Dear Mr Biden. Ukraine

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Read an article earlier today on the heroic resistance that Ukraine put up at the beginning of the war which prevented Russia from taking control of Kyiv.
Titled ‘The Ragtag Army that Won the Battle of Kyiv and Saved Ukraine,’ by James Marson, it is a detailed account of the brave actions that some of the participants engaged in so they could stop an impending Russian occupation. Here’s the link
The article captures the commitment of a people determined to not be vassals of another nation.
People from very different occupations came together to say to the Russians, ‘No, you shall not pass.’ And Kyiv was not captured.
As I read it, I felt that those men and women’s actions were speaking to all of us here in America, saying, ‘freedom is in the fight to defend what you value, freedom is in the fight to have your voice heard, in the fight to be respected and in the fight to learn to respect others.’
I couldn’t help but think that, no matter what else they do with their lives, those men and women will always be able to say that they stood up and offered all they had when their nation demanded it.
Their struggle for their independence is now in the 7th month. Thousands of lives have been lost with more to come. But today, because of Ukrainians’ will to fight and the enormous support they have got from the West, we can see that the end is near.
We should not think in terms of a protracted war.
We should think in terms of ending this war as soon as possible.
The recent advances by Ukrainian forces offer a great opportunity to accomplish this.
There is evidence of low morale in the Russian army, of incompetence and lack of commitment.
This is the time to strike hard against the enemy.
I do not see this war as a war against Russia but as a war primarily against Putin. And there is evidence that more and more people in Russia are gaining the courage to disagree with him.
Putin knows he’s headed for a defeat. He may or may not be able to stay in power after that.
But our task is to help Ukraine push Russia out of all their territory as soon as possible and to achieve that we should give them everything they need.
Will Putin use nuclear weapons?
I don’t think so. You have made it very clear that any such action will not be tolerated.
Putin does not want to be extinguished. He still sees some role for himself as an ally of China.
But when and if that happens, will be up to the Russian people.
A Free Ukraine has become a shining light for all the world to see and, I trust, an inspiration to Russia itself.
You, Mr Biden, have played a leading role in making it happen. Do not deprive yourself of the chance of seeing it in its full splendor.
This is the time to give to that great nation all the support they need.
We must not hesitate.

Biden Talks to Putin

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They meet secretly, using a special CIA managed Zoom pathway. Biden is in the Oval office with only Harris, Blinken and Sullivan present.
Putin is on the large screen.
Biden has made it a point to speak to him on the anniversary of the bombings in 2001.

Biden – You will not have Ukraine. Our alliance will do whatever is needed to block you from having Ukraine. You may end up keeping some of the territory and even some of the newly conquered, but you will not have Ukraine.
Putin (smiling) – We’ll see.
Biden – Second, you’ve succeeded in uniting the West, succeeded in helping us begin to put together a new energy grid that excludes you. Permanently. And you’ll have to invent all the replacement parts that the sanctions we’ve imposed forbid you to have.
Putin (smugly) – We can do it.
Biden – Turkey and China can help you in the meantime. But it won’t last forever.
Putin (laughs) – Erdogan will outfox you anytime. He’s a master.
Biden – Third, please listen carefully… the West will make Ukraine a star nation.

Putin turns serious.

