I often hate witnessing history. Been doing it for 6 decades now. For every triumph, there are so many tragedies. As the ancient curse goes, “May you live in interesting times!”
So the Czar of Russia wants to reclaim his lost empire. And now there’s a war. He isn’t just looking to solidify the Donbas and create a land bridge to Crimea as I had hoped. He wants the whole nine yards. In the process, he’s set up a marriage of convenience with the Emperor of China.
Wonder how long that will last? Google: “Molotov-Ribbentrop.”
A fascinating mixture of truth, exaggeration, and fantasy.
Military bases within view of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and many other cities have been shelled. Civilians are dead. They’ve taken – and damaged – the Chernyoble nuclear plant. Tanks rolling across the border from all sides and Russian airborne are taking inland targets. It is a standard Russian strategy to attack everywhere, find a weakness, and then focus there.
A team of BBC journalists rushed to a military base near Kyiv to interview the Ukrainian commander only to mistake the Russian paratroopers occupying the base for Ukrainians. But there were no hard feelings. Upon being advised of their mistake, they instead interviewed the Russian commander.
Putin threatened nuclear war, should anyone try to interfere. The world is shitting its pants. The US can absorb an increase in energy costs. Europe can but with great hardship.
No amount of sanctions will save Ukraine. It is up to the military and the people of Ukraine to make the attack painful enough that Putin will be satisfied with something less than total victory. I’m hoping the Russians don’t directly assault major cities. (They haven’t done well when they tried.) The alternative is to slowly squeeze them until they yield. The old USSR would simply have rubbled and starved the cities (like they are in Mariupol) so maybe world opinon has some influence on Putin. (It didn’t)
This may well be the first war in which our perception comes primarily from Twitter.
I’ve been watching events unfold thru a variety of news sources. Primarily the BBC but I’m also keeping an eye on CNN, Al Jazeera, DW (German TV) WION, (India TV) France 24, I24 (Israel), and even RT. Let’s just say that RT is severely under-reporting the war and Xinhua News Agency is useless for anything.
I’ve been watching history unfold for decades. I was too young to pay much attention to the Cuban Missile Crisis but it certainly had an effect on me. I think it is where I got a lifelong interest in rockets, missiles, nuclear weapons, and nuclear war survival.
The first crisis I have any real memory of was the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. One of the USSR’s satellites had strayed too far to the west and liberal democracy, hence the invasion. I did a report on it for school. I also did a report on the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. The difference between the two was that the Hungarians had turned violent and resisted with everything they had in them. Thousands of dead and Budapest was heavily damaged. The Czechs had not resisted. While the government was purged, there was no massive bloodbath. The US dared not intervene in either conflict for the risk of starting WW3.
How history repeats itself!
The Ukrainian invasion, while regrettable and unjustified, is just one in a long string of similar actions by the Soviets and then the Russians. Chechnya, Georgia, the slaughter in Syria. There is nothing new here. The US has done its share of the same thing. The world of international relations is often one of pure national self-interest, often pursued without regard for loss of life of innocent 3rd parties.
I’m not sure a large nation-state can secure its place in the world without this Machiavelian behavior. Putin is a master and one must give him credit where credit is due. But Machiavelli was a really smart guy. The West’s leaders aren’t really leaders so much as successful politicians. I’m not sure they have the requisite skills to properly use his playbook anymore.
And now for something completely different…