#1607 The Tangled, Flammable Web of War in the Middle East (Transcript)

Air Date 2/3/2024

Full Notes Page

Download PDF

Audio-Synced Transcript


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast in which we will attempt to understand as many of the interlocking elements as possible in the current Middle East conflicts sparked most prominently by the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Sources today include Democracy Now!, The Inquiry, Intercepted, and Americast, with additional members-only clips from Intercepted and The Majority Report.

From Red Sea to Iran, Will Israel's Gaza Assault Spark Wider War - Democracy Now! - Air Date 1-17-24

SPENCER ACKERMAN: I think that in my years of covering the “war on terror,” this is the most dangerous moment for the Middle East that I’ve seen professionally. You talk about there being the possibility of a full-blown regional conflict. We’re at least at half-blown now. Consider what the battlefields are and have been in this conflict: Gaza, obviously the most important one, the most devastating to humanity, where the Palestinians are experiencing what could and [00:01:00] probably should be understood as a genocide, but also southern Israel, northern Israel, southern Lebanon, northwestern Syria, Beirut, northeastern Syria, Erbil, Baghdad, southwestern Yemen, the Red Sea, Pakistan, as well. 

This is now a conflict with battlefronts ranging across the region, each of which facing pressure to escalate as their various combatants’ objectives are not fully achieved. We shouldn’t think that absent an active act of deescalation, that this won’t continue spiraling outward throughout 2024.

JUAN GONZALEZ - CO-HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: And, Spencer, this whole idea that we hear almost every day some member of the Biden administration say that they’re trying to prevent an escalation of the conflict in the region, when in [00:02:00] fact their actions are quite the opposite?

SPENCER ACKERMAN: That’s right, Juan. We heard the Biden administration say most recently that it was deeply concerned about escalation in Lebanon. Well, just in the last 24 hours, the Israeli Air Force has been bombing southern Lebanon, bombing what it says are Hezbollah positions there, but also the United States has taken direct action, not just in the Red Sea, but also on Yemeni soil itself multiple times, three times at least, including most recently yesterday. And, as well, recently it carried out its first drone strike in Baghdad since 2020, which has now strained US-Iraqi relations. So, the United States, while it might say that it’s seeking to contain the conflict, is caught up in the logic of escalation.

And that means we shouldn’t give the Biden administration a pass on this. These aren’t automatic gravitational forces. [00:03:00] These are the accumulations of choices that Biden and his team are making to involve the US more deeply in this spiraling conflict, all of which could be stopped if the United States used its immense influence over Israel to restrain it or stop it from carrying out its collective punishment of Gaza.

JUAN GONZALEZ - CO-HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: We often hear, as well, about the Axis of Resistance, supposedly controlled or financed by Iran, but very little about the Axis of Empire, of the UK, the United States and Israel in the region. To what degree does this axis have more right to control the affairs of the region than those who are actually from countries there?

SPENCER ACKERMAN: Quite well said, Juan. Without ceding any of Iran’s claims to regional hegemony, the United States [00:04:00] and its allies act as if they are the representatives of the natural and just order of the Middle East, and not, in fact, Western impositions upon the aspirations of the citizenry, the people of these countries, to determine their own affairs.

And we are seeing that quite starkly most recently in Yemen, where one of the most war-devastated countries in the Middle East, as a result of not only US strikes against al-Qaeda targets, what the United States says is al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, stemming from something like over the past 15 years, but also a US-backed Saudi and Emirati campaign that lasted seven years before a ceasefire took hold in 2022, that brought not only famine but cholera to this country, that has been engulfed in a foreign-backed, foreign-sponsored [00:05:00] and foreign-accelerated civil war. Nevertheless, even among people who don’t accept the Houthi movement as the legitimate rulers of Yemen, saw massive demonstrations after the United States and its Western allies started bombing Yemen in retaliation for the Houthi attempt to relieve the siege of Gaza. So we really have on full exposure the rejection of US claims to standing for peace and stability in the region.

Houthis Are Not Iranian Proxies Helen Lackner on the History & Politics of Yemen's Ansar Allah - Democracy Now! - Air Date 2-1-24

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Helen, could you give us some background, though? What are the origins of this movement? And how is that they came to play such a prominent role in Yemen? 

SUZANNE MALONEY: Yeah. So, the Houthi movement started in the 1980s, 1990s. I think what you need to understand is that, in terms of religious sects, Yemen is divided into two basic sects: a [00:06:00] Sunni sect, called al-Shafi’is, who basically live in the majority of the country, and a branch of Shi’ism called the Zaydis, who live basically in the mountainous highlands of Yemen. And the Houthis are al-Zaydis. And again, within the Zaydi movement, there’s a certain variety, in the sense that the Houthis, I would say, are extremist Zaydists, and they’ve developed their ideology and their policies to strengthen their own branch of Zaydism. And they basically emerged in response to the rise of Sunni Salafi fundamentalism within their own area in the far north of Yemen. And so there have been conflicts and problems arising since the 1990s.

Between 2004 and 2010, there was a series of six wars between the Houthis [00:07:00] facing and fighting the then-regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Each one ended with a ceasefire which was promptly broken. The reason the last one in 2010 was not broken was as the result of the uprisings in 2011, known as the Arab Spring in various places. And that was a moment when the Houthis joined with the revolutionaries and basically took a position against — they continued their position against the regime. 

During what was supposedly a transition period between the Saleh regime and what should have become a more democratic regime in 2014, the Houthis then changed their alliances, and indeed Saleh changed his alliance, so they operated together against the transitional government. And then, eventually, that allowed them to take over the capital Sana’a in 2014 [00:08:00] and then to oust the existing transitional government in early 2015.

And that’s when, really, the war started, which was then internationalized from March 2015 with the intervention of what was known as the Saudi-led coalition, which was basically a coalition led by the Saudis and the Emiratis, with a few other states with minor roles, but supported actively by the U.S., the Europeans and the British and others.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Sorry, just to clarify, what was the point at which the Iranians started backing the Houthis? Was it in the moment when the Saudi-led bombing began, in 2015, or was it prior to that? And if you could also clarify the distinction between, as you said, the Yemenis are Zaydi Shias, and to what extent Zaydis are ideologically or theologically [00:09:00] aligned with the dominant form of Shi’ism in Iran, and what that has to do with Iran’s complicity or support for Houthis, whether or not now they do as Iran says?

