Background Briefing: October 4, 2022


Is Putin Desperate or Upping the Nuclear Ante to Force Biden to the Negotiating Table?

We begin with reports in the British press that Russian nuclear weapons are being moved to the front in the war on Ukraine, escalating the already tense situation following repeated threats by Putin that he might use nuclear weapons and that he is not bluffing. 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. His books include Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It and Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path From Market Economy to Kleptocracy and we assess whether Putin is desperate and trapped in a losing war of his making or is upping the ante rhetorically to force Biden to the negotiating table.


How Close Are We to Having the Nuclear Taboo Which Has Existed Since Nagasaki, Broken By Putin?

Then we investigate further how close we are to having the nuclear taboo, which has existed since the US bombing of Nagasaki, broken by Putin whose military and domestic situations worsens by the day. Joining us is Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists where he provides the public with analysis and background information about the status of nuclear forces and the role of nuclear weapons. He previously was a consultant to the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council and also was a Senior Researcher with the Nuclear Information Unit of Greenpeace International.


What Practical Steps Can be Taken to Restore the Supreme Court’s Legitimacy

Then finally, with mounting criticism of the Supreme Court and questions and concerns about its legitimacy coming from the justices themselves, we look into what practical steps could be taken to move this far-right court back to where it reflected the center of American social thought and political outlook. Joining us is Lawrence Douglas, the James Grosfeld Chair in Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College and a contributing opinion writer for The Guardian. HIs latest book is Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Electoral Meltdown in 2020.