In his first few weeks in office, the Trump administration has escalated US aggression towards both Syria and Iran. He is asking for more US military presence on the ground in Syria, which may increase tension with Russia, and signed an Executive Order for more sanctions against Iran, which received bipartisan support in Congress. Trump’s National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, stated last week that Iran has been “put on notice” and that the US would consider military action in response to Iran’s legal test of a non-nuclear missile. We speak with foreign correspondent Reese Erlich and retired Colonel Ann Wright about the current situation between the United States and countries in the Middle East and Asia.
Relevant articles and websites:
The Six Most Common Middle East Conspiracy Theories by Reese Erlich
Democrats back Trump Administration’s New Sanctions Against Iran by Joseph Kishore
Field of Fright: The Terror Inside Trump’s White House by Ira Chernus
What, Exactly, is Going on in Syria by Vijay Prashad
Trump has Already Blown It by Stephen Walt
Reese Erlich is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books on foreign policy. A full-time freelance journalist and special correspondent, he recently reported for both CBS Radio and GlobalPost from the Kurdish Region of Iraq, interviewing Yazidis and Kurdish peshmerga and analyzing the US bombing campaign. Erlich also reports regularly for National Public Radio and Radio Deutsche Welle. His articles on the Middle East have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Atlantic Online, Foreign Policy, VICE News, and Vanity Fair Online. In 2012, the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California, gave Erlich an Explanatory Journalism Award for his radio documentary titled “Inside the Syrian Uprising.” In 2006 he shared a prestigious Peabody Award. He is on tour now for his new book, “Inside Syria.” For more information visit www.ReeseErlich.com.
Col. Ann Wright grew up in Bentonville, Arkansas, and attended the University of Arkansas, where she received a master’s and a law degree. She also has a master’s degree in national security affairs from the U.S. Naval War College. After college, she spent thirteen years in the U.S. Army and sixteen additional years in the Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel. She is airborne-qualified.
In 1987, Col.Wright joined the Foreign Service and served as U.S. Deputy Ambassador in Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan, and Mongolia. She received the State Department’s Award for Heroism for her actions during the evacuation of 2,500 people from the civil war in Sierra Leone, the largest evacuation since Saigon. She was on the first State Department team to go to Afghanistan and helped reopen the Embassy there in December 2001. Her other overseas assignments include Somalia, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada, Micronesia, and Nicaragua. On March 19, 2003, the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Ann Wright cabled a letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell, stating that without the authorization of the UN Security Council, the invasion and occupation of a Muslim, Arab, oil-rich country would be a violation of international law.
Since then, she has been writing and speaking out for peace. In 2007, she co-authored “Dissent, Voices of Conscience.” She fasted for a month, picketed at Guantánamo, served as a juror in impeachment hearings, traveled to Iran as a citizen diplomat, and has been arrested numerous times for peaceful, nonviolent protest of Bush’s policies, particularly the war on Iraq. She has been on delegations to Iran and was in Gaza three times in 2009, following the Israeli attack on Gaza that killed 1,440 and wounded 5,000. She was an organizer for the Gaza Freedom March that brought 1,350 persons from 44 countries to Cairo, Egypt, in solidarity with the people of Gaza. She was on the May, 2010 Gaza flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli military and was an organizer for the US Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, in the July, 2011 Gaza flotilla. She lives in Honolulu.