Hello! It’s another Saturday with breaking news out of Ukraine. Well, I guess that depends on whether you think Crimea is part of Ukraine or part of Russia. Russia illegally annexed the peninsula in 2014, and it’s been using Crimea to supply its forces in the south.
It had been doing so in part by transporting things over the Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland. The 12-mile bridge, which Reuters describes it as a “prestige symbol of Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula.” is the longest in Europe and in 2018, Vladimir Putin was on hand to open it. But an explosion early Saturday morning took out a portion of the bridge, dealing Russia not only a logistical blow but a psychological one as well.
The Washington Post is reporting, based on a quote from an unidentified official, that Ukrainian special services took out the bridge. The Ukrainian government has made no official statement, but official Ukrainian Twitter accounts are reveling in the moment.
As has been the case for the last six weeks, Ukraine’s advances and accomplishments are worth celebrating, and it’s hard to begrudge a beleaguered nation a few moments of levity. The Ukrainian post office has already said it will issue a commemorative stamp in honor of the explosion, as it did when Ukraine sank the Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea fleet.
Not to repeat myself from last weekend, when we woke up to the news that Ukraine had retaken the town of Lyman, but a cornered Putin is a dangerous Putin. In The Current this week, Klon Kitchen wrote a very helpful explainer on how nukes work, how many the U.S. and Russia have, how Putin might deploy them, and what we are doing to stop them. It feels even more timely now than when we published it. We’ll also have an item from Nick on Monday examining Putin’s options on the nuclear front.
Before I sign off, we have some news of our own that you should know about. Our website will have a different look on Wednesday, and our newsletters will be coming to you from a new email address. We have a post with more details here. We hope that the new site will allow you to have an even better experience with The Dispatch.
Thanks for reading.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some version of the same conversation every election season since 2016 when I explain I’m not voting for either major-party candidate in a given race, whether for president or statehouse or dog catcher. “If you don’t vote for A, that’s a vote for B!” (See also: “If you don’t vote for B, that’s a vote for A!”) It’s reached a bit of a fever pitch this midterm season, as some on the right insist that not voting for Republicans will allow the Marxist Democrats to bring about the end of the republic through economic ruin and a frayed social fabric. Kevin’s heard it too, and he’s not having it. Especially when Republicans came out in indignant support of Herschel Walker after The Daily Beast published a report claiming that Walker had paid for a woman’s abortion in 2009. Walker supports a national ban on abortions and says he does not believe in exceptions for rape, incest, or even to save the life of the mother, but hey, what’s a little hypocrisy when control of the Senate is at stake? Kevin writes: “Nobody on the right seems able to stop and ask: ‘Why? Why do we want a party whose leading lights are such figures as Donald Trump and Herschel Walker to control the Senate? Why would we want such figures as Lindsey Graham or Josh Hawley to control anything?’” For more on Walker, Nick argues that this scandal might just matter to swing voters … but probably not to MAGA voters.
While traditional European powers Germany and France have waffled in supporting Ukraine since Russia invaded in February, Poland has been a stalwart. Charlotte is reporting from Europe for the next couple of months, and this week she has a piece from Warsaw detailing the Poles’ efforts and how it could raise their stature within NATO. Poland has committed to spending a higher percentage of its GDP on defense and signed contracts to purchase a substantial number of tanks from the U.S. and South Korea. It’s also provided Ukraine with $1.8 billion in military aid and taken in about 2 million refugees. The Poles’ actions have influenced others. “German and French rhetoric, which often harped on not humiliating Putin and avoiding escalation, has become more in line with Polish and American sentiment,” Charlotte writes. “Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock recently acknowledged that ‘Germany did not listen carefully enough to the right assessment of many partners with regard to Russia.’ Whether the country takes concrete action is another question.”
“The pandemic changed how we think about internet access,” Harvest writes in a well-reported story about the state of broadband internet in rural areas. She notes that 42 million Americans lack access to the always-connected high-speed internet that let so many work from home and attend school online during COVID. The bipartisan infrastructure package provided $65 billion to address the problem, with $40 billion going directly to states, though money can’t fix everything: “But even with billions of dollars to use, states implementing broadband build-outs will face big hurdles: a lack of reliable data on just how deep the digital divide is, years-long bureaucratic delays, and rapidly changing technology.”
What happens to U.S. support for Ukraine if Republicans take control of Congress in November? It’s a question Nick explores this week. While polling shows bipartisan support among Americans for Ukraine’s war effort and ongoing assistance from the U.S., the “America First” wing of the party could cause problems in Congress. Nick notes that more nationalist Republicans are already complaining that the money we’ve sent to Ukraine could have been spent on border security, and that there will be some temptation to vote against any further Ukraine packages just to stick it to Joe Biden. “Very soon the Russia apologists on the right will begin arguing that, inasmuch as appeasing Putin is the only way we all get out of this alive, any Republican who votes for Ukraine aid is voting for nuclear war. Do we think an invertebrate like Kevin McCarthy is prepared to stare down the Tucker Carlsons and cast that vote anyway?”
And heres’s the best of the rest.
The left has often used climate change to advance an anti-capitalist agenda and argue that the modern way of life is destroying the planet. John Gustavsson says the conservative response should not be to deny climate change exists, but to embrace pragmatic solutions that don’t require going vegans, eating bugs, or giving up our cars.
Just a few weeks ago, a new nuclear deal with Iran seemed dead. But with protests over the death of Mahsa Amini spreading, the regime has struck a friendlier tone lately, hoping for sanctions relief. Danielle Pletka warns the Biden administration not to fall for it.
A new book on America during World War I has Jonah thinking about one of his favorite topics: the awfulness of Woodrow Wilson. In the Wednesday G-File, he’s also amused that people are coming around on the subject, and happy to point out that he was criticized by the left for years for his condemnation of Wilson.
OPEC’s announcement this week that it would cut petroleum production by 2 million barrels a day has heightened existing tensions between congressional Democrats and the Biden administration. Haley has the details in Uphill.
David’s opposition to Donald Trump and support for free speech have earned him, shall we say, negative attention from some elements of the right. He usually doesn’t say much about it but an episode this week prompted him to respond. Read his French Press.
In Capitolism, Scott Lincicome offers up some lessons about pricing and the long sordid history of price controls, which are back in vogue since inflation is such a problem.
On the pods: On The Dispatch Podcast, the gang covers the Herschel Walker news, checks in on the midterms, and discusses the new Supreme Court term. On Friday, it was reported that Ben Sasse will be announcing his retirement from the Senate to serve as president of the University of Florida. Jonah has thoughts on Sasse and many other topics in his weekend solo Remnant. Personal finance might not sound like an obvious topic for Good Faith, but that’s where David and Curtis Chang go this week. And in perhaps our most entertaining podcast this week, David and Sarah discuss an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court by The Onion.