The Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the West behind.
—The Beatles, “Back in the USSR”
* * *
Russian tanks are poised on the border of Ukraine.
Little Willie would be proud.
Little Willie was the prototype tank created in Britain in 1915. Willie’s progeny, the Mark I–VIs, caught the Germans by surprise. They could crash through barbed wire, roll over trenches, repel bullets, and crush machine gun nests. They rumbled like galumphing rhinos.
Soon all sides had their own tanks. In World War II they were everywhere. And now they’re back on the border of Ukraine.
General Patton is dancing in his grave.
For the moment.
The United States has 150 B-61 nuclear gravity bombs stationed in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey. NATO has nuclear warheads locked and loaded. Russia has plenty too.
If we’ve got to have a war, tanks are the way to go. Nuclear war is over in a flash. Cyber warfare is boring. No explosions. No body counts. Nothing galumphs.
Poor Ukraine. It can’t catch a break—maybe because it’s “the bread basket of Europe.” It was once part of Prussia, then Poland, then Russia, and even Austria. It just wants to be left alone.
But Putin can’t leave it alone? He’s got “a thing” for it.
I think I know why.
Back in the glory days of the USSR, Ukraine was “The Ukraine” (“the borderland”). But since 1991 it’s been just “Ukraine.” Ukrainians fume when they hear or see that article (“the”) in front of their sovereign country’s name. It’s demeaning, as though Ukraine is an appendage of Russia.
But that’s the way Putin remembers it. That’s the way he likes it. He fumes when the article’s missing. That’s really all he wants. If he wanted more he’d rattle his nukes. Instead he shows up with tanks.
Let’s not go crazy. Let’s put the article back on Ukraine (or put NATO in the dustbin), go back home, and live in peace.
I’ve been reading A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914–1918 by G. J. Meyer. It doesn’t take much to start a war. It takes a lot of deaths to end one.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
—John McCrae, December 1915
See Paula’s photo (Oregon Seastacks) on the home page. Posted January 23.
Like the girls in Ukraine, & the Grandmothers’ Council – I see these autocrats of the world as moys – Man Boys… men in boys’ bodies. I choose Peace… like the majority of adult humans & children on earth. We are more alike than different. Love or fear? I choose love. And I pray that the true men & women of the earth find the way thru this latest standoff…together.
Is there any “reason” to Putin and his actions other than to stay in the headlines as the world’s biggest bully?
I think the most moving photograph I’ve ever seen (Other than Paula’s of God’s Creation) is the one of the young man standing in the path of a huge tank in Tienamin Square, calmly offering up his very life as a peaceful statement against tyranny. His act didn’t stop the massacre, but it did make the Monster blink, and it resonated around the world! We’re going to be needing more such heroes.
I remain in a pessimistic mindset, reminded of Christopher Clark’s admonition that the protagonists of 1914 (leaders in Europe) were sleepwalkers, watchful but unseeing…..blind to the reality of the horror they were about to bring into the world. This was over the Balkans, and now this over “The Ukraine”.
Recently the fishermen (in this case apparently all men) of Ireland stood up to the Russian Navy. And the Navy stood down. They didn’t even have tanks. Just fishing boats. Perhaps only a small moral victory but a moment of hope in the face of authoritarianism and tyranny.
My guess is that the invasion starts Feb 14, and the leaflets dropped with the bombs say…
From Russia with Love.
Happy Valentine’s Day!