Arab Spring

Show Details for the week of February 27th, 2017

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On The Monitor this week:

Roy Eidelson on the psychology of the Trump administration and Gareth Porter on the White Helmets.

More about this week’s guests:

roy_eidelsonRoy Eidelson is a psychologist and an associate director of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at Bryn Mawr College. He is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility and a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. Recent Articles:

Bait and Switch: Psychology and Trump’s Voter Fraud Tantrums

The Predatory Presidency

 

picture-1420-1404305283Gareth Porter (@GarethPorter) is an independent investigative journalist and historian writing on US national security policy.  His latest book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, was published in February 2014. Historian Andrew Bacevich called his latest book, ‘Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War’, published by University of California Press in 2005, “without a doubt, the most important contribution to the history of U.S. national security policy to appear in the past decade.” He has taught Southeast Asian politics and international studies at American University, City College of New York and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

How a Syrian White Helmets Leader Played Western Media

Show Details for the week of September 19th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:
  • The Wells Fargo scandal and settlement with William Black
  • U.S. Violation of Syrian Ceasefire with Reese Erlich
More about our guests:

 

bill-black-0409_018_bwBill Black is an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC). He was the executive director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention from 2005-2007. He previously taught at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and at Santa Clara University, where he was also the distinguished scholar in residence for insurance law and a visiting scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

Background:

The Los Angeles Times reports this morning: “The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on aggressive sales tactics employed by Wells Fargo employees that led to a $185-million settlement package with federal and state regulators. Five senators requested a committee investigation into the bank’s pressure-cooker sales practices that pushed thousands of Wells Fargo employees to open as many as 2 million accounts that customers never asked for. Scheduled to testify at the hearing are John Stumpf, chief executive of the San Francisco-based bank, and Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

Professor Black was litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, deputy director of the FSLIC, SVP and general counsel of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and senior deputy chief counsel, Office of Thrift Supervision. He was deputy director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement.

His book, The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One (University of Texas Press 2005)

 

Reese Erlich is a veteran foreign correspondent. Erlich’s books include The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis, Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire, Inside Syria: The Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect.

Reese Erlich‘s history in journalism goes back 42 years. He first worked as a staff writer and research editor for Ramparts, an investigative reporting magazine published in San Francisco from 1963 to 1975. Today he works as a full-time print and broadcast, freelance reporter. He reports regularly for National Public Radio, CBC, ABC (Australia), Radio Deutche Welle and Market Place Radio. His articles appear in the SF Chronicle and Dallas Morning News. His television documentaries have aired on PBS stations nationwide.

Erlich’s book, Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You co-authored with Norman Solomon, became a best seller in 2003. The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of US Policy and the Middle East Crisis was published in 2007. Dateline Havana: The Real Story of US Policy and the Future of Cuba was published in 2009. Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire, was published in 2010. The paperback edition of Erlich’s book Inside Syria: The Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect was published this week.

Erlich shared a Peabody Award in 2006 as a segment producer for Crossing East, a radio documentary on the history of Asians in the US. In 2004 Erlich’s radio special “Children of War: Fighting, Dying, Surviving,” won a Clarion Award presented by the Alliance for Women in Communication and second and third place from the National Headlines Awards.

Quote: “The U.S. bombed Syrian government soldiers and a Syrian military base, with estimates off 62-90 dead and over 100 wounded. The U.S. says the attack was accidental. However, on Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry attacked the Assad regime for continuing its air strikes and for not allowing delivery of relief supplies to besieged cities — only briefly apologizing for the U.S.-caused death and destruction. The tone of the comments suggest the bombing raid was an intentional effort to pressure Assad and the Russians. Regardless of the intent, objectively the attacks are a huge setback to the announced U.S.-Russian ceasefire and proposed military cooperation against extremist rebels. The Russian government has called for a special meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the matter.”

