MSNBC television host Rachel Maddow moderates a panel at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in October 2017. (Steven Senne / AP)
Earlier this month, the United States celebrated a dubious anniversary. On Oct. 7, 2001, President George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan, marking the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom—a quagmire that continues to this day under the code name Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. The war is now the second longest in American history, next to Vietnam, and as Maj. Danny Sjursen noted in a recent essay for Truthdig, “teenagers born after 9/11 will begin to join the military and, eventually, fight” in its battles. Yet despite this, or perhaps because of it, the conflict remains out of sight and out of mind for an overwhelming majority of Americans.
Lyle Jeremy Rubin refuses to remain silent. A Ph.D. candidate, former U.S. Marine and member of About Face: Veterans Against the War, he contends that the public’s poor understanding of the conflict is matched only by that of the country’s political and media elite. Rubin has grown especially disillusioned with liberals and Democrats whose purportedly peaceful politics have proved to be anything but. As he tells Robert Scheer, “Celebrated commenters like Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell fail to cover America’s ongoing wars and the roles some of their favorite guests have played in expanding them.”
In the latest episode of “Scheer Intelligence,” Rubin expounds on a range of topics including progressive media and the corrupting influence of arms dealing in U.S. foreign policy. “I mean we are by far the biggest arms dealer in the world,” he says. “And a lot of the enemies, the official enemies that our government has, [were] in one way or another created by these arms deals. … We’re making a lot of money by selling [Saudi Arabia] arms that are being used in a genocide in Yemen. And the discussion’s just nowhere to be found.”
Rubin also examines the recent murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, and how the Trump presidency has laid bare the true nature of the U.S.-Saudi relationship for all the world to see, voluntarily or not. “This is where I think Trump was right when he talked about why the United States wasn’t going to do much in response to the assassination of the Saudi Arabian journalist,” he continues. “There’s a lot of jobs on the line when it comes to these arms deals.”
Finally, Rubin explores what it means to be a patriot with an unabashed authoritarian in the Oval Office—one who regularly targets professional athletes for refusing to stand during the National Anthem: “Veteran friends I know, both on the left and the right … [are all] somewhat disgusted by the way that [they’re] used as political props.”
Listen to his interview with Robert Scheer below: