Mr Biden. The Upcoming Confrontation. The Putin Paradox

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With the weapons reinforcements Ukrainians will now be receiving, they will be able to hold off Russia’s attacks and even push them back. As things stand, the Russians will be no match for properly armed Ukrainians.
Soon, therefore, Putin will increase his threats to fire nuclear weapons on the West and at some point, as his losses mount, he will either accept defeat or draw the line and say to us, ‘if you do that, I’ll fire my nuclear missiles’.
Ignoring the threat is an option. It may work and he won’t follow through. But it may not.
Putin’s reliance on mercenary troops from the Wagner Group suggests there are serious rifts within his military, with career officers objecting to the political rise of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the group and his using prisoners as soldiers.
Even if Putin were to give the order to fire the nuclear weapons, the military may not follow through. Why be Putin’s sacrificial lambs?
However, there’s a strong ultranationalist faction in Russia pushing the war which may be present within the military which adds to the uncertainty.
But what if Putin makes it very clear he will use his nuclear weapons, say gives us a deadline to retreat or something alike?
Then the threat will have to be met. Head on.
He would be leaving us no options.

Mr Biden, you once called Putin a killer, a statement of the facts. The outrage he’d stirred in you made you say those words. Nothing less would’ve conveyed the fulness of your feelings.
Since then he’s become many times that killer.
Putin is a failed statesman. He’s done nothing but thwart the potential of Russia.
With all their human capabilities and natural resources they have not risen to be a leading nation. That is on Putin and he knows it. And it weighs on him.
He compares himself with other leaders and realizes he’s not produced, which is the price of autocracy and corruption, of surrounding yourself with ‘Yes men and women’ who’re not able to provide effective feedback for fear of offending the great man or because they’re too busy enriching themselves.
Putin is filled with anger at the world. Anger that comes from his envy which is enormous.
His ideas about a Russian empire are born out of that resentment. He tried to fool us with his lies and threats, ‘Listen up, you heathen, come look at my magnificent robes and my crown filled with diamonds and pearls, I am the true master of this earth. We, Russians, are the true chosen people who will enlighten and inspire the rest of you.’
And to show us how resolute he was, he lifted his heavy boot and planted it on the soul of Ukraine wanting to squash it and tear it apart. Never mind how many died as a result.
But Ukraine surprised everyone when they raged and said, ‘get your foot off me, you dunce!’ And they have given him a good shove back in a feat of heroism without precedent.
Ukraine’s resolve is so daring and unique that it has generated envy even in the West.
Nations complaining that Ukraine should be preparing to negotiate instead of fighting, nations who are reluctant to offer support, are also envious nations, envious of her courage and defiance.
So, yes, envious Putin has company among nations in the West.
Lamentably, there is the strong possibility that very soon a retreating Putin, so in love with himself that he sees no other options, will be saying to us, ‘You leave me no choice, I will have to fire my nuclear weapons.’
And we will have to step up to meet him eye to eye.

Mr Biden, from that same place deep inside of you from where the words that Putin is a killer flowed, your answer to the Russian will come.
‘You want to set the world on fire?’ you may say to him.
And Putin may answer, ‘if you don’t stop aiding Ukraine, I will do it.’
‘If you fire your weapons, we will fire back… do you really want to see your Moscow and St Petersburg in flames?’
‘Ha! Watch your cities do the same…’
‘What’s the point, Putin? There will be no winners… we would all lose… you and me… your children… my children… all of us would be losers… we would set back the progress of civilization by who knows how many years… just because you’re angry that you couldn’t lead your nation… angry that the world has not fallen in love with you… angry that you’ve failed in Ukraine… angry at your limitations as a leader. Why have so many people die … why?’
Putin will not have a coherent reply because there is none and he knows it. His dream of empire is just a fantasy, a distraction from his crumbling grandiosity. And yet, with raging fury, his shallowness as a human being exposed, he may insist, ‘I’ll do what I need to do,’ and hang up the phone.
Mr Biden, as soon as the conversation is over, you would do well to call up Xi Jinping to inform him of the situation.
‘Xi… just got off the phone with Putin, your friend “without limits”. He’s told me he’s ready to use nuclear weapons.’

A pause may follow.

