of hitting the Caribbean to striking population centers on America’s East coast, meaning it will be only a matter of time before New York City is directly impacted by a super-storm. Meanwhile Trump and his cabinet in the pocket of the oil and gas lobby, are making it easier for oil and gas companies to pollute with impunity by releasing methane, a virulent global warming gas 100 times worse than CO2.

Then we get an update on the censure vote today in the European Parliament to punish Hungary’s leader Victor Orban for breaches of the core values of the European Union and speak with R. Daniel Keleman, the Jean Monnet Chair and Director of the Center for European Studies at Rutgers University. He joins us to discuss whether the EU rule Article 7 could be triggered to suspend Hungary from the 28 member EU which is unlikely because Poland is likely to veto such a move.

Then finally, we examine what might be going on in terms of some kind of budding relationship between Russia and China as the countries two leaders met today in Vladivostok and made pancakes together on the waterfront at Russia’s Pacific port as a major military exercise involving 300,000 troops, 36,000 tanks and 1,000 aircraft got underway with Chinese troops drilling with Russian service members in the “Vostok 2018” war games.Gilbert Rozman, a Professor of Sociology at Princeton University who specializes in Russian and Chinese relations, joins us to assess whether these historical rivals are becoming allies.

Michael Mann | R. Daniel Keleman | Gilbert Rozman


September 11, 2018

Patriotism as the Last Refuge of the Scoundrel in the Oval Office
The War on Terror 17 Years Later
Evangelical Pastors of Vote Common Good Campaigning Against Republicans
Program Notes

We begin on this 17th anniversary of 9/11 and speak with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson the former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and discuss how Mohammed Bin Salman the de-facto leader of the country most responsible for 9/11 and for propagating global terrorism, Saudi Arabia, along with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, are goading President Trump into a war with Iran and possibly Syria too. With National Security advisor John Bolton, a protégé of Trump and Netanyahu’s biggest backer Sheldon Adelson itching for a war and a desperate and paranoid Trump liable to initiate a “wag the dog” war to rescue the Republicans from defeat in November and stave off the possibility of impeachment if the Democrats take the House, conditions could not be more ripe for another catastrophic intervention in the Middle East. If Trump fires Secretary of Defense Mattis as expected and decides he needs the mother of all distractions, the question arises will the war-weary American public rise up in protest? And since Trump has proclaimed today’s anniversary of 9/11 “Patriot Day”, will Trump’s base, urged on by hyper-jingoism from Fox News, create a sufficient war party to con us into another war using patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel in the Oval Office.

Then we speak with Mary Ellen O’Connella Professor of Law and Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame. The author of “What is War? An Investigation in the Wake of 9/11”, she joins us to discuss John Bolton’s attack on the International Criminal Court in defense of America’s longest war in Afghanistan, which 17 years later with trillions wasted and no victory in sight, raises the question of whether we fell into Bin Laden’s trap after 9/11, sending Christian armies to occupy Muslim lands.

Then finally we are joined by two evangelical pastors who, under the banner of a new organization Vote Common Good, have broken with Christian fundamentalism and are now campaigning against the elite evangelicals who are the enablers of President Trump and the Republicans. Robb Ryerse, the founding pastor of Vintage Fellowship in Fayetteville, Arkansas and political director of Vote Common Good and Doug Pagitt, the co-founder of Vote Common Good who founded Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis, Minnesota, join us to discuss their political journey and the destination they want for this country.

Lawrence Wilkerson | Mary Ellen O’Connell | Robb Ryerse | Doug Pagitt


September 10, 2018

Sweden’s Far Right Fills the Vacuum Left by the Left
Trump to the Palestinian’s – “It’s My Way or the Highway”
The Former Cyber Czar on Russian Meddling in the Upcoming Election
Program Notes

We begin with the elections in Sweden, the results of which many find alarming though not as dire as some predicted with the far right Sweden Democrats gaining 17.6% of the vote to the once-dominant center-left Social Democrats’ 28%, their worst showing in decades. Sheri Berman, a Professor of Political Science at Barnard College of Columbia University and author of the forthcoming book “Democracy and Dictatorship: From the Ancien Regime to the Present Day”, joins us. An expert on European history and politics, she analyzes why across Western Europe long-ruling Social Democratic parties are in eclipse while far-right populism is on the rise. We discuss how much the far-right, pro-Russia, anti-immigrant and anti-EU Sweden Democrats profited from the lack of a narrative from the center and left while they were able to demonize Muslims and immigrants without offering solutions. And with Italy embracing far-right populism as Germany’s AFD challenges Merkel and Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic drift further into neo-fascism, xenophobia and white nationalism, we will assess the overall picture of radical politics filling the vacuum left by sclerotic socialists who fail to defend the E.U. and its values and build on its success while offering no alternative narrative to Trump-like demagoguery.

Then we assess the move by the Trump Administration to close down the Palestinian mission in Washington while National Security Advisor John Bolton cites Palestinian efforts to prosecute Israelis for alleged violations of international law and the mistreatment of non-combatants in threatening American judges and lawyers working with the International Criminal Court. Khaled Elgindya Fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brooking Institution who was an advisor to the Palestinian leadership on permanent status negotiations, joins us to discuss how under Trump, the U.S. has taken such a pro-Netanyahu stance that it doesn’t even pretend anymore to be an honest broker between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Then finally we speak with Richard Clarke who served three consecutive presidents as Special Assistant to the President for Global Affairs, National Coordinator for Security and Counter-terrorism and Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace whose latest book is “WARNINGS: Finding Cassandras to Prevent Catastrophes”. He joins us to discuss the probability of Russian cyber-meddling in the November election and the unprecedented dangers in having such a reckless and compromised president who is acting more like a tool of a foreign power than a defender of democracy.

Sheri Berman | Khaled Elgindy | Richard Clarke



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