SFD Short—Collapse

Hey Everybody—

I was on the road a little longer than I thought I’d be and I missed last week’s show and for that I’m sorry. But I’ve got one this week, and I’ll be away from rural Tennessee and back in Mexico by next Monday and SFD should be back on track for a few months solid at least.

The September Patreon-exclusive news show is going to go up in the next couple of weeks and Maya Gebeily will be joining me for a talk about the American fascination with Vietnam sometime in that same time period, all of which is worth getting excited about.


SFD Short—Bad Patriotism


I’ve been thinking about patriotism in the US for a long time, long enough to have written this for the College Dems’ newspaper back at Georgetown. There’s something about how everybody wants to be a patriot without ever considering what the term might really mean; something about the way it is, for us, tied up with the State and the Military (it was no accident that we broke out Patriot missiles and the Patriot Act in the wake of 9/11); and something about how the Right in the US today has latched rabidly onto the term that all make me pretty uncomfortable.

These are, undoubtedly, self-described American patriots. And especially when I wrote this episode, over the weekend of the Charlottesville White Right march and murder, it seemed as though my discomfort was getting more and more relevant.

All of these guys would call themselves patriots. And the word ‘patriot’ itself seems to give them an excuse to ignore any self-analysis, like the way the 82nd Airborne were a not insignificant part of the Allied war effort against the Axis powers. It’s telling that the minutemen are the only part of the Revolution they remember and the only iconography they include in their self-image when in fact the real firepower of the Founding Fathers, the stuff that made our little uprising stick where a thousand others didn’t, happened not in the field but in scenes like this:

And finally, for reasons that probably won’t become clear until the end of the episode, here’s this the Ballet Amalia Hernandez doing what’s popularly known as the Mexican Hat Dance, to the “Jarabe Tapatío:”

I’ve got that video start to set when the Jarabe does, but if you want to lay eyes on some of the dances you might see to “Guadalajara” or to the “Son de la Negra,” which ends the episode, go ahead and rewind it and you will. Here are the three kids who played “Maria Chuchena,” the huapango music from where I used to live in the Sierra Gorda, in Querétaro.

I couldn’t tell you who Camila Cabello is from Eve, but apparently she’s popular in Mexico along with the US.  I’ve got her in here because I think it’s a pretty apt example of how “Mexico Lindo y Querido” is always welcome, even at some teeny-bop pop concert.

But here’s Vicente Fernandez, Chente, doing it right:

SFD Short—Abolish the Army

This is another one of those topics I’ve been thinking about for a long while, at least since I wrote this cute little essay sophomore year:

Offshore Balancing

And I think it ties in with what we were talking about a couple of weeks ago in the short on T. R. Fehrenbach. I mean what I say on this one, and it’s all there in the show.

Short notes this time, except to say that since I’m traveling these couple of weeks and won’t have even phone service, these shows are going out automatically and you could really, really help me out by sharing them since I literally won’t be able to do it myself. Also Patreon.

Politico Is Full of It—A Conversation with Rob Morris

Hey all,

I had this chat with Rob back in June, when some of you might have caught it live or on Rob’s Youtube channel, the More Freedom Foundation. I didn’t get it re-edited and trimmed down for a podcast until this past week, and here it is, in lieu of a Monday short, for you today.

Rob and I are talking about a Politico article that you can find right here.

I’m going to be traveling for the next couple of Mondays, but I crushed a couple of tight essays over this past weekend, and I’ve got them recorded and uploaded and ready for release, so we should be on schedule even if I’m on hiatus.

The only other news, as you’ll hear on the show, is that SFD’s first news analysis cast is up on Patreon for patrons putting up five dollars or more. Go ahead and check that out if you’re interested. I’ll have another one next month if that’s when your check comes in.

Morris and I are talking about maybe doing another one of these, especially since the President and his twin anti-Muslim crypto-fascists Sebastian Gorka and Steve Bannon, along with his Iran-hating generals, has been doubling down and doubling down on threatening Iran and cancelling the nuclear deal. If you like me talking to Rob as much as I like talking to Rob, keep an eye out and maybe catch us live and ask us some questions.

I’ll make sure to let you know beforehand.

SFD Short—Ends and Means

Well, this is the tenth short, which means we’re putting out a helluva lot more content this year than last, and I hope that’s to the good.

Our very first Patreon-exclusive news analysis show is going up this week, so head to our page to check out the details. Otherwise, share this show, man. You can get the post I’ll be putting up at SFD’s Facebook page or you can write your own, for whatever network.

That lady up there, by the way, is Hannah Arendt, and if, God willing, some future person ever writes about me as an intellectual, they’ll be listing her as my ‘spiritual mentor.’

Musical credit goes to Kai Engel again, this time for his album caeli.

SFD Short—American Legions

Hey folks,

Not much to report but that the next Iran show is coming along and that my first Patreon-exclusive show is going up probably early next week.

We’re talking this time around about TR Fehrenbach, a major in the US Army during the Korean War and latterly a historian:

Fehrenbach wrote This Kind of War, which I picked up as preliminary reading on Vietnam (the French war in Indochina started to go south in a hurry once we reached the ceasefire in Korea; the Chinese could then take all their Korean War surplus and send it to Ho Chi Minh.

It’s a good book, but more than that it lays out a compelling explanation of why the US had to go to war, in Korea and elsewhere, after WWII. I don’t agree with it, but given that I’ve given folks with other ideas about the Cold War short shrift in the Guatemala and Iran series, I figured it was time to start getting their side of things and my explicit objections on the air.

I think it’s a pretty good one.

Last but not least, musical credit for this episode goes to Kai Engel and his album Cold.


SFD Short—Grand Theories

Well, like I can’t remember if but might have said last week, we’re back from hiatus and onto regular production again, which means a show for you this Monday.

It’s kind of an experimental one today, with a whole lot of half baked but interesting thoughts and an intermediate but definitely no final or satisfying conclusion.

So let me know what you think. If it’s a total zero, in the future I’ll make sure to keep everything under my hat until it’s done through. In either case, maybe more than on anything I’ve done so far, this is an episode that calls for feedback. So give it to me.

I’m on Twitter.

Iran V: The White Revolution

Here we are, the absolute last episode (I promise) before we get to the Iranian Revolution and, I think, the Iran-Iraq War.

In this episode, we’re covering the Shah’s White Revolution, the new liberal, socialist Shi’ite theologians like Shariati, and the dark reign of SAVAK in 1960s and 1970s Iran, along with the Shah’s famous birthday party for Iranian monarchy.

The Shah rang in the decade with a poorly-dated extravaganza attended by most of the ‘Free World’ heads of state, catered by Maxime’s of Paris and funded to the tune of anywhere from $17 to $200 million in 1970s dollars.

Complete with parades of Medes and ancient Persians

The party was supposed to mark, for the Shah, his assumption, finally, of full control, and of an authority equal to his father’s, and, presumably, the ancient kings of kings.

The party was, unfortunately for the Shah, also an indication of his total disconnect with his people. And to them, another example of the Iranian monarch’s profligate spending of what could, or might, have been the people’s share of Iranian petrodollars.

The knock-on effects of the Shah’s White Revolution, combined with distaste for American conduct, culture, and imposition, were beginning to create pervasive discontent with the Shah’s regime, both inside Iran and among its emigres in Europe and the United States. That Mohammad Reza Pahlavi failed to catch wind of that dissent was no surprise, as his brutal secret police, the Organization of Intelligence and National Security, or SAVAK, had been disappearing and torturing everyone who crossed the political line in the country, even in private, since the late 1950s.


The agency’s much-feared emblem

Set up with the help of the CIA and Mossad, SAVAK operated first with the help of the American General Herbert Norman Schwartzkopf, the father of the General Schwartzkopf you know from Desert Storm. Once the General died in 1958, a team of CIA advisers took over his role with SAVAK, which effectively repressed nearly all political expression in Iran and did its best to silence the expatriate communities overseas as well.

But this man, in exile in Najaf, was waiting in the wings. And it would only be a matter of time before the grand edifice the Shah had built would come tumbling down.

And last but never least, references.

Abrahamian, Ervand. The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations. New Press, 2013.

Abrahamian, Ervand. A History of Modern Iran. Cambridge, GB: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Abrahamian, Ervand. Iran: Between Two Revolutions.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982.

Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1974-1975 — Iran. 1 January 1975: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/pol10/001/1975/en/

Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1974-1975 — Iran. 1 June 1976: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/pol10/001/1975/en/

Axworthy, Michael. Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic. Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Baraheni, Reza. “Terror in Iran.” The New York Review of Books, 28 October 1976.

Byrne, Malcolm. “The Secret CIA History of the Iran Coup.” The National Security Archive, last modified 29 November 2000, http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB28/.

The Cambridge History of Iran: From Nadir Shah to the Islamic Republic. Edited by Peter Avery, Gavin Hambly and Charles Melville. Vol. VII. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Fanon, Franz. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Weidenfeld1963.

Fatemi, N. S. 1985. “The Anglo Persian Agreement of 1919.” Encyclopaedia Iranica Vol II: 59.

Katouzian, Homa. The Political Economy of Modern Iran: Despotism and Pseudo-Modernism, 1926-1979. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1981.

Kinzer, Stephen. All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. Wiley, 2003.

Roosevelt, Kermit. Countercoup: The Struggle for Control of Iran. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1979.

Rothschild, Emily. “The Boom in the Death Business.” The New York Review of Books, 2 October, 1975.

Steel, Ronald. “Impossible Dreams.”  The New York Review of Books, 12 September 1968.


Audio Acknowledgements

Doctor Turtle. “Grow Grotesque.”

Doctor Turtle. “King Thumbscrew the Third.”

Interview with the Shah.” From “Shah of Iran,” BBC Documentary. Youtube.

IranAir TV Commercial in America 1970s.” Mardetanha. YouTube.

Iran, SAVAK, and the CIA: Financial Support and Training.” The Film Archives. YouTube.


Persian Folk Music.” Traditional Music Channel. YouTube.


President John F. Kennedy’s ‘Peace Speech’ at American University.” C-SPAN. YouTube.

Shah of Iran on the Issue of Torture.” Clip from “Crisis in Iran,” from the History Channel. YouTube.


Unrest in Iran.” National Archives – National Security Council. Central Intelligence Agency. (09/18/1947 – 12/04/1981). – ARC 647011 / LI 263.400. YouTube.

SFD Short—Storming and Norming

Hey folks,

I know I’m running a little late on the next Iran show, but with some law school stuff, a family reunion, and a neat little piece I’m putting together on Ancient Aliens for The Awl all done by the end of this week, I should have that out soon.

In the meantime though, we’ve got this, following up on our last short about the erosion of democratic norms and the death of republics.

Mitch McConnell seems to be doing his level best to tear down what democracy we’ve got, and not in the service of the New Deal or the Great Society, but in an attempt to pry health insurance out of the hands of the poor to give a minuscule number of hyper-rich Americans a marginal tax cut.

History will not be kind to this monster.

Also, check out our Patreon!  We’ve now got at least one patron pledging $5 monthly, which means that SFD will now be producing a monthly news analysis show (which will be something like this short, but with a little more topical focus and a little like a spoken version of the news posts I was trying out for a while) for patrons who’ve signed up for $5 or more.

Conversation with Rob Morris—Iran v Saudi Arabia: Backing the Wrong Horse

Hey folks, does just about what it says on the box.

We’re having another conversation with Robert Morris of the More Freedom Foundation, a YouTube Channel (and a website) dedicated, at the moment, to exploring and exposing the toxic relationship the West has with Saudi Arabia and its poisonous effect on world Islam.

Rob’s a principled conservative. Like with actual principles, for a change

It’s a pretty great conversation, and if after you’ve heard it you’re interested in helping either Rob or me out with these projects we’ve got going, well, the first, easiest, and almost most helpful thing you can do is just to share these shows. Now that I’ve finally got social buttons up, it’s as easy as clicking to the right of your screen.

If you want to go one step beyond, though, both Rob and I (now) have Patreons. For very, very low monthly contributions, you can tap into what are, for Rob, an already extant, and for me, a soon to be blossoming, set of benefits and bonuses.

If you’re considering it at all, try to hop on soon, because for the first month, anybody who signs up on my page will, by way of Patreon’s referral system, also be helping Rob out.

Alright, housekeeping over, enjoy the show.