For review. Note the legend on the bottom left.
In short, the “red line” (which when crossed by Russians will trigger unmentionable alterations to our lives) is actually blue on this map.
Step 3 is “List all possible solutions.” I mention it so you know. But I’m still at Step 2.
The media coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is appalling. It is inhumane, inconsiderate, and inept.
Inhumane because it contains no truth. I’m not in Ukraine, so how could I possibly know I’m being lied to? Because I’m an American and tradition holds that Russian leaders are incapable of telling the truth. But more than that, because President Zelensky’s comments betray the same tone and tenor as community activists and Greta Thunberg. By his comments, he seems to revel in this oddly fortunate opportunity to become an influencer.
Inconsiderate because if some of the numbers are correct, then the gravity of the situation needs be elevated dramatically. The US troop deaths in nearly two decades of fighting in Afghanistan sits under 2,000. The media is asking us to believe (because some politician heard some other politician say so) that 3,500 Russians have died in three days. And don’t get me started on this Ukrainian fighter pilot. I had heard 6, and then later I heard 8 kills in one day. An “ace (five kills)-in-a-day”, the claim. The last verified ace-in-a-day was in WWII. Truth matters. But then, the media coverage wouldn’t understand that idea, because they don’t believe in evil.
Inept because at their core, the media do not believe in evil. To them, it’s a catchy word—one of many. Fun to write. But they truly are watching without any sense of evil. A bomb explodes, they wonder how their expression looked on camera. “How was I? Fearful? Hopefully not cowardly? A balance of compelling and showing the true danger I am in, that’s what I want. Can we shoot it again?” And more than this, they look to others for what just happened. “They’re telling me that sound was…” But make no mistake, the media does not believe in evil. So the coverage is inept. It’s lackadaisical. Boring. The media seems to believe it is competing with fashion news, with San Francisco school board elections regarding a pandemic that ended two weeks ago at the Super Bowl.
What did I expect? They don’t believe in evil.
I went to bed a bit unnerved. I had in mind a post which I would title, “War—At Least That’s The Rumor.” This was because everything in the news about the “full scale invasion” was seemingly based on “I heard it from a friend who, heard it from a friend who, heard it from another…”
Then I woke up and checked the news and still was not liking the tone, tenor, and lack of first-hand accounts. So I changed my tune. My post was now going to be a comparison of headlines from WW1 and WW2 opening days. The point being to show the stark contrast between what’s happening today (I believe to be a veritable blip) compared to actual war.
But then I found video which purported to be, and evidently was, a plane zooming overhead and dropping ordinance that explodes in due course below.
As a pilot, and as a former Air Force pilot, I couldn’t help but wonder what that pilot was thinking. Was he a true believer, like I was for my country? Or was he praying to his maker, “Forgive me, for I have sinned,” as he launched the weapon, under gunpoint?
We know that the pilots of Iraqi Air Force were not exactly interested to fly the night of our invasion of Iraq. The popular legend is many, if not all, defected as quick as their jet could fly. And I heard one USAF F-15 pilot tell the story of his shoot-down, very anti-climatic, and also relate that other Iraqis were shot down over the airport before they could get their landing gear up.
For me, there will always be a distinction between someone pressing a button in a remote location to launch missiles, and a pilot actually dropping bombs, when ascertaining the seriousness of the war/conflict. The distinction being: the pilot is already mobile. He could elect to not drop the bombs and instead “defect”.
So I want to know what the pilots are thinking.
But mostly, I’m just feeling confused. I will never mean to cause fear—far from it. But at this moment, I think it’s safe to say that this confusion wasn’t present two days ago. And it only slightly built last night after my bravado-filled prediction that cooler heads would prevail proved terribly naïve. And I must admit that this feeling of confusion itself is probably a sign that things are worse, than better. Again, not to cause fear, just to tell the truth.
Mind made up.
I am gonna stick with my training. “Step 1- Recognize the Problem.”
