To The War Reporter

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You go to the source of the action,
You take the risk,
The Ukrainian soldier tells you as much as he’s allowed
And you sift through it all to capture the essence,
Their humanity, their fears, their courage.
At those moments, when you’re listening and carefully observing
all that you’ve been allowed to immerse in,
you become one of them.
A Russian missile could be about to land where you are taking notes,
yet you steel yourself to capture all that is noteworthy before your senses.
Sights, smells, sounds, taste and touch,
And then you send it all to us,
To anyone who’s open to taking it in,
You send it condensed into words that leap across nations and oceans
to elicit thoughts and emotions that then carry us back
to your side,
at that soldier’s side,
and a bridge is built.

By your actions you enlarge our minds,
Sharpen our judgments,
make possible the flowering of empathy,
the deepening of solidarity,
the evincing of conviction in the purpose.

For some of the soldiers you interview,
that moment you shared with the rest of us may become the paper clipping
his family will treasure, maybe even the only memento if the soldier is blown up the next day
and doesn’t get to return from the front to embrace his wife and children.
With your writing you reach out and capture life,
You enrich, expand and lengthen it,
You frame the heroism of those men
Fighting against forces of darkness that seek to entomb them and us all.
Your efforts help create a new consciousness that is critical to embolden the world’s fight for freedom.

Gifted men and women,
warriors in defense of ideas and humanity,
Press on!
we are most grateful for your strength,
your vision and commitment.
Dare on!
Without you the world would be darker and cripple our minds,
Our thoughts and feelings wouldn’t take wing
and instead crash on the rocks of ignorance.

From all those whose lives you’ve touched with your reporting,
Thank you.
The pursuit of liberty would not be possible without you.

What We Need to Say to Russia Now

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One taboo just came down. There are at least two left.
The taboo that came down was the one that said the West shouldn’t send tanks into Ukraine because it would upset the Russians. The tanks would be too much fire power and the big bear would growl louder.
After much back and forth, finally Britain took the step and committed to sending in their Challenger tanks. This will boost Ukraine’s fighting capacity and make a difference.
Now if only Chancellor Scholz in Germany would make up his mind and supply the Leopard tanks, then the punch Ukrainians can deliver will increase its power.
For the second taboo. The West should not supply weapons powerful enough to reach into Russia’s territory.
This is a good one. For a while, I bought into it, too. Russia can shoot their missiles into Ukraine from inside their borders, but Ukraine can’t shoot the missiles we give them into Russian territory.
This is not a sustainable position.
Keep this up and Russia will conquer Ukraine.
We need to make up our minds, do we want Ukraine to win, or are we looking for a long war and then, after there are no Ukrainian men left to fight, Vladimir the Great will ride into Kyiv unopposed.
With China and India buying his oil, even at reduced prices, there will always be cash to support the Russian economy, at least long enough to conquer Ukraine.
So we must draw the line and say to Putin, stop firing missiles into Ukraine from Russia itself. Stop now. If not then we will give Ukraine the capacity to fire missiles into your territory.
The assumption in the West has been that this will so upset Putin that he will want to fire his nuclear weapons at us. Hence, Escalation. The big E. The third taboo.
But does Putin want Russia destroyed? No.
He cannot get away with firing nuclear weapons without us firing back.
We haven’t confronted Putin yet because he has intimidated us.
We must admit this.
The bully has to be confronted. There is no other way.
Do we have what it takes to confront him? Yes.
This war pits two very unevenly matched combatants. Russia has the advantage of territorial proximity and larger number of troops.
That Ukraine has come this far against the odds is an amazing story.
But without us setting new rules, Ukraine’s remarkable courage will be beaten down.
There is so much they can take.
To not confront Putin now is to say, ‘let’s wait until Ukraine is exhausted and then Zelensky himself will be ready to beg for a negotiated peace which His Highness Vladimir the Greatest, might just agree to in the interest of projecting a measure of benevolence. So long as half of Ukraine stays under his control. The other half to follow in 2-3 years.
And Putin will be able to say, ‘it took my frightening them to get them to not set limits on me. That’s why I will one day own Europe. Because if the West can’t stand up to me now, they won’t do so later. My bravado will again win the day.’
In confronting Putin it would help if we can say to China, ‘You’re an accomplice in this war. You’ve supported Putin. If Putin dares use nuclear weapons, then you, too, will be a target for us. Think about it.’
Would that mobilize China to prevent a nuclear war?
Absolutely.
We are letting Putin frighten us.
We cannot allow it.

