The first major conflict of the Information Age
Thanks to modern telecommunications, the rest of the world has a front-row seat to the devastation unfolding in Ukraine. The only pleasant possibility is that Ukraine may succeed in defending itself...but at what cost? And if so, many innocent Russians will also be made to suffer? And for what?
Uncertainty combined with dreadful seriousness is the prevailing mood. Also, it's been a while since a fairly conventional conflict has caught our attention, compared to the more common asymmetrical terrorist endeavors.
If there is a silver lining in this cloud, it would be the stark revelation that many of the world's political "leaders" are, at best, capable only of going through the motions, to merely act as if they were taking care of business. The COVID pandemic already showed us their tyrannical natures. Meanwhile, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stands out as the exception, leading his people without much if any consideration for his own safety.
An old saying has it that, in war, the first casualty is the truth. Both Russia and Ukraine are using propaganda as a weapon. And this being just about the first major conflict of the Information Age, the effects of propaganda can be significant but also contradictory. One thing for sure is that Vladimir Putin has made it unequivocally certain that he is a major-league rectal orifice.
Again, what is the reason for all of this horror? Nothing comes to mind. There's some speculation that Putin was bluffing in order to get an assurance that Ukraine would stay out of NATO. When that failed, he had to pull the trigger on the invasion. Maybe. But there's also speculation about Putin's mental state.
I'm going with Putin's perceived awareness of the weakness of today's Western leadership. Couple that with (ahem) difficulties at home...that is, his own problems with the Russian people. However, it just seems rather anachronistic for a dictator of a very large country to invade a neighbor in full view of the rest of the world. Ukraine may be seriously damaged, but Russia will be a pariah for years to come. The process of economic isolation has only just begun.
I find it particularly difficult to write on this subject, since conditions are so fluid, and so much is being written and said by others. There may be plotters within the Kremlin intending to remove Putin permanently. Then Senator Lindsey Graham goes public urging such action. Wheels are spinning while horror is happening and helplessness dominates the frame of mind.
A brief historical note: Molotov cocktails are a much-mentioned improvised weapon of the Ukrainian resistance. They were originally invented by the Finnish Ministry of Alcohol to be used against Soviet tanks in the Russo-Finnish War of 1939. Stalin eventually won that war, but he wound up paying a high price. And now Finland is knocking on NATO's door. Who's next?
Image: Nessa Gnatoush.