SUZANNE MALONEY: Yeah. Thank you for these, for bringing up these points. The Iranian role at the time, in 2015, when we’re in the internationalized civil war started, was minimal. The Iranian involvement with the Houthis, and prior to that and since then, has always been connected with, partly, theological connections, but differences. So, in that sense, the Houthis are differentiating themselves from other Zaydis by having adopted a number of the rituals and activities and approaches of the Iranian Twelvers. It’s all a matter of how many imams they trust or they believe in after [00:10:00] the Prophet Muhammad. But in practice, the Houthis are getting closer to the Iranian Shi’ism over the last decade, but they are still quite distinct. So the alliance is much more a political alliance.

And the Iranian involvement, which was really very, very insignificant at the beginning of this war, has increased over time, and is primarily — has been, for a while, mainly financial and of providing fuel and things like that to the Houthis, but more recently has been much more focused on military activities and primarily on the supply of advanced technology. If you look at the Houthi weaponry — and I’m no military expert — but the Houthi weaponry originally was basically a lot of Scuds and other Russian-supplied materials and also some American-supplied materials to the Saleh regime. And these have been [00:11:00] upgraded and improved and changed, to some extent, thanks to Iranian support. So, in that sense, the Iranian involvement has become greater.

But it’s very important to note that the Houthis are an independent movement. The Houthis are not Iranian proxies. They are not Iranian servants. They don’t do what the Iranians tell them to do. They make their own decisions. If their decisions and their policies coincide with those of Iran, then there’s no issue. But if they don’t do it. So it’s very important, I think, to destroy this myth of Iran-backed Houthis in a single word as if it’s a conglomerate. That is not the case.

What does Iran want - The Inquiry - Air Date 1-25-24

PHILIP REEVELL: The Axis of Resistance...

NEGAR MORTAZAVI: ...is a loose coalition of mostly non-state actors across the Middle East -- in [00:12:00] Lebanon, Hezbollah; Shia militias in Iraq; Hamas; the Houthis -- that are essentially allies of Iran. 

CHARMAINE COZIER - HOST, THE INQUIRY: Negar Motazavi is a journalist, host of the Iran podcast, and senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D. C.

NEGAR MORTAZAVI: So these allies essentially are seen by Tehran ideologically as a resistance to their big enemy, the United States, and also their small enemy, Israel, in the region. 

CHARMAINE COZIER - HOST, THE INQUIRY: In 2002, US president George W. Bush described Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil," which posed a threat to world peace.

NEGAR MORTAZAVI: And so the Axis of Resistance is an opposite play on that "axis of evil," saying, no, we're not evil, we're actually resisting you, the United States, that has caused all the trouble in our region. And we won't stop fighting and resisting until this ends. 

CHARMAINE COZIER - HOST, THE INQUIRY: Several [00:13:00] military personnel were injured in a recent missile and rocket attack on an air base in western Iraq, which hosts US troops. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group said to be linked to Iran, has claimed responsibility.

Negar Murtazavi says it's important to know that Iran's direct airstrikes into neighboring countries lies beyond the axis. 

NEGAR MORTAZAVI: The skirmishes on the Iran-Pakistan border is fairly unrelated. That has to do with a separatist ethnic Baluchi group, which has had trouble with the central government. The Iranian government sees them as a terrorist group and has been going after them. It's something that Iran is dealing with simultaneously. 

So all of these, I would say, are connected to each other in the big picture, but the Pakistan border is on the other side of the country, and not really part of this big Axis of Resistance that we're talking about vis-a-vis Iran and Israel.

CHARMAINE COZIER - HOST, THE INQUIRY: Most of the Axis of Resistance groups have been designated as [00:14:00] terrorist entities by some western states. Coalition members have different aims but share a broader goal. 

NEGAR MORTAZAVI: The Houthis in Yemen were an insurgency that emerged about two decades ago as a resistance for the demands of their own ethnic population. The Lebanese Hezbollah was also a resistance in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. So at some point, Iran has realized that, okay, this group has shared goal in resisting what they see is this bigger enemy: the US meddling, israeli presence in the region. And so they have connected to them.

CHARMAINE COZIER - HOST, THE INQUIRY: Yemen's Houthis consider Israel an enemy. The group has increased attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea since the start of the Israel-Gaza war, in order to show support for fellow Axis of Resistance member Hamas. In response, the UK and US have carried out a second round of airstrikes on Houthi bases in Yemen.

NEGAR MORTAZAVI: The groups do take cues from Tehran. They get financial support. They get [00:15:00] weaponry. They get logistical support. They get political support. But they also have autonomy. They're not part of the Iranian armed forces, but they do work in tandem. 

CHARMAINE COZIER - HOST, THE INQUIRY: So what does Iran get in return? 

NEGAR MORTAZAVI: This is an insurance policy. This is a way for them to fight the world's most powerful army, which is the US, and also the region's most powerful army, Israel, in an unconventional and asymmetric way. 

CHARMAINE COZIER - HOST, THE INQUIRY: That approach was influenced by lessons learned in the 1980s when Iran was invaded by its neighbor Iraq. The eight-year war that followed was deadly and expensive.

NEGAR MORTAZAVI: So since then, essentially the thinking is, okay, the Iranian government decided we're not going to let our soil be attacked again. But we also don't have a strong enough army and weaponry to be able to make that happen. So they've set up these allies who can create trouble if ever needed [00:16:00] for their enemy. And we're seeing that really unfold in the Israel-Hamas war since October 7th, how each of these groups -- the Houthis in the Red Sea, Hezbollah in the northern border with Israel, are able to create headaches for Iran's enemies when it comes to the situation of war and conflict. 

CHARMAINE COZIER - HOST, THE INQUIRY: However, the full extent of Iran's commitment to the coalition isn't clear.

NEGAR MORTAZAVI: The Iranian state at times would like to emphasize the fact that these groups are autonomous. And that they only support them because of the shared goal. But then when it comes to other instances, they do boast of their support that they provide to this group. So it's a double-sided strategy when it comes to their relationship with the Axis of Resistance.

CHARMAINE COZIER - HOST, THE INQUIRY: An example of that mixed messaging followed Hamas's deadly attack on Israel that sparked the current war in Gaza.