Show Details for the week of May 30th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Issa Touma on events in Syria and the media’s coverage of the conflict
  • Matthew Charles Cardinale on the SMART alternative to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
More about this week’s guests:

6849954Issa Touma, a photographer and curator based in Aleppo (Syria). His photographic work has been show in international collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. From his bio on lensculture.com: “Finding himself isolated from the international art community in his own country, Touma established the Black and White Gallery, the first photography gallery in the Middle East, in 1992. After its closure in 1996, Touma founded Le Pont, an independent art organization and gallery that promotes freedom of expression and stimulates the local art scene through international events. In 1997, he started the International Photography Festival Aleppo, which despite the horrors and uncertainties of the conflict, continues to take place every year.”

You can see examples of his pictures online at Le Pont He recently made documentary called 9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo which you can also see online

smart-alec-barb-and-matt
Matthew Cardinale and Barbara Payne

Show Details for the week of February 29th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Reporting from Syria and not just on Syria – an interview with Eva Bartlett
  • The difference between a tactic and a strategy for dealing with ISIS – an interview with Ambassador Edward Djerejian

More about this week’s guests:

419011_a4xyh05rEva Bartlett is a Canadian freelance journalist and activist who has lived in and written from the Gaza Strip, Syria, and Lebanon. She has visited Syria four times in the last 2 years (April and June 2014, February and December 2015). You can read other articles by Eva, or visit Eva’s website. She has a lengthy article published on DissdentVoice titled Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria

You can follow here on twitter here and read her articles about Syria here. The interview attempts to dissect the divergent narratives presented about Syria in the media and to get an eyewitness account from somebody who has actually been there. It is sure to cause some controversy.

edjerejian_webEdward Djerejian is a former United States diplomat who served in eight administrations from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton (1962–94.) He served as the United States Ambassador to Syria (1988–91) and Israel (1993–94), Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Press Secretary of Foreign Affairs (1985-1986), and was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1991-1993.) He is the director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and is the author of the book Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East. You can read his full bio here and follow him on twitter here

The main focus of the interview is Ambassador Djerejian’s policy brief on ISIS titled A STRATEGY TOWARD DEFEATING ISIS in which  he argued that recent attacks were an opportunity for a U.S.-led coalition to come together to defeat a common enemy. Full text available online in English (CME-ISIS-111915) and Arabic (CME-ISIS-Arabic-122115).

During the interview I asked Ambassador Djerejian for his response to the speech President Obama gave in which he outlined the U.S. response to the terror threat posed by ISIS: Full text of President Obama’s speech in reaction to the shootings in San Bernardino, CA You can also read Ambassador Djerejian’s June 2, 1992 speech mentioned towards the end of the interview: Meridian House Speech.

Show Details for the week of February 8th, 2016

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KPFT is in its winter pledge drive. The Monitor has a goal of $800 per show for three consecutive weeks. Last week’s show beat the goal and it would be GREAT to keep that going this week. Please call 713 526 5738 during the show or pledge online at www.kpft.org

dronesThis week we have Marjorie Cohn on the show to talk about her latest article “Want Endless War? Love the U.S. Empire? Well, Hillary Clinton’s Your Choice” and a volume she edited called Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues which you can get during this week’s show for a pledge of $120.

Reviews:

”This book provides much-needed analysis of why America’s targeted killing program is illegal, immoral and unwise.” —from the foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“Very important book… In a few months we will commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which, despite the limits of the day, established the founding principle of modern law: presumption of innocence. Today that principle has been rescinded. Guilty verdicts are no longer to be rendered by a jury of peers, but by a White House session deciding who we are going to kill today along with whatever unfortunates happen to be in the vicinity of the drone attack. As these valuable essays show, Obama s global terror campaign is a menace to the world, and Americans are not likely to escape unscathed.”
Noam Chomsky

 

You can also get a copy of Censored 2016: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2014-15 for a pledge of $90. censored2016-front-cover

