Podcast / The Time of Monsters / Oct 16, 2023

The Moral and Policy Catastrophe in Israel/Palestine

On this episode of The Time of Monsters, Spencer Ackerman discusses the Hamas Massacre and the Abraham Accords.

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The Moral and Policy Catastrophe in Israel/Palestine | The Time of Monsters with Jeet Heer
byThe Nation Magazine

The Hamas massacres that started last Saturday and the ensuing retaliation by the Israel government deserve both a moral witness and policy analysis. On this episode of The Time of Monsters, Spencer Ackerman, Nation contributor who wrote about the events here, provides both.

In a searing and informed conversation, he places front and center the human worth of all the innocent victims. He also places the event in the framework of the bipartisan Abraham Accords, supported by Donald Trump and Joe Biden alike, which elevated alliances between authoritarian states at the expense of human rights.

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Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli air strike on the Sousi mosque in Gaza City on October 9, 2023.

Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli air strike on the Sousi mosque in Gaza City on October 9, 2023.

(Majdi Fathi / NurPhoto / AP)

The Hamas massacres that started last Saturday and the ensuing retaliation by the Israel government deserve both a moral witness and a policy analysis. On this episode of The Time of Monsters, Spencer Ackerman, a Nation contributor who wrote about the events here, provides both.

In a searing and informed conversation, he places front and center the human worth of all the innocent victims. He also places the event in the framework of the bipartisan Abraham Accords, supported by Donald Trump and Joe Biden alike, which elevated alliances between authoritarian states at the expense of human rights.

The Nation Podcasts
The Nation Podcasts

Here's where to find podcasts from The Nation. Political talk without the boring parts, featuring the writers, activists and artists who shape the news, from a progressive perspective.

This transcription was computer-generated and may contain errors.

Jeet Heer: The old world is dying. The new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters. With those words from Gramsci, I welcome you to the Time of Monsters podcast. This podcast is sponsored by The Nation magazine and is widely available on all podcasting platforms. This week, as everyone who’s listening to this program will be aware there’s like horrific news coming out of Israel Palestine.

Hamas launched an unprecedented attack which has shaken Israel in a way that, like, really no event has in decades or or possibly ever like I there’s never been a challenge. That’s from a non state actor on the scale. And Israel is has responded with an attack on Gaza. There’s talk of like a land invasion of Gaza, a possible reoccupation, which would to anyone who knows the history of that area.

It’s just a terrifying thought. And Stepping back a little bit. I mean, these are horrific, monstrous events that are unfurling before us. I, I think it’s useful to, like, think about policy failures and within Israel itself, there’s a very lively debate, even amidst the formation of a unity government about the failures of Benjamin Netanyahu failures of listening to intelligence, but also failures of the broader policy which was to sideline the issue of Palestine and focus on forming alliances with regional allies.

And if that policy, you know, like everything that’s happened really calls into that into question. That’s not a failure of Netanyahu alone. There has been a bipartisan policy. Shared by Trump and Biden to look at the Middle East from the framework of what’s called the Abraham Accords which is, you know, like to forge an alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia and the United States and part of that alliance, like, involves sidelining the Palestinians now my colleague, Spencer Ackerman who’s An excellent writer on foreign policy has written, you know, a lot about the war on terror.

Just wrote a superb piece which I think highlights this issue and I think is rare bringing up this issue. So I want to welcome Spencer here. He’s a columnist for The Nation and is worth reading both of The Nation and, I’ll say, in any other forum he writes in about foreign policy.

So, Spencer Let’s just start with, like, what is the Abraham Accords?

Spencer Ackerman: Thanks, Jeet. Let me just also start by saying that this is an enormous period of sadness and loss of human life. And so sometimes I think when we, you know, talk about policy we are sometimes at risk of losing that, and I just want to make sure that, you know, as we go through these conversations it’s clear to listeners that we want to foreground that we are talking about we are talking about people in the most dire situations they can be in on, on both sides we’re speaking about.

Thank you. Hours after Gaza has lost power. People are now going to be reliant on personal generators and we’ve. The

re emphasized blockade in and out of Gaza, the, you know, express policy as stated by the Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Galant is to make sure no electricity, no food, no water makes its way into Gaza. So we are already talking about overwhelming. Intensification of Palestinian suffering ahead of a ground invasion of a place that’s something like 41 square kilometers and home to 2.

3 million people, most of whom are Children, because I think a full nearly half of whom, if I’m not mistaken, are Children because of the low life expectancy people in Gaza suffer and at the same time Israel experienced on Saturday it’s, it’s worst day of death, I believe, in its entire history.

And, yeah, that’s right. Yeah. We, we want to never forget that we’re talking about human suffering. And once we foreground that, then I think it’s appropriate for us to talk about the policy decisions that made this happen. And that’s the framework through which We see the Abraham Accords. So the Abraham Accords are a bet on behalf of a world order, or I should say a regional order, that the United States and Israel and traditional American autocratic allies, principally Saudi Arabia, but also the United Arab Emirates, hold to.

That says we can come to a new Middle East, a Middle East that looks beyond. The Arab Israeli conflict by looking past the conditions of apartheid that Israel holds millions of Palestinians in and through that Middle East, we find a peaceful region of commercial and security interoperability and deep networking.

That’s the logic of the, you know, what under Trump in 2020, you know, launches as the Abraham Accords. Basically there is a kind of funniness to it. Because Israel is not at war with the United Arab Emirates or Morocco or Sudan. So what’s not happening, so what’s happening is not really best understood as a peace deal.

It’s understood as a normalization deal, where the conditions of Israeli divestment from Palestine, leaving, you know, you know, ending its occupation of the West Bank, ending the strangulation of Gaza, acknowledging, you know, Palestinian sovereignty of some meaningful form, those all used to be prerequisites from the Arab states for any recognition and normalization of Israel, and that’s gone you know, or a pathway To getting there as a prerequisite.

That’s gone. The Abraham Accords shattered that and instead realized that the United States could broker these deals by accelerating what it’s already number one in the world at, which is weapons exportation. So, you know, the UAE is getting the F 35 you know, all, all, you know, there was a a pitch.

By senior Pentagon official Colin call, who since moved on and Biden’s Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurk at last year’s what’s called the Manama Conference, a major regional security conference in which you know, heads of of regional powers, regional militaries and so forth, get together and sort of discuss the strategic lay of the land.

And at last year’s, yeah. The U. S. Delegation is overwhelmingly concerned about commercial and eventually security encroachments into the region by China as they see them as encroachments. The Gulf States see them as regional commerce and, you know, the natural evolution of, you know, commercial with ties to this major rising power and the message that they give is don’t hedge.

Don’t hedge against American power in the region. Don’t start purchasing you know, this is still, you know, many generations away, realistically you know, Chinese, you know, major defense exports that could possibly, you know, keep up with American defense exports. But most importantly, you know, don’t allow, you know, Chinese.

Access to your communications and surveillance networks or, you know, P. L. A. Navy ships, you know, into into port in any kind of permanent way. And the way in which they can secure that is through saying, as they said, at Manama, that, you know, when you buy into, You know, the American security infrastructure in the region which is to say, you know, metaphorically in terms of hosting American bases are providing American overflight rights or literally in terms of, you know, purchasing American weaponry, what you really get.

Is, you know, the secret sauce is interoperability, like a walled garden, a way in which you will be able to communicate and operate seamlessly alongside all of the other American security clients in the region. And that’s basically a way of, you know, before this, this deal with Saudi Arabia, but after the Abraham Accords came about him saying, like, you will be able to access as well.

The amazing military might and surveillance might of Israel, we can flow this through the kind of like, you know, you can think of it as like you know, the way, you know, Apple products set up as a walled garden, except for, you know, death, misery and repression. Well, yes, the prize for the prize for Israel.

And all of this has always been Saudi Arabia. And, you know. Which right now, in addition to, you know, maintaining an amazing amount of capitalism’s most important commodity is the most powerful Arab state at the, at the moment. The leading Arab power is Saudi Arabia and Saudi What has been, you know, so I think distressing for so many Palestinians and so many others in a region that I just got back from and have heard people discuss is that Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince and, you know, functional leader of Saudi Arabia.

You know, this will come as no great surprise given that he devastated Yemen, chopped up a mildly critical journalist and, you know, puts people to the death penalty for obnoxious tweets. This guy is not going to be the guarantor of Palestinian rights aspirations, freedom, or security. He’s looking toward what Israel can offer him.