Something is Off in Putin’s Inner Circle

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A few days ago, an article in the NYT spoke of the Wagner group claiming that it had taken over the town of Soledar in the Donbas area, only to be quickly contradicted by Russia’s defense ministry and Ukraine’s military.
The head of the Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has also criticized the Russian military for their management of the invasion.
So how come the Wagner group, a force of mercenary soldiers, which recruits prisoners to do the fighting, and whose chief and creator is reported to be a convicted criminal, has risen to such prominence in military affairs? (Before this he was in the restaurant business)
This is not new. The Wagner group has been active in Africa and in Syria supporting dictators.
Mind you, with the right approach, convicted criminals do turn their lives around and become contributors to society, and maybe Prigozhin is a standout talent, but to go from prison to becoming a close associate of Putin and then being entrusted with leading military actions in Africa and Syria and now in Ukraine, arouses a measure of interest.
Does Putin trust his own military, or is he more comfortable with Prigozhin?
Is he afraid that a career military commander may distinguish himself on the battlefield and grow to become a rival?
Russia’s failures in combat have been mounting and this is likely accentuating divisions in the armed forces.
Has Putin, deliberately, kept his military weak?
Did he believe it would be easier instead to control a former convict and his mercenaries?
In recent years there had been much talk of Putin modernizing his military, but it appears the changes were not substantive enough. Was he afraid of giving too much power to an institution that could overthrow him?
The war is not over and turnarounds are possible but, so far, Russia’s military’s performance in Ukraine has left them with a black mark for all the world to see. With their pride wounded, will they choose to stage a coup against Putin?
How is it that Putin thought that a mercenary group, even if 10 times its current size, could hold up against a trained and committed Ukrainian force fighting for their land?
There is no way that such group could win.
Present developments keep pointing to grave structural flaws in Russia’s management of the war, another reason why it is critical that the West continue its support of Ukraine’s fighters.
It is also important to find out which way does the Russian military lean politically.
Could it be that, as an educated group, it may be leaning more toward a democratic form of government and toward building stronger links with Europe?
Maybe the Russian military does not share the ultranationalist sentiments of some of Putin’s staunch supporters and, because of it, Putin has preferred to keep them relatively weak.
Otherwise, why not send Russian soldiers to Africa in place of the Wagner group? Wouldn’t that give them precious battlefield experience?
Something is off in Putin’s inner circle.
Maybe his dominance and control are not all that tight.
I am sure China is closely following these developments and acting on them to increase their influence.
There may even be a pro China faction and a pro Western faction in the Russian armed forces, both tugging with each other.
Educated, self respecting military officers are likely questioning the conduct of the war, Putin’s meddling and the loss of prestige their institution has suffered.
Is that institution now questioning their role in Russian society?
Is Putin’s savagery in Ukraine not something worth standing up to?
Are they not demeaned enough as Putin carries on unopposed in Russia?
Have they become lambs for the great Vladimir, future czar or king of their land?
Will the Russian military now forget what they are capable of, as when they beat back Hitler and changed the course of WWII, and instead bow as they wait for instructions from the head of the Wagner group?
The world is watching.

When Will The War End?

