OK, Not Completely Unrelated. JUSTICE is the Common Thread
Two subjects have taken up much of my consciousness in recent days. At first they are world’s apart. One is domestic, one is international. But as I began thinking about this blog, I recognized that the simple, foundational matter of justice connected these two issues in important ways.
Justice is a powerful, powerful concept. We should devote a blog or two to talking about that as a central human issue sometime. The longer I look around, the more I cherish justice over peace or any other desirable outcome. Ah, but that is another conversation for another day. Today, let us pay attention to two matters worthy of our attention today.
We Have a New Supreme Court Justice
Judge Jackson is our newest Supreme Court justice, taking office this Summer. She is a superb choice, by any measure. I remember when a nomination was pending, and three women were in the running.
I thought all three were exceptional – any one of them would have been fine nominees. Judge Jackson brings a bonus in that she has served as a public defender – a part of the legal system not represented since Thurgood Marshall. It is an important background to have on the Court.
On the one hand, this is a glorious, historic moment, one worthy of celebration. And it happened with enough Republican votes to be categorized (barely) as bipartisan. But it is not possible to overlook the fact that 47 Republican senators voted against her, even though almost all of them had voted for here earlier for the federal bench. Add to that the farce of the hearings by the Senate committee that had to pass on her nomination first. There is no other way to describe these hearings as mostly a nonfunctional national embarrassment.
The grandstanding to the worst of the Republican base and the overt racism were disgusting. Senators Cruz, Hawley, Blackburn, and Graham made me ashamed as an American. I thought I could think no less of these four coming into the hearings. I was wrong. They reached low levels I could not imagine.
There is so much we need to fix about the Supreme Court (Hello, Justice Thomas. Any thoughts about recusal yet?). But in the meantime, a fine human being and an exemplary judge joins the high court. She will make a difference for decades. Let us celebrate that and thank Joe Biden for making this happen.
A Russian Timeline
We have all reflected on how Putin has. made himself almost invincible at home. No political opposition of strength, no Politburo, no counterbalances, no way out. But “almost” is the operative word.
If the cost of continuation gets high enough, Putin may get taken out. It is hard to imagine now, but it is also possible Putin himself may call an end to all this, concocting some story that he accomplished what he intended. But that seem at this point, and history may have already closed that door. Atrocities have been committed on a large scale and must be accountable
So, Here is a Thought
Who else is facing massive losses and risks of accountability? For losses, let’s start with the Oligarchs. Estimates are that they have lost or have had impounded about 30% of their wealth. Second in that line is the military leadership, that is seeing its forces bled out almost across the board. Their status as a force to be feared is taking a beating every day. Third on this roster is the Russian intelligence services, who appear to have uniformly misread pretty much everything about the country next door.
As time has passed, ever more severe punishments and increased isolation has been inflicted on Russia. It is not universal, but it is closer than one could have imagined. What if what comes next, including the filing of war crimes charges, is announced in advance?
Something along the following lines: If this conflict is still ongoing in 60 days, with Russian forces not uniformly withdrawing from Ukraine, several specific and severe consequences will be levied on individuals and institutions.
Rebuilding what has been lost will be impossible. Impounded resources will be liquidated, with funds going to Ukraine as reparations. A long list of senior individuals will be named for war crimes investigation. They allow this war to continue, they have chosen to sink with Putin and that bill is due now.
The clock is ticking. Give people who could, possibly, orchestrate a change at the top of the Kremlin, a reason to do that now, with a timeline that carries costs to ignore. Make the cost of the status quo more expensive than risking a new course, with new leadership. Failing this, I fear this conflict will continue for much longer, perhaps months. Far too many Ukrainians have died, many badly, already. Let’s share the pain with those inflicting it.
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