The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 26 March 2015

Air Date: 
March 26, 2015

Photo, left: Mutawakelite Kingdom of Yemen: the first of a two-stamp set showing people bowing before the Queen of Sheba, an Ethiopian-Yemeni.
Co-hosts: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board & host of, &  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents,
Hour One
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 1, Block A: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board & host of; in re: Bowe Bergdahl.  Withdrawal of US forces in Iraq. 
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 1, Block B: Philip Terzian, Weekly Standard, in re:  C Y Leung, the [stooge] running Hong Kong as front-man for Beijing: how can the Washington Post call this crew "conservative"?  They're neo-Maoists, the opposite of rightists.  WaPo seems to have  knee-jerk reaction to call any bad guy a "conservative." Probably not from malice aforethought; rather, it’s the ocean they swim inn, their DNA, the way they were raised.  Imagine the full spectrum from farthest left to farthest right:   both Philip Terzian and the CCP would call themselves radical left.    In he Middle East: "hardliners" nnd "moderates."  When Gorbachov was reforming the USSR, the hard guys on the extreme left were called conservatives. Language has slipped beyond meaning.
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 1, Block C: Larry Johnson, NoQuarter, in re: In PaddyPower, Ireland's largest bookmaker, Mrs Clinton is a 6-to-5 favorite to win. The contrast between the person you meet – when I met her she was genuine – and the Secretary of State (a disaster) and her handling of servers – you've got to know how to ask questions – [I blanche]. I attribute that spread simply to name recognition.  My guess is that when it comes time to pull a lever, her name won’t be there.  JB: She doesn't have to beat anyone good, she just has to beat the Republicans.  The GOP rep must present a comprehensive foreign policy vision for t he future, and parry with her.  PaddyPower's list: Jeb Bush (LJ: A Clinton-Bush rerun is something most people dread. There's not a single person on the GOP list who . . .  There's a reporter right now working on an article a retired CI officer [reviewing Sid Blumenthal's emails] – let's just say the reporter has a history with Mrs Clinton; it’s all Libya). How did Libya and North Africa become the haven for terror?  LJ: We got to have someone with substance.  Scott's been weak on foreign policy.
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 1, Block D:  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re:   Yemen, Bab el-Mendab; 26 million people at the south of the Arabian Peninsula in disaster as their president has flown tragically, this radio show has been warning about this for many months – including witness of the tragedy.  Brilliant Moroccan diplomat has often warned the Security Council, which has done nothing.  Has the nontransparency of the Iran deal affected this? Houthis couldn't have won without permission/backing from Iran.  Where are the adults in the State Department?  Iran has been talking about this, saying "Baghdad is our new capital" – has encircled the Middle East.  Pres Sisi and the Kingdom: waited long but didn't want to fight. Today there are rumors that they'll have to.  It may be too late to salvage this without troops.
Hour Two
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 2, Block A: Michael Herzog, brigadier general (ret), IDF, & Washington Institute, in re: ISIS, Iran. Crisis in the Gulf tonight, actors from all directions Iran sponsors Houthis, who've taken over Yemen's capital, is also commanding the offensive at Tikrit. Suleimani, Quds Force commander, is running a large offensive, dug in to a major urban conflict Stalled offensive: depending on Shia militias, who plant IEDs and smoke cigarettes while American soldiers die, but can't actually much fight.  US helps by lending air strikes.  In the battle for Kobane, it took forces three months to take the city.  The irony that an Iranian-led offensive requires US support.  Iran in the Golan:  intl attention given to Syria and ISIS, but beginning in Feb an Iranian-led offensive in the Golan, with others pushing to the Israeli border.  From _ to Damascus is less than 100 km.  Also, to estbl an active front vis-à-vis Israel: from the Mediterranean to the Golan Heights – a grave situation.  After they were checked b forces and weather, they nonetheless persist. If they gain momentum, Israel will face a dilemma and have to act.  Al Nusra and others are the same people also fighting on the Jordanian border, want to threaten Jordan and undermine its ability to send weapons to Syria.  A former US amb to Iraq: "We're in free-fall."  Today Erdogan for the first time spoke against Iran's hegemonic goals; significant dvpt.  . . .  The big story of the Middle East today is the sectarian Sunni-Shia fight.
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 2, Block B: David Albright, physicist, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington, D.C.; in re:  Iran deal, concessions, deadline, negotiations. The suspect secret nuclear program.  The "eve of the Iran deal" – will I have something to read a week from now on the matter?  The press says o; but what I hear privately, there are big issues to settle and the UUS has almost no room left in which to make concessions.  PMD – past military dimensions; some intell agencies say that Iran has he capacity to make nuclear weapons today; now knowing the past makes it problematic. IAEA is charged by the intl community to understand what's going on in Iran; if the IAEA isn't satisfied about that work, it’ll be weakened/hobbled; yet that's the agy that'll be called on to verify. Critical military site in Iran?  Not verifiable?  The one-year breakout: if you weaken IAEA inspectors's ability . . . need a robust verification regime.  . . . In the P5+1, the US has the lead. However, France now is truly worried that some US concessions have gone too far.  There are certain issues that the US needs to be tougher on.  Khamenei yelled, "Death to America."  His deputy yelled that Iran wouldn’t be content till the Iranian flag flew over the White House.  Today, Zarif demanded that Saudi Arabia not intervene in Yemen!
