The first strategic mistake that the European Union and President Biden made with Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine was to take the military option off the table.
I am not a political analyst nor anyone in intelligence services, but I know plenty about psychology, including narcissism and anti-personality disorder (call it psychopathy or sociopathy, as you will).
Putin puts his “friends” and adversaries at huge-table length because he is afraid of germs and of being poisoned. He is a man in fear. Scared men are dangerous ones. Regardless, his aggression toward Ukraine is the beginning of his end. But we must do more.
For President Putin our fear of military engagement with Russia means “we are scared of you, so do what you want.”
Sanctions will not stop Putin. Nothing will but his death or his removal by Russia. The only thing that will stop Putin in Ukraine is the military option as well as a way out for Russia’s Parliament that saves Russia’s face.
Yet again, President Zelensky, appealed for a no-fly zone as the world watches in horror. We see the bodies of a family killed trying to flee Kiev. He urgently requests, yet again, for a no-fly zone. Mark Rubio’s and Congress’s response was nay. They repeat over and over that such would mean World War III.
We are already in World War III. It’s time to accept that.
Just like World War II, the West made the same insane mistakes. Britain tried to reason and talk to Hitler. Hitler took advantage, made a deal with Russia and steamrolled Poland. The Europeans watched in horror, doing nothing, as the U.S. did. Not until the U.S. was bombed did it react. We are residual. We wait for the world to end and then act.
That is the problem often with democracies. They move too slowly and, in Putin’s authoritarian case, it moved too quickly. The result is a whole lot of dead people that are least responsible but pay the highest cost. I know geopolitically that people, even kids, don’t matter. Killing them does not matter. But, you know, to a democracy it kinda should.
But Zelensky is right. This fight is for all of us. This war is a war waged on all democracies. Are we to sit here and watch the Ukrainian people get liquified because Ukraine is not in “our strategic interest”? Of course it is because if we don’t stop Putin, who will?
All across the world, people are lining up to go and fight for Ukraine, U.S. veterans, Japanese men, Europeans, everyone. We are in a war against democracy and the greatest argument for democracy, the system of checks and balances, is Putin himself. The severely consequential decision he made, a notoriously bad one, was unchecked by anyone else with equal power in Russia because there is no system of checks and balances in Russia.
This should be a stark warning to authoritarian countries and democracies alike: one man can destroy the world, and Putin just may. The problem for Putin is that he is destroying Russia in the process.
But you know what? I would rather die free than live a slave. I am learning that more and more from the Ukrainian military and its people.
Sometimes, President Biden, Congress, and Mark Rubio, you just have to be a man. Like the Ukrainian women, men, and children, they show the best qualities of manhood. We fight for what is right, moral and just. Men do not like war, but they do it when they have little choice. When I told my good friend that I wanted to join the Ukrainian’s and fight, she said to me any good and principled gentlemen would want to do so.
I understand politics. I live in the nose (or is it the rectum) of D.C. I was born during high USSR and USA tensions, the Cold War and held Def Leppard’s song “The God’s of War” as a rallying cry to all of us. We are fighting gods of war, and “I don’t want to fight no more.”
I saw the Berlin wall come down, Reagan’s words “Tear down these walls” etched in my memory, in the moment. I saw the Ukrainian gymnastics team win gold in the 1993 World Games in Buffalo, and now I see one man’s greed and sickness, his unchecked evil force the Russians to kill their brothers and sisters because they generally have a theoretical disagreement.
I understand the U.S. made some blunders. That is important to remember, but nothing justifies killing people and destroying a country that showed no aggression whatsoever to its neighbor while watching Russia’s war crimes in plain view.
Putin is the greatest argument against authoritarian rule. He is the reason we need democracy. He has managed to unite the world, regardless of our differences. He has managed to strengthen NATO, and it no longer matters if you are right-wing or left-wing and any wing. We will die by each other’s side fighting for democracy.
Great men and women never plan on being great. President Zelensky is such a great man because his dignity, courage, vulnerability, honor and love of his people came naturally to him when he had little choice. Autocrats do not have these principles or characteristics. The world is little more than a toy to them. People are bugs.
We must fight Russia in Ukraine, not in Russia. We must be brave and give Putin’s Parliament a choice: they either get rid of Putin, or they end the world. Choose carefully.
What would President Kennedy do? What would President Reagan do? This is not Russia’s war; this is Putin’s war, and it’s a war against all our freedoms. It’s a war against the people of Russia, too.
During the Revolutionary War, we fought incredible odds to form the first modern-day democracy. We were “men” then. We knew the odds were against us, but in the dawn, we were still there. In an 1812 battle by the same aggressor, we awoke, and “Our flag was still there.”
What Ukraine has given us, what democracy has that other forms of government have not is hope. We make many mistakes, but we have room to hope for better. Ukraine is now fighting for its independence begging to be part of the free world, the European Union, the United States, and NATO. We all hope. Will we, too, betray them? Congress seems to say yes.
Ukraine’s brothers and sisters have betrayed them. We must now be their brothers and sisters in arms.
In closing consider this, when checking the 100 bestselling flags and banners on Amazon, the first and second bestselling are Ukrainian flags. In the top 100, 31 of the bestselling flags and banners are Ukrainian. When in our history did a foreign flag sell better than the Stars and Stripes? That’s what hope and support does to us. Freedom under threat makes us stand united.
Democracy is never foreign, and, yes, freedom does have a price. Are we all willing to pay for it? Our bill may just be due.
Earl Yarington is a social worker (LMSW) and a professor. He has a Ph.D. in literature and criticism and specializes in paraphilias. He is the Leader of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists Special Interest Group and often writes about human sexuality and politics.