Donald Trump was helped into power by various sources having a myriad of agendas.  However, his voters wanted to return to a lost time when "America was great," and Reagan was with them.  Jerry Hagstrom in Beyond Reagan: the New Landscape of American Politics had warned in 1988 that if the United States does not prove capable of maintaining a middle-class life style for the majority of its citizens, the social fabric and all the advances of the last quarter-century could be torn apart.  Whites could be pitted against blacks, men against women, the old against the young, and region against region.  If that happens, many Americans might look upon the Reagan years as the last good times and mutter wistfully "If only he were here."  But if they do, they must remember whose policies got us to this point.

American have notoriously short memories and no knowledge of history; therefore they/we are doomed to repeat that history.  Trump's election as President and his outrageous worship of Fascism that is reflected in his presentation before the Joint Session of Congress proves my point.  He is willing to take the United States into the abyss than Hitler took the German people, with the people's consent, just as occurred in the 1930s.  However, for the time being, the election of Trump to high office has taken US to the 1920s where racism against African Americans, Jews, and peoples-of-color suffered from a complete-lack of civil rights.  How did this come to be?


Donald Trump took advantage of February 28, to assure African American Americans that he is not a racist and that "threats against Jewish centers is 'horrible'."  He made these proclamations first at the African American History and Culture Museum in Washington, D.C.  But what I don't understand is why he didn’t go to the Holocaust Museum to state, "the anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful, and very sad reminders of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil." 

Some critics noted that Trump's presidential campaign last year seemed to attract an unusually high number of anti-Semites and white nationalists.  And Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, called Trump's comments "too little, too late," and "a pathetic asterisk of condescension" in the face of rising anti-Semitism.  "The white House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance (statement), and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial."


Pennsylvania Attorney General On Trump's Response To Anti-Semitism


Pennsylvania's Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks with Rachel Martin about his meeting at the White House and how President Trump has addressed recent anti-Semitic threats and hate speech.


DHS To Help Jewish Community Centers Enhance Security Protocols


March 2, 20176:01 PM ET

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department K-9 officers search the Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada after an employee received a suspicious phone call that led about 10 people to evacuate the building on Feb. 27. Jewish institutions across the nation have received more than 120 bomb threats in the past two months Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security is stepping up its support for Jewish institutions across the nation who've received more than 120 bomb threats in the past two months. Jewish Community Centers have been pressing for help as they've been targeted by waves of threatening calls as well as vandalism.

Since January, the calls coming in to JCCs have been both vivid and unnerving. Betzy Lynch, executive director of the JCC in Birmingham, Ala., got three of the threatening calls, all very similar.

"It is a very disguised sort of digitized voice that indicates that there's a bomb in the building, and then there's some pretty horrific rhetoric about hurting Jewish people," she says.

The calls have thrust JCCs around the nation into repeated evacuations. Elderly women doing water aerobics and babies in daycares have been rushed out to the streets, and whole communities have been rattled.

"Everybody's no more than one or two degrees of separation from someone whose kid ended up on a sidewalk in front of a JCC over the last couple of weeks," says Jeremy Burnton, the head of Boston's Jewish Community Relations Council.

He says the current uptick in anti-Semitism is particularly disconcerting to younger Jews.

"Frankly, it's bit of a shock," Burnton says. "And maybe we are a bit naive, but we sort of maybe assumed that it was something we had mostly left behind."

Jewish leaders across the nation who've been frustrated that the threats have gone on so long have been calling on the federal government to do more to help protect their institutions.

Two hundred leaders joined a conference call Wednesday with the DHS that ended with officials promising more support. That will include assessing where JCCs are vulnerable to helping them improve security.

Bob Kolasky, the acting deputy under secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate at DHS, says JCCs will be trained on everything from dealing with an active shooter to managing the current bomb threats that seem to be intended to cause more fear than harm.

"The advice that we will give is how do you deal with something you think is probably not likely to come to fruition," he says. "We're not going to tell an organization not to evacuate, but we're also going to teach them some of the telltale signs that may help make that decision."

Lynch says the federal expertise will go a long way to help secure JCCs like hers in Alabama.

"This outreach is unprecedented, and it's much, much appreciated," she says.

She also hopes it will help reassure members and even persuade some families who've left in fear to return.

"I think that feeling of knowing that this really is not OK with people reassures us that while we're in a difficult period, the federal government has decided that they're standing with us as well," she says.

But others were more circumspect.

The Anti-Defamation League calls the federal support an important step forward, but insists more must be done, including new federal policies that will crack down on hate crimes more broadly.

Many Jewish leaders are also imploring the federal government to expand efforts to find the perpetrators.

"In the end, the only response that's going to be adequate for us is catching these guys," says Mark Sokoll, CEO at Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston. Authorities should do more so that "these people who are filled with hate can be brought to justice, and this can stop," he says.

In the meantime, security is tight at Jewish institutions — like it was at a Boston event Wednesday.

"I mean, look at this synagogue," says Helene Weitzenkorn, an attendee. "They are checking people going in here. I've never seen them have even a metal detector."

She calls the current climate of anti-Semitism palpable.

"I mean, I'm almost 64, and I have just never felt this scared," she says.

Others took a longer view, noting anti-Semitism's long history. The echos are disturbing, as one put it. But they're also a reminder that this too shall pass.


Karen Attiah, didn't respond--astonished at Trump, a candidate for president would remark on her looks, she wasn't angry, "just stunned," she said.  "He'd been charming, charismatic, not cagey or reluctant.  I thought about what he said, and I remembered, this is the guy at the beauty pageants, who parades his wife and daughter around, who said if she wasn't his daughter, he might be dating her.  And I concluded, well, we got the full Trump experience."

Michael Kranish, Marc Fisher and The Washington Post in Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power (2016) along with Attiah gives us a preview of the man who became President.  Kranish and Fisher writes that thousands of Jewish activists gathered for Trump's long awaited speech to AIPAC on his approach to the Israeli-Palestine stalemate.  Dozens of rabbis and others had announced plans to boycott the event, both because Trump had pledged to be "neutral" in talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and because Trump's call to ban Muslims [this was 2016] from entering the United States struck many Jews as a frightening echo of the policies that their parents and grandparents had faced in Europe.  Even though Trump's daughter Ivanka had married an Orthodox Jew and converted to Judaism, the candidate had alienated many Jews with comments at a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting where he said he might not win the support of many in the room because he did not want their money.  Trump said he was best-positioned to get a Middle East peace deal because he's a negotiator, "like you folks."

Trump had some repair work to do.  He took no chances.  Though he'd said that Teleprompters should be banned on the campaign trail, he now used one, his eyes darting from one screen to the other.  This time, he was squarely on Israel's side.  He railed against the Palestinians' demonetization of Jews.  He reminded the crowd that he'd lent his personal jet to New York mayor Rudy Giuliani when he visited Israel weeks after the 9/11 attacks and that he'd been grand marshal of the Israel Parade in New York in 2004, at the height of violence in the Gaza Strip.  He made sure everyone noted that Ivanka would soon give birth to a "beautiful Jewish baby."

But before Trump's speech won repeated standing ovations, at the start of his remarks, six rows from the stage, one rabbi wearing a Jewish prayer shawl stood up and shouted in solitary protest, "The man is wicked.  He inspires racists and bigots.  He encourages violence.  Do not listen to him."  Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, who leads an Orthodox congregation in Washington, did not rise out of any passion of the moment.  He had wrestled with this decision for days.  He consulted with his own mentor rabbi, with his lawyer, with his wife and seven children.  He told his kids that he felt obliged to say something, "to say 'we know who you are, we see through you.'"  His children asked him not to stage his protest because he might get hurt, but Herzfeld concluded that he had no choice.  He knew he would lose members of his synagogue (and he did).  He knew he would be accused of taking an inappropriately political stance (and he was).  But he had concluded that Trump posed "an existential threat to our country.  I've never seen this type of political figure in my life.  He's shameless in inspiring violence.  He used vile language about people from other countries.  He's open a space for ugliness to come out of the shadows."

Herzfeld was immediately ushered out of the arena and Trump continued speaking without incident.

