Author Omar El Akkad poses for a portrait.

“You fight the war with guns, you fight the peace with stories.” That’s from Omar El Akkad’s novel, “American War,” which takes readers 50 years into the future, where the effects of climate change and limited natural resources have caused a second Civil War and split America in two. El Akkad, a longtime journalist who covered Guantanamo Bay, the Arab Spring and the aftermath of Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson, Missouri, joins us to talk about the novel and how his work as a journalist influences his fiction.

In ‘American War,’ a Second Civil War Over Climate Change and Natural Resources 20 April,2017Michael Krasny

Guests:
Omar El Akkad, author, "American War"

  • EIDALM

    The U S may be the only country in the World where there is real war on science and common sense, all was done by the strangle hold of the greedy goons of the Wall Street and warmongers in the military industrial complex on the U S government, and that have expanded beyond any bound under Donald Trump presidency, with all of their reckless plans about the destruction of the envirnment, uncontrollable war pestering and potential world wide nuclear war, we all must count the days or the years humans civilization and existence may come to an horrible end…..Fermi was totally correct when he said that technical civilization always destroy themselves.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Interesting itinerary Mr. el Akkad.

    From Gitmo (fake news), to
    Arab Spring (fake news), to
    Ferguson (fake dishonorable victim news), to
    Civil War by Climate Change (doubly fake news).

    That being said, theres infinite room in these subjects to tackle the truth. Sounds like this guy’s up to the creative challenge.

    • Sean Dennehy

      Are you….are you saying that Gitmo doesn’t exist? That the Arab Spring never happened?

      • Brian

        I think he means the people put in Gitmo were largely just shlubs grabbed off the street.
        Gitmo = security theater

      • Kevin Skipper

        Good question. Brian covered it pretty well.

      • Kevin Skipper

        Actors. Scripts. Sets. Produced by New Potempkin Studios.

    • Brian

      Understanding Fake News

  • De Blo

    Sounds like a good and interesting book.

    • Kevin Skipper

      I agree.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Is the water rising or are Florida and Venice still sinking as they have been for centuries? Beyond sci-fi story-building, is there a significant factual difference between one or the other?

  • Todd Stiers

    My recent visit to Pensacola Florida and seeing the prevalence of high water flooding out the city, and pickup trucks running the “stars and bars” (ie Confederate Flag), visiting forts where the only battles they saw during the Civil War, I got a sense of a place under occupation since the first Civil War and still throwing stones at their Federal Occupiers. I think this author is tapping into something very real here…

  • marte48

    For centuries, wealth and prosperity has been and still is based upon racism, environmental abuse, and exploitation of cheap labor – it is almost a given.

  • Kurt thialfad

    How would you compare Canada’s policy on Syrian refugees vs. America’s policy on Syrian refugees?

    Justin Trudeau accepted 25,000 over 3 years. Families only. No single males. All privately-funded.

    Barack Obama announced the acceptance of “at least 10,000”. The details remain a mystery.

    • Brian

      Canada just voted to criminalize any criticism of Islam, against the overwhelming opposition of the public.
      Think about that. One person believes some nonsense about an invisible man in the sky. You can’t tell him he’s full of shìt in Canada, or else they’ll pay to put you in a cage.

      • Kevin Skipper

        Sounds appropriately post-fascist on the part of our Maple Leaf neighbors, Eh?

        • Brian

          If Islam is the fascism in question, it’s not post.

          What it’s like to be a Christian in Egypt:

          • Kevin Skipper

            Nowhere left to slap labels. There is no Islam without the preexisting sanction of the existing and prevailing Christian Church. The same is true with modern Egypt and the West’s foggy recollection of the Coptic history of Egypt, Ethiopia, and the rest of Greater Caanan aka The Levant.

          • Brian

            In Egypt, there is no Christianity without the sanction of the Muslim government, which mines them for the jizya.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Christians have been protected in The Arab Republic of Egypt since they became our and Israel’s allies after the formation of the modern regime in 1953. Since the late-19th century British Intrusion, they have largely been a protectorate of the empire and its church.
            To say that Christians are persecuted there is tantamount to saying that Baptists are persecuted in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

          • Brian

            Listen to the firsthand experiences of a Coptic woman in the video above.

          • Kevin Skipper

            For the sake of discussion, I’ll check it out. Before I do so, I must say that I don’t expect the message of the vid to be independent of free of misleading agenda.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Wow. That was terrible! Seven seconds was all I could stand. So, is it hard to tell that the woman speaking is an activist plant. Every word shrilly, cake make-up-ishly and crone-ishly screams, “Fake News, BRRAAAKKK! Fake News!”

          • Kevin Skipper

            Wow. That was terrible! Seven seconds was all I could stand. So, is it hard to tell that the woman speaking is an activist plant. Every word shrilly, nose-jobishly, cake make-up-ishly and crone-ishly screams, “Fake News, BRRAAAKKK! Fake News!”

    • Kevin Skipper

      Canada is part of the British Commonwealth. For the last century or so, they have dictated immigration politics so that they get the first pick of educated professionals and American gets to fight over the laborers issues here at home. Goes back to the slavery story. Western Europe and Scandinavia divested from the game early while the US languished in a partisan reconstruction that effectively wedged the nation between an existing population of newly ‘freed’ colored ‘citizens’ and carefully managed ‘white’ immigrants from Europe. Ironically, US immigration policies have remained largely unchanged for the duration of this protracted saga.

  • Bill_Woods

    Autonomous drones just wander around, dropping bombs?
    Is there an explanation for how they refuel, and rearm?

    • William – SF

      Those without bombs become irrelevant – without fuel they become homeless.

      • Bill_Woods

        You’d think, but he seemed to say that they’d be an ongoing problem.

        • William – SF

          I don’t know …I was going for metaphor.

          • Kevin Skipper

            “Everything is a metaphor! You are literally a metaphor!…Every morning is a miracle! Happiness is a metaphor for change. #Miracles #AHPofTPE #Bojackthoughts #PANTS”

    • Kevin Skipper

      Solar power, hi-capacity batteries, staggered deployment schedules, automated flight patterns, mid-air refueling for liquid-fueled models. Modular munitions with recyclable parts. The Rise of the Machines, as Green-washed by SkyNet.

  • B_Waldo

    Because it was brought up, I will point out what I perceive to be an often overlooked possibility that if California were to secede from the union, the difference between California and the rest of the country would be exacerbated, due to the removal of CA from the electoral college. I also see this movement as lacking much of the empathy which El Akkad advocates

  • Kevin Skipper

    “I am simply a proponent of speaking about things…” I support that, fully.

    “…you have an appearance that could be from anywhere. With a name like al Akkad that could be considered Arabic…” Officially, it’s post-Hebrew Babylonian like Assad, Aziz or Hussein.

    Well, if the al Akkad name is, as I assume a reference to the Bronze-Age Akkadians, I imagine that a universal name and appearance are the whole point of the global immigration story.

    The American-‘Jew’ calls in support of his “Muslim Brother” and it becomes clear that like it or not, this is a conversation about terminology. To what nomenclature do we attribute national, cultural, racial or spiritual identity? If it does or doesn’t matter now, what is to become of those ideas in next 50 years?

    This is a worthy subject to which I hope to see an increasingly diverse group of responses. I wonder how a detail like the ability to immigrate to the US or not would affect one’s contribution to such a conversation.

  • Skip Conrad

    In this future civil war, will human overpopulation become an issue? Your comments about the obvious, please.

  • Robert Thomas

    I think that Mr El Akkad could benefit by a trip to Disneyland.

    • William – SF

      …speaking of horrors. And yes, his voice sounds like he could use a lift.

      • Kevin Skipper

        Tell that to the Toni Morrison generation and it’s peculiar cult of opinion-building and gender-role assignment. He’s a perfect match for what is now considered the sensitive, conscious and non-threatening contemporary male-bodied citizen of The New Autocracy.

        Don’t fight it. Deal with it.

        • William – SF

          …but Dizzyland makes my skin crawl …reminds me of Fox News audio and visuals.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Brought down by CU or brought down for receiving a golden parachute from them?

          • William – SF

            Reward is always the point of getting-away-with-it.

          • Robert Thomas

            It’s an increasingly Small World, man, After All.

          • William – SF

            Indeed, and never enough time for it.

        • Robert Thomas

          Kevin Skipper: A Man in Search of a Sequitur.

          • Kevin Skipper

            The only worthy response to a condition of absurdist social discourse.

  • Robert Thomas

    When I was a kid, I read Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, A Canticle for Leibowitz and Farnham’s Freehold; I came to understand that after those extreme explorations, dystopian speculative fiction had pretty much gone as far as it could artistically and that further dalliance in the genre exposed one to prematurely stunted imaginations of generally mediocre, narcissistic writers. It’s unfortunate but I think that The Road represented the cratering of a great American voice.

    The popularity of the banal YA Hunger Games franchise among a cohort from whom nothing has ever been demanded in the way of martial responsibility would be startling if anything could startle, any longer.

    • Kevin Skipper

      What are your thoughts on P.K. Dick?

      • Robert Thomas

        Dick’s popularity came primarily after the Golden Age of SF, which for me (as it should be for everyone) was eleven.

        I think that Philip Dick had a vivid and original imagination, that safely skirted the trap of mere dystopianism. However, for those who enthusiastically scarfed up Fred Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth (including, certainly, their joint masterpiece The Space Merchants), Dick’s work seems more of a smoothly differentiable extension of these and other earlier Futurian voices.

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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