‘Just to be clear, Xi… if Putin does that… we will fire back. All of the West will. I do not know who will be left standing. Maybe it will be Putin, maybe it will be us. But Xi, you must know… that if Putin fires a nuclear weapon in our direction… nuclear weapons from us will also be flying back in your direction, too.’
‘What?’ will answer Xi. ‘Why us? It’s not our war.’
‘It’s everybody’s war. No one is spared. The world is at war.’
‘You are trying to rule all of us…’ Xi may reply in outrage.
‘I’m giving you a warning… and I have a suggestion for you, too.’
‘We don’t have to all burn… and see who remains standing at the end… it doesn’t have to happen… so Xi… please listen carefully… you could… which I strongly advice… turn around the nuclear weapons you have now pointed at us and aim them instead at Moscow and St Petersburg… then call up your dear friend Vladimir to inform him.’


‘Please… and keep in touch.’

Biden hangs up.

Xi may then call Putin and say, “Vladimir… you can’t threaten the West with nuclear weapons without consulting with me…’
‘How do you know?’
‘Biden just called.’
‘If you do… America will nuke us, too.”’
To which Putin may reply, ‘Xi, this is our moment, let us both fire on America and the West… we will be rid of the monster… and the world will be ours to split.’
‘You’re mad… and drunk with power… and I will not go along anymore.’
‘Not go along?’ says Putin. ‘What does that mean?’
‘Exactly that… I will not go along.’
An irate, exasperated Putin may press Xi, ‘You mean you will do nothing if the West fires back at me? Don’t you think I know they will fire at you, too?’
‘You know that?’ Xi may say.
‘Of course, the West wants everything for themselves…’
‘You say you know that, but you never brought it up with me, Vladimir… all the while you’ve been making threats…’
‘It’s obvious…’ Putin may reply.
And Xi will frown and say ‘That’s all I needed to hear.’

And he hangs up.

It could happen. Just as stated. And then it might not. So, Mr President, you have to be ready, don’t you? The whole world is already at war. Pretending it’s not, is a mistake.

As you tilt back in your chair at the Oval Office, you may reflect… ‘China is sitting prettier than Russia. They have no desire for a nuclear confrontation. Thus, Putin’s threats have limits.
Let us not forget that as we push on with our military aid to Ukraine.
And Xi may well pivot his nuclear weapons in Putin’s direction.
So… fully arming Ukraine to push Russia back to behind its borders is doable… very doable… in fact… necessary.’

So here’s the Putin Paradox. If we stand up to him now, he’s much less likely to carry out his threat. But if we act as if we’re willing to sacrifice Ukraine, he will be further emboldened. And this may lead him to want even more territory which may push us into a corner, making the threat of nuclear war, a greater possibility.


Letter to Putin from his Fellow Russians

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We think it’s time the war came to an end.
Our nation has a tradition of being brave warriors. We lost 20 million people in WWII, a war started by Hitler, and we beat him back.
But Ukraine is different, isn’t it?
They weren’t doing anything to us. They just wanted to choose their own path and felt they could better accomplish it by becoming more like Europe.
So what’s wrong with that?
Russia sits between Europe and China. We are grateful to the Chinese for all the support they’ve given us over the years but, if you asked us, many of us feel closer to Europe, just like the Ukrainians.
But we can still be friends forever with China.
Vladimir, news travels and what we’re hearing about the war is not good.
We are the aggressor. We’re sending missiles into Ukraine to kill them and destroy their property. How are we going to make up for that?
Many of our brothers and sisters have left the country because they don’t want to be part of it. They don’t want to shoot their neighbors. Almost everyone knows someone who chose to leave.
You’ve asked the Wagner group to fight for us but they are mercenaries. That is a strange profession, isn’t it? To kill people for a living. And now the same group is recruiting prisoners to do the fighting. But prisoners don’t make good soldiers. Good soldiers need to be disciplined and have a conscience.
Vladimir, we think you’ve lost touch with us, your people.
This is your war, Vladimir, not Russia’s war and we shouldn’t be fighting it.
The world is getting a bad impression of Russians.
We trusted that you would make good political choices but we’ve found you have not.
Because of our geography, it’s easy to become isolated, but with the internet the rest of the world is getting closer. We want to be part of it. We want to join in.
We are a hard working people and have something to contribute. We want to share it with the world. The West has problems but they have beautiful things, too. The Chinese have problems but they, also, have beautiful things.
We need peace, Vladimir, not war, so we can see the beauty in people.
Ukrainians are teaching the world something very important. The value of choice in our lives.
The value of having a voice and raising it. You didn’t teach us that and we didn’t question you.
All Russians, except for the very brave who have chosen to fight you, are to blame for this awful war. We are because we didn’t speak out when we disagreed with you.
The same thing is happening to the Chinese next door, who bow to Xi Jinping like he was a deity.
We’re not idiots, Vladimir. We’re recognizing our mistakes. But you’re carrying on like you’re absolutely right. And so, too, your close associates.
You are making an ass of yourself in front of the whole world when you carry on as if you had no doubt you are right. What idiocy is that?
The more killing we see the more we realize that you can turn your rage against us, too.
We are slowly emerging from our denial. Slowly realizing you are a deeply envious and brutal man.
We were wrong about you but this will be over one day.
Vladimir, you can avoid more pain and stop the war now. Today. Give back to Ukrainians what’s theirs, all their land.
Bring back our people, Vladimir, bring back our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters.
There’s much work to do in this world. Russia can make a great contribution.
And we don’t have to have an empire, Vladimir. Just cherishing and improving the land we now have gives us plenty to do.
Let go of the dreams of glory at the expense of others.
The struggle of human beings is the struggle to understand ourselves and the world around us.
This war you started, is doing nothing of the kind.
You’ve lost your way.
Have the courage to recognize your mistakes.
On a day like today, the Russian Orthodox celebrate Christmas.
Mark the day with an act of contrition and generosity. Stop the War. Retreat from Ukraine.