Biden – We will invest in them so they will shine and be the envy of the world. I understand they have a history of corruption, but a nation who has fought as valiantly as they have will be able to correct their mistakes. We will help them.
We in the West will invest in Ukraine so that the nations in your sphere of influence, who now demean themselves by kneeling before you will have a clear example to follow.
We in the West believe that all those nations oppressed by you, have the will to rise and oppose you, risking their lives.
Putin – You know nothing about how effective my controls are.
Biden – One day soon, Belarus, will overthrow Lukashenko… and they will find their courage and fight to be like their Ukrainian neighbors.
Putin – You live in a dream world, Biden, you probably won’t even win both chambers in congress this Fall, and I will do everything possible to persuade the millions and millions of gullible Americans into thinking Trump is the greatest leader your land has ever seen.
Biden – Try at your own peril.
Putin – Oh, we will, I assure you.
Biden – As a catholic, I believe in redemption… in the capacity to restore ourselves. You have done great harm to humanity… and yet… you could still work to atone for your behavior.
Putin – Let me see, you’d want for me to surrender?
Biden – Better than that… guide your people to freedom.
Putin (laughing loudly) – You’re mad.
Biden – You’ve lost your way… you’re responsible for the killing of thousands and thousands of Ukrainians and Russians… and for what? To restore a Soviet Union that was already crumbling from internal decay?
Mikhail Gorbachev saw it clearly back in 1985… and came up with perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (opening)… you should now pick up where he left off.
People everywhere yearn from freedom… no political system that seeks to curtail it will last… and that means China, too.
Putin – You’re a fool.
Biden – Perhaps but I’m a free man and you’re not… and neither is Xi Jinping. Human beings with cruel instincts are not free, but prisoners of their demons. You’re no different than the leaders of Iran, enslaving people in the name of God.
Putin – Russians adore me… they will do whatever I ask them… they will endure whatever hardships they must.
Biden – I won’t keep you longer. Maybe I’m wrong and you’re beyond redemption. To end, I will repeat my central point. We will not surrender Ukraine.
And we will make it the envy of the world.
All Russians, and the peoples from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, all will yearn to be Ukrainians, free human beings, not the slaves of other men.
Putin – My people will conquer all of Ukraine. Even if I have to use nuclear weapons.
Biden – Threaten as you wish… but don’t forget… we’re free men… and free men don’t surrender.

Putin and Xi Talk War

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Putin flies to Beijing to meet Xi Jinping. They sit across in Xi’s office. 

Putin – Things are not going as well as I thought.

Xi nods slowly.

Putin – I underestimated the West and… Ukrainians also. I thought they would just pee in their pants when they saw our army gather around them. They didn’t. I should’ve known better, since they have been fighting hard against us in the East for years now. For the first time… I’m beginning to doubt that we can beat them. I didn’t think the West would care that much… but they do. I thought the Far Right was stronger… Trump got 74 million votes in 2020… but the Far Right turned out to be a loud minority with little real clout. Same as in Europe. The Germans surprised me, also… I thought they would resist Biden.

(brief pause)

Jinping… I have thought of using nuclear weapons.

Xi – That’s a bad idea.

Putin – Why?

Xi – It would piss off the West… and I would find it hard to convince the central committee to continue to help you evade sanctions. Vladimir… China is not self sufficient… not yet… and hard as we try we may never be. The West is creative. In spite of all their problems, they keep inventing… and they come up with stuff that we need. We’re inventive, too, of course, and no nation, ever, has developed as much as we have in just 40 years. But we didn’t do it alone.

Putin – You think I made a mistake in invading Ukraine?

Xi – Yes. You waited too long.

Putin – How so?

Xi – You should’ve done it when Trump was in office. He was fighting with the European Union.

Putin nods, the mood dejected.

Putin – Can you help?

Xi – We’re buying your oil, gas and minerals… buying your wheat…

Putin – I mean, with weapons.

Xi shakes his head slowly.

Xi – We’re doing enough, Vladimir. As I said before… we need the West. Are you worried about growing dissent at home?

Putin – A little. The killing of Daria Dugina, Aleksandr Dugin’s daughter is not a good sign. But my security system is top notch. We track everyone and have for years. They’ll get to the bottom of it.

Xi – What about Alexei Navalny, your opposition leader?

Putin – Still in prison… will die in prison.

Xi leans forward in his seat as he faces Putin.

Xi – This may be the time to stop the war.

The two men lock eyes.

Xi – Ask for a cease fire… offer to give up all the territory you’ve gained since the invasion. Ask for the United Nations to mediate. Not Turkey, not France but the United Nations. And emphasize that the loss of lives will come to an end. Assure the world you will not block the shipment of grains out of Ukraine.

Putin rests his face in his hands.

Xi – Zelensky will object but the West may welcome the offer and put pressure on him to accept. It’s their money and weapons that’s helped keep the war effort alive. Ending the loss of lives will have Ukrainians welcoming the offer also. Clearly, such offer will be seen as a defeat for you, but better to cut your losses. At home, you should have no worries. You have Russians firmly under your control. Hard as it is, It’s time to accept the consequences. After all the damage done, there’s little chance you will ever regain the standing you had in the world prior to the invasion, but if you stick with the war it will get a lot worse. Even if you were to beat Ukraine, it would still be a loss. To me, given what’s happened so far, pursuing a military victory is a mistake.

Putin looks up at Xi.

Putin – What about you and Taiwan?

Xi – I will not invade Taiwan until I am absolutely sure of victory.

Putin – There’s no such thing as absolutely sure.

Xi – Time will tell. 

Putin – My reason for the war was that I didn’t want to see Russia surrounded by NATO. After all this effort, with the addition of Finland and Sweden to NATO, we’re even more surrounded than before. Seven months into the war, after all the destruction, I’m farther from my objective than at the start.

Xi – If you persist… It will likely only get worse.

Putin – You don’t think I can win?

Xi – No. 

Putin – But if you helped me with weapons…

Xi – We’ve gone over that. The Central Committee won’t agree to it. 


Be thankful that the Russian people have given you complete control over their lives. They’ll forgive you.

A few minutes later they embrace, say goodbye and Putin departs to return to Russia.

Xi Jinping remains in his office. 

Xi – He asked about Taiwan… and he’s right, there’s no way I can be absolutely sure an invasion would be successful. Putin has complete control over his people… and yet… he couldn’t get his soldiers to fight as hard as Ukrainians have. 

He pivots his chair to look out the window and take in a grand view of the city. 

Xi – Will I be able to get my soldiers to fight as hard as the Taiwanese?

Person of the Year

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Every year, TIME magazine comes up with their person of the year. It comes up on the cover of their very last issue for that year.
So I was wondering who would be the chosen person for 2022.
Putin is a consideration, since his actions have convulsed the world, economically, politically morally, geographically. The award is not given for merit but for how consequential the person’s actions were.
Joe Biden is another consideration since he has played a key role in uniting the West in defense of Ukraine.
Volodymyr Zelensky is a strong candidate given the manner in which he has embraced his leadership role, rallied his people against the invaders while also working very hard at getting the rest of the world to step up and support his country’s fight.
But my choice is not any one person.
My choice is Ukraine itself.
Ukraine itself for its enormous courage in defense of their freedom to exist and to choose their destiny.
Thousands of Ukrainians, men, women and children, have died in defense of their beliefs.
Their country has been torn apart by the brutality of Putin and yet there they are, day after day, continuing to resist.
That pluck, that steady courage, has invigorated the West, reminding us of how dear freedom is.
Ukrainians’ determination to assert themselves has helped Germany look at itself and reflect, ‘how come we became so dependent on Putin and Russia for our energy needs?’ ‘What manner of denial had we allowed ourselves to lapse into, believing that a man like Putin, clearly known for eliminating his adversaries, incarcerating his foes, assisting despots and tyrants oppress their people, i.e. Syria, would spare us his wrath when things didn’t go his way?’
Why, even a former German chancellor was sitting in a prominent position in a Russian energy company. And Germans knew it all along.
Sadly, much of that occurred while Angela Merkel was still chancellor, which tarnishes her legacy.
Ukraine’s fierceness in defending their land has inspired Americans to fight back against internal forces that seek to diminish it. To fight back against leaders who polarize and incite hate against fellow Americans.
Had Donald Trump been reelected in 2020, there would have been no governmental support for the Ukrainian resistance, for Trump, steeped in his own denial about who Putin is, would have not objected to Russia’s taking over Ukraine.
Because of Ukraine, NATO is stronger in its commitment to defend its member nations. Finland and Sweden are scheduled to join the alliance and already enjoy its protections.
Because of Ukraine, the European Union, is a stronger union.
Britain, in spite of pulling out of the EU, has played a key role in assisting Ukraine and now trains some of its soldiers.
The grand effort Ukraine has put out, marks it as a special land in our world today.
Yet there are dissenters. Those who point out that Ukraine had been well known for its corruption before the war and should not be trusted.
But people change. Nations change. Courage in defense of their land does something to its people.
Whatever effort and moneys the western alliance has poured and will continue to pour into Ukraine is amply justified.
We should continue to do for Ukraine whatever is needed to ensure their freedom.
They have done much for the West and the rest of the world.
So it is Ukraine that deserves to be person of the year. One nation, one person.

An Internal Front in Russia? Beware Mr Biden.

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The recent killing of Daria Dugin, daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, both Russian ultranationalists and strong supporters of Putin’s war, can be seen as a sign that a new front against the war is opening up inside of Russia.
Which is bad news for Russia.
Russian authorities are blaming Ukraine for the killing while Ukraine has vigorously denied it.
But it takes a lot of inside knowledge to pull off that action, so my take is that it’s coming from Russia itself, the military in particular.
The attack was a bold move, planting a bomb in the car she was travelling in.
My take is that we’re likely to see more of these attacks, a sign of sharp disagreements with the conduct of the war and a new resolve to put an end to it.
Will Putin be the next target?
Putin is further restricting gas exports to Europe, but the alliance is holding.
Should there be an attempt on Putin himself, would he then imagine that the West is somehow involved and try to retaliate against a western leader?
Not inconceivable given Russia’s steady downward slide in international prestige.
Putin already knows that he cannot claw himself back up to a position of respectability. He’s killed too many people, committed too many atrocities.
Additionally, there’s been a widespread deterioration in international standards.
In 2018, the Saudi prince, MBS, was considered responsible by our intelligence agencies of ordering the killing and mutilation of Jamal Khashoggi, who held resident status in our nation and was a contributing journalist to the Washington Post.
On August 12th, Salman Rushdie, the distinguished writer, was stabbed in public in Chautauqua, NY, by an American of Iranian descent who may have been influenced by Iran’s issuing an edict to kill him for having written the Satanic Verses in 1988, which Iran considered blasphemous.
India, which has enjoyed wide support from America, is oblivious to it and is joining Russia and China in military exercises.
We have an ex president thinking of running for office, who may yet be found guilty of lying on his taxes, found guilty of inciting the riot on Capitol Hill on January 6th 2021 and is suspected of tampering with the ballots in the 2020 elections in Fulton County, Georgia.
I trust that the American people, in their wisdom, will see the essence of our former president and defeat him again at the polls, as he was in 2020.
In the meantime, the war in Ukraine goes on and Putin is not winning.
If an attempt on his life were made, would he retaliate by targeting Mr Biden?
I think the FBI and the Secret Service should be on high alert to protect our president.
He has courageously pulled together the western alliance that is pushing back Russia.
Planes are said to be on the way to further aid the courageous Ukrainians.
A desperate Putin, knowing that he is a failure as a leader to Russia, may try anything.
We must be ready., apple podcasts

Push to Defeat Russia

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This is the time.
I don’t think Putin would survive a defeat in Ukraine.
Russia is a demoralized nation for when they compare themselves with the rest of the world they have to wonder, ‘how come we’re not among the leading countries?’
‘How come people don’t want to come visit us?’
‘Why doesn’t anyone want to immigrate to Russia?’
‘What is missing?’
‘How come, by contrast, people are risking their lives to immigrate to America?’
‘If we can make sophisticated nuclear weapons, make vaccines, be one of the architects of the international space station, how come we make headlines only when we’re killing our neighbors? Or when we support brutal regimes like the Myanmar dictator?’
What is missing is political development.
Putin has been allowed to arrest the political maturation of Russia.
And he has done so by severely restricting the freedom of its citizens.
By sheer brutality he has held back the historical advancement of his brothers and sisters.
He’s got them hypnotized with the idea of a new Soviet Union, reclaiming a glory that was based on repression and cruelty.
But it’s all wishful thinking. There’s no turning back.
Next door, in Europe, a grand experiment in social understanding is taking place in the form of the European Union. Something similar could be happening in Russia. Instead, its citizens have opted to let one man, only one man, decide the fate of 125 million people.
It is sheer madness.
The courage of Ukrainians in fighting for their land has presented the world with a unique opportunity.
Support Ukraine with all the weapons they need and Russia can be pushed back entirely out of Ukraine. Even out of Crimea which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
A Russian defeat in Ukraine would stimulate the progressive section in the country that has not been fooled by Putin’s grandiosity.
It should be clear that China has nothing to offer in terms of political development. Their people are also in chains, in their case to a Communist party that presents itself as the celestially ordained class of people with the wisdom to dictate to the rest of the nation on how things should be done. The price? Surrender your freedom. Surrender your ability to think. We, in the party, will do the thinking for you. In other words, the Chinese model offers nothing new, but more of the same the Russians have endured for years and years.
The Western alliance should be more decisive in supporting Ukraine.
A defeated Putin will spark a movement to depose him and the likelihood is that such movement will be more pro West than pro China.
The consequences of such shift would be enormous for the prosperity of the word.
A pro western shift in Russia would likely stimulate a pro western movement in China. And the world could see the beginning of a new era, not one driven by conflict but by cooperation.
Imagine for a moment, the clout that Russia, the West and China would have working together to assist development in Africa or any impoverished region in the world?
Instead of arguing over differences that are mostly their leaders’ personal preferences.
Cult of personality is one of the most destructive forces in our world today.
There is a nefarious cult of personality today in Russia, in the person of Putin, in China, in the person of Xi Jinping, in America in the person of Donald Trump.
Cults of personality emerge in nations where the majority or a significant portion of the population ceases to think their own thoughts.
The revolt against such tendency is essential to the freedom of mankind.
Russians don’t need Putin, like Chinese don’t need Xi Jinping, like Americans don’t need Donald Trump. Nor their clones in the making.
Human beings should not surrender under any circumstances. Each life should be a life long struggle to assert who we are, to express each person’s uniqueness.,, apple and google podcasts.

Mr Biden, Sell Us the War!

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Sell the war to the American public. It is a remarkable achievement, one that we should all be proud of. Sell us the war!
You have been key in rallying the western alliance. You have motivated, encouraged and persuaded the fence sitters. To you belongs a great deal of the credit for where Ukraine now stands.
Do not underestimate this triumph.
I recall you getting lots of flak for pulling out of Afghanistan. But if you hadn’t done so your focus would have been divided and your resolve diminished.
There has not been a moment like this in our recent history.
This is a far greater achievement than the first Gulf War in 1990 (Bush the elder) and the war in Bosnia in 1995 (Clinton).
This war has been a major determinant of inflation but our economy has slowed enough that Jerome Powell in the Federal Reserve kept the latest rise in interest rates to .75 bps. The markets have responded positively.
Gas prices may remain high while Putin continues to squeeze Europe by reducing gas supplies but the western alliance has held strong in spite of such pressures.
Trust that Americans will understand the importance of backing Ukraine.
The recent choice of providing them with warplanes is hugely important. Now it is becoming clearer that Putin can and must be driven back.
Your political courage in resisting the Russian offensive deserves full acknowledgment.
Had Trump been reelected, Putin would’ve had no problem annexing Ukraine.
Why, Putin would have been a regular guest at Mar-a-Lago and Trump would have been invited to the installation of Russia’s new puppet regime in Kyiv.
But the freedom of a courageous people would have been forgotten.
Sell us the importance of the war so we can avoid losses in the House and Senate this November.
With the Supreme court’s overturning the federal mandate protecting women’s right to an abortion, a significant percentage of women will show up at the ballot box to express their displeasure.
Meanwhile, the hearings on the January 6th attack on the Capitol make obvious the tyrannical intent of Mr Trump and should be a source of embarrassment to most who voted for him.
Beware of the polls suggesting you are unpopular. There are groups of people who will not see the evidence even when put in front of them, but they will not be consequential when it matters.
This first year and a half of your tenure has been remarkable. Covid is retreating and even Joe Manchin chose to turn around and back your bill.
Your recent performance in Saudi Arabia was excellent. You did not come back with a tangible concession but you stuck to your guns and did not flinch from restating your belief that the prince was responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s death.
Sell us the war, Mr President. It is an achievement that is transforming Europe and the West and all Americans should own it.

