Written by Robert Warden
To be honest, since Russia began its full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, I have been too concerned about that situation to concentrate on the usual Republican Crazy Train, or other political, topics.
I did not think that Putin was out of touch with reality to the point that he would think invading Ukraine would be a good idea.
Apparently, I was mistaken about that. However, given the evidence that many years of increasingly iron-fist rule over Russia has resulted in him being isolated in a bubble of “yes-men,” I can see how this kind of disastrously ill-considered action is the result. Actually, this is a classic case of Groupthink. When a leader is surrounded by people who tell him exactly what he wants to hear, and suppress any contrary information, Groupthink results. The people surrounding the leader are afraid to oppose him, even if they disagree vehemently with him, resulting in disastrous decisions by the group leader (in this case, Putin), being dutifully carried out. This is relevant to the Republican Crazy Train, too, as this situation is exactly what Trump has been cultivating, and is really not far from the kind of unquestioning unity that the party as a whole has been pursuing, either.
Thus, I was dismayed yet not surprised to see that Vladimir Putin today has said – in an apparent short pause from his threats to use nuclear bombs against any other nations that join Ukraine’s military efforts — that the invasion of Ukraine is “going according to plan.” This of course is despite abundant evidence that it is going quite poorly for the Russians (Putin tells Russians the brutal and poorly planned war on Ukraine is going ‘according to plan’ (yahoo.com)). Well, could it just be our pro-democracy bias that tilts our perceptions toward sympathy with the Ukrainians? One might wonder. No, Putin is officially bonkers and leading his nation straight down an evil road to ruin.
How odd that this has made an instant international icon out of Volodymyr Zelensky, about whose political views few of us know much, except that he refused to yield to Donald Trump’s demands to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, and now, he refuses to yield to the Russian army. I cannot help but like and identify with Zelensky, but I don’t know whether he is for a Green New Deal, free college, Medicare for all, or other democratic socialist policies, or if he is more of a corporatist. I guess what really matters at a time like this is that he is honest, brave, democratically elected, and a true leader against the Russian invasion. Never mind that I was rather dismayed at the irony of electing a comedian who starred in a television series about some guy who by a twist of fate had become the president of Ukraine, who then actually became the president of Ukraine. Well, at least he isn’t a spoiled billionaire, or the wife or son of a former president.
Zelensky certainly stands in contrast to the litany of flimsy excuses provided by Putin for the invasion. What follows is a list of the lies (since I doubt that Putin or his media really believes these) which Putin and his propaganda-machine media have been broadcasting:
Russia is “de-nazifying Ukraine” (despite Zelensky being Jewish and having lost family members during the holocaust)
Russia is sending “peacekeeping forces” to Ukraine to protect Russia from Ukrainian aggression, or to protect Ukrainians from themselves (take your pick)
Russia is recognizing two miniscule “independent states” within Ukraine that need Russia’s protection (and apparently, Russia needs to take over all of Ukraine in order to do that). Meanwhile, “Ukraine is not a real country,” according to Putin, and it “historically belongs to Russia.” (such as when Russia killed about a jillion Ukrainians — okay, it was actually only millions — in 1932 and 1933 in what is called the “Holodomor.”) This is a big part of why Ukrainians tend to dislike Russians and want to have their own nation. The fact that a great many Ukrainians were also killed by the Nazis during World War II is why they, as a whole, also dislike Nazis, contrary to Putin’s claims;
Russia is not at war. It is merely engaging in a “special military operation.” (Perhaps that is why so many Russian soldiers did not realize that they were actually fighting a war until Ukrainians started shooting back at them. These poor saps – many of them drafted into the army – are victims of war, too.)
Russia refers to Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons against opponents as putting its “nuclear deterrence on high alert” (News flash: Using a nuclear weapon in a first strike would be an atrocity of massive proportions and an aggressive act of war, not a “deterrence”)
Finally, according to Russian media’s sanitized portrayal of their invasion of Ukraine, are using a Russian euphemism for war dead to refer to those of its soldiers who have been killed. The term is “Cargo 200,” which in Russia, refers to coffins containing the bodies of soldiers killed in war.
Few people in the international community, I suppose, really believe these lies being spewed by Putin, his cronies and his carefully orchestrated Russian media. The real reason that he does so, is an attempt to convince his Russian audience that they are being made to fight a just and necessary war at his behest. So far, even that effort doesn’t seem to be working very well, thankfully, as protests against the war continue to rage throughout Russia. The longer this war drags on, the greater the cost, and Russia’s citizens will turn even more against it. Younger Russians in particular are dismayed by what is happening in Ukraine, while most of the older generation, which grew up on Russian propaganda, seem to accept their government’s explanations.
The sooner Russia as a whole comes to its senses and stops this insanity, the better. If that means deposing Putin, I think that would be a good thing for the development of Russian society.