Wars and human suffering are forever linked, hand in hand. Over ten million people have left their homes since Russia invaded Ukraine a little over one month ago. In 30 days one-quarter of the entire country of Ukraine has fled.
Millions have traveled to other countries. Others have been sleeping in subway stations conjuring up comparisons to World War II. Thousands are dead. Ukrainians. Russians. Civilians. Soldiers. Civilians turned soldiers.
Food is in short supply for those who have remained. Missiles hit buildings, including shelters and hospitals, indiscriminately all across Ukrainian cities. Russian dictator Vladimir Putin intends to crush Ukraine’s spirit by killing whoever he has to even as it appears Ukraine has now attacked inside Russia.
Putin is willingly causing human suffering and death, forcing the migration of Ukrainians around the world. The same White House that left thousands of Americans and Afghanis who helped American forces during the past two decades behind, proudly boasted that the United States would accept 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
I wondered, ‘what if they don’t want to come here, what if they preferred to live in Ukraine?’
Try to imagine facing that choice. What if I was essentially forced to move to another country, even if I didn’t really want to? How would I feel about that, moving to a foreign land I’ve never been to, don’t know much about, if anything, and don’t speak the native language. I love my country. I love what it stands for. I don’t want to leave her.
This is the power of some world leaders. Ultimate power over you. Russian dictator Putin plays chess with human lives. But, so does the rest of the world. #StandWithUkraine has become a symbol. Saying it and meaning it. Maybe even donating to the Red Cross. Standing with Ukraine allows the American government and the governments of several European nations to declare war on the Russian economy.
Interest rates there are 20%. The Russian currency, the rouble, has gained some ground back after taking a tremendous hit in value. One consequence of this is watching the Russian people’s purchasing power decrease. Less purchasing power means more people struggle just to get by. In other words, the economic sanctions levied at Russia have only increased the amount of human suffering.
Because of war. And the worldwide response.
American companies parroted, shutting down stores sending hundreds of thousands of Russians into unemployment.
We cheered. Because we ‘Stand With Ukraine.’
We cheer while people suffer. That’s what happens when war drums beat. So do further restrictions on free speech, questioning the patriotism of anyone who dares not accept the propagandized ‘official’ version of the war story.
After all, we have struck back against Russia without going to war. Maybe. But, that doesn’t mean people aren’t suffering. Suffering isn’t something we should cheer for, no matter the circumstances or how righteous we feel about making Putin pay. It’s us against them. Then it becomes all Americans versus all Russians.
So we continue to cheer, rallying around the American Flag. We have the right to do that.
Most Russians do not, victims of an authoritarian government. If you don’t rally around the Flag there, you may end up in jail or worse. Most Russians already suffer because of Putin’s authority. We’ve only added to the misery, cutting off their economy from the world in hopes they’ll stand up and overthrow Putin.
Is that really a good idea? Overthrows haven’t gone so well in the past. ‘Can It All Be So Simple,’ is how Wu-Tang would ask. Unfortunately not. Hashtags don’t change the world even as we can watch war unfold almost minute by minute on social media.
The night Russia invaded Ukraine I opened Twitter, scrolling through feeds of people in Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine. I stayed up late, 2 AM or so, hoping to get a better sense of what was really happening.
The technological age has interrupted the flow of information. Everything is rushed. Rewards come to those who are first, not right. As a broadcaster, I’ve been burned a few times. I’ve rushed some information that turned out to be incorrect. So, I’m cautious now.
But how can you be when you can watch war unfold on your phone in real-time?
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, relatedly, quotes economist Adam Smith in his excellent piece on President Biden’s verbal stumbles potentially leading America into war:
In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies.
War is even more of a show than watching the war on terror on CNN. It’s a macabre form of entertainment contained in a hashtag. #StandwithUkraine, signaling to the world that you are on the correct side of this war, purportedly anyways.
There’s no doubt Russia is wrong. It’s Self-Evident.
Correction. It’s Self-Evident that Putin is wrong. The dictator dictated this war. Those under his command, who carry out the war, will die if they don’t obey. Those who protest against his war will be arrested. Political opponents will be jailed if they get too loud. Life in Russia is a life of repressed human expression. The Russian people, vastly, don’t have a say. They can’t vote them out of office. The consequences of a dictatorship.
Unlike in America where we #StandwithUkraine...
The story continues here. Cheers, Rob.