Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Russia continues to face resistance in the field and in the banks

The Economist:

The war in Ukraine is going to change geopolitics profoundly

Some bits will look familiar, some will look unprecedented

The eu, born from the idea that economic integration could stop war, promised to pay for arms sent to Ukraine. Neutral Switzerland promised sanctions aimed at entities of the sort it holds most dear: banks. In Germany the newish coalition of social democrats, greens and liberals threw off the country”;s pacifist robes: having once offered Ukraine only helmets, it is now rushing to send anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, and it has announced a massive boost in defence spending. Having earlier suspended Nord Stream 2, the pipeline which was to have tied Germany ever more tightly and exclusively to Russian gas supplies, the government even indicated it could imagine keeping the country”;s remaining nuclear power plants on line if doing so proved crucial to reducing its dependence on Russian gas.

Breaking: Judge issues temporary injunction barring Texas from investigating pediatric gender-affirming care as ‘child abuse’

–; S.E. Cupp (@secupp) March 11, 2022

Noah Smith/Substack:

Time for a Diplomatic Revolution

Cold War 2 is here, and the U.S. needs all the allies we can get.

Nowhere did shifting alliances make more of a difference than in the middle of World War 2. In late 1940, Nazi Germany had conquered France and was allied with Japan, while the USSR had helped Hitler devour Poland. The U.S. was neutral, still hobbled by isolationism. It looked as if totalitarian powers would dominate the globe. But a year later, when Hitler turned on Stalin and Stalin allied with the U.S., the tables were entirely turned –; the Allies now had a coalition that could beat the fascist powers.

In the Cold War, too, alliances played a role. When the USSR and China were communist allies during the Korean War, it was all the U.S. could do to hold them at bay; after the Sino-Soviet Split, the USSR had to worry about attack from China. The U.S. was able to exploit this by arranging a de facto alliance with China against the Soviets in the 1970s and 1980s. The Soviets probably would have lost the Cold War anyway, but the U.S.-China rapprochement probably hastened the end.

Now we find ourselves at another dangerous, potentially pivotal moment in history. Three weeks ago, it seemed as if a partnership between a newly ascendant China and a revitalized Russia might dominate the globe, bringing authoritarian values back into preeminence. The U.S.”; NATO allies seemed sleepy and irresolute, while India –; the next great power on the horizon –; still maintained close ties with Russia. When Putin sent tanks rolling into Ukraine without any provocation, it looked as if the authoritarian coalition”;s moment had finally arrived.

Then two remarkable things happened…

The People’s Convoy is growing increasingly upset with Beltway drivers, so much so that organizer Brian Brase told truckers tonight they could escalate their complaints about commuters being “bad actor[s]” by “flood[ing] 911.” “DC traffic does not like us,” he said.

–; Zachary Petrizzo (@ZTPetrizzo) March 11, 2022

LA Times:

The evidence in the Jan. 6 investigations is overwhelming –; literally

At this rate it may take years to prosecute all the cases. The Justice Department continues to announce indictments nearly weekly. And is still trying to identify at least 350 more people.

As a result, 14 months after rioters brawled with police, resulting in several deaths and scores of injuries, caused millions of dollars of damage and disrupted the certification of President Biden”;s victory, only one Jan. 6 defendant, Guy Reffitt, has faced a jury. Reffitt, a member of the Texas Three Percenter militia group, was found guilty on all counts Tuesday, including obstruction of an official proceeding and carrying a firearm while being unlawfully on Capitol grounds.

Two questions I have in the wake of the injunctive relief issued in Texas for parents of trans kids: (1) How long does it last before the Texas Supreme Court eventually intervenes? (2) How much damage has been done already by the evil hand of the state that cannot be unwound?

–; Anthony Michael Kreis 🇺🇸🤝🇺🇦 (@AnthonyMKreis) March 11, 2022

Raymond Keene/The Article:

Red letter day: how Russian chess defied Putin

In 1987, Joseph Brodsky, the dissident Soviet writer, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Earlier he had argued that “;the surest defence against evil is extreme individualism and originality of thinking.”;

As I have explained before in these columns, here lies the true reason, aside from any state sponsorship, for the extraordinary popularity of chess in Soviet Russia. Chess offers a wide field for individual thought, in which the state has no remit to interfere. The irony is that, what I would describe as the ultimate right wing, self reliant, libertarian game, should become the most powerful icon of the world”;s most powerful communist state.

