The Ukrainian Invasion is a Both a Premonition and a Warning

It’s easy to take democracy for granted. It is only when it is on the brink of destruction that we remember how fragile and important it is.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday morning. The estimated number of casualties as of Thursday night was 137. While the rest of the world sanctions, condemns, and protests the actions of the Russian military, Putin acts as if he has every right to take over a sovereign nation.

In a previous post about this topic, I compared the invasion to when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. A more appropriate comparison is the German takeover of Poland in 1939. This event, as we all know, was the opening salvo of the European theater of World War II.

As both a Jew and an American whose family left Eastern Europe more than a century ago, I am scared and horrified on two points. The first is that Putin claims that he needs to “de-Nazify” Ukraine. Putting aside (momentarily) the continued misuse of the Holocaust-related language and imagery, he ignores the known fact that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also a member of the Jewish faith. Anyone with half a brain can easily see through what is nothing more than a flimsy excuse.

Among the many pieces of video that have been released, the one I find most heartbreaking is the man saying goodbye to his wife and daughter as he prepares to fight for his country. I don’t know about anyone else, but seeing this exchange was nothing short of gutwrenching.

I am equally horrified that several prominent members of the American right (i.e. Republicans) are loudly and proudly flying their pro-Putin flag. What was that about America First? More like Russia First.

I believe that this is a turning point in world history that cannot be ignored. We have two choices. We can pull a Neville Chamberlain and let Putin steamroll over Europe. Or, we can fight back and ensure that our children live in a world in which democracy is respected and protected.

From Russia With News: The Ukrainian Invasion and Kamila Valieva

When the Berlin Wall fell on November 9th, 1989, it was supposed to mark an era of peace and cooperation. Thirty-plus years later, that promise is nothing but empty words.

For the last few weeks, Vladimir Putin has been threatening to invade Ukraine. He also blamed the United States for opening the door to war and demanded that NATO not extend an invite to Ukraine to join this international organization. Thankfully, NATO did not give in.

Putin is not dumb, by any stretch of the imagination. He knows what he wants. He also knows the obstacles that stand in his way. If the Ukrainian government joins NATO, his bully pulpit is diminished considerably. Even if the invitation never comes, the support by the US, the rest of Europe, and NATO might be enough to keep his ambitions at bay.

The question is now, will this turn into the beginning of World War III, or is the rest of the world strong enough to stop Putin? The history nerd in me can’t help but see the similarities of the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938.

While this is happening, a young woman’s life has been forever altered. Kamila Valieva was a favorite among the crowd at the recently concluded 2022 Olympics in Beijing. The expectation that she would return home with a gold medal seemed to be set in stone. During routine testing for banned substances, one was found in her system. This opened the door to questions of cheating and coming home without the highly anticipated first-place status.

My heart breaks for this kid. Getting to this level of competition requires more than talent. The drive that is needed to get to the Olympics is one that many would back away from. I don’t blame her, I blame the adults who were willing to cut corners to win, even if it meant sacrificing their star athlete in the process.

When this news broke, Sha’Carri Richardson spoke out about the obvious racial double standard. While she is 100% correct, what I think we have to remember is that Ms. Richardson is an adult. Ms. Valieva is a minor. It is possible that she may have been coerced or lied to about the reason for taking it.

I was in elementary school when the Berlin Wall fell. I can only hope that today’s elementary school kids will know a world of peace. But it looks like we may going to war, once again.

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