FROM Patrick B. Johnston
How Long Can the Islamic State Stay in Business? The richest terrorist group in history is financed not just by smuggling oil and selling looted antiquities. It may get as much as a billion dollars a year from taxation on individuals and businesses subject to a system of brutal enforcement. While increased bombing may deplete oil revenues, beatings and even beheadings are taking a toll on formerly middle class people. We hear about a model of governance that could threaten the sustainability of the Islamic State from the inside.
The Islamic State The Islamic State, also called ISIS and ISIL, now controls a major part of Iraq and an entire province in Syria. It’s replaced the Taliban as a fomenter of terrorists-including a disturbing number with American or European passports. Now, President Obama has authorized spy planes to conduct surveillance over Syria—a possible precursor to a bombing campaign. We hear about the risks of military action—and a possible alternative: striking the real source of the Islamic State’s power: The modern financial system that keeps it armed and fed and guarantees its continuity.
The Islamic State Has Oil and Momentum… How Far Will It Go? The Islamic State controls so much of Iraq and Syria it’s able to finance its self-styled “caliphate” by selling oil. It’s a real threat to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad—complicating US efforts to help so-called “moderates.” What is the Islamic State? Does it pose a threat beyond Syria and its civil war? After 3 years, 170,000 casualties and 9 million refugees, Syria’s civil war has become bloodier than ever. Last week, 700 died in one battle between the government of Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State. The object was control of a natural gas field near Homs.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
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.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?