You can listen to an interview with Project Censored’s Mickey Huff from January 4th here

Review

“Project Censored’s list of the top stories that get very little mainstream media traction should in fact drive the reporting agendas of every major news outlet. These 25 stories are clearly the most consequential of the year, and what is scary in looking at the list is how obvious it is that silencing reports of these themes protects corrupt governments and corporate gatekeepers. Project Censored is a lifeline to the world’s most urgent and significant stories.” –Naomi Wolf

 

 

Marjorie Cohn Speaking

More about this week’s guest: Marjorie Cohn has been a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law since 1991. In summer 2016, she will become Professor Emeritus, and will continue to lecture, write, and provide media commentary. A former news consultant for CBS News and a legal analyst for Court TV, Professor Cohn has been a legal and political commentator on BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, and Pacifica Radio.

Professor Cohn is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and co-author of Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice (with David Dow), and Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent (with Kathleen Gilberd). She is editor and contributor to The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse, and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

Show Details for the week December 21st, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

  • We follow up on last week’s show with more news from South Korea with Wol-san Liem
  • Reconsidering the “radicalization” question with Graylan Hagler

More about this week’s guests:

Wol-san LiemWol-san Liem  is the Director of International Affairs,Korean Federation of Public Services and Transport Workers Union (KPTU), Korea, the KCTU affiliate organizing in public institutions and public and private transport.

Background: Thousands gathered in Seoul on December 5 to protest President Park Geun-hye’s proposed anti-worker labor market reforms, as well as her pursuit of new free trade agreements and plans for public schools to use a state-authored history book. Korean unions see the fight to stop the labor market reforms as critical to the future of the South Korean economy. The changes would make it easier for companies to fire workers and unilaterally restructure work conditions, as well as increase their use of temporary and sub-contracted labor, a situation faced by many workers around the world. For more see South Korea Targets Dissent, New York Times Editorial, November 19, 2015. Also South Korean Labor Strikes Back (Interview with KCTU President Han Sang-gyun) by Hyun Lee, Foreign Policy in Focus, November 12, 2015


8hhmqwffGraylan Hagler
 is with the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. and chairperson of Faith Strategies. He just wrote the piece “When Were They Radicalized? That’s Not the Right Question!” — which states: “The big question these days dominating the airwaves is when was Syed Farook and Tasheen Malik radicalized; or who radicalized them; and how were they radicalized? This question is a perplexing one because it assumes that without outside influence everything would be all right and that there are no valid grievances, or anger, and no desire for revenge or justice no matter how misguided those desires might be manifested.
“This is a strange line of query because it presupposes that without external forces radicalization would be impossible. This line of questioning illustrates a blind patriotism of empire proportion that believes that anyone upset and acting out is either demented or have fallen under the influences of a political/religious ideology that exploits the weak minded or the mentally deranged. To even ask the question is to make the assumption that everything is OK around us and in our world and would be regarded as such if it were not for outside influences. But this perspective has a tendency to ignore the realities of what so many people live under and have to endure daily. It is often from personal experiences, relationships with those impacted by what most of us don’t see or care about are the radicalizing factors. The present queries act as if there are no valid grievances, no real anger, and as if there is innocence on the part of the powerful, the U.S. and others. But this is not the way that peoples of the Middle East, North Africa and Asia see the U.S. or the West.

“The U.S. and its partners have been at war for more than 14 years in Afghanistan. The U.S. began an unprovoked and preemptive war in Iraq in 2003 and virtually destroyed the country where today ISIL is filling part of the vacuum created by that war, and the President of Afghanistan literally is presiding over nothing but the capital city of that country, Kabul. The U.S. under the cry of removing President Bashar Hafez al-Assad in Syria by helping to orchestrate and sustain a civil war has created a displacement crisis of epic proportion and caused the deaths of more than 250,000 people. Conditions in many countries have worsened under the wars and the remaking of the Middle East and North Africa in the West’s image.” Similarly, Hagler writes: “Our continual military support of Israel against Palestinians challenges the view that everything is OK without the influences of ‘outside agitators’ radicalizing people and calling them to arms.”