Anti-Semitic Threats And Sectarian Splits

Rabbi Joshua Bolton of the University of Pennsylvania's Hillel center surveys damaged headstones at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia. (Jacqueline Larma/AP)Rabbi Joshua Bolton of the University of Pennsylvania's Hillel center surveys damaged headstones at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia. (Jacqueline Larma/AP)

The first words out of President Trump’s mouth before Congress this week were about civil rights, threats against Jewish Community Centers, vandalism against Jewish cemeteries, and the shooting of an Indian immigrant in Kansas now being investigated as a hate crime. He condemned hate and evil. But a wave of threats and attacks has also coincided with his campaign and presidency. This hour On Point, a hate crime fever, and the role and reaction of President Trump. — Tom Ashbrook


Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League. (@JGreenblattADL)

Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Jane Eisner, editor in chief of the Forward, a Jewish national news organization. (@Jane_Eisner)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: New Wave of Anti-Semitic Threats Rattle U.S. — "Jewish organizations and schools in more than a dozen states were evacuated Monday after receiving threatening phone calls, marking the fifth wave of such incidents this year. Police investigated bomb threats against Jewish community centers in New York and New Jersey, all of which were deemed safe and reopened for business."

BuzzFeed: Federal Cyber Crime Officials Are Investigating Jewish Center Threa... -- "The FBI Cyber Crime Division is among the units focusing on the spate of bomb threats to Jewish centers and schools — and one line of inquiry for the bureau is whether a 'troll' is involved, a liaison between the Jewish community officials and the FBI who was briefed by federal agents told BuzzFeed News."

Forward: How Did Jewish Cemeteries Become Battlegrounds For Bigots — Again? -- "What do these cowards want? To inflict harm for the hell of it? To make a statement? To infuriate or frighten? It’s not the first time in the past few years that Jewish cemeteries have been damaged; these incidents have occurred elsewhere in the United States and Europe. But in this fraught political moment, when anti-Semitism that had been long dormant is being aroused and given social permission by even top White House officials, it’s impossible not to see these incidents as part of a larger, more incendiary trend."

This program aired on March 2, 2017.


President Trump has pledge to cleanse the American population of "target people living in the U.S. illegally who "threaten our communities and prey on our citizens."  This after telling news anchors before his speech that he was open to legislation that could provide a pathway to legal status, and he told Congress he believed "real and positive immigration reform is possible."  To understand Trump's calculations and get a proper analogy we must go to Nazi Germany 1938.

Ian Kershaw in To Hell And Back: Europe 1914-1949 (2015) posits that on February 4, 1938, sweeping changes in the political and military leadership of the German Reich were suddenly announced in Berlin.  Bloomberg, the War Minister, and Fritsch, the commander-in-chief of the army, had been dismissed.  Hitler himself had taken over at the head of a restructured high command of the Wehrmacht.  His own supremacy was as a result even further enhanced.  The position of the military leadership was significantly weakened.  Those voicing fears of being plunged into war against the western powers were greatly out-numbered by Hitler loyalists, won over by huge spending on rearmament, restored prestige and Germany's enhanced international standing.  Other powerful elites in the economy or in the high ranks of the state bureaucracy, whose hopes of a resurgent German dominance had never vanished, had overwhelmingly aligned themselves with Hitler's regime.  The assertive foreign policy, exploiting the weakness divisions of the western democracies, had made Hitler a hugely popular dictator.  The masses gave him the plebiscite backing that enormously boosted his standing at home and abroad.  Only a military coup could effectively challenge Hitler's mastery.

Neutath was replaced as Foreign Minister at a critical juncture by the hawkish Ribbentrop.  He was known to echo Hitler's own views.  Widespread changes were made in the upper ranks of the officer and diplomatic corps.  Hitler now had personnel in key positions who were attuned to his high-risk foreign policy.  Possible constraints on any decisions he might make had dwindled to insignificance.

After the Austria was incorporated into a Greater Germany, and as he had foreseen, the western democracies lamely protested but otherwise did nothing, Czechoslovakia was now on the menu.  Czechoslovakia, like Mexico, geographical posit made it pivotal.  It had an alliance with France and with the Soviet Union.  And France was Britain's ally.  An attack on Czechoslovakia might well unleash a general European war.

