Joshua Landis

Suzette Grillot talks with Thomas Fingar, the former head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. In the months leading up to the 2003 invasion, he cast doubts on whether or not Iraq had nuclear weapons.

But first, Rebecca Cruise and Joshua Landis discuss President Obama’s meetings with Chinese president Xi Jinping about cybersecurity, and Russian president Vladimir Putin over renewed tension in Syria.

President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at his dacha outside Moscow, Russia, July 7, 2009.
Pete Souza / The White House

Next week President Obama plans to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the United Nations to discuss efforts and support in Syria. Russia has been backing the Syrian administration of Bashar al-Assad since the civil war began more than four years ago – sending planes, tanks and troops to bolster Bashar al-Assad’s government and tenuous hold on power in the troubled country. But the rise of Islamic State militants has created even more questions about who to stand behind in the Middle East.

ISIS propaganda shows explosives damaging the historic ancient Temple of Baalshamin in the ancient site of Palmyra.
Wnt / Wikimedia Commons

The Syrian government announced this week Islamic State militants destroyed 2,000-year-old tower tombs in the central city of Palmyra, claiming the Roman-era sites promote idolatry.

Joshua Landis talks about Islamic State militants destroying significant artifacts in the Middle East, and Rebecca Cruise explains the ongoing migrant crisis throughout Europe.

Then Suzette Grillot is joined by Braulio Fernández, a professor and literary critic at the University of the Andes in Colombia. While everyone he went to school with studied Spanish literature, Braulio Fernandez gravitated toward something else.

Joshua Landis provides an update on two stories he's following in the Middle East: the different reactions to the nuclear deal with Iran, and news that Syrian soldiers trained and equipped by the U.S. in Turkey were captured and killed as they crossed the border into Syria.

Then Suzette talks with Joe Masco, an anthropologist at the University of Chicago who studies the evolution of the national security state. His latest book traces surveillance and privacy issues from the start of the Cold War to what he now calls the “post-privacy era.”

President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with Secretary of State John Kerry to thank him for his work with the negotiations on the nuclear agreement with Iran, July 13, 2015.
Pete Souza / The White House

After years of negotiation designed to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and keep the balance of power from shifting in the Middle East, Congress will vote on a nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic next month.

Guest host Brian Hardzinski talks with Joshua Landis about an important victory for Kurds in the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, and why Kurds have done so well when Arabs have not against Islamic State militants.

Then Suzette Grillot talks with David Deisley and Rob Perreault about resource extraction in Latin American countries.

MND-N (Multi National Division North) / U.S. Army

Kurdish fighters gained control of the Syrian town of Tal Abyad on the Turkish border on Tuesday, cutting off a key route between ISIS territory and the Turkish border

“This shuts the door on a big crossing. So it was an  important victory,” said Joshua Landis, the director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for the Middle East Studies.

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives
James Emery / Flickr

This week, Suzette Grillot and Joshua Landis discuss news from the Middle East and what it means for U.S. interests in the region. Landis is the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Suzette Grillot talks with Joshua Landis about three stories he’s following in the Middle East: Inspectors in Syria have found traces of banned military chemicals, new opportunities for France as the U.S. relationship with the region becomes strained, and the Vatican’s recognition of the Palestinian state.

Then Suzette is joined by Kate Schecter. She’s the CEO of the Oklahoma City-based nongovernmental organization World Neighbors. Her interest in internationalism started when she was a child growing up in places like Hong Kong and Moscow.