Second Reactions: Cowards, Bullies, Real Men

The United Nations Secretary-General actually used his speech addressing Russia’s unprovoked attack on a sovereign neighbor to use one of the stupidest and most corrupt bromides of this age: “Give peace a chance.” That phrase was a childish and ignorant denial of common sense back when John Lennon coined it. Under the current circumstances, it is an outrage against the human race. “Give peace a chance” only makes sense at all, even as an idealistic consideration, from the point of view of one for whom peaceful coexistence is the goal. From the perspective of one bent on regional or global domination through violent aggression, the slogan is pure nonsense. For the question with which anyone spouting that line must be hammered is, “Give peace a chance to accomplish what?” In the current case, for example, would giving peace a chance ever have led to Ukraine voluntarily surrendering its territory and its future to a fascist dictator? If not, then why should Vladimir Putin, whose only immediate goal in this situation is to overthrow the government of Ukraine and seize that country for himself, see “Give peace a chance” as anything but a convenient moral confusion into which his Western enemies have tangled themselves, effectively leaving him (or any other ambitious tyrant) free rein to do whatever the hell he pleases, while the West stumbles over itself prioritizing “peace,” which in the practice of recent history is just another word for capitulation.

A group of children allows a notorious bully to join their soccer game in the playground. The bully immediately starts taunting and threatening the smallest boy in the group. At this point, the group might reasonably see some value in warning the bully directly: “If you don’t stop threatening our friend, you’re out of this game, and we won’t let you play with us again.” But once the bully has pushed the small kid to the ground, and is sitting on top of him beating his head into the pavement, that warning about not letting him play anymore is both laughably disproportionate to the situation and obviously useless. It is now too late for warnings and pleadings about “unpleasant consequences.” By letting it get this far, the group has already told the bully everything he needs to know to form a realistic cost-benefit analysis of the situation, and he has decided that the supposed cost of being chastised by the group is worth the benefit of beating the small boy’s head against the pavement and stealing his money.

Mitt Romney was right in 2012 when he cited Russia as a grave threat. Barack Obama scored huge campaign points against Romney by belittling the claim — even while he, Obama, was not-so-secretly making deals with Putin’s number one lackey of the day, Dmitry Medvedev, to grant all of Putin’s wishes after that very election. Mitt Romney was right in 2020 when he stood on the floor of the U.S. Senate and announced his vote to impeach Donald Trump on the “abuse of power” charge, which, you may recall, specifically related to Trump’s efforts to force Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, as a condition for releasing military aid to Ukraine in its attempts to prepare for Putin’s aggression. The Republican Party establishment, and most GOP (aka Trump) voters, have reviled Romney for his courageous decision to this day. 

I have never been a great fan of Mitt Romney’s policy views or his leadership style. But, thanks largely to the background context of the total corruption and Russian ownership of the current Washington establishment, this former milquetoast “progressive conservative” now looks like a cross between George Washington and King Kong.

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