Signed. Your fellow Russians.

For Or Against Putin

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Russia’s president chose to invade Ukraine because it’s part of his quest for glory.
There is no other credible reason.
An envious man, seething with rage because he has not been able to elevate his nation past others with fewer resources, angry at the realization that he’s not a statesman and never will be – and running out of time – he chose to invent that a threat to his future lay in neighboring Ukraine.
How to deal with it? Just take it. And if they don’t surrender, then exterminate them.
He can do it because he has nuclear weapons.
He can do it because he has built a reputation for being ruthless.
He can do it because the West is afraid of him.
Stalin is one of his heroes.
And like for him, people are mere numbers. Disposable. Expendable.
If things didn’t turn out as well as he expected during the invasion, and he has been ‘forced’ to indulge his appetite for killing other human beings, there are plenty of anti western countries that sympathize with his plans.
Anti western countries governed by autocrats and thugs.
The invasion happened and it’s been 10 months. Putin has been unsettled by Ukraine’s resistance but not very much, because knowing that he has Russians on their knees – something he is very proud of – he is sure he has the time and room to maneuver.
His main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, is in prison. At one point he had chosen to kill him through poisoning with a nerve agent but his operatives bungled the job. Navalny thought he could continue to build a movement against him so he made the mistake of returning to Russia, which left Putin with no choice but to grab him upon landing. He could just as well have ordered him shot on the spot but there is a part of him that likes to toy with his prey before putting it away. Surely, one day soon, the poor man will fall down a set of stairs and break his neck. One way or the other, he won’t leave prison.
Ukraine’s resistance has given Putin more trouble than he expected. And a headache or two. But he’s dealt with such trifles before. Russia has plenty of mineral resources the world needs and friendly countries willing to purchase them and thus help him sidestep the sanctions the West has imposed.
It may now appear as if Ukraine will win the war but it’s only an illusion, says Putin. Sooner or later, their will to fight will crack. And there are so many more Russians than Ukrainians. Docile Russians. Russians willing to do his bidding.
And in the United Nations, with Russia and China both sitting in the Security council with the power to veto, nothing against Russia or China will get through.
Interesting, how such a large organization lost its teeth.
Now and then some idealistic soul calls for talks to end the conflict. But what’s in it for Putin when, if he perseveres, he can conquer all of Ukraine?
He will have Ukraine even if he has to burn it down. He will have Ukraine even if it is without Ukrainians. Minor matter. He’ll repopulate it. Better that way so he can extinguish any traces of what was there before.
And the world will say nothing because the world is afraid of him and his nuclear weapons.
The world will say nothing because they know he can go crazy. Yes. Lose control.
Except, that he is not crazy at all. Just more determined than his opposition.
If he were the West, he would ask the rest of the world, ‘are you for or against Putin?’
If you are against Putin, then line up over here so you can get favors and trade advantages. If you are not, then go to the back of the line and wait.
If he were the West, he wouldn’t be afraid of dividing the world, forcing nations to choose.
Has he not made it clear, with his repeated missile attacks, that he’s willing to exterminate Ukrainians?
What else do they need to see?
Gas chambers?
So it’s only a matter of time. A matter of more killing. Repeated. Methodical.
He will not stop. And he’s good at it.
Keep killing and he will win. He’s sure of it. And after a while people will get accustomed to the carnage.
So he just has to wait. He will say no to negotiations unless he gets what he wants and then set up to invade again when he’s ready.
In the West, they have to deal with free speech, which is not at all helpful to a man like him.
So long as Russians are willing to be silenced, so long as the rest of the world is willing to help him, he will keep killing Ukrainians.
Until there are no more.
It would take an uncommon type of courage for the West to unify and standing up to Putin, say, ‘Enough! Except for nuclear weapons we will arm Ukrainians with everything available so they can push you back to behind your borders and have you stay there. That way the fight you picked will be fair’.
But the West won’t do it.
They may have nuclear weapons also, but they don’t have the resolve.
Until then, if ever, Long live King Vladimir!

