Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not only horrible for the Ukrainian people, but not so good for the Russians as well. Case in point, the flickering candle that was a free press in Russia has now been snuffed out by Tsar Vladimir I and his gang of henchmen in their totally really freely elected congress that had no issues with more people voting than actually lived in that district.
News from the world outside the Russian state has either been banned, blocked, bullied, or bruised into submission. International news agencies from the BBC to the Liberty Kansas Evening Sun have pulled out of Russia fearing a brutal crack down on honestly reported news. The Russian public now has to decide if the “news” they get on their TVs is telling the truth or their cousin in Kyiv is telling the truth (hint: go with cousin Yuri).
Everything old is new again.
It might be 2022 here in the West, but in Russia it’s about to turn 1937. That was the year of Stalin’s Great Purge, when his paranoia got the better of him and he started purging loyal communists from not only the Politburo but the local pharmacy. No one was safe. It mattered not if you were a general commanding troops or a apparatchik pushing papers or just a shmoo on the street, if the “Great Leader” thought you were disloyal it was time to pack your winter coat for a trip to the Gulag for a decade or two. That is if you were lucky. If you weren’t there was a wall, a blindfold, and a crappy Soviet cigarette waiting for you.
This isn’t surprising. Vlad the Impersonator has a great fondness for the old Soviet Union. It’s his version of the good old days. In America that means white picket fences and tree lined streets in small towns where the biggest problem was getting a date for the big dance or getting that old jalopy to crank on up. In Vlad’s mind those were the days of all news being censored, only the elite were guaranteed to have a meal each day, citizens spoke in hushed tones about the days events (if they spoke at all) and momsky and dadsky had to worry if little Alexi was going to turn them in for complaining about how Comrade Stalin was leading the country.
You know, the good old daysky.
Yes, Vlad has spoken fondly of the accomplishments of the Soviet Union and in particular his spiritual ancestor Stalin. According to Vlad the Soviet Union won the Great Patriotic War (not WWII as the rest of the world calls it) and they did it all by themselves, put the first man into space (yeah, okay, no dispute on that but who got to the moon first Neil?), and built a nuclear weapons program second to only one to protect the Motherland. And it’s that nuclear program that all of a sudden he’s been waving around.
Look I have no illusions that should Vlad actually push a button against any country, nuclear or not, Moscow would become a memory, the Kremlin an ash heap, and Vlad himself a wet spot on the rug of his (supposedly) palatial estate on the Black Sea. All courtesy of the boys of the Strategic Air Command. So I don’t think, even as delusional as he is, Vlad would push that button. But it’s having that button that has taken so many options off the table for those of us in the West.
If nuclear weapons weren’t in play this war wouldn’t have even started. NATO would have been happy to be invited into potential member Ukraine for “military exercises”, the same way Russian forces mustered on the border for “military exercises”. American Bobby and Russian Boris would have eyed each other across no man’s land and after a few weeks everyone would have retreated to their own corners.
But that’s not the world we live in. Having nuclear weapons is a deterrent but it’s also an encumbrance. And the more you have the bigger the encumbrance, especially when the other guy also has them. You can’t even establish a no fly (or as El Hefe de First Draft properly called it the no fly delusion) zone. Send actual boots on the ground in? Might as well start dusting out all those air raid shelters.
As irritating as it might be, to avoid all out nuclear war with a deranged sociopath, we have to use the weapons of the post nuclear world. And use them we are. Those of course are economic and information weapons. We still haven’t taken that hammer and sickle step of seizing all Russian assets held outside Russia, but it is definitely on the table. And we need to find ways for the Russian people to get authentic information about the war that is being waged in their name. If we have to go back to carrier pigeons then do it, but the truth needs to get through Vlad’s cone of silence.
Two last points about those two weapons. Yes, the price of gasoline has skyrocketed in the past two weeks even though the United States doesn’t import that much Russian oil. Deal with it. Adjust your life a little. Don’t use the car so much, cut back on long drives if the price of gas is so onerous to you. Consider it doing your little bit to fight fascism, just like your granddaddy did back in the great World War II. If that doesn’t do it for you then try demanding that oil companies do THEIR bit to fight fascism by not buying Russian oil, cutting their prices, and producing more.
On the second weapon, it is your responsibility to not spread false information. Make sure if you retweet or share or whatever that wild story you saw on the not so reputable web site that you check it out two or three times to make sure it’s true. They say in war truth is the first casualty, but in this war falsehoods might get someone killed. And yeah, I’m looking at you Marco Rubio you dumb box of rocks.
But you know what, in the mean time if we’re in a time warp, at least we can dance. It’s just a jump to the left: