January 12 - Iran's Seizure of US Patrol Boats and a Terrorist Bombing of Tourists in Istanbul; Obama's Conundrum of Speaking Truth to a Fearful Nation; Two Former White House Speechwriters on the Upcoming SOTU Speech

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Full Program


Part 1

We begin, just ahead of President Obama’s last State of the Union address, with an update on whether Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps have managed to upstage Obama by seizing two American patrol boats and ten U.S. sailors who apparently drifted into Iran territorial waters, as well as look into the terrorist bombing at a popular tourist site in Istanbul that Turkish authorities are attributing to daesh, the self-declared Islamic State. A former foreign affairs expert and senior advisor to the State Department during the administrations of Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, David Phillips, joins us to discuss this latest example of the U.S. getting blindsided by events in the Middle East and the irony that Turkey’s president who started at war against the Kurds to win an election, is now suffering blowback from the daesh, the terrorist group he previously secretly armed and offered safe haven to.


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Part 2

Then, with the president expected to deliver an unconventional State of the Union that is both optimistic and reassuring, we assess why a handful of terrorists have the most powerful nation on earth living in fear when data shows that the annual risk of dying in a terrorist attack in the U.S. between 1970 and 2007 was one in 3.5 million. John Mueller, the author of “Terror, Security and Money: Balancing the Risks and Costs of Homeland Security” and “Chasing Ghosts: The Policing of Terrorism”, joins us to discuss Obama’s conundrum of how to speak truth to a fearful nation.

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Part 3

Then finally we hear from two presidential speechwriters, David Halperin, a former special assistant for national security affairs to President Clinton and Paul Glastris, the editor in chief of The Washington Monthly who was a senior speechwriter to President Bill Clinton. We discuss how much President Obama’s planned speech will be impacted by the possibility that Iran’s “death to America”-shouting Revolutionary Guards Corps are holding American sailors hostage while the President speaks of progress in fighting terrorism.