The Right to Bear Arms and Personal Insecurity

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The Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms as being necessary to the security of a free state, but today, such security is well provided by our armed forces.
Therefore, today’s insistence on the right to bear arms appears to be an effort to address people’s personal insecurities.
In everyday life, we’re always assessing threats to our wellbeing. In the process we may properly estimate our value and that of others or just be wrong about it and end up instead overvaluing or undervaluing all concerned.
Personal insecurities come with being human. Events in our lives may exacerbate them and thus must be properly addressed.
The current insistence on the right to carry weapons stems from unaddressed personal insecurities and carries far more risks than benefits.
Furthermore, it delays the process of self scrutiny to remedy what flaws feed our personal insecurities.
It is not an easy task to address such flaws. It takes diligence, attention to detail and a measure of emotional strength to start. The rewards, however, are enormous.
One such reward may be identifying what activity bring us the most emotional satisfaction.
Do what we love most and we will be better able to value ourselves and others.
We will be better anchored and less envious.
Envy is a hard nut to crack but it can be managed effectively if we feel grounded as a person.
All of us are flawed. Those who manage to pull ahead have identified their strengths and are able to manage more effectively what flaws they have.
Therefore, they will be less likely to need a gun at their side.
Grandiosity is a personality trait that will distort how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. The quicker we’re able to identify it, the quicker we can check it.
Grandiosity is more apt to show up if we fail to properly assess what strengths we have.
It acts as an ego protective mechanism, aiming to compensate for perceptions of low self worth but is not helpful in the end.
We have several examples of grandiosity in full display in today’s current affairs.
It has impaired Putin’s and Xi Jinping’s judgments with horrific consequences. But neither man is a properly developed individual. Just like Trump in America.
The person so insistent on carrying a weapon perceives the weapon as an equalizer. They believe they need the protection when interacting with others. ‘Look, I’m carrying, so watch out.’
Some take it a step further. Years ago, while working in a prison, I met an inmate serving a sentence for shooting another man. He wounded him. He’d had an interaction with the victim and felt demeaned as a result. But seeing that the victim was a stronger man, he chose to shoot him instead of fighting him or resolving the matter by other means.
The hard tasks that lie ahead for the nation call for all of us to do more introspection. To learn about our emotions and to express them properly.
The right to bear arms contributes nothing to that task.
It delays our individual development.
Want to hunt? Get your gun. Want to evolve as a human being? Put it down.

What Ukraine is Doing for Us

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The big guy decides to squash the little guy and he gets a surprise.
No! Says the little guy.
But lacking enough resources of their own, the little guy turns around and says to the world, ‘I need help fighting this big guy who wants to walk all over me. We’ll do the fighting. We’ll do the dying. We’ll do whatever it takes to get their stinking boots off our throats, but we need guns and lots of tactical and economic support. Will you lend us a hand?’
And the West said yes.
It wasn’t easy. The West had to overcome internal differences, with one side saying, ‘do we really need to help them… won’t it inconvenience us too much?’, and another side answering, ‘will you not lend a hand to your brother or sister if they were reaching out to you to pull them out of the mud pit they were sinking in?’
And the side willing to commit to help prevailed. And it did because we could see in their faces,
that they really were our brothers and sisters, that they really were being threatened with slaughter and that we had the means to assist them.
Imagine that we had chosen to not help and then see Putin stand in Kyiv and proclaim to the world that Ukraine was now another of his satellite republics. How would we have felt?
It has cost us billions. Yes. And it will cost us even more.
But helping the little guy has had a transformative effect on the West.
We are pulling together and discovering strengths we didn’t think we had.
China, a problem? We’ll handle it.
Taiwan wants to stay free? We’ll back them up, too.
Climate change forcing us to adapt? We’ll do it.
Iran getting close to producing nuclear weapons? Go right ahead. We’ll deal with you when the time comes. Or, quite possibly, the brutal clerics who, in the name of God have been killing their own people, will be removed from power by a popular uprising that will vault women to positions of leadership in a new government if not to the very top of it.
The daily accounts of Ukrainian bravery have inspired the West and the clear minded peoples of the rest of the world. There is no turning back.
Through the tremendous courage of the Ukrainian people Putin is being defeated and the Russian people will step forward to unseat the man who is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and enormous destruction of property.
China, next door, is beginning to awaken. The White Paper protests against overly strict covid restrictions are only the beginning.
Chinese people need to breathe and are realizing the communist party is vested in repressing their freedom of thought. Xi Jinping thinks he is God. That won’t do.
A new power alignment in the world is being hatched.
Ukrainians’ determination not to be trampled on started it. The West’s willingness to support them keeps pushing them on.
In America, president Biden has been a forceful agent for change. He is in office, able to do what he has done, because the American people realized in the 2020 elections that America mattered in the world and that Trump’s sectarian leadership would lead us to defeat.
Internationalism is winning the day. As to the glitches, we will work them out.

