Cheats and cudgels

Merkel and Obama have always said the sanctions on Russia are aimed not at regime change but at ending Russia’s meddling in Ukraine. That’s a diplomatically necessary mantra, I understand, but the right regime change would achieve more than just ending the Russian invasion.

Plus, politics is a game and good players avoid sitting down with sharpies. There are different ways to punish card cheats. In old high society, a mere suspicion of dishonesty could lead to expulsion and shunning. In less refined company, sharpies would get beaten up. In the underworld… let’s not talk about that.

Being shut out of the company of one’s peers and betters is horrible when there is no alternative: one loses access to the right people and with it, career and marriage opportunities. But it only worked when career meant state service and marrying seriously down carried a stigma. Meanwhile, a good thrashing is as educational as ever.

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