Here’s What I Think

Monday, February 21, 2022: My brief opinion, modestly offered, because I think today is a historic day:

This is not Reagan v Grenada, Bush v Panama, Clinton v Serbia or Reagan or Obama v Libya. None of those men became known as wartime presidents. Even with Iraq, George W. Bush isn’t primarily remembered as a wartime president, but rather as the president at the end of the Cold War. This is the United States and NATO versus Russia in a war over territory in Europe. Blue collar Joe Biden has become a wartime president.

When Covid began no one expected the extent of disruption it would still be causing, now beginning year three. As Russia’s gambit to upend the European chessboard begins, we may fairly expect death, hardship, refugee flows, displaced people, redrawn borders and a whole roster of Rumsfeld’s unknown unknowns.

Talking shops have spent entire careers talking over the last thirty years. For now they are talked out. Misery will ensue. I still have a hard time imagining the drafty old National Philharmonic Hall down near the Dnieper River in Kyiv, where my wife and I enjoyed an all Russian classical music concert three summers ago, ever being under assault by MIG fighters.

Unless there is an assertion by China, the European security question will predominate for years to come. The system of government – democratic or autocratic – that comes out on top in the battle for primacy beginning tonight will make gains worldwide and for years to come.

Autocrats will strive to make gains in the immediate meantime (looking at you, Beijing, Pyongyang, the Sahel). Either the post Cold War order will be patched together to hobble along for a little while longer or it will yield to the rise of an entirely new ordering of the world. Starting right now.

One man has made the calculation that he can reset the European security conversation. However successful his pursuit of war turns out to be, he is surely right about that.

They’re Not Making It Easy

The Covid AVDaily newsletter reacts to the UK’s “green list” of countries approved for travel without the requirement for travelers to quarantine on their return. They’re unimpressed.

They note that “it includes a number of remote islands such as South Georgia, as well as countries that are right now not welcoming tourists (e.g. Australia, New Zealand and Singapore).”

Then there is talk of passengers facing immigration queues of up to seven hours. The newsletter opines that “Governments like the UK are sending signals that they’d rather people didn’t travel. One of the most revealing parts of Friday’s announcement was when … Paul Lincoln from the UK Border Force (talked) about significant border delays. Lincoln said that each officer would be taking up to ten minutes to check every passenger … listening to him talk the message seemed to be ‘these are the consequences of you choosing to travel.’

Nobody needs that. So we’ve routed ourselves through Amsterdam Schiphol for our July visit to Finland. 

 

Fits and Starts

Here it comes in fits and starts, the return of travel. Beginning in late June a British cruise line will send out a ship capable of holding 3,647 passengers  and … just sail around, not stopping anywhere. More wandering than cruising.

China says it is processing visa requests from vaccinated individuals, but only from those who have been vaccinated with a Chinese-made vaccine, which are not available or approved in much of the world.

And the Icelandic government announced today that from tomorrow, visitors who can prove vaccination will be welcomed into the country with no test or quarantine. If you time it right, just before the coming big volcanic eruption, maybe you can trade where you’re stuck now for being stuck in Iceland.

Gunboat Boris

The Tory government’s plans to use the Royal Navy to patrol British fishing grounds in the event of a hard Brexit elicited this French response Saturday:

Recalling this well-thought-out Trump Administration plan, back in April, to “shoot down” ships:

Good government. Good times.