Background Briefing: October 5, 2022


The Murderous Pals MBS and Putin Jack Up the Price of Oil Ahead of the Midterms to Help Republicans and Bring Trump Back

We begin with the dominant players in OPEC+, Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreeing to cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day which will drive up the price of gas just before the midterm elections. Clearly MBS, the de facto Saudi leader and Putin have increasingly close ties and it is no secret MBS admires Putin who he sees as a role model at the same time despising Biden and wanting to help Trump return to the White House which is a goal Putin also shares. Joining us is Jon Hoffman, a Ph.D. candidate at George Mason University specializing in Middle East geopolitics and political Islam. His work has been featured in Middle East Policy, Open Democracy, The Cipher Brief and Foreign Policy Magazine. He has an article at The National Interest, “The Abraham Accords and the Imposed Middle East Order.” We discuss the imperative for the US to assert its considerable leverage over Saudi Arabia and the need for Biden to fire all of his Middle East advisors who continue to believe that investing in autocrats is the best way to guarantee security in the Middle East. 


How Putin Uses Mutually Assured Destruction as a Shield to Conduct a Conventional War in Ukraine With Impunity

Then we examine the need to update our thinking about nuclear weapons, particularly in the Cold War context as weapons that “keep the peace” now that Putin is using the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, MAD, as a shield behind which he is conducting a conventional war in Ukraine with impunity while making nuclear threats against NATO to weaken the EU’s resolve. Joining us is Stephen Young, Senior Washington Representative in the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, where he focuses on reducing the threat of nuclear war. Previously he was deputy director of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers, a senior analyst at the British American Security Information Council and was a fellow in the State Department’s Bureau of Human Rights. We discuss his article at Politico, “The Age of Predatory Nuclear-Weapon States Has Arrived.”


The Youthful Revolt Underway in Iran Against a Hypocritical and Hated Clerical Kleptocracy

Then finally we look into the youthful revolt underway in Iran where young junior high and high school girls are defying and mocking the regime’s many layers of brutal religious-based repression as a societal shift is underway against a hypocritical and hated clerical kleptocracy. Joining us is Assal Rad, Research Director at the National Iranian American Council. She has written for Newsweek, the Independent, Foreign Policy, and appeared on BBC World, BBC Persian, Al Jazeera, and NPR and is the author of The State of Resistance: Politics, Culture, and Identity in Modern Iran.