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What Are The Parameters For Peace?; Borderline Disorder; If U.S. Steps Up In Ukraine, Should There Be A Draft?; Should Americans Boycott Companies That Won't Exit Russia?; Skin in the Game. Aired 9- 10a ET
Aired March 19, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: What are the parameters for peace?
I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia.
Last night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy released a video saying it was time to meet for peace negotiations. Zelenskyy said they need to be, quote, "meaningful, fair and without delay." Calling it the only chance for Russia to reduce the damage from its own mistakes.
This followed a BBC News report that Russian President Putin had called Turkish President Erdogan on Thursday and told him what, quote, "Russia's precise demands were for a peace deal with Ukraine."
Speculation has been growing about an emerging peace deal since the "Financial Times" reported that Ukrainian and Russian negotiators discussed a 15-point draft on Monday. But Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has been sending mixed signals about what terms he'd be willing to agree to.
Today's "Washington Post" frontpage story cites a U.S. administration official saying, "Ukraine's statements suggest that Zelenskyy and his top aides haven't come to a firm conclusion on what the Ukrainian people are willing to concede in exchange for a cease-fire and withdrawal of Russian troops."
Which brings us to the Putin-Erdogan call. Turkey has been positioning itself as a go-between between Russia and Ukraine. The BBC's John Simpson debriefed one of the officials on the call, Erdogan's leading adviser and spokesman Ibrahim Kalin. Kalin claimed the demands include the following, acceptance by Ukraine that it should be neutral. And should not apply to join NATO which Ukraine President Zelenskyy has already conceded. Ukraine undergoing a disarmament process to ensure that it isn't a threat to Russia. Protection for the Russian language in Ukraine and what Putin calls denazification.
On this last point, Simpson reports that while Zelenskyy who is Jewish and lost relatives in the Holocaust would likely find this abhorrent. The Turks believe it might suffice for Ukraine to condemn all forms of Neo-Nazism. Other demands could scotch the deal. The details are sketchy, but they seem to include accepting the status of Donbas and the Crimea as pro-Russian entities and giving up territory in Eastern Ukraine sure to be a sticking point for Zelenskyy.
Overall, Simpson writes, quote, "President Putin's demands are not as harsh as some people feared and they scarcely seem to be worth all of the violence, bloodshed and destruction which Russia has visited on Ukraine."
Of course, Putin may be just looking to create new rules for Ukraine which he later claim have been broken if he decides to invade Ukraine in the future. As "The Washington Post" puts it, "Zelenskyy will have to sell any peace deal to his own people -- a tricky task if he's forced to concede too much." But at least perhaps it's a starting point.
Joining me now is Joel Samuels. He's the dean of College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina where he's also a law professor and executive director of the Rule of Law Collaborative. He's been studying Russia since the late 1980s and he's co-author of a leading case book on "Transnational Law."
Dean, do you hear the parameters of a possible deal here on what I've just described?
JOEL SAMUELS, DEAN, COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA: I hear the starting point for the parameters of a deal. The fact that we hear for the first time some discussion of some terms that would be on the table is an important starting point. I think we're not seeing the real outline because as we know the negotiations that will ultimately happen won't happen in the public space.
SMERCONISH: What's most objectionable in what you heard? What's most problematic?
SAMUELS: I mean, I think that ultimately, the most problematic pieces will be the nature of any recognition of independence of the Donbas region and of Crimea. Though the reality is that we have some historical precedent here.
We know that in 2008, when Russia similarly attacked independent -- or claiming to be independent parts of the republic of Georgia, also based on presumed actions to join NATO over time, Russia went into South Ossetia and Abkhazia and sought independence for those regions. So this is not unprecedented.
SMERCONISH: That NATO is not being asked to contribute anything. In other words, no concession on some of the partners, including, say, Poland, is a bit of a surprise, at least to me. How about you?
SAMUELS: Absolutely a surprise to me. From the very beginning, one of the things that I have expected is that one of the conditions of withdrawal would be the removal of missiles from Poland which has been on the Russian agenda for quite a while. So I'm surprised not to hear that. I don't think we should assume that won't come back on to the table.
SMERCONISH: Shouldn't the residence of Donbas and Crimea get a vote in all of this, if there is a deal to be struck here where some control is ceded to Putin?
SAMUELS: You would absolutely expect that. I mean the reality is that particularly in the Donbas region, this isn't a situation where you have a uniform population who want to be part of Russia. In fact, not that long ago in Kharkiv, the second largest city in the north of Ukraine, which is a Russian-speaking city. The fact of the matter is that there was a thought that maybe the natives of Kharkiv, the residents of Kharkiv would want to join Russia and as Ukraine has integrated Kharkiv into the national politics, that's no longer at all the desire of that community.
So I think it's important to think about what those residents would want. But in the end, as we saw in Crimea in 2014, the reality is that the resistance is not strong. And there will have to be concessions. We do have to realize that in the end, Ukraine will have to make concessions here at some level.
SMERCONISH: Dean Samuels, I'm also surprised that there hasn't been conversation about sanctions based on these reports. You'd think that the United States would need a seat at the table. This is a subject I'm going to get into a little bit later in the program with Professor Sonnenfeld from Yale. I'm sure you're aware of the fact that he's the one playing a quarterback role here for the corporate world not to do business in - in Ukraine so long as this is - or in Russia - pardon me - as long as they're being invading Ukraine. The sanctions - I guess my point is, need to go away at some point. You would think Putin would be demanding of that as well.
SAMUELS: Well, and that's going to be -- have to be - I say, this is - look, this is - this is an important first step. I don't want to minimize it. There's also, obviously, a publicity angle. So it's hard to know exactly -- I don't want to go too far in our expectations here. But at the end of the day, that's why I say we're not going to resolve this with two - just two or three countries at the table. There are too many other pieces.
But the other big, I think, development in this is we've been talking about who would be the centerpiece of any negotiations. Would it be - would be it Israel or Finland or maybe China? Although like you, I view that as a long shot all along.
I've always thought Turkey could be a clear player here. That President Erdogan would be a natural middle person. We now see him stepping into the space. I think now we see the more potential partners we see to bring everyone together I think the more we're advancing in the next steps of reaching a resolution. But I also don't think -- this isn't imminent. We're still, I would argue, weeks away, at best.
SMERCONISH: Well, and of course, a final thought for me, it could all be a subterfuge by Putin just to give the appearance that he's entertaining dialogue when in fact he has no desire to resolve anything at any point soon.
Dean Joel Samuels, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it very much.
SAMUELS: Pleasure to be with you.
SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @smerconish. Go to my Facebook page. I'll read some during the course of the program.
What do we have from the world of Twitter?
How does this end? From within (unless the U.N. wakes up and kicks that nasty animal out of the Dog Park)
Mark Langer. Dr. Langer, we're going to address that subject as well today. What if there's engagement by NATO should it necessitate a reinstitution of the draft? I ask the question because every week here, when I have a survey question and there's a more militaristic response pertaining to what we should be doing in Ukraine, it's like a hell yeah vote.
Now it occurs to me, if more of us had skin in the game and if the military burden weren't being shouldered by just, I think, it's 0.5 percent of the populous, would we feel differently? So we'll get into that as well.
In fact, speaking of which, Americans have been very supportive of Ukraine from afar. But what if armed conflict happened in the United States. Do you know that a whopping 38 percent say they would leave this country? It makes me wonder would reinstituting the draft make Americans reassess the cost of war.
And this, the Biden administration has been able to avoid the immigration issue during COVID but the emergency rule that shut down the southern border, may be expiring soon just as an increasing number of Ukrainians will seek asylum in the United States. And DHS is estimating 170,000 other migrants would quickly try to emigrate. How is that going to play out?
It brings me to this week survey question. Go to my website at smerconish.com and tell me which border will have a greater impact on the 2022 midterms? Ukraine-Russia or Mexico-U.S.
