The stress of war affects us all differently. Some go mad. Some seek solace in the bottle.
Some post cringe.
I cannot stress this enough: If you must post cringe during a crisis, at least resist the temptation to do it in the form of a poem.
This sounds like an impromptu attempt at freestyle rap by someone who stayed up all night watching CNN and is now mildly sedated.
Dear Mister President Vladimir Putin… pic.twitter.com/LbDFBHVWJf
— AnnaLynne McCord (@IAMannalynnemcc) February 24, 2022
We laugh now, but we’re all going to feel terrible for making fun of her when McCord wins the Nobel Peace Prize for talking Putin into withdrawing.
Just in case the poems don’t work, we should probably keep up the pressure with economic sanctions. Early indicators are that they’re having the desired effect, if the desired effect is punishing — not deterring — Russia:
Russian assets are fast becoming untradeable.https://t.co/lWofkyRE9U pic.twitter.com/qpE5vfkp6C
— Tracy Alloway (@tracyalloway) February 24, 2022
In fact, even the White House has given up on sanctions as a deterrent:
On Feb. 11, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, said that “the President believes that sanctions are intended to deter.”
Today, @potus told us: “No one expected the sanctions to prevent anything from happening."
Those are basically the opposite of each other.
— Michael D. Shear (@shearm) February 24, 2022
Bloomberg reported this morning that Biden’s own advisors suspected that sanctions wouldn’t stop Putin, their public chatter about deterrence notwithstanding. The White House is proceeding with them because the two alternatives, doing nothing and going to war, are each untenable. “In some cases, experience has shown that sanctions only entrench undesirable behavior from the parties they target,” Bloomberg notes. “Those limitations are compounded by the prospect that the toughest sanctions on Russia — those that might actually alter Putin’s behavior — would also imperil the U.S. and global economies, already beset by surging prices for oil and other commodities.”
That last part is a reference to kicking Russia out of the SWIFT system for international sanctions. Ukraine is eager to see that happen…
I will not be diplomatic on this. Everyone who now doubts whether Russia should be banned from SWIFT has to understand that the blood of innocent Ukrainian men, women and children will be on their hands too. BAN RUSSIA FROM SWIFT.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 24, 2022
…but as Ed pointed out, that’s the “nuclear option” of economic penalties. As with actual nuclear weapons, the fallout could spread and begin to poison the economies of other countries. Or Russia might collapse, with control of the country’s nuclear arsenal suddenly a jump ball among competing warlords.
Instead of kicking Russia off SWIFT, Biden could instead undertake an all-hands-on-deck initiative to boost America’s oil and gas production, filling the vacuum left by Russia. But that would be far too rational to make environmentalists happy so it’s a nonstarter.
Russia’s heads of industry are anxious about where this economic warfare is headed internationally:
Another extraordinary televised Kremlin meeting, this one with oligarchs. The head of the industrialists' lobby group tells Putin to avoid wrecking the Russian economy further in responding to Western sanctions; Putin responds describing today's invasion as a "necessary measure." pic.twitter.com/4jwQG1fmJM
— Anton Troianovski (@antontroian) February 24, 2022
Biden is reluctant to take booting Russia out of SWIFT off the table, not wanting to appear “weak.” But his rationale at today’s presser that there’s no rush on that decision (“let’s have a conversation in about a month or so to see if they’re working,” he said of his new round of sanctions) also signals weakness. The Ukrainian government probably won’t exist in a month. Either Biden really has given up on deterring Russia, preferring to withhold exclusion from SWIFT as a possible supreme punishment for when Putin takes Kiev, or he’s in the same sort of denial about Ukraine’s ability to fight off the invader as he was when he thought the Afghan army would last months against the Taliban.
“What possible purpose is there in waiting?” asked Mark Antonio Wright, incredulous at Biden’s refusal to consider SWIFT sanctions. “Putin has already undertaken a full-scale invasion of a European country. Hundreds, likely thousands, are already dead. Delay only implies that what Putin has done already isn’t all that bad.” Actually, I think it implies that the U.S. and its western allies have no intention of kicking Russia out of SWIFT. As with Crimea and eastern Ukrainian, Putin will pay some price for his aggression but not the maximum price.
I think the true point of sanctions is to make life increasingly painful for Russia’s mega-rich until they’re forced to find the courage to try to depose Putin themselves, however unlikely that may be. The more discontent there is among Russia’s ruling class, the better.
I’ll leave you with this, a reminder that Russia’s own diplomats evidently sincerely believed Putin was bluffing even after he sent 200,000 troops and blood supplies to the border of a country whose existence he’s always resented.
As I was saying https://t.co/P7JGeqT1wM pic.twitter.com/wFb391YOWx
— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) February 24, 2022
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