Now that Russia has clearly attacked and invaded Ukraine, it is not only at war with Ukraine but with all democratic countries.
Will the Canadian government immediately: suspend all diplomatic ties with Russia; recall all Canadian diplomatic staff from Russia; expel all Russian diplomatic staff from Canada; seize all Russian assets in Canada; ask the World Court to indict Vladimir Putin as a war criminal and issue an arrest warrant?
Alexander Hukowich, Cobourg
This letter to the editor appeared in The Star. We reproduce it here because, not being in the streets in Kyiv or in Moscow, we still have a vested interest in seeing this war brought to an end. We also wish to stop a pattern of lies used to justify this war and the many other savage, reprehensible and unconscionable acts both committed and omitted by putin and trump. And the instruments, methods, pathways and agencies that might bring about the immediate downfall of putin, are seemingly rare and out of reach of the political leadership of the west.
Also, Saturday, on Smerconish on CNN, a non-scientific poll of viewers in response to the question, “Should NATO go to war to defend Ukraine?” with some 38+ thousand responses, 77% answered “YES”. I have never even thought I would have voted for war over the last eight decades. This morning, however, I sadly throw my vote in with those who contend that this aggression, this unprovoked, unjustified and illegitimate bombing of Ukraine, a country that could not be a threat to Russia or any other country, has to be stopped.
Steroid sanctions, however, represent only steroid rhetoric, not adequate threat. And steroid sanctions, linked to a ‘hands-off’ declaration by Biden that American boots will never be deployed in Ukraine, leaves the playing field open for whatever putin chooses.
It is that range of unlimited options, being left open without effective counter-forces, that risks not only the freedom of the Ukrainian people, but also the stability of European collective body politic. And an open field for a dictator drunk on power, in pursuit of faux honour of his country and the rusted legacy of his historic reputation, will wreak havoc, kill thousands, and put the threat of nuclear weapons into the world’s shared drama.
None of those prospects, all of them on the radar of all of the intelligence establishments around the globe, and also on the screens of all of the televisions and laptops and cell phones, can be considered as only bluffing. A madman whose finger is on the trigger of the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, some 6500 nuclear weapons, whose ambition is devoid of a single cell of regard and respect for human life, human dignity and human rights of any who might oppose his views and his actions, and his motives, is a serious threat to the world.
Why, for example, would Russian forces even want to take control of the site of the Chernobyl nuclear melt-down, if not to have another weapon of intimidation to deploy on innocent people of norther Ukraine?
Why would Russian police be arresting up to 2000 already, of those merely carrying signs in some 50 cities across Russia, protesting a war against a people they consider friends, as well as literal family for some? Already, we are reading reports, this morning, Monday, February 28, of a Russian strike of a nuclear waste storage facility near Kyiv, as the Atomic Energy Agency awaits report or radioactive fallout.
Why would Russian agents even agree to poison Navalny, and Litvinenko in Great Britain, as incidents of intimidation using chemical weapons, ostensibly with a degree of impunity through stealth, except to assuage their fear/contempt of putin?
Why would Russian forces in Syria shift from the occasional lethal attack on individuals or small groups, to killing larger groups of innocent Syrian citizens, on behalf of the Syrian dictator, Assad, except to demonstrate both the strength and the will to do whatever they can in the blind service of two dictators?
Why would Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov succumb to the prevarications and distortions entailed in an unsustainable argument that Ukraine is run by neo-fascists and publicly endorse a bi-lateral meeting with Blinkin, except to sustain his own luxurious, narcissistic and heavily endowed position and status as Foreign Minister?
Similarly, why would all of the oligarchs who have been propped up by putin, and who have shared in the illegitimate spoils of wealth from energy sales, and then, like putin, scurried their wealth into foreign ownership of professional sports teams like professional soccer teams in Great Britain, except that they can, and they enjoy the luxury and the power that feeds their own sycophantic narcissism?
Sycophants kneeling under the fear, foot, thumb and even the gun of excommunication and potential assassination of a tyrant, make such tyrannies possible. And such sycophants, and such behaviour are not exclusive to Russia and putin. We have watched, and continue to watch in Washington, (and likely in other capitals if investigators were able to plumb the records with protection) sycophants grovelling at the foot of their chosen “leader,” the formeroccupant of the Oval Office. And such grovelling, under the guise of ‘protecting and serving the ordinary people’ serves only a single purpose: the perverted, personal narcissistic and oppressive will of that single leader. Money and political power in the hands of men like putin and trump, and perhaps other tyrants like Xi Jin Ping and Kim Jong Un, is potentially lethal for any with the strength, the courage and the conviction to oppose their iron and vindictive will. For many decades, in the west, there have been complaints about greedy and abusive corporations, tragically considered ‘humans’ under American law, (another American self-deception); today, we have to focus on individual narcissistic greed among billionaires. By the way, corporations, by definition, have neither a conscience, nor a capacity for shame.
Estimating and predicting the lengths to which unleashed individual human power, unopposed, will go, is a matter far above the pay-grade and competence of this scribe. In fact, it must become one of the active files of the national security agencies of each respective government: that those agencies undertake a complete, if secret and confidential, investigation of the methods and motives of their dictatorial and unprincipled and tragic terrorist leaders.
Whether or not both putin and trump are clinical psychopaths or sociopaths seems somewhat irrelevant and even redundant. Leave such questions for the clinically-trained, and with their help the doctoral candidates of the next century, whether they be in history, politics, national security, psychiatry or criminal anthropology. For the moment, the world needs to explore, unearth and perhaps even invent both means and methods that would put radioactive barbed wire, literally, and metaphorically around such men, and protect the world from their tyrannical, life-long, fantasy ambitions.
