The Three Things to Win the War

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One – Give Ukraine all it needs to push Russia back to behind its borders.

Time is critical. Zelensky has called for fighter jets.
The sooner we provide them, the quicker the benefits.
We don’t have to idealize Ukraine to acknowledge their tremendous courage,
their commitment to defend their land and affirm their right to self determination.
They have their flaws, like all of us do, but they have made their choice.
Victory or death. And they have been brilliant.
Can anyone recall any western nation making that choice since the end of WWII, as they fight a foe much more powerful militarily than them?
No western nation has done that.
Does Russia have the commitment Ukraine has?
No.
The majority of Russians have been living in a trance induced by Putin. They have swallowed whole the lies they have been fed.
It will take some time for that nation to come to terms with the historical costs of such passivity. Eventually, other leaders will arise and the necessary self scrutiny will take place. Meanwhile, all consenting Russians are accomplices in the atrocities committed against Ukraine.
A Russian not lifting a finger to dissent with Putin is an accomplice of his.

Two – Stop Russia from firing missiles into Ukraine from Russia itself.

This is unacceptable. It keeps happening because we’ve been afraid to confront Putin.
Why are we allowing this advantage to the Russians?
We should say to Putin, stop firing missiles from your territory or we will provide Ukrainians with the same capability.
Since when are Ukrainian lives less dear than those of Russia?
With their actions, Ukrainians have been loudly saying to the world, this war is winnable.
They are right and in need of our full backing.
Ukraine is standing today because of the effort made by the West to arm them. But we also have pressing problems of our own that need our resources and attention, the more reason to bring the war to an end as soon as possible.
So let us gather our own courage to put limits on Putin.

Three – The moment that Russia is pushed back to behind its borders we should declare Ukraine to have all the protections of a NATO member.
Given all the sacrifices Ukrainians have made and the atrocities committed by Putin and his fellow Russians, Ukrainians are deserving of such protection.
I am sure this could be agreed upon.
Turkiye’s president may object, as he has in blocking Sweden’s and Norway’s membership, but the man likes to play both sides and has yet to agree to the sanctions on Russia imposed by the West. So NATO should boot him out of the organization, let him cozy up to China instead and good luck with that.

This war should not go on and on. Ukrainians have limits. The nations forming part of the western alliance have limits, too.
The sooner the war ends, the better for all.
We should give Ukraine everything it needs now.
Ukraine’s commitment to succeed can push back Russia to behind its borders, and with NATO’s protections have the security to start rebuilding what will be a remarkable nation, the envy of all Russians and all other nations living without human beings’ basic freedoms.

Bolder, Mr Biden.

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After long delays the approval for sending tanks to Ukraine was given. But it will take months before they arrive. A delay measured in lives lost.
The delay was largely due to German obstructionism. Chancellor Scholz, for whatever reasons, putting up obstacles to assist Ukraine.
This delay has given Putin an advantage. Not only can they keep firing missiles from their own territory but, with greater number of soldiers, now they can push more effectively against Ukraine’s resistance.
Zelensky has called for fighter jets and longer range missiles to defend his nation.
We should give them to him as soon as possible.
Mr Scholz will likely put up other obstacles to not do what is needed, but if Germans themselves don’t bypass him, then we should. How? One option is to come to a consensus that, in the upcoming rebuilding of Ukraine, contracts to companies to do the work be awarded in proportion to how helpful their nations of origin were in assisting Ukraine. Scholz’s obstructionism should put German companies at the bottom of the list.
Ukraine’s enormous effort, dying in defense of democracy, is being underestimated.
So far, we have been intimidated every time that Putin talks of his nuclear weapons.
We cannot allow him to brow beat us.
His threats need to be met with resolve. And arming Ukraine with all it needs, short of nuclear weapons, is the answer
At this time China is going all out to bypass the economic sanctions the West has imposed on Putin. They are afraid of a victory by Ukraine because such victory will empower the growing resistance in China against the dictatorial powers of their communist party.
Ukrainians have made the commitment to push back Russia to behind its borders. Doing so will transform not only Ukraine but also Russia.
By now we know the courage is there. What is needed is to arm it.
For that, Western boldness is needed.
There are nations in the alliance that will prefer to scream loudly against such a position but to delay assistance is the equivalent to siding with Putin. We cannot allow it.
So it falls to you, Mr Biden, to be bolder in the interest of all nations.
Imagine the power of a fully recovered Ukraine with all its borders reclaimed and rebuilt with the assistance of the West?
Such light will shine so bright that it will move Russians to carefully examine why they have subjected themselves to the authority of Putin. They will realize they have consented to devaluing themselves by not fully exercising their political and economic freedoms.
When that starts to happen, if Putin has lasted that long, he will be asked to leave.
The same process is likely to happen in next door China and other nations farther away.
Ukraine’s uniqueness deserves all the support it needs and the resulting benefits will be great.
A nuclear war is a very distant possibility because China will act as a check on Putin.
China does not want a nuclear war. They know that if one is triggered, they would be caught in it because we would have to fire on them also.
You have done a great job, thus far, Mr Biden. Greater boldness is needed to finish the job.
You can do it.

