Ralph welcomes nuclear weapons expert, MIT professor Theodore Postol, to give us his insights into the possibility and the ultimate consequences of Vladimir Putin employing “tactical” nuclear weapons in the Russian conflict with Ukraine. And our resident constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein, weighs in on the hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. Plus, Ralph answers your questions about the latest Boeing crash and money in politics.
Theodore Postol is Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology and National Security Policy in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT. He’s worked for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, the Pentagon, and Argonne National Laboratory. Among other accolades, in 2001 he received the Norbert Wiener Award from Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility for uncovering numerous and important false claims about missile defenses.
The Russian doctrine– in part built by Putin– in fact has focused on the potential use for nuclear weapons to stave off a disaster that would lead to the loss of Russia as a nation, the non-survival of Russia as a nation… The concept, it’s crazy. Let me just tell you what I think of it before I describe it to you so there’s no misunderstanding here. They call it “escalate to de-escalate.” The idea is simple, but wrong. The idea is that you use a low yield nuclear weapon–a tactical nuclear weapon… and the idea is that you use this weapon as a vehicle for showing how desperate you are, and you cause everybody to just stop.
The world is in grave danger. And we all need to hope and do what we can to influence our political decision makers to make wise decisions. So that we don’t get some kind of accident, or series of accidents that rapidly escalate into nuclear weapons use. Because it will kill us all… We have a man who has made a terrible, probably irrecoverable mistake, in Vladimir Putin. he’s going to be desperate. and we’ve got to try to find a way to help him back out of this corner without using nuclear weapons. And this is the test for our leadership, in combination with others.
Bruce Fein is a Constitutional scholar and an expert on international law. Mr. Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and he is the author of Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire: Before the Fall.
We know that the [Supreme Court confirmation hearing] hours are calculated to enable them (the Senators) to get back to fundraise. They want to have time as well to get free advertising in their question-and-answer period. And so, they are orchestrated to raise the political issues that are useful for their constituents. But you’re right that there isn’t any need for 13-hour marathon sessions. But they only work three days a week anymore and fundraising is more important to them than hearings.
[Congress] members themselves typically focus on issues that are narrow parochial concerns to their particular political constituency. That is: irrelevant to the larger issues that are far more important to everyone. And that’s exemplified by the questioning that we’ve witnessed so far… they go totally unexamined in the hearings. You need public witnesses that have a broader perspective to bring these issues to the fore. And make it a far more educational process than what it is now, which is simply a campaign opportunity for Republicans and Democrats.
It’s dictatorial, that’s what it is. It’s dictatorial. Basically, two parties on the Judiciary Committee, they don’t challenge each other and rebut each other. They don’t allow citizen witnesses to sit in the chair and rebut the kind of stuff that’s coming from these Senators. And so basically you have an enclosure system, where Congress is a very profitable, corporate-funded cocoon.