Prenote: my good friend Louisa has a session on Forgiveness in which you might be interested. The dates Wed March 2, noon; Thursday March 10 6 p.m. Details here. I can attest that Louisa conducts an excellent program.
In the end analysis, Vladimir Putin and all others of his ilk anywhere, including in our own country, is a human being just like us. But….
When I was looking for the book Dr. Paul Farmer autographed for me in 2013 (yesterdays post), it was his “Pathologies of Power” c2003. It has not been out of the bookshelf for years. This might be a good time to reread.
Most all of us are open books, a sum total of our individual lives with all the component parts, our personal history in the universe as it were.
So it is with Vladimir Putin.
At the very least, check out Putin’s early life and background.
A decent, convenient source is found at Wikipedia: Vladimir Putin. Scroll down to the two short sections on Early Life and KGB Career.
Just get a feeling of this current tyrant. It won’t solve anything, but might help understanding as others wrestle with the immense issues we are witnessing live on television every day.
I had a couple of close calls with the person who is Putin back in 2003, when we went on a Baltic Cruise with my Winnipeg cousin and her husband as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
We had two days in St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and in my recollection we signed up for two day long tours. I have the photos, but I can’t access them at this moment so my memory will have to suffice.
June, 2003, was a less than calm time in our own country. On March 19, 2003, the bombing of Iraq began. “Shock and Awe”, you might remember. You might remember, as well, the Project for a New American Century. It may not be mentioned often, but our own skirts are not so clean.
A quick takeout of Iraq by the United States, marketed as a reasonable response. You remember.
Honestly, we were essentially doing the same thing then, which are now being done by Russia re Ukraine. I haven’t heard this being mentioned in my news media. Doubtless it has come up in conversation at the highest levels everywhere.
Anyway, one of our early stops that pleasant late spring day in 2003 was at a hotel, where we were shown (I kid you not) the door of the elevator ascended by President Bush a few weeks earlier, when to my memory, he had first met Putin, then in his first round as Russia’s President. There was nothing more. We saw the elevator door. No, no touching it!
Some time later we were in our bus being shown around the city, and went by one of the immense bland apartment buildings, and it was pointed out that Vladimir Putin had grown up in a particular building.
The next day, the lunch break was at a country restaurant proudly presented as being Putin’s personal favorite. We had our lunch, and moved on.
The only reason we were in Russia on those June days was the 50th wedding anniversary of Canadian relatives. We saw much much more.
But at this moment in history, getting to know something about the latest international terrorist is important.
Take some time.
MEDICAL AS OF SAT. FEB. 26: I came home Wednesday about noon, with no restrictions, but very tired. My recovery is emphasizing rest. My first outside foray was brief and independent on Friday. First stop back in the house was bed rest! Oh, so marvelous. I will probably write a followup blog on the medical within the next week.
A REMINDER ABOUT HOW ALL OF US FIT IN TO WHAT HAPPENS IN OUR WORLD CAME ON FRIDAY AS WELL.
One of my French-Canadian cousins, a retired professor of political science in Montreal, had asked me to trans-ship some books he had ordered in the states. They arrived before my surgery, and had titles like “from Catherine to Khruschev The Story of Russia’s Germans”.
I sent them off Friday, and in letting him know they were on the way sent a brief e-mail: “Sometime let me know your take on Ukraine at this point in history“.
Here was his response: “Thanks I will send you the money. All of my mother’s grandparents [his home province is Saskatchewan] were Germans born in Russia from the same town. Their history is even more fascinating than my father’s [French-Canadian] side. I am writing about it.
Postnote from Dick: I grew up in North Dakota, which has a very large population of people we called “German-Russians” (another story for another time), now I think referred to as Germans from Russia.
One of the towns we lived in (1951-53), Karlsruhe, was virtually 100% Germans from Russia, whose first language was German.
I didn’t appreciate at the time, of course, the business of language. We were new in town; we had to pay our dues before kids, even, would talk English to us (which they knew, of course, but you know, kids….). I was a 6th grader.