And he gave an interview to Fox News Bret Baier on the 20th of September, so, you know, just a couple days after, you know, we’re, we’re talking here, saying, you know, committing himself only to the Palestinians having a good life after a normalization that he was aggressively pursuing. What, you know, he gets in response to this, I think is is a kind of underappreciated cost because he’s getting a civilian nuclear weapons program with reportedly the ability for him to enrich his own uranium.

Now, we know from every single U. S. adversary, whether it’s North Korea or Iran, that goes down this route. That they can turn this into a nuclear weapons program really easily. Mohammed bin Salman is not subtle about this. He’s spoken very forthrightly about how, in his estimation, if Iran is going to get a nuclear weapon, that is to say its major regional rival, then Saudi Arabia is going to get a nuclear weapon.

The Biden administration is going to do this. So, Here is an or, you know, here, here’s an administration that came into power treating like vowing in Biden’s words to treat bin Salman and Saudi Arabia as a pariah. And it took like, let’s say a little less, but the better part of the first year in office.

to unravel that to continue and then accelerate weapon sales to Saudi Arabia to Biden last year once global oil prices started rising due to the sanctions on Russia over its illegal invasion and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine goes to Saudi Arabia. And, you know, fist bumps, MBS. And it’s basically like, you know, we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re past the point at which we’re, we’re going to put pressure on you, let’s talk about how we do business.

And Mohammed bin Salman thinks Biden is a clown, loves humiliating him, loves getting. The, you know, the you know, the last word on someone who, you know, came to power, you know, talking about what a bad guy in a tyranny is and now comes, you know, kissing the ring he reportedly laughed.

that Americans, you know, that the American president was more interested in talking about Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and longtime regional journalist who Bin Salman had murdered for mild criticism. And not Shereen Abu Akhla, the Palestinian American journalist wearing in the West Bank her press armor clearly visible, who Israel shot dead, and then with the American and then with, you know, the complicity of the State Department and the Biden administration took no measures of accountability for that, and this tickles.

Mohammed bin Salman, the, you know, not just the hypocrisy of it, but what he sees is like the fundamental weakness of Biden for it. So MBS is going to escalate you know, he holds a tremendous amount of leverage here because this is something that Israel wants very badly. This is and would represent a really important, it shouldn’t be under, you know, we can parse this a bit and my piece tried to do this.

But this really would be a tremendous diplomatic regional you know, earthquake. It would, at the same time, entrench existing security, diplomatic, and economic patterns that have, among other things, in their unofficial capacity, prompted challenges that have taken the form of, not to put too fine a point on it, Al Qaeda.

But it’s going to intensify all of that because now there would be a literal security arrangement backed by the United States and diplomatic normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud and the state of Israel. And this really is something that, you know, would have been hard to, to imagine before MBS.

You’ll remember that in 2002, during the first Palest I’m sorry, during the second Palestinian Intifada, it’s it’s the Saudi King Abdullah, then I believe he was the Crown Prince who came out with the Arab Peace Initiative that gave a pathway. To Israel to recognition of Israel, normalization of ties with Israel, but that pathway ran through the creation of a Palestinian state, the end of the occupation some measure of right of return for the original Palestinian 1948 refugees during the Nakba.

And now that’s all gone now, even, you know, facing some of the, you know, turbulence of the past, you know, five days worth of return to outright war in Gaza and in Israel. You know, bin Salman and his foreign ministry put out a statement that was like, we told you what the consequences of occupation were going to be.

And there have to be, you know, better treatment of the Palestinians. But the thing that was so distinguishing about what bin Salman is doing in addition to his potential, you know creation of a nuclear Saudi Arabia. Is that he himself was acquiescing to the logic of what occupation could produce and in an important way, this is a fulfillment of the logic of the Abraham Accords.

This is it represents a kind of, you know yet another major sellout Of the Palestinians by, you know, every, every government around the region and the United States, you know, seated atop of them all. And all of this is predicated from a security perspective. Around keeping Iran and its regional aspirations at bay, that all of this, you know, came out of was a de facto alliance that took root in the 2010s.

That itself was a consequence of the disastrous U. S. and Israeli supported invasion, occupation, and devastation of Iraq that Iran expanded its regional footprint all the way through, you know, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. And accordingly, this was enormously provocative to and worrisome to Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf States.