SMERCONISH: The immigration issue has plagued President Biden since he took office. Border patrol arrests reached an all-time high in fiscal year 2021 with more than 1.7 million. Since an enforcement measure was instituted by the Trump administration in March of 2020 border officials have used COVID rules more than 1 million times to turn migrants away from the southern border. But those policies might soon end.
Progressive Democrats and immigration advocates would like that to happen. Since the Ukraine war began, "Reuters" reports only seven Ukrainians have been allowed into the United States due to red tape and a broken immigration system which the Biden administration has been unable to change.
A growing number of Ukrainian refugees have been arriving in Tijuana. This week, "Reuters" also reported that several Ukrainians say they passed through a checkpoint there and were granted permission to remain in the U.S. until 2023.
CNN report this is angering African and Central and South American refugees who are also seeking asylum. Asked about Ukrainian immigrants, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters that Border Patrol agents have been reminded, quote, "that individualized exceptions to the Title 42 authority can be applied to Ukrainians."
So what is Title 42? Since the outset of the COVID pandemic, the U.S. government has been rapidly expelling migrants caught at the Mexican border because of the wording of Section 265 of U.S. Code Title 42.
It permits the director of the CDC to prohibit individuals' entry if there is, quote, "serious danger of the introduction of a communicable disease into the United States."
But with the pandemic now waning, Title 42's rule may be ending soon. The CDC reassesses it every 60 days. It's next up in early April. And it's not just Ukrainians who would be impacted. On Thursday, Axios reported that the Biden administration intelligence officials are privately warning about a potentially gigantic influx of migrants at the U.S. border with the possibility of 170,000 expected to migrate. 25,000 of them already in shelters at the border.
And so, the combination of seasonal factors and the alteration of Title 42 could soon cause a mass migration even which would no doubt become fodder for Republican complaints about porous borders. This is why I want to know what you think. Go to my website at smerconish.com and answer this week's survey question.
Which border will have a greater impact on the 2022 midterms? The Ukraine-Russian border or Mexico and the United States.
Joining me now is Stef Kight, politics reporter at "Axios" focusing on immigration and demographics. She co-wrote the recent piece, "Biden officials fear 'mass migration event' if COVID policies end."
Stef, thanks for being here. Who decides the status of Title 42?
I don't know if we have -- Stef cannot hear us. Hey, Stef, I hope you're able to hear me now. My first question is, who decides the status of Title 42?
STEF KIGHT, POLITICS REPORTER, "AXIOS": So Title 42 is up to the transfer of this control. They initially set into place, Title 42 in 2020, under former President Trump at the beginning of the pandemic and it essentially uses the pandemic as reason to allow border officials to turn back very quickly any migrants who come to the border. Essentially, blocking them from our asylum system. So at this point, we'd be waiting on the CDC to take that down and their next deadline for reassessing Title 42 is early April.
SMERCONISH: So what's the metric if we know that they'll be relying on, presumably it's something about the incidence of COVID and just what the condition is of the pandemic, without regard to politics? But it's hard to see how politics won't play a role in this decision.
KIGHT: Right. So the CDC is supposed to be looking at the situation with coronavirus. Looking at, you know, vaccination rates and how quickly it's spreading. And specifically, they're looking at and this is according to some of the memos that they've released. They're looking at DHS' ability to prevent the spread within its own facilities. Looking at border facilities, looking at what they're doing to ensure migrants are vaccinated after they cross the border, whether they have space to keep them, you know, farther apart to prevent spread.
So that's, you know, the main thing that they're looking at. But of course, there had been many concerns raised by critics of this policy. That politics does get involved. That this has been used more as an immigration policy rather than public health order which is what it is intended to be.
SMERCONISH: Even independent of the United States shouldering more of a responsibility for Ukrainian migrants, putting that aside for a moment, it seems based on your reporting that there's a perfect storm brewing on our southern border.
