Background Briefing: April 12, 2021


Is Putin Poised to Attack Ukraine Or Using the Threat as a Bargaining Ploy?

We begin with an analysis of the dilemma facing intelligence officials briefing Biden about the threat of war between Russia and Ukraine where adversaries’ actions can be both dramatic and ambiguous and based on the same evidence, you can come to strikingly different interpretations. So do you warn that Russia is preparing to attack or assess that Putin is using his latest military threat as a bargaining ploy? Nina Jankowicz, who serves as a Disinformation Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Kennan Institute and was previously a Fulbright Public Policy Fellow providing strategic communications advice to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and is the author of How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict, joins us. We discuss the lengths Putin goes to to cover up Russian casualties in the on-going war in the Donbas where families of the dead are sworn to secrecy, but in an all-out war with Ukraine, body bags coming home in large numbers will be harder to hide and the Russian public will not stand for it.


The National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2040 Report

Then we look into the Global Trends 2040 report from the National Intelligence Council “A More Contested World” which forecasts a world beset by pandemics and ravaged by climate change in which the gap between what people demand from their leaders and what they deliver will widen. Kent Harrington, a former senior CIA analyst who was National Intelligence Officer for East Asia, joins us to discuss his articles at Project Syndicate “The Risk of Post-Pandemic Instability” and “The Spies Who Predicted Covid-19” which emerged from a 2009 Global Trends report that accurately predicted a virulent respiratory virus resulting from a zoonotic leap that will cause a global pandemic.


What Residents of Blue States Can Do to Help Citizens in Red States Vote

Then finally we discuss what can be done to respond to the Republican authoritarian attack on American democracy as the GOP’s voter suppression and gerrymandering actions make it clear they would rather cheat than compete. Dr. Donna Manning, a long-time political activist who was very active in the recent campaign that helped elect the two Georgia senators, joins us to outline what ordinary citizens in Blue States can do to help citizens in Red States overcome the hurdles the GOP erected to limit their access to the ballot and participation in democratic elections.