Those ambitions cannot be accomplished without the services of many neurotic dupes, the sycophants. And consequently, each and every public service has an obligation to recruit and to train and to support individuals who are unlikely to fall into the traps of treason, espionage, and secret seductions of the forces that would take over their lives, minds, hearts and bank accounts, to serve their nefarious needs. That will never be fully and perfectly accomplished. There will always be sinister, hidden forces that will be accessible to those highly seductive bobbles of money, glitz and power, on which these tyrants and their thug-gangs will both cling and recruit.
At the other end of this equation, the public has to be much better educated (not merely trained in skills) to be able to both spot and to expose those candidates for office who openly avow nefarious purposes and ends, and to discern the authentic candidates from the imposters. That, too, will be extremely difficult from at least two perspectives: first, in the education curricula, there must be histories and biographies of dictators, tyrants, their methods and mind-sets that set their path long before they entered the dark side.
As a society, in the west, we have an even more complex reality to digest, assimilate and then confront. Writing on lithub.com, February 23, 2022, in a piece entitled, “A history of Demonology is a History of the World,” to introduce his latest book on demonology, Ed Simon writes:
Since the Enlightenment, Western Intelligentsia have been the inheritors to a rather anemic model of knowledge known as the correspondence theory of truth, whereby the validity of a statement is ascertained simply by whether or not it matches empirical reality….A fundamentalist adherence to the correspondence theory of truth, trumpeted by logical positivists and other philosophical heretics, would consign John Keats, Joyce Kilmer and William Wordsworth into a bin marked ‘meaningless’ (even though I think we can all ascertain that there is meaning, even if it‘s the ‘slant’ truth that Emily Dickinson writes about).
Much of this space, for the last decade, has tried to expose an inordinate dependence, if not obsession, with this ‘correspondence theory of truth’ and its many applications. Empirical truth, based on observable, measureable, and ‘sensible’ evidence is admittedly a significant aspect of our experience, as well as our way of knowing. We see, or hear, taste smell or touch something, and it becomes ‘real’. However, even to adopt such a narrow fence around truth has multiple implications, which need far more intellect and space to unpack than either competence or time will permit here.
However, a ‘flat earth’ of empirical reality is far more easily consigned to epithets like “I am a bottom-line person, just the bare facts please.” Those who take such a view, while focusing on only whatever it is that they consider worthy of their attention, shut out much of the context, and the multiple linkages of multiple factors in their world view. They, and the view itself, enable a far more transactional vernacular, including expectations of the other, and also responsibilities of those who have or who seek positions of leadership and power. Manipulating the superficial, empirically evident ‘chess pieces’ of numbers, and immediate causes or co-relations, consumes the public discourse, including the journalistic projects. Even investigative journalism, which digs deeper into the range and depth of the empirical evidence, much the same way a legal case is prepared, offers a proximate truth. This kind of obsession, even if it is not a conscious obsession, but merely an involuntary fixation, provides huge openings for those engaged in political discourse to drive their own obsessive behemoth trucks through. And now we have such blatant manipulation of superficial ‘data’ that lies drown even empirical truths.
Riding the wind and the waves of correspondence theory of truth, people like putin and trump and others, have a playing field bereft of poetics, and of explanations that go beyond the literal, the numerical and the observable. Ordinary people, while perhaps not either signing on to being conscripted to this level of language, perception and thought, are nevertheless complicit in allowing its ubiquity.
There are accountants, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and digital technologists who are all fully engaged in the ‘correspondence theory of truth’. And they are all making quite comfortable livings, no doubt. Empirical truth and the data that supports the concept generates both cash and opinions that have serious impacts.
That the correspondence theory of truth doesn’t even match its own exacting prescriptions to what is legitimate or not is a bit of self-referential absurdity best passed over; concluding that as a model it’s clearly ineffectual in describing whole swaths of human experience is sufficient enough….Of the approaches that the modern person has in considering demonology, there’s obviously blunt literalism, equally blunt denialism, and then a sort of vast middle that reduces demons to ‘metaphors’ or ‘symbols.’ Concerning those who think of demons as being as ‘real’ as the dog in the yard, little can be said. Such fundamentalism is its own capitulation to the exigencies of modernity; it’s as positivist as anyone adhering to the correspondence theory of truth, it merely chooses to ascent toward that which anyone can see is an absurdity. Those who adhere to this contention may think that they’re taking part in a venerable spiritual tradition, but they hold to the same epistemological framework as any rationalist or skeptic, they just choose to believe in something demonstrably wrong….Denialists are a different species, to harp on the nonexistence of demons is to miss that point in the same way as the literalists but toward a different direction. Smugly emphasizing that demons aren’t real seems about the same as arguing that “Truth is beauty, beauty is truth’ is an absurdity because it can’t be reduced to symbolic logic; those who expel poetry in favor of the syllogism live a shallow existence. Most obnoxious of this type are those who reject anything that to them has the taint of the spiritual, the divine, the transcendent about it, consigning millenia of human experience and expression into the trash can because it doesn’t conform to a model of truth that has only existed for a few dozen generations.”
And it is not only Simon’s dilemma in attempting to answer the question, “Do I believe in demons?" that arises. It is the foundational question of how western culture can and will be able to cope with “reality” and truth, given that we seem to vacillate between fundamentalists and denialists, not only about demons but about most of our other complex existential and shared questions.