At the same time, so too, to that same coalition, was the Arab Spring Uprisings. The idea that an actual, authentic wave of democratization and people power could take hold across the Middle East and North Africa. That’s something that challenges not only these autocrats but also, you know, as you saw the Muslim Brotherhood take power in Egypt’s ever, you know, first and probably at this point, you know, to this date only.

You know, free presidential election, the Muslim Brotherhood taking power just across the border from Israel in Egypt, and that, you know, helped push all of these, you know, autocratic powers, apartheid states you know, American hegemons into this informal alliance whereby they sort of say that Instead of dealing and instead of dealing with the Palestinian issue, instead of coming up with a just solution for it, all of these dynamics can remain and intensify under the guise of, you know, explicitly pushing back against Iran and tacitly pushing back against authentic, you know, Middle Eastern people power movements in the Arab world.

Well, yeah, democracy. I mean, basic democracy.

Jeet Heer: Yeah, I mean, it does seem like American the alliance system, the factual alliance system that America has, which the Abrahamic courts will turn into like, you know, like a formalized alliance system is like the pillars of it are. You know, like, you know, the Saudi Arabian, you know, autocracy, monarchy the Egyptian military state and the increasingly authoritarian Israel, which is like never been a democracy for it’s a Palestinian minority and that the United Has decided that this is the, the basis of their security system.

These like, you know all anti-democratic regimes to some degree which like puts America like at odds with not just the Palestinians, but like the aspirations. Of the Arab world, like of the actual people in the Arab world. Which is like I mean, yeah, it could work. It could last a long time, but I think it should trouble anyone you know, who claims to believe in democracy.

But beyond that I mean, one thing that you said, which I think is very interesting is. What the crown prince is from says he’ll give the Palestinians or he’s, you know, wants for the Palestinians because he wants a good life. But, you know, that doesn’t necessarily include ending the occupation that we like economic flourishing within the context of the occupation.

Spencer Ackerman: And it’s important to point out there that this has also been since the Bush administration, the Official unofficial position of the United States. Yeah, that, you know, life should get better, particularly economically for the Palestinians and at some point, you know, depending on whether it’s, you know, the Obama administration, which, which did you and try to get, you know, negotiations for a two state solution, a two state solution, which I believe is a is a camera and a fig leaf for Israeli, you know, apartheid, even if perhaps decades ago, it could have been viable.

They tried to do that, yeah. But, you know, the, the Bush administration, the Trump administration, and the Biden administration, which looks, you know, in its posture here, more like its Republican predecessor than its Democratic predecessors than its Democratic one, basically says that as long as there is something that looks better for the Palestinians than today, or plausibly sold, As better for the Palestinians than today, then the United States can kind of retreat to not just a pre Oslo mode, but a pre, you know, first Intifada mode, whereby it doesn’t challenge and feels no need to challenge Israeli apartheid domination over the West Bank strangulation.

Of Gaza and the Israelis accordingly read that and feel no incentive to do anything of the sort in terms of even the explicit thing that the Americans and now the Saudis will be asking in terms of, of a Palestinian, you know, better life we saw in, you know, 2018 when the Palestinians took up a nonviolent march to the sea, how the Israeli army opened fire on Palestinian aspirations have been entirely sacrificed as you know, longstanding American foreign policy I think historians will judge that every aspect of Israeli apartheid came with American complicity and responsibility as Israel’s major benefactor and for a very long time, arms providers, security providers still to this day.

And I, I, I think it’s important to recognize that what the U. S. Saudi Israeli, you know, normalization will do is entrench these longstanding patterns as a way of kind of showing that chow, as, or I should say, as a way of declaring that challenging them is futile. And that’s an important turn of the ratchet, and we should appreciate it as such.

Rather than thinking of it as like, this is a new paradigm for the U. S. in the region, for the Israelis and the Saudis. It most certainly is new to have the Israelis and the Saudis, you know, shaking hands, the Israeli tourism minister, you know, flying into Saudi and, you know, doing that recognition, normalization you know, over the interests and behind the backs.

Of the Palestinians that is new, but the broader dynamic is unfortunately familiar over the course of decades of US engagement in the Middle East

Jeet Heer: and the parallel I wanted to draw was what if you’re thinking about what is being offered the Palestinians, which is some economic flourishing within the occupation and apartheid state.