NEGAR MORTAZAVI: I actually believe US intelligence that concluded that Tehran wasn't involved in the planning of that [00:17:00] attack. And so we saw Iranian officials coming with two levels of claims. One is that this is something that they ideologically support, but at the same time there was an opposite message saying that this was an independent, 100 percent Palestinian operation. And that's your cue essentially saying that we weren't as much involved in the planning of this attack and so they want to maintain some form of plausible deniability when it comes to the cause of the October 7th attack. 

CHARMAINE COZIER - HOST, THE INQUIRY: Working in tandem doesn't mean that axis members are unified. 

NEGAR MORTAZAVI: So the coalition is not necessarily seeing eye to eye on every single issue when it comes to the region. For example, in the Palestinian cause, we have seen differences in strategy or in ideology when it comes to talking points from Tehran and talking points from Hamas. Sometimes Hamas are more radical, sometimes Tehran is more radical, and so the coalition will remain [00:18:00] loose. But I think as long as Tehran is able to lead and support and be in touch with all of them, they can continue as an axis.

Biden Stands at the Precipice of a Greater War in the Middle East and His Political Future - Intercepted - Air Date 1-31-24

MURTAZA HUSSAIN - CO-HOST, INTERCEPTED: You know, Juan, you mentioned that it's commonly perceived and described in politics that Israel is an asset to US strategic interests in the region, but it's very interesting at the moment, it seems like, given the widespread regional anger about the war in Gaza and its consequences, the US is having to intervene very extensively in the conflict, not just to resupply Israel with munitions and give it targeting information and defend it diplomatically at international fora, but also the US is now directly fighting the Houthis in Yemen on behalf of Israel, who have said themselves are acting in response to the war in Gaza. This past weekend, several US service members were killed in the drone strike in Jordan carried out by Iraqi militias, who also said they were acting in response to US support in the war in Gaza. And finally, the US actually has [00:19:00] aircraft carriers and troops in the eastern Mediterranean specifically to deter Hezbollah, which may intervene more forcefully in the conflict without that deterrence from the US provide there. So it seems like the US is doing a tremendous amount to help Israel at the moment. 

But to the argument that Israel is beneficial to the US, they just seem very clear what the US getting out of this, seems a very lopsided exchange, in a way. Can you speak a bit about what do you think continues to hold and drive this relationship on these terms, given the fact that the strategic utility is not clearly obvious at the moment? 

JUAN COLE: I think the strategic utility goes beyond a moment.

And, again, I'm trying to understand the mindset in the foreign policy establishment in Washington. I'm not trying to allocute as to the truth. But they perceive Israel to be a long term strategic asset in the Middle East of some importance.

For one thing, the Israelis [00:20:00] have very good intelligence in the region. Trump, when he was president, met with Sergei Lavrov and some other Russian officials and actually let it slip that the Israelis had placed someone high in the ISIL councils and that they were getting direct intelligence from ISIL planning through this Israeli agent. Apparently the CIA was not able to do this, but the Israelis were. And since ISIL during the Obama period was the major foreign policy threat and dictated a lot of Obama policy in the Middle East, the response to it and the attempt to destroy it,having the Israelis penetrate it like that was gold. And I think behind the scenes and in ways that we don't hear about, there are lots of those kinds of things that the Israelis do for the United States.

And so I perceive the Biden administration to feel that it can hold the status [00:21:00] quo with regard to what the Americans call the Axis of Resistance. I prefer the Alliance of Resistance because we always use Axis for pejorative purposes. But the Iranians have, over time, established allies in Lebanon and Iraq and Yemen, as you say, although these are very loose alliances. It's not a command and control kind of situation. The Houthis don't take orders from Tehran. But they are allied on the basis of a common perception of Israel and the United States as a threat to their interests. 

And the Biden administration came into office hoping to do a deal with the Alliance of Resistance to bring them in from the cold. And I think there was a genuine hope that could be done for various reasons, and it may have to do with Biden's acquiescence in [00:22:00] the views of some of the hawks around him. That didn't go forward in a big way. And in fact, local regional actors became tired of waiting for Biden to make this move, and so the Saudis reached out to the Iranians themselves through China. And the Biden administration has been trying to work to extend -- or had been trying to work to extend -- the ceasefire between the Saudis and the Houthis in Yemen. And that struggle may start back up, we don't know. But the US has now taken the Saudi role of bombing Sanaa, I think to very little effect. 

And so I think what the Biden administration is trying to do is to hold the status quo against the Alliance of Resistance through surgical interventions, bombing a base of one of these Shiite militias here and there, time to time, while they believe the Israelis are rolling up Hamas.

And [00:23:00] I think they must understand that this can't go on for a very long time, or the status quo simply will not hold. But that's what they're trying to do in the meantime. 

And even though the Iraqi militias have Killed American troops at a base in Jordan near Syria, the response of Biden on Sunday was remarkably restrained. He said we'll reply at a time and a place of our choosing. That's usually the way you would reply to a stray mortar hitting a base and not doing it. Killing three American soldiers, that's not something that you would put off the response to a time and a place of your choosing; you would want to go to war over it. And it's very clear that the Biden administration does not want to go to war over it, and that they're attempting to find a way to muddle through this crisis. 

JEREMY SCAHILL - HOST, INTERCEPTED: You also had two US navy SEALs that, according to the official reporting on it, went missing as part of [00:24:00] the US military presence deployed in an effort to stop the Yemeni blockade of the Red Sea, and now they've officially been declared dead by the United States, so it's In addition to those two, now you have the three confirmed deaths of American service members in Jordan from this drone strike.

Drone Strike Kills 3 U.S. Troops in Jordan as Risk Grows of Regional War over Israel's Gaza Assault - Democracy Now! - Air Date 1-29-24

RAMI KHOURI: So, I would say that the significance here is severalfold. First of all, the people who did this attack, the Americans blame a certain group in Iraq funded or backed by Iran. There’s dozens of these groups all over the region. There’s almost as many of these groups around the region as there are American military bases around the region. I think there’s something like 30 or 35 American military bases, with something like 30-40,000 troops. And, of course, when you add the ones that come in on the aircraft carriers, it’s more than that.

So, you have to see this in the context of a regional situation with many American military installations, some of them [00:25:00] killing and attacking Arabs and others, some of them not. And you have to see the groups from Arab countries, official state groups and nonstate actors, like Hezbollah and Hamas and Ansar Allah. That’s the context in which we have to see this.