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.

China and India. War Profiteers

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The war needs to end. It is a major disruptor of the economy and great driving force for inflation.
The Western alliance has supported Ukraine with America being the one carrying the heavier burden.
Sanctions on Russia are working and energy experts say the consequent lack of access to western technology and knowhow is gradually shrinking Russia’s productive capacity.
This is important because revenues from oil and gas are the dominant component of their federal budget. In 2021 they represented 45% of such budget.
But even at discounted prices, Russia continues to sell its oil.
And who are the major purchasers? China and India.
Judging by the bar graph in a recent article in the WSJ (see link below), China and India appear to account for over 65% of such purchases.
So why not put sanctions on those two countries?
By their purchases they are helping prolong the war and so the killing of Ukrainians.
They are fueling inflation and all its devastating consequences.
Will India get upset with the West if sanctions are applied? Most likely. But what alternatives do they leave us? The cost of the war is too high and they have become war profiteers.
The war in Ukraine affects everyone and India and Modi are not accepting their responsibility in bringing it to an end.
Over the years they chose to purchase their weapons from Russia instead of the West, so they, too, got fooled by his Highness Vladimir.
They may take some comfort in the fact that Germans also got snookered, with Angela Merkel believing Putin’s tricks.
To be fair, in America, we have a long history of that same gullibility. For just one example, I’m sure George W Bush is still kicking himself for having invaded Iraq in 2003, resulting in all that destruction.
The war in Ukraine is telling India that it is time to accelerate its pivot to the West. Stopping the purchases of Russian oil would be a great step in that direction.
India’s talents would make a remarkable contribution, as we already see from the many heads of industry of Indian origin now in America, as well as in other fields of endeavor.
Will sanctions on China upset Xi Jinping? Yes. But they, too, are a war profiteer.
China became the powerhouse that it is now because of the enormous transfer of talent and technology from the West which they then used well by applying their own gifts.
But their current system of rigid hierarchical structure with suppression of freedom of speech will not keep fueling their expansion but slow it instead
China, too, by their support of Putin is contributing to the economic malaise the world is struggling with. By their purchases of oil from Putin they become his accomplice.
Economic sanctions need to be levied and if they scream, so be it.
The world needs respite from the war. And it needs it now

Mr Scholz. Can You Be a War Chancellor?