The Miracle and Tragedy of Ukraine

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They keep doing it, day after day. Defending their land, their right to choose their destiny.
It puts Russians and their supporters to shame. How dare you wish to oppress a land that’s been independent from Russia since 1991.
In their fierceness, Ukrainians remind us all not to give up. To keep trying to achieve whatever it is that we desire.
As they defy death for the sake of their freedom, they remind us to not surrender our dreams. To not give in to mediocrity but to strive relentlessly for the best we can do.
Haven’t accomplished what you want in life?
Look to Ukraine and keep trying, so long as there is breath in you.
Ukrainians have made a deal with destiny. We will get there. No matter what. ‘Death will not stop us,’ they cry out loudly and boldly.
And the world is richer for it.
Day after day the monster that Putin is – with the consent of hypnotized Russians – keeps trying to extinguish the rising Ukrainian star, and day after day the Ukrainian star shines brighter.
Shame and shame again, on all those defenders of Putin, who meekly say ‘Oh, well, Putin was feeling uncomfortable with NATO being so close to him. He needed a little distance. He needed to kill tens of thousands of Ukrainians so he could sleep better.’
Shame and shame again on China’s dictatorship, repellent oppressors of their own people, for their support of Putin.
Shame and shame again on all the countries who don’t want to take a position.
‘Oh, we just want to be neutral.’
In the face of Putin’s daily firing of missiles into Ukraine – his ceaseless massacres – where is it that people go in their soul to hide from that reality?
Where is the fire in Russians’ bellies?
What has happened to the proud and courageous Russians who turned back Hitler?
Did their descendants not inherit the will to rise up against the mockery of a man that Putin is?
In their silence Russians are writing history and a sad chapter it is.
What does a parent tell his child when he/she puts them to bed in their Moscow home and the child asks, ‘Why are we killing Ukrainians?’
‘We… well… Ukrainians are not doing what Putin wants.’
‘If we don’t do what he wants, he kills us?’
‘No… it’s different for us…’
‘We… we’ve learned to keep quiet.’
‘But that’s not what you tell me to do when another child bullies me at school,’ says the child.
‘I know… but Putin is different… he’s…’
‘A really big bully?’
‘More than that.’
‘Like what?’
‘We… all of us Russians… except for some very courageous people willing to complain… we let him become what he is now.’
‘I don’t like that,’ says the child.
‘I don’t either.’
‘Will you do something about it?’
‘I promise I will think about it… come up with something. I promise. Now go to sleep. You have to get up early for school.’
‘Do children in Ukraine get to go to school?’ asks the child.
‘I’m not sure. I think that with the war… in some parts of the country… they have to stay at home.’
‘So the bombs won’t kill them?”
‘Yes. So the bombs won’t kill them.’
‘Can you sing me something happy?’
‘Of course.’
And the parent does.
How many Ukrainian children won’t ever hear their parents sing them a song?

