April 4 - Erik Prince's Secret Back-Channel Between Trump and Putin; The Brazen Depravity of the Assad Regime; The Dismanteling of Democracy in Hungary and Poland

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Full Program


Part 1

We begin with the revelation in the Washington Post that in early January the notorious mercenary Erik Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, took part in a clandestine meeting in the Seychelles Islands with a confidante of Putin’s in an effort to establish a back-channel between the Trump White House and the Kremlin. The author of “Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror” and a biographer of Erik Prince, Robert Young Pelton, joins us from Kabul, Afghanistan to discuss the reckless amateurism and freelancing that characterizes the chaotic vacuum inside Trump’s all-but-absent foreign policy with the blind leading the clueless as all sorts of opportunists and ideologues come out of the woodwork to make America great again, to make money or in Erik Prince’s case, make war.

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Part 2

Then we look into the brazen depravity of the Assad regime in Syria which just used what appears to be Sarin gas against Syrian civilians then later targeted hospitals and clinics treating the over 100 survivors and medics attending the wounded. An expert on Syria, James Gelvin, a Professor of History at UCLA and author of “The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know”, joins us to explain Assad’s mindset and his belief that in spite of condemnations from the West, he will get away with killing his own people and destroying his country.

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Part 3

Then finally we examine the breakdown of democracy in Hungary and Poland as populist leaders in both countries attack constitutional courts and other checks and balances while turning public media into a propaganda arm of the government. Peter Kreko, a visiting Fulbright Scholar at the Center for Global and International Studies at Indiana University and the Director of the Political Capital Institute in Budapest, Hungary, joins us to discuss the reversal underway in what were models of democratic change after the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.