Podcasts

The Lawfare Podcast: Bryan Fogel on 'Icarus'—and Russia

By Benjamin Wittes
Saturday, August 12, 2017, 1:30 PM

The new Netflix documentary Icarus may seem at first glance off the beaten path for Lawfare. It's a film about doping in international sports, not national security law or policy. But as I explained when I reviewed it here, it's really about much more than that:

Icarus is not about L’Affaire Russe or Russian interference with the 2016 election. But if you want to understand L’Affaire Russe, you should watch it. Because Icarus is the story of the Russian government’s corruption of the integrity of supposedly neutral international processes and its use of covert action to tamper with those processes. If that sounds a little familiar, it should. It is easy to substitute in one’s mind as one watches this film a foreign country’s electoral system for the elaborate anti-doping testing regime whose systematic circumvention and undermining Icarus portrays. The corruption of process is similar. The motivation—the elevation of Russian national pride—significantly overlaps. The lies about it in the face of evidence are indistinguishable. And the result in both cases is a legitimacy crisis, of Olympic medals in one case and of a presidential election in another—a crisis that produces investigation and scandal.

This week, I asked Fogel to come on the podcast and talk about the film and its relationship to the broader concerns about Russia that have dominated public attention of late.