On FPF #498. I discuss Trump's foreign policy strategy of using sanctions to deal with any international issue. Trump has sanctioned several countries, including Russia, China, Iraq, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, and Myanmar. For others - North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran - he has not limited the sanctions to individuals or industries, but rather imposes an economic war on the entire population of the country. Trump's sanctions have actually harmed the president's foreign policy, as the sanctions interfere with his ability to engage the countries diplomatically.
On FPF #497, I discuss the developing story of a Ukrainian judge ruling Joe Biden is to be named in a criminal probe from his time as Vice President. The criminal probe is looking into the firing of former-Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin. Biden has publically bragged about leveraging a $1 billion IMF Loan to get Ukraine to fire Shokin. At the time of Shokin's firing, he was investigating a Ukrainian gas company that had his son, Hunter Biden, on their board.
Will Porter returns to the show to discuss the US announcing that it plans to spend China and Russia into oblivion in a new arms race. In recent years the US has been working towards a new Cold War. Will explains how the announcement ties with Trump's foreign policy of shifting focus to great power competition. Will and Kyle talk about how the new arms race will hurt Americans.
On FPF #495, I discuss the US leaving the Open Skies Treaty. The treaty allows for member states to conduct surveillance flights over each other. The treaty is key to keeping countries informed about each other's military capabilities. Without the treaty in place, war hawks will likely exploit the lack of intelligence and claim Russia is building up its military capabilities. Those hawks will then argue for more weapons to be built bu companies that pay them and their think tanks.
On FPF #494, I discuss Trump's decision to fire the State Department Inspector General. At the time the IG was fired, the office was looking into State Department head Mike Pompeo. Pompeo a target because the State Dept continued to push to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, even against the will of Congress and the laws of the US. Saudi has used several US-made bombs to commit war crimes in Yemen. American bombs have been found in the bombing of weddings, funerals, and one was used to kill 44 Yemeni children on a school bus.
Will Porter returns to Foreign Policy Focus to explain a rare move the judge made in Mike Flynn's case. The Justice Department has recommended that charges be dropped against Flynn. However, the judge has now appointed a 'third party' to come argue the case against Fylnn. The 'third party' is not unbiased and has already written an oped arguing Flynn should continue to face criminal charges. Will breaks down what this means and how it fits into the Russiagate conspiracy theory.
Dan Wright and Joanne Leon return to Foreign Policy Focus to discuss the origins of Russiagate. For three years, we have been fighting to debunk the fake news created about the imagined Russian conspiracy to help Trump beat Hillary. Now, the fake news and false allegation have run dry, and some of the faces behind the fake news are being exposed. We discuss who is being unmasked and why it is so important.
On FPF #491, I discuss Trump's decision to veto the Iran War Powers resolution passed by Congress. The resolution was passed after the killing of Iranian General Soleimani. Trump's veto is now one of several vetoes he has used to keep Congress from attempting to put minor constraints on the presidential war powers. Congress must continue to try to pass legislation that will reign in the president's ability to start aggressive wars with countries that do not threaten America.
Will Porter returns to FPF to discuss the wild events during a recent coup attempt in Venezuela. Two Americans, along with 50-60 Venezuelans, landed on the shores of the country in an attempt to attest and overthrow Maduro. However, the Venezuelan government knew of the coup - as the plot was reported by AP - and the plotters were quickly captured. Will looks at the possibility the US government had a role in the coup and other important questions.
On FPF #489, I discuss how newly leaked documents from the OPCW show the organization was lying. The new docs leaked to the Grayzone, prove Ian Henderson was a vital member of the Douma fact-finding mission. As a member of the team, Henderson conducting an assessment that concluded the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma was staged. However, the OPCW left Henderson's assessment out of the Douma report and concluded Assad had used chemical weapons.
Henderson's assessment was eventually leaked, shedding important light on the truth of what happened in Douma. In an attempt to undermine the creditability of the report, OPCW leadership attacked Henderson. The new docs show the attempts to discredit Henderson were baseless smears.
On FPF #488, I discuss the US-Taliban "peace agreement." While the agreement has brought a reduction in violence between the US and Taliban, overall the violence between the Taliban and US-supported Afghan government rages. In the first three months of the year, Taliban attacks are up and the Afghan government is killing children at twice the rate of the Taliban. However, there are some positive signs. The two men claiming the title of Afghanistan's president are close to making a deal to unify the two governments.
Will Porter returns to Foreign Policy Focus to discuss the seeming reappearance of Kim Jong-un. Will breaks down the evidence that shows Kim's recent public visit to a new factory, after being absent from public view for three weeks. During his absence, the world outside of North Korea speculated about the North Korean chain of succession if the Supreme Leader would die. However, it looks like Kim is alive and well.
On FPF #486, I discuss how Israel apparently used fake documents to push Trump towards war with Iran in April 2018. Gareth Porter has a great article out that explains how it is clear the documents were forgeries. Netanyahu released the documents in April of 2018 before Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal and imposed a 'maximum pressure' sanctions campaign against Iran. The economic war - and other provocative actions by Trump - has moved the US uncomfortable close to a shooting war with Iran.