Problem- “I am unable to get clarity on the implications of the attack of Ukraine by formal Russian forces. The lack of clarity is driven by ignorance of the situation. ‘What about the 14,000 lives lost previously in some local fighting? How is this different?’ for example.”
“Step 2- Gather All the Data.”
I need to time for this step. We in the peanut gallery all do.
While we wait, I’ll conclude by saying this: I need to stop worrying about “what it means if…” Right now decisiveness on the battlefield is needed. If Ukraine is vitally important to us, let’s go win. Starting, like, yesterday. If Ukraine is not vitally important, then shame on them for not joining NATO sooner. The world could stand to learn a lesson about “choosing sides”. USA all the way.
I’ve completed my investigation into what the heck is going on with Russia and Ukraine.
But before we get to the results, I want to share what was fun about the investigation.
First, I learned or re-learned that I like history more than advice.
The first major reading I did was of a series of three essays and the first essay was history, whereas the third was advice for stability etc. History of the region? Exciting and interesting. Compelling too. I never have known much about Russia. And I had totally forgot, if I ever knew, that Ukraine is on the west side. Reading the history brought back memories of when I looked on a map for Moscow after reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace. He had made the big point that Napoleon turned around when he got to Moscow. Boy was I disappointed to see how near Europe Moscow really is. Napoleon really did peter out.
Anyhow, similar thing this time. Ukraine was in a totally different spot than I had pictured. Knowing the geography actually helps the headlines make sense.
Secondly, I randomly had extra time to read with A- the other night and was feeling like one hour of Swiss Family Robinson would be a bit much, so we switched to the Book of Knowledge Children’s Encyclopedia thirty minutes in, specifically to Volume 1’s first sections on World History. There, in an early paragraph, we came across this sentence, “While the whole of Russian history shows the effort of a landlocked people to reach the shores of the seas, which were for thousands of years the only really convenient highways of trade and communication.”
What fun! Reading really does invigorate the soul. “…the effort of a landlocked people to reach the shores of the seas…”
So, now, here’s the result of my investigation: Russia wants to get to the Black Sea in a bigger way. On the other side, the West believes the people of Ukraine should get to rule themselves by virtue of their being human beings.
Regarding Russia’s desire, that Ukraine was or was not previously a part of Russia or the USSR or whatnot is besides the point. Put differently, to be faithful to reality we must acknowledge that Russia wants something tangible, something that all parties can agree is or is not real. Either Russia has ports in the Black Sea or not. Either Russia’s boundaries extend to the Black Sea in Ukraine’s place or not.
Also, we need to say Russia isn’t crazy for the wanting-the-Black-Sea bit. But Russia is maintaining an un-Western, and specifically un-American, belief when it brings force to Ukraine instead of a soapbox or a stump.
Conversely, the West, specifically America, isn’t wrong for choosing to oppose Russia’s action, but if America cannot get Russia to engage us on our terms, then everyone is literally talking past each other. And if this is the case, it truly is a fight.
For all I care, the country Russia can have access to the ports it wants. But if this desire is not the result of representative votes of its people, then we’re really not talking about Russia, but about some one leader—Putin.
Next, I want to know, “Is there some reason for the West instigating the Ukraine-join-NATO stuff right now?” I don’t know. But it surely is a move that I’m convinced that everyone who is read-in would have known would result in being interpreted as provoking Russia/Putin.
The question, then, is what do we, the collective West, believe? Is conventional war truly a thing of the past? Or will there be conventional war once again?
I think conventional war is a thing of the past. So my money is on the West easing up whatever pressure it has recently placed on the idea of NATO and Ukraine marrying. And this then would result in Russia/Putin backing down.
Lastly, President Biden has a speech impediment. Never, never give that man a line which sounds powerful only if delivered well.
I mean, I ask you, dear reader, “Who in the LORD’s name does Putin?”
