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Unlearned Lessons

Sept. 15th, 2014 

     President Obama announced military operations against ISIS last week. He said we would not be putting boots on the ground and that the US would not be drawn into another long ground war in Iraq. But what of the questions he didn’t answer? Namely: What does success against ISIS look like? How is degrading and destroying ISIS not beneficial to Bashar Al-Assad, Syria’s president who we have said has to go? How are we going to ensure the political solutions that we see as vital to the long term success of this mission come to pass? What are the unintended consequences of this operation?

President Obama has become the 4th American president to order military action in Iraq. Have we done all we can to make sure we’ve learned all of the lessons the past conflicts have taught us?


The Leadership Deficit

Sept. 11th, 2014

     What is the role of an elected official? Is it to adopt their constituents’ positions on every issue or to lead their constituents figure out what position the public has taken on an issue and go along with that position? The answer may depend on the specific issue we’re talking about. But when it comes to the most important questions before a society shouldn’t elected officials have to voice their position whatever it is?

President Obama spoke to the country yesterday about the threat posed by ISIS, the Islamic State in Syrian and Iraq, and how the US, along with coalition partners, plans to confront that threat. The president made clear that he has the authority to carry out those steps. But should Congress have to vote on authorizing this military action? Do they owe it to their constituents, and to the country as a whole, to explain whether they are for military action, and would it serve to relay to the American public that it’s not just the military that goes to war but rather the country as a whole?


Reinventing NATO

Sept. 8th, 2014 

     NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was formed at the height of the Cold War as a counter balance to the Soviet Union and the spread of Communism. For decades NATO kept a world order in place that helped keep peace in Europe and elsewhere. What made NATO so effective is that the line between the Soviet bloc and NATO allies was very clearly delineated.   There was little overlap; few diplomatic ties. But with the growing economic activity between Russia and Western Europe, those lines have blurred.

Western Europe’s most powerful nations now have energy, military and investment agreements with Russia that number in the billions of dollars. Russian president Vladimir Putin is betting that these newly blurred lines will make the West more reluctant to challenge him over his aggressive actions in Eastern Europe. Is he correct? Or are his calculations forcing NATO to redraw those stark lines and reinvent itself as a major player in Europe?


Is Big Gov’t Really All That Bad?

Sept. 4th, 2014

     For decades we have been hearing that big government is the enemy and that big government creates more problems than it solves. But when give the choice of keeping or doing away with the programs that are the biggest reasons our federal government is as large as it is Americans to an overwhelming degree choose to keep them.

In this episode we discuss this disconnect and attempt to identify some of the reasons for it. We discuss our focus on keeping taxes low when the shortfall is made up mainly with ever-growing debt and deficits, and pose the central question, how much government do we really want to pay for?


Give it to us Straight - Rebroadcast

Sept. 1st, 2014

     The president told us several weeks ago that the current US mission in Iraq was strictly on humanitarian grounds. He said we would be conducting airstrikes to help ethnic Yazidis who were stranded on top of a mountain escape the grasp of the extremist group ISIS who were threatening the Yazidi people with mass executions.

The humanitarian mission has largely been accomplished but airstrikes in Iraq continue. Senior administration officials have explained in recent weeks that the mission in Iraq would be a long hard slog. But if the humanitarian mission has been accomplished which mission are they referring to?

In this episode we discuss the disconnect between the stated goals of the operations in Iraq and the timeline of achieving those goals, and wonder whether we are already embroiled in another war.


Separation of Powers - Rebroadcast

Aug. 28th, 2014

The Senate recently accused the CIA of spying on staffers and their computers. They’re charges the CIA has denied for months. Last week, however, it was shown that CIA officers did in fact hack into the computers of several Senate staffers. The episode stems from a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the CIA’s controversial interrogation program of the 2000’s and a report, inadvertently gotten by the SCI, that seems to reveal that the program got very little valuable intelligence from the questionable methods.

In this episode we discuss the details of the incident and attempt to answer the question, why is the separation of powers so important anyway?


Give it to us Straight

Aug. 25th, 2014

     The president told us several weeks ago that the current US mission in Iraq was strictly on humanitarian grounds. He said we would be conducting airstrikes to help ethnic Yazidis who were stranded on top of a mountain escape the grasp of the extremist group ISIS who were threatening the Yazidi people with mass executions.

The humanitarian mission has largely been accomplished but airstrikes in Iraq continue. Senior administration officials have explained in recent weeks that the mission in Iraq would be a long hard slog. But if the humanitarian mission has been accomplished which mission are they referring to?

In this episode we discuss the disconnect between the stated goals of the operations in Iraq and the timeline of achieving those goals, and wonder whether we are already embroiled in another war.


Military Action - Rebroadcast

Aug. 21st, 2014

What role does shaping public opinion play in the policy making that a president or an administration wish to undertake? Can a president shape public policy if he is unable to convince the public at large of its importance or value to the country? Does that need to shape public opinion become more vital if the policy in question is military action?

There are thousands of ethnic Yazidis trapped on a mountain in northern Iraq. They are surrounded by the extremist group ISIS who is threatening them with genocide simply for being different than they are. The president has committed a small number of military personnel to rescuing them and affording them safe passage to other places. Yet the talk surrounding this mission has been largely vague. If our goal there is strictly humanitarian why isn’t the talk more concrete?

In this episode we discuss the humanitarian crisis in northern Iraq and analyze whether the administration is attempting to slowly but surely move public opinion toward greater action against ISIS in Iraq.


Speaker Cruz and Ukraine - Rebroadcast

Aug. 18th, 2014

The president has asked Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with the border crisis of unaccompanied minors coming across our southern border. The senate had proposed their own $2.7 billion bill, and the House proposed a smaller $659 million proposal which seemed headed for passage until Texas Senator Ted Cruz seemed to convince a large portion of Tea Party Republicans in the house to withdraw their support for the bill. This afternoon, house leadership, facing a lack of sufficient votes, was forced to pull the bill.

In this episode we discuss both the direct and indirect causes of the crisis and the politics involved in it as both sides of the aisle see them. We also give an update on the crisis in Ukraine, where actions have ratcheted up this week after a new round of Russian sanctions was imposed by the US and the EU. We also discuss the interesting development of Australia sending an armed police team to the crash site of #MH17. Is this something that could aggravate an already tense situation?

Carol Williams’ article on Australia sending armed police to secure the crash site of #MH17 can be found by clicking here.


Military Action by Any Other Name…

Aug. 14th, 2014

     What role does shaping public opinion play in the policy making that a president or an administration wish to undertake? Can a president shape public policy if he is unable to convince the public at large of its importance or value to the country? Does that need to shape public opinion become more vital if the policy in question is military action?

There are thousands of ethnic Yazidis trapped on a mountain in northern Iraq. They are surrounded by the extremist group ISIS who is threatening them with genocide simply for being different than they are. The president has committed a small number of military personnel to rescuing them and affording them safe passage to other places. Yet the talk surrounding this mission has been largely vague. If our goal there is strictly humanitarian why isn’t the talk more concrete?

In this episode we discuss the humanitarian crisis in northern Iraq and analyze whether the administration is attempting to slowly but surely move public opinion toward greater action against ISIS in Iraq.


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