The West’s Reluctance to Stand Up to Putin

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The anniversary of the invasion is closing in.
And we have yet to stand up to Putin.
Yes we have sent weapons to Ukraine but not enough.
And they keep dying. Tens of thousands dead and many more wounded/maimed.
We have sent aid, true. America has sent the most.
But as we approach the first anniversary, talk is now growing about sitting down with the aggressor and negotiating.
Fans of Putin, like the Far Right in Italy, are loudly voicing their love for the beauty of Putin’s ways.
And more polls are saying that support for Ukraine’s war is declining.
As if to say to Ukraine, ‘we’ve done enough. We get that you have been courageous and we admire it, but you keep asking for more and we’re getting tired. We have inconvenienced ourselves enough.’
But shouldn’t we stand up to Putin?
‘We should not attempt regime change in Russia,’ says one leader, ‘Russia’s integrity needs guarantees,’ says another. ‘We’ve offered planes, but what we really mean is, we’ll get started on it, and it will take time, maybe years.’
And the hypocrisy keeps growing. The doublespeak, remembering Orwell.
‘We have to live with Russia, they’re part of Europe,’ says another leader.
Yes, by all means, let’s live with Russia! The real Russia. Not the zombies that support Putin!
Russia should be defeated and forced to retreat to behind their borders. And in due time, Russians will deal with Putin and Prigozhin and the Wagner group.
No one is talking extinction. Just get out of Ukraine.
Human beings embrace false beliefs all too easily. No country is spared.
In America, it’s only now that a significant percentage of the population is finally pulling away from the notion that Trump was good for us. Even though he was associated with the assault on Capitol Hill on January 6th 2021 in an effort to alter the results of the presidential election. Even though, he never hid he was a fan of Putin.
‘What is wrong with Putin having a little more of Ukraine than he had before? If that makes him comfortable, why not?’ cry the eager to compromise. Those who have no idea of what freedom is even though they live in the West.
‘Didn’t Germany live as a divided country from 1945 till 1991? History needs time,’ say those eager to accommodate, eager to surrender, those already comfortable living on their knees.
‘Let us not humiliate Putin,’ said Macron at one point and he has yet to apologize to the world for that ludicrous statement.
And still we have not stood up to Putin.
We haven’t because we have let that man send missile after missile to Ukraine and we have not said to him, ‘stop shooting missiles into Ukraine because we will give them missiles to shoot back into your territory!’
We haven’t done that because we’re scared of him.
With all our firepower, we’re still scared of Putin.
All of the West is.
And Putin knows it.
‘I will use my nuclear weapons, do you hear me!?’ cries the most refined human being Russia has ever produced, and the West cringes.
And seeing that the West does not stand up to him, Putin feels free to seek regime change in nearby Moldova, while we look at ourselves and say, ‘Sad situation. But they’re really not part of NATO, either. If they were we would do something about it, wouldn’t we?’ And all the big wigs and generals and diplomats will assent and take a sip from their mineral water. Add some extra butter to their croissant.
So Putin will increase his offensive because the tanks and artillery the West promised will not arrive in time and Ukraine will have to retreat. And he will push and push because the West cannot pull it together to confront him. And he will finally take Kyiv, so the great Russian can finally make his grand entrance as the conqueror of Ukraine.
President Zelensky will die defending his great land because he will not surrender, and if he is caught instead, he will be put on trial for treason and daring to defy the great man in Moscow. He will be sentenced to death by firing squad but to satisfy a western appeal for mercy he will get life in prison instead.
And all western leaders will look at each other and say, ‘well, we did offer him safe passage to the West, didn’t we?’

Why Support Ukraine. Inflation or Not

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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.

Responses to WSJ articles

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In the Opinion section, yesterday, 7/19/22.

Article ‘Biden’s Saudi Arabia visit was worse than an embarrassment.’
My response –
‘Glad Mr Biden stuck to his guns. No bowing to the prince. Fist bump was good enough. And the restating that he thought MBS was responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s death, a mark of political courage. Schiff didn’t like the president’s performance? Too bad. Don’t think Biden is worried.
The Saudis have to grow up. Take responsibility for their actions.
Like Russia and China better than the West? Go for it. can’t wait for the photo showing MBS embracing the exemplary human being that Putin is. Or hugging the ‘historical figure’ the Communists have made of Xi Jinping. Close my eyes and I can see them rising towards the heavens. Hand in hand.
As to Iran, they’re a problem but not crazy. Not yet. They’re likely to get a good deal of money for signing on again and give Israel more time to prepare for that moment when they finally build it. Our surveillance and that of the Israelis will detect if they choose to go crazy and build the bomb. We’ll be ready. It won’t be pretty.’

Theocracies of any kind are a form of arrested political development. Whatever your belief in a supreme deity, it is man who must learn to govern his affairs.
Theocrats thwart the development of the individual. They do it, not in the interest of furthering mankind but out of selfish reasons. Instructing their subjects on what to do and not, while they sweeten their own existences.