If I was you, faithful reader, I’d probably be thinking, “Pete, why don’t you stop pontificating as a pretend-amateur-auteur-political-motivational philosophy professor guru and instead give us some insight into something you truly do have unique access to, as surely your wife knows something about what is happening in her home country and you could translate for us?”
Okay. Will do.
Here’s my best translation.
For a typical citizen of Ethiopia, everyone you don’t know (and many people you do know) are spies for the enemy. Cab drivers, people at the bus stop. The person next to you at the market. If you hear people in the the apartment above and below, or any adjoining wall, assume they too are spies.
Add to this that, instead of, or in addition to markets, there are food banks.
How does an approaching army pass through a town? It doesn’t take much to imagine that only a few deaths (+ these spies) would powerfully dissuade other resistance efforts.
How does the army feed itself? They send some men with guns to the food-bank and load up—maybe killing a few non-combatants in the process, which again acts as a tremendously powerful deterrent.
There is also the typical scene from Hollywood, where the “bad guys” steal the “foreign aid” and then “give it” to those in need to show their generosity and confuse the matter of who is good and who is bad.
Back to pontificator role: the lying/deception involved in the “spying” is the only area available for change. Until some large group of individuals experiences an event which leads them to fear Jesus’ eternal judgment more than their this-worldly death, the situation will never meaningfully change.
I love reading. I love opinions. I couldn’t stop perusing the pundits even if I wanted to. But I am certain that the conservatives are only embarrassing themselves. If I read the word tyranny one more time, or dictator, I think I’m going to throw up. The problem we, the conservatives, face is not hard to understand.
The problem—THE PROBLEM—is that smack dab in between me and my political wishes sits the fact that I don’t want to fight a war. Nobody, no one, has yet been able to provoke me to war. I (one flag waving, freedom loving, song singing American conservative) think war in America is likely. I definitely know it’s possible. But I don’t want to do it. I wanted to do it when I was young, and I did do it. So I can speak truthfully and announce the fairly obvious, though often unsaid, observation with certitude that I don’t fight in a war now because I don’t want to. Nevertheless, I believe that war is the only political voice that the left will hear. My private inclination changes nothing.
One reason that I don’t want war is that I’m not yet able to imagine what war will look like. Will the stores still be open? And what will determine which kinds? Restaurants? What about gas stations? Why will the power company employees still show up to work but not the waitstaff? How soon will I regret the decision? These and more nag at me.
But I feel closer to the picture now than I ever have been in the past. (And I’ve even seen first world vs. Old Testament world combat.) It’s like I can begin to make out some early broad strokes. There are blurry scenes in which masked mobs will firebomb residences of their enemies, in the middle of the night. Are those lights iPhone screens? Hard to imagine people holding a camera and weapon, but maybe. It’s like I know I’m in an art gallery, but I can’t see any paintings yet. So I keep walking.
Anyhow, I’m not there yet. This is no call for war. But this is a call for them to stop. I’m talking about the conservative press, the replacement media, heck, even some articles on the Babylon Bee. Stop pretending that there is an argument to be won. Stop. It’s been two uninteresting decades of reading your veiled, dire, and dark words, forecasting a veiled, dire, and dark— but avoidable—future, written as if you really believe that your words just might save us, as if you really believe that there is a peaceful restoration of rule of law and, as importantly, use of reason.
The reason I know I’m right is, as you know, after all these years I finally read John Locke. I’m telling you that man didn’t just make sense, he didn’t just use reason, he incited war.
What have you all incited? An echo chamber? Getting 70 million people to warn each other of the dangers of tyranny in the 21st century is not exactly a formidable accomplishment. The reason I write is not to be repeated, but because no one else is telling you the truth. You’re words are not powerful. They’re not. So stop. Or do better.
How to stop? Admit when your words are empty.
Action. That’s the only path towards the goal. Admit it. Who’s gonna do it? Which one of you is going to infuse their words with power? Who’s going to incite the war? Limbaugh? Prager? Shapiro? Fast rising Candace? Na. I don’t see any guts. Plenty of ambition, brainpower, recall, and in touch lexical choices, but no guts. Address the problem.
If you’re not doing that, then you’re wasting your time. Worse—you’re lying. Because the conservative aims are bought with blood. To suggest otherwise is simply lying. There’s no way around it.
If you’re not going to make me feel, if you’re not going to make me war, then stop. You’re embarrassing yourselves.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m reading this delightful fantasy novel Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey. Oddly enough, Sunday has recently established itself as my day of reading fantasy, that is, my day of reading rest–given the amount of Bible reading I accomplish the other six days.
This afternoon, I couldn’t stop smiling as I read from this angelic gem. One particularly pause-causing line was the lead female’s (an adept/spy-who-specializes-in-serving-Naamah-by-satisfying-wealthy-and-powerful-patrons’-S&M-bedroom-proclivities) announcing, “By this time, I was suffering a tedium so deadly I would have gladly scrubbed the Marquise Belfours’ chamber pot, for the distraction of a scathing punishment at the end of it.” (Move over, Christian and Anastasia…)
At this juncture in the tale, the vixen is being protected by a smooth, sapient equivalent of the water held back by what we call the Hoover dam. His enemies pray the levee doesn’t break. And, if that doesn’t do it for ya, ladies, let’s just say that he knows his place.
And at that moment, the thought hit me: This is the perfect fantasy. In this fable, we have a woman being free to be completely enslaved to her wiles, as she is being protected by a man who is bound to exercise no restraint in the defense of the weak.
But today’s post is not merely marketing material. Today I want to begin to capture my thoughts on the blossoming peace in the Middle East. Today I want to finally write down how I am so happy that I will be able to tell my children what it was like to wake up after a night of waiting for a war that never began.
I had such mixed feelings that night. Iran–not elusively-defined terrorists but a real country–had attacked America. Every bone in my body was opposing itself as I read the news. Half of me wanted nothing but peace. “President Trump: Please just do whatever you need to make peace.” The other half wanted nothing but the end of the uncertainty inherent to this clash of civilizations that began long ago, but has been officially boiling over since 9/11. “President Trump: Put. Them. In. The. Ground. Sheol. The grave. Deep. Permanent. End it. Win. Please!”
Then the airliner was shot down. Huh? Could this be it? No way was that us. Plenty of chance it was Iranian incompetence.
Then morning came and with it a group of men declaring for the children-grown-older-in-power-positions-in-Iran that Iran, led by these incompetent imbeciles, was standing down.
What must that have felt like for the Iranians? And, unlike Canada’s inclusion of a turban-wearing man in their optic a few days later, we went with the truth. It was old, white men, though white-hat-less men, who, not just announced the fight was over, but, in the manner of the announcement itself, clarified that one backwards civilization in specific needs to just, “Stop before you hurt yourself!”
Who could have imagined it? In response to the pinpoint–and I mean precision on a level that is hard to imagine ever being produced with anything other than a scalpel held by a hand that was trained in its use for a decade–in response to the pinpoint killing of a small handful of men bent on orchestrating evil, in response to the pinpoint killing of a small handful of men by remote control aircraft half-way across the accurately mapped globe, in response to this, an Iranian version of a tween on the ground was so afraid (afraid of what? afraid of his own government’s response to him if he’s doesn’t shoot? afraid of America?) that he shoots a fire-and-forget 11 foot missile, itself built by another civilization, at an airliner! What?!
Peace. That’s what.
And manifested by who? The noisy and wily Squad? No. By the unapologetically fair-skinned President of the United States of America. Cowboy as all hell, but hat’s off.
This one is long overdue–not for the reading, but for the writing of it.
I have a step-son now. He was not born in America. He does not know much about the West.
A few days ago he asked me, “Why does everyone talk about World War Two so much?”