However, Czechoslovakia, like Mexico lacked powerful friends.  Even as Germany was swallowing up Austria, the French government were being told by the Defense Minister, Eduard Daladier, that France could offer no direct military assistance to its Czech ally and dismissed at the same time any prospect of the Red Arm coming to the aid of Czechoslovakia.  Britain also opted out.  The Czechs were on their own.

Like Mexico and its drug cartels, there was unrest from within Czechoslovakia.  And Germany had its eye on the Sudetenland, the Hitler demanded to be made autonomous.  Hitler claimed to want to bring the ethnic Germans "home into the Reich, appeared that he was once more merely a nationalist politician in pursuit of a limited aim.  The lack of comprehension of Hitler's (as well as Trumps) motives was a crucial component of the growing tragedy of Czechoslovakia.  German ruthlessness, Czech helplessness and Anglo-French feebleness all played their part in the drama that took Europe to the verge of another war.

It is surprising how much Trump's and Hitler's personalities mesh.  In a summer of bluff, brinkmanship and unbearably mounting tensions, Hitler was ready to risk war against the western powers in order to destroy Czechoslovakia by force.  Preparations for attack laid down the date of October 1 at the latest.  For public consumption Hitler (like Trump with the Mexican government) turned up the volume of his ever more frenzied verbal assaults on the Czech government and openly stated that he had no further territorial demands in Europe beyond the solution of the Sudeten problem, and Mexico with the "illegal" immigrant problem.


Trump Emphasizes Terrorist Threat In Address To Congress


March 1, 20175:10 AM ET

Kori Schake, a former Bush administration national security council member, talks with Rachel Martin and Mary Louise Kelly about Trump's approach to national security and terrorism in his speech.

Trump enjoys pimping, whether it is women in beauty contests, his wife, his daughters, or victims of crime.  Although it is claimed that there are 12 million undocumented Mexican immigrants in the United States, there is at least half that number of undocumented European immigrants scattered in among ethnic neighborhoods in the Midwest and Northeast.  But these are White, not brown like the Mexicans.  Trump attempts to indict the entire undocumented Mexican population with plants in the audience of "widows" and survivors of murders done by undocumented "criminals," as if the entire 12 million has participated in the murders/crimes.


'Miami Herald' Reporter Visits Father Of Navy SEAL Killed In Yemen Raid


NPR's Ari Shapiro talks to Julie Brown, an investigative reporter at the Miami Herald, about her visit with Bill Owens, the father of the Navy SEAL killed last month during a raid in Yemen.


Trump's dirty secret is that he secretly intends to invade Mexico and Hitler did Czechoslovakia under the pretense that only the US army can handle the drug dealers running drugs across the border.  I gather this from a rhetorical question that Andrew J. Bacevich asks in America's War For The Greater Middle East: A Military History (2016) “As the fighting in Afghanistan entered its second decade with no end in sight, it was becoming ever more difficult to understand what the United States hoped to achieve by remaining in such a distant country about which most Americans knew little and cared even less.   Save Afghanistan from the Taliban?  What made Afghans worth the trouble?  Why not save Mexico from predatory drug cartels?  Why not save Haiti or Venezuela?  Both were closer to home, equally in need, and arguably better able to absorb whatever benefactions Washington might be willing to bestow.

However as Tim Marshall in Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World (2015) states, throughout history, successive governments in Mexico city have never had a firm grip on the country.  Now its opponents, the drug cartels, have paramilitary wings which are as well armed as the forces of the state, often better paid, more motivated, and in several regions are regarded as a source of employment by some members of the public.  The vast sums of money made by the gangs now swill around the country, much of it being washed through what appear on the surface to be legitimate businesses.

The overland supply land route is firmly established, and the demand in the United States shows few signs of diminishing.  All Mexican governments try to keep on the right side of their powerful neighbor and have responded to American pressure by waging their own War on Drugs.  Here lies a conundrum.  Mexico makes its living by supplying consumer goods to America, and as long as Americans consume drugs, Mexicans will supply them--after all, the idea here is to make things that are cheap to produce and sell them at prices higher than those in legal trade.  Without drugs the country would be even poorer than it is, as a vast amount of foreign money would be cut off.  With drugs it is even more violent than it would be.  The same is true of some of the countries to Mexico's south.


Evaluating Steve Bannon's Influence On Trump's Speech To Congress


March 1, 20175:10 AM ET

Steve Inskeep and Scott Detrow talk with Kurt Bardella, who used to be a consultant for Breitbart News, about the influence of former Breitbart News head Steve Bannon on Trump's speech to Congress.

The Power Dynamic Of Steve Bannon In The Trump White House

Steve Bannon arrives before the presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2017 in Washington. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
That's the headline of a new Time magazine story out this week. It paints a picture of Bannon's life, and shows how the man described as "aggressive," "talkative" and "brash" rose to his current role in the White House as chief strategist to President Trump.

Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson speaks with the author of the piece, Time editor-at-large David Von Drehle

This story aired on February 3, 2017.

The question that should be asked about the so-called 12 million undocumented immigrants is how and why they came into the U.S.  Most of the established migrants came because of the Dirty Wars waged by the CIA at the end of WWII against the capitalist threat of communism/socialism, while the border was deliberately left open to refugees to insure that no insurgency would break out on the U.S. southern border.  Our government is not so stupid as to let millions of brown people into the country without prior clandestine knowledge.  The secret of American greatness is that we have two benign and peaceful neighbors: Canada and Mexico, and the U.S. stretched contiguously between the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Pacific on the west.  This is the common assessment of the U.S. State Department.


The question that should be asked about the so-called 12 million undocumented immigrants is how and why they came into the U.S.  Most of the established migrants came because of the Dirty Wars waged by the CIA at the end of WWII against the capitalist threat of communism/socialism, while the border was deliberately left open to refugees to insure that no insurgency would break out on the U.S. southern border.  Our government is not so stupid as to let millions of brown people into the country without prior clandestine knowledge.  The secret of American greatness is that we have two benign and peaceful neighbors: Canada and Mexico, and the U.S. stretched contiguously between the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Pacific on the west.  This is the common assessment of the U.S. State Department.


Trump has promised AIPAC and Zionist Sheldon Adelson (who financed his campaign) to dismantle the Iran Deal.  While claiming that his first duty is to the American people, instead of the Constitution, Trump paints Iran as the eternal enemy instead of a nation located in a dangerous neighbor in need of ultimate protection and who has reached out to the United States as an ally.  James Risen in State of War: The Secret History Of The CIA And The Bush Administration (2006) contradicts President Trump as to Iran as an ally.  Allies are based on self-interests.  Risen writes that it wasn't until June 2001, five years after the bombing, and after Clinton had left office that the Justice Department issued indictments of fourteen people in the Khobar bombing that alleged that unidentified Iranian officials were behind the terrorist attack.

The indictment notwithstanding, in its first few months, the new Bush team largely ignored Iran while obsessing over Iraq.  It was only after 9/11 that senior Bush administration officials began to pay attention to low-level, back-channel talks with Iran that had been under way in Geneva since the Clinton days.

Through those Geneva meetings, the Bush team discovered that Iran was strongly supportive of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan because of Tehran's deep hatred for the ruling Taliban, Sunni Muslims heavily dependent on Pakistani support to retain power in Kabul.  Shia-dominated Iran long feared the Taliban's radical influence on its own Sunni minority.  Tehran also wanted to retain its influence over western Afghanistan, particularly the trading center of Herat.

In 1998, Iran and the Taliban had come close to a shooting war.  After nine Iranian diplomats were murdered in Afghanistan and thousands of Shiites were killed following the Taliban seizure of the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Iran massed troops on the border for a military "exercise," and Pakistan had to step in to calm things down.  At the time Iran's leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made it clear that Iran's patience with the Taliban was wearing thin.  "I have so far prevented the lightening of a fire in this region which would be hard to extinguish, but all should know that a very great and wide danger is quite near," he declared, prompting a response from the Taliban that the cleric's statements reflected his "mental ineptitude."

