US sanctions block aid to earthquake-hit Syrians

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Click here for the full interview with Professor Joshua Landis:

“Sanctions are a form of war. They’re economic warfare. And they destroy people’s lives.”

Joshua Landis (, Sandra Mackey Chair in Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, is one of the foremost experts on Syria. This week, as Syria, along with neighbor Turkiye, grapples with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, Professor Landis joins the Useful Idiots to explain the deadly consequences that sanctions pile on to the damage.

“America likes to talk about all its precision bombing and hitting someone with a drone to avoid collateral damage,” Landis explains. “But sanctions? It’s all about collateral damage. Very little of it is targeted.”

But if you read corporate media outlets like the New York Times or Washington Post, you’d find a much different story. Both papers this week published headlines that were hastily changed when they realized they were being a little too truthful. See if you can tell the difference:

The Times changed their headline from “Syria is not able to receive direct aid from many countries because of sanctions” to “The Syrian government tightly controls what aid it allows into opposition held areas.” When the Times accidentally tells the truth, they can always be trusted to fix their mistake.

The original WaPo headline implored “Don’t lift sanctions of Syria to help earthquake victims.” But when they realized they were saying the quiet part too loud, they made a quick change to “Lifting sanctions on Syria won’t help earthquake victims.” Good catch.

Professor Landis knows that sanctions are exacerbating the death toll in Syria, as indicated by both original headlines. Watch the full episode to hear him explain the history of sanctions, why the poor bear the worst of their destruction, and how to help.

Plus, catch this week’s Thursday Throwdown where Seymour Hersh reveals how Lyin’ Biden blew up the Nord Stream pipeline and Katie explains why Joe Rogan’s antisemitic defense of Ilhan Omar’s non-antisemitic statements was so unhelpful. Oy.

And don’t miss the Absurd Arena’s new home: the Substack app chat. Katie and Aaron will now be live in the discussion board each Tuesday at noon EST.

It’s all this, and more, on this week’s episode of Useful Idiots. Check it out.

0:00 Intro
1:04 The Four Food Groups of News
22:28 Useful Idiots announcement
23:55 Professor Joshua Landis interview

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  1. Stop making fun of people’s clothes and appearances.
    Just stop.
    If it’s really about “Hunger Games” you would point out the cost of the legislature’s clothing regardless of whether or not they suit your personal taste. You sound like the conservatives and bully libs tantruming over blue haired kids.
    I’m losing my shit over here, nearly everyone on a microphone right now identifying as “the Left” are insular, myopic, petty, elite, pompous. Simping for incredibly discriminatory capital-captured western institutions, as long as they’re the ones you personally benefitted from. Like Academia. Medical. Psychiatry. Journalism.
    Read: within your class. How patronizing, dry.. picking on a ghetto coat and lack of education. Awesome.
    the same Suburban East Coast academia-to-talking head pipeline is now the definitive voice of the common laborer? The poor? The incarcerated? Pain patients who are being policed and ripped off their meds? Anyone terrified of going to the doctor or hospital now or just.. can’t. Including people who are terribly sick. Also Including much of GenZ, who seem only to exist as an occasional phantom kick toy.
    The loss of agency is so rapidly becoming complete here and it’s largely due to a waspy ruling culture, which postures its own wee enemies within itself, and thrives on petty tattling and extreme managing.
    You guys are signal boosting conservatives by acting this way. Just what we fecking need. You of all people should know that’s when the descent to fascism gets greased.
    It’s like the beard stroking streamers and podcasters, academics gone YouTube, and insufferable video essayists, ultimately they always end up congealing into a self important clique, talking down to their audiences, tittering at people’s fashion sense, sinking into irrelevance
    And we’re out here left with no news, no biting intelligent satire, no voice, no acknowledgement, no space to connect and communicate. Where pompous mean spirited snark replaces truly shared laughter.
    I’d rather see the entire Congress show up dressed like a community theater production of Hair than those foamcore Capital dinosaurs posturing Reader’s Digest civility.

  2. Good interview but with a minor (major) correction about a minority government, this was never a minority government, sunnies were amongst the wealthiest and most influencial, the government is made up mainly by sunni muslims. Let us call it as is, the ethnic divisions were played upon to create such falsehood scinarios, similar to russian Ukrainians vs other ukrainians. This is a game being played and it is criminal, when will we have the courage to deal with the monsters we have in the west that ends up funding and orchestrating these kind of dark politics that serve no one but their own agendas of foreign policy and agency?

  3. The US still illegally controls 80% of Syria's oil fields. The US/UK/EU anti-Putin, anti-Russia demonising has been cranked up to max since Russia intervened in Syria, a full year after the U.S. was supposedly bombing ISIS. Instead, the U.S. was protecting ISIS convoys of stolen oil, convoys of ISIS fighters and weaponry, etc. Without Russia, Syria would now be ruled by the duped head-chopping proxies of the U.S., U.K. etc. Then, the U.S. and U.K. would get public support to invade Syria. Keep up your courageous work for honesty, facts and truth..

  4. What we are doing in Syria is absolutely insane. What is the purpose…to kill people? Is there any other purpose, any other motive? We're already stealing their oil, so there's nothing to gain there…The only thing that makes sense…is the US harming and killing people…because it can. Under oligarchy the most evil answer is the right one. Our bought government is a ****ing death cult.

  5. The US govt designed the sanctions to inflict poverty, hunger, destitution, death & despair & they are achieving just that! The valiant efforts of a few like Aaron, Katie, Wilson, Hedges & a few other Americans notwithstanding, the American people bear as much responsibility.

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