On China. We Have Our Differences

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Take the Covid 19 pandemic. We know it started in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019, but their leadership chose not to quickly contact the World Health Organization (WHO). Instead they suppressed reports by their own doctors, the first one reporting dying from the disease.
Time was critical but wasted because of China’s secrecy. If there had been openness from the start, a better organized response by all nations would have been possible. It would have led to vastly fewer deaths.
China has also rejected importing western vaccines based on MRNA technology and considered of better quality than the ones they’ve produced.
Their pride gets in the way of their own good.
Their insistence on self reliance has had significant economic consequences as well.
Their policy of strict quarantines in the management of Covid 19 has affected mobility and negatively impacted commerce, leading investors to begin to pull out of the country.
And yet the People’s Republic of China has set the pursuit of self reliance as their national goal. In other words, the Chinese believe they won’t need anyone.
Or are they just very angry at everyone?
‘Why are we not number one yet?’
‘Why did Trump put tariffs on our products?’
Well, because your cheaper products were contributing to unemployment in the US and America had not learned to deal effectively with the problem. Time was needed in the adjustment to globalization.
‘Why aren’t you (the West) not letting Huawei, our state supported electronics company, upgrade your communications infrastructure?’
Because we don’t trust that you won’t use those systems to spy on us.
You already have a history of forced technology transfers from western companies doing business in your land and a history of extensive cyberwarfare to steal secrets from us.
So why should we think it will be any different with Huawei?
You have a long history of censorship of your people, severely restricting freedom of speech and closely monitoring their activities.
Your communist party obviously doesn’t like having any competition.
We, on the other hand, believe competition is central to our wellbeing.
So, no, you can’t have Taiwan. No, because they are a free people and it’s taking them a lot of work to get there. They deserve what they’ve worked for. They don’t deserve falling under the regimentation of your party.
And yet, the West is impressed with all that China has accomplished. You keep building ships and trains and electric cars and sent a satellite to look at the dark side of the moon.
Very good.
But your people are not free.
That’s a huge difference for us.
You’re a strong supporter of Putin and his war against Ukrainians. That’s a lot of killing that Putin has done. And you support the tyrants in Myanmar, also. In other words, where there is a dictator oppressing people, you’re right there to offer assistance.
As things stand, then, you have a long way to becoming number one.
Mind you, because you are a smart people you may surprise us all. Time will tell.
We in the West have a lot of problems, too. Difficulty in communication being one of them. So we need to work hard also.
Right now we’re going through a specially difficult phase. While we talk a lot we haven’t been doing enough listening.
One of our presidents tried to overturn the results of a free election and now he’s announced he will run again. Unbelievable.
To our credit, however, America did not choose him in 2020.
In China, your citizens can’t say, ‘we’ve had ten years of Xi Jinping, we need to look at someone else’. You can’t do that. The party makes sure the Chinese people keep their mouths shut.
In China, they don’t even get the full story of the forced labor camps for the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province. Or the brutal repression of the Hong Kong dissenters. And I’m sure they’re not getting the full picture of all the atrocities Putin is committing in Ukraine.
Why, then, should you be number one in the world?
But we’ll keep listening.
I promise, we’ll listen to all your complaints about our mistakes and your belief that we’re in the midst of inevitable decadence.
But we differ here, too. We’re of the view that national growth requires a lot of effort and yet the outcome is hard to predict. Sometimes things move positively, sometimes negatively. But so long as the trend is upward we’re okay. A bit like the stock market. We just have to keep betting on our people.
Also, many of us believe that no matter our present differences, we should not keep your students from coming to America’s schools, should they want to, even if they go back and decide to join the communist party.
Why? Because it just could be, that something about freedom will stay with them, and who knows, that might end up helping China mature and the world become a better place.
So let’s keep talking. Talk is good. Listening, is even better.
In the end, people everywhere, want to be free.
Not ruled by a repressive regime.
The winds of freedom from Ukraine have reached Iran.
That’s not too far from where you are.

Do Not Negotiate with Putin

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With the start of winter and Russia’s retreat from Kherson – a city northwest of Crimea – a top American general has talked about negotiating with the Russian despot. There may be others similarly minded.
But so long as there is the exceptional vigor that Ukrainians possess, the West should back them up fully and so continue to push Putin to behind his borders.
Ukrainians are writing their history in blood for the whole world to see. As they do they clamor for continued support.
Putin is counting on the solidarity of the West fracturing but that is not happening.
I am sure he is profoundly disappointed that democrats in America have retained control of the Senate in the recent elections, and that even if Republicans gain control of the House, the margin of difference will be very small.
Putin was banking on Trump to lend him a hand with his grandiose ambitions. And he still kicks himself for not having invaded Ukraine while Trump was president. Back then, he could have placed a call to Trump a week before and said, ‘I’m thinking of taking over Ukraine, just to feel more comfortable about NATO’s encroachment, and give Russians something to cheer about. What do you think?’ And Trump would have answered, ‘Do it quickly, overnight if possible. We go to bed the night before with Ukraine being independent, we wake up with you announcing it is now part of Russia. So do it fast. How’s the family?’
Meanwhile, solidarity in the West keeps building.
At the start of the war Macron in France talked about the ‘Finlandization’ of Ukraine. During the Cold War, the term referred to the Soviet Union ‘respecting’ the territorial integrity of Finland but retaining influence in that nation’s political affairs.
That didn’t fly so Macron then switched to speaking about not humiliating Putin. Never mind the atrocities the Russian was committing and still is. But when that didn’t click, either, Macron finally got it and took a strong position against Putin, asking the French to think of their support for Ukraine’s resistance as a sacrifice for the sake of freedom.
Macron’s evolution may reflect the change in other political leaders in the West.
In Germany, Olaf Scholz is still handcuffed by his timidity but appears to be evolving.
A weakened Russia allows for the resurgence of protest movement in Belarus, in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and the hope that they’ll be installing democratic regimes instead.
And the new power alignments may well lead to better fending off China’s ambitions of world domination.
None of these possibilities would have arisen if not for the enormous courage of the Ukrainian people.
Even Iran is feeling its effect, with their women led protests shaking the foundations of that corrupt theocracy, which is now selling drones to Russia so they can kill more Ukrainians.
Ukraine’s heroic effort shows they are determined to not submit to Russia.
They deserve our full support.
Ukraine and the West can win this war.
We should not hesitate to make whatever sacrifices are needed.
The winds of freedom are blowing.
They are blowing from Ukraine.