Iran had also supported the opposition Northern Alliance against the Taliban, and after 9/11, Iranian officials at the Geneva meetings were actually impatient with the sluggish start to American military operations in Afghanistan.  Publicly, the Iranians said little about the war and provided little overt support to the Americans, apart from promising to allow rescue operations for any downed pilots over its territory.  But in Geneva, Iranian officials were eager to help and even brought out maps to try to tell the United States the best targets to bomb.

Iran also held some al Qaeda operatives who tried to flee Afghanistan into Iran.  In early 2002, Iran detained about 290 al Qaeda fighters who had been picked up as they crossed the border.  They weren't willing to turn them over directly to the United States, but they eventually did hand over some to third countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, which were working with the United States.

By that time, the Bush administration's attitude toward Iran was changing, hardening.  Iran was now a member of the "axis of evil."  The Iranians responded to Bush's axis of evil speech with pique; Tehran released Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a ruthless Afghan warlord who had been on the CIA payroll during the 1980s but who was now opposed to the American occupation of Afghanistan.  Soon after his release, his forces were battling U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and in May 2002 the CIA launched a missile from an armed Predator drone in a vain effort to try to kill him.

The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, on Iran's other border, was met with deep ambivalence in Tehran.  The Iranians were happy that the United States was getting rid of their old enemy Saddam Hussein, opening the door for Iraq's majority Shia population to gain power, with of course, the guidance of Iran.  But two consecutive wars in two neighboring countries, first in Afghanistan and now Iraq had placed thousands of American troops on Iran's exposed flanks, and so it was not hard to see why the Iranians might be getting a little paranoid about the Bush administration's intentions.

In May 2003, one months after the fall of Baghdad, the Iranians approached the United States once again, offering to turn over top al Qaeda lieutenants, including both Saif al-Adel, al Qaeda's chief of operations, and Saad bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's son.  this time, the Iranians wanted a trade; in return for the al Qaeda leaders, Tehran wanted the Americans to hand over members of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK), and Iranian exile terrorist organization that had been supported by Saddam Hussein and based in Iraq since 1986.  After the fall of Baghdad, the U.S. military had disarmed the ME K's thousands of fighters and taken custody of the group's heavy military equipment, more than two thousand tanks, artillery pieces, armored personnel carriers, and other vehicles provided by Saddam Hussein.  But the Bush administration was divided over what to do with the group next.

President Bush said that he thought it sounded like a good deal, since the MEK was a terrorist organization.  After all, the MEK had been a puppet of Saddam Hussein, conducting assassinations and sabotage operations inside Iran from its sanctuary in Iraq.  The MEK was officially listed as a foreign terrorist group by the State Department; back in the 1970s, the group had killed several Americans living in Iran, including CIA officers based there during the shah's regime.

Hard-liners at the Pentagon dug in and ultimately torpedoed any talk of an agreement with the Iranians.  Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz seemed to think that the MEK could be useful in a future war with Iran, and so they appeared eager to keep the group in place inside Iraq.  CIA and State Department officials were stunned that the Pentagon leadership would so openly flaunt their willingness to cut a deal with the MEK; they were even more surprised that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz paid no price for their actions.

The bottom line was that the United States lost a potential opportunity to get its hands on several top al Qaeda operatives, including Osama bin Laden's son.  It became clear to frustrated aides that National security Adviser Condoleezza rice was not only failing to curb the Pentagon, but was also allowing decision making on Iran policy to drift.

While the war in Iraq has overshadowed the issue and forced the Bush administration to move slowly, some administration officials have been advocating a more forceful policy of pressing the Iranians to disarm.  The odds of a confrontation between the United states and Iran seemed to increase in the fall and winter 2004, when the IAEA reported that Iran was not fully cooperating with international inspectors, and there were new reports that Iran was going ahead with plans to produce enriched uranium despite past assurances to the IAEA that it would freeze such activity.  By 2005, Iran's apparent intentions to continue to develop its nuclear program was inevitably leading to a full-fledged diplomatic crisis.



Sensing Chaos, Russia Takes A 'Wait-And-See' Approach To Trump


Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall in the Kremlin before a meeting in 2015.

