The Surrender Continues

Five seconds after daring to say in public the most obvious and uncomplicated truth on the planet today, namely that Vladimir Putin should not remain in power, Joe Biden’s administration was in panic mode trying to “downplay” and “walk back” that remark, fearing how it would be interpreted. Fearing how Putin might respond. Fearing how the statement might affect future negotiations with Putin regarding Iran, energy, climate change, whatever. Fearing, fearing, fearing.

For the first two days after Putin’s (latest) unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the West, and even to some lame, foot-dragging extent the United States of America — which used to act like the civilized world’s leader, back when it had men — talked like taking a side was simple, this situation was unambiguous, and doing the right thing was the right thing to do, even when it might entail some short term risk or hardship. That, as the subsequent four weeks have amply proved, was all talk. In truth — the verifiable, unmistakable, humiliatingly on full display for the whole world to see truth — those brave talkers, and the United States of America above all, issued those brave statements and those big signs of unity on the unstated condition that they would never actually be called upon to act on any of them. Specifically, and brutally, they were plainly assuming and hoping that the ugly part of Putin’s violent takeover — the bloodshed and the usurpation of a sovereign nation’s government — would be over with before their promises could reasonably be expected to have been carried out, and before the citizens of the civilized world became too disturbed by the images of wanton destruction and the Ukrainian people’s plight. 

Sadly, from the Western leaders’ point of view, the Ukrainian people and military proved to be embarrassingly brave and competent, and their president annoyingly steadfast and inspirational — everything today’s Western people and governments are not. The gap between what Ukraine is today, and what the rest of the world is today, seems to be growing by the hour. The trial by fire has shown Ukraine to be a real country, with real leaders. The rest of the world, apart from a few stray voices shouting into the emptiness, are fat, lazy cowards led by mewling, simpering cowards.

A month of devastating destruction and pain inflicted on a friendly neighbor the West openly vowed to support at the outset of the attack. But the support comes in dribs and drabs, the big statements have become nothing but lip-service and photo opportunities the leaders use to palliate their domestic audiences, and the leaders trip over their tongues and one another desperately trying to avoid saying or doing anything that might “antagonize” Putin, that might “escalate the situation,” that might “jeopardize other priorities” or “stall important negotiations on X.” We are watching brave people die fighting while withstanding indignities and terror we have never experienced, and we admire their courage — but see it all as nothing but more sentimental entertainment to kill some time in the evenings. Meanwhile, the governments of the West, with almost no exceptions, are thinking about next year’s summit, about the inconveniences of this moment from the bureaucratic paper-shuffling perspective, and about exerting all their diplomatic cleverness to find ways to stabilize and reinforce the global status quo over the next few months — without a sovereign Ukraine in it. The deals are being written up as we speak, no doubt. Half of Ukraine goes to Russia, the government of the other half agrees to be neutral forever, to favor Russia in trade deals, to support no Western political or military initiatives, and to enter negotiations on Russia’s claims to some of those troublesome regions on the new border — well, that can be worked out later. 

The dream of the twentieth century totalitarians — to bury the self-indulgent and comfort-sated West — is coming true as we speak, as we watch, as the clarion call to awaken at last before it’s too late goes unheeded, is treated as just another viral video sensation by the populations of the former free world, and is regarded as nothing but political inconvenience and awkward optics by elected leaders who care only about their next signing ceremony, their next fortune, their next election, their next champagne lunch.

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