Background Briefing: January 22, 2023


Why is Germany’s Chancellor Scholz Stubbornly Dragging His Heels Lagging Behind German Public Opinion?

We begin with Friday’s meeting of 50 defense ministers with the Ukraine Contact Group who were unable to persuade Germany to allow Denmark, Finland and Poland to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine which the country desperately needs ahead of an expected Russian offensive in the next month or so. Joining us is Anna Grzymala-Busse, a Professor of International Studies in the Department of Political Science, the Director of the Europe Center, and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the historical development of the state and its transformation, political parties, religion and politics, and post-communist politics and her books include Redeeming the Communist Past: The Regeneration of Communist Successor Parties, Rebuilding Leviathan: Party Competition and State Development in Post-Communist Europe, and Nations Under God: How Churches Use Moral Authority to Influence Politics. We assess why Chancellor Scholz is so stubborn as he continues to drag his heels to the point he is lagging behind German public opinion which is in support of the embattled Ukrainians and their leader who is pleading with Scholz that while he talks, Russia kills.


Is Russia Becoming a Case in Which a State Fails When it Loses Its Monopoly on Violence?

Then we examine the three private armies fighting in Russia and whether we are witnessing the phenomenon that once a state loses the monopoly on state violence and militias and warlords emerge as is the case of Prigozhin’s Wagner Group, Kadiyov’s Chechen fighters and Shoigu’s “Patriot” private military company, we could end up with a failed state with an enormous nuclear arsenal. Joining us is Alexander Motyl, a professor of political science at Rutgers University and a specialist on Ukraine, Russia and the USSR, and on nationalism, revolutions, empires and theory. He is the author of 10 books of nonfiction, as well as Imperial Ends: The Decay, Collapse, and Revival of Empires and Why Empires Reemerge: Imperial Collapse and Imperial Revival in Comparative Perspective. We discuss his article at The Hill “As Russia weakens, whoever has soldiers and guns will survive.”


Inside the Wagner Group the US Just Designated as an International Criminal Enterprise

Then finally, with the US designating the Wagner mercenary group an international criminal enterprise, we examine the history and the growing influence of Prigohzin’s Wagner Group and speak with someone who got to know the Private Military Contractor’s inner workings having been hired by them to make a documentary. Joining us is Robert Young Pelton, an author, filmmaker, journalist, and explorer. He is the publisher of Dangerous magazine and has a first-hand perspective on the war on terror from direct contact with the world’s most infamous jihadi, rebel and insurgent groups. His books include: The World’s Most Dangerous Places, Come Back Alive, Three Worlds Gone Mad, Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror and his autobiography, The Adventurist. He recently returned from visiting the front in Ukraine.