Sergei Ilnitsky/AFP/Getty Images

Despite ordering an "influence campaign" to help Donald Trump in last year's election, the Kremlin is scrambling to respond to a win it didn't expect, New Yorker editor David Remnick and staff writer Evan Osnos tell Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Remnick, who lived and worked in Moscow from 1988 to 1992, and Osnos say Trump's victory has created unintended consequences for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"This was like a bank heist that, instead of blowing the doors off the safe, they blew the safe up entirely," Osnos says.

Remnick adds that Russia's state-controlled media, which was full of praise for Trump during the campaign, has changed its outlook of late: "We've now had a month of chaos, and they've decided to take much more of a wait-and-see attitude."

Osnos and Remnick collaborated with contributor Joshua Yaffa to report on Trump, Putin and the "new Cold War" for the current issue of The New Yorker. The title of their article, "Active Measures," is a reference to the type of intelligence operation in which the goal is to take active measures to influence events and undermine a rival power.

Interview Highlights

On why the White House's response to the DNC hacking was "muted"

Osnos: There was a robust, a really intense debate going on within the White House and the national security community about what the best response would be. In September the Obama White House went to Mitch McConnell and said, "Look, we believe that the Russians were involved and that they may be threatening the integrity of the vote," and they said, "We want to issue a bipartisan statement that would encourage state voting authorities to keep an extra eye on the security and integrity of the vote." Basically a bipartisan gesture, and Mitch McConnell, this is now public, he has said that he would regard that as a partisan gesture.

That was one of the reasons ... why the Obama White House was reluctant to go too far in being very public about this. There are people in Hillary Clinton's camp who, one of whom was quoted in our article, saying, "We look back and wonder why this was not" — in the words of this person — "a five-alarm fire in the White House."

On Russian TV news coverage of Trump and his administration

Remnick: I've been watching Russian TV a lot, which you can do really easily on YouTube. Initially, there was great celebration, enormous celebration. Champagne corks popping. People going on the air and saying, "Ding dong, the witch is dead," practically, and showing great enthusiasm for Trump because Trump, of course, has been incredibly complimentary of Putin, says much nicer things about Vladimir Putin than Barack Obama or anybody else.

But now, things are different. We've now had a month of chaos. We've had the Michael Flynn firing or resignation. Suddenly the order goes to Russian television, which is completely under Putin's control, "Enough about Trump. Enough compliments. Let's play it down. Let's take it easy."

On differing perceptions of the end of the Soviet Union

Remnick: What I witnessed was the dissolution of an empire, these 15 republics going each their own way, the end of Communist ideology and the rise of things like a free press and artistic freedom — and the rise of politics, actual politics, of competition of ideas and the filth and tumult that that all brings, and it was incredibly exciting.

I think most Westerners experienced it and many Russian intellectuals and people of the rising, the nascent, middle class and educated people in particular, and people in cities, they experienced it largely as a great passage forward in history. And we forget that even then ... a lot of people were made deeply anxious about this.

A Cold War, which had been fought for two generations, had been lost. This was experienced not as a triumph by so many, but also as an incredibly disorienting, humiliating passage of history in which the great empire had disintegrated. ... An economic depression came along that, for many people, was incredibly painful, like the '30s in the United States. ... A lot of people in Russia, exemplified by Putin, saw this as a crash followed by chaos, followed by poverty.

On Trump's calling the press the "enemy of the American people"

Remnick: It goes back to Robespierre. ["Enemy of the people"] is an ugly, ugly phrase. I don't know how self-aware Donald Trump is of that kind of phrase. I guarantee that Steve Bannon knows what "enemy of the people" means. Stalin used it to keep people terrified. If you were branded a vrag naroda, an "enemy of the people," you could guarantee that very soon there would be a knock in the middle of the night at your door and your fate would be horrific.

To hear that kind of language directed at the American press is an emergency. It's an emergency. It's not a political tactic, and if it's a political tactic, it's a horrific one and that needs to be resisted, not just by people like me who are editors or writers — but all of us. This is part of what distinguishes American democracy and it is untenable, immoral and anti-American.


Donald Trump has chosen contradistinction over diplomacy in his use of the invective "Radical Islam."  President Obama was cautioned not to use this term because it indicates that the West has revived the Crusades--and therefore Christians are at war with Islam.

ISIS/ISL is the latest iteration of what Lothrop Stoddard in The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (1921) calls "Islam's warlike vigor," which in reality is a reaction against Western colonization that Christianity reinforced. Stoddard writes that Islam’s warlike vigor has impressed men's minds ever since the far-off days when its pristine fervor bore the Fiery Crescent from France to China.  But with the passing cycles this fervor waned, and a century ago Islam seemed plunged in the stupor of senile decay.  The life appeared to have gone out of it, leaving naught but the dry husks of empty formalism and soulless ritual.  Yet at this darkest hour a voice came crying from out the vast Arabian Desert, the cradle of Islam, calling the Faithful to better things.  This puritan reformer was the famous Abd-el-Whab, and his followers, known as Wahhabis, soon spread over the length and breadth of the Mohammedan world, purging Islam of it sloth and rekindling the fervor of olden days.  Thus began the great Mohammedan Revival.

That revival, like all truly regenerative movements, had its political as well as its spiritual side.  One of the first things which struck the reformers was the political weakness of the Moslem world and its increasing subjection to the Christian West.  It was during the early decades of the nineteenth century that the revival spread through Islam.  But this was the very time when Europe, recovering from the losses of the Napoleonic Wars, began its unparalleled aggression upon the Moslem East.  The result in Islam was a fusing of religion and patriotism into a "sacred union" for the combined spiritual regeneration and political emancipation of the Moslem world.

As Andrew J. Bacevich has iterates in America's War For The Greater Middle East: A Military History (2016), the problem is not with Islam but it is with the West's desire for oil and imperialism.  Trump and his fellow imperialist, now calling themselves Republicans, in their nationalistic hubris are willing to recreate what Philip Jenkins in The Great And Holy War: How World War I Became A Religious Crusade (2014) the "First Crusade 'To Save Christian Values' in the 21st Century."  Jenkins acknowledges the war's religious dimensions forces us to consider its long-term effects.  In an age of overwhelming mass propaganda and incipient [now dominated by digital] global media, nations could not spend years spreading the torrid language and imagery of holy warfare without having a potent effect, although not necessarily in any form intended by the nations responsible.  Often too, these messages appealed to audiences quite different from the expected ones.  In consequence, the war ignited a global religious revolution.  However thoroughly Eurocentric the conflict might appear, in the long term, it transformed not just the Christianity of the main combatant nations but also other great faiths, especially Judaism and Islam.  It destroyed a global religious order that had prevailed for the previous half millennium and dominated much of the globe  The Great War (WWI) drew the world's religious map as we know it today.

The Western Christian colonizers redrew the map of the Islamic Ottoman Empire and established a Jewish state on Arab land.

Moreover, as a critique of The Great and Holy War states that the World War One was fought by the world's leading Christian nations, who presented the conflict as a holy war thanks to the emergence of modern media, a steady stream of patriotic and militaristic rhetoric was given to an unprecedented audience, using language that spoke of holy war and crusade, of apocalypse and Armageddon.  But this rhetoric was not mere state propaganda.  All three Abrahamic religions--Christianity, Judaism, and Islam--paved the way for modern views of religion and violence.  The disappointed hopes and moral compromises that followed the war also shaped the political climate of the rest of the century, giving rise to such phenomena as Fascism, Nazism, totalitarianism, and Communism.

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Comment by mary gravitt on March 4, 2017 at 2:06pm

Fascism has overtaken the American government wrapped in the Flag and carrying the Cross.  This is the only way that this could have occurred.  Sinclair Lewis wrote "It Couldn't Happen Here" as a warning.  But it has happened here in the US and it threatens the whole world.  Fascist leadership needs world conquests and President Trump had made it clear to his supporters that this is his aim.

Learn to listen to what our political leaders are saying and proposing, not merely hear what comes from the mouth.  Get a grasp of history and understand when you are being deceived by a "Strongman".  Two war were fought on European soil and its colonies egged on by strongmen who needed Living-space. 

Americans are in the same position, absent ISIS, that the German people were in the 1930s; private prisons are in place to be used as concentration camps; and the war call of Radical Islam has been issued.  Look at the people who make up President Trump's "Kitchen Cabinet," and how he pimps women.


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