Khashoggi, Sauds… and Sox
This Week: Trouble in the House of Saud — with Stephen Kinzer, Chas Freeman, Steve Simon, Shireen Al-Adeimi and Sarah Leah Witson. Listen today at 2pm or anytime on our website.
The Khashoggi murder is the longest a foreign story has been in the news cycle since Trump became president. Cue the caravans and promises of middle class tax cuts while Congress is out of session. Jeff Sachs says, “When the curtain slips, as with the Khashoggi killing, we briefly see the world as it is.” And it’s nasty business — the underworld of global power run on Saudi money by and for mafia style thugs and plutocrats. Keep looking and you see the horrific human rights nightmare in Yemen where 75 percent of the population is starving and suffering from the worst cholera epidemic in the world. This is a Saudi-led war powered by our bombs, intelligence and refueling that’s killed thousands of civilians and children. And finally, what starts to come into sight is the shifting contours of a new Cold War in the Middle East designed to confront Iran and topple the regime.
All of our guests confirmed the brutish dimensions of all this. Ambassador Chas Freeman told us that John Bolton never met a war he didn’t like. Steve Simon said Jared Kushner shared the CIA’s list of opponents to the Saudi regime with MBS. Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson reviewed the sordid Saudi story. Shireen Al-Adeimi helped us understand the Yemen atrocity, and Steve Kinzer filled in more history we’ve forgotten.
We’ll follow up this show with one devoted to the Yemen story. We’ve got some great leads, including this one: Yemen is the first country to run out of water. Send us yours!
We talked to Ramachandra Guha about the second and final volume of his Gandhi biography. We’ll post that conversation soon.
Guha proudly told us that he holds the record for fastest-talker on The Daily Show—check out his interview with Jon Stewart… and then check out ours.
We’re following the Harvard affirmative action case—and the larger conversation it’s inspiring about college sports as affirmative action for the wealthy and white, anti-Asian bias, and what “diversity” in admissions even means… and who it serves. Jeannie Suk has been excellent on this subject, and we’re planning an in-studio conversation with her and others for next week. Stay tuned.
The second volume of Sylvia Plath’s letters are now out, and sounds like they’re as brilliant and tragic as Volume 1 (from the New York Times review: “‘I have become a verb, instead of an adjective,’ she sang, with months left to live. ‘I am so happy.’”)
Coming Soon to the MFA: Fred Wiseman’s Latest
We can’t wait to see Frederick Wiseman’s new documentary, Monrovia, Indiana—a portrait of one corner of small-town America. It’s coming to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on November 4.
Each of Wiseman’s films, beginning with his 1967 portrait of a prison for the mentally ill, Titicut Follies (maybe the best, and definitely the most disturbing, documentary ever made), profiles a single institution in excruciating detail, pointing each time to the absurdities of life under bureaucracy... Here’s Richard Brody’s review of Monrovia, Indiana.
OS Guests in the news
Our guests are popular! Eric Foner’s glowing review of David Blight’s new biography of Frederick Douglass (check out our interview with Blight from last week); Sean Wilentz’s glowing review of Jill Lepore’s new one-volume history of the United States, These Truths (check out our interview with Lepore from a few weeks ago); the NYT’s review of Eleanor Burgess’s new play, The Niceties (our interview will be up as a podcast soon).
Also of note: Adam Tooze on democracy and capitalism; Annette Gordon-Reed on MLK; Laura Marsh on the decline of the steady job; Jacob Weisberg on Facebook; the many letters the New York Review of Books printed in response to their controversial publication of Jian Ghomeshi’s personal essay about his supposed victimization by the #metoo movement; Jennifer Szalai on competing visions for “Never Trump” conservatism; Tim Crane on academic publishing as world-class cake baking… and to continue the sugary theme, Tejal Rao on Kit Kats in Japan. And keep an eye on that romance novelist Trekkie who’s running for governor in Georgia.
Toning it up!
Another show stopper tonight, folks. Boston turns it’s bleary eyes to you BoSox. And speaking of MVPs:
That’s all for this week, Sox fans. Follow, subscribe, donate (pretty please) and tune in next week.
❤ The OS ghosts