Monday, April 18, 2022

Are we going to war with Russia?

Metropolitan Museum of Art

 “In Russian-occupied Kherson, satellite imagery that showed the digging of hundreds of fresh grave plots held haunting symbolism of the fate of civilians there.” — News item

     That about sums it up, doesn’t it? A humanity so advanced that we can detect and count 6-by-3-foot graves from outer space. But at the same time, a species so degraded that we’re also doing the random killing that requires the graves. Quite a range of behavior to wrap our heads around on the Monday after Easter.
     And I shouldn’t even address how the same news organization, The Washington Post, that can share such important news is also able, in doing so, to disgorge a phrase like “held haunting symbolism of the fate of civilians there.”
     Symbolism? A grave isn’t a symbol of their fate, it is their fate. (Let’s re-write that sentence into something less passive, shall we? “Satellite imagery showed hundreds of freshly-dug graves in Russian-occupied Kherson, an ominous indication of the fate of civilians there.” More accurate and four words shorter.)
     Having plucked out “haunting,” we can save that word to apply to the Russian demand that the United States stop supplying weapons to Ukraine. And even then, it’s premature. We’re not “haunted” yet by the formal diplomatic note — how 19th century of them! — the Russians sent last week warning the United States to stop giving the Ukrainians the weapons they are using to kick their ass. Not haunted, only worried.
     That Russian demand seems the most salient fact in the whole churning, confusing awful horror of the war in recent weeks. What to make of it?
     Empty threat? Given the ease with which Russians lie, we can take some reassurance that if they are saying they’re going to do some vague unwelcome thing — ”unpredictable consequences” is the term they actually brandished — there’s a good chance they won’t do anything.
     Or is it the sort of justification the Russians like to float prior to their awful acts? A kind of prior authorization they seem to think takes the sting out of unprovoked evil. Their thinking is: We can randomly kill thousands of civilians in the country next door if we first claim we’re liberating them from Nazis and they aren’t a real country anyway.
     Is the United States heading toward war? It seems a very real possibility. Some arms convoy in Poland will be hit, and the gears of general conflagration will start to turn. It’ll all seem inevitable, afterward. Then we can be haunted aplenty.

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  1. I don’t know how we’re going to get out of this without somehow letting Putin think he won. Crimea and Donbas are lost already. To give them up formally would be a loss to Ukraine and probably not a sufficient win for Putin. The whole thing is as has been said many time “unimaginable.” A war in Europe? You got to be crazy. And of course, Putin is crazy, thinks he’s Peter the Great or Ivan the Terrible. Meanwhile, thousands of innocents die for a ghost of medieval Russia. The wars depicted in the paintings above was terrible indeed, but it’s only lately that armies are capable of killing so many in so short a time. The future looks bleak indeed.


  2. Interesting piece in the Washington Post about the malign influence of the Russian Orthodox church, and particularly its elderly leader. And Putin's unlikely role as defender of the faith. Jeferson would not be surprised, having once written "In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty."


  3. "Given the ease with which Russians lie," I'm not sure it really matters what they say at any given point in time. My only thought about their "unpredictable consequences" threat, in their demand that the U.S. stop supplying arms for Ukrainian defense, was that it came in the form of a letter because if stated in person, there would be this awkward moment in the room when everyone has to wait for the laughter to subside.

    There is something quaintly naive (or, alternatively, maybe chutzpah is the right word) in Russia expecting everyone to back down while they are busy destroying the country. The Russian army has proven itself highly effective against such stout defenses as apartment buildings, but when it comes to someone actually firing back, all of a sudden they're all butt-hurt about it.


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