Trump in Iran, Glover in America, Shostakovich Back in the USSR

Illustration by Susan Coyne

This Week : Back to the NeoCon Future— with Steve Walt, Ervand Abrahamian and Eli Clifton. Listen today at 2pm on WBUR or anytime on our website.

Here’s how we’re scoring Trump’s undoing of the Nuclear deal this week: Israel 1. Saudi Arabia 1. Barack Obama 0. And China runs away with it. It’s too soon to put points on the board for Team Trump; depends on the Euro offense. It’s also hard to know who’s calling the plays for the red, white and blue — the deal guy or the mustache guy. Or the money guy, Sheldon Adelson. That’s our show this week in a nutshell. Conspicuously absent were any representatives from mystery organizations like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the regime changers who were all over NPR this week, to the disappointment of some media watchers.

It’s a grim story. Both Steve Walt and the Iranian historian Ervand Abrahamian say we’re basically back where we were at the start of the Iraq War, with a unilateral U.S. using coercion, pressure and threats to keep Iran marginalized until the country can be toppled. The Saudi Foreign minister said this week “the nuclear agreement doesn’t solve the problem of Iran.” What is the problem of Iran, we asked? This is scary upside-down stuff; we’ve seen this movie before. It doesn’t end well. If we didn’t learn from Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn rule of foreign policy that if you break it you own it; then what’s the endgame of the Trump doctrine which seems to say if you own it, you break it?

The heart of the matter might lie in the reporting of our third guest, Eli Clifton. He follows the money in politics, specially in foreign policy, and wrote an important piece this week connecting the end of the nuclear deal to Trump’s biggest political donors and their views on Iran. Sheldon Adelson happened to be at the White House for breakfast the morning after Trump’s decision, just a few days after Paul Ryan met with him in Las Vegas and bagged a $30 million contribution to the Congressional Leadership Fund.

Watch: Childish Gambino — “This Is America”

Donald Glover—aka Childish Gambino—released the video for his new song “This is America” last weekend during his appearance as host of SNL. It’s quickly become a kind of Rosetta Stone for American culture in 2018 and has been subjected to endless, talmudic commentaries and dissections. If you haven’t seen it already, watch it ASAP. If you’ve seen it once, watch it again. We’re not gonna wade it into the lake of takes, but there’s a lot of smart, sharp writing from other folks to check out (even if Glover refuses to read them himself)

Spencer Kornhaber— “Donald Glover Is Watching You Watch Him”

Israel DaramolaThe Cynicism of Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’

Doreen St. Felix— “The Carnage and Chaos of ‘This Is America’”

Eric Skelton—“The Story Behind Childish Gambino’s Symbolic ‘This Is America’ Dance Choreography”

Kimberly Yam—“‘This Is America’ Director Draws Inspiration From His Immigrant Experience”

And if you’re looking for something slightly more fun, check out the video for the *other* song Glover performed on SNL—appropriately titled “Saturday—which still hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves:

We’re Listening to:

We’re getting ready for a summer Shosty show. Chris has interviewed BSO conductor Andris Nelsons and the Shostakovich biographer Elizabeth Wilson, and he’s been playing a lot of Keith Jarrett’s verions of Preludes and Fugues.

We’re Reading:

Not all of us got through Elizabeth Wilson’s Shosty bio, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered. Julian Barnes’ terrific novel about the composer’s life is the next best thing. Barnes credits her in his acknowledgements and says “if you haven’t liked mine, then read hers.” We love his!

Galleys arrived of Jill Lepore’s masterful new American history book, out in September. It’s a page-turner.

Listen:

Friday’s episode of The Daily is important!

Watch: RBG.

Moms, take your daughters; girls, take your moms. She really is that cool.

This ‘n That

The story about Eric Schneiderman is worse than you thought. Ronan Farrow is on the case, this time along with New Yorker writer Jane Mayer. We started to dive into a show this week about Trump’s legal thicket which keeps thickening. Axios is keeping track for those scoring at home. What Happened to Alan Dershowitz? There’s a state rep race in Southwest PA that highlights the battle over the future of the Democratic party. Here’s another path: Jelani Cobb on Rev. William Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign. The short course on Juuling by Jia Tolentino. David Graeber on BS jobs.

Our podcast with Lisa Halliday is up:

Happy Mother’s Day!

Til next week,

The OS Central Command

An American conversation with global attitude, on the arts, humanities, and global affairs, hosted by Christopher Lydon. chris@radioopensource.org