Crisis in Ukraine: Through TikTok and textbooks, American teens getting front-row seat to history

Bucks County Courier Times

Crisis in Ukraine: Through TikTok and textbooks, American teens getting front-row seat to history

Lillian Wu – March 7, 2022

While watching the Winter Olympics last month, I wondered if history was repeating itself in Russia. I’d read about a military buildup on the Russian-Ukrainian border since October, and now, I couldn’t help but think about how Putin had sent troops to Crimea right after the 2014 Winter Olympics.

In the days leading up to the invasion, I was surprised to see how transparent the White House was being with intelligence information. I associated foreign conflicts as spars handled by intelligence agencies and executive privilege and Cold War secrecy. The White House revealing that it had intercepted information about Russia’s plans was an invitation to Americans and the rest of the world to take a front row seat and keep up with events in real time.

I also imagine that the transparency was meant to counter and paralyze the potency of parallel disinformation from the Kremlin.

The result of the US’s swift response to Russia is a rare unity across the country about the need to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty, as evidenced by applause from both sides of the aisle at Biden’s recent State of the Union address.

What is twiplomacy?: What the Russia-Ukraine conflict can teach us about diplomacy in the age of social media

More from Lily Wu: What we can learn from the saga of tennis great Novak Djokovic

When Putin invaded on Feb, 24, four days after the Olympics ended, I observed the conflict from two perspectives: that of a teenager and that of a history student.

As a teenager, I was again reminded that we live in a world of instant information. Rather than seeing video footage of the war through a medium like TV, I could swipe a few times on TikTok and see a video recorded by an eyewitness.

For teenagers all over the world, the accessibility of these videos is eye-opening: We are seeing these primary accounts because those filming are not separate from us. The difference between us and refugees is random chance that we were born in the U.S. and not Ukraine.

A Ukrainian Army soldier inspects fragments of a downed aircraft in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday. It was unclear what aircraft crashed and what brought it down amid the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
A Ukrainian Army soldier inspects fragments of a downed aircraft in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday. It was unclear what aircraft crashed and what brought it down amid the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

Seeing 15-second footage of refugees crowding onto trains on route to Poland, of a car barely squeezing out of the fumes from a nearby missile strike, even of Russian soldiers crying in interrogation and saying that they’d been told the invasion was just an exercise, has reminded me to adjust my perspective of my troubles and appreciate how lucky I am.

Not all the footage is disheartening, either — the Ukrainian people have proven themselves to be very brave, not least with President Zelensky joining the defense himself.

It is heartening to see unity from the West in its sanctions against Russia. Before the invasion, the trans-Atlantic relationship seemed to be leaning toward the “strategic autonomy” championed by French President Macron. Putin united the West against him, and it did so in a sweeping fashion, with countries like Switzerland breaking its tradition of neutrality, and Germany not allowing weapons to be transported through the country, respectively. The biggest economic sanction passed, banning Russia from SWIFT, also is an amazing precedent.

As a student, all kinds of connections to what I studied in world history last year fired in my head when watching the news.

Most obvious is Putin’s “justification” for war being to rescue Russians in Ukraine, mirroring Hitler’s claims of rescuing Germans in Czechoslovakia. As in 1939, Europe is trying to recover from the economic and emotional fallout of a war — in 1939, it was World War I and the influenza; in 2022, it is the COVID-19 pandemic. The difference this time around is that Europe has learned that appeasement will not work, even if there is still rebuilding to do at home.

Putin’s justification for invasion, including Ukraine historically belonging to Russia, is ironic. Historically, Russia belonged to the Mongols. Historically, parts of France belong to the Greeks. Given Europe’s history with territory wars, Putin’s claim opens a can of worms.

I think it’s possible that another one of Putin’s reasons for war is to distract Russians from his domestic troubles. The dissident Alexei Navalny has found some success gathering an opposition and rousing protestors, causing Putin enough trouble to warrant an assassination attempt in August. He is still active now in support of Ukraine. Thousands of Russians have been arrested for domestic protests against the Kremlin.

The latest on the conflict: Ukraine calls Russia’s proposed evacuation routes ‘unacceptable’; more talks planned Monday: Live updates

Of course, a real revolution by the people is no easy feat, but in the face of an escalating war and imminent economic attrition, maybe Russians could make their anger heard.