There are so many potential people who could have done this attack, which should make us wonder about why are there so many people who are potential attackers. It’s because they see the American presence linked very close to what Israel is doing in Palestine. They see this as a threat. And they come right out and say it. The thing about the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, like the Resistance Axis, which is the broader Middle East coalition of Hezbollah, Hamas, Ansar Allah in Yemen, the Islamic groups in — resistance groups in Syria and Iraq, their significance is that they come right out — and they’ve said it so many times — “We’re not scared of being attacked. We’re not put off by the US and [00:26:00] Israeli threats. We’re defending our territory. And if we’re aggressed against, we are going to fight back.” This is unusual in this region, but it’s going on all the time.

The Ansar Allah in Yemen have been saying the same thing. The US went in there with — and the UK, the two great colonial powers in the Middle East of the last century. Both have been attacking Ansar Allah targets in Yemen, and the Ansar Allah people say, you know, “Go ahead. Attack. We don’t care.” And they keep attacking back and hitting ships and trying to fire at other places, as well.

So, that’s the context that we have to look at. And some of it is linked to Gaza, some of it was there before Gaza, which is another important thing. And the Ansar Allah in Yemen and others have said, “Look, if the US stops actively supporting the genocidal, savage moves of Israel in Gaza, [00:27:00] we will stop attacking American targets.” It is significant that this is the first direct strike that killed three Americans, but that’s not as significant as the broader picture that we have to look at.

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Rami Khouri, can you talk about the other countries and their response and where they stand vis-à-vis the United States and Israel? For example, Jordan. I listened to the Jordan deputy prime minister yesterday saying this did not happen on Jordanian soil, it happened in Syria. But, in fact, it looks like it did happen in Jordan. And why that was relevant — because, of course, they’re all very close right there on the border — is he said if it happened on Jordanian soil, they would consider it an act of war.

RAMI KHOURI: Jordan tries to stay out of these big conflicts. It’s a small country. It has quite a sophisticated military capability. They spend a lot of money and attention on their security [00:28:00] services, both internally and regionally, their intelligence services, their technical capabilities, special forces, things like that. And they try to not get directly involved in large-scale warfare, but to do a little strategic, pinpoint actions when necessary either to protect themselves or to help their allies, like the US and others.

It’s hard to know exactly where this attack came from. If the US intelligence agencies have the information, they should make it public so people stop speculating. But Jordan is a country with a huge territory on the borders with three, four countries, and it’s very hard to patrol it. By the way, I know that area in northeastern Jordan quite well. I spent many, many days there years ago when I was writing books on archaeology and I lived in Jordan.

And there’s two things I think people should recognize about this area. [00:29:00] First of all, if you look at that aerial photograph which you showed of the camp, of Tower 2, I think it’s called — if you look at that photograph and then you go back into the archaeological journals and look at pictures, aerial photographs of Roman and Byzantine camps that archaeologists have mapped in surveys, you find exactly the same thing. And this is a sign that these kinds of foreign military installations inside the region, especially on peripheral border areas, don’t have a long lifestyle, and they will be abandoned, because the local people don’t want them there.

The second thing I’d say, that area is really fascinating, because people call it a desolate desert area. It’s a desert area now because of climate change and overgrazing and things like that, but this was a strategically important region in the beginning of modern civilization as we know it in the Bronze Age. There’s people who think that the [00:30:00] Abraham’s Path came through here on his way into what’s known as the promised land, that this is an area developed early urbanism in the Bronze Age, walled large towns, sophisticated water systems, showing the human capabilities that have been in this area for about 5,000 years. So, those are just two little side points I’d like to throw in there.

Biden Stands at the Precipice of a Greater War in the Middle East and His Political Future Part 2 - Intercepted - Air Date 1-31-24

MURTAZA HUSSAIN - CO-HOST, INTERCEPTED: One, you mentioned that the Houthis are taking these strikes in the Red Sea and they're generating a tremendous amount of attention to themselves -- negatively, obviously from the US and U. K. and so forth in various ways, but also in the region where they were not very popular before they've become relatively popular in recent weeks and months. You see the Houthi spokespeople going on television, becoming quite fixtures in social media and on regular media in the region, because of a sense that they're standing up for the Palestinians, but also by extension, a perception that they're [00:31:00] standing up to the US and there seems to be a very pronounced view in the region that this is not just an Israeli war, but it's a US war specifically. And we saw that in the statements of some of these Iraqi militia groups that claim responsibility for the attack on the base in Jordan as well, too. They view the US very intimately involved in the war, a direct participant in the war in Gaza, even.

Whereas in the US it's often depicted that a more of an arm's length relationship, and people are sometimes surprised to see a retaliation against the US directly for actions which are taken by Israel. Can you speak a bit about the sort of disconnect and how the US israel relationship is viewed by people in the region as very hand in hand?

JUAN COLE: Oh, well, people in the region don't make a distinction. They view. Even you know, when the United States invaded Iraq, US troops on the ground in Iraq were often referred to by the Iraqis as Israelis. And the notorious incident in Fallujah, where four [00:32:00] contractors were attacked and strung up, was carried out by people in Fallujah who called themselves Iraqi Hamas. And part of the reason that they attacked those US contractors was because the Israelis were at the time conducting an assassination campaign against Hamas leaders. 

And so the American public has never viewed these events synoptically, has not been able to see them in the same frame. But in the Middle East, the United States and Israel are basically seen as one thing.

And so when you hear in the United States that the Israelis have killed so many thousands of people, the American public might say, "Well, is that really necessary? Maybe the Israelis shouldn't be doing that." But in the Middle East, the comment would be that, why are the Americans doing this?

And people are furious in the Middle East. I mean, their blood is boiling all through the region against the United [00:33:00] States. This is not a completely new phenomenon, of course, and we've seen moments in the past when there has been a lot of anger towards the US in part because of its unqualified support for Israeli impunity. But it is quite remarkable, the amount of anger. And so, it puts American allies in the region in a difficult position because the Saudi government, the government of the United Arab Emirates, the Jordanian government, they all hate Hamas. And nothing would please them better than for Netanyahu to succeed in destroying it. And so, none of those governments has done more than criticize the war. And, de facto, they agree with the war aim. But their publics are not on the same page. So the Saudis and the Jordanians, who have a real population -- the United Arab Emirates is a postage stamp country with a million [00:34:00] citizens and eight million guest workers, it's in a different demographic situation -- the Saudis and the Jordanians, the governments really have to negotiate with their publics, and their publics are furious. 

So you see people in Saudi Arabia, for instance, who the government has demanded a cease fire, even though the US is opposed, and they have criticized the conduct of the war, and they've said openly that you can forget about these Abraham Accords business until the Palestinians are treated properly. That's for Saudi public consumption. They're trying to reassure their own public that they are not villains in the peace. 

So, not only people in the region see the United States as more or less behind this war, as a hundred percent backer of it and the reason for which it can go on, but the publics and the governments are deeply split. And so that's why something like the Alliance of Resistance, [00:35:00] by sending out some drones and committing some pinpricks against Western security, gives them a great deal of cachet. 

And in a place like Iraq, it could be consequential. They have elections and the militias are all also civil political parties. And they have, last I knew it, some 60 seats in Parliament. The current Prime Minister, Al Sudani, is beholden to the Shiite militias and their civil bloc in Parliament. So, there's likely a fair storm coming in relations between the United States and Iraq over all this.

And, of course, what the Shiite militias want is not only to punish the US for its involvement in Gaza, but also to push the remaining US troops out of the region. So with their 2,500 troops in Iraq, mainly doing training and logistics for the Iraqi army and its [00:36:00] continued mop up operations against ISIL, there are some 900 US troops in Syria, liaising with the YPG, the Kurdish leftist militia -- and again, to make sure that ISIL doesn't come back, to give some support to the Syrian Kurds, and also maybe to block Iranian and Shiite militia activity in, in southeast Syria. 

So the Shiite militias in Iraq are trying to push the Americans out, and I may be hoping that the US response to something like the attack on the base in Jordan will provoke such a large rift between Baghdad and Washington that the troops will have to leave.

Christiane Amanpour on Biden's Iran Dilemma - Americast - Air Date 1-31-24

SARAH SMITH - HOST, AMERICAST: Christiane, you know very well that because this is a presidential election year, domestic politics are interfering with the decisions that the President has to make. And this idea that Donald Trump puts forward that his strongman presence in the White House would deter the kind of attack that killed American forces at the weekend, whether or not that's true, [00:37:00] of course.

So Joe Biden is now faced with trying to make a decision that responds to that, as well as responding to the facts on the ground, trying to thread the needle of saying this action will look like a deterrent to stop other people trying to attack our troops in the region. And it will also look like vengeance to a certain degree, but not so much that it escalates the conflict in the region.

Is it possible to achieve all of those aims? 

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Look, I think it's very important for your listeners and viewers to understand that whatever Donald Trump says is not what is the facts. It's really important to tell people that he has essentially lied to the world and to the American people about foreign policy and domestic policy ever since 2015, when he began his first campaign for president. And now he's coming back saying that I'm the strong man. The only people who that will appease. People like Putin, people like Kim Jong un, Xi Jinping, all those people who he's expressed [00:38:00] respect for. 

And so I think that, yes, President Biden, if it was me and it's not me, thank goodness, who has to make this very, very difficult decision, I would be very troubled by the, as I said it earlier, the baying for a war on Iran by certain quarters of the extreme right wing in Congress. At the same time, having to do something to, as I said, deter it. So I don't want to say what it will be because I don't know. But I do think, yes, he has a difficult needle to thread, and I think the fact that it's happening in an election year is difficult, but more to the point, I think it's not even the election year—for me anyway, as a foreign policy and a war journalist—it's that there's so much war in the region now. They don't know which way to look. They don't know what to do right now. 

And not only that, you have Donald Trump and his allies nixing a border deal. was about to pass between the Democrats and the Republicans, which means that [00:39:00] Ukraine will not get the weapons it needs to actually defend not just its own self and its own democracy, but our democracy and US national security. So this is a very, very complex and very dangerous moment. And it is a real problem that is being muddled and fake newsed by the MAGA wing. 

SARAH SMITH - HOST, AMERICAST: Now, we definitely need to talk about the southern border and the way it's being tied into American foreign policy. But just before we do, let me ask you this, sticking with Iran, and this is a genuine query, I don't know the answer to this. When the Pentagon is planning some kind of retaliatory military strike, is it possible at the same time for diplomats to be talking to the leadership in Tehran and saying, "we're going to have to take action. You've forced our hand. This will happen, but please do not retaliate. Understand that this is us responding to the fact that our troops have been killed. This is not us trying to escalate a conflict," and can you be talking to them, [00:40:00] trying to calm things down at the same time as you're escalating your military action? 

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Look, I don't know because I'm not in the room, but I do know that the Iranians have said, if you attack us, whatever you tell us about not wanting a war. And remember. Well, we'll get to this in a minute. The US keeps saying we don't want another war with Iran, but if you attack us, we're going to retaliate. I mean, that's what they've said publicly. What happens, what the reaction is from the United States and then from Iran, we just don't know yet, but it is a very, very difficult situation.

And there are many experts who are calling for proportionality. And again, remember, The Donald Trump did not want to attack Iran when many on his right flank said that he should over various things. And all the way back to the George W. Bush administration, when again, Israel and others on his own right wing were urging him to attack Iran. Remember, it was going to be Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and and he didn't because they didn't think that that was going to [00:41:00] raise the security of the American people, national security. 

And let's just not forget. It's one thing to be hitting non state actors, the Houthis, for instance, in Yemen and their bases the Iran backed militias, wherever they may be in Iraq, in Syria and elsewhere. It's another thing to attack a sovereign nation with a big military and a huge country. And I'm sure President Biden is looking at weeks of attacking bases in in Yemen and seeing no response and no end to the Houthis action. So if they having trouble with the Houthis, you can imagine how it's going to be trying to direct firepower to Iran.

Look, if you want me to bet, I would say they're going to choose some kind of other route. I may be wrong, but since 1979, when the Islamic Republic came and basically cited America as its enemy, remember the great Satan, America has never struck Iran and vice versa. Iran has never struck America. So it would be a massive new war in the Middle [00:42:00] East. 

JUSTIN WEBB - CO-HOST, AMERICAST: You know Iran well, obviously in your background, your heritage, how rational are the Iranian leadership, how open do you think to the world of diplomacy and pressure? 

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Very rational. I think they're very rational, and you've seen that in 46 years. Not the politics most of the West likes, but they are about survival of their regime and the projection of whatever power and influence they can. So in that regard, they would rather survive than have any kind of existential threat posed on them.

BONUS Biden Stands at the Precipice of a Greater War in the Middle East and His Political Future Part 3 - Intercepted - Air Date 1-31-24

JEREMY SCAHILL - HOST, INTERCEPTED: But speaking of arcs, I wanted to ask you about German policy, and I'm glad you also brought up Ukraine because Germany has been, the major voice in the European Union in terms of big, powerful, more powerful countries in pushing that war, and Germany actually started to increase the amount of GDP that it's willing to spend on defense, exporting of weaponry, which was [00:43:00] unusual for Germany. And mind you, this is not the CDU in power anymore under Angela Merkel; this is supposedly the liberals that are in power now under Olaf Schultz and the green party, in fact occupies the position of foreign ministry in the German government. 

But Germany has been a major proponent of Israel's war in Gaza. It has sent a record level of assistance to Israel, but at the beginning, it was overwhelmingly in the form of what Germany categorized as defensive materiel, armored vehicles, body armor for troops. And now there are reports in the German media that Germany is considering a variety of requests from Israel to actually start sending munitions to Israel as well. Germany signed on to be effectively a defense council in support of Israel's defense at the International Court of Justice, where they're being accused by South Africa of committing genocide and genocidal acts in Gaza. And many [00:44:00] Palestinians have a perception that Germany's involvement in what they believe clearly is a genocide or an attempted genocide in Gaza is linked to the fact that Germany committed genocide against the Jews in World War II, and you had Germany announcing that it was going to sign on to support Israel at the International Court of Justice on the very day that in Namibia, Namibians were marking the German genocide that began a century earlier, and issued a scathing attack against the German government linking those two events together, the genocide in Namibia with Germany signing on to defend Israel against genocide charges at the International Court of Justice.

And just one last point on this: It's not just that Germany is full on supporting Israel politically, diplomatically, now it seems militarily, in a very aggressive [00:45:00] way; it's also that domestically in Germany there are speech laws now that are supposedly aimed at halting or cracking down on antisemitic speech that have been weaponized now to criminalize it -- although it's in misdemeanor form -- criminalize several specific acts of speech that are perceived to be anti-Israel.

You've written recently about some of the historical connections to Germany's full support right now of the Israelis, and I'd like to hear your analysis of this transformation of Germany's posture in the world, which really ratcheted up during Ukraine, but is in full force now with the Israeli war against Gaza.

JUAN COLE: Yeah, this generation of Germans are still traumatized by World War II and the Nazi era and the Holocaust. And I think they decided that the way you work out your national guilt about the Holocaust is knee jerk support for Israel. [00:46:00] And remember that there are ways in which there are limits to liberalism in Germany that come out of the Nazi experience, because the one flaw in liberal philosophy is a belief in everybody being able to have a voice. But giving Hitler and his gangs voices didn't work out very well for the Weimar Republic. And so there are laws in Germany and Austria that limit speech of a Nazi sort. So it bleeds over then into the Palestine issue, because to what extent is supporting Palestine hate speech against Israel? And these become very difficult political negotiations. And I think the Germans have just decided that the Palestinians are a source of disturbance. They produce terrorism. Their claims against [00:47:00] Israel are outrageous and that they've put them in that limbo of speech that they put the far right, and upsetting the apple cart of liberal society that the only way to have liberal society in Germany is in fact to be illiberal with regard to certain kinds of speech and actions. 

So it's an enormous psychological an emotional wound that the Germans are dealing with, and I think they've come down on the wrong side of how you deal with this. Yes, they should never forget what their ancestors did, because remember, there are hardly anybody left alive from the era where the Holocaust occurred. But they should never forget what their ancestors did and they should be determined to maintain the kind of liberal freedoms that would forestall any return of the far right. And of course, the return of the far right is all of a sudden in Germany, an actual prospect. The AFD seems to be growing in strength. And [00:48:00] there's genuine conversations, at the heights of the German Government about whether to bite the bullet and put the AFD under the anti-Nazi laws and ban the party and ban that kind of speech. Because it does skates very close to what's illegal in Germany. 

So if these things are seriously being considered against 20 percent of the German population, imagine how expendable the Palestinians and their cause is in this regard. I think the only way forward for Germany ultimately is to have a different view of the significance of the Holocaust, not as something that they did to Jews for which their unstinting support for everything that the Israelis do is the only penance, but to see it as a global event against an ethnic group.

And of course the Germans also committed a Holocaust against Poles. [00:49:00] And the Siege of Leningrad was intended to be a holocaust against Slavs, and they were going to move people out of Russia and Ukraine and replace them with Germans. If you saw these events as of universal significance, and then you were determined that they never happen again, then they have to never happen again to Namibians and Palestinians, as well as never happening again to Jews.

And that's a universalism of an earlier period of German liberalism -- I think something maybe that Immanuel Kant might have sympathized with -- that this generation of Germans has lost and they need to recover it.

BONUS Host's Anti-Ceasefire BS Dismantled Completely During INTENSE Debate - The Majority Report - Air Date 1-28-24

YALDA HAKIM: But, uh, Francois, I mean, there are many who are saying that, frankly, the Biden administration should have acted sooner and faster, that hundreds of billions of dollars has been put at risk because the Houthis have held this area in the Red Sea at ransom. [00:50:00] 

MYRIAM FRANCOIS: Sorry, so just let me get this straight, Yalda. So we are bombing the poorest, one of the poorest countries in the world that has been under a humanitarian blockade. There has been famine. These people have been decimated and we are bombing them because a couple of guys in dinghies in support for the Palestinians who are having a genocide committed against them. They're objecting to that and we're bombing them? Come on now. I mean, this is just an insane world for us to even think. I'm so sorry your Amazon packages are delayed. I really am. Like I wish mine came on time. But you know: genocide, guys, genocide. There are two mothers a day dying in Gaza right now. It's 109 days into a conflict in which a humanitarian crisis has been declared to the world day in, day out.

YALDA HAKIM: By the way, Dr Francois, there are many who are Yemen-watchers who monitor and follow the Houthis who say this is doing wonders for their branding, actually, that it isn't just the Palestinian cause that they're [00:51:00] focused on. 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: So pause it, pause it. I mean, I have no doubt that the Houthis, um, and I think, you know, everything I've read suggests that they're having a hard time governing and that this is, engaging in a conflict like this drives their national, their legitimacy and sort of nationalistic fervor. Yes, of course, that dynamic exists in every time a government launches a conflict in some fashion. Um, but the bottom line is like, this was all to be expected. 

The reason why the Biden administration moved in naval ships early on was because they knew this conflict has the ability to expand. And so you have a choice. You either roll with the expansion of that conflict. Or you try and end the conflict. And the Biden administration has made their choice, which is we're not going to try and end the conflict. 

EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: I mean, why is, I'm sorry, but why does that give the Houthis more [00:52:00] legitimacy? Why? It's not just, it's not just that they're engaging in a war or in a conflict. It's the fact that they're showing solidarity for the Palestinian people. When you see how other Arab countries and people in those nations feel about Israel's genocide of the Palestinian people, you can understand why the Houthis domestically might see it as a prime opportunity for them to show and thumb their nose at U.S. imperial power, which, I gotta tell, like, I hate to break it to White, British, and American anchors in this country who are cozy and make millions of dollars, but the United States is not viewed with much reverence in the region that we have been indiscriminately bombing for decades and decades and decades, and that Israel is like a colonial outpost for our interests in that region.

Yeah, they don't have a ton of legitimacy there, or we don't. So the Houthis doing this is actually completely logical, even though it's painted [00:53:00] as some sort of like, Arab barbarism. It's, if the genocide was happening in our backyard to one of our allies or other people, I mean, look at how we responded in solidarity with sending weapons to people in Ukraine because Russia is in opposition to us. This is how geopolitics works, but it, but White people get to be rational actors on the international stage and then Brown people or Arab people or Muslim people, they're all irrational. 

MATT LECH - PRODUCER, THE MAJORITY REPORT: The people that are supporting the bombing of the Houthis, yeah, it is disgusting that people are saying, well, what about the, uh, uh, might be inflation or rise in shipping? You know how many people are starving in Gaza right now? 


MATT LECH - PRODUCER, THE MAJORITY REPORT: It's absolutely disgusting to be called like pro-terrorist or something like that. Kiss my ass. 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: I mean, uh, let's put it this way: if the Houthis were disrupting international trade routes and were firing on civilian vessels, and whether you think they're sincere or not, in there, right? - I mean, [00:54:00] uh, which is just a bizarre way to look at this - whether you think they're sincere or not, if they were doing this in the total absence of this Israeli assault on Gaza, if there was nothing else going on and they were doing it because they were they're trying to drive their own sort of like, public perception, the quality of their public perception in Yemen, no one would be talking about it. 


SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: If the U.S. was bombing, we would be like, Wait, we shouldn't be doing this, and that would be the end of the story. Like there would be nobody, it would... 

MATT LECH - PRODUCER, THE MAJORITY REPORT: You have a coalition being able to be built because the Houthis are just acting out for some reason against [unintelligible].

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Yeah, of course. I mean, that's the thing, is that the whole point is that the Biden administration have completely opened themselves up to this expansion of this regional conflict because of their failure to, in any way, attempt to reign in Israel. Because it is not an attempt to say we're [00:55:00] sending a letter to your manager and we just put 'to whom it does concern'. I mean that is, that is the point. Uh, continue on with this [clip]. 

YALDA HAKIM: ...who are Yemen watches, who are, who monitor and follow the Houthis, who say this is doing wonders for their branding, actually, that it isn't just the Palestinian cause that they're focused on.

MYRIAM FRANCOIS: So, call a ceasefire now and then the positive branding, if you want to stop the Houthis doing what they're doing, then call a ceasefire right now... 

NEWS ANCHOR: Do you actually believe that the Houthis would stop doing what they're doing if... 

MYRIAM FRANCOIS: They have literally said that that's why they're doing what they're doing, they have not previously blocked those routes for any other...

MATT LECH - PRODUCER, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Pause it real quick, you know, I'm not gonna take it off, but like the idea that America and Britain have the ability to vet others for sincerity in this sort of conflict is ludicrous 

EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: ...that we all state actors that are White and are powerful or rational, state actors that are poor and Arab, we have to assess their moral character.


MYRIAM FRANCOIS: ... reason except [00:56:00] this one. So, yes, I do. And I also think the West needs to start to understand that you cannot just go around playing cowboys in the world. There are consequences to your actions. You cannot just go around bombing people's countries, ignoring international law and expect no repercussions. For every cause there is a consequence. And just because you don't like a couple of guys trying to resist the fact that this... 

YALDA HAKIM: I mean, these are now proscribed terrorists, the Houthis. 

MYRIAM FRANCOIS: Sure, according to Western governments, the other terrorist governments.

YALDA HAKIM: Well, also according to the Yemeni people. 

MYRIAM FRANCOIS: Which is a Saudi-backed government, which is essentially our.... 

YALDA HAKIM: But the Yemenis who live, uh, you know, under Houthis rule, talk about the fact that this group continues to terrorize them as well. 

MYRIAM FRANCOIS: Yeah, that's, I'm no fan of the Houthis, apart from when they're blockading in favor of a ceasefire, which should have been called a long time ago. Twenty-five thousand people are dead in Gaza right now. There are over 60,000 people injured with no access to food, water, aid. How dare we have a conversation about trade when there [00:57:00] are children right now being treated without anesthetic. There are things that require us to make... 

YALDA HAKIM: They do have the global economy, global markets, hostage. 

MYRIAM FRANCOIS: Good for them, good for them. Cease fire now. Cease fire now. 

YALDA HAKIM: We're going to have to, uh, leave it there. 


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with Democracy Now!, laying out the overview of the danger of escalation in the Middle East. Democracy Now! Also laid out some of the contextual details of the Houthi movement in Yemen. The Inquiry broke down the role of Iran. Intercepted looked more closely at the influence of the U.S. Democracy Now! highlighted the context of the region being dotted with dozens of U.S. military bases. Intercepted explained the impact of the Israel-US relationship. And Americast spoke with Christiane Amanpour about the U.S.'s attempt to both retaliate but not escalate, while risking a major new war in the Middle East with Iran. [00:58:00] That's what everybody heard, but members also heard a bonus clips from Intercepted diving into the relationship between Germany and Israel in the context of the history of the Holocaust. And The Majority Report analyzed a mainstream coverage debate about the conflict. 

To hear that and have all of our bonus contents delivered seamlessly to the new members only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support, or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information. And now we'll hear from you.

Countering Green-Lanternism - Erin from (Just Outside) Philadelphia

VOICEMAILER ERIN FROM JUST OUTSIDE PHILLY: Hey, Jay!, this is Erin from what I now understand to be the most important county in the United States, which is to say the Philadelphia suburbs of Delaware County. Boy, it's great to be the center of attention every four years, isn't it? 

In any case, wanted to respond to the recent show about the various strengths and weaknesses of the Biden campaign as it exists in this [00:59:00] moment. And A, I want to really thank you for your summary at the end, because while I fully understand that that was a disappointing reaction from J. B. Pritzker when the Humanist Report immediately went into, oh, we're doomed mode, I really started gritting my teeth, because it's just not helpful to think that way this year, for reasons that I think we all understand. But the point being, I appreciate your explanation of campaign literacy, we'll say, not necessarily media literacy. So yeah, one of the reasons I've been a member for so long is the way you were able to just pull everything together.

The other thing that just keeps coming to mind in every discussion I've had over the last few months, particularly with some friends and family is what the old progressive blog, Lawyers, Guns, and Money, used to refer to as Green Lanternism. Which, I'm not a big comics fan, but as I understand the Green Lantern is a [01:00:00] comics hero who can create things or cause things to happen purely by the force of his will, focused through some sort of magic ring. And this is a thing that they frequently criticized people on the left for back in the day, which, it's taken me a while to warm up to the theory, but I'm really beginning to understand it, that well, we just need Obama to get up and talk about this thing, and then it's gonna happen.

And you really see it every time there's a big presidential election, and I really do feel like it's a thing that is a bit of a problem on the left, because I feel like we ought to know better. Trump engages in Green Lanternism all the time, too. He's always saying, well, I'm gonna come in, and I'm gonna fix, Ukraine, and fix the border, and this and that, and nothing ever happens. But, whatever, that, that's not our problem. 

But I do really feel like on the left, we have a similar sort of idea that, oh, well, If the president just says this, he can end things we don't like, create things we do like, and bend [01:01:00] other sovereign nations to our will. Which A, I don't think we should want, because that sounds an awful lot like a king to me, and we had a war about that about 250 years ago that I think we were on the right side of. And also, it takes so much of the energy that we really need to be focusing all the way up and down the ballot and especially locally. I the one thing we saw last year and the year before in the midterms is we can change so many things by focusing locally to make it more likely that the president we get, whether it's Biden or in the future, someone like Gretchen Whitmer, Josh Shapiro, whoever, can do the things we want them to do because they have Congress on their side. 

We flipped school boards. We flipped state houses. As we're heading into this era where the Supreme Court is kicking everything back to states rights, we need those things in our column to survive. And so I'm also going to grab from another, just happened to listen to it directly before,[01:02:00] the You're Wrong About podcast was talking about specifically the, the pro-life/pro-choice movement in the context of the current campaign. And the guests they had on said, you know what, the thing to do this year to keep, as she put it, "the trauma of the world from residing in your body" is to get involved locally in something, whether it's abortion rights or queer rights or electing a better city council or state representative, we're going to need that. And so, keep high hopes and high expectations for the president, but definitely make sure that you are flipping as many seats locally as you can because it's going to take all of us in every state to make that happen. 

All right, that's just my pitch. that's my watch word for 2024 get involved and I know altogether we will find great ways to do that Thanks for everything you do stay awesome.

Final comments on building power in the long and short term

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Thanks to all those who call into the voicemail line or write in their messages to be played as voicemails. If you'd like to leave a comment or a [01:03:00] question of your own to be played on the show, you can record or text us a message at 202-999-3991 or send an email to [email protected]. 

So, thanks to Erin for her message. I love Green Lantern-ism and, you know, obviously I agree with her analysis that, you know, that is an idea that is sort of for the impatient, right?, whereas real results come from slow progress and getting down into the dirt and doing the work. Right? And there's actually a silly example of this playing out right now in Congress concerning the border. Slate published an interview under the headline, "So Many People Agree That Joe Biden Should 'Shut Down' the Border o Stop Migration. There’s Just One Problem With That!", and it's discussing the bipartisan legislation that's sort of making its way through, that is supposed to give the president the authority to simply shut down the border if authorized crossings reach a certain threshold. 

Of [01:04:00] course, the only problem is that that's a ridiculous framing because there's really no such thing as shutting down something that is already happening in an unauthorized way to begin with, that wouldn't require greater political will or a strong man president, it would require a magic wand. And that's the fantasy that always plays out, mostly on the right regarding immigration, but it happens elsewhere that, you know, we just need to believe stronger, or something, ignoring all of the complicated systemic issues that are much harder to solve, but would actually have a greater impact on whatever issue you're trying to fix. 

On the other hand, real success does sometimes require both. I mean, think about the Supreme Court. I don't think it would be right to say either that the far right takeover of the court was solely the result of the decades-long working in planning by the Federalist Society. [01:05:00] Nor was it the hard-nosed powerplay of Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans to stop Obama from appointing a third justice, or what really seemed like a basic bribe to Anthony Kennedy to convince him to step down during Trump's presidency. It was clearly a combination of all of those things. You do need long-term ground game. Planning. Running all the time. And also you have to be prepared to play hardball and occasionally use whatever force is necessary to push through your preferred agenda. 

So, to fully back up Erin's point, I definitely think it's appropriate to be on the side of demanding greater, you know, let's say backbone from elected Democrats on a pretty frequent basis, but to lose sight of the bigger mechanisms at play is to really fail to understand how politics works. And I might add that it's those people who really just don't understand how things are supposed to work, who end up getting [01:06:00] frustrated and start thinking, Well, I'd happily give up all my personal power and influence if someone would just say that they will fix everything, as though with a magic wand. And of course that's the most dangerous scenario of all and Something like a third or 40% of the country has basically done that now. 

Which actually gets to the heart of why our current disjointed and hyper-targeted information system that is filled to the brim with falsities and propaganda is so dangerous, because it limits the ability of average people to become well-informed citizens who understand how the system works, which is what is required to maintain a democracy. But yeah. That's a discussion for another day. 

As always keep the comments coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about this or anything else. You can leave us a voicemail or send us a text at 202-999-3991, or simply email to [01:07:00] [email protected]. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to our Transcriptionist Trio, Ken, Brian, and Ben for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who already support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships. You can join them by signing up today at bestoftheleft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good and often funny bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content, no ads, and chapter markers in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player. You'll find that link in the show notes, along with a link to join our Discord community, where you can also continue the discussion. 

So, coming to from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington DC, my name [01:08:00] is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast, coming to you twice weekly thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.

Showing 1 reaction

  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2024-02-03 10:06:49 -0500
Sign up for activism updates