Don Rogers: Ripple effects from Ukraine
In Ukraine now, AK-47s are handed out like candy.
Babushkas and kids, moms and dads, students and soldiers have taken up arms to battle overwhelming odds. Kyiv yet stands. Their leader hasn’t left.
They have weathered worse than this latest invasion. Seven million Ukranians died in World War II and 4 million during Joseph Stalin’s reforms that led to famine.
The vision of citizens fighting in the streets for their country touches an American mythology we know well through our Westerns and Revolutionary War tales.
We marvel at their courage, their doggedness under fire, their conviction taking up arms in testament to the original intent of our own 2nd Amendment, a “militia being necessary” …
We’re mortified from the safety of our living rooms, lit blue, oceans between us and that “genius” Vladimir Putin and his stormtroopers.
Those invincible Russians have yet to cow the Ukranians, who have at least slowed an army eight times their size and promise a tough insurgency ahead in the defense of democracy. The cost will be dear.
For our part, well, we’ll pay more for gas.
Americans seeing validation in widespread gun ownership might check the statistics. Before now, Ukraine ranked 88th in the world with enough private firearms for one of every 10 civilians.
The United States is the big outlier in private gun ownership, with 5% of the world population owning 40% of the weaponry. We have more guns than people, enough for 1.2 of these weapons for every man, woman, child.
Second place trails way, way behind at 6.2 guns per 10 citizens in the Falkland Islands, of all places. Then Yemen at 5.2 and on down from there. Switzerland checks in at 19th with 2.8 and progressive idyll New Zealand at 20th, with 2.6 of every 10 citizens possessing a firearm. Taiwan rounds out this list at 230th, with statistically zero weapons per capita. This according to the Small Arms Survey, part of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.
Yet we rank only second to Brazil in sheer number of people shot to death each year, around 45,000. For gun murders per capita, Latin American countries easily squeeze us out of the top 10. We’re No. 2 per capita to Greenland in fatally shooting ourselves.
As any well-versed member of the NRA will tell you, though, guns don’t kill. So the question hangs: Would Americans have the stomach for what Ukraine’s exceptional citizens have taken on?
This is far from the first fake news war. Propaganda aimed at shaking up the enemy no doubt has been with humanity since we learned to speak. In world wars, planes from all sides bombed countrysides and cities with leaflets as well as bombs. It is far more intense and timely now through social media.
But Russia’s vaunted disinformation has been derailed along with that convoy with ample doses of truth this time around. American and NATO intelligence called out Putin’s moves before he could carry them out.
The world outside can plainly see the lies perhaps never so clearly nor quickly, and certainly Ukranians know this war up close and personal.
Russians at home get a whole ’nother story between the country shutting down feeds and state media following the state script. Sad stories are coming out of Ukraine about family members in Russia who don’t believe them about what’s happening. Of course Russian soldiers would never lob shells at civilians, who after all are the targets of Nazi genocide under the thumb of their president (who happens to be Jewish).
And we think we suffer from a Big Lie?
How might our politics change through Ukraine? This has been a little delicate for the Republican Party and conservative pundits, until very recently apologists for Putin.
The pivot is on full feather from derision of the current president allegedly making too much of the threat of Russian invasion to painting pictures of not doing enough to keep it from happening. Chicken hawks are scrabbling and squawking now to the front of the hardest line.
That RINO Mitt Romney does look like a savant with his assessment in 2012 about the world’s No. 1 military threat, and the wing fluffing up for the ex-president, still enamored with Putin even as the assault began, seems a little lost at the moment.
Hard to imagine, but Ukraine could very well tip the congressional midterm elections back the Democrats’ way. That would be akin to a butterfly’s wings in one part of the world causing a hurricane in the other.
These observations all wrap into one final image, at least for me, in the wake of a former aide of the ex and perhaps future president retweeting Russian disinformation that Zelensky had fled Kyiv and Ukraine.
“I need ammunition, not a ride,” Ukraine’s president retorted to an offer of help to escape.
That’s what I’m thinking about while filling the tank.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299
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