Background Briefing: December 3, 2023

An Assessment of the Chillingly Precise Intelligence Report on the Planned Hamas Attack That Was Ignored

We begin with the resumption of Israel’s war on Gaza and get an intelligence assessment of the devastating 40 page report called “Jericho Wall” that was analyzed and shared by Israeli military and intelligence officials for a year before the October 7 attack by Hamas. The document outlined in detail, with uncanny accuracy and chilling precision, the Hamas plan of attack, leading many to wonder whether it reached Netanyahu and why it was ignored. Joining us is Paul Pillar, who served for 30 years as an analyst at the CIA, in which his last position was National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia. Previously, he served as chief of analytic units at the CIA covering portions of the Near East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. He has also headed the Assessments and Information Group of the DCI Counterterrorist Center, and was deputy chief of the center. He is currently a professor of Security Studies at Georgetown University and a member of the Center for Peace and Security Studies, and we discuss his article at Responsible Statecraft, “Truce ends, Israel’s assault resumes on Gaza.”


The Price We Paid for the Capture of US Foreign Policy by Kissinger’s Realpolitik

Then with plans underway for a memorial service in New York City for Henry Kissinger at which praise will be heaped upon the elder statesman, we speak with Greg Grandin, a professor of History at Yale University. The author of The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and Fordlandia, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, his books also include The Last Colonial Massacre, Kissinger’s Shadow, The Empire of Necessity, and Empire’s Workshop, the United States, Latin America, and the Making of an Imperial Republic, recently updated in an expanded edition. We discuss his essay at The Nation, “A People’s Obituary of Henry Kissinger” and how the “realpolitik” capture of American power has been devastating for victims of superpower surrogate wars as we act according to our so-called interests and not according to our ideals.


How Deregulation Made Airline Travel Miserable as Underinvestment is Making it Dangerous

Then finally we look into how deregulation made airline travel so miserable and how a lack of investment in infrastructure has made air travel increasingly dangerous with air traffic controllers pushed to the brink as they rely on antiquated equipment. Joining us is Ganesh Sitaraman, a law professor and the director of the Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator for Political Economy and Regulation. He is the author of several books, including The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution and The Great Democracy. He is a member of the Federal Aviation Committee’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee and was previously a senior advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren on her presidential campaign. His latest book, just out, is Why Flying Is Miserable: And How to Fix It.