America loves to think of itself as a rose, in bloom. We trumpet our freedoms and strength as if they are bright red petals on a summer day. It’s a damn shame though, that for most of the world, for 6 or 7 decades now, they look at us… and they only see the thorny stem.
It was merely August, 7 months ago, that I decried the pointless and fruitless war in Afghanistan. It wasn’t ever necessary, was doomed to failure, and represented a complete failure by our leaders to learn any lessons from history.
I am a pacifist. War is not the answer, and we’ve had 15,000 years to figure that out. Over and over again old grudges birthed new conflicts. So I decry this stupid war as well, the one Putin has started because he has nearly completed looting his home nation of Russia and now needs new lands to loot. It is a pattern seen over and over again, so the fact that he is the most successful mob boss in the history of the world should not blind us to the fact he is also just another tinpot dictator flailing about in an effort to preserve his gains.
Those are points 1 and 2: war is bad, and this bum is pretty run of the mill. Point 3 is less obvious, but the Ambassador from Kenya made it very well in his speech the other day: nurturing grudges from the past does no good, it’s better to look ahead and build a better future. This is something that is still possible, even though it seems unlikely with tanks rolling into Ukraine.
Point 4: it’s shockingly hypocritical how we have chosen to ignore so many other conflicts because this one feels ‘closer to home’ for our politicians. Syria has been mired in a water war for 8 years at least, too bad for them. Yemen has been trying to throw off the yoke of their Saudi neighbors, but gosh darn it Mohammed Bone Saw is our ally; so you Yemeni’s get to die. Gosh darn it. But oh look, Europe has gotten it’s feathers ruffled because 20 years ago a bunch of venal politicians lied to each other and now tempers have flared about it.
Point 5: We must go back to my very first statement: learning from history is a MUST. We failed to do so in our last 4 wars – – and pretty thoroughly lost them all. We failed to do so at the beginning of WWII, when we chose to let Spain fall to the Fascists, namely to some guy named Franco.
Not all of us, natch. Many Americans rightly saw the looming threat, and formed the Lincoln Brigade. They fought and bled and died alongside the Republicans in Spain. They lost, but they were on the right side of history. And so it is with point #5… we need to be on the right side of history here.
For 9 decades, since fall of 1945, the entire planet has lived under the shadow of the mushroom cloud. It has, to put it mildly, clouded our judgment. Most folk have pretended since 1991 that the cloud had lifted, but of course nothing at all had changed. And so now two very large armies are skirmishing in the winter mud outside of Kiev, and mothers across the planet are wondering how they will be able to shelter their children if fallout comes their way.
It’s unfortunate that the Russian people are going to be victimized just as the Ukraine’s people are. They didn’t want war. But they are trapped under his murderous sway, just as with Stalin and Lenin before him.
Pete Seeger told us that even pacifists should defend their home if it was invaded. For years I wrestled with that, I told myself that pacifism means nothing if it is not absolute. Fact is Seeger was right. And Putin isn’t just invading Ukraine. He is laying the groundwork for another time of soviet-style darkness for the whole world.
The rose that America deems itself to be cannot fail this time to prevent the rise of Putin-style Fascism. It galls me to say it, but this time we must set aside points 1 through 4 because #5 outweighs them all. This war was preventable, yet it is here, now. We made a deal with Ukraine when they gave up their nukes, we promised to protect them. Before all that we founded the United Nations and wrote the UN charter, which specifically demands action in defense of basic democracy and human rights. For these reasons, and for the ideals that we clung to as we defeated Hitler, this madman must be stopped. Don’t let Putin’s paid lackeys Carlson and Trump pull the wool over your eyes. After all, they have labored for ages to undermine the ideals of freedom and democracy.
So it comes to this: it’s time for the thorns.
I’m appalled at myself to be calling for war. So be it, the time for diplomacy came and went, regardless of how I felt about it.
I am a pacifist, though I never have been much of one. My hope now is that the Allies act swiftly, and fully. Don’t ‘half-ass’ it like we did in Viet nam, Iraq, etc. Make a plan and commit to it. Make plans not just for the battles but also for their aftermath. And do it now. There should not need to be a Lincoln Brigade stood up this time, governments should take the initiative.
The lessons of the Nuremberg trials were stark, and clear, and demanded that we never forget why that war was fought. Once again a madman seeks to enslave the world, starting with his next door neighbor. This time we need to rise against the threat, early enough to prevent a global catastrophe.
This version of “Morning Dew” features the song’s author, Bonnie Dobson. It also has a calmness to it that I appreciate, as an older dude. Of course it’s the most famous anti-nuke song of all time, it has been covered by just about everybody. I first heard it done by Blackfoot, their version is a barn-burner. Nazareth, too, tore the walls down with their cover. But I’m old. And tired, and this version sums it up best. No war, no nukes. The endgame is too horrifying to contemplate.
“Rather than form nations that looked ever backward into history with a dangerous nostalgia, we chose to look forward to a greatness none of our many nations and peoples had ever known,” Kimani said.
“People who place themselves in the camp of Vladimir Putin are not patriots, they aren’t America First, they aren’t Christians, and they aren’t pro-life.
They’re also not people who get to drape themselves in the flag, or invoke allegiance to this nation, or feign offense at kneeling football players, or spout some red, white, and blue nationalistic nonsense—because they never cared about any of it.” – John Pavlovitz