Background Briefing: September 12, 2022


Ukraine’s Successful Counter Offensive and Pressure on Putin to Take More Desperate Measures

We begin with the successful counter offensive underway by the Ukrainian military in the north east around Kharkiv that has routed the Russian invaders and provoked unusually harsh criticism from nationalists and military bloggers inside of Russia who the regime has so-far tolerated.  Joining us is Michael Weiss, news director at New Lines Magazine who has reported on international affairs for over ten years with a focus on the Middle East and Russia. He has interviewed ISIS operatives and Russian spies; published and curated a series of still-classified KGB training manuals; reported from rebel-held Syria and war-torn Ukraine; broken major stories about financial corruption; and exposed the Russian intelligence services’ ongoing subversion efforts in the United States and Europe. He is the the author of The Menace of Unreality: How Russia Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money and coauthor of the New York Times Bestseller ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror. We discuss calls from municipal figures in Saint Petersburg and Moscow for Putin to step down and whether pressure from the nationalists on Putin might result in him seeking more desperate military measures as his so-called “special operation” appears poised to collapse.


Internal Republican Friction and What it Will Take For the GOP to Abandon Trump

Then we look into friction between the Senate’s Republican Minority Leader McConnell and the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee Senator Rick Scott over the “quality” of Trump-chosen candidates and campaign dysfunction after $181 million was wasted on digital ads. Joining us is Julian Zelizer, a Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University whose recent books include Fault Lines, Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party, Myth America: Historians Take on the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past and The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A First Historical Assessment. The co-host of the “Politics & Polls” podcast and a CNN Political Analyst, and we discuss his article at CNN, “What it will take for the GOP to abandon Trump.”


“Biden Was Right: MAGA Ideology is Fascism”

Then finally we speak with Thomas Mockaitis, a Professor of History at DePaul University who has taught counter-terrorism courses for the past 13 years at venues around the world as part of the U.S. Department of Defense Counter-terrorism Fellowship Program. He is the author of 6 books including New’ Terrorism: Myths and Reality, Violent Extremists: Understanding the Domestic and International Terrorist Threat and Iraq and the Challenge of Counterinsurgency. We discuss his article at The Hill, “Biden was right: MAGA ideology is fascism.”