There’s a real war going on. And when I say real war, I mean a war with tanks and battleships. They’re even digging trenches, which is not a good sign.
As a matter of fact, there are few good signs in this war. Unless you count the defenders. We Democrats think we’re fighting for democracy – and yes, we really are – but the Ukrainians are fighting for democracy, for their own homeland in which they were in the process of setting up a working democracy, in which they were in the process of rooting out the left-over Soviet structures of corruption. In which they were building a modern nation for their people.
A homeland which the invading Russians are blowing into dust, like a petulant child knocking down carefully built structures.
And killing people. Killing lots and lots of people.
I’m with the Ukrainians.
Russia is razing Ukrainian cities to the ground and turning each apartment bloc into a killing field analogous to the jungles of Cambodia. By design. As if in rage that Ukrainian cities should outshine those of Russia. Which perhaps they do. Putin has not put much effort into modernizing his country, into stabilizing people’s lives and livelihoods, into small business and industry, into all the little things that make a country prosperous. It is said that Russian countrypeople still live like peasants, that shopkeepers have to import all the small items that a business uses in a day of trade.
We have said elsewhere that Trump wanted to be another Putin, but today it looks more as if Putin wants to be another Trump. He wants to destroy the idea of liberal democracy and tear apart the fabric of what we call Western Civilization. He is Sauron, perched in a lonely redoubt, flailing against those who would keep him small and powerless. No wonder the Ukrainians call his soldiers “orcs.” Did he truly never suspect that his first big move in that direction would be like a key that, when turned, unlocked the resolve of NATO, the U.S., and the democracies of the world to rally against him. To make this battle one which could determine the next century or so of world history. One which, I believe, we must win.
This is, to my mind, a metaphoric battle. If Russia wins out, it will strengthen the forces of autocracy the world over. If Ukraine wins the day, it will be dogs’ years before anyone can accuse the democracies of weakness. And this, I think, is important. I believe in the ideals of the liberal democracies. They may not work for all cultures, but they work for me and for many others across the globe, and I would not like to see those ideals seem to fail.
There are other wars in the world today. Smaller wars. Minor wars. Except for the deaths, no one of which can ever be called minor.
But this war – and no, it’s not a “good war,” not one of the defenders had a hand in beginning hostilities – is a necessary war to win, for all the reasons I have stated above and likely many more. We are the defenders, not the aggressors. And what we are defending remains worth the fight, whether at the ballot box or on the battlefield.