As the West begins to shape its response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, the emerging conventional wisdom is that there is little the world can do to stop Vladimir Putin from doing whatever he wants to do. Here is Peter Baker in The New York Times warning that Russia will likely get away with its Soviet-style land grab fairly easily:
Russia is an even tougher country to pressure, too formidable even in the post-Soviet age to rattle with stern lectures or shows of military force, and too rich in resources to squeeze economically in the short term. With a veto on the United Nations Security Council, it need not worry about the world body. And as the primary source of natural gas to much of Europe, it holds a trump card over many American allies. [The New York Times]
Ben Judah, writing in Politico Magazine, goes further, arguing that wealthy interests in Europe are too invested in Russia's oligarchical scheme to put any pressure on it:
Moscow is not nervous. Russia's elites have exposed themselves in a gigantic manner — everything they hold dear is now locked up in European properties and bank accounts. Theoretically, this makes them vulnerable. The EU could, with a sudden rush of money-laundering investigations and visa bans, cut them off from their wealth. But, time and time again, they have watched European governments balk at passing anything remotely similar to the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which bars a handful of criminal-officials from entering the United States.
All this has made Putin confident, very confident — confident that European elites are more concerned about making money than standing up to him. [Politico Magazine]
In this view, the West has neither the means nor the will to draw Putin's blood. But it does have the means, including the visa bans and banking sanctions that Judah cites, which would chip at the heart of the Russian regime; a revived effort to install missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, which were scrapped amidst a "reset" in relations that is obviously dead and gone; and a general strengthening of Western-friendly governments around Russia, including Georgia, Poland, and the provisional government in Kiev (whether this includes NATO membership in the case of Georgia and Ukraine is a debate for another day).
Does the West have the will? To suggest that it doesn't seems to underestimate the historical significance of the moment. This is a naked land grab on a different order of magnitude than Russia's move into Georgia in 2008, which was legitimately shrouded in a fog-of-war-type situation. Now that the scales have fallen from everyone's eyes, now that Putin's territorial ambitions and agenda have been so totally exposed, the West has little choice but to make his transgressions as painful as possible — otherwise what would stop Putin from expanding his thug regime? Ryu Spaeth
Clinton's historic nomination on Thursday night was somewhat bittersweet, as one can't help but wish that the thousands of women who fought to get America to this moment could have seen her on that stage. Luckily, Stephen Colbert owns a time machine and he used it to beam in Josephine Henley and Abitha Whitmore from the night of July 4, 1776.
Never mind the uncanny resemblance the female delegates have to Broad City's Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer — Henley and Whitmore are pretty excited to hear the good news about Hillary Clinton. Well, that is until they realize they misheard Colbert say the date by 200 years.
The two have a pretty big scolding for America taking its sweet time to nominate a woman, and you can get a hilarious earful, below. Jeva Lange
One San Diego police officer was killed and another injured when a gunman opened fire on them late Thursday night. After the shooting, authorities urged people in the surrounding area to stay inside as police helicopters searched for a suspect. Police said they had one person in custody, although they did not immediately identify the suspect. Investigators also did not say what could have been the gunman's motive.
The city and others around the country have been on high alert since gunmen ambushed and killed police in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Harold Maass
Photos of Hillary Clinton gazing out across the Democratic convention or noticing with childlike glee the fireworks at the end of her speech will be saved in the files of American history for many, many a decade to come as she became the first female presidential nominee selected by a major party since the founding of the nation. Naturally, it was important for her to look great:
But for women, the choice of what to wear has always been a political act, something that Clinton did not forget. Her white pantsuit — possibly selected with the help of Vogue editor Anna Wintour — was the perfect choice for the historic moment:
[The outfit] carried the symbolic weight of more than a century of American feminist history.
Women in the suffrage movement, which fought for decades to secure a woman's right to vote around the turn of the 20th century, were often encouraged to wear white during parades and demonstrations. Historians believe it likely represented purity and the movement's elevated ideals. [Quartz]
Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first woman to accept the vice presidential nomination of a major party, also wore white during her acceptance speech in 1984 as a conscious nod to the suffragettes. Jeva Lange
On Friday, Pope Francis visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration camp where more than one million people died during the Holocaust. During his visit, Francis met with elderly survivors of the camp and placed a candle at the Death Wall, where prisoners were executed. He spent much of his time sitting in silence beneath a tree to reflect on the tragedy and to pray. He is the third pope to visit the camp, after both his immediate predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
According to The Associated Press, Francis wrote in a guest book at Auschwitz: "Lord, have pity on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty."
The visit comes on the third day of his five-day trip through Poland. Earlier this week, Francis warned that "the world is at war" after French jihadists murdered a Catholic priest on Tuesday. "When I speak of war I speak of wars over interests, money, resources, not religion," Pope Francis said. "All religions want peace, it's the others who want war." Jessica Hullinger
The Nusra Front, a branch of al Qaeda in Syria, announced Thursday it is leaving the group.
Nusra Front's leader, Mohamad al-Golani, said they will reorganize under a new name, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, "with no ties with any foreign party." He said the move is being made "to remove the excuse used by the international community — spearheaded by America and Russia — to bombard and displace Muslims in the Levant: That they are targeting the Nusra Front, which is associated with al Qaeda."
Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's successor as the leader of al Qaeda, gave the Nusra Front permission to break away, Reuters reports. When asked about the news, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said, "We're gonna have to wait and see. We judge a group by what they do, not by what they call themselves." Catherine Garcia
In 2008, when Barack Obama became the first African-American presidential nominee, his opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), released an ad congratulating him on making history.
When President Obama became first African-American nominee, his opponent CUT AN AD congratulating him on the feat! https://t.co/QOYzDXuscN
— Ed Demaria (@Eddie_Dynamite) July 29, 2016
"Sen. Obama, this is truly a good day for America," McCain said. "Too often, the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed, so I wanted to stop and say congratulations. How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day. Tomorrow we'll be back at it, but tonight, Senator, job well done."
So many balloons fell from the ceiling at the end of her speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night that Hillary Clinton seemingly didn't know what to do with them all.
She pointed at some:
Stared in awe at a few:
Looked at some like they were Donald Trump:
Walked gingerly through a sea of many:
And finally just disappeared for awhile:
Meanwhile, former President Bill Clinton was playing it cool.
— Derek (@DTang0426) July 29, 2016