KIGHT: Absolutely. I mean, this is coming after a year where we already saw very high numbers at the U.S.-Mexico border. This seems to be continuing. We haven't really seen a dramatic drop. We've seen higher than usual numbers pretty much every month for a year straight now. You look at, you know, devastation in many of the South American, Central American countries where people are wanting to start over and are struggling in their home countries. You look at the chaos caused by the pandemic.
And then you look into the ways that in many cases, human smugglers try to spread this idea that the Biden administration is, you know, opening the borders after, you know, Trump - the Trump administration's very strict policies towards immigration.
All of this plays a role in why people leave and come to the U.S.- Mexico border. It certainly does not seem to be going away anytime soon. And then, you know, as we were discussing, you throw in the end of Title 42, there's definitely concern within the administration that smuggling networks will take advantage of that. And kind of convince people that now is the time to go.
SMERCONISH: Do progressive Democrats and immigration activists recognize the resonance this could have with voters in the midterm election, if, all of a sudden, there is what you describe in your reporting as a mass migration event at some point in the next few months?
KIGHT: You know, I think what we're seeing on the left, when we look at kind of the messaging around immigration for Democrats and progressives, their focus really is on ensuring there is a humane treatment of migrants at the border. And we've seen them very loudly say that Title 42 needs to go away. That it's a Trump era policy.
That it is, you know, made people not be able to claim asylum in the U.S. And that's an important role. They have to be able to claim asylum.
So we have not seen as much concern on what the repercussions might look like. But we also are seeing the Biden administration as I've reported, they are planning for the situation. They're trying to figure out ways to ensure they can still have some sense of order and humanely treat people, even if, you know, they have to go through the longer process rather than turning people away quickly under Title 42.
SMERCONISH: If there are 3 million refugees from Ukraine already, why only seven have come to the United States so far?
KIGHT: It's a good question. And I don't have a full answer for you. But the refugee resettlement process in the U.S. does take some time. What happens often is the U.S. takes people who have already fled their country. They have applied to come to the U.S.
And so, that process can take some time to go through the formal refugee process. We've heard the Biden administration say that, you know, according to their communications with people in Ukraine and in, you know, the surrounding nations that many people don't want to leave that region yet. But they still want to be able to return home to Ukraine at some point.
And so, maybe people are not as willing to come as far over to the U.S. for a long-term refugee resettlement. But you know, I think, we'll see -- we'll see those numbers tick up over the next several months, I would expect.
SMERCONISH: Final thought. So your reporting at "Axios" and other reporting that I referenced really inspired today's survey question at my website. I'm not taking anything away from the significance and seriousness of what's going on in Ukraine. But I continue to believe that all politics ultimately are local. And that while it's very important to keep our eye on the Ukraine-Russian border, the situation you described, Mexico and the United States, factoring in gas prices, factoring in inflation, factoring in the continued pandemic repercussions.
I'm wondering and I'm asking people, which border is going to matter more to midterm voters. Do you want to weigh in on that at all? It's OK if you take a pass?
KIGHT: You know, I think, I mean we'll have to wait and see. I mean, as someone in media as well, you know that people's attention often shifts. And so, I think a lot will depend on, you know, what the situation does look like at the border in the coming months. Whether we do end up getting more involved in the situation in Ukraine. I think there's so much up in the air at this point. But you know, to your point, I think politics is always local. And there will be some parts of the country where the southern border will be most important to them and other places in the country where that makes a difference.
SMERCONISH: Stef Kight from "Axios." Thank you for your reporting.
KIGHT: Thanks for having me on.
SMERCONISH: More social media reaction. This from the world of Twitter. What do we have?
Ukraine will be over, the millions of refugees pouring in from Mexico will still be here.
I hope Ukraine -- Amelia, I hope Ukraine will be over. One has no idea whether it will be over or not. But the situation that's just been described of 25,000 in camps in close proximity to the border already and maybe another 170,000 thereafter, that is a potential mass migration event that will be explosive and have repercussions on the midterms if it happens.
All right. Well, now, you're ready to go vote on the survey question at smerconish.com. Go to my website. Sign up for newsletter while you're there. I'm asking the following. Which border will have a greater impact on the 2022 election? Ukraine-Russia. Mexico-U.S.
