Share

cover art for Understanding Iran And how It Works

Mid-Atlantic - conversations about US, UK and world politics

Understanding Iran And how It Works

In this episode of Mid Atlantic, dissects Iran's intricate power structures and its enduring protests, with significant implications for both Iran and the broader Middle East. The discussion pivots around the death of Ebrahim Raisi, Iran's president, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader since 1989. The episode features insights from Jason M. Brodsky, policy director of United Against a Nuclear Iran, and Henrik F. Rasmussen, executive director of the Institute for Science and International Security.


The guests delve into the workings of the morality police, the enforcement of Islamic dress codes, and their impact on civil liberties. They also explore the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) role in Iran's political and military strategies and Iran's technological and nuclear capabilities. Jason provides a comprehensive overview of Khamenei's rise to power, his extensive bureaucratic reach, and the supreme leader's strategic decisions. He also elaborates on the Iranian protests following the death of Mahsa Amini, the persistent dissatisfaction among the Iranian populace, and the cyclical nature of protests against the regime.


Henrik offers a detailed analysis of Iran's nuclear ambitions, the JCPOA nuclear deal, and the international community's divided stance on Iran's nuclear program. He highlights Iran's technological advancements in missile and drone technology and its strategic cooperation with Russia, posing significant implications for regional and global security. The episode concludes with discussions on the "axis of resistance," Iran's alliances with militant groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis, and the strategic interplay between Iran, Russia, and other regional actors.


Quotes
  1. "Khamenei has been the glue of the system, holding it together through his extensive bureaucratic reach and strategic decisions." — Jason M. Brodsky
  2. "Iran's youth are completely alienated from this system, yearning for a different life free from oppression and economic hardship." — Jason M. Brodsky
  3. "Iran's nuclear program claims to be civilian, but the facts on the ground suggest a clear military intent." — Henrik F. Rasmussen
  4. "The axis of resistance is designed to encircle Israel in a ring of fire, exhausting its resources and deterring its operations." — Jason M. Brodsky
  5. "Iran's cooperation with Russia extends beyond military support, impacting European security through technological exchanges and nuclear developments." — Henrik F. Rasmussen


Further Reading
  1. United Against Nuclear Iran
  2. Institute for Science and International Security
  3. JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) Overview
  4. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Reports on Iran


More episodes

View all episodes

  • Gun shots and Nominations

    56:49
    Mid Atlantic dissects a chaotic week in American politics marked by an assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump and the consequential nomination of J.D. Vance as his running mate. Host Roifield Brown, broadcasting from Birmingham, leads a panel including Ira Shapiro, Michael Donoghue, Denise Hamilton, and Aaron Fisher, who share their insights and reactions to these seismic events.Panelists’ Initial Reactions:Denise Hamilton was home watching a 90s movie when she heard the news. She believes it was the act of a mentally ill individual rather than a politically motivated attack.Michael Donoghue Appreciates the Democratic leadership's denouncement of political violence and hopes for a quick return to political normalcy.Ira Shapiro sees this incident as another tragic example of America's endemic gun violence. He believes it has already started to fade from public focus, returning to the pre-assassination political landscape.Aram Fischer was driving back from a progressive political conference. He hoped the shooter wasn’t from the left and emphasised the potential catastrophic consequences if Trump had been seriously injured.Key Discussions:Polarisation and Violence: The panel agrees that the assassination attempt highlights the dangerous polarisation in American politics, reflecting deep societal divisions.Impact on the Election: While some panelists think the attempt might briefly shift public sympathy towards Trump, they don't believe it will significantly alter the tight race between Biden and Trump.Trump's Nomination of J.D. Vance: The panel sees Vance's nomination as a cynical move that reinforces Trump’s base rather than expanding his appeal. Vance’s controversial past statements and policy stances are seen as unlikely to attract younger voters or moderates.Final Thoughts: The assassination attempt, while shocking, seems to have limited long-term impact on the political landscape. The Democratic Party faces internal debates over Biden's candidacy, while Trump's choice of Vance suggests a doubling down on his core support rather than a strategic shift to broaden his appeal. The episode underscores the intense and often volatile nature of contemporary American politics.Quotes:"The attempted assassination shows just how dangerous our political divisions have become." - Ira Shapiro"Trump's nomination of J.D. Vance is doubling down on his base, not expanding it." - Denise Hamilton"My first thought was, I hope he's not seriously injured. And I really hope the shooter isn't on my side of politics." - Aram Fisher"It's a reminder that our political rhetoric needs to be toned down." - Michael Donoghue
  • Things get harder for Biden as Starmer Starts

