Background Briefing: February 21, 2022


In An Angry Speech Putin All But Declares War on Ukraine

We begin with President Putin’s long and angry speech today in which he effectively declared war on Ukraine by recognizing its two contested eastern provinces and in a long diatribe about his version of history, he included the Baltic states that are NATO members as former Soviet states subject to his new interpretation of “independence.” Joining us is Alexander Cooley, Director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute for the study of Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe and the Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College of Columbia University. His books include Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest in Central Asia, Dictators without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia, and most recently, Exit from Hegemony: The Unraveling of the American Global Order. We discuss the likely political consequences of a brutal war on Ukraine in Washington where Republicans are breaking the tradition of rallying around the flag where foreign policy is concerned with the prospect that the GOP might adopt Tucker Carlson’s pro-Putin propaganda and undermine Biden by arguing that America should not be interfering in the former Soviet states.


The Leak of Dictator’s $100 Billion in Credit Suisse, Often Originating as US Foreign Aid

Then we look into the leak of 18,000 secret bank accounts held by Credit Suisse belonging to Middle East potentates and dictators containing $100 billion of often looted money much of which originated as foreign aid paid for by the American taxpayer. Joining us is Bartlett Naylor, the financial policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and the principal of Capital Strategies Consulting, Inc., which works with progressive organizations attempting to reform public policies where corporations play a key role. Formerly, he served as chief of investigations for the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, where he led probes of the savings-and-loan crisis, corporate takeovers and insider trading.


How the Democrats Can Avoid an Electoral Wipeout in the Midterms

Then finally we examine ways in which the Democrats can avoid an electoral wipeout in the midterms with many Democratic strategists arguing that the White House must change its messaging proclaiming things are better when many voters feel that things aren’t better. Joining us is Simon Rosenberg, the President and Founder of the New Democrat Network, a leading progressive think tank and advocacy organization. Previously, he was a writer and producer at ABC News for five years, before working on the Dukakis and Clinton Presidential campaigns where he was a member of the 1992 Clinton War Room.