Article ‘Some risks are worth taking for Ukraine’
My response –
‘Why let Putin decide what is escalatory? Abiding by his terms is putting him on the driver’s seat. There are over three times more Russians than Ukrainians. Ukraine will run out of soldiers before Russia does. For the West to not firmly push for victory reveals timidity on our part. I am with those who have been advocating for sending planes to the Ukrainians. The idea that Russia will control more territory at the end of this conflict than it did before the start must not be acceptable. So let it be us to escalate instead. There will be no nuclear war because Putin doesn’t want to be burnt to a crisp and China will be the first to say, ‘Don’t do it because the West will nuke us too and we don’t want to see Xi roasting’

Whereas I feel Mr Biden has done an exemplary job in uniting the West, I believe there is room for more push. Leaders like France’s Macron have muddied the waters when he talks of not humiliating Russia. Oh so very mindful of Putin’s feelings, but meanwhile, thousands and thousands of Ukrainians keep dying and their infrastructure is ravaged.

We need to challenge Putin. Ukraine is ready to go on the offensive.

Oscar Valdes,,, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Ukraine Needs Fighter Jets

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Russian troops in the eastern section of Ukraine continue to push to encircle Ukraine’s forces.
Should it happen, Ukraine would lose a significant portion of its army.
I read that the leaders of France and Germany, Macron and Scholz, have spoken to Putin and that he’s shown interest in peace talks.
But to think that the Russian would cede the territory he’s earned is sheer denial of the facts.
With such a deal he could turn to his people and say, ‘we now have most of southern Ukraine and more of the East. We pause now, resume later.’
And he’ll speak with the same assurance of Russian leaders who offered security guarantees to Ukraine when they gave up their nuclear weapons in the 90s, only to violate them later.
The sanctions imposed by the West are biting. Putin’s army is short of men, thus the decision to increase the upper age limit to conscription from 30 to 40 years old.
It’s in Ukraine’s best interest that the war be short for they are fighting in their land and suffering all manner of losses. And it’s in our best interest too.
But we need to push harder.
I was pleased to hear that a large aid package to Ukraine was approved with bipartisan support, and that Biden is about to send more weapons, i.e. MLRS, multiple launch rocket systems to Ukraine. But it may not be enough.
So why not give aircraft to the Ukrainians, fighter jets they can use to push back Russia in the East and elsewhere?
Would this be seen as an escalation on the part of the West? Yes.
But is Russia fighting in Ukraine with an army equal to theirs? No.
So is it fair for Russia to have all the advantages and for Ukrainian soldiers to be supermen and beat back the Russians with fewer numbers and weapons?
While Ukraine has the will to fight, the West, not just the US, should give them what they need.
This is the time.
Will the giving of aircraft push Putin to threaten nuclear weapons?
Maybe, but I don’t think so. By now his posturing has been degraded.
And just how will he threaten with his nuclear weapons? Will he threaten to use them in Ukraine itself, or will he threaten to fire on the West?
The resolve the West has shown in support of Ukraine tells Putin that we are not intimidated.
He has nuclear weapons and so do we.
Putin is not crazy. He likes remaining in control of his country which by now, after 20 years of his leadership, has become emotionally impoverished and accustomed to bowing to the ‘great’ leader. Accustomed also, to seeing their emerging leaders, like Alexei Navalny, be treated like criminals. Navalny just had his prison term extended on trumped up charges.
What this war has shown, is that Putin is no match for the West.
China is seeing the drama unfold and is having second thoughts about betting on Vladimir.
Having become an accomplice of Putin has eroded China’s prestige in the world.
And should they catch wind that Putin wanted to use nuclear weapons, they would be the first to tell him, ‘Don’t. For if you do, the West will answer, hit you and hit us too.’
Ukraine needs planes to win this war.

Oscar Valdes,,, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

Straight Talk: Biden and Putin

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A few days ago Mr Biden stated, at the end of a speech in Warsaw, that Putin ‘cannot remain in power.’ The statement set off a flurry of commentary, some of which held that he was calling for regime change in Russia. The White House promptly clarified that was not the case.
The Kremlin dismissed the statement.
Mr Biden has called Putin a war criminal. I believe he may have said, also, that the man was a murderer.
Mr Macron, France’s president, quickly put in that saying those things interfered with diplomacy.
But I don’t think so.

All those things Mr Biden has said are true. Putin has targeted residential buildings, schools, theaters, hospitals, people in the streets, women, children. If that doesn’t make him a war criminal, then what does?
He has unleashed his cruelty without provocation. In his defense, he’s told us that he and his beloved Russia are being threatened by Ukraine. Not threatened with weapons but by their desire to emancipate.
It doesn’t take much to threaten Putin. A country next door willing to exercise its right to sovereignty and lean to the West was too much of a provocation. For Putin to sleep well at night, Ukraine needed to continue to live under the shadow of Russia. Under his boot.
But Ukrainians had enough of it and they mounted a fierce resistance that has unified the West. From now on, in our hearts and minds, Ukraine is part of the West.

