Truth, Politics and Power launched on January 13, 2017 with an “Inauguration Special.” You can hear that and all of our episodes here.
October 6, 2017
As President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un exchange insults and threats, host Neal Conan puts the nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang into historical and intellectual context in a Brinksmanship Edition of Truth Politics and Power. Conversations about strategist Thomas Schelling and the risks of gaming nuclear conflict; Josef Stalin, Harry Truman and the lessons of the first crisis of the Cold War; and how hyperbolic rhetoric and apocalyptic threats affect the calculus of deterrence.
As people in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico struggle to recover from storms, the Politics of Disaster is the next edition of Truth, Politics and Power. Host Neal Conan with conversations about how federal policy contributes to catastrophe, how an enormous flood in 1927 changed the way Americans think about the size and role of government , and the secret history of FEMA, the agency created to manage the ultimate disaster…nuclear apocalypse.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled across the border of Myanmar…they say the military is mounting a campaign of murder, rape and arson that a senior UN official calls a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. On the next Truth Politics and Power, Host Neal Conan explores how and why nations unleash mass violence on minorities, what’s happening in the fledgling democracy of Myanmar, and, after Rwanda and Kosovo and too many others, what we’ve learned about how to answer the atrocities of ethnic cleansing.
The United States and Iran confront each other in Yemen and the Gulf, while the longtime enemies act as uncomfortable allies against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, President Trump faces a crucial decision on the nuclear agreement he’s long vowed to tear up. Host Neal Conan explores the consequences of that decision, and delves into two crucial periods in the troubled history between the US and the Islamic Republic..…The Iran-Iraq War, when the US sided with Iran’s bitterest enemy…and the Invasion of Iraq, which left Iran as the principal beneficiary.
Legions of lobbyists and lawyers obscured the facts on tobacco and cancer for decades…even when tobacco companies knew their products caused cancer. Host Neal Conan talks with writer Alan Schwarz, who found that the football industry followed the same pattern in response to discoveries about the long term effects of concussion, and with Science Historian Naomi Oreskes, who argues that the chorus of climate deniers also follows tobacco’s lead, and that the result, will be global calamity.
The tension between the States and the Federal Government animates American History from the Constitutional Convention to Charlottesville. Host Neal Conan traces the political history of States Rights which turns again and again on the issue of race, from the fugitive slave law of 1792 through the Civil War and on into the Twentieth Century, where the term became a code word for Jim Crow racism. Plus a look at how both left and right use the States Rights playbook today, on issues including marijuana, abortion and same sex marriage.
While every country puts the best possible face on events, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has devised a post modern propaganda designed to undermine truth itself. On this edition of “Truth Politics and Power” host Neal Conan discusses the Russian state’s wide scale use of blackmail known as “kompromat,” managed democracy and non-linear warfare. Plus a conversation on information agencies operated by the US in both world wars and the cold war.
After the recent exchange of threats between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, host Neal Conan updates earlier edition of Truth Politics and Power on the crisis in North East Asia. Fresh interviews with Ambassador Chris Hill, a former North Korea negotiator, and Michele Flournoy, a senior official in the Pentagon during the Obama Administration on how the diplomatic snd military situations has changed after north Korea’s tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles and the unanimous approval of new sanctions by the United Nations. We also hear historian Sheila Miyoshi Jager on the 70 yea struggle between the two Koreas and how the US found itself in a nuclear standoff with an impoverished cold war relic.
Candidate Donald Trump described his big, beautiful wall along the Mexican frontier in existential terms; If you don’t have a border, you don’t have a country. Host Neal Conan explores how secure borders became part of the definition of a state, how well walls worked through history and talks with Peter Robinson, the speechwriter who came up withPresident Ronald Reagan’s famous line in Berlin: “Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
As congress and a special counsel investigate allegations of Russian meddling and collusion by the Trump campaign, a presidential commission looks into charges, that millions voted illegally last November. In a “Voter Fraud” edition of Truth Politics and Power, Host Neal Conan learns that non citizens were allowed to vote in 40 states- conversations on why, how that changed, and what happens if we find proof that the 2016 election was a fraud: do we get a do-over?
