COWARDICE, SELF-INTEREST, AND STUPIDITY: HOW NOT TO LEAD
A month into the disgusting attack by Putin and the Russian military against Ukraine, I write this post not in response to Putin, but in reaction to leaders of the west, NATO, and the United Nations. The bravery and resolve of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the people of that country, in fighting a force ten times larger in terms of troops and weaponry is highly inspirational. Russian forces have been halted in some instances, stalled in most, and even pushed back, despite Ukraine forces being sadly deficient in weapons of offense. They need these weapons to survive and win, and without them are being pummeled by missile strikes, with citizens bearing much of the suffering. In stark contrast to the very inspirational performance of President Zelenskyy and Ukraine forces, is that of western leaders, NATO, and the United Nations, characterized by cowardice, self-interest, and stupidity, not necessarily in that order. They appear terrified of Putin, and what he might do despite the Russian leader being very calculating, and hence, extremely unlikely to apply long-range nuclear missiles, assuming Russia itself is not attacked. Self-interest is demonstrated by several European leaders wanting to ensure that the flow of Russian oil and natural gas continues, and how turning off the taps might impair their re-election hopes; they appear to be assuming that their citizens are as self-interested as they are, when support for Ukraine is extremely high in almost every country.
Then we come to stupidity, a nasty word but one that I strongly believe applies. It has been said that the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history, and to not learn the key lessons of World War II is frankly stupid, and certainly when applied to world leaders! When Hitler began his campaign of aggression the reaction of the west was generally appeasement, allowing Hitler to grow in confidence and capacity. An early aggressive intervention by the west would likely have ended his ambitions and prevented WWII in Europe. Much like Hitler, dictators like Putin undoubtedly interpret the stance of western leaders as weakness, and they are accurate in that perspective. Putin has expressed how Ukraine is an impediment to his ambitions for Eastern Europe. If Putin and the Russian forces succeed in taking Ukraine, incursions into eastern European countries are inevitable, at least once the Russian army has a chance to rebuild and learn from their mistakes. Then we will have WWIII in all likelihood! It is stupid not to learn from the lessons of history. The rhetoric of “not an inch of NATO soil is to be taken by Russia” is hollow, as if they failed to help Ukraine with weapons of offense, let alone do the ultimate right thing and send troops in to push the Russians into the Crimean Sea, then it is unlikely that they will not try and appease Putin when these incursions start. Giving up on the fight for freedom and democracy against control and autocracy once, means it will likely repeat. Perhaps these western leaders should consider the bravery of Franklin D. Roosevelt during WWII, who despite warnings from his advisors that England was expected to collapse in 6 months, and how Hitler will be upset about the United States delivering weapons, he ignored them and sent all the weapons available. The actions of Winston Churchill, and how his words and behavior guided and inspired the nation, likewise need to be pondered. Following in their footsteps, with his own flair, is Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has acted as a true leader, standing strong and rallying his people and forces to fight the Russian aggressors. If I was a politician, I would want to be remembered as being like one of these three inspirational leaders, and not my performance being characterized by cowardice, self-interested, and stupidity!