Russia invades Ukraine and the world is outraged, I tell you, outraged!

Right-wing dictatorship

There is, some seem to suggest, only one right answer and that answer is always the Trumpist answer. Which is not the answer they’re getting from courts,[1] which may well mean a new state constitutional amendment in Pennsylvania.[2]

Alexa Corse, “Pennsylvania, North Carolina Redistricting Court Decisions Don’t Provide Major Partisan Wins,” Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pennsylvania-north-carolina-redistricting-court-decisions-dont-provide-major-partisan-wins-11645653629

Jonathan Lai, “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has picked a new congressional map,” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 23, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-redistricting-new-congressional-map-supreme-court-20220223.html

Marc Levy, Mark Scolforo, and Lauren Rude, “Pennsylvania high court picks new map of US House districts; lawmakers react,” YourErie.com, February 23, 2022, https://www.yourerie.com/news/local-news/your-local-election-hq/pennsylvania-high-court-picks-new-map-of-us-house-districts/


Donald Trump

Coup attempt

It turns out that like Rudy Giuliani,[3] Ivanka Trump is in talks with the January 6 committee investigating the coup attempt. My fear with Giuliani, that he may be using negotiations as a stalling tactic, is explicit with Ivanka Trump.[4]

Annie Karni and Luke Broadwater, “Ivanka Trump in Talks With Jan. 6 Panel About Being Interviewed,” New York Times, February 23, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/us/politics/ivanka-trump-jan-6-committee.html

Hugo Lowell, “Rudy Giuliani poised to cooperate with January 6 committee,” Guardian, February 23, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/22/giuliani-cooperate-january-6-committee


Ukraine

It is an error to confuse coincidence with intention and Anthony Zenkus ought to know better:


But I do wonder if the Russian invasion of Ukraine is Vladimir Putin’s unintended gift to the Democrats.

The war arrived at 4 a.m. local time, just as the rumors said it would. It started with air strikes—in Kyiv, in Kharkiv, Mariupol, Ivano-Frankivsk—and then there were the amphibious landings in Odessa and Belarusian tanks coming over the border in the north. Just as explosions began to echo around Ukraine, Vladimir Putin addressed his nation, as well as the one he was attacking, something that he and his minions had promised for months that they had no intention of doing. This would be a “special military operation” Putin said, to “de-Nazify and demilitarize Ukraine.” His troops would rid it of the “junta” that had seized power and was committing “genocide” against the innocents. The perpetrators, he promised, would be tried and brought to justice.[5]

Putin claims he is pursuing a ‘denazification’ of Ukraine,[6] which, with reported widespread attacks, appears to mean he intends to replace the Ukrainian government.[7] In turn, the Ukrainian president, a Jew, compares Putin to Adolf Hitler.[8]

Julia Ioffe accepts the World War II references in one way: She understands Putin to be seeking to reestablish the world of the Cold War that followed World War II, one divided between Soviet and U.S. spheres of influence, where the antagonists, terrified of fighting each other—the “MAD” doctrine of mutually assured destruction—interminably fought out their differences in the developing world, with one proxy war after another.[9]

Maybe a lot of people don’t actually remember the original Cold War, which featured “duck and cover” drills for schoolchildren, preparing them for a nuclear attack. Maybe they don’t remember the decades-long threat of nuclear war. Maybe they don’t remember when “Ruskies” were demonized as “Commies.” I’m having an awfully hard time understanding why anyone not seriously deranged would seek to reestablish this order.

In this, at least as Ioffe understands him, Putin seeks to reify his own perception of that bipolar world: He already understands the world in those terms, now he wants to make his understanding real, as he reclaims Ukraine. And he claims that the U.S., through its alleged Ukrainian proxy government, seeks nothing less than the destruction of the Soviet Union Russia.[10] On Twitter, Ioffe had asked, probably rhetorically, if Putin really believed this[11] and I replied,


I was thinking of Putin’s background in the Soviet intelligence service, the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB). We should expect of such services that even when they are wrong, that they attempt to be objective, that they at least attempt to be truthful. But as Justin Sherin, posing as Richard Nixon, had tweeted all too recently,


Whatever we may think of Putin’s supposed canniness, he now shows no sign of an attempt at objectivity or truthfulness.