To me, that evokes an image reminiscent of the October Revolution, when Lenin led Russian civilians in a coup against the tsar and birthed the Soviet Union. One of Russians’ grievances in 1917 was an unpopular war. Could Navalny be a new Lenin? I don’t know. A revolution materializing, though, would be like coming full circle for Russia — as the will of the people created the Soviet empire, so could the will of the people topple the vestiges of the Soviet empire embodied by Vladimir Putin.

I don’t know enough to predict anything that will happen with this war; few people can. But in this past week, I’ve been reminded a lot of Mark Twain’s quote: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

If history can offer Ukrainians and the rest of the world any comfort, it is that allied forces will prevail.

Lily Wu
Lily Wu

Lily Wu is a junior at Hatboro-Horsham High School in Pennsylvania. She’s editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, on the girls’ varsity tennis team and runs a book club with friends. She loves Greek mythology.

Escape Routes Are Land Mined as Tanks Arrive in Kyiv Suburbs

Daily Beast

Escape Routes Are Land Mined as Tanks Arrive in Kyiv Suburbs

Barbie Latza Nadeau – March 7, 2022

Carlos Barria/Reuters
Carlos Barria/Reuters

As delegations from Ukraine and Russia prepare for a third attempt at negotiations in the 12-day-old war, increased fighting has created scenes of chaos across the beleaguered nation.

Russian tanks were spotted in the Kyiv suburb of Irpin where thousands of people are crammed into apartment high rises, vulnerable to Russian missile attacks. As shelling picked up pace on Monday, women, children and elderly men crammed onto trains out of the city headed west in what has become an increasingly desperate situation for those who still can’t quite believe their country is being invaded. The United Nations predicts that at least 5 million Ukrainians will be displaced in the war.

As bullets rained down over the port city of Mariupol, which has seen some of the deadliest clashes of the war so far, a ceasefire agreement meant to allow civilians to escape has again been breached after neither side reportedly put down their weapons. The director of the International Committee of the Red Cross told the BBC on Monday that even if the ceasefire is honored, the way out is extremely dangerous. Some of his staff were trying to leave town along a path designated safe only to find it had been laced with land mines. It is unclear who laid the mines, but both sides blamed the other. “The road indicated to them was actually mined,” Dominik Stillhart told BBC Monday. “That is why it is so important that the two parties have a precise agreement for us then to be able to facilitate it on the ground.”

<div class="inline-image__credit">Carlos Barria/Reuters</div>
Carlos Barria/Reuters

The escape routes that have been offered so far have proved to be a boobytrap with civilians fleeing the war bombed over the weekend.-

A spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Reuters on Monday that civilians have been granted a safe route out of Kharkiv, but only heading straight to Russia or Belarus, which has aligned itself as Russia’s chief ally in this war. “They are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine,” he told Reuters, calling Russia’s invitation “completely immoral” accusing Russia of simply doing it for optics, to “use people’s suffering to create a television picture.”

British government minister James Cleverly called the corridor to Russia “cynical beyond belief,” telling BBC News: “Providing evacuation into the arms of the country that is currently destroying yours is a nonsense.”

Meanwhile, fighting rages on across the country with air raid sirens ringing out in the port city of Odessa and Russian tanks now concentrating on southern cities. “The Russian occupation forces command is shifting its focus to the South, trying to deprive Ukraine of access to the Black and Azov Seas, which, in their opinion, will create conditions for economic suppression of the Ukrainian Resistance,” Ukraine National Security and Defense Council posted on Facebook. “The enemy does not give up hopes to seize Kyiv and mounts resources to encircle Dnipro.”

Mayor of Kharkiv says Russian military is ‘purposefully’ targeting residential buildings

The Week

Mayor of Kharkiv says Russian military is ‘purposefully’ targeting residential buildings

Catherine Garcia, Night editor – March 4, 2022

The aftermath of shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
The aftermath of shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images

The mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, believes that Russian forces are “intentionally trying to eliminate Ukrainian people” by targeting civilian areas, he told CNN on Friday.

Mayor Ihor Terekhov said that since Russian troops arrived in the city, “the situation has been extremely difficult.” Kharkiv “has been hard impacted by continuous bombardment,” he continued. “Planes are flying constantly, [rockets] are being launched, grenades are launched, and residential houses are being hit.”

