Waiting on a Friend

This week on the Big Show®, we’ve got former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul (pre-order his new book From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia) on the new warming relations with North Korea, what to do about Syria, and yes, that pesky President Putin. Then Commentary’s associate editor Noah Rothman (yes, he’s one of the stars of the world famous Commentary Podcast) stops by to talk about Starbucks, Paul Ryan, and the diminishing chances of a Democratic wave this fall. Also, we remember First Lady Barbara Bush.

Music from this week’s podcast: Waiting On a Friend by The Rolling Stones

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There are 19 comments.

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  1. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy WeivodaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Once again, great artwork, EJ.

    • #1
    • April 19, 2018, at 11:30 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Randy Weivoda: Once again, great artwork, EJ.

    The only thing that stands between you and me and the collapse of civilization is that thin green line… you need men like that on that line… you want men like that on that line…

    • #2
    • April 19, 2018, at 11:35 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. Richard Easton Member

    Peter – I’d rather be quizzed by Barbara Bush about my speech.

    Rob – this never happened before Trump.

    James – not another global warming lecture when it’s 10 below.

    • #3
    • April 19, 2018, at 11:46 AM PDT
    • Like
  4. CitizenOfTheRepublic Inactive
    CitizenOfTheRepublicJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Ambassador has a profoundly dishonest narrative of the Syrian Civil War. To say that Assad could not establish control of the territory of Syria for 5 years therefore the US must seek his replacement in the face of widespread knowledge that the “moderate”opposition was supplied with vast amounts of armament by agents of the United States and Saudi Barabaria (as Nassim Taleb has aptly labeled the source of the global Salafist contagion) & friends is too clever by half. “Let’s just skip ahead from the beginning of the war to 2015,” to paraphrase what I just heard on my drive home. Yup…nothing important happened in that time frame at the behest of the Obama Administration involving arms makers from around the world, Libya, & Syria. Please.

    Where we are today seems so confusing and the actions of rational actors insane in the cognitive dissonance created by leaving out critically important facts to conveniently avoid accountability for instigating meat-grinder conflicts in which again our national security state has supplied arms to our civilizational enemies (Salafist jihadis) in order to serve the interests of “our friends” the Saudis and to weaken Russian influence through proxy wars.

    Old Russians hands such as C. Rice chose to let the Russians suffer from the attacks of Muslim radicals rather than to make common cause to follow through on the principles spoken in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Every terrorist movement in the worlds was to be treated as the enemy of all civilized people. We were going to support every nation against insurgencies – particularly Muslim – that used tactics of terrorism. Yet, Ms. Rice could go before cameras and urge that the Russians show restraint against the Chechens and that we were terribly concerned about humans rights abuses in Russia’s actions to put down their terroristic insurgents. It was just too easy to hold weakened Russia to a standard that we did not follow in our wars against that murderous ideology.

    It’s not as if playing footsie with Muslim radicals to advance short-term objectives could ever turn around to cause grave harm to our nation in the long run. Right?

    It’s not a crazy conspiracy that US-supplied arms ended up – again and again…supposedly accidentally…by capture from or incorporation of our “moderate Syrian opposition allies” – in the hands of ISIS. It’s well known to anyone who cares to know…outside of this purposefully ignorant re-telling of the Syrian Civil War:

    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-purple-arms-for-syrian-rebels-20170731-story.html

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-22906965

    http://thehill.com/policy/defense/364917-study-shows-us-weapons-given-to-syrian-rebels-ended-up-in-isiss-hands

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/27/world/middleeast/cia-arms-for-syrian-rebels-supplied-black-market-officials-say.html

    https://www.sofmag.com/look-what-the-u-s-is-sending-to-syrian-rebels-according-to-janes/

     

     

     

     

    • #4
    • April 19, 2018, at 3:58 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. CitizenOfTheRepublic Inactive
    CitizenOfTheRepublicJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Just because you’re a Russian paranoic doesn’t mean you didn’t have enemies and a Clinton-led State Department (and is “techno-experts”) fomenting revolutions everywhere from THE Ukraine to Egypt, Libya, Syria, et al.