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There is no way of realistically predicting that time but the more relevant question is, how will the war end?
I see two main camps at this point. One stating that we should hurry up and look for a deal enabling the contending parties to put down their weapons. Another saying there will be no talks until Russia has left Ukraine entirely, including Crimea, which they took over in 2014.
Zelensky is a strong advocate of the latter option.
And it makes sense.
Pushing Putin out of Ukraine entirely would be a complete victory.
So long as Ukraine is willing to put in the heroic effort, the West should back them up.
The West needs to take the long view and make the necessary sacrifices. The advantages are enormous.
A deterred Russia is more likely to see the anti Putin ferment rise and eventually lead to the deposing of Putin.
An increasingly united West will help work out internal differences and hasten the path to energy independence. The western alliance has the intellectual/technological/industrial capacity to accomplish the task.
A complete Russian retreat from Ukraine has important consequences for China’s present leadership. It will be clear to all Chinese that the global West, in mustering the resources needed to assist Ukraine, will be ready to make the same commitment to aid Taiwan.
The Chinese people are a capable people but the present leadership is preventing their political maturation. Xi Jinping is another Vladimir Putin, likely to be as truculent, murderous and brutal as the Russian in his effort to keep himself in power.
The Chinese communist party has been able to control the population only because of its repression of freedom of speech. When the Chinese people gain such freedom, all their potential will be unleashed to the benefit of their nation and the world.
The US has been broadcasting into China through Radio Free Asia (rfa.org) in Mandarin, Cantonese, Uyghur and other languages. Chinese authorities consistently jam the transmissions so this needs to be improved.
China will retaliate, of course but they won’t be able to wall off their country.
A steady flow of information from the free world will be critical to create the necessary conditions in China so they begin to move toward democracy.
Both Russia and China are fond of looking at the West and saying ‘Look at all the chaos that you have.’ But free societies learn to face those conditions and find answers to them, spurring civic growth as a result.
The heroic effort of Ukraine is opening a new path for nations to cooperate and rid the world of the devastating consequences of dictatorial regimes.
A word about Zelensky and his tenure as president of Ukraine. New elections for the post will not be held until the end of March 2024. Zelensky is permitted to run again.
Will the war have ended by then?
I hope so.
If it has not, the holding of such an important election should be postponed. It would be very difficult for the opposition to campaign while the nation is at war.
Zelensky should then say that he will continue as president only until the end of the war and not run again. And the nation should set a limit for such tenure, say a year or two at the most, if war were to drag on further.
Where would Zelensky go next?
I believe he would do a great job as head of the United Nations.
One of his tasks ought to be to lead the effort to redraw the terms of the body’s charter, so as to not allow countries like Russia and China to hold veto power in the UN’s Security Council.
The world needs to break the chains to authoritarian governments.

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.

The Power of Xi

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He sits alone in his office. Reflecting on the condition of the world, his position, the war in Ukraine, the futility of free speech and other matters.
He’s feeling strong. China has emerged. He’s just been elected to a third 5 year term as leader of China. A fourth term will likely follow, and maybe a 5th, if he feels up to it, as he’s sure he can keep his rivals in check. In fact, he would like to die in office, like Mao Zedong before him.
He can imagine the entire China going into mourning for a week, whenever he dies, with continuous speeches paying homage to his greatness as multitudes wail uncontrollably.
He thinks of Elon Musk, his travails with Twitter, and how he’s lost the position as richest man in the world.
Musk was the richest but he, Xi Jinping, is the most powerful, for he commands the second strongest economy, soon to surpass America’s and leave them far behind.
He, Xi Jinping, a name that is already part of the history of mankind and about whom books and books will be written, does not have to worry about the legalities that constrain the president of the United States.
For instance, he can call up Elon Musk and tell him, ‘You need to appoint a Chinese administrator to lead Tesla here in China. You’re getting a little too distracted with your affair with Twitter and I don’t want to worry about that.’
Musk might answer, ‘Well, I have my people who I have confidence in…’
‘You’re not hearing me,’ Xi would interrupt, “I need a Chinese administrator with full executive privileges… Now… and my preference is that he be a member of the Chinese Communist Party. You have a great company, one that we can keep learning much from, but you’re spreading yourself too thin and I don’t like it. Understood?’
To which Musk might reply, ‘I hear you… but I have investors I have to answer to… complex technical matters to address… it’s not as easy as you think…’
‘That’s why you would be at his disposal,’ Xi would say, ‘so you can answer what questions he/she may have during the transition…’
Musk would counter, ‘The change you propose is equivalent to a transfer of power… I’m not ready for that… and that would not go over well with the foreign business community in China… there would be significant repercussions worldwide… it would affect the entire Chinese economy…’
But Xi would insist, ‘Mr Musk… we are ready… China is ready… we fear no one… we have the markets and all the nations of the world who prefer to be governed by autocracies, who don’t want to be bothered with the details of free speech… and who are in the majority.’
Musk might reply, ‘I would need time to think about it… I can’t give you an answer now…’
‘This discussion does not have to be made public… If it pleases you…’ Xi would continue.
‘Do you intend to have this type of arrangement with other foreign businesses?’ Musk may ask.
And Xi would return, ‘You do not need that information.’
Musk again, ‘I mean, Tesla has been very cooperative with China… so I don’t see why I should be treated this way…’
Xi would then play hard ball, ‘The world is changing rapidly Mr Musk… and you have chosen to provide valuable Star Link support to the Ukrainian resistance, enabling satellite communications for their military, which is hurting my good friend Putin’s heroic effort to defend his beloved Russia from the brutality of Western aggression.’
Musk stalling, ‘I see… and if I stop providing such satellite support you would not be interfering with Tesla?’
Xi, smelling victory, ‘It just might affect my judgment, let’s put it that way. There comes a time when businesses must choose, in the interest of the future of the world. China and Russia have common goals. We believe that personal freedoms must be surrendered for the higher purpose of having a caring, benevolent ruling class. Autocracies are the way forward. We are right and democracy is wrong. Ukraine must be squashed. Eliminated. Your assisting them is not aligned with our overall objectives. But you do not have to reply this minute. I will give you 24 hours. Have a good day.’

