Wednesday, December 21, 2011
New York Times correspondent Michael Schmidt and Sam Dagher, Wall Street Journal reporter in Iraq, discuss the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq this month, the state of the country nine years after the invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein, sectarian violence, and their thoughts about the future of Iraq.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Last weekend, thousands gathered in Moscow to protest for new parliamentary elections after accusations of fraud and widespread vote falsification were made. On Monday, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov announced that he would challenge Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the presidential election in the spring. And Wednesday, the speaker of Parliament—an ally of Putin’s—resigned. On today’s Backstory, Stephen Sestanovich, George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor in the Practice of International Diplomacy at Columbia University, talks about what this week’s events say about Russia’s political landscape.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Richard Bonin tells the story of Ahmad Chalabi, whose wealthy Shiite family was exiled from Iraq after a revolution that ultimately put Saddam Hussein in power. In Arrows of the Night: Ahmad Chalabi's Long Journey to Triumph in Iraq Bonin traces Chalabi’s efforts to stoke a desire for Iraqi regime change in the United States, and earn support for to installing him as overseer of U.S. interests in the Middle East. The outcome was perhaps the biggest foreign policy disaster in our history.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis talks about George Kennan, troubled Cold War mastermind. In the late 1940s, George Kennan wrote two documents that set the strategy of containment that defined U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union for the next four decades. He was also an architect of the Marshall Plan and would become an outspoken critic of American diplomacy, politics, and culture. George F. Kennan: An American Life took almost 30 years to write, is based on interviews with Kennan and his voluminous diaries and other personal papers.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Kati Marton, Richard Holbrooke’s widow;James Traub, contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine; and Reuters columnist David Rohde, talk about the career of Richard Holbrooke, who was a pivotal player in U.S. diplomacy for more than 40 years and who died last December. Most recently special envoy for Iraq and Afghanistan under President Obama, Holbrooke also served as assistant secretary of state for both Asia and Europe, and as ambassador to both Germany and the United Nations, and played a key role in brokering a peace agreement in Bosnia that led to the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords. The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World is a tribute to his work as a public servant and a backstage history of the last half-century of American foreign policy.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Award-winning investigative journalist Eliza Griswold talks about the tenth parallel—the line of latitude 700 miles north of the equator—the geographical and ideological front line where Christianity and Islam collide. In The Tenth Parallel Griswold looks at Nigeria, the Sudan, Somalia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines—places where religious conflicts are also conflicts about land, water, oil, and other natural resources, and where local and tribal issues are often shaped by religious ideas.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Andrew Feinstein investigates the global arms trade and the collusion that often exists among senior politicians, weapons manufacturers, felonious arms dealers, and the military—a situation that compromises our security and undermines our democracy. His book Shadow World looks at the corruption and the cover-ups behind a range of weapons deals, from the largest in history—between the British and Saudi governments—to the guns-for-diamonds deals in Africa and the imminent $60 billion U.S. weapons contract with Saudi Arabia.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
James Rickards examines the new currency war we are engaged in, and argues that it is one of the most destructive and feared outcomes in international economics. Recent headlines about the debasement of the dollar, bailouts in Greece and Ireland, and Chinese currency manipulation are all indicators of the growing conflict. In Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis, Rickards untangles the web of failed paradigms, wishful thinking, and arrogance driving current public policy and points the way toward a more informed and effective course of action.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Arundhati Roy discusses the Maoist insurgency in India and the fight against corporations looking to exploit the rare minerals buried in tribal lands. In Walking with the Comrades, Roy takes readers to the unseen front lines of this ongoing battle, chronicling her months spent living with the rebel guerillas in the forests. In documenting their local struggles, Roy addresses the larger question of whether global capitalism will tolerate any societies existing outside of its control.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Simon Sebag Montefiore looks at how did the small, remote town of Jerusalem became the Holy City, the “center of the world,” and the key to peace in the Middle East. Jerusalem: The Biography tells the city’s story through the wars, love affairs, and revelations of the kings, empresses, prophets, poets, saints, conquerors and whores who created, destroyed, chronicled and believed in Jerusalem.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Political scientist Alan Wolfe examines political evil and why, in an age of genocide, terrorism, ethnic cleansing, and torture, it threatens us in ways radically different from tsunamis and financial panics. In Political Evil he looks at where and why evil is used for political gain, and sheds light on the creation of policy and on a concrete path to a more just future.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Recently Kenyan forces invaded Somalia in a bid to fight the militant group Al-Shaabab. The United States has also been heavily involved in the country in recent years— allegedly establishing CIA bases, carrying out drone strikes, and providing funding for militants. The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill looks at the political situation in Somalia and the history of recent interventions in the war-torn and famine wracked country.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Earlier this month President Obama deployed 100 U.S. troops to Uganda in an advisory role to aid the fight against the Lords Resistance Army. Nate Haken, who works on conflict assessment issues in Uganda, and Patricia Taft, who served an adviser to the government of Uganda on war crimes prosecution and its case against the LRA, look at why this action was taken and the controversy surrounding it. Haken and Taft both work for The Fund for Peace.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Michael Lewis looks at how the tsunami of cheap credit across the planet between 2002 and 2008 was more than a simple financial phenomenon: it was temptation, offering societies—from Iceland to Greece to Ireland—the chance to indulge and take risks. Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World investigates of bubbles abroad and here at home in California and Washington, DC.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Thant Myint-U describes the remote region suddenly a geopolitical center of the world—Burma, where Asia’s great powers appear to be vying for supremacy. Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia looks at the ways China and India are becoming exposed to each other as never before, and how the basic shift in geography will lead to unprecedented connections among the three billion people of Southeast Asia and the Far East.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
The General Debate of the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly is happening in New York through September 30. The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations, comprising all 193 Members of the United Nations. On this week's Please Explain we start off with Warren Hoge, Senior Advisor for External Relations for the International Peace Institute in New York and former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, covering the UN. Then we're joined by Vera Jelinek, Divisional Dean and Director of the Center for Global Affairs at New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and Stanley Meisler, author of The United Nations: The First Fifty Years, and United Nations: A History, will tell us how the General Assembly works and what comes out of the sessions.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Fawaz Gerges gives a history of al-Qaeda, showing its emergence from the disintegrating local jihadist movements of the mid-1990s-not just the Afghan resistance of the 1980s. In The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda, he reveals that transnational jihad has attracted only a small minority within the Arab world and possesses no viable social and popular base. He also describes how the democratic revolutions that swept the Middle East in early 2011 show that al-Qaeda has no influence over Arabs' political life. Gerges argues that the West has become trapped in a "terrorism narrative," but that Al-Qaeda is no longer a serious threat.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Leymah Gbowee tells how she galvanized women across Liberia in 2003 to force a peace in the region after 14 years of war. She began organizing Christian and Muslim women to demonstrate together, founding the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, launching protests and even a sex strike. Her memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War, chronicles the violence she’s faced throughout her life and the peace she has helped to broker by inspiring her countrywomen and others around the world to take action to bring peace and change history.
Thursday, September 01, 2011
This week major clashes erupted in South Africa over the future of the African National Congress, the country’s ruling party since the end of apartheid. New York Times reporter Alan Cowell and Franz Krüger, Director of the Wits Radio Academy in Johannesburg, join us to explain South Africa's political scene.