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

Finally, the Warplanes

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It was with much relief that I read the news yesterday that the West had decided to finally send warplanes to Ukraine. It has been a long wait.
And it will be a turning point in the war.
America is setting up to train Ukrainian pilots to operate F-15 or F-16 fighter jets. And while it will take some months for the aircraft to be put to use, the decision has all the markings of a game changing choice.
The underlying thinking is what I find most relevant. And that is the willingness to confront Putin. To not be cowed by his threats of using nuclear weapons.
For the longest, the West had hesitated to provide much needed warplanes fearing a nuclear escalation would follow. But no more.
The battle for Ukraine has become a defining moment for the West.
Not only is NATO in the process of expanding its membership (Finland and Sweden) as a result of Russia’s invasion, but a new resolve has been created.
Putin may boast that he has got around some of the sanctions imposed on him and may be dreaming of the pain he can still inflict by restricting gas supplies to Europe come winter, but it has become evident that his choice of massacring Ukrainians was a disaster.
Ukrainians’ blood and endless sacrifices, Zelensky’s steady and inspiring leadership, both have been critical in the new conviction that Russia can be defeated and pushed back to their own border.
All the nations that have banded together to oppose Putin and aid Ukrainians, deserve great credit for such courageous stance.
As an American, I thank president Biden for his strong leadership and commitment to uniting the West.
Inflation was an inevitable consequence of the war effort, and yet there are signs that this, too, will be manageable and the West will endure and thrive.
By contrast, Putin’s fate is sealed. He will forever be no more than a small man with grandiose ambitions who chose to ravage a neighbor nation.
History will not forgive him.
It will be up to Russians to depose him and I have no doubt they will.
He stands in the way of their political and economic development. Stands in the way of their cultural and technological growth. Whereas this was evident well before the war, the war has made it blatantly clear.
Russia cannot realize its possibilities with a man like Putin as their leader.
It is hard to say how Putin will be removed from office but I have no doubt that forward thinking Russians have given the matter serious thought.
I predict that Vladimir Putin will fall soon, perhaps even before the end of the year.
By contrast, Volodymyr Zelensky’s star will continue to rise, as will his commitment to rebuilding Ukraine into a first rate nation, a shining example of what political and moral courage are able to create.

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

9/20/22 Note: I wrote this article based on information that had appeared in the NY Times or the WSJ the day before (7/26/22). Yesterday, in the WSJ, and again today, I read that the US has no immediate plans to send war planes (F-15s of F-16s) to Ukraine. Something changed. Perhaps it is the concern that Putin will see it as an intolerable escalation on the part of the West. Thank you.

To Be Russian Today

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The spotlight is on Russians.
Why did they allow a man like Putin to gather so much personal power?
Why did Russians give up their own power, giving it instead to Putin to do as he wishes?
Because they did, Putin went on unchecked, dreaming of recreating the Soviet Union.
And Ukraine has been ravaged with devastating brutality.
Russian foes of Putin’s rule have existed all along. Some have died, others are in prison, like Alexei Navalny.
A nation of great vitality, of considerable talent and inventiveness, has succumbed to a vulgar leader, a small man with dreams of ruling the world.
But Putin is not Russia.
And the rest of us need to be very clear about that.
To be Russian today is to admit that, as a people, they failed to summon the political courage needed to stop Putin’s rise to power.
To be Russian today is to admit that political courage is a priceless quality, and that without it freedom is not possible.
To be Russian today is to remind the world that without such courage life is diminished, and men like Putin will use the opportunity for their own aggrandizement.
To be Russian today is to admit that there is a critical time to dissent, and that means confronting the fear of reprisals.
To be Russian today is to remind us all that such fear exists in every one of us and that it must be confronted.
The fate of humanity depends on many things: hard work, inventiveness, compassion and the acknowledgment that every single one of us has something to contribute.
But without political courage, without the power to dissent, vulgar men will seek to dominate others by brute force.
Without political courage, all of humanity’s achievements can be destroyed.
The devastation in Ukraine today is happening because all of us, not just Russians, failed to object to the rise of a tyrant.
To be Russian today is to remind us that we’re all vulnerable to succumb to fear, and that standing up to it is a priceless quality upon which the survival of the planet depends.
The massacre in Ukraine, like the subjugation of any people anywhere, is a call to the rest of us to affirm our humanity and give assistance to all who are being forced to be silent.
Here in America, the forces of darkness elevated Trump, and he responded by trying to overturn his electoral defeat.
So we, too, like Russians, have failed to exercise our political courage.
The power to dissent is the road to freedom. And freedom the only path to the realization of humanity’s endless possibilities.
To be Russian today is to be anyone of us.

