TV and radio appearances by Nation writers and editors, big Nation announcements.
On the eve of the September 11 anniversary, President Obama revealed his strategy to combat terrorism, particularly the threat posed by ISIS. On Monday morning Phyllis Bennis appeared on Democracy Now! to explain why the US strikes against Iraq are “politically driven, not strategically driven.”
One thing the public doesn’t hear about from the pro-war pundits on cable news: how military action in Iraq and Syria could benefit their pocket books. Lee Fang, a contributing writer with The Nation, appeared on Democracy Now! Monday morning to discuss his latest piece, “Who’s Paying the Pro-War Pundits?” In that piece and on the show, Fang describes how many of the pundits and contributors on cable news networks urging aggressive military escalation have conflicts of interest and current ties to military contractors that the public is unaware of. And those conflicts could be skewing public perception of the threat ISIS poses. “Military opinion is not monolithic,” Fang said. “But on many of these networks, you hear from a limited set of opinions.”
Read Next: “Who’s Paying the Pro-War Pundits?”
In late August, The Nation published exclusive audio from a secretive summer retreat for billionaire Republican donors organized by the Koch brothers. In the audio, released by Lauren Windsor of The Undercurrent, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tells those assembled that he will do everything in his power to block government spending on “healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board.”
In additional audio from the retreat, top Koch strategist Richard Fink describes the minimum wage as “the recruitment ground for fascism,” and compares liberals to groups ranging from the Nazi Party to modern-day suicide bombers. So yesterday, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) brought The Nation and The Undercurrent’s reporting to the Senate floor by asking McConnell to denounce Fink’s inflammatory remarks. Later in the afternoon at a press briefing, Windsor again asked McConnell to comment on the Fink recording. McConnell turned away without answering, moving on to the next question.
“The crisis has split Europe. It’s not quite a barricade, they’re not shouting at each other, but it’s clear that behind closed doors two European…points of view have emerged,” said Stephen Cohen, a contributing editor at The Nation, on The John Batchelor Show. “One is that this Ukrainian crisis shows a resurgent, revanchist, aggressive, imperialistic, soviet-like Russia headed by Putin and that Ukraine is only his first act of aggression—that he’s headed after this to the Baltics and elsewhere. The other Europe doesn’t see it that way at all; it sees it as conflicts of interest, as policies that got out of control that require compromise on both sides, Russia and Europe.”
—Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro
“By NATO’s own rules, Ukraine cannot join NATO, [because it is] a country that does not control its own territory,” Nation contributing editor Stephen Cohen said to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, addressing speculation that Ukraine will join NATO after it signed a cease-fire deal with pro-Russian rebels. Cohen went on: “You have to meet certain economic, political and military criteria to join NATO. Ukraine meets none of them…. most importantly, Ukraine is linked to Russia not only in terms of being Russia’s essential security zone, but it’s linked conjugally, so to speak, intermarriage. There are millions, if not tens of millions, of Russian and Ukrainians married together. Put it in NATO, and you’re going to put a barricade through millions of families. Russia will react militarily.”
This week, The Nation obtained audio revealing Mitch McConnell’s plans to further hinder any impact that Obama could have in the remaining years of his term. During a secret strategy conference, McConnell said of the upcoming spending bill, “We will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board [inaudible]. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.” CNN featured this audio yesterday, as well as McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes’s response: “I think Mitch McConnell got caught in his 47 percent Mitt Romney moment. I think it shows the extent and the lengths he will go to to pander to his party millionaires and billionaires at the expense of hurting Kentuckians.”
—Hannah Harris Green
“The most I can boast is, I try hard to understand,” Nation contributing editor Stephen Cohen told Thom Hartmann yesterday in an interview about the latest from Ukraine. “There is so much misinformation, whether intended or unintended, coming out of Washington, particularly [out of] Kiev and out of Moscow that a person has to figure out what is true and what isn’t true.” What’s for sure, Cohen said, is that Kiev’s heavy weapons attack on two cities in eastern Ukraine has intensified.
— Alana de Hinojosa
Is Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko getting desperate? Despite Russian convoys to Ukraine’s conflict region, Vladimir Putin and Poroshenko agreed to meet Tuesday, August 27. However, those talks were distracted by Ukraine’s capturing of Russian paratroopers the day of. Listen here as Nation contributing editor and Russian historian Stephen Cohen discusses the latest on the John Batchelor Show.
“The most important political figure in Europe—I think it’s fair to say she is—is coming to Kiev, ” said Stephen Cohen on The John Batchelor Show this Tuesday. Cohen, contributing editor for The Nation and author of Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold Wars, and The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag after Stalin, is referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s upcoming visit with President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev, which is scheduled for this Saturday. In debating whether Merkel’s position has or has not changed, Cohen asserted, “The fact that she’s going to Kiev is an enormous concession for Kiev. She is coming…but she wants something in return. I have to assume that what she wants in return is for Poroshenko to declare a cease-fire before something happens in the East.”
A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll reports—perhaps unsurprisingly—that President Obama’s approval numbers are at an all-time low. With 60 percent of Americans polled disapproving of Obama’s foreign policy and another 71 percent believing America is “on the wrong track,” The Nation’s editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel appeared on Morning Joe to discuss “how we got here and how we can fix it” with political commentator Nicole Wallace, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, and political strategist Anita Dunn. Vanden Heuvel notes that this is not the first time Americans have lost faith in political institutions, especially when engaging in foreign affiars: “Americans want to engage with the world but they don’t want to listen to the armchair warriors.”