do or do not. there is no try.
it’s the most famous line from star wars with the potential exception of “luke, i am your father”. but what does it mean and what does that have to do with the current situation in ukraine, russian aggression and desire for empire overflowing into a population being decimated by modern weapons and crusader mentality?
let’s review the situation. vladimir putin wants to be a combination of a medieval tsar and joseph stalin. and with the nuclear arsenal still floating around in russia from when it was the soviet union, a time when it really did matter in international relations in real rather than just military situations, he’s in a position to make that happen if he’s not stopped. so a few years ago russia annexed crimea. yes, it was historically russian territory. or at least historically soviet territory, much like ukraine. and by that metric so is a good portion of northern asia and eastern europe. including some of what is now germany, practically-speaking.
nobody cared enough to fight back in any meaningful way so he got that territory realistically for free. he’s done the same thing now with ukraine, pretending to be the savior of ukranian separatists and using their desire to break from the rest of the country as a reason to invade and practically annex ukraine as a russian province (or protectorate, as if there’s a difference). and he’s encountering a small amount of military resistance and it’s being exaggerated in the west and ignored within russia but the result is the same. it’s a meaningless resistance and the country will soon be in russian hands. shakily but completely.
why maybe? because someone might actually stop him. but somehow i find that suggestion rather hopeless. let’s take a look at who could actually have a real impact on the russian invasion. the united states and china. i mean, this isn’t a military secret. this is common knowledge. there are three huge militaries in the modern world – china, the united states and russia. russia’s has really fallen apart in a lot of ways but its nuclear arsenal and sheer volume makes it significant. yes, south korea has a significant military for its size but it’s unlikely they’re going to be facing off against the new russian empire any time soon unless they have no choice. so that leaves the world’s policing in the hands of the two superpowers. so do they have any intentions of intervening.
first, let’s look at china because that’s the fairly simple answer. does china want to get involved in a fight that has little to do with them? likely no. if they jump in and start fighting russia on behalf of the ukranians, it will be a huge shift in foreign policy. why would they do that? realistically, the only justification for it would be to absorb russia as an extended northern population area for chinese population. and would the rest of the world actually accept that? while i think that is exactly what should happen for many reasons (that i’ve written about quite extensively before), i suspect it would be even more unpopular than what russia is currently doing in ukraine and china doesn’t want any more unjustified hatred from the rest of the world. it has plenty already. not to mention there’s no love for china in ukraine and they would be painfully ungrateful in the same way the rest of the west has treated china. it is a country that has pretty-much created the modern trade economy and supported the development of the technological revolution for a decade and if you look chinese and walk down a street anywhere in the west you’re likely to get your head beaten in. endemic racism is bad. and it’s everywhere. but it’s especially in the west because there it’s not just a viewpoint but a viewpoint attached to a fist. so china’s probably out of this one unless things start to get atomic.
which leaves the united states. and this is where yoda comes in.
western countries have been talking a lot about sanctions against russia. and monetary decisions like the temporary removal of russia from the swift network. what is the real impact of those things on russia? actually, unlike what some people are saying, the impact of sanctions is very minimal on the russian economy. what it does have a huge impact on is the russian people. what the west has managed to do with these sanctions and to some degree with the banking decisions is to create a huge amount of suffering for average russisan citizens and increase support in russia for the war by making the west look aggressive and willing to hurt civilians. which is what’s happening. if you have literally billions of dollars (or hundreds of billions as the case may actually be), how much does it really matter if you lose some of it? half of it? most of it? well, as long as you have enough to keep fighting, you may now be in a position where you have absolutely nothing to lose. and that’s a very scary place to put someone with control of nuclear weapons and a general willingness to attack other countries.
nato has said, to summarize, that it will fight against russia if it invades a nato member. which is code for “we don’t care if you’re not white and western but if you are we’ll jump in”.
what’s happening here is that russia is playing the role of the playground bully. and why do bullies generally not get away with what they want to do in the playground if it’s in front of a school? because the teacher comes in and breaks up the fight, usually by physically forcing the bully to back down. if it’s on the street in the middle of the night, a bully almost always wins. and the only time they don’t is when the victim is physically stronger or manages to run away. ukraine doesn’t have the force to fight russia. they know it, you know it and everyone else, including russia, knows it. i don’t think anyone is entertaining the delusion that ukraine can win this fight alone.
in this analogy, then, who is the teacher? like i said, either china or the united states.
so instead of talking about sanctions and banking, they need to make a clear decision on something, which i think has been made long ago but never really admitted to. sanctions can bankrupt a national economy. in time. but ukraine doesn’t have time. and russia has a lot of economic momentum so it is a question of years rather than days, which is likely all the ukraine has left, perhaps weeks, before a complete fall and full russian occupation begins. either the united states needs to step up and be the world’s playground supervisor or not. but if they’re not going to they need to stop pretending they care. do or do not.
but talking about it is hypocritical. let me be clear. i think we should as good world citizens stand up for the people of ukraine and stop this war. i believe it is our duty as powerful nations to ensure peace with not just the threat of violence but the application when necessary of it against bullies. but i think if we’re not going to do it we should admit we’re leaving these people on their own and tell them they have no choice but to give up. if they can’t win, why die? go home, become part of russia. because that’s the end result that’s coming. it makes me very sad. i’m a pacifist. a conscious objector. i’m anti-war in every possible way. i believe very strongly all militaries should be eliminated and we should live without borders or national leaders. but at the moment we have nations. we have leaders. and we have militaries. but i really have to ask one question. if the united states is going to justify having a military, isn’t this exactly the reason it exists – to save others from the aggression and violence of other nations?
by the way, this has nothing to do with whether ukraine should be part of russia. i don’t care either way, honestly. my only concern is that at the moment innocent ukranians are suffering and dying. little children on the streets shivering in the cold and perishing from exposure to the elements. that has to stop. and i don’t care who controls the country. i suspect those children don’t, either. if you think freedom is worth fighting for, you go and die for it. i won’t. but if you ask a child they’ll tell you something very simple. they want a safe place to live and they don’t much care who’s in charge. so let’s just… stop fighting and keep the children alive?
so please stand up and protect or sit down and shut up. thank you.