Ukrainian troops are not being housed or stationed in residential areas, Terekhov said, which means Russia is “purposefully hitting” civilian buildings. Since the siege began in Kharkiv this week, “a great number” of civilians have been killed, and many more wounded, Terekhov said. Ukraine’s State Emergency Service released numbers on Thursday, saying in 24 hours, 34 civilians were killed and 285 injured.

Photos: Ukraine’s civilian forces grow as more enlist in the fight against Russia

NPR – The Picture Show

Photos: Ukraine’s civilian forces grow as more enlist in the fight against Russia

Marco Storel – March 4, 2022

Editor’s note: Graphic content

Yevghen Zbormyrsky, 49, runs in front of his burning home after it was shelled in the city of Irpin, Ukraine, outside the country’s capital of Kyiv, on Friday, March 4.Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images

Russian military forces have invaded Ukraine.

The wide-scale incursion began on Thursday, Feb. 24. Ukraine’s military has claimed that Russia has faced steep casualties as a result of fierce fighting; the Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged Wednesday, March 2, that 498 Russian troops had been killed and another 1,597 injured in the “special military operation.”

Oksana is hugged by her son, Dmytro, during a funeral for her husband, Volodymyr Nezhenets, in the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday, March 4. A small group of reservists buried their comrade after Nezhenets was one of three killed on Saturday, Feb. 26, in an ambush Ukrainian authorities say was caused by Russian “saboteurs.”Emilio Morenatti/AP

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, an estimated 1 million have fled to neighboring E.U. states, according to the United Nations. Tens of thousands have also enlisted in the military in the week since Russia’s invasion began. Ukraine’s defense ministry reported Thursday, March 3, that they’d get help from roughly 16,000 military volunteers, too.

EUROPE
A closer look at the volunteers who are signing up to fight the Russians

Russian and Ukrainian leaders held cease-fire negotiations on Monday, Feb. 28, but they ended with no breakthrough to end the fighting. A second round of talks Thursday, March 3, ended with an agreement to hold a third round “very soon.”

The head of Russia’s delegation said the countries had agreed to establish humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians and agreed on the “possibility” of a temporary ceasefire during humanitarian operations.

U.S. officials had said for weeks that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was imminent, a warning that Russia, in turn, dismissed as scaremongering. U.S. President Joe Biden warned of a “catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.”Sponsor Message

The U.S. has joined international partners in levying heavy new sanctions against Russia’s military and economy in the days since the invasion began. President Biden has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country would bear the costs of the attack.

A bus is riddled with holes from a machine gun after an ambush in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday, March 4. Emilio Morenatti/AP

Ukrainian artillerymen keep position in the Luhansk region on Wednesday, March 2. Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Kyiv on March 3, 2022. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the West on March 3, 2022, to increase military aid to Ukraine, saying Russia would advance on the rest of Europe otherwise. “If you do not have the power to close the skies, then give me planes!” Zelensky said at a press conference. Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

A child learns how to use an AK-47 assault rifle during a self-defense course for civilians in the outskirts of Lviv, in western Ukraine, on Friday, March 4. Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images

People remove personal belongings from a burning house after being shelled in the city of Irpin, Ukraine, outside the country’s capital of Kyiv, on Friday, March 4. Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images

Women and children try to get onto a train bound for Lviv, Ukraine, at Kyiv’s train station Thursday, March 3. Ukrainian men have been conscripted to fight in the war while hundreds of thousands of women and children flee the country to seek refuge in neighboring nations that are members of the EU. Emilio Morenatti/AP

Stanislav, 40, says goodbye to his son, David, 2, and his wife, Anna, 35, on a train to Lviv, Ukraine, at Kyiv’s train station Thursday, March 3. Stanislav was staying to fight while his family was leaving the country to seek refuge in a neighboring country. Emilio Morenatti/AP

A newborn baby is seen in the bomb shelter of a maternity hospital Tuesday, March 2, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

A woman sits in a tent as people take shelter in a subway station turned into a bomb shelter Wednesday, March 2, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Members of a territorial defense unit prepare to deploy to various parts of the city on Tuesday, March 2, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

A Ukrainian serviceman walks past as fire and smoke rises over a damaged logistics center after being shelled Thursday, March 3, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Local militiaman Valery, 37, carries a child as he helps a fleeing family across a bridge destroyed by artillery on the outskirts Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday, March 2. Emilio Morenatti/AP

A boy uses a tablet sitting in a metro car at an underground station being used as bomb shelter in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday, March 2. On the seventh day of fighting in Ukraine, Russia claimed to control the southern port city of Kherson, street battles raged in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, and Kyiv braced for an expected assault by a nearby convoy of Russian forces. Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images

A woman cries as she leaves a house damaged by a Russian airstrike, according to locals, in Gorenka, Ukraine, just outside the country’s capital of Kyiv on Wednesday, March 2. Vadim Ghirda/AP

A group of women and a boy walk to the train station as they try to leave Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday, March 2. Emilio Morenatti/AP

A blast is seen engulfing a TV tower in Kyiv, Ukraine, amid Russia’s continuing invasion Tuesday, March 1. Carlos Barria/Reuters

An armed man stands by the remains of a Russian military vehicle in Bucha, Ukraine, close to the nation’s capital of Kyiv, on Tuesday, March 1. Serhii Nuzhnenko/AP

A member of the Ukrainian Emergency Service surveys damage to Kharkiv’s City Hall in the city’s central square following shelling Tuesday, March 1. Russian strikes pounded the square in the country’s second-largest city — in addition to other civilian sites Tuesday — in what the country’s president condemned as a blatant campaign of terror by Moscow. Pavel Dorogoy/AP

Members of a Ukrainian civil defense unit pass new assault rifles to the opposite side of a blown up bridge on Kyiv’s northern front on Tuesday, March 1. Satellite photos showed a Russian convoy stretching for about 40 miles and advancing slowly toward the capital Tuesday. Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images

A girl draws at a table set up in the bomb shelter at the Okhmadet Children’s Hospital in Kyiv, on Tuesday, March 1. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Mothers tend to their children undergoing cancer treatments on Saturday, Feb. 28, in the bomb shelter of the oncology ward at Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

German citizen Boris carries his baby Josephine to a train evacuating residents to western regions of Ukraine on Monday, Feb. 28, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Josephine was born two days ago from a Ukrainian surogate mother in Kyiv. Boris and his wife, Margarete, said they were registered on the German embassy’s evacuation list. Pierre Crom/Getty Images

Ukrainian volunteers sort donated clothes for later distribution to the local population in Lviv, western Ukraine, on Wednesday, March 2. Bernat Armangue/AP

A man looks at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Serhii Nuzhnenko/AP

Nigerian students in Ukraine wait at the platform in Lviv’s railway station on Sunday, Feb. 27. Thousands of people massed at Lviv’s main train station on Sunday, attempting to board trains to leave Ukraine. Bernat Armangue/AP

A couple embraces before the woman boards a train leaving for western Ukraine, at the railway station in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, on Sunday. The U.N. refugee agency says nearly 120,000 people have so far fled Ukraine into neighboring countries in the wake of the Russian invasion. Andriy Andriyenko/AP

Democrat wants Biden to defy Putin by staging a Berlin-like airlift to save Kyiv

Yahoo! News

Democrat wants Biden to defy Putin by staging a Berlin-like airlift to save Kyiv

Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman –  March 4, 2022

WASHINGTON — The United States should start planning for a Berlin airlift-style operation to save the people of Kyiv from Russian encirclement and start considering the deployment of NATO troops to western Ukraine, said Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a former assistant secretary of state for human rights under former President Barack Obama.

“We are going to have to face some tough choices in the coming weeks,” Malinowski said in an interview on the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast. “We need to be bold. It’s a new world.” Malinowski acknowledged that such actions would be “very, very risky,” especially the introduction of NATO troops — a move that could lead to a direct confrontation with the Russian military. And yet, Malinowski said, the alternative might well be Russian troops on the border of Poland, Romania and Hungary as well as “the complete elimination of the Ukrainian state.”

What follows is an edited transcript of Malinowski’s conversation with “Skullduggery” hosts Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman.

Michael Isikoff: So we have all been watching in horror the savagery of the Russian attack on Ukraine. The question at this juncture — after the bombing of the nuclear reactor, the use of cluster bombs targeting civilians — are we doing enough to stop Vladimir Putin?

Tom Malinowski: I don’t know if he can be stopped. I know that he can be made to lose, I know that we can ensure that, as terrible as this is, he and his regime and what he stands for come out of this defeated and that the United States and our allies come out stronger and more united. I had a list for the Biden administration of a whole bunch of things I wanted them to do two weeks ago, one week ago. They’ve done most of those things. … But we are also going to have to face some tough choices in the coming weeks. There are some decisions we haven’t made yet that Putin might force us to make as this gets worse and worse.

Daniel Klaidman: So what are some of those tough choices?

Malinowski: Imagine Kyiv is totally surrounded in the coming days and weeks. Right now, we’re getting supplies in and out, food, ammunition, everything else. But if it’s completely blockaded, do we launch something like the [1948] Berlin airlift, where American military aircraft are flying in supplies to the people who are defending that city? It would be consistent with Biden’s policy. It wouldn’t be shooting at the Russians, it would be daring them to shoot at us, though, and of course it would be very, very risky.

Klaidman: Why wouldn’t they shoot at us under those circumstances, if they have Kyiv surrounded and they’re trying to cut off supplies going into the city and we start flying them in?

Malinowski: They didn’t shoot at us when we were flying stuff into Berlin because that would have been starting the war. … The rules of the road between the United States and Russia set during the Cold War are that we can fight each other with proxies but we don’t fight each other directly because that would trigger potentially a catastrophic, potentially nuclear war. … I think we need to be bold. If you look at the history of the Berlin airlift, it was successful in a practical sense. It got food to people in Berlin who needed it, but it was also a huge moral and psychological victory for the United States in the Cold War.

Klaidman: Do you know if the Biden administration is actively considering that?

Malinowski: I think they’re aware that we may face this kind of circumstance. I raised it in a hearing at the Foreign Affairs Committee a couple days ago with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. … We need to be bold. It’s a new world.

Tom Malinowski
Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J,, at a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in September 2020. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool via Reuters)

Isikoff: Is Putin a rational actor at this point?

Malinowski: If you’d asked me a few years ago, maybe even a few months ago, I would have said that the man is evil, but rational. Ruthless, but not disconnected from reality. I’m having second thoughts about that [laughs] right now because he seems to have deceived himself about what Ukraine has become over the last 10 years, how united the people of Ukraine are in believing in their own national identity and independence and European path, how even the Russian speaking population of Ukraine hates the idea of this Russian aggression and, of course, how fiercely Ukrainians would resist a Russian invasion. He seems to have believed his propaganda in this case, with disastrous consequences for himself and for his country.

Isikoff: So if he’s not a rational actor, how does that change the calculus about what we do?

Malinowski: He certainly wants us to believe right now that he’s capable of anything and he wants us, with that possibility in mind, to hesitate in taking certain steps to protect Ukraine. And I think it would be irresponsible for us not to take into account the possibility that he might do incredibly dangerous things. And yet, at the same time, I don’t think he starts a nuclear war over humanitarian aid deliveries or even deliveries of ammunition.

Klaidman: You said that this is a new world. For Americans who may say, “Well, this is happening half a world away from me, it doesn’t really affect my life,” what would you tell them?

Malinowski: When Hitler seized part of Czechoslovakia in 1938, it was a small country half a world away, it didn’t affect any of our lives, but I think we understand today that it opened a Pandora’s box — that once you establish that big countries can swallow up small countries, that aggressive dictatorships can change borders with tanks, then all hell breaks loose in the world. Every single border in the world is artificial. And once borders are up for grabs, once borders can be erased by whoever has the power to do it, we’re back in the world that led to the Second World War.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters

Isikoff: You were recently in Ukraine, shortly before the invasion, and you met with President Zelensky. As you have watched events unfold over the last 10 days, have you been surprised by the way the Russians have gone in and the strength of the Ukrainian resistance led by Zelensky?

Malinowski: I’m impressed. I’m inspired. I’m not surprised. Every Ukrainian I spoke to when we were in Kyiv a month ago said they would fight and it didn’t seem like false bravado to me. It felt very real. They are motivated. They’re protecting their homes. They’re protecting their freedom. They’re protecting their families. I’m not surprised that the Russians are disorganized and demoralized. When Putin lies to his generals, his generals have to lie to their officers and the officers have to lie to their frontline troops. No one was in a position to tell those Russian soldiers that they were going to a foreign country that would resist them and fight for every single inch.

Isikoff: Is that just really bad intelligence by the Russians to not know the ferocity of the resistance they would face or they were just afraid to tell the truth to Vladimir Putin?

Malinowski: It’s just a lie. It’s what happens when you have a government that is based on lies. There’s no process in the Kremlin where the dictator gets intelligence briefings from people who tell him what he doesn’t want to hear. This is a one-man dictatorship. And, by the way, Russia’s not had a one-man dictatorship since Stalin.

Klaidman: How concerned were you about the attack on the nuclear plant?

Malinowski: It seems to me they could have destroyed it fairly easily with an artillery barrage. So maybe it was a deliberate attempt to terrorize us and the Ukrainians by getting close to the plant.

Isikoff: If Putin is in fact as you say the most powerful dictator in Russia since Stalin, it does raise the question, can he be deposed?

Malinowski: Putin’s behavior is driven by the knowledge that he can be deposed. This is why he fears Ukraine because Ukraine is the country closest to Russia in history and culture and geography where the people did depose a corrupt and authoritarian leader. He hates the example that the Ukrainians set for the Russian people. This is why he wants to crush the place. So he’s paranoid about it. But it is incredibly hard.

Klaidman: If Russia succeeds in taking over the country, then the war against a sovereign nation might be over. But an insurgency will just be starting. What role should the U.S. play in that effort? Should we be training insurgents on the ground in Ukraine or is that too dangerous for us?

Malinowski: So two things here. No. 1, the Russians may be able to, probably will be able to defeat the Ukrainian army in the cities that they’re attacking, but there’s no way that they can hold and govern these places. They may have had the fantasy of installing a puppet government in Kyiv, but who the heck is gonna follow that government? Who — civil servants aren’t going to go into their offices. There’s no police or military force in Ukraine that can enforce the orders of such a government. So that means the Russians will have to stay in force, and if they stay in force, they will be targets because they’re hated overwhelmingly by pretty much everybody there.

Now, what do we do about it? One of the big question marks right now is what happens to western Ukraine. The assumption of the Western policymakers was that at the beginning of this was that the worst-case scenario was Putin takes Kyiv and Kharkiv and southern Ukraine, but that he was not going to even try to go as far as Western Ukraine, the city of Lviv [near] the Polish border. Because this is the most Western-oriented, nationalistic, non-Russian-speaking part of the country. I think all bets are off right now. I think he, Putin, right now wants to take the whole damn thing. … And if he is planning to go for it, I think it does raise more serious questions about a Western military intervention. A no-fly zone would require the United States to shoot at Russians from the get-go. But would we consider, for example, preemptively with NATO allies putting a force in western Ukraine, drawing a line and saying, “You’re not crossing that line. We’re gonna have a divided Ukraine like East and West Germany, North and South Korea during the Cold War.”

Journalists visit the site of a rocket attack launched by Russian invaders
Journalists visit the site of a rocket attack launched by Russian invaders that hit the Vasylkiv Professional College in northern Ukraine. (Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Isikoff: Are you urging such a course right now?

Malinowski: I think it’s something we have to be thinking about.

Isikoff: To put in U.S. military troops on the ground in western Ukraine to deter the Russians?

Malinowski: I think we do need to at least think through the potential risks and benefits of having a NATO force, not necessarily U.S. troops, but obviously it would have to be guaranteed if we did this by U.S. air power in that portion of Ukraine.

Klaidman: So that’s an area where the Russians currently are not present at all, so there would be no risk of a shooting war?

Malinowski: Imagine they do take Kyiv and even Odessa. They’re going to be battered. They’re not going to be in much of a position to take on a Western military or any military after that. All they will have is the nuclear option. And of course that’s the scary part. Would they initiate such a war under those circumstances is the question that policy makers would have to ask.

Isikoff: That seems like a pretty big risk to take if we’re talking about whether the Russians might initiate a nuclear war.

Malinowski: It is perhaps a very big risk. On the other hand, the alternative might be the Russian army on the Polish border, on the Romanian border, on the Hungarian border, the complete elimination of the Ukrainian state.

Donald Trump looks increasingly like a stray orange hair to be flicked off the nation’s sleeve

Washington Post – Opinion

Donald Trump looks increasingly like a stray orange hair to be flicked off the nation’s sleeve

By George F. Will, Columnist – March 4, 2022

Floundering in his attempts to wield political power while lacking a political office, Donald Trump looks increasingly like a stray orange hair to be flicked off the nation’s sleeve. His residual power, which he must use or lose, is to influence his party’s selection of candidates for state and federal offices. This is, however, perilous because he has the power of influence only if he is perceived to have it. That perception will dissipate if his interventions in Republican primaries continue to be unimpressive.

So, Trump must try to emulate the protagonist of “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” In Mark Twain’s novel, a 19th-century American is transported back in time to Britain in the year 528. He gets in trouble, is condemned to death, but remembers that a solar eclipse occurred on the date of his scheduled execution. He saves himself by vowing to extinguish the sun but promising to let it shine again if his demands are met.

Trump is faltering at the business of commanding outcomes that are, like Twain’s eclipse, independent of his interventions. Consider the dilemma of David Perdue.

He is a former Republican senator because Trump, harping on the cosmic injustice of his November loss in 2020, confused and demoralized Georgia Republicans enough to cause Perdue’s defeat by 1.2 percentage points in the January 2021 runoff. Nevertheless, Trump talked Perdue into running in this year’s gubernatorial primary against Georgia’s Republican incumbent, Brian Kemp, whom Trump loathes because Kemp spurned Trump’s demand that Georgia’s presidential vote be delegitimized. In a February poll, Kemp led Perdue by 10 points.

Trump failed in his attempt to boost his preferred Senate candidate in North Carolina, Rep. Ted Budd, by pressuring a rival out of the race. As of mid-January, Budd was trailing in the polls. Trump reportedly might endorse a second Senate candidate in Alabama, his first endorsement, of Rep. Mo Brooks, having been less than earthshaking. Trump has endorsed Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin in the gubernatorial primary against Gov. Brad Little. A poll published in January: Little 59 percent, McGeachin 18 percent. During Trump’s presidency, a majority of Republicans said they were more supporters of Trump than of the GOP. That has now reversed.

Trump is an open book who has been reading himself to the nation for 40 years. In that time, he has changed just one important word in his torrent of talk: He has replaced “Japan” with “China” in assigning blame for our nation’s supposed anemia. He is an entertainer whose repertoire is stale.

A European war is unhelpful for Trump because it reminds voters that Longfellow was right: Life is real, life is earnest. Trump’s strut through presidential politics was made possible by an American reverie; war in Europe has reminded people that politics is serious.

From Capitol Hill to city halls, Democrats have presided over surges of debtinflationcrimepandemic authoritarianism and educational intolerance. Public schools, a point of friction between citizens and government, are hostages of Democratic-aligned teachers unions that have positioned K-12 education in an increasingly adversarial relationship with parents. The most lethal threat to Democrats, however, is the message Americans are hearing from the party’s media-magnified progressive minority: You should be ashamed of your country.

Trump’s message is similar. He says this country is saturated with corruption, from the top, where dimwits represent the evidently dimwitted voters who elected them, down to municipalities that conduct rigged elections. Progressives say the nation’s past is squalid and not really past; Trump says the nation’s present is a disgrace.

Speaking of embarrassments: We are the sum of our choices, and Vladimir Putin has provoked some Trump poodles to make illuminating ones. Their limitless capacity for canine loyalty now encompasses the Kremlin war criminal. (The first count against Nazi defendants at Nuremberg: “Planning, preparation, initiation and waging of wars of aggression.”) For example, the vaudevillian-as-journalist Tucker Carlson, who never lapses into logic, speaks like an arrested-development adolescent: Putin has never called me a racist, so there.

J.D. Vance, groveling for Trump’s benediction (Vance covets Ohio’s Republican Senate nomination), two weeks ago said: “I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine.” Apparently upon discovering that Ohio has 43,000 Ukrainian Americans, Vance underwent a conviction transplant, saying, “Russia’s assault on Ukraine is unquestionably a tragedy,” and emitting clouds of idolatry for Trump’s supposedly Metternichian diplomacy regarding Putin.

For Trump, the suppurating wound on American life, and for those who share his curdled venom, war is a hellacious distraction from their self-absorption. Fortunately, their ability to be major distractions is waning.