Background Briefing: February 1, 2024


Why Russia’s War on Ukraine Has Reached a Stalemate

We begin with the expected firing of the head of Ukraine’s military by President Zelensky which is likely to further diminish hopes that US aid blocked by House Republicans will be unlocked although the EU did find a way around Hungary’s Orban to get $54 billion to Ukraine. Joining us to discuss the battlefield situation in Ukraine and why it has reached a World War I kind of stalemate is Stephen Biddle, a professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, Director of the International Security Policy Concentration and a senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. His books include Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle and Non State Warfare: The Military Methods of Guerillas, Warlords, and Militias. We discuss his latest article at Foreign Affairs, “How Russia Stopped Ukraine’s Momentum: A Deep Defense Is Hard to Beat.


US Sanctions Four Israeli Settlers, But Not the Ministers Who Support Them

Then we look into the Biden administration’s sanctioning of 4 members of Israel’s settler movement, a move well-short of sanctioning the two rabid right wing members of Netanyahu’s government Smotrich and Ben Gvir. Joining us is Asher Kaufman, Director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and a professor of History and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to that, he taught at Hebrew University, Jerusalem and from 2000 to 2004, he was a research fellow at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace where he headed its Middle East Unit. His latest book is Contested Frontiers: Cartography, Sovereignty, and Conflict at the Syria, Lebanon, Israel Tri-Border Region.


What It Will Take to Save American Journalism From Big Tech and Vulture Capitalism

Then finally, following yesterday’s Senate hearing at which big tech leaders were grilled and there was talk on revisiting Section 230 of the Communications Act that immunizes these social media giants from responsibility for what goes out over their platforms, we speak with Victor Pickard, a Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania where he co-directs the Media, Inequality & Change Center. He is the author of America’s Battle for Media Democracy: The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform, and his latest book is Democracy without Journalism?: Confronting the Misinformation Society. We discuss his article at Harvard’s Nieman Lab, “The news industry finally reckons with the political economy of journalism.”