Gareth Porter, an independent investigative journalist and historian writing on US national security policy, discusses two new revelations that contradict the Trump administration’s certainty that a Syrian airstrike using sarin gas deliberately targeted civilians in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4th. First, a former US official claims that the Russians informed their US counterparts of plans to strike a warehouse in Khan Sheikhoun 24 hours in advance, and advised that toxic chemicals were held there. Second, MIT Professor Theodore Postol says that the weapon casing alleged to have held the sarin gas was an improvised dispersal device detonated on the ground, and was not air-delivered.
Rick Sterling, an investigative journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area, discusses the three competing narratives about the Syrian gas attack; and why the one favored by mainstream US media – that the Syrian government is absolutely guilty – has more facts working against it than for it.
Matthew Hoh, a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy and a former State Department official, discusses why he resigned his post in protest over Afghanistan policy in September 2009; the continuing futility of 16 years of US occupation in a country that never was an important terrorist safe-haven; the startling ignorance of super-hawks John McCain and Lindsey Graham; and how informal veterans groups are stepping up to help prevent suicides among their vulnerable peers, since the VA isn’t up to the job.
Reese Erlich, author of Inside Syria: The Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect, discusses the deadly chemical gas attack/release in Syria’s Idlib province – which has been widely blamed on Assad’s forces – and Trump’s decision to launch dozens of missiles in response; and the similar chemical attack in Ghouta in 2013 that nearly prompted a major escalation from Obama.
Conn Hallinan, a Foreign Policy in Focus columnist, discusses Turkey’s nationwide voter referendum on centralizing more authority in the presidency while reducing checks and balances within the government; how Erdogan’s paramilitary supporters could thwart a popular repudiation of his rule; and Turkey’s schizophrenic foreign policy, particularly regarding Syria.
Muhammad Sahimi, a Professor of Chemical Engineering at USC, discusses Iran’s upcoming presidential elections and why the Iranian “deep state” wants a reactionary hardliner to replace the current moderate President Hassan Rouhani. Sahimi says that sanctions and tough talk from American presidents help boost the economic and political fortunes of Iran’s military and theocratic hardliners – exactly the same people US political leaders claim to be fighting against.
Jeffrey Carr, an international cybersecurity consultant, discusses the low evidentiary standard the US government and media has used to make very serious accusations about Russian hacking of Ukrainian military software and, by extension, the DNC emails. Carr says that CrowdStrike’s cybersecurity report – the basis for all these accusations – is the worst he has ever read.
Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer and Director of the Council for the National Interest, says that “military and intelligence personnel,” “intimately familiar” with the intelligence, say that the narrative that Assad or Russia did it is a “sham,” instead endorsing the Russian narrative that Assad’s forces had bombed a storage facility. Giraldi’s intelligence sources are “astonished” about the government and media narrative and are considering going public out of concern over the danger of worse war there. Giraldi also observes that the Assad regime had no motive to do such a thing at this time.
Peter Van Buren, a writer and retired US Foreign Service Officer, discusses his fictional account of an alternate WWII where the US invades Japan, in an exploration of how war creates moral injuries that never heal. He also discusses President Trump’s increasing use of drone strikes, why taking out ISIS won’t end Iraq’s problems, and the partisan stupidity that dominates American politics.
Patrick Osgood, Kurdistan Bureau Chief for IraqOilReport.com, discusses the referendum on Kurdish independence, battling ISIS in Mosul and beyond, the impact of low oil prices on Iraq’s economy, and whether Iraq can become a cohesive functioning state without a perpetual US military presence.
Andrew Bacevich, author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History, discusses US Central Command leader General Joseph Votel’s charge-ahead mentality on the current counterterrorism plan, despite evidence that it is counterproductive and harmful to American security. Bacevich also laments the fact that there are no great antiwar leaders today of the caliber that opposed WWI.
Arnaldo Claudio, a retired senior US Military Police officer, discusses his 2005 investigation of human rights abuses of detainees in Tal Afar, in a camp commanded by then-Colonel H.R. McMaster, whom Claudio threatened to arrest. According to Claudio, detainees were kept in overcrowded conditions, handcuffed, deprived of food and water, and soiled by their own urine and feces. A so-called “good behavior program” was implemented by McMaster, that held detainees indefinitely (beyond a rule requiring release after 2 weeks) unless they provided “actionable intelligence.”
Robert David English, an Associate Professor of International Relations and Slavic Languages & Literature at the University of Southern California, is the author of the Foreign Affairs article “Russia, Trump, and a New Détente: Fixing U.S.-Russian Relations.” English discusses the Bill Clinton administration’s meddling in Russian elections in order to keep oligarch-friendly Boris Yeltsin in power, and why the foreign policy establishment has either forgotten the past, or steadfastly refuses to acknowledge it. Trump has at least paid lip service to improving relations and rolling back NATO, but has powerful forces allied against any attempt to take pressure off Russia.
Tom Woods, an author, senior fellow of the Mises Institute and host of The Tom Woods Show, discusses the 2nd annual libertarian “Contra Cruise” in October 2017; why Trump is working with former nemesis Paul Ryan on reforming Obamacare instead of the conservative Freedom Caucus; Steve Bannon’s preference for big government programs instead of Austrian free market economics; the wisdom of letting individual states and private capital provide for infrastructure improvements; and the collapse of the Russiagate story – much to the chagrin of Democrats.