“;Truth Social has been a complete disaster and the ex-president seems to know it.”; Read the latest from @besslevin.

–; VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) March 11, 2022

Philip Bump/WaPo:

The online attention industry that helps Russian misinformation get traction

“;The U.S. Department of Defense”;s Biological Threat Reduction Program works with the Ukrainian Government to consolidate and secure pathogens and toxins of security concern in Ukrainian government facilities, while allowing for peaceful research and vaccine development,”; the statement said. “;We also work with our Ukrainian partners to ensure Ukraine can detect and report outbreaks caused by dangerous pathogens before they pose security or stability threats.”;

The claim has already been addressed multiple times in recent weeks. What”;s more, the idea that America would willfully release a viral pathogen at this moment without expecting blowback is, in the context of the coronavirus, particularly silly. And yet here is Lavrov, transitioning seamlessly from we didn”;t invade Ukraine to the U.S. is probably helping to make biological weapons.

And here is a contingent of American voices, eager to gain attention and support online, siding with Russia”;s position in the guise of offering run-of-the-mill skepticism.

I read the Florida bill. Why is any state passing any law about being gay? People are gay. They are people. They go to school & teach & raise families & do all the things people do. Education is about learning the world as it is–;not as bigoted politicians would like it to be.

–; Heath Mayo (@HeathMayo) March 11, 2022

Albert Burneko/Defector:

I Truly Cannot Believe How Dumb This Convoy Shit Is

The truckers congregated at the Speedway in Hagerstown, Md., when they arrived last week in what press coverage very generously has tended to call “;the D.C. area.”; They rallied there for a couple of days, I gather, before heading toward D.C. to circle the Beltway, which as far as I can tell they”;ve been doing daily for the past few days. (Today Ted Cruz is with them!) What I had not quite registered until this morning is that, apparently, at the end of each day of this protest of driving in a large circle around the most miserably congested highway in the country, they have been driving back to Hagerstown. That makes this, by miles, the absolute stupidest thing I”;ve ever heard of.

Readers from outside of the wider D.C. area may not understand this, or may get a misleading impression from coverage that grants Hagerstown a place in “;the D.C. area.”; Google maps might clear it up a little, when you see that the Hagerstown Speedway sits approximately 68 miles from the nearest point of the Capital Beltway, in Bethesda, Md. Sixty-eight miles is a pretty long way, on just about any road, to be driving back and forth each day, especially when you”;re doing it just to drive in a circle for a while. Even people who experience 136 miles of round-trip driving only in the context of the straight and largely empty interstates of, like, northeastern Wyoming, might at least wonder whether there”;s any place nearer than 68 miles away from which to stage your pointless daily circle-driving.

Former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues predicts the International Criminal Court will indict Putin in the next 2-3 months

–; Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 11, 2022


‘Dark Towers’ Exposes Chaos And Corruption At The Bank That Holds Trump’s Secrets

The money laundering business was very lucrative for Deutsche Bank and it did it really all over the world. The biggest places it was doing it were with Russian customers. And Deutsche Bank has a long, proud history of being one of the few Western banks [that has], more or less without interruption, been operating in Russia for a very long time. And Russia in the early 2000s was a place where there were a lot of people getting very rich very quickly, often through suspicious means. It became very important for them to have a way to get their money out of Russia and converted from rubles into euros or dollars or pounds. … Many Western banks were very wary of doing business with these Russians because there were a lot of suspicions. And, in fact, it was true that a lot of this money came through corruption or kleptocracy, things like that. Deutsche Bank was very happy to fill that void. It arranged for a number of workarounds for Russians where they could either move their money to a country like Latvia, for example, and then have it wired into the U.S.

Incredible, harrowing report of the total wasteland that Russia has made of Ukraine”;s second largest city, Kharkiv. But for all the destruction, they haven”;t won.

–; Laura Rozen (@lrozen) March 12, 2022

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