August 8, 2018

New US Sanctions on Russia for the Use of a WMD
The Growing Similarity Between Putin’s Kleptocracy and Trump’s America
Turkey and the US on a Collision Course

Program Notes

We begin with sanctions imposed today by the U.S. government against Russia for the use of a nerve agent in an assassination attempt against a Russian exile in the U.K. which led to the death of a British citizen Dawn Sturgess. David Kotz, a professor of economics at the University of Amherst, Massachusetts and the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics who is the co-author of “Russia’s Path from Gorbachev to Putin: The Demise of the Soviet System and the New Russia”, joins us. We discuss how additional sanctions are not likely to influence Putin’s behavior no more than the sanction already in effect have, and that the recent history of the use of sanctions as a tool of foreign policy indicate they a largely a palliative to make the domestic audience feel like something is being done as a punishment even though the evidence indicates they do not hurt bad actors. In fact they often lead to the further enrichment of dictators as was the case with Saddam Hussein and in the case of Fidel Castro, they served as an excuse for shortages and deprivations which were and are being blamed on Yankee imperialism, not Communist Party central planning.

Then, with the Manafort trial underway revealing exorbitant corruption and Trump’s former campaign manager’s shadowy ties to kleptocrats and oligarchs, we will speak with Diana Pilipenko, the associate director for anti-corruption and illicit finance at the Center for American Progress who previously managed corporate investigations and analysis at the Big Four accounting firm of Deloitte. She joins us to discuss the growing similarity between the kleptocracy Putin oversees in Russia and our current government as we learn today that the first congressman to support Trump was charged with insider trading and from Forbes magazine that Trump’s Secretary of Commerce stole $120 million from a business partner and quietly settled the matter before joining the Trump Administration.

Then finally we speak with an expert on Turkey, Max Hoffman, Associate Director for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress who joins us to discuss the collision course that has U.S. – Turkey relations heading for a showdown with two autocratic leaders Trump and Erdogan butting heads and unlikely to back down. We examine why there has been little effort by the Trump Administration to free three Turkish nationals who worked for the State Department but because of Vice President Pence’s ties to the evangelical community, the release of an imprisoned American fundamentalist pastor has become at top priority.

David Kotz | Diana Pilipenko | Max Hoffman