Xi reflects on the conversation he might have with the former richest man in the world.
He feels ready for it. And why not?
Nothing will stop China. Soon enough he will take over Taiwan. Much sooner than the West is expecting. And following the example of Putin, he will rain thousands of missiles on the island. Never mind where they land. Until they drop to their knees.
Long live, Xi!

Push On, Damn it!

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The war in Ukraine has slowed down.
It’s winter, they say.
But should it?
Russian missiles keep falling on Ukrainians, killing them and destroying their infrastructure.
Should this not be a time to press on, to give Ukraine better weapons,
the kind that may unsettle Putin and draw him to, once again, threaten us and the world with his nuclear weapons?
With the help of China he has managed to circumvent many of the sanctions the West has imposed. So China is clearly an accomplice in this confrontation. The help they provide Putin leads to more Ukrainian lives lost and more destruction of property.
In 1994, three years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, we signed the Budapest Memorandum, along with Britain and Russia, guaranteeing Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for the surrender of their nuclear weapons. If they had those nuclear weapons today,
there would have been no war. The thousands of lives lost would have been spared.
The billions of dollars spent would have been put to other uses. The misery would not have happened.
Somehow, the West, exulting that the Soviet Union had been dissolved in 1991, miscalculated.
We trusted that there would be respect for agreements made.
But 20 years later, in 2014, Putin chose to invade Crimea and the Eastern section of Ukraine.
Obama was president and he let it happen. Yes. Let it happen. Whatever he was doing, he said, ‘Oh well, Russians will be Russians. It’s just Crimea.’
Given that, why not take the rest of Ukraine, reasoned Putin. The West can be pushed around, he thought. Plus I have managed to trick all of Western Europe into thinking they can depend on my supplies of oil and gas. Of course, there will be a price for such largesse, reasoned the exemplary human being that Putin is.
And so on February 24th 2022, he marched into Ukraine expecting the population would welcome the annexation of their country. For the glory of a greater Russia!
Ukraine, of course, having endured enough Russian oppression, could read them better than anyone else.
They knew exactly what his highness Vladimir had in mind. Subjugation. Destroying their language and identity. Devaluing them.
It was the courage of Ukrainians that woke up the West. Otherwise, we would still be in la la land. And so we owe it to them that Russia is not now pushing on the border with Poland and the Baltic countries and Finland and Romania and Hungary and saying, we need some extra space, for our empire demands it. Give it up or we’ll bomb you because I have nuclear weapons, cried that divinity that Putin has managed to become – with the consent of the West.
Ukrainians have fought with exemplary courage. When was the last time the world saw such valor and determination?
They deserve our determination, in turn. Which means that we, the global West, should be willing to better arm Ukraine so they can better fight Putin and his supporters.
By now we know that the Russian people are not willing to revolt against their leader. Fear has induced such passivity in them that they will do whatever the great Vladimir asks them to do.
To better arm Ukraine means giving them weapons Putin may consider an escalation of the conflict on our part.
We must go there.
We need to be willing to look Putin in the eye when he reacts by threatening to use nuclear weapons and say to him, ‘We’re ready for you. And beware that if you fire a nuclear weapon in our direction, Moscow and St Petersburg will go up in flames. And let your accomplice Xi Jinping know, also, that Beijing and Shanghai will burn, too, because they have enabled you and don’t deserve any better fate.’
We need to use that language because we owe it to Ukraine and the cause of freedom.
We signed the Budapest Manifesto and let Russia violate it.
We then let Crimea be taken over and also the eastern section of Ukraine. And yet we still worry that we might displease Putin if we give Ukrainians the right to defend themselves?
Ukraine is part of us.
Ukraine is a land of freedom.
We must step up now and back them all the way.
Let us take our chances.
We will survive whatever happens.
Freedom rests on the commitment to what is noble in us.
If we don’t step up now we degrade ourselves.
Short of nuclear weapons, we should give Ukraine all the weapons they need.
We need to do it now before Putin uses the Winter to rearm.
To President Biden. This is your moment. Do what needs to be done. Don not hesitate.
Action now will help liberate not only Ukraine but Russians and Chinese, who endure the atrocious repression of their leaderships.
Push for victory.
Dare, Mr President. Dare.