My friend, Christina, brought the issue home to me some years ago. She’s 90 now, and she was recalling childhood in rural Berlin ND (yes, Berlin). Her ancestry was German from Russia, and her parents had purchased a farm east of their home area not far west of Berlin. My grandparents were, like her, 100% German ancestry, but their ancestors had migrated to the United States from Germany beginning in the 1840s. Their home territory in Wisconsin was heavily German and many of their homies to this new land had come from the same place they did. They were Catholic, so was Christina’s kin, so St. John’s in Berlin, North Dakota, was faith home base. They were almost certainly bi-lingual, judging from books, etc. Each had a parent born and raised in Germany.
But it wasn’t quite so simple, Christina related. Both German constituencies spoke German, but their German was different. One group had difficulty understanding the other. Simple as that. I suppose that ‘social distance’ impacted the community. It was easier to associate with those you most easily understood, who had the same general background. Then there was the matter of fitting in – the newcomer dilemma. The Wisconsin Germans came in the early 1900s. the North Dakota Germans from Russia, later. In a sense it was like our dilemma in Karlsruhe ND.
Memories of community….
COMMENTS (more at end of post):
from Joyce: Heather Cox Richardson Feb. 26.
from John S.: I think Putin has gone too far but I also support the separatist cause. The media aren’t telling the whole story i.e. the oppression of the Russian minority. Also why isn’t Biden also outraged by the continual systematic Israeli invasion of Palestine?
from Terry: I think Putin has tried to use the “separatist cause” as a justification for his invasion. Christopher Miller from BuzzFeed News posted this video a few days ago. РИА Новости is Russian state funded media. It’s telling that Russian media couldn’t find more than 10 people to “celebrate” the “independence” of Donetsk (part of Donbas). Donetsk has a population of 900,000 people.
from Mike, responding to John S. re Ukraine: There is also a long and strong response from Joyce below in the on-line comments. Make sure you see that one as well.
The coup regime was not so peaceable. On April 15, 2014, it sent military and para-military units to reclaim the Donbas by force. That was three full months before Russia intervened militarily in support of the separatists.
The Ukrainian Civil War settled into a stalemate with a recognized line of separation. In November of 2021, Kiev began sending reinforcements to the line. Fearing a renewed offensive by Kiev, Russia responded by massing troops on its own territory, and with war exercises in Belarus.
The days prior to yesterday’s invasion saw a significant increase in ceasefire violations. The OSCE reported that the overwhelming majority of attacks occurred on the Donbas side of the line, indicating that Kiev again was the likely aggressor. This was the immediate trigger to Russia’s invasion.
The war did not begin yesterday. For eight long years the breakaway provinces have been besieged by an illegitimate government that has been in perpetual violation of Minsk II. This is where all the fighting and dying have occurred, 14,000 people to date. This past week, Russia said enough is enough.
The UN Charter allows the use of military force under three conditions:
- As a response to a military attack that has already occurred.
- To thwart a military attack that is imminent.
- When the UN Security Council has authorized it.
Russia’s invasion would have been entirely lawful if had it been limited to the breakaway provinces, where attacks had already occurred and were intensifying. The larger invasion of Ukraine falls into the gray area of what constitutes imminence. If one were to accept the amorphous definition of ‘imminence’ put forth in the 2013 DOJ White Paper on targeted assassination, the invasion of greater Ukraine would also be lawful. I rejected that definition in 2013, and I reject it now. Beyond Donbas and the immediate area around the line of separation, Russia’s military action constitutes aggression.
When this conflict is over, the prospects for peace will be determined by NATO. It poses an existential threat that Russia will not tolerate on its borders. Nor should it, considering the NATO wars of aggression that have devastated Afghanistan, Iraq, and North Africa in this century alone.
I call on my government to halt the transfer of weapons to the region, rejoin the INF Treaty, sign the ICAN Treaty to abolish nuclear weapons, and disband NATO.
from Jeff: Thanks. Interestingly the critique from the far left has been about saying this is what the USA did in Iraq. (my comment is yes, two wrongs don’t make a right) Col. Francis Wilkerson was on MSNBC or CNN yesterday and made that point forcefully.
from Bruce: This American Life [article here] had an interesting episode on Putin’s history of aggression to other border countries.