FROM Ben Hubbard
Military escalation… without diplomacy President Trump wants the Pentagon to "fight to win," and battlefield commanders now make decisions that used to come from the Obama White House. There's been increased action in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, and a dramatic rise in civilian casualties — providing fodder for Islamic State propaganda. What's missing is diplomacy and political planning for what to do when the wars are over. But even Trump's critics say Obama didn't have any "endgames" either. We hear about America's increased involvement in murky wars where victory might be possible… but not sustainable.
Obama in Riyadh amid Increasing US-Saudi Tensions President Obama is in Saudi Arabia today at a tense moment in USSaudi relations. The long-standing alliance is based on oil and security concerns, but now is being frayed by diverging goals in Middle East conflicts, by Obama's recent reference to the Saudis as "free riders" and renewed calls from Congress to allow Americans sue them for 9/11. President Barack Obama is greeted by officials upon his arrival at King Khalid International Airport for a summit meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 20, 2016. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters We hear more about the growing tensions from Ben Hubbard, Middle East correspondent for the New York Times , and Fred Wehrey, senior associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace .
More than 700 Killed in Hajj Stampede Saudi Arabia takes pride in hosting the Hajj every year, when millions of Muslims travel to Mecca, but once again the pilgrimage has turned deadly. Less than two weeks ago a construction crane crashed, killing 111 people. Today, six miles from Mecca, more than 700 were killed and almost 900 were injured in a stampede. Ben Hubbard is Middle East Correspondent for the New York Times .
In Homs, Respite from Siege Provides Little Relief Syrian peace talks resumed today in Geneva—with no face-to-face negotiations yet between dissidents and the government. Meantime this weekend’s three-day humanitarian cease-fire in the City of Homs did not provide the moment of relief hoped for by trapped civilians. That’s according to Ben Hubbard, who’s in Antakya, Turkey for the New York Times.
Janesville and the American Dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn’t prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. On this Memorial Day rebroadcast of To the Point, we hear what’s happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.