The Boiling Outrage Against Putin’s Ukraine War Has Settled to a Simmer
Ah well, so it is and so it has always been. The first rule of cookery is to follow the goddamn recipe. And now I see Joe Biden turning down the heat while he scratches his head over how much sauce to add to the gravy.
The media, it seems, is less and less interested in what’s for dinner
And what is NATO, if not a media exercise? If you think the presidents and/or prime ministers of the 30 NATO countries are not subject to local political pressures, you’re not paying attention.
But the cost of setting the dinner-table is enormously disparate
It’s a critique upon our times that media’s money-machine now has a desperately short shelf-life, and by desperate I mean existential. It is and always has been a business, formerly profitable and trustworthy, which is as it should be, think Walter Cronkite and Edward R, Murrow.
But today’s internet competition is free to any nit-wit’s opinion (including mine) and free is hard to beat. The top ten social networks worldwide lasso 14 billion visitors every month. That’s almost twice the world population to throw your rope around every thirty days. And they don’t pay anything for your attention.
Meanwhile, the top ten international newspapers and hosted network sites, combined, garner a meager 5 billion visitors per month. Their production costs are beyond estimation, with Sean Hannity leading the parade at a $40 million salary. Total operating costs at the New York Times approach $1.7 billion annually.
Free may not be all that discerning quality-wise, but hey
The Western consumer world values free above all else. We Americans tout the freedom of speech to spout off any conspiracy theory that strikes our fancy. We’re particularly tender-hearted about the freedom to carry guns any damn place we wish—although that has its limits where non-white minorities are concerned. We like free samples, free admission, free shipping and the freedom to drink and drive, because drinking and driving is so cool.
But our all-time favorite freedom is the freedom to forget…
…to write off all our personal and national ills as ‘yesterday’s news’ and move on, mostly because yesterday was painful and history is complicated, the rent has to be paid and we’re worried about our jobs. Joe Biden, Emanuel Macron and Boris Johnson worry about their jobs as well and they read the polls—live by the polls—and the polls show Americans and French and Brits getting weary of Ukrainians dying in basements while their leaders fight a more personal fight, for their political lives.
I guess that’s the difference between a statesman and a politician: Cowboy philosopher Will Rogers said it best a hundred years ago, “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”
We’re peeing on the electric fence in Ukraine
We did the same in 1938 and it didn’t work all that well against Hitler. America loves to hedge its bets, but history be damned, our political flash-mobs tend toward forgetfulness.
It’s a strange and selective case about America and war. We’ll jump in with all flags flying to save France’s ass in Vietnam or follow Georgie Bush to fight Dick Cheney’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re not all that willing to save another nation’s patriot in Ukraine for fear it might bite us in the ankle.
One can but wonder if it’s a shame-issue. Biden and Macron and Johnson might feel a bit lacking in the guts and courage department when they see Volodymyr Zelenskyy step out in battle-gear to support his outnumbered troops and then glance at themselves in the bathroom mirror.
Which reminds me of a military fact
Russians are not all that good at fighting. But they are extremely skilled at dying and Putin seems okay with running up the numbers. He chooses to settle for civilian killings instead, an international war-crime, but what the hell. If you can’t win on the ground in Ukraine, it’s easier and less dangerous to stand back and send missiles against civilians from inside Russia. Biden stipulated when he sent missiles on his version of ‘lend lease,’ that they could not be used to return rocket fire from Russia. Whose side does that say we’re on?
Ukraine will fight on to the last man, woman and child
Biden, Macron and Johnson seem to be very much okay with that, as long as no one ruffles Putin’s feathers. They have larger fish to fry in saving their individual careers, if they can stand the stench from the frying-pan. Three careers against 40 million Ukrainians, what a trade-off. It may well be the smell of modern politics, but a sorry recipe and the Western nations once knew better because we were better.
NATO’s summit in Madrid later this month is said to be its most consequential and transformative gathering since its inception. My bet is that it will be about as consequential and transformative as the Paris environmental summit. It’s still two weeks away, but it already sounds much like the British Munich Agreement with Hitler in 1938 that was supposed to guarantee ‘peace in our time.’ British prime minister Neville Chamberlain got off the plane from Munich and told Brits to “go home and sleep well.” How’d that work out, Neville?
Ukrainians? Who the hell are they?
The same was said of Czechoslovaks in 1938.
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