Finally, after explaining how modern and advanced his nuclear arsenal was, he turned to the camera and added another threat. “And now a few important—very important—words for those who might be tempted to intervene in current events,” he said ominously. “Whosoever tries to get in our way, or to threaten our country, our people, must know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will bring about such consequences that you have never experienced before. We are ready for any developments. All decisions necessary for this have been made.” He paused and snarled, “I hope I will have been heard.”

It was hard not to hear him: the president of Russia seemed to be threatening the U.S. and its allies with nuclear retaliation if they tried to get in his way in Ukraine. It was certainly one way of achieving his dream of a new Cold War—by provoking a nuclear stand-off in the 21st century.[14]

I am reminded of those on the U.S. side in the original Cold War who advocated a preemptive strike, not because they had any assurance whatsoever that humanity would survive a nuclear war, but that they merely hoped enough on the U.S. side would survive to preserve what so many call a capitalist democracy[15]—these, arguably, were the original neoconservatives—but is really a constitutional oligarchy.[16]

Now it is Putin threatening nuclear war to impose his derangement. But still it comes back to the Nazis, as Ioffe writes,

[S]ince those flags changed [replacing the Soviet flag with those of fifteen former Soviet republics], Putin has been trying to renegotiate the terms of surrender, raging against this national humiliation just as another strongman, nearly a century earlier, raged against the humiliation of Versailles.[17]

So far, the only discernible impactful response from the rest of the world was a sell-off in financial markets that didn’t last long[18] while oil prices skyrocketed.[19] (No, I will not be impressed by sanctions,[20] at least until I see some oligarchs squeal.) It indeed may not be appeasement,[21] but for now, at least, it might as well be.

Anthony Faiola, “How joining NATO and the E.U. became Ukraine’s unattainable dream,” Washington Post, February 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/02/17/ukraine-nato-eu-european-union-membership/

Reuters, “Ukraine says Russian-backed artillery strike hits kindergarten, no injuries,” February 17, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-says-russian-backed-artillery-strike-hits-kindergarten-no-injuries-2022-02-17/

Ann M. Simmons, Yaroslav Trofimov, and William Mauldin, “Russia Accuses Ukrainian Military of ‘Crimes’ in Report to U.N.,” Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-pro-russia-separatists-trade-allegations-of-cease-fire-violations-11645091832

Jon Allsop, “A week of whiplash and the need for cool heads over Russia and Ukraine,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 18, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/russia_ukraine_invasion_whiplash.php

Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Quasi War Begins,” Puck News, February 18, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-quasi-war-begins/

Maegan Vazquez et al., “Biden says he’s now convinced Putin has decided to invade Ukraine, but leaves door open for diplomacy,” CNN, February 18, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/18/politics/joe-biden-russia-ukraine/index.html

Anne Applebaum, “There Are No Chamberlains in This Story,” Atlantic, February 20, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/munich-security-conference-chamberlain/622872/

John Hudson and Missy Ryan, “U.S. claims Russia has list of Ukrainians ‘to be killed or sent to camps’ following a military occupation,” Washington Post, February 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/02/20/ukraine-russia-human-rights/

David Ignatius, “Surprising cracks, if small ones, appear in Kremlin support for Putin on Ukraine,” Washington Post, February 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/21/putin-ukraine-invasion-kremlin-support/

Dan Sabbagh and Rowena Mason, “UK says ‘serious doubts’ exist within Russian military about invading Ukraine,” Guardian, February 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/21/uk-says-serious-doubts-exist-within-russian-military-about-invading-ukraine

Ann M. Simmons, Yaroslav Trofimov, and Matthew Luxmoore, “Putin Orders Deployment of Troops to Breakaway Regions in Ukraine,” Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-alleges-ukrainian-incursion-kyiv-says-moscow-makes-up-fake-incidents-11645453512

Jon Allsop, “The weight of words in the Russia-Ukraine story,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 22, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/russia_putin_recognition_ukraine.php

Philip Bump, “‘Genius,’ ‘Savvy’: Trump reacts to Putin’s moves on Ukraine exactly as you’d expect,” Washington Post, February 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/02/22/trump-reacts-putins-invasion-ukraine-exactly-youd-expect/

Anthony Faiola, “The moment when Putin got real,” Washington Post, February 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/02/22/putin-speech-analysis-ukraine-russia/

Julia Ioffe, “Will Putin Get His World War III?” Puck News, February 22, 2022, https://puck.news/will-putin-get-his-world-war-iii/

Frank Jordans, “Ukraine-Russia: Germany suspends Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline,” Associated Press, February 22, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-business-germany-europe-berlin-79e3dafb0d231f6a033613b7dab78cdf

Andrew Restuccia and Tarini Parti, “White House Calls Russian Moves an Invasion After Initially Refraining From Using Term,” Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-calls-russian-moves-an-invasion-after-initially-refraining-from-using-term-11645549648

Eli Stokols and Tracy Wilkinson, “Biden announces sanctions against Russia for invasion of Ukraine,” Los Angeles Times, February 22, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-02-22/biden-allies-taking-calibrated-approach-in-response-to-putin-as-russian-tanks-invade-ukraine

Ann M. Simmons, Alan Cullison, and Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Begins Military Operation in Ukraine,” Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shifts-to-war-footing-tells-citizens-to-leave-russia-11645616181

Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu, “Top senator warns Putin cyberattacks could trigger bigger war,” Axios, February 23, 2022, https://www.axios.com/mark-warner-putin-cyber-attacks-ukraine-40c5e959-5093-4d79-bf24-8d4731edb293.html

Jon Allsop, “Propaganda, confusion, and an assault on press freedom as Russia attacks Ukraine,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 24, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/propaganda-confusion-and-an-assault-on-press-freedom-as-russia-attacks-ukraine.php

Shira Hanau, “Declaring war on Ukraine, Russia’s Putin cites goal of ‘denazification’ of country with Jewish president,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 24, 2022, https://www.jta.org/2022/02/24/global/declaring-war-on-ukraine-russias-putin-cites-goal-of-denazification-of-country-with-jewish-president

Chico Harlan and Taylor Telford, “Dow falls into correction as Russian attack on Ukraine roils world markets,” Washington Post, February 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/24/ukraine-europe-markets-russia/

Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s New Iron Curtain,” Puck News, February 24, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-new-iron-curtain/

Reuters, “Factbox: How Ukraine’s armed forces shape up against Russia’s,” February 24, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/how-ukraines-armed-forces-shape-up-against-russias-2022-02-01/

Reuters, “Oil soars past $105 as Russia’s attack on Ukraine rattles markets,” Al Jazeera, February 24, 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2022/2/24/oil-soars-past-105-as-russias-attack-on-ukraine-rattles-markets

Farrah Tomazin, “Biden calls invasion ‘a dangerous moment for freedom around the world,’” Sydney Morning Herald, February 25, 2022, https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/biden-calls-invasion-a-dangerous-moment-for-freedom-around-the-world-20220225-p59zk0.html