Up ahead. Should any talk of war be accompanied by a return to the draft? We'll discuss.
SMERCONISH: If the U.S. steps up its military involvement in Ukraine, should the draft be reinstituted? I was prompted to think about this issue based on the mixed messaging I'm seeing in some recent Quinnipiac polling.
This week, 75 percent of Americans said the U.S. should do whatever it can to help Ukraine without risking a direct war between the U.S. and Russia. Just 17 percent said the U.S. should do whatever it can even it means risking a direct war between the U.S and Russia. But asked a different question a week earlier. What if Putin goes beyond Ukraine and attacks a NATO country, 79 percent of Americans favored a U.S. military response.
Interestingly, that same poll asked what Americans would do if in the same position as Ukrainians. 55 percent said they would stay and fight. 38 percent said they would leave the country. More interesting, broken down by political affiliation. 52 percent of Democrats would flee. 36 percent of independents. 25 percent of Republicans.
It makes me wonder, would they all feel differently, would we all feel differently about U.S. going to war with Russia if more of us had skin in the game. In 1945, during World War II, there were over 12 million Americans in active military service. And of those who served during that war, 61 percent were draftees. 39 percent, volunteers.
In 1968, at the peak of the Vietnam War, the number of U.S. service personnel was more than 3.5 million. By then, the sourcing numbers had drastically shifted. Only 20 percent were draftees. 80 percent were volunteers. The draft ended in 1973.
Since the mid-1990s, the number of active all volunteer military personnel has been fairly constant. Currently fewer than 1.4 million.
Would the return of the draft change minds about America increasingly going to war?
Joining me now is Elliot Ackerman. He's a former marine. He served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, receiving the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, the Purple Heart.
He's currently in Lviv, Ukraine, covering the invasion of Ukraine for "Time" magazine for whom he wrote this piece in 2019, "Why Bringing Back the Draft Could Stop America's Forever Wars." He's also the co- author with Admiral James Stavridis of the timely new book, "2034: A Novel of the Next World War."
Elliot, thanks for being here. My survey questions here week after week seems to elicit a strong militaristic response which is easy to do when the military burden in this country is shouldered by only, I think, about 0.5 percent of the public. My question to you, should any talk of war be accompanied by a return to the draft?
ELLIOT ACKERMAN, FORMER U.S. MARINE CORPS CAPTAIN: Well, I think the reality is, you know, if we were to see the type of war emanating from this current war that's going on in Ukraine to the United States that we -- that when we associate the questions you asked, you know, whether or not people would stay and fight or flee, you know, that would be a situation which you have a national mobilization or a draft to fight the war.
I think when it comes to the draft, and I am a proponent, I think, we should have a draft. You know, it's less what the draft does in terms of creating numbers for the U.S. military, but it's how the draft changes society, its relationship with the military. Because right now with our all-volunteer force, since the 1970s, the military has increasingly become a separate subset of American society. And when we go to war there are wars that are, you know, fought by other people and we often times we don't even pay for them with war tax. We pay for them for deficit spending.
So it makes it very easy to fight wars. And I think what we're seeing in Ukraine right now is a society that is mobilize, where the war is very disruptive. And when we talk about war and peace in America often times it's a parlor game. It's not something like whereas you said, anyone has much skin in the game. SMERCONISH: In other words, it's not only that too few serve and therefore it's easy for individuals, politicians to send other people's kids into battle. But also, because we really don't monitor the spending the way you would think that we would, it's too easy to ramp up and spend on all of the armaments of war that are necessary.
ACKERMAN: Absolutely. I think -- and you mentioned at the beginning of the segment, you know, sometimes when you say there's going to be a draft people assume it means the entire U.S. military is now composed of conscripts. It's never been the case.
You know, you could have, for instance, a draft where five percent of the U.S. military was composed of conscripts. But the specter of a draft, the fact that every single 18-year-old, man or women, because women who can now serve throughout the U.S. military would also be subject to a draft in the 21st century, if they were all subject to that, it would have households in the United States paying much closer attention to issues of war and peace and military expenditure. And I think that's ultimately a healthy thing for American society. We've gotten too far away from that.
SMERCONISH: In 2019, and you were then really reflecting on the endless wars that followed the events of September 11th. But here's what you wrote then. I'll put it on the screen and read it aloud for the audience.
You said, "To avoid those outcomes a major theater war, the continuance of our terror wars, the attendant loss of life we must move the issues of war and peace from the periphery of our national discourse to its center. And the only way to do that, I increasingly believe, is to reconsider the draft."
My point is you didn't have Ukraine on the brain, at least as far as I know at that time. How, if at all, has your thinking changed?
ACKERMAN: My thinking hasn't changed. And correct, I was writing that in the context of 20 years of forever war. But I think where we are right now as the United States is pondering what Ukraine means and is considering what a major war with a peer level adversary, whether it's a China or a Russia, means we can have a distorted view of what war is.
Because war -- that type of war against a peer level competitor would not be like the 20 years of war we just went through which we're at, you know, very low boil. And as we've seen the Russian military in 20 days of combat has lost twice as many soldiers as the U.S. military lost in 20 years of war.
SMERCONISH: Finally, Elliot, I'd be derelict if I didn't ask you to give us your view from the ground given where you are.
ACKERMAN: The Ukrainians I'm speaking with have a very determined resolve in this fight. But I think what is increasingly clear is that this is a conflict that is going to go on for quite some time. And whether or not the U.S. is or is not interested in what's going on in Ukraine it has -- is going to have a significant impact on our country and the entire world.
SMERCONISH: Elliot Ackerman, stay safe. Thanks for the report. I really appreciate it.
ACKERMAN: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: More social media from Twitter, from Facebook and also from YouTube. What do we have, Catherine?
From YouTube, I think. "We can't get people to wear a mask and you think a draft will happen?"
Barbara, isn't that true? We fight about masks and not the commitment of sons and daughter to a conflict. Look, I agree with his premise, both on the spending as well as on who fights the wars.
We make it too easy. The people who make the determinations don't have personal skin in the game. The vast majority of them do not. And it just, I think, brings additional scrutiny on the very serious choices that have to be made anytime you're talking about increased commitment of United States personnel.
Nobody is talking about today. But we could be talking about it tomorrow which is why I wanted to have the conversation.
I want to remind you go to the survey question at Smerconish.com today. It's a political question. Which border is going to have a greater impact when Americans vote in the midterm? Will it be Ukraine and Russia? Or by then will it be Mexico and the United States?
Still to come, should America's boycott companies still doing business in Russia? And what about the unintended consequences? What if American consumers start taking it out on American franchisees? Would that be fair?
SMERCONISH: This week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Congress -- quote -- "All American companies must leave Russia from their market." Saying -- quote -- "Peace is more important than income."
So far, more than 400 American and other multinational firms have withdrawn, suspended or scaled back doing business in Russia. Among them, airlines like Delta and American, sport organizations like FIFA and the IOC, banks, credit card companies like Mastercard and American Express, oil companies like BP and Exxon, car companies like GM and Ford, cruise lines like Carnival and Norwegian, Apple, Dell, FedEx, IKEA, Netflix, eBay, Airbnb, McDonald's, Coca-Cola.
That's all according to a list maintained by my next guest, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale. But Sonnenfeld has also identified what he calls a hall of shame. Within 35 companies that he defines as digging in, defying demands for exit, and another 48 that are buying time who have chosen not to change their policy. Among these, LG Electronics, Pirelli tires, Subway sandwich shops, Koch Industries whose brands include Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Quilted Northern toilet paper, Vanity Fair napkins and Georgia-Pacific lumber, Authentic Brands Group which includes Eddie Bauer, Brooks Brothers, Nine West and Reebok.
Here's what Dana Milbank of "The Washington Post" advocated -- quote -- "Those who want to stop Russia's murderous attack against Ukraine should top investing in or buying the products of these companies."
Joining me now is Jeffrey Sonnenfeld. He's senior associate dean of the Yale School of Management. Professor, thanks for being here again.
I have asked you this question relative to voting rights, to guns. I could have asked about abortion, immigration. When is it necessary -- when is it appropriate for corporations to worry about more than their bottom line? What are the parameters?
JEFFREY SONNENFELD, PROFESSOR AND SENIOR ASSOCIATE DEAN, YALE SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT: Well, the geopolitical context is absolutely critical part, of course, of a business leader's responsibility. You want to have faith in society, trust in free markets, and you want to have social harmony.
As Alexis de Tocqueville when he visited the U.S. back in 1840 he wrote a book, "Democracy in America." He took a look at what really makes our system work. It was that the communities trust each other. There's a foundation that believed that it isn't just the tightness of the legal. And he called it -- he called it social capital.
People think it's a recent term and that's what business leaders have to work on because it -- they say it's as powerful as financial capital. When some people say to business leaders get back in their lane, I wonder, what lane are you talking about? The breakdown lane? It's absolutely critical for them to focus. And 80 percent of the American public is behind these moves.
SMERCONISH: Are there any exceptions, food, medicine come to mind?
SONNENFELD: No, absolutely not. And I'm so glad that you asked about that. Just since last week's show where I wasn't on but you did mention me and a very good reporter from Kaiser health care magazine, the company cited then -- said, well, we can't switch our urgent clinical trials for humanitarian reasons. We're embedded in Russia.
Guess what? They all shifted, Michael, since your show last week with the exception of one in your neighborhood, AmerisourceBergen, the only one that didn't. But Pfizer, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, they all shut down their trials and moved them out of Russia. So they can do more than they claimed. And I think the public pressure and the shaming really made a difference. And I appreciate your show for putting a spotlight on them.
SMERCONISH: OK. What about the law of unintended consequences? Because Subway is on the list, right? And a franchisee, Nancy is her name, I'm not going to reveal her full identity, I don't want there to be blowback against her, but Nancy owns three Subway stores in New England. What if people now see your list and they say, oh, Subway, well, I'm not going to order a hoagie from Subway here in the United States, and it ends up hurting Nancy and her 30 American employees?
SONNENFELD: Well, I'm so glad just to state from the opening, basically, since we're both native Philadelphians I'm glad you referred to it as a hoagie and not as a Subway because that's the original term, but we should be going to Pat's or Jim's or Lee's for the best.
But, you know, it's a business decision that she made, and it was not a good business decision. If she had gone to say Jersey Mike's which is 10 years older, both of these companies, Jersey Mike's and Subways are founded -- the original family owners and the guy running Jersey Mike's, believe it or not, in his 80s, is still the guy who created it is -- that company had controlled growth. Subways grew -- it's 40 times -- 40 times the size of Jersey Mike's. And it was the fastest growing chain over the last decade. It was uncontrolled growth.
We've seen that happen in many other businesses before. They shouldn't have had this brawl in Russia with these ridiculous franchise agreements. But the least they can do is to stop the advertising, to stop the corporate support for these franchisees in Russia like all other companies have done that are franchisors. Yum Brands -- Starbucks has bought back their franchisees. They could do a lot more. Subway is just digging in their heels.
SMERCONISH: Subway, to be fair to them -- Catherine put it on the screen -- quote -- "Subway has no corporate operations in Russia. There are approximately 450 franchised restaurants in Russia which are all independently owned and operated by local franchisees and managed by an independent master franchisee. We don't directly control these independent franchisees and their restaurants and have limited insight into their day-to-day operations."
I get your point, Professor. I'm just worried about right now some man or some woman is like getting dressed to go to Nancy's Subway in New England where they're going to make sandwiches, and they're going to clean the bathrooms, and they're going to wait on customers, and do a lot of unglamorous things -- they're not involved in any of this. Why should they suffer? If she loses business, she maybe has to close shop?