    53:48
    In this episode of Mid Atlantic, host Roifield Brown, dives into the passionate responses surrounding England’s recent football triumph and the dynamic political landscapes on both sides of the Atlantic. The excitement over England's victory, especially Ollie Watkins' crucial goal, sets a lively tone as Roifield welcomes guests Jane Mote, Tonye Altrade, Leah Brown, Z Cohen Sanchez, Michael Donahue, and Olissa Jones.The Football FeverThe episode kicks off with a high-energy discussion about England's thrilling match, with Jane, Tonye, and Leah sharing their reactions. The panelists recount their experiences watching the game and the emotional rollercoaster leading to the final. Tonye’s description of the bar going “volcanic” after the last-minute winner encapsulates the collective euphoria.Biden’s Mounting PressureShifting gears to politics, the podcast delves into President Biden’s current challenges. Amid growing concerns over his electability, especially after a poor debate performance, the panel explores the increasing calls for Biden to step down. Michael Donahue discusses the potential implications for Biden’s campaign, while Z Cohen Sanchez emphasizes the party's need to consider Biden’s health and public perception. The discussion paints a picture of a party at a crossroads, weighing the costs and benefits of Biden’s continued candidacy.Starmer’s Steady StartThe conversation transitions to the UK, where newly elected Prime Minister Keir Starmer’s first week in office is under scrutiny. Jane Mote and Tonye Altrade highlight Starmer’s competent and decisive start, contrasting it with the previous government’s perceived incompetence. The panel debates the challenges ahead for Starmer, particularly in achieving economic growth amid tight fiscal constraints. Olissa Jones expresses skepticism about relying solely on growth metrics, while Leah Brown advocates for a holistic approach to governance.Concluding Thoughts and a Sing-AlongThe episode wraps up with a light-hearted moment as Tonye Altrade is persuaded to sing the unofficial anthem, "Three Lions," celebrating England’s football hopes. The camaraderie and spirited discussions underscore the intersection of sports and politics, reflecting the national mood and the anticipation of upcoming challenges.Quotes"The bar went volcanic. We're in the final. Everyone's talking about dreaming again, about things coming home." - Tonye Altrade"Biden's ego in ending his career this way, which, in Biden's defense, I do feel for him, right? This is no way to end a career." - Z Cohen Sanchez"Starmer has got this sort of quite reserved executive suit that never takes his jacket off, unlike Blair who made a point of rolling his sleeves up when he got into office." - Jane Mote"We've moved out of performativism, and one of the greatest criticisms leveled over the Starmer opposition government was that they were boring." - Leah Brown"If you do those things well, then if the things outside of your control hit you, you might be better prepared for them." - Tonye AltradeFurther ReadingNew York Times on Biden's Campaign ChallengesGuardian Analysis of Keir Starmer's First Week
  • Labour's Seismic Shift, Post-Election Analysis

    59:34
    Britain has cast aside 14 years of Conservative rule, ushering in a new era with a Labour landslide in the 2024 general election. This victory, while momentous, has brought with it a wave of uncertainty and a plethora of questions about the future of British politics. Joining host Royfield Brown to dissect this historic event are pundits Steve O'Neill, Corey Bernard, Annie McNeill, Leah Brown, Dave Smith, and Alyssa Jones.Despite the overwhelming victory, the panel agrees that this wasn't a full-hearted embrace of Labour, but rather a rejection of Conservative chaos. Steve O’Neill expresses relief, hoping for stability after years of Brexit-induced turmoil. Corey Bernard and Annie McNeill echo sentiments of cautious optimism, highlighting that Labour's challenge is to transform this vote of dissatisfaction into genuine support.The Conservative Party’s dramatic fall, coupled with the rise of the Reform Party, spells trouble for traditional Tory dominance. Dave Smith warns of the risk of far-right resurgence if Labour fails to deliver on public services. The panel is divided on the future of the Conservative leadership, with names like Kemi Badenoch and James Cleverly floated as potential candidates to steer the party back to relevance.Alongside this, the rise of the Reform Party and the Greens has been bolstered by tactical voting, significantly altering the political landscape. The Reform Party's increased presence signals a shift in right-wing politics, while the Greens' gains highlight growing environmental concerns. Both parties capitalised on Conservative missteps, demonstrating the electorate's readiness for alternatives. Corey Bernard and Dave Smith stress the importance of Labour defining a clear agenda to maintain their newfound dominance and prevent future volatility.Quotes from the Panel:"Not in the sense that the result was unexpected, but it's been so much chaos for the last eight years since Brexit. I think to quote Starmer, it's good to turn a page." – Steve O'Neill"The Tories may have been rejected, but Labour have not been embraced." – Corey Bernard"If we deliver on public services, then they will get people turning out and believing in politics again." – Dave Smith"The lack of discussion about policy this election felt rather American. It's hard to talk about policy when you've got people who fabricate and lie." – Dave Smith"Volatility in UK politics is here to stay. Even with the best will in the world, the volatility is not going anywhere." – Leah BrownFurther Reading:The Guardian on Labour's VictoryBBC's Election Night Analysis
  • Climate Denial - David Lipsky - The Parrot and the Igloo

