On today's BradCast: Putin's war in Ukraine continues, as do fears that it could expand into a nuclear World War III. That has led some on the anti-war Left to demand the U.S. and EU spend more energy pushing for a diplomatic solution rather than sending more deadly arms to Ukraine to help it defend itself. But that, according to our guest today, is a false choice. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary below.]
First up, after recently cutting off the purchase of coal from Russia, the European Union is reportedly now prepared to embargo oil purchases as well. That's good news for Ukraine, very bad news for Russia, but also potentially bad news for American consumers as the global price of oil is likely to further spike as Big Oil CEOs in the U.S. continue to rake in record profits rather than increase production or lower gas prices at the pump. We discuss.
In not entirely unrelated news, as EarthJustice senior attorney Adrian Martinez vowed on this program back in February, his organization along with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the United Auto Workers (UAW), 16 states and the District of Columbia are now now suing the U.S. Postal Service to block its purchase of nearly 150,000 new gas-guzzling mail delivery trucks. The $11.3 billion contract, carried out by corrupt Donald Trump's corrupt Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, is unlawful on several bases, they argue. Most notably, the USPS failed to do an environmental impact study, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, until after inking their deal with Wisconsin defense contractor, Oshkosh Defense, to build the trucks.
The new gas-powered vehicles are designed to get just 8.6 mpg, barely more than the 30-year old trucks they're replacing and, to make matters worse, will be built in a new non-union facility in South Carolina, rather than the company's union shop in Wisconsin. “Once this purchase goes through, we’ll be stuck with more than 100,000 new gas-guzzling vehicles on neighborhood streets for the next 30 years," California's Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement.
The states and the environmental groups --- with the support of the EPA and White House --- are hoping to move the USPS to deploy an all-electric fleet instead. Transportation is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and the postal fleet's 217,000 trucks is the largest share of the government's nonmilitary vehicles. Federal regulators estimate the new trucks will emit roughly the same amount of Earth-warming carbon dioxide each year as 4.3 million passenger vehicles.
Next, as Russia regroups in the east and south of Ukraine to prepare their next offensive, we're joined today by NICHOLAS GROSSMAN, international relations professor and political scientist at the University of Illinois. He's also Senior Editor at Arc Digital and author of Drones and Terrorism: Asymmetric Warfare and the Threat to Global Security.
This week, Grossman wrote a piece at The Daily Beast, responding to recent commentary from liberal academic icon and anti-war advocate Noam Chomsky, who is critical of the U.S. and NATO for continuing to supply Ukraine with weapons of war, rather than demand negotiations toward peace. As Chomsky argued, while sympathetic with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's position, increased arming of the beseiged nation fails to "pay attention to the reality of the world," which, without conceding to Russian demands via negotiations, will result in "the destruction of Ukraine and nuclear war."
But Grossman argues that's a false choice and that arming Ukraine is, in fact, at least right now, the best path to peace. "Even just framing it as diplomacy or war is a mistake," Grossman responds today, "in that war and diplomacy are not alternatives that go together. Just about every war ends with some sort of negotiated solution. Ukraine was willing to meet with Russia and did offer some concessions and those weren't enough. But, also, the actions on the ground are in effect a negotiation."
"The way that a lot of political science treats war is to think of it as a bargaining process. You have these two sides, Russia and Ukraine. Russia wants something and Ukraine really doesn't want to give it. And Russia's willing to kill to try to get it, and Ukraine is willing to kill to try to not give it. As long as that's the case, then the two of them don't actually know what they can force the other to accept. And so the war itself, the actual fighting, is to some extent a negotiating process. It is the fighting on the ground that is pushing both sides to figure out what exactly they can force the other one to accept."
"There will be peace," Grossman insists, "but the peace is going to look like many possible different things. One option is a peace where Ukraine is independent. Another option is where Ukraine is subjugated by Russia. Both of those are technically peace. But the Chomsky argument seems to be pushing more for the peace with Ukraine bowing down before Russia. And the problem with that is the Ukrainians don't want to, and there's nothing American can do to make them do it. So the action of 'Hey, we could have this option of getting them to sit down and then work it out and there would be peace, but instead we're not doing that, we're just causing war', just misunderstands that."
"As long as Russia and Ukraine want to fight, they're going to fight, and the United States can't stop that. So our choice is leave the Ukrainians on their own, or help them as they try to fight for independence."
There is, of course, much more to discuss with Grossman, including Chomsky's concerns (and many others'!) that this all leads to the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, as well as his thoughts on those who claim to be anti-war while blaming the U.S. for Russia's aggression. Please tune in for our very insightful and informative discussion today.
Finally, we close with some brighter news. A judge in New York has refused to end the $10,000/day fines levied against Donald Trump earlier this week, after the disgraced former President was found in contempt for failing to adequately respond to document subpoenas from New York state Attorney General Letitia James. Her civil probe into alleged "fraudulent" financial statements by Trump --- inflating or deflating his net worth as part of an alleged years-long bank, tax and insurance fraud scheme by Trump, his company and perhaps his children Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric --- is continuing toward a potential lawsuit. The Manhattan District Attorney is supposedly reviewing similar matters in consideration of criminal charges. Today, Judge Arthur Engoron denied Trump's motion to purge the contempt ruling (and the daily fines that go with it) after Trump submitted a one-page affidavit claiming he did not have any of the documents sought by James. He failed to explain who did or what he did to search for them.
"Mr. Trump's two-paragraph affidavit adds no useful information to the mix," said James before Engoron's decision today. "Mr. Trump merely states off the top of his head, with no hint that he conducted any type of search, that he has no documents in response to the December 2021 subpoena in his 'personal possession.'"
"It is simply not plausible that Mr. Trump authored only three documents dealing with the value of his assets and his wealth," the state AG wrote. The fines will continue to mount for now, as James' office makes their final determination as to whether or not to formally charge the former President in the coming weeks...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)