With investigations of the President and his campaign staff underway in Washington, Host Neal Conan talks about the procedure for the removal of the Chief Executive. An “Impeachment Edition” of Truth politics and power explains how and why the Constitutional Convention decided to constrain the powers of presidents and the meaning of “high crimes or misdemeanors.” Plus in-depth conversations on our two presidential impeachment trials: Nina Totenberg, on William Jefferson Clinton, and David O. Stewart on the dramatic case of Andrew Johnson.
James Comey says that President Trump asked for a loyalty pledge…and his unwillingness to agree was the beginning of the end of his job as Director of the FBI. On this edition of Truth, Politics and Power, Host Neal Conan talks about the loyalty past presidents have asked of their political appointees with former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, on the line between loyalty and public service, and former Assistant Secretary Peter Edelman, on how and why he chose to resign. Also, analysis of when members of congress start to abandon a president of their own political party.
As US advisers and aircraft lead the battle to capture Raqa’a, Russian, Iranian and Syrian government forces are also converging on the Capital of the so-called Islamic State…and US goals may be shifting. In a “Mission Creep” Edition of Truth Politics and Power, host Neal Conan discusses the complex situation in Syria with former CIA analyst Paul Pillar, talks with author Mark Bowden about “Black Hawk Down, “ the operation that even a quarter century later continues to define the dangers of Mission Creep and looks at the ever expanding role of the US military overseas, as the Defense Department’s mission grows to cover tasks previously handled by diplomats and other civilians.
The battle over health care encapsulates the philosophical chasm between the two major parties: Democrats want to expand coverage even at the price of new taxes…Republicans want to reduce the size and power of government, even if millions lose coverage. Host Neal Conan traces the evolution of the argument on the appropriate size and role of government from the New Deal through Civil Rights, the Reagan revolution and the partisan warfare of the 21st century
A Gerrymander Edition of Truth Politics and Power delves into the structural advantage that Republicans enjoy in the House of Representatives. Both parties redraw electoral lines to help themselves – Host Neal Conan asks why Republicans do it better and whether Democrats hurt themselves by packing into urban districts. This may all change, as some states adopt bipartisan commissions and the Supreme Court takes a case that challenges the principle of partisan advantage
President Trump is delegating more authority over National Security to the generals who lead the National Security Council and the Pentagon. On this Edition of Truth Politics and Power, how the National Security Council makes decisions, how it meshes with the President and his Cabinet, and the vast differences between the two generals he’s appointed as National Security Advisor.
Candidate Trump vowed to put America’s nuclear forces back at the top of the pack, and a Strategic Weapons review that’s underway comes as new technology upends one of the principal tenets of deterrence: for the first time, nuclear arsenals may be vulnerable to a first strike. Neal Conan talks with Keir Lieberman and Daryl Press, the authors of a paper that describes how advances in technology combine to undermine deterrence and about a case in point: North Korea. Paul Bracken, the author of The Second Nuclear age, concludes that we’re about to enter a new nuclear arms race with a president who trumpets unpredictability.
On this Edition of Truth Politics and Power, David Livingstone Smith, author of “Less Than Human,” analyzes the meaning and purpose of hateful language, like Donald Trump’s descriptions of Mexican and Muslims. Neal Conan also speaks with Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah about the failure of imagination, that’s left so many Americans without meaningful employment. Plus, in Recommended Reading, retired Major General Mike Davidson on “Dereliction of Duty”, by HR McMaster; the analysis of the failures of leadership that lead to the Vietnam war by the man who’s now President Trump’s National Security Advisor.
As President Trump expands US involvement in he Middle East, host Neal Conan explores the conflicts in Iraq and Syria in depth. Professor T. David Mason will put Iraq in the context of his ground breaking analysis on how and why civil wars end. Former NPR correspondent Deborah Amos helps us understand the convoluted history of the conflict in Syria; plus author and historian Annette Gordon Reed on the Civil War we know best- our own.
President Trump caused controversy when he dismissed the Acting Attorney General and dozens of US Attorneys, but set off a political tsunami when he fired the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Host Neal Conan asks Constitutional Law Professor Michael Gearhardt whether the firing could amount to obstruction of justice, delves into the history of the FBI and presidents with Yale’s Beverly Gage and recalls the most dramatic of all presidential firings: Harry Truman’s dismissal of war hero General Douglas MacArthur. Plus, recommended reading from historian Annette Gordon Reed,.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declares that American values must take a back seat to American interests, host Neal Conan explores Human Rights place in President Trump’s foreign policy after he embraced autocrats and alienated democratic allies. We’ll look at the Human Rights record of one of those strongmen, President Roderigo Duterte of the Philippines, talk with Professor John Mearshimer about the history between US Presidents and dictators and explore how Human Rights became so important to the American public.