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 2, Block C: Anna Borshchevskaya, Washington Institute, in re:  Russia's influence in the Middle East.  Rodina [Родина: "motherland"] – strong presence in the Middle East.  Second round of talks in Moscow between Assad and the Syrian National opposition.  So far, it’s just [jawboning]; in future, might put Moscow in a stronger position.  In Cairo, billboards o=from Putin's last trip, huge pictures.  Can Russia exploit this situation to expand their hold in the Middle Eastt.  It’s both precursor and show. Russia's in a recession; it’s playing a spoiler role, using vacuums htat he West leaves. On the political front, has done well in Egypt – trade, tourism, and as soon as the US turned away from Egypt Russia moved in. See a lot  of agreements signed but no concrete details. If Egypt can pay for any of this, it might be consequential.  In 2011 when Gaddafy was still in power, Mrs Clinton and the then-Natl Sec Advisor misled Moscow; Lavrov and Putin were misled, resent it, and have held it against the Obama Adm from then on.:  Gaddafy wasn't driven from power and replaced with a coalition fo tribes, as promised, but Gaddafy was killed and now see chaos.  Russia doesn’t see Iranian nukes as being as important [dangerous] as the US does.  Reason that Moscow maintains a foot in both Sunni and Shia world is hat Putin fears the Sunni extremists, esp in the Caucasus.  Azeris say that Western moves force Central Asian nations back into the Russian orbit. The problem is US ambivalence, lack of strategy. We see this with Egypt and lots of our allies. 
At a time when Sisi's subsidy reforms are gaining traction, Washington's withdrawal of support does nothing to advance a human rights agenda and hurts U.S. security interests.
On March 13-15, Egypt will hold an economic investment conference at Sharm el-Sheikh, with a major focus on the energy sector. Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government sees the conference as an important component of a strategy to improve the economy through attracting private investment. Sisi is no democrat. The U.S. State Department and rights organizations such as Freedom House and Human Rights Watch have criticized his government for excessive use of force against political opposition and civil society since the military ouster of Sisi's predecessor Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The Egyptian military also took an unusually active role in Egyptian politics during the coup. Yet unlike, for example, Russia's president Vladimir Putin, an authoritarian ruler who for years coasted on high oil and gas prices, Sisi appears truly committed to improving Egypt's battered economy. "Sisi gets some genuine credit," said Egypt expert Robert Rook, director of interdisciplinary studies and a professor of history at Towson University when we spoke on the phone this month. "Egypt may be a better bet for investment than under Morsi or even under [his predecessor Hosni] Mubarak in his last decade in power."
Massive corruption, cronyism, and weak legislation have drained the Egyptian economy for generations and . . .
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 2, Block D: Simon Henderson, director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute, in re:  Yemen, Saudis. A few months ago, Sanaa fell completely inth e hand s of the Houthis; H fled to Aden and now to Saudi eh tie to have reacted as several months ago and it’s a disaster that only now we’re discussing it.  To be frank, Pres Obama was wrong to call Yemen a success. Now it’s visibly an abject failure Regional dynamic:; not only chaos in Yemen, but also other change – Saudi King Abdullah dies, replaced; in Egyt, Pres Sisi took over and steadily is finding his feet.  Trend line is bad for US interests. A coherent US policy response is important.  All Middle eastern nations, incl Arabs and Israel, see the US as not supportive and, worse, seems to be making a bad deal with Iran.
with Olli Heinonen:
Hour Three
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 3, Block A: Amb Dennis Ross, Washington Institute, in re:  US-Israel relations. Spying? Houthis in control, president fled, Saudis at war – all fresh chaos Does this slow the momentum for the Iran deal?  No.  And to the extent that we show our competing with Iran in the region, we encourage Iran to be more generous in the negotiations.   . . . Sunni Arab states except Qatar: convergence of strategic interests.  Arab states crossing a threshold.  Two proxy wars in the region, in Syria and Yemen: Saudis vs Iran.   Revenge motive?  Doomed to Succeed (US-Israeli relations from Truman to Obama). There's always been a constituency that's viewed the relations through a lens of competition. This pattern reflects not a conscious political decision. "Zionist Saudis"! Must Cairo or Riyahdh re-take Sanaa? Or just raised the cost to Iran of backing the Houthis? Not yet clear. Competing with Iran requires that Iran see that it’ll pay a high price.  The four Arab capitals where the Iranians are suddenly dominant are not immutable.   A way to [repair relations between DC and Jerusalem]?   WH seems to be cooling the rhetoric.  Needs to be a quiet channel between  the WH and the PM's office, incl to discuss the deal with Iran.   PM quietly has changed his criteria: says it's no longer obligatory for Iran to have zero U enrichment facilities.   Yemen:  today in Cairo there was indication that Cairo must control the mouth of the Red Sea.  May not have to control, but must have a naval presence and not allow anyone else to control  Iran needs to see that it’s triggering a backlash.  ;  ;
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 3, Block B: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: There are 26 mil people in Yemen, 38 mil in Iraq.  Although Houthis and the Iranian Twelvers hold slightly different religious views, they’re allied.  Libya, Yemen, Iraq, are all failed states or getting there.  The Gulf states are wobbly.  Turmoil marks he region; the impending deal between Obama and Iran.  Erdogan's condemnation of Iran and it’s effort at dominance of the ME.  The "Zionist Saudis" ! "The revolution will not be confined to Yemen, will spill over into Saudi," says Iran. Bab el-Mandab.    The US seems not to see its proposed  deal with Iran in a regional Middle East context, which of course the Middle Eastern denizens do. The significance is huge. Iran unloaded 180 tons of weapons in Yemen several days ago – opening Sudan. Libya, Yemen.  Arabs think, "It’s impossible that the US doesn’t get it."