SONNENFELD: She loses business. She feeds it back to the parent company, the franchisor. And they -- Subway which is just down the road from me here. I like the company a lot. But the CEO of the company was the chief financial officer for Pepsi for that part of the world. He knows it well. He knows what agreements they setup. And they were not -- they were not good agreements, but he has got an awful lot of control now just in not supporting those stores.
All other franchisors can act responsibly. Why is it OK that, you know, McDonald's and Burger King, everybody else does the right thing and we forgive these guys for stubbornly going ahead and funding Putin's war machine? No, these franchisees they have a lot of feedback when bottlers or others are doing things that the franchisees didn't like or the parent company didn't like, boy, they fed it back and they change direction.
Nancy has a lot more influence on her colleagues when they bond together than they think. And also, if her sandwich is so good, she could just open up her shop on her own and be Nancy's sandwiches across the street.
SMERCONISH: Listen, I'm for Nancy. I'm against Putin. I'm for Nancy. I'm against Putin. I'm for Zelenskyy, too.
Hopefully, that all can line up and have a good outcome. Thank you, Professor. I appreciate it.
I noticed you're getting more sophisticated. It used to be who will withdraw and who will remain. Now, you've got five different categories. I encourage people to go online and get the list from Professor Sonnenfeld at Yale. Thank you.
SONNENFELD: My pleasure.
SMERCONISH: Checking in on your tweets and Facebook comments. From the world of YouTube.
"Are we to assume that every American company is going to end business with Russia? In some ways, does it end up hurting more than helping?"
Chris, I don't want to be repetitive. I'm not interested in taking it out on Americans doing business here in the states. And I'm just concerned, as I expressed, that when people hear the list of those that are still doing business in Russia, they might take it out on the wrong entity here at home. But you heard the disagreement that I have with Professor Sonnenfeld about, you know, Nancy in New England.
Still to come, more of your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments, and the result of the survey question. Go vote, register for the newsletter when you're at Smerconish.com. Can't wait to see the result of this. Like, what are the political dynamics of these border issues, Ukraine and Russia, Mexico and U.S., which is going to have greater impact on the midterm election?
SMERCONISH: Time to see how you responded to the survey question of the day at Smerconish.com. Which border will have a greater impact on the 2022 midterms, Ukraine and Russia or Mexico and the U.S.?
Pretty interesting question, right? Here's the result. Fifty-five percent of nearly -- let's call it 17,000 say in the end it will be the Mexican/U.S. border. If there is, I'll say I'm in that category of agreeing with the 55 percent, if there's a mass migration event. As important and significant as the events that we're covering extensively in Ukraine are, all politics are local, and the prospect of that situation -- not even including Ukrainian migrants, I think, is a real burr in the saddle of the Biden administration especially if Title 42 changes.
OK. Here's some social media reaction from the program. What do we have?
"The border question will have no real impact. Reds and blues will stay in their camps."
Eric, they will stay in their camps, but you're overlooking passion. And a mass migration crisis on the southern border will stoke the GOP base. And they've already got -- look, I give President Biden a lot of credit for maintaining this NATO alliance and keeping everybody on the same page, but I don't think it's enough to offset the strong hand that the GOP has been dealt for the upcoming midterm which is a combination of inflation and gas prices and crime. And if you throw into that mix a border crisis that will -- that handle -- trump anything else. No pun intended.
All right. More social media, what do we have?
"If we have a draft again, women must be included." They will be. "I'm appalled that in Ukraine, women can leave if they wish but men are forced to stay. So discriminatory and unfair to men," Diary of a Wimpy Dad.
Diary of a Wimpy Dad, all I wanted to get to today by the conversation, and Elliot Ackerman was excellent, is that it's very easy for many of us, us, I'm in this category, to say, you know, do whatever it takes to stop Putin in his tracks. But all of a sudden if you have skin in the game, I think, you get a different response from a lot of people.
Sugar, I wish I had more time, but I don't. Go vote on the survey question if you haven't already. I'll leave it up. Register for the newsletter. See you next week.