Admitting Our Mistakes

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Is not easy.
It’s coming to terms with our fallibility, with our imperfections.
Though most of us, in our more enlightened moments, will acknowledge that we’re flawed, in day to day life our unconscious is likely to trick us, leading us to believe that we don’t have any such flaws and if we do, they’re minor.
It takes a determined effort to remind ourselves that whatever our flaws, they are always around the corner, ready to pounce.
Thus, the importance of interaction, being open to other ideas and to criticism.
No one likes being criticized but those who are open to it march a step ahead.
Still, some things we just don’t see.
I’m reminded of walking down a supermarket aisle with a small child.
I’m more likely to see those items on shelves at my eye level. The child, on the other hand, having a different field of vision, will more easily spot things on the lower shelves.
Admitting to our mistakes can be so difficult, that some people would rather keep building on a faulty foundation than to be open about it and scrap or modify the original idea.
Any project that goes awry has had design flaws that some of the creators didn’t pause enough to properly analyze.
So they cover up and cover up and cover up.
We can’t get away with it.
We become better human beings when we are open to admitting our mistakes as soon as possible. Life rewards us for being honest with ourselves.
To say, ‘I’m not good at that, or that either. He/she are better at it,’ takes a measure of courage. But it’s easier to say to ourselves, ‘they got the job because they know somebody,’
which, in our complicated world, may sometimes be true.
Being fully honest with ourselves opens new paths we hadn’t thought of.
In structured settings, be they business or governmental, confronting flaws can be so difficult that the admission of it led to the whistleblower concept. A legal clause protecting those willing to tell the truth in exchange for a monetary reward.
Hiding the truth is in every human activity.
In politics it is rampant and sometimes deadly.
Putin has gone to war with Ukraine after building an edifice of lies that no one around dared question. Thousands of lives have been lost and more will follow.
Those who heard the lies first were unwilling to challenge them. So something started to rot.
Has been rotting for years.
Inside of China, too, as exemplified in the Communist party saying to the Chinese, ‘We have all the ideas needed for us to become the greatest nation on earth. Just trust us. We lead, you follow.’
They’ve been down that road for a while and we’re smelling the stench. It comes from the repression in Hong Kong, from the suffering of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, the suffocating quarantines in the management of Covid.
Democracy has many flaws and often harbors autocrats that must be smoked out, but it creates the conditions for the open interplay of ideas.
Closed systems, like the Russian and Chinese, or any other dictatorship, rot slowly.
It’s happened since our history started.
The French kings didn’t listen to the common man until it was too late and heads rolled.
Today’s kings – Putin and Xi – who are causing or supporting so much cruelty, also believe that they own the truth and so they trample on freedom of speech.
Show me a country where freedom of speech is censored and we can point to a country where human rot is growing.
Science has something to teach us to prevent such rot. In science, a person comes up with an idea to solve a particular problem, then someone else tests it to make sure it is good. Then another person does the same, validating the proposed solution.
That is freedom at work.
Of course, some issues may need decisions that cannot wait, but many issues should use more rigor to find the better solutions.
To avoid the lies. To avoid the waste. To avoid the failure. To avoid the rot.

Putin and Xi

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P – The West, they don’t get it…
X – No, they don’t.
P – The simple notion that people are more at peace when political thinking is left to others…
X – I know… it’s like they all believe they could become leaders.

They laugh.

