Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick joins That Made All the Difference podcast to discuss how his career as a surgeon influenced his work as an educator, administrator and champion of underserved communities, and why he believes we may be on the cusp of the next "golden generation."
It's been a bad week at the office for President Trump. Not only have coronavirus cases in the US been soaring, but The New York Times' bombshell report alleging that Russia paid bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan has continued to make headlines. While details about the extent of the Russian bounty program — and how long it's been going on for — remain murky, President Trump now finds himself in a massive bind on this issue.
Here are three key questions to consider.
<p><strong>First, what did he know and when did he know it? </strong>The media has been abuzz with competing narratives of what briefings President Trump received from the intelligence community, and when he received them. </p><p>Some reports say that presidential aides <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/01/politics/trump-intel-briefings-russia/index.html" target="_blank">opted </a>not to brief President Trump on the Russian bounties, knowing Trump's propensity to rebuff intelligence that implicates President Putin, with whom he's famously tried to cultivate close ties. </p><p>Other reports claim that President Trump <em>was</em> <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/30/politics/white-house-russia-afghanistan-bounties-intelligence-2019/index.html" target="_blank">briefed </a>on the matter as far back as 2019, but forgot about it, or worse, that he chose to do nothing and gave the Kremlin carte blanche to continue its activities in Afghanistan. </p><p>Either way, it's a very bad look for a president who has <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-american-veterans-amvets-75th-national-convention-louisville-ky/" target="_blank">painted himself </a>as <em>the </em>ally of the military community, a pillar of the Republican base. </p><p><strong>Second, what might the American response be?</strong> The alleged Russian bounty scheme follows a precedent of the Kremlin flouting international norms and human rights — and bating the United States to respond. Less than five months out from November's election, this latest crisis presents a Catch-22 for President Trump: If he does something merely symbolic to push back against Russia, he could walk away looking weak and ineffectual at a time when a <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/05/21/americans-give-higher-ratings-to-south-korea-and-germany-than-u-s-for-dealing-with-coronavirus/" target="_blank">majority </a>of Americans say that the President's handling of the global health crisis has been…weak and ineffectual. </p><p>But if Trump goes big to prove to his detractors that he's not in Putin's pocket — say through serious sanctions, a cyber-response, or even something on the ground in Afghanistan — he risks significant escalation with Moscow at a time when relations between the two countries are at their lowest point since the Cold War. (Consider that the US and Russia, who together possess 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, are currently haggling over how, and if, to extend the<a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/the-start-of-the-end-for-arms-control" target="_self"> New START treaty</a>, set to expire in February, which<a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/NewSTART" target="_blank"> limits</a> the number of long-range nuclear weapons that each side can deploy.) </p><p>Indeed, no one knows how the White House will respond, but if President Trump's <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1278299171523637254" target="_blank">twitter </a>feed offers some <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1278284552679624705" target="_blank">insight</a> into his thinking — he's called the allegations a politically-motivated "hoax" — he seems reluctant to respond forcefully. </p><p><strong>Third, what will the political fallout for President Trump be? </strong>This crisis comes at a time when the national security establishment, traditionally removed from everyday politics, has expressed increasing <a href="https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/mattis-trump-protests-military-generals-george-floyd-lafayette-park.html" target="_blank">discontent </a>with the Trump presidency. Meanwhile, the episode could also be straining Trump's ties with the <a href="https://www.pilotonline.com/military/vp-nw-trump-bounties-military-community-20200701-bfbzuzrhirarnbfmdzeq4knm2i-story.html" target="_blank">military community, </a>many of whom are stalwart Republicans. It's too early to say what things will look like by November, but any erosion of support from veterans, particularly in crucial swing states where they live in large numbers (think Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina) could be bad news for President Trump. </p><p>Still, President Trump has wriggled out of countless scandals, including ones that seemed to position him uncomfortably close to Russia. Can he pull it off again? </p>
More Show less
Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal
July 03, 2020
Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, discusses technology industry news today:
Do some of the Facebook's best features, like the newsfeed algorithm or groups, make removing hate speech from the platform impossible?
No, they do not. But what they do do is make it a lot easier for hate speech to spread. A fundamental problem with Facebook are the incentives in the newsfeed algorithm and the structure of groups make it harder for Facebook to remove hate speech.
<p><strong>In general, have tech companies become more or less wary of the Trump administration in recent months?</strong></p><p>Vastly less wary. I think that's partly because they think Trump might lose, so they're less worried about retaliation. Also their employees are very mad.</p><p><strong>Do you really believe that a meltdown-proof nuclear reactor is possible? </strong></p><p>No, but I am excited about the future of small nuclear reactors that have anti-meltdown technology built into each little grain of uranium.</p><p><strong>When are you joining Parler?</strong></p><p>Parler is the free speech, social media alternative. And I am already on it. I joined it a few days ago.</p>
More Show less
Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:
Yes, still in the middle of coronavirus, but thought I'd give you a couple of my thoughts on Russia. Part of the world that I cut my teeth on as a political scientist, way back in the eighties and nineties. And now Putin is a president for life, or at least he gets to be president until 2036, gets another couple of terms. The constitutional amendments that he reluctantly allowed to be voted on across Russia, passed easily, some 76% approval. And so now both in China and in Russia, term limits get left behind all for the good of the people, of course. So that they can have the leaders that they truly deserve. Yes, I'm being a little sarcastic here. It's sad to see. It's sad to see that the Americans won the Cold War in part, not just because we had a stronger economy and a stronger military, but actually because our ideas were better.
Because when those living in the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Block looked at the West, and looked at the United States, they saw that our liberties, they saw that our economy, was something that they aspired to and was actually a much better way of giving opportunities to the average citizen, than their own system afforded. And that helped them to rise up against it.
<p>That's what led to the collapse. That's why the West won the Cold War. And yet now, the Russians are now being governed by a leader who has fewer checks on his power internally, frankly, than Khrushchev or Brezhnev did in the Soviet days. And who is strongly opposed to the United States, to the transatlantic Alliance, and is doing everything he can to try to take advantage of divisions. Both inside those societies and across the West in general. First of all, I mean, do I accept that the Russian people actually want Putin? No, not really. Independent election institutions there said that the elections themselves, this referendum was rigged. It wasn't free and fair. There is of course, virtually no open media in Russia. The only opposition political parties are those that are allowed by the Kremlin to exist. So it's functionally a one party state. Also, in a number of regions, you had local authorities that were offering prizes to get people to go and vote.</p><p>I mean, the whole thing was kind of a charade. It's interesting that Putin thinks you need to even bother with a vote. Because I mean, it's not as if he actually, in any way, is accountable to his people. But he does think that the rubber stamp provides some level of legitimacy. It was like the show trials, in the old Soviet days. You wanted to pretend that people were getting a trial, because it shows that the people do indeed claim that this is their leader. And so you don't have a chance to do anything about it because of course, yeah, you went out and voted for Putin, didn't you, didn't you? But I mean, I think the more depressing thing is that the fact that the West had opportunities when the Soviet Union collapsed, you had president Yeltsin and a cabinet that really wanted to work with the West and the United States.</p><p>They were interested in joining NATO. They were interested in a Western free market. And rather than the United States, and the West providing the kind of economic benefits that would have allowed them to more functionally stand up their economy, we instead gave them some advice on shock therapy that they weren't ready for. And so anyone that was attached to power was facilitated in basically stripping clean, any capital inputs that existed in the country, to taking them out or keeping them for themselves.</p><p>You also had NATO enlargement that went right up to Russia's borders, but the NATO Russia Council that was established to give the Russians an opportunity to see what Russian membership would be like, was a worthless and weak organization. And there was never any intention of really allowing the Russians, and even the Ukrainians and Georgians, given candidates status. You had talk of multiple pipelines and integrating the Russian economy, but what the Americans really did was Baku-Ceyhan and worked very hard to build pipelines to the Caucasus, to central Asia, across the Caspian that would bring that energy to the West and bypass the Russians.</p><p>You had European Union enlargement, and an unwillingness to allow the Ukrainians, for example, to be in both the Eurasian economic union and to have candidate status in the European union. It was forced to be either one or the other. That was something demanded by Poland, went along by the Germans and the French, and made it an awful lot harder for the Ukrainians to get their economy in order. All of those things, making the Russians feel like the West was interested in much more influence in the former Russian sphere of influence, but wasn't really very interested in bringing the Russians along themselves at all. Now, I don't think this was done intentionally. I don't think the Americans wanted the Russians to be in permanent decline. I don't think they were trying to rub their nose in ignominy and defeat. Rather, I think the Americans didn't care.</p><p>I think the level of interest in helping to rebuild the Russians was pretty low. This was already a country that had forgotten World War Two. This was not a country that was interested in providing lots of cash for defeated enemies. Instead, it was looking for a peace dividend. That's the way it was discussed under Clinton. You're not fighting the Cold War, that money can go to the United States, and you don't have to think longterm about the benefits you might have from having a more integrated global order. Well, either way, I mean yeah, look. It wasn't just the Americans fault, of course. Russia was badly governed. Yeltsin turned out to be a drunkard, who towards the end, barely showed up to make decisions. A lot of people around him were ineffective and there were lots of claims of corruption. And when Putin shows up to take over, and he's seen as somebody who's both like a nationalist and a patriot, but also had worked with Sobchak when he was back in not pre-Petersburg, Leningrad as a deputy mayor.</p><p>So maybe he'd do a little bit of both. Everyone came on board and said, "Hey, he's not the guy that we'd love, but he's good enough." And in fact, back then, I even wrote a piece with Boris Nemtsov, who was later assassinated outside the Kremlin, just a few years ago saying, "Well, Putin is not the guy that we'd love, but given the situation we're in right now, probably the best we can do." But that's kind of a sad story. The pragmatism that's required when you make mistakes and when opportunities aren't taken on and instead they're lost. And here we are in 2020, we have President Trump in the United States. We have an election that also will be claimed to be rigged by an awful lot of people. We have American institutions that are no longer seen as exemplars for many other democracies around the world, not to mention an authoritarian state like Russia.</p> The average Russian citizen may not be happy about Putin for life, but they don't feel like they have anyone else to look to either, that would be a better model for them. I mean, yeah, sure. Maybe Canada, but it's not exactly a big enough and powerful enough to move the needle. So just worth talking about that as we think back to 1991, and Soviet collapse and we look ahead to what's happening. Just today as Putin is leader forever. See how we got here, and a little bit of why humanity should be doing better.
More Show less
Jon Lieber, managing director for the United States at Eurasia Group, provides his perspective on US politics:
How likely is bipartisan action against Russia in light of Taliban bounty reports?
I think it's probably unlikely. One of the challenges here is that there's some conflict of the intelligence and anything that touches on the issue of President Trump and Russia is extremely toxic for him. Republicans have so far been tolerant of that and willing to stop any new sanctions coming. I think unless the political situation or the allegations get much worse or more obvious, that stalemate probably remains.
<p><strong>What are the strongest and least political arguments for and against D.C. Statehood? </strong></p><p>Well, on the one hand, you've got 700,000 people living in D.C. who lack any true, complete representation in Congress, and on the other hand, the founders specifically envisioned there would be a federal district that was sort of a neutral ground for the other States to get together and work out their issues. Possible compromise might be receding the District back to Maryland where residents could then get representation, but then you wouldn't get the two new senators that Democrats are likely to get should D.C. Become a state. So we'll see what happens on that next year.</p><p><strong>What are the June job numbers mean for the odds of a phase four stimulus? </strong></p><p>The June job numbers were very good, 4.8 million new jobs, 11.1% unemployment, not good by any historical standards, but given where we've been the last few months, pretty great. Probably this means there's a little less urgency in Congress to get a phase four bill done quickly, but members still want to get something done. State and local governments still need money, and the unemployment insurance that's expiring is likely to be extended. So look for a bill to get done by the first week of August. </p>
More Show less