Putin and The Soldier

Photo by u0414u043cu0438u0442u0440u0438u0439 u0422u0440u0435u043fu043eu043bu044cu0441u043au0438u0439 on

Andrei G., 22, a soldier who took part in the invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, was selected to meet with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.
Andrei had distinguished himself on the battlefield where he showed courage and skill.
He served 6 consecutive months without a break until a battlefield explosion severely injured his right arm tearing it off at the shoulder. The remainder was amputated.
He was awarded a medal of honor for his service to Russia which he is wearing pinned to his jacket on the right.
He and Putin sit across each other in the room. Two military aides to Putin stand by.
Through the window we see snow falling.
It is mid morning in Moscow.

Putin – If there were more like you, we would have already conquered Ukraine.
Andrei (left hand resting on his thigh) – There are more like me. Many more. On our side and their side. But they are fighting for their land. We are not.
Putin – Ukraine is our land. Fascists in their government have manipulated public sentiment against us. Those Fascists are being paid by the West, which wants to extend their control over our people. But just like we defeated Hitler, we will defeat them.
Andrei – Why do they want to extend their control over us?
Putin – To take over our vast national resources and to encircle China.

Andrei looks down at his hand as he pauses.

Andrei – The Ukrainians I have fought don’t look like they are being manipulated by anyone.
I have served because I answered the call to duty. In combat I killed 16 men. I am not proud of it.

The two military aides look at each other.

Putin – You are probably suffering from combat fatigue. It will affect your judgment, even make you depressed. But you will recover, I am sure of that. I will have our military psychologists work with you to restore your health and judgment.

Andrei shakes his head slowly as he looks at Putin.

Andrei – How do you recover from killing 16 brave men?
Putin – Combat fatigue is pernicious, it affects your mood also. You need time to heal. We have specially designed settings to treat the condition. I will send you to one.
Andrei – I don’t think I have combat fatigue. If I did have it, I’m over it. I got over it while recovering from the surgery to remove what was left of my right arm.
Putin – Combat fatigue will make you say things you will regret later. For instance, because of your courage, once you get treatment, you could have a good job in the army as a motivational speaker, speaking to the troops to help them fight better. It comes with good pay and chances for advancement. With only one arm, your possibilities for work are diminished.
Andrei – I may have only one arm but I am an intelligent man. I would like to explore my options. But thank you.
Putin – Of course.
Andrei – I have other concerns… which I’d like to share.
Putin – Go ahead.

Andrei (sensing that the moment is precious) – This is your war, Mr President, not Russia’s war. If I had been using my brain I would have defected, like so many have done since your expanded order for recruitment…

Putin’s eyes narrow as the two aides share a look of concern between them.

Andrei – … but because I didn’t think clearly, I became your accomplice and then killed 16 men. Brave men, all of them, fighting for something that mattered, not for the vanity of one person.

Flushed with anger, Putin’s expression turns somber. He looks directly at Andrei.

Andrei – In battle, in the fury and danger of every moment, I developed a conscience… and having done so it became harder to kill Ukrainians… or send others to kill them in your name.

Putin thinks of ending the interview and glances at the aides standing by. They are ready to step in.

Andrei then reaches for the medal of valor pinned on his right chest and awarded by Putin himself, takes it in his hand and extends it to Putin.