P – It has taken us a long and arduous journey to get where we are now… all those difficult choices we’ve had to make… to finally be able to say to ourselves… we are the best of our people… and so it belongs to us to rule them… to tell them what to do and when to do it.
The satisfaction is immense… well worth the sacrifice.
X – Well said.
P – I’m so glad to have got all the support you’ve given me in this war.
X – My pleasure.
P – Without you… things would’ve been even more difficult. So your support gives me the time to wait them out… because they will crack, I’m sure of that.
X – I hope it’s soon… so you won’t suffer any more casualties.
P – Russians know there’s a Heaven… free of pain.
X – We differ on that… but the Chinese people are willing to sacrifice for the sake of a greater nation… that together with Russia, will rule the world. I hope to see it during my lifetime.
P – Yes. I do, too. The day will come when we conquer the West.
X – We don’t have to conquer them… just use them to our ends… and surpass them in every field.
P – You don’t think we’ll have to invade Europe?
X – No need. I’m certain that all their talk of freedom is simply poison, that it ignores the reality that most human beings prefer to be told what to do… to be given direction… in exchange for security… a job… then a pension at the end of the road… and someone to turn to when they’re in trouble. As my father used to say, men and women who moderate their ambitions live happier lives. Sleep better, too.
P – Very good.
X – By creating too many options, freedom confuses people. Look at all that violence in America… and all those homeless… it’s pathetic.
P – They should be using all that money they’re giving to Ukraine to help them instead. I’m sure the homeless would be in favor.
X – They don’t get it.
P – How would you handle the homeless problem?
X – Show up with a truck. Tell everyone to get in. That’s it. If you don’t get in, then you go straight to jail.
P – ‘My civil liberties!’ they’ll start screaming…
X – In the truck. Period. Or we’ll shove you in.
P – They’re not in their right mind so someone has to think for them.
X – Exactly. That’s where the party comes in. Structure. Obedience. Accept the fact that if you’re homeless you’re a failure as a human being… but the party is generous and will give you another chance. Feed you and clean you up. Teach you a skill. But you must obey. If you don’t, then straight to a reeducation camp… for however long it takes.
P – People, at first, fight it, but with a little coercion… not much… they slowly give in.
It is amazing how both you and I can control so many people with so few.
X – It’s not an easy thing what you’re doing, Vladimir… getting people to surrender to you in Russia… but then summon their aggression to kill as many Ukrainians as possible.
P – Thank you. I’ve been working on it for a while. Redirecting their aggression, I call it. It takes a deft hand.
X – Excellent.
P – You’ll have to do the same when you invade Taiwan…
X – We are preparing… laying down the groundwork… reminding all Chinese that they are a superior people… like Russians are too… and that we deserve to rule the world… in fact it us our duty to do so.
P – Do you really think we are superior?
X – No… but as we keep saying it, people start believing it. It’s happening in your land and in mine.

Putin laughs.

P – I am very impressed with how much China has accomplished in just 40 years plus… since the opening.
X – I’ll admit that, sometimes… I really think we are a superior race.
P – Even better than us?
X – No… not better than you.
P – We have lagged behind you…
X – True… but you’ll catch up. You’ve stumbled a bit in Ukraine… because the West has got so involved… but like we’ve said… that union will crack… and everybody will go their own way.
Then they will insist on Ukraine negotiating for peace. Zelensky will scream and go crazy but in the end will accept.
P – He’s tougher than I thought…
X – Trust yourself… keep firing those missiles…
P – It would help if Trump won the presidency again… then the war would be over.
X – You think he can win?
P – No.
X – I don’t either. Too bad he failed in the assault on the capitol.
P – It would’ve changed history. We would’ve made an alliance with the Far Right and we would all be happy. Missed opportunity.
X – Sadly.
P – Do you really think… that during our lifetime… we’ll get to rule the world?
X – I really do.
P – How come you’re so sure?
X – Most people want bread and comfort… a warm place to be in… to get laid… to watch soccer games… and feel safe.
All the talk about freedom is for the intellectuals… but they can be intimidated.
And we know how to do that.
P – Yes, we do.
X – Our challenge is to get our people to be as well educated as possible… but to have them remain sheepish politically. One way or the other we have been doing it for years. We need to keep getting better at it.
P – And maybe one day soon, we’ll rule the world.
X – I’ll drink to that.
P – I’ve got some vodka, just for this occasion.

P pours and they drink.

What Ukraine is Doing for Us

Photo by Mathias Reding on Pexels.com

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.