I said, “Huh?”
“You just said, ‘World War Two.’ The other day at school my teacher said, ‘World War Two.’ Why is everyone saying ‘World War Two’ so much?”
Yesterday we were in the car for long enough that I finally took the time to answer him.
“Well, what do you know about how many people are in our town?” I began. I quickly and subsequently learned that the boy is not quite a census expert. So I remedied this as best I could. Then I let Siri do the persuading.
“Hey Siri!” I began, to his delight. “How many people died in World War II?”
“Do you see now?” I asked the boy.
He says he does, but he probably doesn’t. That’s the way these things go.
But there’s something I haven’t taught this young man. Well, it’s more accurate to say that there’s something that I haven’t spoken aloud to this young man. In truth, I’ve been teaching him this thing, and nothing but this thing, since he moved in. I breathe this thing. I eat and drink this thing.
This thing: there’s a deeper, more hidden reason everyone talks about World War II. The reason is because we were the Nazis. Humans were the Nazis. Not corporations. Not aliens. Not AI. Not the poor. Not the rich. Not those with guns. Not those without guns. Not the Muslims. Not the Christians. Not the Blacks. Not the Whites. Not the immigrants. Not the healthy. Not the sick. Not Trump. Not Obama. Not the LGBTQ+. Not the Non-Binary. Not Antifa. Not #IMWITHKAP. Not Greta. Not Climate Deniers. Humans were the Nazis.
The reason everyone talks about World War II is because we were the Nazis. And we cannot forgive ourselves.
But worse, we believe that if we teach what happened, if we just talk about what happened, then we believe it will not happen again.
That, of course, is simply not true. To be crystal clear here, George Santayana’s eloquent sounding sentiment, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” is dead wrong. He was perniciously wrong.
So I’m raising my step-son (and H-) with this in mind–constantly. I do nearly everything with one singular goal in mind: teach him to be a man. That is, I teach him to think for himself.
We were the Nazis. But I was not a Nazi. And LORD help me, I will never be a Nazi. Instead, I am a man.
Moreover, I will not let the voices of doubt win when it comes to raising a boy to become a man.
I’m talking now to all of you who think it is cruel to make a child work on handwriting. Cruel to make a child read aloud until they get it right. Cruel to punish a child for disobedience. Cruel to create a standard and hold a child to it. Cruel to keep a child from TV and YouTube. Cruel to teach a child that children do not boss adults. Cruel to have a bedtime schedule. Cruel to make them eat the same meal everyone else at the table is eating. Cruel to make them finish their food entirely–and their milk. Cruel to make them do chores. Cruel to say “no” to a child–every single time they ask for something stupid like more dessert, more time, or any and everything they ever see at the store.
I’m raising a man. I’m not trying to have a friend. And I’m not trying to please you and your gay sensibilities. We were the Nazis! Do you get it? “We” were the Nazis. The only thing that can defeat “We” is “Me.” I won’t join you. And I promise you that my adult children will surely feel a shame second only to the one which comes from awareness of having sinned against their maker, if they find themselves joining the “we” on some distant day.
Enough about me. What about you? What about your sons and daughters? Are they going to come after my children some day?
It’s not a movie. Sure, in the technical sense it is a motion picture, but just now, while at Soopers when I saw the bluray for sale, it hit me. Dunkirk is not a movie. These type of missteps are expected, of course, from the truly creative human, of which Nolan is surely one. But he stepped out of his lane and tried to fool us, rather than just release it at Art House Cinemas or Fine Art Cinemas, the place where it belongs. And that move should cause him to feel some slight twinge of shame. We’re not mindless suckers, Mr. Nolan. We just like stories and are illiterate.
Whew, glad I got that one figured out.
I couldn’t help but perk up when I heard my pastor mention “London” as he led us in prayer this morning. My folks are in London vacationing. I just figured he misspoke, but then he also mentioned Manchester. Having not checked the news since early yesterday, I inquired of my pew-mate. Then I cried. My parents are fine. But this scene from Cooper’s classic came to mind.
So long as their enemy and his victim continued in sight, the multitude remained motionless as beings charmed to the place by some power that was friendly to the Huron; but, the instant he disappeared, it became tossed and agitated by fierce and powerful passion. Uncas maintained his elevated stand, keeping his eyes on the form of Cora, until the colors of her dress were blended with the foliage of the forest; when he descended, and, moving silently through the throng, he disappeared in that lodge from which he had so recently issued. A few of the graver and more attentive warriors, who caught the gleams of anger that shot from the eyes of the young chief in passing, followed him to the place he had selected for his meditations. After which, Tamenund and Alice were removed, and the women and children were ordered to disperse. During the momentous hour that succeeded, the encampment resembled a hive of troubled bees, who only awaited the appearance and example of their leader to take some distant and momentous flight.
A young warrior at length issued from the lodge of Uncas; and, moving deliberately, with a sort of grave march, toward a dwarf pine that grew in the crevices of the rocky terrace, he tore the bark from its body, and then turned whence he came without speaking. He was soon followed by another, who stripped the sapling of its branches, leaving it a naked and blazed trunk. A third colored the post with stripes of a dark red paint; all which indications of a hostile design in the leaders of the nation were received by the men without in a gloomy and ominous silence. Finally, the Mohican himself reappeared, divested of all his attire, except his girdle and leggings, and with one–half of his fine features hid under a cloud of threatening black.
A tree which has been partially or entirely stripped of its bark is said, in the language of the country, to be “blazed.” The term is strictly English, for a horse is said to be blazed when it has a white mark.
Uncas moved with a slow and dignified tread toward the post, which he immediately commenced encircling with a measured step, not unlike an ancient dance, raising his voice, at the same time, in the wild and irregular chant of his war song. The notes were in the extremes of human sounds; being sometimes melancholy and exquisitely plaintive, even rivaling the melody of birds––and then, by sudden and startling transitions, causing the auditors to tremble by their depth and energy. The words were few and often repeated, proceeding gradually from a sort of invocation, or hymn, to the Deity, to an intimation of the warrior’s object, and terminating as they commenced with an acknowledgment of his own dependence on the Great Spirit. If it were possible to translate the comprehensive and melodious language in which he spoke, the ode might read something like the following: “Manitou! Manitou! Manitou! Thou art great, thou art good, thou art wise: Manitou! Manitou! Thou art just. “In the heavens, in the clouds, oh, I see Many spots––many dark, many red: In the heavens, oh, I see Many clouds. “In the woods, in the air, oh, I hear The whoop, the long yell, and the cry: In the woods, oh, I hear The loud whoop! “Manitou! Manitou! Manitou! I am weak––thou art strong; I am slow; Manitou! Manitou! Give me aid.”
At the end of what might be called each verse he made a pause, by raising a note louder and longer than common, that was peculiarly suited to the sentiment just expressed. The first close was solemn, and intended to convey the idea of veneration; the second descriptive, bordering on the alarming; and the third was the well–known and terrific war– whoop, which burst from the lips of the young warrior, like a combination of all the frightful sounds of battle. The last was like the first, humble and imploring. Three times did he repeat this song, and as often did he encircle the post in his dance.
At the close of the first turn, a grave and highly esteemed chief of the Lenape followed his example, singing words of his own, however, to music of a similar character. Warrior after warrior enlisted in the dance, until all of any renown and authority were numbered in its mazes. The spectacle now became wildly terrific; the fierce–looking and menacing visages of the chiefs receiving additional power from the appalling strains in which they mingled their guttural tones. Just then Uncas struck his tomahawk deep into the post, and raised his voice in a shout, which might be termed his own battle cry.
And these scriptures.
But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Pray for mercy. Preach Christ.