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There are no doubts about your talents, sir. Under your leadership, Germans have made strict adjustments in energy consumption. And Germany’s productive capacity has also shown in the speed with which the LNGs (liquified natural gas terminals) have been built.
So thank you and Germans for that.
But there is still the matter of the Leopard tanks.
They are sorely needed.
In one of your last statements you said you would send the tanks only if America sent their own Abrams tanks.
But why put another roadblock?
Hasn’t America done more than you have to help Ukraine?
You saw recently how Putin bombed a residential building in a suburb of Kyiv, killing at least 40 people.
How did you react to that?
Is the West enabling Ukrainians to fire missiles on Moscow? No. But why not?
Putin, with the consent of his sleep walking population, just shoots them at random. Did they land on a maternity hospital? Oh, well, we’re in a war, will be his reply.
Precisely, chancellor. We’re in a war. The killing is indiscriminate, and you are saying to the Polish government’s request to you to send their own Leopard tanks (German built), ‘no, we have got to think about it’.
Think about what, sir?
By now, your timidity is such, that the Polish would probably get applause by telling you to go fry yourself in hell and send the Leopards to Ukraine without your permission.
We’re at war and you are stalling.
It’s not like you don’t have a precedent. Didn’t England just approve the sending of their own Challenger tanks to Ukraine?
Did they insist on America sending their Abrams tanks also? No.
Chancellor, Russia is rebuilding. I just read that Putin is going to enlarge his army to 1.5 million, up from 1.35 million. The West is not giving men to the war effort but equipment, knowhow, and munitions. We are not dying in the battlefield, it’s the Ukrainians doing the dying.
Germans, are not dying in this war.
Ukrainians now have a hard earned advantage. We should not let it slip away.
Resolve is needed now. And tomorrow, too. And the day after.
In 1948, when the Soviets had encircled Berlin, it was General Lucius D Clay, the American in charge of allied occupation forces who convinced all concerned that an airlift was essential to save Berlin. He did not hesitate. He spoke up. He convinced the doubters. And so the airlift was instituted and lasted almost a year. Berlin lived on.
When squeezed those in charge need to answer the call.
It is you turn, Chancellor.
Now, it could be that this decision does not fall within your range of talents.
If so, do us all a favor and resign.
Germany can still use your talents when peace returns.
Please act.

From Russians to the Chinese

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Do not be fooled by Xi Jinping like we have been by Vladimir Putin.
To hold free elections is a great advancement in human beings’ political history.
Power corrupts and no one is spared. No one, no matter how saintly, capable or honest they may appear. No one.
We, Russians, failed in letting Putin remain in power and now are facing the consequences;
the massacre of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and the guilt we must live with.
Though the number of dead is today a mere fraction of what happened to Jews in WWII, we Russians are starting to feel what the Germans must have felt when they finally recognized that they had stood silent and become Hitler’s accomplices.
Deep in our hearts and minds, we no longer cheer when a missile hits a building where families live, killing a mother, a child, a father, ending their possibilities as human beings.
Now we grieve and ask ourselves, what madness have we allowed to be unleashed in our name, in the name of Russians, a people who have contributed to this world and gone through much suffering at the hands of despots.
Why, we ask ourselves, have we allowed it?
Whatever invention Putin came up with it’s all a lie to keep himself and those he favors in power.
We, Russians, are guilty of not speaking up, of not objecting, of not facing our fears.
We are guilty as individuals and collectively.
And we apologize to the world.
We ask your forgiveness and vow to find a way to depose the brutal tyrant who governs us.
We do not want to live behind the ‘Curtain of Putin’, the isolation he thinks is best for us.
No. We want to join the world and be part of every convulsion it suffers, be part of every struggle it faces, every social ill it has to wrestle with, for that is what will help us evolve and develop our civic conscience.
Dear Chinese brothers and sisters, you must do the same. Do not accept to live behind the ‘Curtain of Xi Jinping’ and his interpretation of the world.
Do not be fooled. Anyone who’s willing to take away your freedom of speech is capable of the worst crimes against humanity.
Anyone who is willing to intimidate you will try to walk over you if you let them.
When the time comes, Xi Jinping will order the invasion of Taiwan, do not doubt that for one moment. It is all about his glory.
And you, with your silence, will be his accomplices. Worse, he will ask you to squeeze the trigger, to push the button to drop the bomb and you will do it.
And if the Taiwanese don’t surrender quickly when he orders the invasion, in your name, Xi will want total destruction. ‘It’s a small island,’ he will say, ‘we’ll repopulate it. There’s plenty of us.’
Dear Chinese brothers and sisters, if you make an effort to develop your own political ideas, you will not be cheering the bombing of the Taiwanese but will be protesting such cruelty.
We, Russians, failed to develop our own political ideas and instead deferred to Putin.
Look where he has taken us. And there are more dead to come. More destruction. Schools, hospitals, theatres, residences, energy plants. Putin will let nothing stand in his way.
We, human beings, for the judicious exercise of power, must consent to limits. If we don’t then we abuse our powers.
Look at what’s happening in Iran. In the name of god, the killing and maiming of protesters goes on and on. In the name of god, freedom of speech was suppressed and that’s how it all began.
Apparently, it is only the clerics in power who hear the voice of god. Not the people who are driven to risk their lives in defense of their beliefs.
Democracies are not perfect. They are tainted by all manner of folly and excess for to be human is to be flawed.
We in Russia had a brief period under Mikhail Gorbachev during the 1990’s when we had a taste of freedom. But we didn’t appreciate it and let it slip away. Our mistakes overwhelmed us while no thinker stood up to cry out, ‘let us be patient, we have a history of living in oppression and kneeling before tyrants and czars and it has scarred our souls and minds. What we are going through is new to us, let us give it a chance.’
Had we learned to live with our mistakes and learned to correct them, there would have been no invasion of Ukraine. No killing of innocent people, men, women and children whom Putin, to further degrade them, now calls Nazis.
Dear Chinese brothers and sisters, autocracies breed brutality which – to paraphrase the words of a man whose name I don’t recall – sooner or later comes for you, your partner, your son, your daughter, your friend, your neighbor.