What troubles Putin is that the rebellious nation is so close to Moscow. And their show of defiance is likely contagious. Other territories under his boot, may want to go their own way.
And so he felt a need to be cruel. To set an example. To oppress. To squash other human beings into submission. The more blood the better.
Mr Biden had finished speaking with refugees from Ukraine when he made his speech in Warsaw. He was obviously moved by their pain, he told us himself. And so he responded, acknowledging their suffering.
Putin, on the other hand, carries on as if it was just another day.
But something is brewing under the surface. He knows his status in the world has been seriously diminished. Young Russians are leaving their land. Slowly, his authority is eroding, and it is doing so because of his inhumanity.

We’re all vulnerable to slide into acts of cruelty. More so if we choose to isolate ourselves. Which is what Putin has done. He’s a one man show in Russia. Everybody else must dance to his tune. Alexei Navalny, a prominent dissenter is now in jail for pointing out Putin’s flaws and just got his sentence extended. Opposition organizations are labelled terrorists and barred from civil discourse.
By contrast, Mr Biden is open to criticism. He may sometimes not like the criticism he gets but he knows he has to work with it. The laws of this country require that he do so. I believe he is open to feedback from his team, a team which quickly came to his aid when he said Putin ‘cannot remain in power.’ No, his team added, the President was not calling for regime change in Russia. And yet, we all knew, that in his heart, that’s exactly what he was doing.

We all understand that it is up to the Russians to depose Putin. But the rest of us, every single one of us, also have a right to join in with Mr Biden and say that he ‘cannot remain in power.’ We have such right because the images of the pain and suffering inflicted by Putin are clear to all of us.
And there may be more to come. In his desperation to push his boot onto the throats of Ukrainians, Putin may wish to use chemical or tactical nuclear weapons so he can finally overcome the courageous people fighting for their right to choose their own destiny.
Perhaps Mr Biden’s views of Putin will damage negotiations for an end to the war.
I don’t think so.
And if the two men were ever to meet again, I believe Mr Biden would sit across him and discuss whatever needed to be discussed. And if Putin were to ask, ‘do you think I’m a war criminal?’, Mr Biden would answer, ‘Yes, I do. You are a war criminal. A murderer. It is a matter of record. The whole world knows it. Now, let’s talk about what we have to talk.’

Oscar Valdes.,,, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

More Absurdities

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On Sunday, president Macron of France was quoted by a French newspaper as stating that he did not believe Russia’s goal was to seize Ukraine, but instead to ‘clarify the rules of cohabitation’ with NATO and the EU. He added that Russia had a right to seek security guarantees from the West.

But who is doing the threatening in Ukraine?

Who has encircled it with 130,000 troops?

Who annexed Crimea in 2014, biting off a huge chunk from Ukriane?

Who has fueled a war in the Donbas area in eastern Ukraine with cumulative deaths estimated to be 14,000 and counting?

The West is racing to help arm Ukraine with defensive weapons only, not the kind they could use to attack Russia. And the West is doing it so Ukrainians can put up a good fight when the Russian tanks start rolling and their airplanes start strafing their people.

Mr Macron’s need to seek attention seems to have outrun his common sense.

Maybe it’s the prospect of national elections later this year that is the key motivator.

Mr Macron went further. He stated that one of the models on the table was to make Ukraine like Finland during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, when the Finnish were allowed to remain ‘independent’ but they could not join NATO, and Russia was permitted to have ‘considerable influence over their political options.’

So the West allows Ukraine to be ‘considerably’ influenced by Russia?

Doesn’t that sound like betrayal?

To please Putin’s paranoia?

In another article, mention is made of a spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, a woman declaring that the West was demonizing Russia, so as to take public attention away from their domestic crises, invest huge sums to arm ‘fragile democracies’ (as in Ukraine), and bolster an image of invincibility that has been weakened by the Afghanistan collapse.

But do we have political prisoners like you do?

What about releasing Alexei Navalny, whom you poisoned and nearly killed?

What about your branding every dissident organization you find upsetting, a terrorist one?

In democracies we sometimes elect people to govern us who are not fit, but we can throw them out at the end of their terms. You can’t do that. You’ve been stuck with Putin since 1999.

Yes, we parade every day our million flaws so that the whole world wonders how it is we still function.

But we do.

And we prosper.

Unlike Russia, where, with no free press, the citizenry is daily growing convinced that it is America who wants to invade them.

Quoted statements for this piece come from articles appearing in the New York Times on 2/7/2022. The reflections and judgments are my own.

Oscar Valdes., buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts