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Podcast / Blowback

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Speak about destruction!

A history podcast hosted by Brendan James (formerly of Chapo Trap House) and Noah Kulwin which began in March 2020. Season 1 was devoted to the US-Iraq War begun in 2003, Season 2 to the Cuban Revolution and subsequent efforts to oust Fidel Castro. The show has an explicitly left-wing, US critical perspective. It features perspectives not often heard by US audiences, such as those of Iraqi citizens and Cubans that stayed in Cuba after the revolution, and often covers events not often described, such as Operation Pedro Pan.

Show can be heard here.


Blowback provides examples of:

  • Awesome Music: One of the ways the hosts tried to give more of feeling of suspense and immediacy to the episodes devoted to how the US treated Cuba, a subject usually described in dull academic tones, was to have musician The Great Vorelli produce tracks reminiscent of John Carpenter music.
  • Badass Boast: When Fidel Castro sneaked back into Cuba in 1956 and only 19 of his originally around 80 men made it to the rallying point, he allegedly said "We have already won the war." He said the same thing even before mopping up operations for the Bay of Pigs were concluded.
  • Eagleland: The show's thesis is that American imperialism is bad for the world, including for itself in many ways. Ostensibly it's to a point where many of its problems stem from its decades long campaign to stop the spread of communism, sovereignty of other nations and the will of their people be damned.
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  • Evil Is Petty: So Saddam Hussein has fallen from dictator of a nation with an array of palaces to a prisoner facing execution. What's on his mind? According to one of his interviewers while he was in captivity, one of his main concerns was a suspicion that the troops that took him prisoner stole the gold that he had with him at the time of his capture.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: They explicitly state during the final episode of Season One that they believe Saddam Hussein is in Hell but that the US was guilty of crimes against humanity in starting that war (especially considering the US's role in putting Saddam Hussein in power and supporting his crimes against humanity, including selling the Iraqi military chemical weapons.)
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Bay of Pigs invasion was stopped by the Cuban military to a significant degree through the use of jet fighters. Said fighters had been provided by the United States of America to Batista in an attempt to stop Castro's revolution .
  • Interspecies Romance: While training for the Bay of Pigs Invasion, supposedly one of the revolutionaries developed romantic feelings for one of the pack animals. Noah Kulwin jokes that this is one of the ways the revolutionaries were just "guys being dudes."
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The show is not pro-Trump at all, but it plays a clip from early in the 2016 campaign of him denouncing the War in Iraq to thunderous applause from a right-wing audience, something which generally would have been regarded as political suicide for a Republican candidate to do before that.
  • Karma Houdini: Pretty much only Saddam Hussein was a household name involved in making the War in Iraq possible from the beginning who got a real punishment for his role.
  • Meet the New Boss: President Barack Obama's presidency is regarded as an inadequate replacement to George W. Bush's in regards to ending the War in Iraq, to an extent where the tumultuous election of Donald Trump is implied to be substantially his fault.
  • Old Shame: The votes by Joe Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton to invade Iraq. These are treated as part of the reason that Clinton lost her bid for presidency in 2016 and why Biden was a bad nominee for the 2020 presidential election (eventual win notwithstanding.)
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: While the famous leaked torture photos of Abu Ghraib are described, the much less covered stories of sexual abuse of prisoners (including minors) also get attention. The hosts claim that word getting out about what was being done to Iraqis in that prison was a huge motivator for many to join insurgency groups, including ISIS.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The hosts conclude that the biggest single winner of the War in Iraq is Donald Rumsfeld, who despite his role in making an invasion and occupation that left at least hundreds of thousands dead not only got away scot free and much wealthier for his trouble. He lived to see his prefered foreign intervention strategy (limited commitment, mostly drone strikes to not draw too much public attention) adopted and vindicated by the Obama and Trump Administrations.

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