Show Details for the week of December 14th, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Tim Shorrock on the South Korean Government Crackdown on Citizen Protests against Labor Repression, Destructive Rice Imports and Rewriting of History Books
  • 9/11 Whistleblower Coleen Rowley on Visas and Mideast War Root Causes

More about this week’s guests:

tim_shorrockTim Shorrock is Washington-based investigative journalist and author of SPIES FOR HIRE: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence. He is also a contributor to The Nation and longtime writer about Korean affairs and US-Korean political, military and economic ties. You can read his recent article “Raising a ruckus with the South Korean government” at the Nation website and his website.

Background:  South Korean President Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the country’s longtime dictator, has launched a massive crackdown on labor, farmer and citizens groups opposed to her government’s policies on unions, rice imports and education. President Park, one of President Obama’s closest allies in Asia, has also come under fire for recent comments she made likening protesters to the Islamic State (IS).  “Rallies where protesters wear face masks should be banned. Isn’t that how IS does it?  Hiding their faces…,” Park reportedly said at a recent Cabinet meeting to discuss new counterterrorism bills. The South Korean experience is far from unique.  With the deepening of corporate-led globalization processes, governments everywhere seek to weaken labor movements and worker protections and restrict options for public education and democratic debate.  As a consequence, the KCTU’s efforts to anchor a broad coalition of social forces around an alternative social vision deserves international attention and support.

coleen_rowleyColeen Rowley is a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures — was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002.

Quote: “Only a few crickets chirped after our 2014 Huffpost warning of gaps in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Our second post, however, came out at the same time the President and Congress had suddenly clicked into gear to tighten the program, obviously in reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.”
Rowley criticized the lack of politicians “lamenting his or her terrible mistakes in having okayed the various post 9-11 wars and bombing campaigns to re-make the Mideast — what some warned would be like ‘hitting a hornets’ nest’ and which have only succeeded in vastly increasing the number of terrorist incidents throughout the world, as well as more people everywhere who simply hate the U.S. …
“In its mad rush to push something out to look as if they were quickly remedying the problems, the House skipped normal debate that comes from holding committee meetings, passing its bizarre ‘Trump-lite’ blanket discriminatory provisions in H.R. 158, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015 [passed on Tuesday 407-19], that would bar citizens of participating countries with Syrian, Iraqi, Sudanese or Iranian ancestry from participating in the waiver program even if they have never set foot in any of these countries.
“A backlash naturally erupted from civil liberties and minority rights groups. For instance, according to the ACLU’s reading of the bill, a person who was born and raised in France but whose father is a Syrian citizen would be forced to get a visa before visiting the United States, even if that person has a French passport and has never been to Syria.
“In a press release Tuesday, NIAC [National Iranian American Council] Action, a group that lobbies on behalf of Iranian Americans, lashed out at the bill. …
“Even worse, in their hurry, is the congresspersons’ choice of the four specific countries to designate for ‘blanket’ exclusion: Iraq (which was supposed to be a democratic paradise by now), Syria, Sudan and (most bizarrely) Iran, whose nationals have not ever launched a terrorist attack inside the U.S. Yet, countries like SAUDI ARABIA (well known as the main country of origin for Al Qaeda, ISIS and other Wahhabi extremism), Pakistan, Yemen, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Nigeria, Chechnya and other nations and regions from where terrorist perpetrators have come from are not designated as ineligible for the program. This truly makes zero sense, making us wonder if congresspersons have any clue as to the nature of the threat from ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorism.”

Background: Rowley wrote to the FBI Director again in February 2003 with some hard questions about the reliability of the evidence being adduced to “justify” the impending invasion of Iraq. See “Coleen Rowley: Ten years after Iraq.”