FROM Wayne White
ISIS: Is the Caliphate Cracking? Iraq's Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi is due at the White House on Tuesday, and it's all about the war against ISIS, the so-called Islamic State. Last year, ISIS looked like the world's most dangerous terrorist group — intent on restoring the Caliphate that once ruled all Muslims. Unique for extreme brutality and brilliant Internet propaganda, ISIS forced the US and Iran into an unlikely coalition against it. Now, ISIS is losing captured territory, its sources of money and even competent soldiers. There are signs of internal dissention. But even if it's in partial retreat, it's a likely threat in the Middle East — and to western interests — for years to come.
America's Hostage Policy: Is It Time for a Change? The US and Britain refuse to negotiate with terrorists. Paying ransom will only encourage extremists to raise money by seizing hostages. The parents of American journalist James Foley learned that can have unintended consequences when the so-called Islamic State released video of his beheading. But Foley’s former cellmates from France and Spain are alive and well, and ISIS is still holding at least one other American. Now US policy is “under review.” Is that real or political posturing? What are the alternatives? We talk with James Foley’s mother and others.
Will Iraq Become a Divided Country? In Baghdad today, 44 Sunni prisoners in a government-controlled police station were killed — apparently in retaliation for advances by Sunni extremists with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. As forces of ISIS get closer to Baghdad, it appears that Iraq's current leadership might not hold the country together. The unlikely alliance of Iran and the US is urging political unity instead of sectarian warfare, but they're being ignored by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Others insist that Iraq never was a real country, and that division between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds is inevitable. Will the current chaos lead to a re-drawing of national boundaries imposed by European colonial powers 100 years ago?
Mubarak Expected to Step Aside Tahrir Square is packed tonight and there’s wild celebration in the aftermath of Mubarak’s resignation. Throughout the evening, Egyptians have been massing in Tahrir Square—anticipating that 30 years of repressive government may be about to come to an end. It’s still not clear [if he does step down] that protesters around the country—now joined by striking workers—will have won all that they’ve been demanding. Will the emergency law that suspends civil rights be revoked? Will the military continue to run the country or will there be a transition to civilian rule? We’ll talk about what appears to be history in the making in the world’s most influential Arab country.
Egyptians Firm on Regime Change, US Pushes Slower Approach Just before yesterday's Super Bowl game, President Obama gave Fox News his latest assessment of events in Egypt. In parts of Cairo today, banks opened and shops were staffed. The Egyptian government wants business as usual, but protesters in Cairo aren't giving an inch and they're considering demonstrations in other cities. Vice President Suleiman met yesterday with a group including the Muslim Brotherhood, and each side has a different version of what really went on. Protest leaders are particularly skeptical about Washington's call for an " orderly transition ," saying it sounds like a recipe for continued repression. We get an update from Tahrir Square, hear different estimates of possible outcomes and discuss why Egypt is so important to American interests.
America Leaves Iraq: Is the Mission Accomplished at Last? Yesterday at the Disabled Veterans of America meeting in Atlanta yesterday, President Obama reminded his audience that, as a candidate, he promised to bring the war in Iraq to what he called, " a responsible end… "
America Leaves Iraq: Is the Mission Accomplished at Last? President Obama did not say "mission accomplished," but he did say yesterday that all combat operations in Iraq will end this month, as he promised. Fifty thousand American troops will remain, but the State Department will lead what's become a civilian effort, using the biggest embassy in the world. But Iraq has no permanent government. There's disagreement over how much violence has really declined and fears it will increase when US troops are gone. Is the US still relevant? What about Iran? How do Iraqis feel about America's role, and what's the future for five million displaced people?
US Troop Withdrawal to Test Iraq's Stability Next Tuesday is the official deadline for US combat troops to withdraw from Iraq's towns and cities. At Iraq's request, the American presence already is being pulled back. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki calls the withdrawal a "great victory" for the Iraqi people. But many Iraqi people have other ideas. A new wave of bombings has now killed more than 200 people in the past two days. Has sectarian violence already resumed between Shiites and Sunnis? Will the Kurds rebel against a central government dominated by Arabs? Will Iran intervene, in part to divert attention away from its own problems?
Fighting in Iraq Threatens Truce Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has issued a deadline for Shiite militias in Basra: lay down your weapons in 72 hours or face "the most severe penalties." We get an update from a reporter in Baghdad and two perspectives on the situation in Iraq.
The Looming Political Battle over Iraq Although Congressional Democrats failed to prevent President Bush's military surge in Iraq last year, they won a concession. They funded the increased deployments, but demanded that the administration report on the success of its operations by September 15. With that day of reckoning almost here, the political battle lines have been drawn. Many Democrats, and a growing number of Republicans, are demanding a withdrawal. The military is stretched to the breaking point, but terrorism remains a threat and the President says the surge needs more time. When General David Petreaus makes his report next week, Bush will face one of his toughest decisions since he launched the war: does the US stay or go? Can Bush continue to fight and still bring some troops home? Guest host Jim Sterngold explores the chaos of Iraq that's taking center stage in the chaotic political arena in Washington.
Senate Debates Military Draw-down in Iraq Democratic Senate leaders staged an all-night debate on their plan to give President Bush just 120 days to start bringing troops home from Iraq. Republicans called it a "circus," a "mockery" and "Kabuki theater." Before noon today, the Democrats lost a procedural vote to cut off debate. Yet, despite today's outcome, there's no doubt that many Republicans are uncomfortable about the President's course in Iraq —especially those who are up for re-election next year, and back an alternative that incorporates recommendations of the Iraq Study Group . Meantime, polls show that a majority of Americans think it's time for the troops to come home. We hear about the marathon session and what's next for efforts to force the President to change direction. We also talk to authorities about troop withdrawal, whether the "surge" still has a chance or if it is only postponing the inevitable.
Pressure Builds to Advance Iraq Timetable President Bush wants to reassure Americans about his strategy in Iraq and stem Republican defections. With the latest Gallup Poll reporting that his approval rating has dropped to a new low of 29%, he's beginning to talk about a draw-down of troops next year, made possible by the " surge ," which he says is just beginning to work. Meantime, senior Republicans are talking about a change of strategy in Iraq. Senator John McCain , just back from Iraq, says that progress is being made, even as his own presidential campaign is faltering. We hear about "progress" on the battlefield and politics in Baghdad and Washington.
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.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
White House budget proposal slashes and burns President Trump's first budget request is considered dead on arrival in Congress — a familiar development in Capitol Hill. We hear what it reveals about the priorities of the new administration. What's likely to die… and what might survive?