Hello. If you read The Morning Dispatch and Uphill (and I hope you do), you might have noticed that some days, in lieu of a clever joke or funny anecdote to kick things off, we’ll say, “Let’s get right to it.”
I look forward to writing my introductory essay each week, and I appreciate the wonderful feedback many of you provide. But the war in Ukraine has been keeping us busy, and we’re lucky to have a long list of smart pieces that are more important for you to read than any scribbles I might offer. Plus, the pile of articles I have to edit for the coming week is rivaled only by the piles of laundry that need my attention. So … let’s jump in.
Paul Miller reviews the early response to Russia’s invasion and is impressed by how Western nations came together to implement sanctions and support Ukraine diplomatically and militarily. And he suggests that it offers us a way forward not just against Russia but against that other looming threat. “No one wants general war, yet we must fight back somehow,” he writes. “Fighting back in ways that do not risk general war means fighting with every other weapon in our arsenal, including the tools of economic and diplomatic statecraft. The main questions now are: What else can we do? Where else should we do it? And when will we recognize the need to do the same to China?”
With the situation in Ukraine at the forefront of everyone’s mind, we all turned into the State of the Union on Tuesday to see how much the crisis would shape Joe Biden’s speech. As Jonah notes in the G-File, it was too little, in terms of both quantity and quality. “Sure, he paid some moving tributes to Ukrainian courage. But man, how hard is that? There was a certain parasitic quality to the rhetoric, in which America leeches off the glory and bravery of people standing up to potential annihilation.” But the bigger problem was that Biden couldn’t use the moment to break out of the “laundry list” format to which we are subjected every year. “The disconnect between the gravity of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the tectonic changes it has elicited made the laundry list portion of the speech seem rather pathetic, solipsistic, and even more otherworldly than it would have been if there was no war.”