Originally published on April 20, 2017.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview educator, investigative journalist, and Marine veteran Brad Hoff on the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil War.
Hoff has traveled and lived in the Middle East, including Syria. The discussion focuses on the recent chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun and the 2013 attack in Ghouta, and the parallels between the two.
Also examined is the White House assessment and counterarguments from experts about the evidence, the parties involved, and the potential for further military intervention by the United States.
Follow Brad on Twitter @BradRHoff
Originally published on April 17, 2017
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview China expert Peter Lee about the future of U.S.-China relations and the situation in North Korea.
Lee discusses how solving the Korean crisis is actually antithetical to the goals of the U.S. empire. If there ever was a unification of North and South Korea, the U.S. would have difficulty justifying its presence in the region and South Korea would gravitate away from America towards China.
China’s own ambitions are also discussed, including the country’s scramble to secure resources in the developing world, especially in Africa where China is on a collision course with an ever-expanding U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).
Follow Peter on Twitter @chinahand
Originally published on April 12, 2017.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr about Crowdstrike’s controversial claims on successfully identifying Russia as the actor that hacked the Democratic National Committee. The evidence has always been thin despite U.S. intelligence agencies ultimately supporting the claim.
Carr discusses Crowdstrike’s history of bad calls, including having to recently rewrite a report on alleged Russian hacking in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government as well as other cybersecurity experts heavily disputed Crowdstrikes initial claims.
Carr also offers a broader view of the cybersecurity industry and why firms like Crowdstrike are incentivized to often make specious claims concerning attribution of a hack. For firms like Crowdstrike, there’s no financial downside in pretending to be able to attribute a hack as the nature of cyber makes it hard to prove or disprove an attribution. Additionally, each report serves as marketing material for future clients.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffreyCarr
Originally published on April 3, 2017.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview Syria expert Professor Joshua Landis on the battle for the Syrian city of Raqqa and the various competing forces in the Syrian Civil War.
Professor Landis discusses the difficulty the United States has in deciding who to work with once ISIS is driven out of its claimed capital of Raqqa. While, in theory, the Assad government is the only government recognized under international law, it appears unlikely that the U.S. will assist that government in reasserting jurisdiction.
Other factions in the Syrian Civil War on better terms with the U.S., such as Turkey and the Kurds, have their own designs for the city.
Such complexities mirror the larger struggle on how to govern Syria itself. Landis details a current plan to break up Syria into five statelets including; a Kurdish state (Rojava), Idlib state (currently run by Al Qaeda), Assad governed state, a southern state run by Jordanian militias backed by Israel, and a Euphrates valley state of Sunni Arab tribes.
Opposed to this structure are both the Kurds and the Assad government, who do not want a Sunni state backed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the other gulf states within Syria.
Landis believes Assad, backed by Iran and Russia, will ultimately prevail with a carve-out for the Kurds, who will continue to have U.S. backing.
Follow Josh on Twitter @Joshua_Landis
Originally published on March 23, 2017 for our patrons. You can get our bonus material by becoming a patron of Around the Empire.
In Around the Empire – Episode 11, a bonus episode for our patrons (thank you!) Dan and Joanne discuss RussiaGate, the House Intelligence Committee hearing, FBI director Comey and the counterintelligence investigation he decided to reveal, and the politics of it all. We also go back and review what Edward Snowden and Bill Binney have told us about domestic surveillance and who can get their hands on it. Bottom line is, we’re not buying into the Russia Russia Russia scandal and we get into some detail about why.
Originally published on March 7, 2017.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview journalist Antony Loewenstein about his new book and upcoming film Disaster Capitalism. Loewenstein has traveled to the United States, Britain, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, and Australia to research how multinational corporations exploit disasters for profit.
The discussion starts with a focus on recent decisions by the Trump Administration to increase the use of private prisons and detention centers. Loewenstein details how companies profit from this approach both in the United States and around the world, and the role such companies play in expanding the surveillance and incarceration state.
Loewenstein also explains the complicated role of non-government organizations (NGOs) in international development and disaster capitalism. Using the failures of NGOs in Haiti as a starting point, he explains the conflicting incentives NGOs have that often lead to them failing to make a positive impact despite ample resources.
Follow Antony on Twitter @antloewenstein
Originally published on Feb. 22, 2017.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview journalist Kenneth Lipp about the sprawling national security and incarceration state President Donald Trump inherited when he took office.
Lipp has written extensively on the role that private firms play in assisting government surveillance programs and broke news on Project Hemisphere—a service offered by AT&T that allows law enforcement to access the communications giant’s massive database for theoretically lawful investigations.
Part of the agreement for law enforcement to use Hemisphere is non-disclosure, which arguably necessitates the need for parallel construction, or using illegal information to investigate a target, then using that information to construct a legal way that information could have been obtained.
If that sounds like a great tool for an authoritarian regime to destroy political dissidents with, that’s because it is.
Follow Ken on Twitter @KennethLipp
Originally published on Feb. 13, 2017.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview filmmaker Robbie Martin about the future of the neoconservatives now that the candidate they lined up against, Donald Trump, has become president.
Martin wrote, directed, and produced a comprehensive film series on the neocons titled A Very Heavy Agenda.The three-part series gives an extensive history of neonconservatism-both the ideas and the people who promoted the ideas.
With Donald Trump in the White House it would appear that the neocons are shutout of government, but are they really? Martin notes that some neoconservatism are trying to slither away from their previous positions on Trump in hopes of receiving his favor, with there already being some evidence that Trump is drifting away from his campaign positions on foreign policy.
Follow Robbie on Twitter @FluorescentGrey
Originally published on Feb. 7, 2017 for patrons only. You can get our bonus material by becoming a patron of Around the Empire.
In Around the Empire – Episode 7, a bonus episode for our patrons (thank you!), Dan and Joanne talk about President Trump’s foreign policy in practice, based on our analysis of his cabinet picks and what we have seen during his first two weeks in office.
Recorded on 2/1/17. Music by Fluorescent Grey.
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Follow Dan and Joanne on Twitter at @DanSWright and @joanneleon
Originally published on Jan. 25, 2017
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview former CIA officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou about the ongoing tensions between the CIA and President Donald Trump as well as his recent article about abolishing the CIA.
Kiriakou explains how the CIA works in both theory and practice, and that the agency’s duties could be better accomplished by the State Department and the Pentagon. The State Department can do the analytical functions of the CIA, while the Defense Department’s already existing human intelligence operations can recruit and run spies around the world.
The discussion also includes Kiriakou’s detailed knowledge of John Brennan and the reforms he made to the CIA under President Barack Obama, and what Trump might do to purge the CIA of Brennan’s influence.
Follow John on Twitter @JohnKiriakou
Originally published on Jan. 17, 2017
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview journalist David Chibo about his recent article on the deep state in the United States for Unz Review.
Chibo offers a comprehensive and holistic perspective for understanding the hidden forces influencing the U.S. government by synthesizing theories from seven different intellectuals to finally arrive at a “theory of everything.” Using the famous Indian story of the Blind Men and the Elephant, Chibo shows that each intellectual was seeing only one part of the overall picture, but when combined, the full animal comes into view.
The discussion includes both an overview of Chibo’s article as well as discussion of current events related to what appears to be a power struggle between President-elect Donald Trump and forces within the U.S. intelligence community.
Follow Dave on Twitter @DChibo
Originally published on Jan. 10, 2017
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview journalist Benjamin Norton on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Ben has been closely monitoring the situation in Yemen for years writing previously in Salon and now for Alternet’s Grayzone Project.
The discussion focuses on the overall dynamics of the civil war in Yemen, as well as the motives of external actors participating in the war such as Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Iran. The role of the United States in facilitating Saudi Arabia’s brutal bombing raids has put the U.S. in jeopardy of being charged with war crimes.
Ben explains the horrendous toll the conflict is taking on the people of Yemen, the necessity for a political solution to stop the carnage, and the obstacles such a solution faces from all parties involved.
Follow Ben on Twitter @BenjaminNorton
Originally published on Jan. 2, 2017
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview war reporter Elijah Magnier. Elijah is the chief international and veteran war correspondent for Al Rai media. He has covered wars in Lebanon, the Balkans, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, and Syria.
Beyond reporting on wars from the ground, Mr. Magnier also offers expert analysis on terrorism and terrorist organizations. He spoke to us from Brussels about the current Syria peace deal and its wider implications for the region and world.
Follow Elijah on Twitter at @EjmAlRai
Read English versions of his work here.
Originally published on Dec. 6, 2016
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview independent journalist Rania Khalek about her recent trip to Syria. Rania is one of the few journalists to report from inside Syria and she shares what she witnessed and her conversations with Syrians.
Part of the discussion also focuses on a U.S.-backed effort through traditional and social media to ignore the role Al Qaeda/Al Nusra is playing in the civil war.
Rania explains the “moderate rebels” are, in truth, Al Nusra and those groups ideologically aligned with Al Nusra. If the moderate rebels prevailed, a sectarian bloodbath would shortly commence targeting Alawites, Christians, Shiites, and any other minorities not conforming to their Sunni jihadist worldview.
Follow Rania on Twitter at @RaniaKhalek
Originally published on Dec. 19, 2016
Around The Empire is a new podcast hosted by Shadowproof writers Dan Wright and Joanne Leon. Every week they explore the massive imperial apparatus of the United States and have an in-depth discussion about one of its many tentacles.
On this episode, Dan and Joanne discuss the rebels in Syria that the mainstream media has been promoting as freedom fighters, as well as the different powers waging proxy wars in Syria. They also talk about what might happen after Aleppo falls.