Oscar Valdes,,, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

The Lesson from Britain

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The combative Boris Johnson, under much pressure from his party and fellow countrymen, decided to surrender his post while remaining as a caretaker until a new prime minister is chosen, which I read could take months.
I was sad to hear the news.
His flaws had persuaded electors to move on, yet to many, myself included, he had endeared himself by his full and unrelenting support for the Ukrainian cause.
Mr Zelensky immediately expressed his regret at losing such staunch supporter.
But there is the larger lesson here for the rest of the world and for Russia and China in particular.
In Britain, bastion of democracy, proud heir to the great tradition started by Athenians, when you cease to approve of a leader you can make it clear and the person steps down.
Not so in Russia or in China. Or in Myanmar and many other countries that merely pose as democracies.
Even here in the US, on January 6th this year, a president obsessed with retaining power, posed a threat to the peaceful transition of power.
Not so in Britain.
England shines in this moment as it affirms the primacy of the will of the people.
In a prison cell somewhere in Russia, Alexei Navalny, the most vocal critic of Putin’s regime, will probably remain incarcerated on false charges, as long as Putin is alive. He must be thinking of how long the road ahead for the country he so loves to one day mature politically and ascend to democracy. He may not live to see it.
Lies in Russia have long become the rule. And because of it, Putin does as he wishes.
Alexei Navalny criticizes his regime, then he goes to prison.
To be out of prison in Russia means you have renounced your right to your own opinions.
To walk the streets of any Russian city means you have willingly surrendered your right to publicly express how your country should be run. Instead, you have agreed to have Vladimir Putin decide for you.
Does the great Vladimir want to order the destruction of a neighboring country, with which there are long standing ties, because they are now daring to choose freedom? Then let him do it. The great Vladimir knows what’s best for me.
And the man or the woman choosing to entertain such thoughts will be allowed to continue on their walk.
But it will be the walk of a diminished person.
Lying and distortion of reality is Putin’s favorite tool. And he will keep working it. Until one day, something will spark in the hearts and minds of Russians who will ask themselves, why can’t we have at least moments like the English do? Why can’t we breathe politically?
Political lying is a mighty tool, and it takes many people willing to join in the farce to make it happen. Even from distant countries.
The other day, while reading the WSJ on the net, an ad emerged that kept flashing across the screen. It was a statement from a former vice premier of Thailand. In it, the regally dressed man told of how great a leader China’s Xi Jinping is. I don’t remember the details, but at the end it said something like, ‘And what is most impressive (about Xi) is the purity of his spirit.’
A day or two before, in the NYT or WSJ or both, the heads of the top intelligence services in England and America made the public statement that the rate of cyberattacks by China on the West, to steal technological information, was steadily increasing (and going on for years).
Did the vice premier in the advertisement know that?
Of course he did.
But in Russia and China the citizen doesn’t get a chance to object to a leader’s lies.
And so people keep walking along, their heads a little lower every day.
In England, you get thrown out of office. And the English, in spite of all their chaos and mistakes, can say to the world, ‘our voices must be heard, and flawed as they may sometimes be, they are priceless.’
Thank you, Britain.

Oscar Valdes,,, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts