What we can learn from President Zelensky.
This is a joke, right? First off, even the WaPo "can't substantiate" (which of their way of saying a political convient story is propaganda without calling it propaganda) the "We NeEd AmMo" comments from Zelensky. So you open your whole ridiculous thesis with something that didn't happen.
Zelensky is trying to start WWIII as the behest of his Neo-Liberal/Neo-Con/Globalist puppet masters and you're saying we can "learn from him" because he wears an olive drab shirt during his photo ops? He's playing a part in needlessly sending more of his own people to the slaughter, as well as pushing us closer to nuclear fucking war, and we need to learn from him?
Let me guess, in another 3 years, you'll go on Bill Maher and laugh your way through an admission you got the Ukraine crisis like you did about COVID?
How about this Bari... to you and anyone else reading this comment: SEND YOUR OWN KIDS TO WAR. The American working class is done dying so you can self-aggrandize at your cocktail parties.
While I certainly support and respect the people of Ukraine for their resistance, I can't help but wonder why the American government and media have so much concern for them while displaying no concern whatsoever for other people around the world who are also suffering tragic circumstances. The U.S., for example, left the people of Afghanistan to the mercy of the Taliban even though it is America that is directly responsible for their plight. The answer to this question demonstrates that while most Americans have genuine concern for the people of Ukraine, the American government has different reasons for their support for resistance against Putin. Here's an explanation:
I had a difficult time reading this one as, even after trying, I cant get on board with the romantic Zelensky celebrated in the press. Nor do I believe the Ukranians are dying for any purpose except the stupidity of Ukranian and US politicians.
Russia’s one ask prior to invading was assurance that NATO would not expand to Ukraine. This was prior the explicit position of NATO and the US. Russia’s request was no more unusual than the US request to Russia that it stay off Cuban soil. Quite reasonable and in line with how nuclear peace has been maintained for 70 years.
The US suddenly went coy and would not even open dialogue on the topic. Ukraine , behaving like an uneducated and rebellious teenager, refused the conversation because “you have no right to tell me what to do! If i want to put tactical nukes on my Eastern border (where Kyiv is not even the legitimate democratic government) you cant stop me!!”
Every country negotiates security with bordering neighbors. Ukraine should have been no different. Zelensky has now ceded that Ukraine will not join NATO. Meaning, no one ever needed to die were it not for the irresponsible expansion of NATO and uneducated response of Zelensky.
The world Ukraine wants, where each country is free to boss around its neighbors, enter and leave security agreements on a whim, run like a bull dog through trade agreements, demand billions in foreign aide to fight wars it cant fund…. hate to say it… but its a world that only makes sense to an overly privileged and irresponsible liberal.
And the delight the press takes in thinking maybe we have an ideological war and our very own Spanish Civil War is woefully misguided. No better world can come from a prolonged war in Ukraine. If you think it can, you’re blind to the fact that the majority of the world’s population are likely rooting for the Russians against Western hubris and imperialism.
Not one Ukranian needed to die and encouraging them to fight when the major elements of a peace deal are now (and always were) agreed upon…. I think the war mongering press has blood on its hands. If the situation deteriorates to nuclear or WW3, it will be the fault of the US and western press urging a wider and wider proxy war for seemingly no ideological reason apart from the tv ratings it pulled in for a few weeks.
I don't feel that any of us have enough real information to make an informed decision here. We're being pushed in one obvious direction and no one is allowed to question that narrative. The same people who would cancel me for asking questions about Covid, have a singular opinion about this issue. We're being manipulated into another pointless conflict. I'm not willing to risk my son's life for that.
Am I the only one to notice that the Russia Hoax, 4 years of fake Russian connections to Trump fabricated by the Clinton Campaign and sold to corrupt FBI, DOJ and CIA, basically projected weakness and disorganization to Putin? Consider that Putin was in a unique position to know that the whole thing was a hoax from day one. Now think about how he would view the perpetrators of the Russia Hoax, who are currently in power.
Further, consider how much more cash Putin has with oil at $100 a barrel than he did at $45 a barrel. Trump was a drill baby drill president. Biden is a don't even think about drilling president. Which do you think Putin prefers?
Then we get to the canard that the right, or at least elements of it, admire Putin. That's objectively false. The right takes Putin seriously, more seriously than trans rights in the army, or the phantom menace of man-made global warming. The left won't pump one barrel more of domestic oil, even if that means Putin can kill thousands of Ukrainians with the munitions he buys with his oil sales at inflated prices. The left will expell experienced soldiers who think a person with a penis is still a man, even if he says he's a woman. The left thinks wokeness is more important than military readiness. Putin obviously doesn't. That's the contrast the right is making. Putin is serious. Biden and the left are not. It has nothing to do with admiration. It just takes an enemy seriously.
Leftists who identify as journalists purposely misconstrue Trump's, and the right's, position on Putin so that they can claim nobody would have stopped Putin. That's obviously false as well. Trump stopped Putin for 4 years. Obama and Biden both failed to stop Putin. Green New Deal policies enable Putin. All out energy production in North America, facilitated by pipelines to transport oil and natural gas to market, weaken Putin. It's that simple.
