The Weekend Australian, 19/3/2022
I have two Australian friends who live in Kyiv and have decided to stay and help. I have friends in my home state from Slovakia, Estonia and Israel. None of them can understand the complacency that often greets them, that so many seem not to understand the gravity of this war and the potential for miscalculations that will send us into WW3 and a nuclear conflagration.
As if there has not been enough horror.
A small group of us have a Ukrainian flag that we hang here and there. Some, when offered it, have said:
“Oh, we don’t want to take sides.”
“Oh, its nothing to do with us. Let’s stay out of it.”
“Oh, we support it, but we don’t want to get involved.”
One problem is that many have no idea of the history surrounding the war and only have snippets they have grabbed at random.
History? Yes, not surprising, given the study of history is in decline in schools and being removed from university offerings.
Sadly, history was the only subject I loved in school and the study of it has remained with me my entire lift.
Allow me, please, to offer a brief.
Putin is a certifiable psychopath. This is a constant.
As the USSR was falling apert, James Baker, US Secretary of State, promised General Secretary of the USSR Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev, that NATO would not move eastward.
In the second term of President Clinton, NATO moved eastward.
NATO, the EU and the US bungled their relationships with Russia, humiliating it with a determination by some to render it a “third rate country”. For those in Putin’s inner circle, ex Soviets, ex KGB, revenge has been a driver. Also, of course, given the blessing of a Soviet mentality, you will need enemies. And you will need control, over your media, your people, and you will rule with a brutal fist.
Putin was a KGB agent in Dresden. He was a psychopath. He did not become one because of decisions by NATO and the EU. He moved to St Petersburg, where he nurtured a gang he took with him to Moscow. They have stuck together. If one falls out, he is dead. Or disappears.
In Moscow, soon enough, Yeltsin needed him.I watched the entire series of interviews with Putin conducted by Oliver Stone, the film director. I one episode featuring Yeltsin, it is clear the befuddled old man is scared of Putin.
Yeltsin was a buffoon. Putin was a psychopath. Trump was/is a buffoon, a different kind to Yeltsin, but both were in awe of the psychopath.
NATO stuffed things up. The EU and the US stuffed things up. This is not to suggest that NATO, the US and the EU are responsible for the current madness. Far from it, because even if they had allowed Russia into both, this does not mean all would have ended sweetly, because Putin was, is, remains, a psychopath, a very intelligent version, with an excellent grasp of history that he can twist in any direction. He knows this because most he meets cannot match his knowledge, or ability to twist.
What is important in any complicated tale is that all parties and contributions are recognised, otherwise we finish up yelling dogma and finding one participant to blame for everything.
Now Europe is exploding. Schools, hospitals, libraries, homes, apartment blocks, queues for food, are being bombed at the instruction of the psychopath. Over three million refugees have fled. His orders are carried out by psychopaths, or those in fear of psychopaths, who those who are in awe of psychopaths.
Madness. Fear. Inhumanity. Hatred. For what? Who knows? We can only guess. The psychopath rules with fear and unpredictability.
If you knew all this, would this hold you back from hoisting a flag?
And me? I am more afraid than I was in 1956, when the USSR stormed into Hungary, and 1968 when the USSR stormed into Czechoslovakia and in 1973/74, when I lived on a kibbutz in the north of Israel.
This is not the first time Putin has obliterated a city, a country, while others have stood by.
You want a parallel from history?
For the sake of Ukraine, for Europe, for humanity, please, pay attention, hang a flag, send money, take a position.