There’s something very different about the Russia-Ukraine war. In other wars started by Russia, most other countries condemned Putin, or just sighed in resignation went on with their lives.
“If we remain silent today, we will be gone tomorrow.”
87 nations didn’t rise up against Putin’s support of Bashar al-Assad when all those Syrians got killed. 87 nations didn’t shame China for it’s attempt at genocide of Uighurs.
“Light will shine over darkness.”
This time the US, Europe and others erupted in outrage, decrying Putin’s bullying and sending C-17’s filled with billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Makes you wonder: what makes Ukraine so special?
The story has taken over the media. Every day we read heart rending stories of refugees – women and children, mostly – leaving Ukraine. Everyday we read inspiring stories of others who stayed to fight the Russians. Everyday we read about people from other countries crossing into Ukraine to join the fight.
“It’s a victory when the weapons fall silent and people speak up.”
It’s been deja vu after deja vu of WWII: mothers and babies with blood on their faces, buildings with only one wall standing, black smoke fires where hospitals used to be.
“We will not forget. We will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war…You will not have a quiet place on this earth, except for a grave.”
Putin couldn’t win with quick, surgical strikes, so he reverted to the time-honored Russian tactic of total destruction, decimating everything, from buildings to morale.
“We have tasted freedom and we will not give it up.”
But we’ve seen these scenes before, plenty of them, from WWII, Korea, Syria, Iraq, China, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Crimea…
… Everywhere but LA…Oops! Then Chris Rock insulted Will Smith’s wife and got smacked for it by Will.
So much for peace and love at the Oscars.
Which probably ticked off Senators Graham, Hawley, and Cruz who would have liked to physically smack Supreme Court candidate Ketanji Brown Jackson, but chickened out and used their words instead.
Sorry, too much TV.
So what’s different about this war?
“When you attack us you will see our faces. Not our backs but our faces.”
Is it the fact that the scenes are so reminiscent of the Nazi’s attacks on Poland, France? Is it the fact that Ukrainians are white and blond and straight out of Central Casting? Is it the fact that Ukraine is so close to Europe?
The answer is yes…and no.
Yes, the WWII images still echo in our memories. Yes, Ukrainians are from Central Casting. Yes, if Russia can do this to Ukraine, Europe should worry.
But no, those scenes aren’t why 87 countries are uniting against Russia. They’re uniting against Russia because of rare, inspired and inspiring, leadership.
“Nobody is going to break us; we’re strong, we’re Ukrainians.”
Volodymyr Zelenskyy is that leader. He is the Hollywood hero that has been missing for so long. He is Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Jack Kennedy.
His off-the-cuff comments are better than the best lines of John Wayne, Sean Connery, Daniel Craig or any other Hollywood hero. He’s real, a throwback to when national leaders led with their character. He connects with Ukrainians and everyone else because he doesn’t speak politics; he speaks his heart.
“I’m not in hiding. And I’m not afraid of anyone.”
Would people be so outraged at Putin without him? They weren’t when Russia took Georgia in 2008. They weren’t when Russia took Crimea in 2014. They weren’t when Russia attacked Donestk and Lugansk in 2014. Things didn’t change until 2019, when Zelenskyy became President.
“I’m not iconic. Ukraine is iconic.”
Sorry, Mr. President. As the quotes here illustrate, you are iconic too.
“This might be the last time you see me alive.”
I really hope not.