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Glory to Ukraine | Слава Украине!
On Forthcoming Hard Times
The turning points of lives are not the great moments. The real crises are often concealed in occurrences so trivial in appearance that they pass unobserved. ―George Washington
The fewer sacrifices a man is required to make, the more loath he is to make these few. His luxuries become necessities, children a burden and the ego a god. Whence will come our heroes of a nation if we no longer have heroes in a home? If a man will not put up with the trials if a home, will he put up with the trials of a national crisis? —Fulton Sheen
Above: Morality versus Monstrosity. From Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom
In this impromptu piece, I offer some inchoate comments, visceral reactions, and desperate prayers regarding the attack on a nation, an ideology, a way of life; an assault against the whole of Western Democracy and those international norms/mores that preserve the delicate homeostasis required for peace.
Per the below tweet, this represents much more than mere foreign policy blip or blunder. Rather, it is war. That which is real and savage and brutal and dirty and hellish.
If you are an American—scratch that, a citizen of any global democracy—and you are not paying attention to the blitzkrieg occurring in Ukraine as I type these very words, now is the time to start.
Russia’s actions represent a great many terrible things.
This is an attack against everything for which the United States, democracy, and the entirety of the West all stand.
This is developing into something likely larger and more deadly than any conflict the world has seen since World War II.
This will likely have global, generational consequences.
In short, this will impact you in some way, shape, or form.
Geopolitical change is afoot; best to confront it eyes wide open than with one’s head in the sand.
I fear that this is the start of something much larger—much more impactful and devious—than superficially seems. It reminds me a great deal of Germany’s annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938. Like Hitler, I doubt that Putin will stop at Ukraine.
After all, why should he? The US and NATO have thus far been exposed as all bark and no bite in terms of kinetic (read as: military) response or confrontation. This has been rule versus exception as of late.
Inaction (read as: fecklessness) by both the United States and NATO over the past few years and throughout recent global crises has set a worrying precedent. Namely, the West will not get involved when novel Axis powers annex other nations. Look no further than recent history—our track record is piteous.
2020: China takes Hong Kong while the West does nothing.
2021: The West hands Afghanistan to the Taliban.
2022: Russia (likely) takes Ukraine.
As Nigerian professor Emeka Chianu once quipped, “International law doesn't exist, only international politics.” In short, the West seems to be partaking in craven, full-scale retreat.
I hope and pray that I am dead wrong, however, if this invasion succeeds and Putin annexes a sovereign nation, this act will likely trigger a chain of imitators waging a series of antagonistic, illiberal wars all over the world. If that happens, a very bloody era will be at hand. And remember: in war there are no winners, only those that lose a bit less.
The hard, difficult truth is that as tragic as the current situation is, Ukraine has little strategic value to US interests. This cannot be said for other countries like Taiwan.
China will be closely watching the (in)actions of the West to see if they ought to try their hand at aggressive annexation. Indeed, it appears Xi Jinping is already testing these frothy waters.
We common folk cannot do much except extend our voices, our hearts, our souls in prayer for the people of Ukraine.
I do not know much, but I do know that God is good and He will provide.
Lastly and macroscopically, the very many acts that make up the geopolitical play can be summed up in a mere twenty words:
I leave you with the heartbreaking words of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and a stirring poem by Ukrainian writer and activist Taras Shevchenko.
Appeal of Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the citizens of the Russian Federation
I have initiated a call today with the president of the Russian Federation. The result - silence. Although silence should be in Donbass.
That is why today, I want to come with an appeal to all citizens of Russia. Not as President. I am appealing to the people of Russia as a citizen of Ukraine. We share more than two thousand kilometres of border. Around it, today, is your army: almost 200,000 soldiers; thousands of military units. Your leadership has approved their movement towards us. Towards the territory of another country. This step can become the start of a big war on the European continent. The whole world is talking about what can happen any day now. A reason can appear at any moment. Any provocation. Any spark. A spark that has the potential of burning everything down.
You are told that this flame will bring freedom to the people of Ukraine. But the people of Ukraine are free. They remember their past, and are building their own future. They are building it, not destroying it, as you are told everyday on TV. Ukraine in your news and Ukraine in reality are two completely different countries. The most important difference is that ours is real.
You are being told that we are nazis. But how can a nation be called nazist after sacrificing more than 8 million lives to eradicate nazism. How can I be a nazi, when my grandfather has survived the whole war as part of the Soviet infantry, and has died a colonel in an independent Ukraine. You are told that we hate Russian culture. But how can a culture be hated? Any culture. Neighbours are always enriching each other culturally. Yet, that does not make them one entity, and does not separate people into “us” and “them”. We are different, but that is not a reason to be enemies. We want to build our own history. Peacefully, calmly, and truthfully.
