Background Briefing: February 4, 2024


As US Bombing of Syria and Iraq Continues, Will Iraq’s Government be Forced to Eject 2,000 US Personnel Who Could Become Hostages?

 We begin with blowback from the US retaliation against IRGC and Quds forces as well as Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria from the strikes on 85 targets at 7 sites. With popular anger against the US in Iraq inflamed, we assess whether the pro-Iranian government in Baghdad will be forced to kick out the 2,000 US personnel in the country who could become hostages if the bombing continues as the president and the Pentagon have promised. Joining us is Joshua Landis, who is the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a fellow at the Quincy Institute.  He writes “Syria Comment,” a daily newsletter and blog on Syrian politics.


Conflicting Reports of Rifts in Ukraine’s Leadership

Then we look into conflicting reports coming out of Ukraine claiming President Zelensky is about to fire the head of his military, General Zaluzhnyi, who on Thursday offered up a new strategy to defeat the Russian invaders. Joining us is Taras Kuzio, a Professor in the Department of Political Science, National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and Associate Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. He is the author and editor of 21 books, including Putin’s War Against Ukraine. Revolution, Nationalism, and Crime and, most recently, Russian Nationalism and the Russian-Ukrainian War.


Did SCOTUS Give Trump and Republican Legislatures a Way to Steal the 2024 Election?

Then finally we examine how the Supreme Court in a 2020 ruling might have opened up a way for Donald Trump and Republican state legislatures to steal the 2024 election by naming their own electors in the Electoral College vote. Joining us is Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, host of the podcast Another Way, founder of, and co-founder of Creative Commons. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court, and has received numerous awards. He is the author of Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Our Congress — and a Plan to Stop It, One Way Forward: The Outsider’s Guide to Fixing the Republic, and his new book, out in 10 days, is How to Steal a Presidential Election. We discuss his article at The New York Times “Here Is One Way to Steal the Presidential Election.”