Like that parallels what, what the crown prince is offering his own people. Like he’s basically saying to his own people, you know, we’re going to have economic liberalization and, you know, like some of the oppressive religious laws I’m getting rid of, and we’re going to have like a modern society complete with like these advanced technological cities that he’s like building in the wilderness.

Spencer Ackerman: But you know, like the wilderness. Yeah, on the Red Sea, not the wilderness. I mean, that Red Sea, that’s the important part of this. Like long neon. Yeah, yeah,

Jeet Heer: yeah. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Building like a, you know, like a utopian science fiction city along the Red Sea. Yeah. As long as I remain Crown Prince, right?

Like, like let’s give up all the talk of democracy and. And even free speech, but you know, you, you, you will get rich and you, you, you’ll have like, you know, the, the type of life that you, you enjoy. So I, I, I mean there’s a, a lot of questions one could ask about this. One of which is like, you know, to what degree.

Will it get buy in? I mean, like maybe the Saudi regime is very secure. But certainly like within the region itself, like within, you know, like just the last decade, we saw like, you know, like major popular uprisings of a scale that, you know we haven’t seen in the world since like the 19th century.

I just don’t think that like, can we assume that the, you know people living in these undemocratic regimes are going to be Thanks, everybody. Bye. you know, like willing to buy this sort of

Spencer Ackerman: deal. So amongst everyone I’ve talked to for this piece that tension is kind of ineradicably there when I talked to someone, you know, before, when I talked to people before the outbreak of, you know, the return to open war in Gaza and Israel the prevailing presumption was that, like, you know, the Saudi people may not like it, but it’s not like they have many avenues to express themselves, and what, you bin Salman is offering is, you know, a prosperity that means materially more to them than you know, a solidarity with Palestine.

The sense that I got from talking with people, you know, after Saturday is that, you know, in the short term, it probably will not provoke Much in the way of you know, Saudi internal outrage, but a. Bin Salman can’t do it while the war is actively happening. People I talked to who were familiar with his thinking think that, you know, even an unaccountable, you know, absolute monarch, who’s known as, you know, Mr.

Bonesaw or Bullet Daddy still needs quiet before, you know, being able to, you know, go to Jerusalem and shake hands with Benjamin Netanyahu. But also that. That period of quietism will have an expiration date that at some point there will be major challenges to this regional status quo. And we may not know what form they take.

They may not take the same form that they took, for instance, on 9 11. But there will be a reaction of some popular form. That, you know, perhaps the states in the region can withstand. They have certainly proven themselves, particularly with, you know, American military and intelligence back and quite resilient.

You know, I, I remember when in 2003, after the Al Qaeda bombings in Riyadh, there were genuine questions about the viability of the Saudi state. No one asks those anymore. But what form the reactions take, we can’t necessarily predict and can’t necessarily think will be, I would not personally attribute the breakout from Gaza that began on Saturday to this accord.

When you looked at the Hamas statements, they focused on, you know, far more close to home provocations. Very,

Jeet Heer: very concrete issues.

Spencer Ackerman: Yeah. Things like, you know, the thousands of, of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli military jails the provocations at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound by Itamar Ben Gavir and so on.

And didn’t mention the, the Israel US Saudi accord. Nevertheless, the background logic of those accords Is what also fueled the conditions that Hamas was trying to break, you know, out of and has prompted it to launch, you know, a war that is filled with atrocities committed by God committed by Hamas in Israel.

And committed by the Israelis on far greater scale, it’s going to look like it looks like, you know, taking shape right now in Gaza and we need to ask ourselves as American citizens, is this what we want to perpetuate if we are, in fact, in solidarity with the Israelis. In their anguish with,

with pretty much a thousand people dead in Israel right now and climbing. Do we not owe it to them? Do we not owe it to ourselves as well as Americans to put an end to the conditions that led to this horror? And I think too often when, you know, these horrors flare back up, there is An enormous political response to put the blame squarely on the the fighters that committed the interpersonal atrocities.

And I mean, for not a second to minimize them, but that is also an alibi on the part of powerful people and the states that they control. to erase not just their own complicity and active participation in the conditions that led to it, but the structural conditions themselves. And that is simply not something we I think can tolerate.

