Background Briefing: November 15, 2021


A Virtual Summit of America’s Messy Democracy Versus Xi Jinping’s Efficient Autocracy

We begin with the virtual summit later this evening between China’s Xi Jinping and President Biden scheduled to last for 3 hours and speak with Perry Link, who holds the Chancellorial Chair for Innovative Teaching across Disciplines and is also a professor of comparative Literature and Foreign Languages at the University of California, Riverside. He is one of the world’s foremost experts on China’s language, culture, and people, who In the 1990s edited the “Tiananmen Papers,” a collection of documents leaked by a high-level Chinese official that helped chronicle the events that led up to and followed the pro-reform student protests in June 1989. He was blacklisted by the Chinese government in 1996 and we will discuss how much Xi’s crackdown at home is in response to his fear that the Chinese people are not as docile as they were under Mao and that the Communist Party has to impose more constraints to keep free expression and thought at bay. 


Is Putin Poised for a Knockout Blow of Ukraine’s Shaky Government?

Then we will look into growing concerns among the U.S. and its European allies that Putin’s massing of troops on Ukraine’s borders and his gas wars with Eastern European countries as well as tensions on the Belarus/Poland border, could mean he is planning a knockout blow to remove the Zelensky government in Kiev and replace it with a Kremlin-friendly puppet government. Joining us is  Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Stockholm Free World Forum, a professor at the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University and a former senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. A member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, he worked as a Swedish diplomat in Moscow and served as an economic advisor to the governments of Russia and Ukraine and his books include Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It and Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy. We discuss his forthcoming article at Project Syndicate, “The Kremlin’s Perfect Storm in Eastern Europe.”


How the January 6 Insurrection Was a Flashback For a Congressman Who Fought in Iraq

Then finally we speak with Congressman Ruben Gallego, who represents the 7th District of Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the House Armed Services Committee, where he serves as Chairman of the Intelligence and Special Operations subcommittee. A son of Hispanic immigrants, he was the first in his family to attend college, graduating from Harvard University with a degree in international relations. While an undergrad, he enlisted as an infantryman in the Marine Corps Reserve and deployed to Iraq in 2005, where he and the other members of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war. The co-author of the new book, just out, They Called Us “Lucky”: The Life and Afterlife of the Iraq War’s Hardest Hit Unit, we discuss how his experiences of the insurrection on January 6 were a flashback to Iraq as the frightened faces of young congressional staffers reminded him of the faces of the young marines going into battle.