Day: December 20, 2022

Background Briefing: December 20, 2022


More Important Than Jailing Trump, the Jan. 6 Hearings Cry Out For Us to Fix Our Fragile Electoral System That He Exploited

We begin with the question of whether the important lessons from the January 6 Committee Hearings will be learned and acted on since it is far more important to fix the vulnerabilities of our fragile electoral system that Trump exploited all the way up to the insurrection than to focus on the insurrection itself which was just the back-up plan and Trump’s desperate last-ditch attempt to stay in power. Joining us to address the structural weaknesses of American Democracy that make it vulnerable to dictatorial coups is Aziz Huq, a Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. He is a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and is the co-author of Unchecked and Unbalanced: Presidential Power in a Time of Terror and How to Save a Constitutional Democracy, and his latest book is The Collapse of Constitutional Remedies. We discuss his article at Politico, “The Criminal Referrals Are Not Enough: The Jan. 6 Committee is warning that American democracy remains deeply fragile.”


Just the $80 Billion Increase From Last Year’s Defense Budget to Today’s $858 Billion is More Than Germany, Japan, France and the UK Spend on Defense

Then we examine the record $858 billion defense budget, the 2023 NDAA, National Defense Authorization Act soon to reach the president’s desk, in which just the $80 billion increase over last year’s level alone is higher than the entire military budgets of almost every country in the world including major powers like Germany, Japan, France and the UK. Joining us is William Hartung, a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft whose books include Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex. We discuss his latest article at Responsible Statecraft, “New spending bill squanders billions on dysfunctional weapons programs.”


As Putin Makes His Last Stand, We Assess the Promise and Peril of Russian Defeat

 Then finally we speak with Michael Kimmage, a professor of history and department chair at the Catholic University of America, chair of the Kennan Institute Advisory Council and a fellow at the German Marshall Fund. From 2014 to 2017, he served on the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State, where he held the Russia/Ukraine portfolio. His latest book is The Abandonment of the West: The History of an Idea in American Foreign Policy and we discuss his article at Foreign Affairs, “Putin’s Last Stand: The Promise and Peril of Russian Defeat.