On FPF#485, I discuss the lastest letter for current and former OPCW employees disputing the organization's latest report claiming Assad used chemical weapons. The letter points out several critical flaws with the report. The insiders point out the problem that the evidence was collected by the Syrian opposition to Assad, and not by OPCW officials. The authors of the letter concluded that there is a strong reason to suspect Assad did not carry out the chemical weapons attacks he was accused of in 2017.
Will Porter returns to the show to discuss the rumors of Kim Jong-un's death. Will explains the media reports suggesting Kim is dead, or will soon die, are based on flimsy sources. However, Kim has been absent from public life for a few weeks and missed a significant North Korean holiday. The rumors of Kim's death reveals the US needs to improve its relationship with the isolated country.
On FPF #483, I discuss Trump's lastest foolish threat to Iran. Trump tweeted that he is instructing the Navy to 'shoot down' Iranian ships that harass American Navy ships. If Trump's orders are followed it could provoke a shooting war between the US and Iran. Thankfully, senior Pentagon officials signaled they plan to keep the same rules of engagement in the Persian Gulf.
On FPF #482, I discuss how the US government is seizing more of our rights and money in the name of fighting pandemic. In Wisconsin, a police officer forced a young girl to delete her social media posts under threat of arrest. Now, the Pentagon is prepping to get bailouts for its preferred weapons makers in the next stimulus. Government, at all levels, is growing in the name of fighting a "war" against Covid.
Will Porter returns to Foreign Policy Focus to talk about several top news stories. Will discuss Yemen's depleted healthcare system as we have the first recorded case of COVID in Yemen. In the midst of the pandemic, Trump froze US funding to the WHO. Will explains Trump's reasoning for cutting the funding and breaks down how much criticism the WHO deserves. Kyle and Will talk about US Iran tensions and how a recent encounter shows America needs a new policy for the Persian Gulf.
Mike Maharrey returns to FPF to discuss our government's authoritarianism. The federal and state government have made several dictates that violate our Constitutional rights. In Kentucky, the governor made the rule that people are not allowed to attend church, a clear violation of the First Amendment. Mike explains the challenges of pushing back against the authoritarianism when you are choosing to take precautions because you believe it is the right course of action.
Mike Maharrey is the author of Our Last Hope. He is the host of the Thoughts from Maharrey Head podcast and the Friday Gold Wrap. Mike is the managing editor at Schiff Gold and the communications director at The Tenth Amendment Center.
On FPF #479, I discuss the first death of a US sailor from the USS Theodore Roosevelt from Covid-19. The story of the outbreak on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier became a national story after a letter sent by the captain of the ship warned that his sailors would die for no reason of Covid-19. Captain Cozier's warning coming true reveals that the country's leadership doesn't care about the troops. The empire further exposed by not seeing the situation on the Roosevelt as a possibility for other ships. The US continues to deploy ships, off Venezuela's coast or through the Taiwan Strait, on pointless missions that have nothing to do with national security.
On FPF #478, Will Porter returns to the show to discuss Julian Assange. A year ago, Assange was ripped from the Ecodurian embassy and thrown in UK top maximum-security prison. Over the year, Assange's health has declined. Adding to his health risk is a coronavirus outbreak at the prison he is caged in. Assange's legal team recently appealed to the judge in his extradition case to allow him to leave the prison under house arrest for the remainder of the coronavirus outbreak, something the UK is allowing 1,000s of other prisoners to do. However, Assange was denied this and the judge took it a step further by announcing she would reveal the identity of Assange's partner and children.
On FPF #477, I discuss what impact Bernie Sanders dropping out of the race could have on US foreign policy. Bernie held a more non-interventionist view than Trump or Biden. However, Bernie was never willing to put the foreign policy first or challenge his opponents on their history of supporting. Bernie's exit sets up a Biden v Trump showdown in November. Both men talk a good game about avoid and ending wars, but that is not backed up by their records.
On FPF #476, I discuss the US government is buying more weapons and giving financial support to the weapons markers. The finical assistance was approved through the $2 trillion bailout. The Navy announced it was buying an additional $2 billion in torpedos and missiles to prop up companies who make parts for weapons. The defense industry has been deemed essential, and employees are allowed to violate social distancing to make weapons. While the coronavirus should be revealing to the American people and the US government, we spend too much money on warfare. However, the pandemic is being exploited by the government to expand the war machine.
Will Porter returns to FPF to discuss the aggressive actions Trump has taken towards Venezuela in recent weeks. The US indicted Maduro then offered a $15 million reward for his arrest. Similar actions were taken in 1989 before the US military invaded Panama and captured the country's leader. The US has offered a "new" proposal to drop sanctions once Venezuela's president Maduro resigns. However, Maduro will not step down and turn the country over to his opposition as the US demands. Now, in the name of fighting the drug war, Trump deployed several warships and anti-drug ships off of Venezuela's coast.
On FPF #474, I discuss the US moving towards war with Iran under the cover of Coronavirus. Trump took to Twitter to threaten Iran if an attack is carried out against American forces in Iraq. Trump's Tweet creates a situation that means any attack in Iraq - with Iran's support or not - is likely to result in the US attacking the Shia militias in Iran, if not attacking within Iran. The attack could enter the US into a tit-for-tat cycle with Iran that escalates into a larger war.