You are told that I am ordering to attack the Donbass. To shoot. To bomb without questions. Although there are questions: To shoot at whom? To bomb what?
Donetsk? To which I have been dozens of times. I have seen their faces and eyes.
Artema street? On which I have been on many walks with my friends in the past.
Donbass arena? Where I have been rooting with the locals for our boys during the Euros.
Shcherbakova Park? In which we were drinking together after our team has lost
Lugansk? The home of my best friend’s mom. The place where my best friend’s father is buried.
Note that I am now speaking in Russian, yet no one in Russia understands what these names, streets, and events mean. This is all foreign to you. Unknown. This is our land. This is our history. What are you going to fight for? And against whom?
Many of you have visited Ukraine in the past. Many of you have relatives here. Some of you studied in our universities. Befriended Ukrainian people. You’re familiar with our character, with our people, our principles. You know what we cherish the most. Look inside you, listen to the voice of reason, of common sense. Hear our voices. The people of Ukraine want peace. Ukrainian authorities want peace. We want it, and we make it. We do everything in our powers. We are not alone. It’s true, Ukraine is supported by many countries. Why? Because we are not talking about peace at any cost. We are talking about peace, and about principles, justice. About everyone’s right to define their own future, of safety, and everyone’s right to live without threat. All this is important to us. All this is important for peace. I know for sure that this is also important for you. We know for sure that we don’t want war. Neither cold, hot, or hybrid.
But, if we are threatened; If someone is trying to take away our country, our freedom, our lives. The lives of our children. We are going to defend ourselves. Not attack. Defend. By attacking us, you are going to see our faces. Not backs. Our faces.
War is a big distress, and it has a big price - in all meanings of this word. People lose their money, reputation, quality of life, freedom, and most importantly, people lose their loved ones. Lose themselves. A lot of things are always lacking in war. But what is in abundance is pain, dirt, blood, and death. Thousands. Tens of thousands of deaths. You are told that Ukraine is a threat to Russia. This was not true before, not now, and won’t be in the future. You are demanding security assurances from NATO. We are also demanding assurances of our security. The security of Ukraine from you. From Russia. And from other signatories of the Budapest memorandum. Today, we are not part of random security alliances. The security of Ukraine is tied to the security of our neighbours. That is why we are now talking about the security of all Europe. But our main goal is peace in Ukraine, and the safety of our citizens. Of Ukrainians. We are determined to let everyone know about this, including you. War is going to deprive everyone of any assurances. No one will have assurances of security.
Who is going to suffer from this the most? The people.
Who does not want this more than anyone? The people.
Who can prevent all this from happening? The people.
If these people are among you. I am sure they are. Public figures, journalists, musicians, actors, athletes, scientists, doctors, bloggers, stand-up comics, tiktokers, and others. Ordinary people. Ordinary, simple people. Men, women, old, young, fathers, and most importantly - mothers. Just as much as the people in Ukraine, no matter how much they try to convince you of the opposite.
I know that my announcement will not be aired on Russian television. But the citizens of Russia have to see it. They need to know the truth. And the truth is, that this needs to stop, before it’s too late. And if the authorities of Russia don’t want to talk to us, for the sake of peace, maybe they will talk to you.
Do the people of Russia want war? I would’ve very much liked to be able to answer this, but the answer depends only on you - citizens of the Russian Federation.1
by Taras Shevchenko
Dear God, calamity again! ...
It was so peaceful, so serene;
We but began to break the chains
That bind our folk in slavery ...
When halt! ... Again the people's blood
Is streaming! Like rapacious dogs
About a bone, the royal thugs
Are at each other's throat again.2
Per my about page, White Noise is a work of experimentation. I view it as a sort of thinking aloud, a stress testing of my nascent ideas. Through it, I hope to sharpen my opinions against the whetstone of other people’s feedback, commentary, and input.
If you want to discuss any of the ideas or musings mentioned above or have any books, papers, or links that you think would be interesting to share on a future edition of White Noise, please reach out to me by replying to this email or following me on Twitter.
With sincere gratitude,
Taras Shevchenko, “Calamity Again”
“Mii Bozhe mylyi, znovu lykho!”
(“Мій Боже милий, знову лихо!”)
1859, Saint Petersburg