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 3, Block C: Victor Gaetan, National Catholic Register, in re: . . . His words echoed an observation heard from many Latin Catholics in Ukraine. Dominican Father Wojciech Surowka, for example, blamed the crisis on a “failure of our evangelization” of the country’s Christians in an interview with EWTN News.
Father Surowka, who directs the St. Thomas Aquinas Institute of Religious Sciences in Kiev, explained, “If Christians on both sides kill each other, then we did not teach them well who Christ is. They absolutely do not understand the essence of Christianity. It’s our fault.”
But Ukraine Greek Catholic Archbishop Shevchuk sees the war as a foreign invasion. In a Feb. 20 interview with Zenit he said, “We do not have a civil war in Ukraine. We have an aggression of a foreign country against the Ukrainian citizens and Ukrainian state.”
“We — the Ukrainian people — are the victims,” he added. “And according to holy Scripture, God is always with those who suffer unjustly. God is always with the victims.”
     According to The Boston Globe, at a Feb. 23 press conference before returning to Ukraine, Archbishop Shevchuk said the Pope’s use of the word “fratricidal” to describe the Ukrainian conflict “reminded us of Soviet propaganda.”
According to the Italian journalist Sandro Magister, Ukrainian Catholics like Archbishop Shevchuk see themselves as “assaulted by Moscow and abandoned by Rome.”
On Feb. 23 in Kiev, the archbishop held a high-profile meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, at which the president thanked the cleric for his “position on Russia’s aggression [and] prayers for the Ukrainian state.”
     Far less public is the leading Latin Catholic prelate in Ukraine, Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki. According to Catholic leaders in the region, he is tremendously respected at the Vatican and among his brother bishops.
Archbishop Ioan Robu of Bucharest, Romania, told the Register, “You can’t possibly know the Church’s view of events in Ukraine without learning what Archbishop Mokrzycki thinks.”
The Polish-born archbishop, known as particularly modest and soft-spoken, served as one of Pope St. John Paul II’s personal secretaries at the Vatican for nine years and was with him when he died nearly 10 years ago.  He also served as secretary to Pope Benedict XVI, and the Ukrainian Latin delegation met with the pope emeritus in the Vatican Gardens before they left Rome.
     Interestingly, the archbishop seemed sanguine about the situation in Crimea, annexed by Russia in early 2014, observing, “We are relatively satisfied with the situation in Crimea. There, the community will be reregistered. But I know that FSB [Russian intelligence] is visiting our faithful and priests there, calls to talk. But it seems that we have already survived the difficult situation.” Regarding Crimea, Archbishop Shevchuk, on the other hand, sounded an alarm. In December, he said, “There’s clearly no religious liberty already in Crimea and the occupied territories of the east, and I hope the international community will deploy its resources to restoring freedoms in the affected areas.”
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 3, Block D: Ken Croswell, Science magazine, in re:
Hour Four
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 4, Block A: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Chicago Law, in re: In 1969 the Second Circuit Court of Appeals condemned GE's "unbending firmness" labor negotiating practice as an unfair labor practice. Prof Epstein holds that the 1930s rules were better Meanwhile, similar structural problem in Middle East negotiations.  Israelis say, "We've made one concession after another. Now you [Abbas] make an offer. " Abbas is in his eleventh year of a four-year term; who will succeed him and what will happen then? (1 of 2)
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 4, Block B: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Chicago Law, in re: In 1969 the Second Circuit Court of Appeals condemned GE's "unbending firmness" labor negotiating practice as an unfair labor practice. Prof Epstein holds that the 1930s rules were better Meanwhile, similar structural problem in Middle East negotiations.   (2 of 2)
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 4, Block C:  Dr. David H Grinspoon, Astrobiology chair, Library of Congress; astrobiology curator, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, in re:   (1 of 2)
Thursday  26 March 2015 / Hour 4, Block D: Dr. David H Grinspoon, Astrobiology chair, Library of Congress; astrobiology curator, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, in re:   (2 of 2)
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