Free Forum Q&A – ANDREW BACEVICH U.S. Army, Colonel, Ret.(after 23 years) who lost his son in Iraq WASHINGTON RULES: America’s Path to Permanent War

Written on June 26th, 2015




Originally Aired August 2010

President Obama’s recent decision to add an additional 450 American soldiers to our 3,000 strong train-and-equip mission in Iraq made me reach for a dose of ANDREW BACEVICH, a voice of sanity on issues of war and peace. Bacevich wrote of Obama’s move in an op-ed, Washington in Wonderland: Down the Iraq Rabbit Hole (Again).
In WASHINGTON RULES, the 2010 book we talk about in this interview, Bacevich (in his own words) “..aims to take stock of conventional wisdom in its most influential and enduring form, namely the package of assumptions, habits, and precepts that have defined the tradition of statecraft to which the United States has adhered since the end of World War II — the era of global dominance now drawing to a close. This postwar tradition combines two components, each one so deeply embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all but disappeared from view.

The first component specifies norms according to which the international order ought to work and charges the United States with responsibility for enforcing those norms. Call this the American Credo — …to lead, save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world.

…With regard to means, that tradition has emphasized activism over example, hard power over soft, and coercion (often styled ‘negotiating from a position of strength”) over suasion. Above all, the exercise of global leadership as prescribed by the credo obliges the United States to maintain military capabilities staggeringly in excess of those required by self-defense.”

Q&A: ATUL GAWANDE – Surgeon / Teacher / Author – The Checklist Manifesto

Written on January 8th, 2015
  Aired 03/14/10 Though Atul Gawande is a best-selling author, a Harvard professor, and an innovator in best practices for the W.H.O., he still performs 250-plus surgeries a year. A framed copy of Sylvia Plath's poem "The Surgeon at 2 a.m." stands on the desk in his office." Her surgeon's words: "I worm and hack in a purple wilderness." Gawande likes the Plath poem because it casts the surgeon in an ambiguous light. "Most writing about people in medicine casts them as either heroes or villains," he says, "That poem captures the surgeon as a merely human, slightly bewildered and benighted person in a world that is ultimately beyond his control."
Medicine is just one area of our world that is becoming so complex that even the most expert professionals struggle to master the tasks they face. In his new book, The Checklist Manifesto, Gawande offers a disarmingly simple remedy: the checklist. Now being adopted in hospitals, the 90 second practice cuts fatalities In surgery by more than a third. NOTE: This interview was recorded when Gawande was recently in LA, prior to Obama's healthcare summit and the latest legislative negotiations.

Q&A: ROBERT WRIGHT, Author and Blogger

Written on December 30th, 2014
  Recorded 06/05/09 Christianity, Judaism and Islam are both peaceful and violent. Robert Wright discusses what circumstances bring out the best and worst in religion. Is religion a force for good or ill? This question has been more energetically debated over the last few years, globally, due to the West's confrontation with radical Islam, and in the U.S., to the political emergence and activism of evangelical Christians. This was brought to a head with the misadventures of George W. Bush, from Teri Schiavo to Bagdhad. Robert Wright takes on big questions, and he's taken this one on in his new book, The Evolution of God. He follows the changing moods of God as reflected in ancient Scripture, to see what circumstances brought out the best and worst in religions. According to Wright, "The moral of the story is simple: When people see their interests threatened by another group, this perception brings out the most belligerent parts of their religion. Such circumstances are good news for violent extremists and bad news for moderates. What Obama is trying to do -- make Palestinians feel less threatened, and make Muslims generally feel more respected -- may now, as it did in ancient times, bring out the tolerant side of a religion." Wright is a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, and founder and editor of His books include: Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information; The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life; and Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny. and

Q&A w/ JEREMY SCAHILL (#5 NYTimes Best-seller) DIRTY WARS: The World is a Battlefield

Written on July 30th, 2014


Aired: 05/05/13

In JEREMY SCAHILL’S new best-seller, DIRTY WARS, what begins as an investigation into a US night raid gone terribly wrong in a remote corner of Afghanistan quickly transforms into a high-stakes global investigation into the rise of Joint Special Operations Command, the most secret and elite fighting force in U.S. history. In military jargon, JSOC teams “find, fix and finish” their targets, who are selected through a secret process. No target is off limits for the “kill list,” including U.S. citizens.

It’s the unbounded, unending War on Terror: all bets are off, and almost anything goes. We have fundamentally changed the rules of the game and the rules of engagement. Today drone strikes, night raids, and U.S. government-condoned torture occur, generating unprecedented civilian casualties.

DIRTY WARS reveals covert operations unknown to the public and carried out across the globe by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress, raising questions about freedom and democracy, war and justice, morality and politics. No matter how little you know about these actions, they are being done in your name,

DIRTY WARS is also a documentary which opens in theaters June 7th.

Free Forum Q&A – TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Civil disobedience (bidding) at public lands auction landed him 21 months in prison

Written on May 25th, 2014

 Aired: 6/30/13

On December 19, 2008 TIM DeCHRISTOPHER disrupted a highly disputed BLM auction, effectively safeguarding thousands of acres of land. Not content to merely protest outside, Tim entered the auction hall and registered as bidder #70. He outbid industry giants on land parcels (which, starting at $2 an acre, were adjacent to national treasures like Canyonlands National Park), winning 22,000 acres of land worth $1.7 million Two months later, incoming Interior Secretary Ken Salazar invalidated the auction. Yet DeChristopher was indicted and tried on two federal felonies and spent 21 months in prison.

Released in April 2013, DeChristopher is the subject of documentary film, Bidder 70, which opened this weekend at the Music Hall in Beverly Hills and other theaters around the country. He joins me this week to tell his story. What led him to that auction? What went through his mind as he began bidding and winning? Why didn’t he take a plea deal? What was his experience in prison? What message does he have for others?

We’ll also talk about the state of the movements to deal with energy, environment, and climate change, in light of Obama’s recent speech and the eventual decision whether or not to build the KeystoneXL pipeline.

“At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow…
— From Tim DeChristopher’s statement to the court at his sentencing hearing