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.