Episode 6 show notes – Understanding North Korea and US militarization: Dispatch from Seoul, with Wol-san Liem

moderate rebels north korea

Moderate Rebels episode 6

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton discuss North Korea, the Trump administration’s genocidal threats, the bloody history of the “forgotten” Korean War, and how the US has militarized South Korea.

Blumenthal reports on-the-ground in Seoul, where he interviews labor organizer Wol-san Liem on anti-war activism, THAAD protests, government repression, and the potential for peace and reunification in the Korean peninsula.

0:00 to 15:34 – North Korea
15:34 to 28:49 – Korean War
28:58 to 58:07 – Wol-san Liem interview on South Korea

Show Notes

North Korea

Ben Norton, Max Blumenthal, “Pundits Slam Trump’s Biblical Language on North Korea, But Praise His Defense Secretary’s Genocidal Threats“, AlterNet Grayzone Project, 10 August 2017

Tim Shorrock, “How Sony, Obama, Seth Rogen and the CIA Secretly Planned to Force Regime Change in North Korea“, AlterNet Grayzone Project, 5 September 2017

Tim Shorrock, “Diplomacy With North Korea Has Worked Before, and Can Work Again“, The Nation, 5 September 2017

Jon Schwarz, “North Korea Keeps Saying it Might Give Up its Nuclear Weapons — But Most News Outlets Won’t Tell You That“, The Intercept, 25 August 2017

Korean War

Blaine Harden, “The U.S. war crime North Korea won’t forget“, The Washington Post, 24 March 2015

The hate, though, is not all manufactured. It is rooted in a fact-based narrative, one that North Korea obsessively remembers and the United States blithely forgets.

The story dates to the early 1950s, when the U.S. Air Force, in response to the North Korean invasion that started the Korean War, bombed and napalmed cities, towns and villages across the North. It was mostly easy pickings for the Air Force, whose B-29s faced little or no opposition on many missions.

The bombing was long, leisurely and merciless, even by the assessment of America’s own leaders. “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — 20 percent of the population,” Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, told the Office of Air Force History in 1984. Dean Rusk, a supporter of the war and later secretary of state, said the United States bombed “everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another.” After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops.

Although the ferocity of the bombing was criticized as racist and unjustified elsewhere in the world, it was never a big story back home. U.S. press coverage of the air war focused, instead, on “MiG alley,” a narrow patch of North Korea near the Chinese border. There, in the world’s first jet-powered aerial war, American fighter pilots competed against each other to shoot down five or more Soviet-made fighters and become “aces.” War reporters rarely mentioned civilian casualties from U.S. carpet-bombing. It is perhaps the most forgotten part of a forgotten war.


Scholar Bruce Cumings

Bruce Cumings, “Americans once carpet-bombed North Korea. It’s time to remember that past“, The Guardian, 13 August 2017

Bruce Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History, University of Chicago, September 2005

Listen to Moderate Rebels episode 6

Interview: Saudi activist Mohammed al-Nimr on oppression of Shia, attack on Awamiya, Wahhabism

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton interview Saudi activist Mohammed al-Nimr, the son of the pro-democracy leader and Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed by the Saudi regime in January 2016, about the political situation in Saudi Arabia, and US support for it.

Mohammed discusses the monarchy’s violent oppression of the Shia minority; the brutal attack on and destruction of the Shia-majority town of Awamiya, in the eastern Qatif province; and Saudi Arabia’s state-sponsored extremist ideology of Wahhabism.

This is the full interview with Mohammed al-Nimr, accompanying Moderate Rebels episode 5: “Orb of Evil: Trump’s embrace of Saudi Arabia”.

Show Notes

Mohammed al-Nimr

Ben Norton, “‘Tyranny will fall’: Son of executed Saudi dissident al-Nimr shares his incredible story“, Salon, 15 March 2016

Ben Norton, “Inside the first-ever summit calling for an end to the “suicidal death pact between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia“, Salon, 10 March 2016


Steven Chase, Robert Fife, “Ottawa calls for probe into apparent Saudi use of Canadian-made armoured vehicles against citizens,” The Globe and Mail, 28 July 2017

Katie Paul, “Saudi security forces flatten old quarter of Shi’ite town“, Reuters, 9 August 2016

Sami Aboudi, “Saudi man killed trying help citizens flee Awamiya: sources“, Reuters, 3 August 2017

Alex MacDonald, “Three-year-old boy dies amid siege of Saudi Shia town“, Middle East Eye, 9 August 2017

Alex MacDonald, “Saudi bulldozers flatten Shia town as residents flee carnage“, Middle East Eye, 3 August 2017

Episode 5 show notes – Orb of Evil: Trump’s embrace of Saudi Arabia, with Mohammed al-Nimr

moderate rebels episode 5

Moderate Rebels episode 5

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton discuss how Saudi Arabia is at the heart of Donald Trump’s Middle East policy. We are joined by activist Mohammed al-Nimr, the son of the executed dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, to discuss the Saudi regime’s attack on the Shia community of Awamiya.

Blumenthal and Norton also introduce the semi-regular segment Thought Loser, starring Brookings Institution senior fellow Shadi Hamid, a staunch supporter of NATO and its catastrophic 2011 regime change war in Libya.

0:00 to 2:40 – Intro
2:41 to 20:16 – Thought Loser: Shadi Hamid, NATO, and Libya
20:17 to 40:57 – Saudi Arabia and Trump
40:48 to 1:01:56 – Mohammed al-Nimr interview and Awamiya

Show Notes

Saudi Arabia and Donald Trump

Max Blumenthal, “In the Saudis’ Den of Extremism, Trump Trades Advanced Weapons for a $200 Billion Investment in Rust Belt Swing States“, AlterNet Grayzone Project, 18 May 2017

Kate Bennett, “Saudis, UAE pledge $100 million to Ivanka Trump-proposed fund“, CNN, 21 May 2017

Donald Trump, “Statement by the President on the Terrorist Attacks in Iran“, The White House, 7 June 2017

UAE and Yousef al-Otaiba

Ryan Grim, “Diplomatic Underground: The Sordid Double Life of Washington’s Most Powerful Ambassador“, The Intercept, 30 August 2017

Ben Norton, “Emails Expose How Saudi Arabia and UAE Work the U.S. Media to Push for War“, AlterNet Grayzone Project, 9 June 2017

Mohammed al-Nimr

Ben Norton, “‘Tyranny will fall’: Son of executed Saudi dissident al-Nimr shares his incredible story“, Salon, 15 March 2016

Ben Norton, “Inside the first-ever summit calling for an end to the “suicidal death pact between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia“, Salon, 10 March 2016

Shadi Hamid

Shadi Hamid, “Everyone says the Libya intervention was a failure. They’re wrong.“, Vox, 5 April 2016


Ben Norton, “U.K. Parliament report details how NATO’s 2011 war in Libya was based on lies“, Salon, 16 September 2016

Julian Borger, Terry Macalister, “The race is on for Libya’s oil, with Britain and France both staking a claim“, The Guardian, 1 September 2011

Sudarsan Raghavan, “A reporter’s journey through Tripoli: Long lines, kidnappings and murder“, The Washington Post, 1 August 2017

Under Gaddafi, the oil-producing country was once one of the world’s wealthiest nations. Even as the economy struggled in his last years, Libyans enjoyed free health care, education and other benefits under the eccentric strongman’s brand of socialism.

The insecurity that followed Gaddafi’s death has ripped apart the North African country. Rival governments and an array of armed groups compete for influence and territory. The economy is on the verge of collapse. Criminal gangs prey on the vulnerable.

In Tripoli, parliament and other buildings are concrete carcasses, shattered by heavy artillery fire, rocket-propelled grenades and tank shells. Clashes often erupt suddenly, trapping residents in their homes and creating new no-go zones.


Steven Chase, Robert Fife, “Ottawa calls for probe into apparent Saudi use of Canadian-made armoured vehicles against citizens,” The Globe and Mail, 28 July 2017

Katie Paul, “Saudi security forces flatten old quarter of Shi’ite town“, Reuters, 9 August 2016

Sami Aboudi, “Saudi man killed trying help citizens flee Awamiya: sources“, Reuters, 3 August 2017

Alex MacDonald, “Three-year-old boy dies amid siege of Saudi Shia town“, Middle East Eye, 9 August 2017

Alex MacDonald, “Saudi bulldozers flatten Shia town as residents flee carnage“, Middle East Eye, 3 August 2017

Listen to Moderate Rebels episode 5

Episode 4 show notes – The war comes home: The racist right after Charlottesville, with Eugene Puryear

charlottesville alt right

Moderate Rebels episode 4

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton are joined by activist and author Eugene Puryear. We discuss the white supremacist fascist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and the terror attack on anti-racist protesters.

Blumenthal, Norton, and Puryear detail what exactly the alt-right is, how it originates in neo-Confederate politics and the long history of white supremacy in the US, what fuels it, and how it ultimately serves powerful billionaire interests — even while pretending to oppose them. We also debunk neoliberal centrist Democrat talking points about the so-called “alt-left” and horseshoe theory.

Key Quotes

“So much of what Trump has powered himself on was basically taking dog-whistle politics and turning it into a foghorn.”
-Eugene Puryear (3:19)

“It’s nothing new for powerful forces to try to find a way to channel the anger that actually could disrupt them.”
-Eugene Puryear (18:00)

“Neo-Nazism and white supremacy is a global project. In some cases we [the US government] oppose it, and then we have the ‘woke Nazis’ abroad [in Ukraine, the Baltic states, etc.].”
-Max Blumenthal (22:29)

“A huge portion of what Hitler was trying to do, he was looking at the United States and borrowing a lot of ideas from race science and eugenics … America has been one of the number one innovators of racial hatred on the planet, the United States of America.”
-Eugene Puryear (30:46)

“The combination of Nazism, neo-Confederatism, the Christian Identity movement, the KKK, all of these white supremacist ideologies, these far-right militias, has created a kind of unique fascist brew here in the United States that both predates Nazi Germany but also takes from it.”
-Eugene Puryear (33:09)

“These people lost the war, and somehow are still able to celebrate this terrible institution as if they won. There’s more celebration of the Confederacy in America than the Union. It’s an unbelievable state of affairs.”
-Eugene Puryear (39:14)

“In so many ways their [the alt-right] emphasis on a white identity politics benefits elites.”
-Max Blumenthal (54:26)

“The concept of an ‘alt-left,’ that actually is the left wing of the alt-right, which I think doesn’t exist except maybe in terms of an alternative left of people who are highly aestheticized and have tattoos and work for VICE magazine and who advance neoconservative regime change policies in Venezuela, Syria, and elsewhere.”
-Max Blumenthal (54:41)

“It’s one of the most intellectually dishonest exercises I’ve ever seen, this attempt to connect the alt-right to the ‘alt-left,’ the true far left.”
-Eugene Puryear (55:39)

“They [the alt-right] want to end the wars abroad to intensify the war at home.”
-Eugene Puryear (56:59)

Marcus Luttrell “at the Republican National Convention stood up and said ‘your war is here, your war is at home.’ And that was really to me the signal call of what Trump’s administration was going to represent.”
-Max Blumenthal (58:09)

The alt-right “really reflects overall this ideology that sees the contradictions in society as not contradictions between one class and another class — between the capitalists, the rich, the 1 percent, the bourgeoisie, and the working class — but rather between races, between genders. It’s this kind of illusion. So instead of thinking about wars abroad as international imperial wars for empire, for corporate profits, for control of natural resources, you can go on and on, instead it’s about fighting at home for white identity, it’s about fighting to maintain male supremacy and patriarchy.”
-Ben Norton (58:41)

“Not only are they ideologically and politically opposed, but the left and the so-called alt-right — which, again, is just a rebranding of neo-fascism in the 21st century — they have completely different class characters. One is bankrolled by billionaires; one is in opposition to billionaires. They can say all they want that they support taxing the rich, etc., but the alt-right is not a working-class movement.”
-Ben Norton (1:01:17)

“The alt-right is certainly 100 percent for establishing very rigid hierarchies. They have sort of a racial science that also believes that there is something of a biological reality that leaves behind income inequality … So the entire thing is really a defense of privilege, and a defense of hierarchy, and a defense of elitism.”
-Eugene Puryear (1:03:56)

“The alt-right prescriptions aren’t really to break up all of the banks, or this, that, and the third. It’s really to return to their own idealized version of the rise of American capitalism.”
-Eugene Puryear (1:04:31)

Show Notes

Eugene Puryear

By Any Means Necessary with Eugene Puryear on Facebook

By Any Means Necessary with Eugene Puryear on  iTunes

Charlottesville fascist rally

Southern Poverty Law Center, “The people, groups and symbols at Charlottesville,” August 15 2017

Southern Poverty Law Center, “Flags and Other Symbols Used By Far-Right Groups in Charlottesville,” August 12 2017

Southern Poverty Law Center, “Alleged Charlottesville Driver Who Killed One Rallied With Alt-Right Vanguard America Group,” August 12 2017

The “alt-left” smear

Ben Norton, “How Online Trolls Pushing for Regime Change in Syria Helped Popularize Trump’s Abusive Attack on the ‘Alt-Left’,” AlterNet Grayzone Project, August 17 2017

Indivisible and Democratic Party ties

From the Indivisible Guide website:

“The Indivisible Project is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization” with “501(c)(3) status with the Tides Foundation. … Indivisible is a project of the Advocacy Fund.”

Black Awakening in Capitalist America

Robert L. Allen, Black Awakening in Capitalist America: An Analytical History, 1969

The Cultural Cold War

Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, The New Press, 1999

Andrea Chalupa and Ukraine’s Euromaidan

Andrea Chalupa, “Ukraine’s Future Belongs to Its Dreamers,” Huffington Post

Andrea Chalupa, “Andrea Chalupa: Global Maidan – a gathering in NYC for civic activists,” Kyiv Post, October 29 2014

Ukraine and Hillary Clinton

Kenneth P. Vogel, David Stern, “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire: Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton,” Politico, January 11 2017

Andriy Parubiy and Ukrainian fascism

Ben Norton, Max Blumenthal, “John McCain and Paul Ryan Hold ‘Good Meeting’ With Veteran Ukrainian Nazi Demagogue Andriy Parubiy,” AlterNet Grayzone Project, June 23 2017

FBI and Islamophobes

Eli Clifton, “New Documents Reveal FBI’s Islamophobic Counterterrorism Training,” ThinkProgress, September 15 2011

Matt Duss, “FBI Leaking To Neocon Conspiracy-Theorist Frank Gaffney?“, ThinkProgress, August 23 2010

Anti-Muslim bigot Frank Gaffney

Ben Norton, “The 5 craziest things about Ted Cruz’s extremist, neo-McCarthyist, anti-Muslim foreign policy adviser Frank Gaffney,” Salon, March 17 2016

Philip Bump, “Meet Frank Gaffney, the anti-Muslim gadfly reportedly advising Donald Trump’s transition team,” The Washington Post, November 16 2016

Molly McKew

Kyiv Post bio: ” Molly McKew is a writer and an information warfare expert. From 2009 to 2013 she worked as an adviser to Mikheil Saakashvili, then the president of Georgia.”

The Fascist Creep

Alexander Reid Ross, Against the Fascist Creep, AK Press, 2017

The Road to Wellville and Kellogg’s racism

Roger Ebert review of The Road to Wellville, October 28 1994

John Harvey Kellogg and “Eugenics and the Race Betterment Movement,” Chuck Holmgren, University of Virginia American Studies program

Ransom Riggs, “The Guy Who Invented Corn Flakes Was A Strange, Strange Man,” February 1 2011

Edward Sebesta and Neo-Confederate research

Edward Sebesta on Twitter

Max Blumenthal, “Why Scrapping the Confederate Flag Is a Threat to a Huge Swath of the Right-Wing Movement,” AlterNet, July 6 2015

James W. Loewen, Edward H. Sebesta, The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The “Great Truth” about the “Lost Cause”, University Press of Mississippi, 2010

Durham Confederate statue and Workers World Party

Who are the Workers World Party, the group who helped organize the Durham Confederate statue toppling,” ABC11, August 16 2017

Fascist Richard Spencer speech

Alt-right-funding billionaire Robert Mercer

Max Kutner, “Meet Robert Mercer, the Mysterious Billionaire Benefactor of Breitbart,” Newsweek, November 21 2016

Carole Cadwalladr, “Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media: With links to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, the rightwing US computer scientist is at the heart of a multimillion-dollar propaganda network,” The Guardian, February 26 2017

Jane Mayer, “The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency: How Robert Mercer exploited America’s populist insurgency,” The New Yorker, March 27 2017

Islamophobia and Park51 community center

Alan Pyke, “Hedge Fund CEO Behind Trump Campaign Makeover Masterminded ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Smear,” ThinkProgress, August 19 2016

Capitalist class character of white supremacist movements

Christopher Petrella, “Well-educated elites are no strangers to white supremacy,” The Washington Post, August 14 2017

Richard Spencer’s enormous family farm

Jen Kirby, “Of Course White Nationalist Richard Spencer Gets Millions in Federal Subsidies for His Family’s Cotton Farm in Louisiana,” New York Magazine, March 17 2017

Richard Spencer runs the National Policy Institute, an anodyne name for a white-supremacist think tank. He is also, according to a new report from Reveal, one of the absentee landlords on his family’s 5,200-acre cotton and corn farm in a poor, rural area of Louisiana. That farm is also heavily supported by the United States government; between 2008 and 2015, the operation received $2 million in federal farm subsidies.

Listen to Moderate Rebels episode 4

Episode 1 show notes – Democrats and the Russiagate delusion

Moderate Rebels Episode 1

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton discuss the Democratic Party’s obsession with Russia, how this fixation is used to prevent progressive change, the lack of evidence for ambiguous accusations of “Russian interference,” and how the neoliberal Resistance™ actively cheers on Trump when he is bombing the Middle East.

Show Notes

Peter Beinart, “Donald Trump’s Defenders on the Left: Why some progressives are minimizing Russia’s election meddling,” The Atlantic, July 23 2017

Max Blumenthal, “‘Maddow’s Dots May Never Connect’: Left-Wing Author Blasts Trump-Russia Narrative,” Tucker Carlson Tonight, July 17 2017

Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, “Intercepted Podcast: Glenn Greenwald on the New Cold War,” The Intercept, July 26 2017

Peter Beinart, “How the Democrats Lost Their Way on Immigration,” The Atlantic, July/August 2017

US empire

Julia Zorthian, Heather Jones, “This Graphic Shows Where U.S. Troops Are Stationed Around the World,” TIME, October 16 2015

David Vine, “The United States Probably Has More Foreign Military Bases Than Any Other People, Nation, or Empire in HistoryAnd it’s doing us more harm than good,” The Nation, September 14 2015

Russigate and the media

Aaron Maté, “MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Sees a ‘Russia Connection’ Lurking Around Every Corner,” The Intercept, April 12 2017

Glenn Greenwald, “CNN Journalists Resign: Latest Example of Media Recklessness on the Russia Threat,” The Intercept, June 27 2017

CrowdStrike and DNC

Yasha Levine, “From Russia, with Panic,” The Baffler, March 2017

Atlantic Council and NATO

Ben Norton, “While Turkish Bodyguards Brutalized Protesters, This DC Think Tank Connected Erdogan with Foreign Policy Insiders,” AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, May 19, 2017

French Election and Russia

Associated Press, “France says no trace of Russian hacking Macron,” June 1 2017

CIA and Syria

Ben Norton, “Media Mourn End of CIA Killing Syrians and Strengthening Al Qaeda,” FAIR.org, July 27 2017

Ukraine and the Pentagon

Eric Schmitt, Andrew E. Krameraug, “Pentagon and State Department Said to Propose Arming Ukraine,” New York Times, August 1 2017

Jamie Kirchick smears

Ben Norton, “No, they don’t support Trump: Smeared left-wing writers debunk the myth,” Salon, August 17 2016