    Reckless cowgirl Clinton took advantage of the compliant, thereby weakened Qaddafi and further reinforced the prevalent understanding around the world: The United States of America – No Better Enemy, No Worse Friend. 

    “We came. We saw. He died….bahahahahaha!”

    • #5
    • April 19, 2018, at 4:09 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. mildlyo Member
    mildlyoJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    how can this McFaul guy be so blind? We have dithered back and forth over the civil war in Syria and ended up doing the absolute worst thing possible. We won’t let it end.

    We could bomb Assad’s military to rubble in a weekend. Think Libya.

    We could back Assad with so much force the thing ends in a few months, then put the screws to Assad to behave. Think Rob’s “our sonuvabich” theory.

    Instead won’t let anyone win and a civil war has ground a civilized country into a unrecoverable mess. Following through on any strategy that lets Syria rebuild, any strategy, would be better than another decade of civil war.

    • #6
    • April 19, 2018, at 8:21 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. mildlyo Member
    mildlyoJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Here’s another idea: We get the H out of Syria and let the locals work it out. Call this the “please stop helping us” strategy. Or the “Sowell option”.

     

    • #7
    • April 19, 2018, at 8:32 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. James Lileks Contributor

    1 I was happy to hear Noah is including the comic-book wars in his forthcoming book – like Gamergate, it’s one of those matters that flies waaaay below the MSM’s radar, but shows how the culture wars are playing out everywhere. 

    2 I was pleased that the Ambassador rejected my characterization, because that means there’s Hope, but I’m not sure that brief efflorescence of enlightenment after the Fall suggests that the society burns to be transformed. Ivan gotta Ivan. 

    • #8
    • April 19, 2018, at 9:54 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. J Ro Member

    “Obama’s prediction was correct … and that’s why we have the tragedy we have today … an Alawite gassing Sunni children.”

    It is instructive to recall the primitive tribalism so dramatically and comically depicted in that memorable scene in Lawrence of Arabia in which the Arab leaders are meeting around a big table after the fall of Damascus, walking on the table while insulting and threatening each other. That was only 100 years ago, this October. Now the colonial powers have abandoned them to themselves, their muskets replaced by automatic weapons and air power, their Arabian daggers augmented by WMD. The primitive tribalism remains, and with that there is little hope.

    • #9
    • April 20, 2018, at 8:47 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Texmoor Coolidge

    J Ro (View Comment):

    “Obama’s prediction was correct … and that’s why we have the tragedy we have today … an Alawite gassing Sunni children.”

    It is instructive to recall the primitive tribalism so dramatically and comically depicted in that memorable scene in Lawrence of Arabia in which the Arab leaders are meeting around a big table after the fall of Damascus, walking on the table while insulting and threatening each other. That was only 100 years ago, this October. Now the colonial powers have abandoned them to themselves, their muskets replaced by automatic weapons and air power, their Arabian daggers augmented by WMD. The primitive tribalism remains, and with that there is little hope.

    “So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people – greedy, barbarous, and cruel.”

    One of the best lines from the movie.

    There will be no peace unless Assad is gone. He’s never going to be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again after all the atrocities he committed. Nor should we want the Kremlin/Ayatollah stooge back either. Unfortunately, it’s a mess we can’t turn our backs on. As Noah Rothman has said on the Commentary podcast, we may be done with the Middle East, but the Middle East isn’t done with us.

    • #10
    • April 20, 2018, at 3:32 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. Freesmith Inactive

    Why were there no questions to Noah Rothman about his recent essays advocating that those pesky backward populists in flyover country need to be crushed? After all, according to Mr. Rothman, those with the power to do so – for the good of the nation and conservatism, naturally – have a clear duty to act.

    Well, I suppose that kind of omission is to be expected when three members of the Brotherhood of Offended Sensibilities interview a fourth.