A reader asked me the other day, ‘why do you speak in the name of Russians? You don’t know them’. So here’s my answer, ‘because I assume the best in them’.

A China Russia Split?

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Is it possible? What would it take?
For one, Putin seriously threatening the West with nuclear weapons, since it would imply China allowing the Russian to set the agenda, thus leaving China open to retaliation from the West.
But there’s another reason a split between the two is possible.
Internal dissension in China over Xi Jinping’s ambition to rule until his death.
Xi has miscalculated.
He has assumed that the remainder of the high ranking Communist party officials will be content bowing to his highness until the end of their lives.
The days of Mao Zedong and ruling forever are gone.
‘What about me?’ will ask the very ambitious in the politburo who are forced to suppress their aspirations. ‘I would like to govern, too, and be at the pinnacle for at least a term. Why should Xi get all the goodies for ever and ever? There are other deserving people, too, so we should get a chance to compete for the top post.’ But Xi has said to them, ‘no, I’m top dog and you lick my paws.’
And these ambitious and pushed aside Chinese, filled with resentment for the overbearing Xi, will think about the virtues of parliamentary systems in the West wherein mistakes in leadership are punishable by ousting. You’re in one week but make a bad mistake the next and you’re out the following (i.e, Liz Truss in England recently).
These same ambitious Chinese in the Politburo will think again about democracy in America, a system riddled with problems, a system they love to bad mouth, but where Trump could not stay in power. A system that has investigated the man publicly and where his chances of regaining the presidency are now gone.
These same ambitious Chinese in the Politburo are now looking at Russia and seeing how Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has left a horrible impression in the world, with China clearly viewed as his main accomplice.
But while Putin has domesticated the majority of citizens, hundreds of thousands of Russians found the nerve to tell him ‘go screw yourself, Putin, we’re out of here, we’re leaving because you’ve gone mad and you want us to sacrifice our lives for your inflated ego. But we will not, for we can clearly see through your crap.’
And just like that, a vital section of the most productive members of that society have left the nation and chosen to make their contributions elsewhere.
The sad and tragic spectacle of Putin ordering the butchering of Ukrainians, day after day, is telling the ambitious Chinese in the politburo, that it’s bad business to have so much power concentrated in one person because, inevitably, that person will make decisions without the feedback of other people’s expertise, and some of those decisions will be disastrous.
And the ambitious Chinese in the politburo will not feel good bowing to his highness Xi, certain that sooner or later he will screw up just like Putin has.
Xi’s Zero Covid Policy’s failure is a telling reminder of how much can go wrong.
And does an ill timed invasion of Taiwan not seem a possibility?
How forgiving will the Chinese people be if an invasion of Taiwan results in fierce resistance by the Taiwanese with thousands and thousands killed day after day, all because Xi thought it was the right time to take over the island and underestimated the commitment to freedom of the islanders?
Putin’s enormous failure in Ukraine may be bringing the ambitious Chinese in the politburo to their senses.
Power concentrated in one person without the benefit of feedback is bad business.
Power that doesn’t get to rotate is not good.
Competition is important in every human endeavor. Only through competition is the best selected. And because influencing the affairs of human beings is a complex affair, rulers need to be exposed to a great deal of feedback.
Which is why free speech is critical.
The ambitious Chinese members in the politburo will think these thoughts even if they will be hesitant to propose needed reforms for fear of upsetting his highness Xi.
But they will resent Xi Jinping’s power grab.
And they need only look to Russia and the disaster in Ukraine to realize it could happen to China, too.
So why wait?
Why not start working to remove Xi Jinping – the usurper – from power as soon as possible?

PS – After leading Britain to victory with the rest of the allied forces in WWII, Winston Churchill ran for office again and lost. The Brits said, ‘Thanks, brother. We appreciate it. Now let’s get someone else.’

Missiles Rain on Kyiv. Why not on Moscow?

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Something is off, isn’t it? Putin gets to shoot what missiles he wants onto Ukraine – hospitals, hotels, homes, streets, power generating plants, transportation hubs, defenseless citizens and children – anything. But Ukrainians, lacking the means, cannot give Putin the misery he deserves.
Isn’t this an argument to give Ukraine everything it needs to defend itself?
Short of nuclear weapons we should ramp up deliveries of the weapons they need to attack Russia itself.
And let Putin feel what Ukrainians are feeling.
We haven’t done it thus far, because of the fear of appearing to be ‘escalatory’ in the war effort and so angering Putin.
So what would his wrath be like?
Will he move his nuclear weapons into position?
He may, and if he does, then we’ll move ours.
Will Putin risk seeing Russia go up in flames?
No.
Xi Jinping, in China, will be the first to say, ‘Hold on, Vladimir. I didn’t sign up for this. I mean, I said we were going to be friends without limits, so it is clear to the West that we are your accomplice in killing Ukrainians because we are propping you up. But if you fire a nuclear weapon, not only will you be fired upon in response, but we will be a target too. You’ve been around for a while, but here in China we have just got started on our plans to take over part of the world – the other part going to you, of course. So I don’t want to see Beijing or Shanghai burn. Please, let’s think this over.
Ukraine has a point. If missiles rain on Kyiv, why not on Moscow?
If it weren’t for the missiles, Ukrainians would have pushed your army back further.
So, it looks like you’re losing this war, Vladimir.’
‘They’ve been scared to stand up to me, the West has,’ replies Putin. ‘They’ve been very careful to not give weapons to Ukraine that I will see as escalatory. So I think I can get away with it. It’s not that they’re being cautious, it’s that they’re scared.’
‘Maybe… and maybe not’ returns Xi. ‘But once you start readying those missiles, something could go wrong, and the West will not hesitate to fire in your direction and mine.’
‘I can’t accept that I’m losing this war, Jinping… can’t accept that they’ve pushed my people back. Thousands of Russians have left the country… good people… smart people… to avoid the draft… my international reputation is in tatters… my soldiers have committed war crimes… I’m relying on prisoners as soldiers…’
‘You’re getting desperate, Vladimir. That is not good. I need you around for when I invade Taiwan, so you can back me up.’
‘Trust me, they have more to lose than I do…’ says Putin.
‘I don’t like how you’re talking. This is not about you, Vladimir. It’s about Russia. And about China.’
‘I am Russia, Jinping… like you are China.’
‘No. No and no! Look, I want to be in power forever, just like you… and I will not hesitate to eliminate my adversaries to accomplish my goals, just like you have done… but I’m definitely not China… and you are definitely not Russia. There’s a whole lot more here than you and me…’
‘You won’t back me up?’ asks Putin.
‘I can’t.’
‘What does that mean?’ presses Putin.
‘If you push on with your wish to fire nuclear weapons… ‘
‘I’m not going to fire them, just scare them…’
‘Once you get in that mode, things can go wrong. I can’t accept that,’ replies Xi.
‘What?’
‘I’ll have to tell the West that I’m no longer supporting you… and I will do so because I don’t want to see any of my cities burn… as I’m sure they will… even if we were to land some missiles on America in retaliation.’
‘You’re backing out, Jinping… I can’t believe this… you said we were friends without limits…’
‘I did… but I didn’t say crazy without limits.’

Pause.

‘I will not accept defeat, Jinping… will not.’
‘Then keep fighting… but stop raining missiles on Ukraine… or the West will arm Ukrainians to the teeth and push you all the way back to your pre 2014 borders. And how are you going to explain that to Russians?’
‘Ukraine does not want to negotiate… they want everything back,’ says Putin.
‘Surprise them. Get creative. Give a little. Offer them all of the occupied territories in the East but you keep Crimea.’
‘They may not accept that, either.’
‘They would be saving a lot of Ukrainian lives… put it in that context. Stress the saved lives. And sweeten the deal…’
‘Sweeten the deal?’ asks Putin, puzzled.
‘Yes… add that you would accept Ukraine as a NATO nation.’
‘What?’ replies Putin, with a flash of anger.
‘You’re losing the war, Vladimir,’ says Xi calmly. ‘Ukraine was never a threat to you. You made that up.’

Putin hangs up.

Xi puts down the phone. He swivels in his chair. He is alone in his office. He shakes his head slowly, concerned with the turn of events.

‘Biden needs to step up and escalate. Putin won’t be able to handle Ukrainians being better armed. But the West needs to act now… not give Putin time to rearm. This is the time.
As far as him using nuclear weapons… he won’t do it… but he’ll walk to the edge… maybe he’ll scare the West… rattle their nerves… but maybe not… and if not… China has to be ready.
We can’t afford a mistake by Putin.’

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.

The End of Trump

Photo by Krisztian Kormos on Pexels.com

Continues to unfold.
The House of Representatives commission investigating the events of January 6th 2021 has dealt him a serious blow.
Their findings are being forwarded to the Justice department for further examination, which may lead to charges. Among them is the very serious matter of insurrection.
Trump had good people around who could tell him, ‘You lost. Get over it. Have to move on.’ And there were those who couldn’t stand up to him, who couldn’t say ‘you have to regroup, to examine what went wrong and correct it’. They just didn’t have it in them.
The voters know who they are.
Lots of Republican Senators are in that bunch.
Trump failed because he couldn’t adjust to reality. His message to those who were bitter and were left behind, though propelling him to the presidency in 2016, needed to be modified.
In a pluralistic society such as ours the emphasis is on inclusion, which presupposes dialogue, which presupposes tolerance. But Trump couldn’t see it.
I still remember his reaction to a reporter’s question about a former White House staff member, a lady, who had quit and was being critical of him. The reporter asked what he thought of her. Trump’s answer – ‘A dog.’
Trump failed because of his character.
There’s no way back now. He will not be president again. He should heed the advice of those who are now telling him not to run. But he won’t.
And so he will lose in the primaries to another Republican candidate.
His base deserves blame for his undoing. They did not examine the messenger carefully.
They chose to not be critical. They bought into the message of sectarianism and intolerance.
They thought Trump would be the magician who would empower them.
But there’s no easy way to empowerment in a pluralistic society. Compromise is the norm. Give and take. Gradualism.
It’s not about building walls but about building bridges. And it takes longer to build bridges.
Trump’s shortcomings ran deep.
On July 16th 2018, in Helsinki, Finland, early in the morning before meeting with Putin, Trump tweeted, ‘Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse, thanks to many years of US foolishness and stupidity…’. A bit lopsided to say the least. Had Putin not annexed Crimea in 2014, also grabbing Ukraine’s territory in the East?
And yet that same July 16th, at the press conference following the meeting with Putin, after reporter Jonathan Lemire asked Trump, ‘Every US intelligence has concluded that Russia did interfere (in the 2016 US elections). Who do you believe? Would you now, with the whole world watching, tell president Putin, would you denounce what happened in 2016, and would you warn him to not do it again.’
Trump replied, ‘… my people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and others, they said they think it’s Russia… I have President Putin (Putin stood nearby behind another lectern) … he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this… I don’t see any reason why it would be… I have confidence in both parties… I have great confidence in my intelligence people… but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. (Questions and answers as reported by the New York Times)
Trump failed because of his character, the same character who let himself be tricked by Putin.
We can only speculate what kind of a man Trump would have been if he had engaged in a productive dialogue with himself, where he showed willingness to acknowledge his flaws.
But he did not and that’s who we got for president.
That’s the man who faced Putin on our behalf and let him get away with the denial.
Had he not let Putin get away so easily, would there have been a war in Ukraine?
Putin didn’t just become a thug overnight, he has been a thug for a long time.
Seeing that an American president could so easily be bamboozled, surely contributed to his thinking that he could get away with invading Ukraine.
It’s been very traumatic for America to process Trump and his behavior.
We need to learn from it so we won’t make the same mistake again.