  1. [1]Alexa Corse, “Pennsylvania, North Carolina Redistricting Court Decisions Don’t Provide Major Partisan Wins,” Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pennsylvania-north-carolina-redistricting-court-decisions-dont-provide-major-partisan-wins-11645653629; Jonathan Lai, “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has picked a new congressional map,” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 23, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-redistricting-new-congressional-map-supreme-court-20220223.html; Marc Levy, Mark Scolforo, and Lauren Rude, “Pennsylvania high court picks new map of US House districts; lawmakers react,” YourErie.com, February 23, 2022, https://www.yourerie.com/news/local-news/your-local-election-hq/pennsylvania-high-court-picks-new-map-of-us-house-districts/
  2. [2]Marc Levy, Mark Scolforo, and Lauren Rude, “Pennsylvania high court picks new map of US House districts; lawmakers react,” YourErie.com, February 23, 2022, https://www.yourerie.com/news/local-news/your-local-election-hq/pennsylvania-high-court-picks-new-map-of-us-house-districts/
  3. [3]Hugo Lowell, “Rudy Giuliani poised to cooperate with January 6 committee,” Guardian, February 23, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/22/giuliani-cooperate-january-6-committee
  4. [4]Annie Karni and Luke Broadwater, “Ivanka Trump in Talks With Jan. 6 Panel About Being Interviewed,” New York Times, February 23, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/us/politics/ivanka-trump-jan-6-committee.html
  5. [5]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s New Iron Curtain,” Puck News, February 24, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-new-iron-curtain/
  6. [6]Shira Hanau, “Declaring war on Ukraine, Russia’s Putin cites goal of ‘denazification’ of country with Jewish president,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 24, 2022, https://www.jta.org/2022/02/24/global/declaring-war-on-ukraine-russias-putin-cites-goal-of-denazification-of-country-with-jewish-president
  7. [7]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s New Iron Curtain,” Puck News, February 24, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-new-iron-curtain/; Ann M. Simmons, Alan Cullison, and Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Begins Military Operation in Ukraine,” Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shifts-to-war-footing-tells-citizens-to-leave-russia-11645616181; Farrah Tomazin, “Biden calls invasion ‘a dangerous moment for freedom around the world,’” Sydney Morning Herald, February 25, 2022, https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/biden-calls-invasion-a-dangerous-moment-for-freedom-around-the-world-20220225-p59zk0.html
  8. [8]Shira Hanau, “Declaring war on Ukraine, Russia’s Putin cites goal of ‘denazification’ of country with Jewish president,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 24, 2022, https://www.jta.org/2022/02/24/global/declaring-war-on-ukraine-russias-putin-cites-goal-of-denazification-of-country-with-jewish-president
  9. [9]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s New Iron Curtain,” Puck News, February 24, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-new-iron-curtain/
  10. [10]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s New Iron Curtain,” Puck News, February 24, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-new-iron-curtain/
  11. [11]Julia Ioffe, “Does he really believe this?” Twitter, February 24, 2022, https://twitter.com/juliaioffe/status/1496904839246319616
  12. [12]David Benfell, “He says this of a nuclear-armed country that has repeatedly repelled invasions throughout its history. . . .” Twitter, February 24, 2022, https://twitter.com/n4rky/status/1496918257856622595
  13. [13]Richard Nixon [Justin Sherin], Twitter, February 22, 2022, https://twitter.com/dick_nixon/status/1495931903219834880
  14. [14]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s New Iron Curtain,” Puck News, February 24, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-new-iron-curtain/
  15. [15]George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, 30th anniversary ed. (Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2006).
  16. [16]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, July 3, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  17. [17]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s New Iron Curtain,” Puck News, February 24, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-new-iron-curtain/
  18. [18]Chico Harlan and Taylor Telford, “Dow falls into correction as Russian attack on Ukraine roils world markets,” Washington Post, February 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/24/ukraine-europe-markets-russia/
  19. [19]Reuters, “Oil soars past $105 as Russia’s attack on Ukraine rattles markets,” Al Jazeera, February 24, 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2022/2/24/oil-soars-past-105-as-russias-attack-on-ukraine-rattles-markets
  20. [20]David Benfell, “Poor Ukraine, so far from God and so close to Russia,” Not Housebroken, January 1, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/01/01/poor-ukraine-so-far-from-god-and-so-close-to-russia/
  21. [21]Anne Applebaum, “There Are No Chamberlains in This Story,” Atlantic, February 20, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/munich-security-conference-chamberlain/622872/

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