    49:02
    Host Roifield Brown engages in conversation with New York Times bestselling author David Lipsky about his latest book, "The Parrot and the Igloo: Climate and the Science of Denial." Lipsky's work dives into the tangled history of climate change denial in America, tracing its origins and exploring the intersection of science, money, and the American psyche.Lipsky's narrative is compelling, drawing connections between historical technological advancements and the cultural pushback against scientific consensus. He skillfully illustrates how early climate warnings, dating back to the 1910s, were overshadowed by societal fascination with the benefits of industrialization and technological progress. The conversation shifts to contemporary times, highlighting the paradox of technological solutions like fracking reducing emissions while being environmentally controversial.Lipsky and Brown also discuss the psychological and cultural aspects of denial, emphasizing how deeply rooted skepticism and anti-elitism in American society have fueled resistance to scientific evidence. The discussion underscores the moral complexities and the often misplaced burden of responsibility on individuals rather than systemic change. The episode is a thought-provoking examination of how history, culture, and politics shape our understanding and response to climate change.Quotes:"A sufficiently advanced technology will always seem like magic." - David Lipsky"People start pollution. People can stop it." - Famous Ad Slogan"The phrase 'climate change' was designed to make people less anxious about it." - David Lipsky"The most honest answer to why you drive or fly is: we didn't make that deal. We accepted the world as it was presented." - David Lipsky"We need to change our laws, not our light bulbs." - Al GoreFor more thought-provoking discussions and to share your thoughts, email Roifield at roifield@gmail.com and leave a review on Apple Podcasts to support the show.
  • Biden's Debate Woes & UK Election Showdowns

    47:59
    Episode Highlights:In this episode of "Mid Atlantic," Roifield Brown, broadcasting from sunny Birmingham, England, is joined by a distinguished panel: Aram Fischer in Oakland, Z Cohen Sanchez in Nevada, Dave Smith in London, and Corey Bernard in Manchester. The focus of the discussion is the aftermath of President Biden's recent debate performance and the final stretch of the UK election campaign.The panel starts by analyzing President Biden's debate performance against Donald Trump, which has stirred significant controversy. Concerns about Biden's mental acuity have intensified following what many viewed as a shaky and ineffective performance. Aram Fischer compares the Democrats' situation to the English national team's struggles in the Euros, suggesting that while Biden's performance was lackluster, the Democrats might still be in a relatively strong position due to Trump's ongoing unpopularity. The conversation then turns to Trump's behaviour during the debate. Corey Bernard notes that, surprisingly, Trump appeared more disciplined and restrained, allowing Biden to falter on his own. This strategy, according to Corey, showcased Trump's instinct for performance and audience engagement, highlighting a rare moment of tactical restraint from the former president.The panel also explores the possibility of the Democratic Party replacing Biden as their nominee. Fischer emphasizes that such a decision rests solely with Biden, given the current party rules and the absence of superdelegates who could sway the nomination process. Despite calls from some media outlets and party members for Biden to step aside, Fischer believes it's unlikely unless Biden himself decides to do so.Shifting to the UK, the discussion moves to the final stretch of the election campaign, where Labour holds a commanding lead in the polls. The Conservative Party, however, is mired in a betting scandal. Dave Smith explains that several key figures within the party were found to have placed bets on the election date, revealing insider knowledge and reinforcing negative perceptions of the Tories. This scandal, Dave argues, is emblematic of the "Tory toxic culture" that has plagued the party in recent years.Quotes:Aram Fischer: "Most people didn't really vote for Joe Biden in 2020. They voted against Donald Trump."Dave Smith: "The setup for the debate actually helped Trump, making him appear more restrained and disciplined."Corey Bernard: "Trump realized quickly he would do far more damage to Biden by shutting up and letting Biden damage himself."Z Cohen Sanchez: "We need to rethink if we want to go through with this option in November."Roifield Brown: "Democracy is at stake. We need to be ruthless and look at the good of the republic, not just one person's career."Further Reading:Betting Scandal in UK Politics: BBC News on Conservative Party Betting ScandalBiden Debate Performance Analysis: The New York Times on Biden's DebateImpact of Trump's Debate Tactics: The Atlantic on Trump’s Debate Strategy
  • Bosnia A Nation at a Crossroads

    51:15
    In this episode of Mid Atlantic, host Roifield Brown takes us into the complex political crisis of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country on the brink of division with significant implications for the stability of the Western Balkans. Roifield is joined by Valerie Perry, an independent consultant with the Democratization Policy Council, and Florian Bieber, a professor at the University of Graz, to dissect the factors driving Bosnia’s current predicament and the international ramifications of a potential split.Valerie Perry points out that the threats of secession from Milorad Dodik, leader of the Bosnian Serb-controlled territory, are part of a long-standing political strategy. She explains that Dodik’s rhetoric serves to distract from pressing domestic issues like brain drain, low wages, and lack of development. Florian Bieber provides a historical context, highlighting the inadequacies of the Dayton Accords, which, while successful in ending the Bosnian war, established a governance system that has proven to be dysfunctional in the long term.Both experts delve into the international dynamics at play. Valerie elaborates on the role of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and his increasing nationalist rhetoric, which bolsters Dodik’s secessionist threats. Florian broadens the discussion by examining the geopolitical influences of regional actors like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, whose illiberal policies and alliances complicate the EU’s stance on Bosnia.As the conversation shifts to potential future scenarios, the guests offer a sobering outlook. Florian envisions a continued status quo, with Bosnia remaining in a state of slow decline unless there is significant external intervention. Valerie warns of the broader implications of corruption and economic stagnation, suggesting that without meaningful reforms and international support, Bosnia’s prospects for EU integration remain bleak.Quotes"Dodik’s business model is to stoke division, distracting from issues like brain drain and low wages." - Valerie Perry"The Dayton Accords were meant to end the war, not to be a long-term governance solution." - Florian Bieber"Serbia's nationalist rhetoric under Vučić mirrors Russia’s strategy of regional influence." - Florian Bieber"Economic development is hampered by instability and corruption, deterring investment." - Valerie Perry"Bosnia could become a cordon sanitaire for migrants, exacerbating its political and social challenges." - Valerie PerryFurther ReadingThe Dayton Accords and their implicationsThe rise of nationalism in SerbiaEconomic disparities in the Western BalkansCorruption and state capture in Southeast Europe
  • Manifestos and Mudslinging, UK Election Pledges and US Politics

    45:23
    In this episode of Mid Atlantic, host Roifield Brown leads a discussion with an expert panel featuring Ira Shapiro, Aram Fisher, Steve O'Neill, Tonye Altrade, and Michael Donoghue. The main focus is on the launch of the UK party manifestos and the impact they may have as the general election approaches. The panelists examine key pledges from the Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat parties, analysing their potential influence on voters.The discussion also covers recent events in US politics, including President Joe Biden's response to his son Hunter Biden's conviction and the significance of a recent meeting between Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. The panelists debate the implications of these developments and the broader state of American politics as the 2024 election season heats up.Key QuotesSteve O'Neill on UK Party Manifestos: "The thing with manifestos, they are in some way shopping lists of policies, but they also tell a story. Labour's manifesto tries to tell a story about the kind of government Keir Starmer wants to run."Tonye Altrade on the Conservative Manifesto: "There was no story whatsoever I could glean from the Conservative manifesto. It was a ramshackle of different things, some bold, some pandering to far-right wingers."Mike Donoghue on US Politics: "It's a brutal time to be an incumbent president. When you've got a country that seems angry, divided, depressed, they tend to blame the incumbent for everything."Ira Shapiro on Mitch McConnell and Trump: "McConnell staying with Trump despite their differences shows the extent of partisanship. It’s clear McConnell will support the nominee, no matter who it is."Aram Fisher on Biden's Strategy: "Biden has taken steps to re-engage with black voters, appearing alongside Kamala Harris in Philadelphia. How effective this will be remains to be seen, but it’s a crucial part of his campaign strategy."
  • The Global Peace Index 2024

    44:29
    In this episode of Mid Atlantic, host Roifield Brown takes on the heavy subject of global peace—or the lack thereof—in 2024. The discussion opens with a grim statistic: conflict-related deaths in the first four months of the year have reached 47,000, potentially setting a record since the Rwandan genocide. Brown is joined by Thomas Morgan, who discusses the findings of the 18th Global Peace Index (GPI). Morgan explains the GPI's purpose and methodology, noting a general decline in global peacefulness over the past 16 years.Morgan outlines the three domains of the GPI—safety and security, ongoing conflict, and militarisation—highlighting the technological changes and geopolitical shifts contributing to increased conflicts. He emphasises the rise of asymmetric warfare and the increased involvement of non-state actors. The discussion also touches on specific conflicts in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Gaza, Myanmar, and Haiti, illustrating the complex, multifaceted nature of modern conflicts.Brown and Morgan also discuss the contrasting paths of El Salvador and Haiti regarding gang violence and governance, noting the former's controversial yet effective short-term strategies. They explore the balance between reducing violence and maintaining civil liberties, with Morgan asserting that long-term peace is typically achieved through democratic means rather than authoritarian measures.Finally, the episode provides a detailed look at the top and bottom countries in the GPI, with Iceland, Ireland, Austria, New Zealand, and Singapore being the most peaceful, and Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Ukraine being the least. The UK and US are examined for their rankings and inherent issues, including violent crime and geopolitical involvement.Relevant Quotes"The overall trend of peacefulness is a negative one. We've seen a deterioration in the level of global peacefulness over the past 16 years." – Thomas Morgan"The rise of asymmetric warfare and new technologies like drones makes it easier for smaller states and insurgent groups to be involved in conflict." – Thomas Morgan"Conflicts now tend to fizzle out or become frozen, rather than ending decisively as they did in the past." – Thomas Morgan"El Salvador's approach to reducing violence through mass incarceration has been effective short-term, but the challenge is ensuring sustained peace." – Thomas Morgan"It's possible to achieve a certain amount of peace through authoritarian measures, but long-term peace is more likely in full democracies with respect for civil rights." – Thomas MorganFurther ReadingGlobal Peace Index 2024For those interested in deeper insights, head over to Vision of Humanity and explore the comprehensive reports that Thomas Morgan mentioned. If you enjoy this podcast, consider supporting it on roifield.Substack.com or leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
  • The week after Trump's guilty verdict and Farage enters the race

    43:17
    In the latest episode of "Mid Atlantic," host Roifield Brown is joined by a global panel including Z Cohen Sanchez from Arizona, Logan Phillips from Washington, DC, Dave Smith from London, and Mike Holden from Burnley. The discussion kicks off with the unfolding UK election campaign, highlighting Nigel Farage's return to frontline politics and the anticipated leaders' debate. The panel dissects Farage's impact on the Conservative Party and the potential electoral consequences of his bid to become an MP in Clapton.Dave and Mike debate the significance of Farage's comeback, emphasising the potential devastation to the Conservative vote. They analyse whether Reform Party votes will translate into parliamentary seats and discuss the broader implications for the Tory party's future. Logan provides a snapshot of current UK polls, showing a significant shift in voter sentiment towards the Reform Party and away from the Conservatives.The conversation then shifts to the aftermath of Donald Trump's recent conviction and its impact on the US political landscape. Logan Phillips discusses the polling implications, noting a slight uptick for Biden but emphasising the need for more data to fully understand the trends. The panel also explores the potential long-term threat posed by Trump's candidacy and the broader challenges facing American democracy.Quotes from the Episode:"Farage's comeback is the worst news Rishi Sunak has had in the last 48 hours." - Mike Holden"A 400-seat majority in Parliament is not a healthy thing. It will lead to real problems in terms of scrutiny and what the government does." - Dave Smith"Biden looked very old and not exciting during the primary debates, but at least now, both him and Trump are of similar cognitive ability." - Z Cohen Sanchez"The no audience part of the debate format is the greatest political bear trap that's been laid recently." - Dave Smith"Trump's speech after the verdict was incomprehensible. His declining cognitive abilities are catching up with him." - Roifield Brown