Bari, I have been here since the beginning and this is your best piece by far. I do not know (and I expect you do not know, either) exactly who is "righter" vis-à-vis the current Ukraine conflict. Those who will write in these comments to argue about who is right (some ridiculous person said "see, Ukraine is an all white country so it must be their fault") have missed the point entirely.
For those to whom it is not clear, this article is a tour-de-force about AMERICA -- about how we have gotten so distracted by showing how "I am now in the cool kids group" that everything that defines us is being/has been lost.
Things like individual liberty -- I am a first generation American. My family fled the Soviet Union under (to put it kindly) adverse conditions. My father cherished individual liberty more than almost anything else. Yet there are those today that insist you be defined by the fact that some ancestor of yours that lived in a foreign country 200 years ago was the wrong color so you "owe me reparations" even though my ancestors were not around here, either.
Things like being judged by the content of your character -- It may be that you have volunteered at the hospital for decades, but it does not matter what you know/do -- if you do not follow the unsupported diktat that masks are enormously effective then you are a bad person -- even when it turns out that masks are not effective at all -- because that is what people have been told to believe.
The list is endless (Bari has many other examples) but the gist is always the same: "The group is more important than the person, even when the group is wrong, because we will change the definition of 'right' to be 'whatever we believe today'". This is the foundation of EVERY dictatorship's excuses since the beginning of time -- because, only the "Exalted Leader" knows what is best for the group. And thus the push to be in the current "in group". This is the antithesis of America and Bari makes the point masterfully. Even if "voted" (and we all have seen enough elections to be skeptical of that process) it becomes the tyranny of the "majority" of which the Founders warned.
Sadly, with vanishingly few exceptions (mostly on Substack) the media and the government, clearly working together to support this un-American narrative, are easily the two largest offenders by orders of magnitude. And many apparently believe the fodder because it is easier/less cancellable/whatever.
There are plenty of places to live that are run the way the "group > individual" thinkers believe things should be run -- go to China if you want to live in such a place -- we will be glad to contribute to your plane tickets. But as Bari has put so eloquently, as for me and my house, we will do what we can to keep America the home of the brave and the land of the free. We may not manage to win -- but, as with the Ukraine, at least we can die proudly, trying.
You have written some wonderful things. This may be your best. Some people are missing the point. This is only nominally about Ukraine. It is more about us. Some things are worth fighting for and we need to recognize them.
In the aftermath of 9/11 President Bush made it a point to condemn vigilante attacks on Muslims.
"When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that's made brothers and sisters out of every race -- out of every race.
America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.
Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America. That's not the America I know. That's not the America I value.
I've been told that some fear to leave; some don't want to go shopping for their families; some don't want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they're afraid they'll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America.
Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don't represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.
This is a great country. It's a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth."
Now, some twenty odd years later, the elites in power countenance punishing ordinary Russians for the sins of their government. That represents a fundamental shift in American society.
Hear, hear, Bari. Great essay. As a nation of freemen, we must live for all time, or die by suicide - Lincoln.
"But what struck me was that he actually homed in on the right pressure point: The Constitution, the thing he was so blithely tearing down, is precisely the thing we need to recover."
Bless you for saying this. It's not complicated. The guidepost is there, the solution in plain English.
Thank you for putting to words what I believe to be true, but lack the time to write or express myself. I have seen heartfelt responses to the speech by Zelensky this morning met by commentary of Americans attacking Americans. It is dreadful, this mix of antagonist media and unlimited anonymous commentary where one can facelessly attack those who think differently. "Societies that are conquered from outside can recover. But societies that destroy themselves from within cannot. " To all who read here and comment--be true, be free, but reject tribalism.
I've often been a critic of the content of this site. This essay, however, was wonderful in every aspect. Most of all it was inspiring. It gave me chills and gave me hope. Thank you.
Excellent essay - as always.
Please consider this as well:
"Romanticising our chosen side and vilifying their foes are natural reactions, but fairy-tale versions of conflict often disguise the flaws of the allies even if they pale by comparison with the vices of the invader."
Beautiful, thoughtful piece that discussed so many worries that I have about what is happening in our country: "Have we gotten so comfortable, so coddled, so removed from the world of flesh and blood, that we have forgotten how to name those values at all. We are not yet in an actual war. I pray we never are. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t in an ideological one. We are—and have been for a while now. And it is one that we—heirs to the Enlightenment and the American experiment—are losing very badly. We are losing because we are unserious." What is inspiring to me is Ukranians of all ages and walks of life taking up the fight, making bombs, putting furniture from their homes out to stop the tanks - they are all in, fighting for and defending their homeland. I saw an interview with a young mother of 3 in a shelter, whose husband was off fighting. She was asked why she didn't leave the country and her response was "why aren't you asking why isn't Russia leaving? This is my country. I am not leaving my country." Do we Americans appreciate and value the incredible freedoms that our ancestors and families have given their lives for, for us? Thank you Bari for this important piece about naming and then fighting for our values.
"It is because I cannot help but notice the gap between them and us. Between the bigness of their vision and their mission and the smallness of ours. Between their moral clarity and our moral confusion. "
In the first week of the war, after watching a newscast, I turned to my wife and said "that used to be us".
Bravo Bari... Bravo, bravo and bravo... An absolutely amazing essay. It is a blessing to have someone with such a clarity of mind and depth of courage to say what needs to be said... with nuisance, with fortitude and with arguments. Thank you.