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Globetrotting Journalist Pepe Escobar on His New Book, “Empire of Chaos”, plus: Endless Afghan War, Hagel’s Exit, Beghazi Report and More

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Pepe Escobar returns to talk about his great new book, and recent developments in world affairs, from Afghanistan to Syria, the firing of Pentagon boss Chuck Hagel, and the GOP Beghazi report that made him laugh out loud.

Escobar, who has been traveling the world and pumping out rich, insightful columns for Asia Times for many years, has a new book of columns, Empire of Chaos, covering 2009 to the present. You can order a copy here.

We open with a discussion of the book and the arc of recent history it covers. If the world’s a stage, Escobar is the caustic critic who calls out spin and bullshit, alternating serious analysis with a great sense of the absurd and flashes of humor.

We talk about the firing of Secretary of Defense Hagel on the heels of the disclosure of Obama’s secret order to continue combat operations in Afghanistan through 2015, which Escobar doesn’t think are connected. He faults the White House national security team for pushing Hagel out, and notes the Vietnam lens favored by Hagel.

We talk about the extension of the Iran talks, and speculation that the US and Israel added new issues to the negotiations late in the process. We discuss the current state of the Islamic State, which is know in the region as “Daesh”, and China’s smart moves toward the US and Russia, along with the demonization of Putin by US media and officials.

Toward the end, we talk about the report of the GOP-controlled House Intelligence Committee on Benghazi, which was dumped late on Friday afternoon just before the Thanksgiving break. You’ll hear how amused Escobar is by the report’s denial that the Benghazi base was used to secretly run guns to Syria.