And if we care about the overwhelming loss of human life, Israeli and Palestinian, then as the American. security broker of these apartheid conditions that Israel places on Palestine. There is going to have to be small d democratic pressure at home to counterbalance the overwhelming consensus within us foreign policy circles that doesn’t feel the need at all to express any form of solidarity or even basic recognition of the Palestinians as human beings.

Jeet Heer: Yeah, no, absolutely. That’s very powerfully said. And I’m tempted to, I mean, I think the moral clarity that you’ve expressed really gets at the heart of the issue. And I’m tempted to end it there. Except that I do have to maybe also note this, this element of And until then, thanks everyone.

Real politic or, you know, thinking about larger consequences you know, like if the current policy of the United States government Which is maybe going to be temporarily stalled, but will I think if every reason to believe will resume, you know After like if it will lead to both the entrenchment of the occupation, further entrenchment, deeper entrenchment and also a security agreement with Saudi Arabia that will lead to Saudi Arabia, you know, becoming a nuclear power

Spencer Ackerman: on the threshold of nuclear.

Capability. At the

Jeet Heer: threshold of nuclear capability. Well, yeah, you know, and, and, I mean, let’s be serious, like, I, I, you know, like, it’s very easy to imagine how that threshold will be crossed, you know, like, you know, like, we should, like, think about the world that we’re creating, like, like, imagine the concept of, like, all the things that could go wrong with the world that our policies the policies of the United States government, but also, like, you know, like, with.

Of America’s allies as well just, just what, what sort of world are we creating? And I, I think like, you know, like, you know, the, the moral case that you laid out is like, like devastating and I, I think proper. And then, but like, I have to say, even for people who have no morality, like, like, like, like, Is this the world that you want?

Is this the world where you’re gonna feel, like safe and comfortable in? Or, you know, like, just, just think about all the things that could go wrong in that world.

Spencer Ackerman: I would just say, you know, Mohammed bin Salman is, is to me, like, inevitable in the way that, you know, I came to view when I wrote my book, that the war on terror made Donald Trump inevitable.

He is a ruler quite different from the, you know genteel folks, you know, capable of court, you know, genteel people are of course, you know, capable of great, great atrocity. I don’t mean that, you know, to imply otherwise. But you know, in, in, in the way that Both Trump and MBS kind of stripped the veneer off, off the enterprise.

This is probably someone we should understand as the Saudi version of Saddam Hussein, you know, committed to, you know, different political programs, certainly you know, as defense minister, Mohammed bin Salman, with the support of the Obama administration, and then the Trump administration, and now with the Biden administration.

Devastated Yemen, created one of the world’s most horrific humanitarian situations under the guise of fighting Iranian influence in the region. MBS and the broader Saudi establishment, this, this part shouldn’t be attributed solely to him recognized That they could leverage their fears of Iran with Barack Obama as Obama pursued the Iran nuclear deal.

And the result of that was to give the Saudis, with American material and intelligence complicity, the destruction of Yemen. Is this a guy that you think it would be a good idea or a bad idea to put on the threshold of nuclear weapons?

Jeet Heer: Yeah, no, I mean, that’s the question. And I think we’ll leave it there.

I want to thank Spencer for, like both his, like, excellent reporting, but I think also his very compelling moral witness to the horrors that we’re seeing and the necessity to value all human life. In the sense to, to, to you know, like think about a pathway to like a genuinely better world rather than an entrenchment of the systems that, that have resulted in so much death and, and will I’m afraid to say in the future result in like, you know, like much greater horrors than even what we’ve seen so far.

It’s, it’s, it’s a very essential work that you’re doing and, and I’m more than honored that you’re a colleague in the nation.

Spencer Ackerman: Well, and I’m honored to call you a friend, Jeet. Thank you.

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Jeet Heer

Jeet Heer is a national affairs correspondent for The Nation and host of the weekly Nation podcast, The Time of Monsters. He also pens the monthly column “Morbid Symptoms.” The author of In Love with Art: Francoise Mouly’s Adventures in Comics with Art Spiegelman (2013) and Sweet Lechery: Reviews, Essays and Profiles (2014), Heer has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The American Prospect, The GuardianThe New Republic, and The Boston Globe.

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