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Trump Defends Downplaying COVID-19

Trump Defends Downplaying COVID-19
On today’s episode of Fault Lines, host Shane Stranahan, guest co-host producer Raheem, and guest co-host Garland Nixon discussed a variety of news topics, including Donald Trump’s handling of COVID-19, the situation in Belarus, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and US foreign policy in Venezuela and Iran.


Bradley Blankenship - Prague-based American Journalist, political analyst, freelance reporter, columnist for RT and | Lukashenko and the Future of Belarus

Mark Sleboda - International Relations and Security Analyst | Navalny & Nord Stream 2

Scott Ritter - Former UN Weapons Inspector and WMD Whistleblower | US Foreign Policy in Venezuela and Iran

In the first hour, producer Raheem and Garland criticized Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and discussed the United States’ lack of preparation for it. They also talked about the questionable nature of the Navalny poisoning and the extradition of Julian Assange. Then they were joined by Bradley Blankenship, who spoke about the Lukashenko press conference that he attended in Belarus. The thing that caught his attention was that Lukashenko said he wasn’t going anywhere but maybe has stayed too long. Mark said he thinks he’s correct and it’s tragic that he’s become the contrast to what the West would want to see happen in Belarus. According to Mark, this is not a repeat of Ukraine, but of course nefarious elements will infiltrate. Mark said Lukashenko’s task was to convince millennials to be socialist as the former Soviet Union fell to color revolutions, and now those young people are coming of age in the financial crash as Belarus’s GDP growth rate has been dismal. Their lives are not improving and they’re leaving the country, he said. Mark doesn’t think there will be a serious confrontation there partly due to COVID-19, though.

In the second hour, Garland and Shane talked to Mark Sleboda, who talked about the Navalny poisoning, which he called a “he said she said” situation. He said there are conflicting reports coming out of Berlin, with German media reporting a story in conjunction with Bellingcat saying Navalny is out of a coma and feeling better, despite the fact that he was hit with a super-strong version of Novichok, but Navalny’s own spokespeople have come out saying there are “numerous inaccuracies.” Mark said the Russians are asking for medical proof that it’s Novichok because the tests that were positive for Novichok were done by a German military lab that won’t release documents, saying it’s a national security threat. The hosts and Mark also discussed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, with Mark saying it’s all but completed, though Trump is sanctioning companies constructing it. The German government is under enormous pressure from countries like the US and Ukraine who stand to lose out from this deal because they profit from substantial transit fees, which are passed on to Germany. Mark said the Ukrainian intelligence agency is notorious, citing the time a journalist faked his own death and blamed it on Russia, then passed it off as a joke. They might have been involved in the Navalny story, though there’s no proof yet. Mark said Trump himself pointed out that Germany didn’t make their defense spending goals and that they buy energy from Russia. Mark said that pipelines cause countries to have a cooperative relationship, and the US feels it needs to prevent this. He also noted that Navalny is anti-Putin and a fringe, far-right candidate in Russia and that there’s no indication his poisoning and miraculous survival will affect Russia.

In the third hour, Shane and Garland were joined by Scott Ritter, who talked about the three Liberian flag tankers that sailed to Houston under duress when parent companies told them they couldn’t go to Venezuela because the US believed the content of the ships was Iranian oil. Scott said the contents of tankers have been seized to be auctioned off with proceeds going to Iranian “terror victims.” According to Scott this is a humanitarian shipment with a political element attached to it, saying the US is not king of the world. The US sanctioned the Venezuelan oil industry into ruin, and Iran makes money selling oil through its cutouts. Scott said Iran is winning this fight and has a vibrant nuclear program, and he believes that the US has failed in Iranian foreign policy. Scott doesn’t blame this on Trump because he believes Trump’s not in control of American foreign policy but instead inherited an Iran policy decades in the making. According to Scott, this is Mike Pompeo’s policy, not Donald Trump’s policy,  and Scott doesn’t think Pompeo will be in a second Trump administration.

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