Two of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil facilities were attacked on September 14, setting fire to and severely damaging the world’s largest oil refinery. Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the strikes, but the US has said there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen, instead blaming Iran. So who’s really responsible? And should the US respond?

As world leaders try to make sense of the recent attacks, Dany and Marc sat down with Katherine Zimmerman to learn more about the different actors and rivalries in the region, and the Saudi and Iranian roles in Yemen’s ongoing civil war. They also speculate over how the strikes will affect the US-Saudi alliance and already fragile US-Iran relations.

More

What the hell is going on in Afghanistan? Why is the United States making a deal with the Taliban? As the Trump administration and Taliban officials wrap up negotiations, many fear that a US withdrawal could return Afghanistan to the terrorist safe haven it was before the 9/11 attacks.

On the brink of the deal’s announcement, Dany and Marc interviewed former Afghanistan commander General David Petraeus to get his perspective on what a deal with the Taliban would mean for US national security and the people of Afghanistan. Gen. Petraeus explains the importance of keeping troops on the ground, discussing his time in the region and the lessons that the US should have taken from the past 18 years of war.

More

Antisemitism is on the rise once again both in the United States and abroad. Worse yet, this awful hatred manifests itself not only in the depths of Twitter, but also within the governments of vibrant democracies. Just last week, Israel barred two US congresswomen from entering the country, citing their anti-Semitic comments.

What explains this renewed phenomenon? While in Europe, Dany and Marc interviewed Piotr Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Conducted from the former concentration camp, the three discuss the rise of antisemitism today and the importance of preserving the memory of those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

More

In January 2019, the Trump administration recognized Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela. Yet nearly eight months later, with more than 50 countries backing Guaidó, Nicolás Maduro remains in power. So, what’s going on in Venezuela? Is the United States pursuing the right policy? And is a peaceful transition of power still possible?

US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams joined Dany and Marc to explain the Trump administration’s strategy in Venezuela. The three also discuss how the country got to where it is today, the Chinese, Iranian, and Russian roles in the conflict, and the likelihood for success in the Norwegian-led negotiations.

More

Protests in Hong Kong turned violent this week, with police officers firing tear gas and rubber bullets, and demonstrators vandalizing a Chinese government building. How long will Beijing tolerate democratic rumblings from Hong Kong without a major crackdown? Could this be the next Tiananmen? And will the United States react if Beijing responds with force?

Hong Kong expert Gordon Chang joined Dany and Marc to explain what’s going on in Hong Kong, and what it all might mean for the Chinese Communist Party. Chang also discusses the relationship between Hong Kong and mainland China, how protests could affect the US-China trade relationship, and whether the US should be doing more to support the people of Hong Kong.

More

What’s going on with the US-China trade war? And how is China’s manipulation of the global trading system hurting working-class Americans? Is Donald Trump just a protectionist? And is he taking the GOP with him?

To answer these questions, Danielle Pletka and Marc Thiessen headed to Capitol Hill to interview Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). The three also address Trump’s use of tariffs, whether the president will win reelection in Ohio, and the likelihood of the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement passing in Congress.

More

Last week, President Trump decided to call off a military strike on Iran after the country downed an unmanned US drone. Numerous news outlets reported that the president stood down from that decision because he saw General Jack Keane point out on television that it was possible that Iran’s strike was a fluke.

On this episode of “What the Hell Is Going On?” Danielle Pletka and Marc Thiessen address recent Iranian provocations and US cyber strategy with General Jack Keane. They also discuss Trump’s visit to North Korea and the president’s relationships with dictators such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un.

More

After threatening to impose tariffs, President Trump recently announced that he and the Mexican government reached an agreement to avert a US-Mexico trade war. So, what happened? Is this deal a breakthrough? Has Trump’s strategy of using the threat of tariffs been vindicated? And will this agreement make a difference?

On their third episode of “What the Hell Is Going On?” Danielle Pletka and Marc Thiessen review the new US-Mexico immigration deal with AEI’s Roger Noriega. The three also cover the US-Mexico border wall, the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, and the steps Congress needs to take to help solve the immigration problem.

More

What the hell is going on in North Korea? Is Kim Jong Un really executing people using piranha-filled tanks? Recent reports state that the North Korean regime is carrying out executions and purges over the failure to reach a nuclear agreement with the Trump administration.

On their second episode of “What the Hell Is Going On?” Danielle Pletka and Marc Thiessen discuss North Korea with AEI’s Nicholas Eberstadt. The three cover what might happen to someone who falls out of favor with the North Korean regime, the future of US-North Korea nuclear talks, life in one of Kim’s gulags, and the likelihood of North Korean denuclearization.

More

What the hell is going on in Iran? The Trump administration recently attributed to Iran attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, citing as evidence video footage showing a small fast attack boat (characteristic of those the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps uses) pulling alongside one of the tankers.

On their very first episode of “What the Hell Is Going On?” Danielle Pletka and Marc Thiessen discuss current US-Iran tensions with AEI’s Fred Kagan. They address the internal politics of Tehran, President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and whether the US should apply to Iran the set of policies that led to the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union, often called the “Victory Strategy.”

More

Ever look at the mess across the world and wonder what the hell is going on?

Then tune in to the American Enterprise Institute’s new podcast “What the Hell Is Going On?” In informative and irreverent episodes, Danielle Pletka and Marc Thiessen interview the most interesting and knowledgeable guests who will help us make sense of the world — one issue at a time. You can find all episodes at AEI, Ricochet, and wherever podcasts are downloaded.

More