On this edition of Truth,Politics & Power we examine the origins of “PC” on the fringes of the American Left in the 1930s, how it evolved into a catch-all insult hurled from the right at the left and how it came to take a central role in the election of Donald Trump. Conversations with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, an expert on political rhetoric; linguist John McWhorter and with comedian Josh Blue, whose act requires exquisite attention to what’s PC, what isn’t, and when to cross the line to challenge his audience
The institutions that created an extraordinary era of peace and security in Europe face an existential crisis. Torn by internal divisions and challenged by an aggressive Russia, the European Union and NATO struggle to sustain support amid a wave of populism. On this episode, conversations with Steven Erlanger, London Bureau Chief of the New York Times and Timothy Gaston Ash, Professor of European Studies at Oxford University, on the French Presidential election, nationalism and the erosion of liberal democracy.
A Party Politics Edition of Truth Politics and Power explores how Donald Trump thrives in a time of political extremism, obstruction and filibuster. Boston College History Professor Heather Cox Richardson on Trump’s affection for another disruptive president, Andrew Jackson; Democratic Strategist Cornell Belcher on the seismic charges that shaped both parties after the 1960s and scholars Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein on the future of our fractured parties in the age of Trump.
A single chemical weapon attack caused President Trump to switch positions on Syria and Russia. How did chlorine, mustard gas and nerve agents become so reviled? Neal Conan talks about why the world banned these weapons and where the Chemical Weapons Convention stands now with Richard A Price, the author of The Chemical Weapons Taboo. NPR correspondent Dan Charles, author of Master Mind: The Rise and Fall of Fritz Haber, tells the story of the Nobel laureate who became the father of chemical warfare. And Aaron David Miller, former Middle East negotiator, puts the sarin attack, and President Trump’s response, into the context of an emerging Middle East Policy.
As Pyongyang continues to develop nuclear weapons and the missiles to carry them, the Trump Administration vows that the U.S. will resolve the crisis — with China’s help if possible, but on its own if necessary. In this episode: hear from former Ambassador Christopher Hill on where we stand now and why options range from bad to worse, and Sheila Miyoshi Jager, author of Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea, on the 70-year struggle among Koreans to determine the future of their peninsula.
The slogan of Donald Trump’s campaign has become the mantra for his nationalistic policies as president. And the term comes freighted with history. In this episode: a look back at the America First movement of the 1930s, often described as isolationist, but which also developed an affinity for Adolph Hitler and Fascism. Also: how Donald Trump’s version of America First has changed US economic and foreign policy.
Some Trump supporters claim that progressives burrowed into federal agencies to thwart the new President’s agenda, and even that President Obama stayed in Washington to run a “shadow government.” In this episode: civil service, bureaucratic opposition and the cautionary example of Turkey.
Donald Trump is not the only Nationalist in charge of a major military power and will soon run headlong into a long simmering dispute with another one – China’s Xi JinPing. The South China Sea is the economic lynchpin of the Asia/Pacific and a flashpoint between the US and China. Why a little known waterway is so important to the world’s two strongest powers and how nationalism could lock them into a spiral of aggression.
In February, President Trump escalated his self-declared war with the media when he labeled major networks and newspapers “enemies of the people.” Neal speaks with two thoughtful veterans of the adversarial relationship: Scott McClellan, former Press Secretary to President George W. Bush and Ted Koppel, longtime anchor of Nightline on ABC. Why an administration’s credibility is vital to its success and what’s the cost when it’s squandered.
In this hour-long special, host Neal Conan delves into one of the most provocative questions being asked about our next President. Is it fair to compare Trumpism to Fascism? While Donald Trump and his supporters ridicule the comparison to fascism, critics on the right and left find troubling parallels. “Truth, Politics and Power” will examine the similarities and differences between the fascists of the 1930s and ’40s and the 45th President of the United States with Volker Ullrich, author of the brilliantly reviewed new biography “Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939,” and historian Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of, among many others, “Dangerous Nation: America’s Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century.”