Putin (exploding, shouting) – Fool! Fool! To show my gratitude I have offered to give you something but you sit there and tell me I’m a liar. Fool! You have no understanding of what it means to lead a nation, to not let it be pushed aside by the West and China.
Russia will not be humiliated!
Andrei – You mean you will not be humiliated…
Putin – Silence! How dare you.
Andrei (defiantly) – Why should we pay for your dreams of power?
Putin – I said silence!

And with a sudden swing of his arm he swats the medal off Andrei’s hand, the medal tumbling to the floor and bouncing off before coming to rest near a wall.

The two aides quickly step front and placing themselves on both sides of Andrei, pull him back by his shoulders.

Aide – We should remove this man, Mr President.
Putin (controlling himself) – Wait.
(to Andrei, calmly) I should send you to prison for your disrespect… but I won’t. Instead, you will be discharged from the Army.

Andrei shrugs with an air of insouciance.

Putin – … but you shall not speak of your ideas to anyone… understood?

Andrei stares back.

Putin signals for the aides to remove Andrei.
They pick him up by his shoulders, escort him out, wait a few moments for a vehicle, sit in the back seat flanking him and drive off.
Moments later, near a corner in central Moscow, the car stops, one aide gets out and Andrei exits after him.
Not a word is exchanged between them.
Andrei walks off and disappears into the crowd of pedestrians.
The time is 11 am.
The snow is still falling.

He hasn’t been heard of since.
His family put in a complaint with the authorities.
Some say he crossed the border with Estonia and then joined Ukrainians in their fight.
Some say he emigrated to America. Others say he was seen in London.
No one is certain.
But wherever he is, his proud and defiant spirit lives on.

Why Support Ukraine. Inflation or Not

Photo by Mathias Reding on

We’re nearing nine months since Putin invaded Ukraine, expecting a quick surrender because his majesty Vladimir was so bold and visionary and oh so talented that the West could not hope to match him. There was no way that the West could ever stand against the enraged Russian bear.
And, of course, Putin had the large store of nuclear weapons, and if anyone dared to stand against him, he’d get them ready to fire and the West would pee in their pants, kneel and plead for forgiveness.
Instead, the big bad bear is retreating.
The West stood up, looked at his majesty Vladimir in the eye and said, ‘excuse me, no, you’re not getting away with it. Ukrainians want to fight and we don’t turn our backs on men and women willing to fight. Got it?’
His majesty Vladimir is still processing that reply.
To his credit, he’s been able to resist. He hasn’t buckled. Not yet.
But it’s been costly for him. He knows he’s crossed the line and will never recover from the atrocities he’s committed.
That’s not to say he won’t be embraced by some, say China’s Xi Jinping. Xi’s atrocities are not yet of the scale of Putin’s, but he will catch up. Give him some time. His murderous repression in Hong Kong and his vast mistreatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province are just the beginning.
Putin knows he screwed up but still has hope.
His bet is that the West will get tired of the war.
He knows the West has to contend with citizens who are opposed to it and have a right to be heard.
Putin doesn’t have that problem. What he says is law, the majority of Russians having been intimidated into submission long ago. Some don’t even know they were, that’s how sad that picture is.
Putin’s hope is that people in the West will increase their complaints about inflation and shortages and their discomfort, then put pressure on their leaders to tell Ukrainians, ‘We’ve done enough. Take care of yourselves.’
Sadly, it could happen.
Protests in some NATO countries in Eastern Europe have been growing.
Macron, in France, facing the same pressures, has told his people of the need to sacrifice for the sake of liberty.
Every leader in the West should be doing the same thing. Putting the matter up front. Educating the voters. Reminding them of how unique this opportunity is to push back Russia and start a new alignment of powers in the world.
Even if some NATO members choose to back off in their support of Ukraine’s heroic fight, we should not.
Too much is at stake.
The winds of freedom from the valor displayed by Ukraine are blowing into the Middle East. Because of it there is now the chance of regime change in Iran.
And yet, here at home, there is talk in the Republican ranks of cutting back on support for the war, should they win control of congress in next week’s election.
It would be a serious mistake.
It is urgent that our voters be educated on the enormity of what’s in play.
A defeated Russia in Ukraine would have vast repercussions across the area and eventually on China.
Ukraine’s heroism has opened a door we didn’t know existed.
With an abundance of guts and sacrifice, they had the imagination to wish to reinvent themselves.
Stepping up they reached through the darkness and pain of the invasion of their land and grasping the door of freedom threw it open.
And the winds of freedom blew in.
All their pain made sense. All their sacrifices found meaning.
Ukrainians thought they were fighting for their beloved land.
They found, instead, they were fighting for the world.
America, we cannot close that door.