    • #11
    • April 21, 2018, at 7:35 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Henry Castaigne Member

    Good on Rob for distinguishing between Marxism and Leninism. 

    • #12
    • April 21, 2018, at 1:08 PM PDT
    • Like
  13. Wolverine Inactive

    Interesting that people want to get involved in Syria after the Iraq and Libya disasters. My questions for people:
    1) Are we sure it was Assad who used chemical weapons? Shouldn’t we question why he would do the one thing that would draw us in after Trump said we were going to leave? Should we trust our intelligence services to give us the answer after what happened in Iraq?
    2) If we help the Kurds in Syria, how will Turkey respond? I would say not well
    3) If we help the Sunni rebels, do we risk inadvertently getting into bed with ISIS sympathizers?
    4) If Sunnis overthrow Assad, will there be a Alawite and Christian bloodbath?
    5) If Sunnis overthrow Assad, will they ally themselves with Sunni elements in Iraq that will threaten the Shi’a government there, and if so, will that incite further Iranian involvement there?
    6) If there is an overthrow of Assad with American fingerprints, will that incite Iran and its proxies to terrorist actions against the US and its interests?
    7) Will further antagonizing of Iran lead to danger to US troops in neighboring Afghanistan?
    The one thing I have leaned over the last 20 years is that the US has a poor ability to understand events in the Middle East, and yet has the hubris to think it can control events there. I am no expert on any of this, but my gut instinct is that we should stay out. 

    • #13
    • April 21, 2018, at 2:07 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  14. RufusRJones Member

    Freesmith (View Comment):

    Why were there no questions to Noah Rothman about his recent essays advocating that those pesky backward populists in flyover country need to be crushed? After all, according to Mr. Rothman, those with the power to do so – for the good of the nation and conservatism, naturally – have a clear duty to act.

    Well, I suppose that kind of omission is to be expected when three members of the Brotherhood of Offended Sensibilities interview a fourth.

    I used to pay super close attention to Rothman’s twitter account. He doesn’t know that much about economics, and he can’t see why centralized government and “experts” might be a problem now, for the economy. The political system is warped for a reason. 

    • #14
    • April 22, 2018, at 4:26 AM PDT
    • Like
  15. RufusRJones Member

    That whole thing was really, really good. 

    FYI I thought this was really good on the economy and entitlements. 

    • #15
    • April 22, 2018, at 8:39 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    That whole thing was really, really good.

    FYI I thought this was really good on the economy and entitlements.

    I thought this was a great pod. The level of guests continues to impress – which is not an endorsement of any guest’s opinions or hairstyle, btw. Just good pod.

    C

    • #16
    • April 22, 2018, at 11:14 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Fresch Fisch Member

    When James Lileks asks someone “do you know who I am”? And they don’t know. Its because his Star Tribune picture LOOKS NOTHING LIKE HIM!

    http://www.startribune.com/lileks-what-we-get-out-of-retail-consolidation-hint-zip/480405723/

     

     

     

    • #17
    • April 24, 2018, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • Like
  18. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy WeivodaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Fresch Fisch (View Comment):

    When James Lileks asks someone “do you know who I am”? And they don’t know. Its because his Star Tribune picture LOOKS NOTHING LIKE HIM!

    http://www.startribune.com/lileks-what-we-get-out-of-retail-consolidation-hint-zip/480405723/

    Peter said that people do know who James is in Fargo, but that has not been my experience. In my many attempts to bring people to the site, I will usually ask them if they know who James Lileks is. Sadly, they don’t. But I once mentioned his name at a science fiction convention (either in Chicago or San Antonio) and a woman jumped out of her seat, laughing and quoting lines from one of his books.

    • #18
    • April 24, 2018, at 7:27 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. KarenZiminski Coolidge

    Beautiful conversation with Michael McFaul, everyone intelligent and civilized while presenting different perspectives.

    • #19
    • April 29, 2018, at 8:42 AM PDT
    • Like