Life vs. Death | National Review

Life vs. Death | National Review

People board an evacuation train from Kyiv to Lviv at the central train station in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 4, 2022. (Gleb Garanich / Reuters)

I know that what is happening in Ukraine is a war. But the word seems a little off to me, and has for weeks. “Unimaginable,” says Hanna Liubakova, the Belarusian journalist. “In Chernihiv, 10 people waiting in line for bread were shot dead.”

Is this not wanton murder, virtually for sport?

How about this? “Hostages as Russian forces occupy hospital.” Patients and doctors — hostage.

Get to know a family a little. “He was everything I could ever dream of, an example of what a man should be,” says a woman named Maryna, of her husband, Myhailo. They were married for 34 years. He was killed in a Russian attack. So was their son, Serhiy — who died in his mother’s arms.

Why is Putin doing this? For what great, glorious objective?

• To save the Russophones! some people say. To save the Russian-speaking people from Ukrainian-speaking Nazis! Oh, bulls***. Here is a picture of a school in Kharkiv, flattened. Here is some footage from (what was) the historic center of Kharkiv.

We are talking about a Russian-speaking city. Putin has done to it what he did to Grozny and Aleppo. He is doing it to other Ukrainian cities, towns, and villages, too. It’s what he does, this destroyer of life. And his fans, worldwide, consider him “strong.”


More like anti-life.

• There will come a day, I hope, when the Russian occupation is no more. The job of reconstruction — physically reconstructing Ukraine — will be immense. I hope they build it back with as much beauty and care as possible, as quickly as possible. It will take a lot of money, and maybe a lot of heart as well.

• You know who Marina Ovsyannikova is — the Russian journalist who interrupted a broadcast of her state television. She held up a sign saying, “No war. Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They lie to you here.” When I took note of this on Twitter, someone responded, “That is Tank Man-level courage.” I thought that was beautifully observed.

Before the fateful moment, Marina Ovsyannikova made a video, saying, “It’s in our power, only, to stop this. Go to protests. Don’t be scared. They can’t arrest us all.”

Are there relatively few bravehearts in Russia? Maybe. Are there relatively few anywhere? Probably. Can you forgive people for keeping their heads down in a “fear society” (as Natan Sharansky says)? Of course.

In any event, I keep thinking of a statement by José Martí, taught to me by Lincoln Diaz-Balart, 20 years ago: “When there are many men who lack honor, there are always others who have within themselves the honor of many men.”

• You saw, probably, that they — the Russian state — are going to impose an additional 13-year sentence on Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader. Such a ’fraidy little man, Putin. Dictators are right to be afraid, really: They know they are illegitimate.

“Putin is popular with his people!” I hear people say. But he doesn’t act like it, does he? Would a leader truly confident of his popularity forbid a free press, imprison his critics, maim them, kill them? Does that make sense to you?

• Vladimir Putin is Soviet to the core. As Vladimir Bukovsky told me, “He is a product of the system. Everything he does comes with a birthmark on it” — a Soviet birthmark. Following operational failures in Ukraine, Putin had his intelligence chiefs arrested. Of course.

• Candace Owens, a star of the American Right, with 3 million Twitter followers, tweeted, “Russian lives matter.” (This was retweeted by the Russian embassy in Washington.) They certainly do matter. And the greatest threat to them? The Russian government, led by Putin. Millions of Russians have gone into exile. They are streaming out now. As documented by the Memorial society, there are more political prisoners in Russia today than there were in the late Soviet period.

Anyone who values Russian lives ought to oppose this dictatorship with all his strength.

Boris Nemtsov’s life mattered. Sergei Magnitsky’s life mattered. Yes, they all matter.

• This is Ukraine’s president, Zelensky, speaking to Russian soldiers: “You won’t take anything from Ukraine. You will take lives. But we will take your lives too. We offer you a choice: If you surrender, we will treat you as people should be treated. With dignity. Not like your army has treated you.”

Well done.

• What about biolabs? Very interesting is a report by Ben Collins and Kevin Collier. Today, “biolabs” is to many Americans what “CrowdStrike” was in 2019. I will refresh your memory, by quoting from a report I wrote from Kyiv, for our December 31, 2019, issue:

Mention CrowdStrike to people, and, if they have heard of it, they don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Many times, Trump has said that CrowdStrike is “a Ukrainian company,” owned by an oligarch. The theory holds that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016. CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity company, ingeniously pinned the hacking on Russia. “The server” is hidden somewhere in Ukraine right now. Etc.

As Tom Bossert, the president’s first homeland-security adviser, said on television last September, this theory has been “completely debunked.” CrowdStrike is, in fact, an American company, based in Sunnyvale, Calif. It was founded in 2011 by three Americans: George Kurtz, Dmitri Alperovitch, and Gregg Marston. The second of those, true, was born in Russia — the Soviet Union, actually (Moscow, 1980). With his family, he emigrated to America when he was a teenager. They lived in Chattanooga. Dmitri went to Georgia Tech.

CrowdStrike, incidentally, is retained by the National Republican Congressional Committee. It seems to be a cybersecurity company of choice.

A little bit more, of continuing importance:

On November 20, Vladimir Putin sounded a triumphant, satisfied note. Speaking to a forum in Moscow, he said, “Thank God, no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore. Now they’re accusing Ukraine.” The next day, Fiona Hill testified before Congress. She is a Russianist, formerly on President Trump’s National Security Council staff. “Based on questions and statements I have heard,” she said, “some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

• A little more from my report, also relevant to our discussions today:

In the past — including the very recent past — Ukraine has had an image among American conservatives and Republicans as a plucky, gritty post-Soviet nation, trying to establish a democracy while fending off the KGB colonel in the Kremlin. There is a John McCain Street in Kyiv. The city council renamed a street in the late senator’s honor earlier this year. During the Euromaidan revolution, McCain came to Kyiv to stand with the protesters. “We are here to support your just cause,” he said, “the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently.” The prospect of going without such support is alarming to Ukrainians.

Nationalists, wherever they live, might be particularly keen on Ukraine — because Ukrainians are struggling for their own nationhood, their own culture, their own identity. They are struggling not to be reabsorbed into an empire. Liberal democrats and nationalists alike might be attracted to Ukraine’s cause.

• I thought Julia Davis said something very astute a few days ago. She is an analyst of the Russian media, and a columnist for the Daily Beast.

Every time the U.S. says “We will defend every inch of NATO territory,” Russia hears, “Take the rest.” One of many examples: Russia’s state TV host Vladimir Soloviev said today, “As I understand it, Moldova, Georgia — whatever isn’t NATO, go right ahead.”

• You may have heard sentiments such as this: “Putin never did anything bad to me, personally.” He hasn’t to me either — if you don’t count such things as trying to kill one of my friends (Vladimir Kara-Murza) and threatening another (Bill Browder). Anyway, I think of Muhammad Ali: “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong.” He added that “no Vietcong ever called me ‘n*****.’”

I can understand Ali’s position. (1) He was refusing induction into the army. (2) He was living in Jim Crow America. Nonetheless, the Vietcong were a murderous, totalitarian movement. And Vladimir Putin today? Any decent person ought to have a quarrel with him, at some level.

Here is Yarema Dukh, a Ukrainian political consultant, tweeting a video and saying,

Have a glimpse of Ukrainian feelings right now. Turn the sound on. That’s me walking on the street I walked as a kid, now listening to the airstrike sirens. Now, remember your neighborhood as a kid and imagine it with the sirens. That will give you a peek at our emotions now.

Here is Inna Sovsun, a member of the Ukrainian parliament:

A month ago I had my life. I had my job, which was frustrating sometimes, but I loved the things I got done. I watched movies with my son and boyfriend. I cooked dinner or we ordered pizza. Went running. Now I wake up to explosions in my city at 5 in the morning.

• Did you see this news photo? An immediate classic, it seemed to me. Hanna Liubakova explained, “Andriy Kulik is trying to comfort his dog, paralyzed by fear. The dog refuses to walk after shelling.”

• I will end this set of notes by quoting Francis Fukuyama, the political philosopher (with whom I podcasted last month). He wrote, “A Russian defeat will make possible a ‘new birth of freedom,’ and get us out of our funk about the declining state of global democracy. The spirit of 1989 will live on, thanks to a bunch of brave Ukrainians.” From his mouth to you-know-whose ear.

Original source

#Life #Death #National #Review

About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.