May 30th: What's On Today's Show

May 30, 2011

Iraq Update
United States military leaders are debating how many troops will stay in Iraq when the war winds down by year's end. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says some troops may stay for years past the deadline. Radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr warns that if any U.S. forces remain past 2011, his militias will return to violence. Just last week, tens of thousands of his followers marched in Baghdad to drive that point home. On this Memorial Day, we remember the war in Iraq as it winds down. We'll get an update from New York Times reporter Tim Arango about the debate on how large of a troop presence will remain. The New Republic's Lawrence Kaplan will also be on with host Neal Conan. Kaplan will explain his piece "Where is the Ticker-Tape Parade?"

Opinion Page
Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to step down next month. In what may be his final policy speech last week, he leveled a warning to Congress and the White House — deep cuts in the Pentagon's budget will mean both a smaller military, and a diminished U.S. role around the world. In a column at, Stephen Walt argued, that's not necessarily a bad thing: "We should be focusing a lot more attention on long-term capacity building than fighting costly wars in places that don't matter very much (like Afghanistan)." Walt joins host Neal Conan on today's Opinion Page to talk about Gates' speech and the future of the U.S. military.

President Obama Honors Fallen Service Members
On Memorial Day, President Obama honored America's fallen service members and laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetary. He then spoke to the crowds gathered there and told the story of one of America's guardians, Travis Manian, and his friend and fellow Naval Academy graduate, Brendan Looney.

Memorial Day Remembrance
For most Americans, the last Monday in May marks the conclusion of a long weekend, maybe a family barbecue and the unofficial start of summer. For many, Memorial Day is more significant — it commemorates the men and women who lost their lives in battle. There are many ways in which the fallen soldiers are remembered. In the Southern Appalachian region, families follow the rituals of Decoration Day, the precursor to Memorial Day. Others visit memorials across the nation to lay flowers and pay their respects. Neal Conan talks with folklorist Alan Jabbour, sculptor Rolf Kriken, and Bob Daughtery of Honor Flight Historic Triangle Virginia about how we remember the fallen on Memorial Day.

Popular Verb
One three-letter word does much of the heavy lifting in the English language. The little word "run" — in its verb form alone — has 645 distinct meanings. Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, explains the rise of "run" and the decline of a formerly rich word, "set."

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