The Bandits

N is watching his favorite show American Greed. I glance at the screen and see enormous mansions.

“Ah, that’s where the bandits live!” I say.

“No, the owners are hedge fund managers,” N explains.

“That’s what I said, the bandits,” I respond.

Why I “Defend” Poroshenko

You know what really bothers me? Crowds of smug, self-congratulating Westerners who fill the social networks with endless criticisms of Ukrainians, the Ukrainian government, and the Ukrainian military. Their help to Ukraine has been nil. Their understanding of what is going on is limited by distance and ignorance of the country’s reality. Yet they consider themselves qualified and entitled to offer advice and lecture Ukrainians who are fighting a war and trying to survive in desperate circumstances. And they don’t seem to notice how amazingly offensive and condescending it is to barrage Ukrainians with a stream of endless “you shoulds.”

I left Ukraine in 1998. I’m now an outsider to Ukraine and all I can do is send money to help the POWs, spread the information, tell people here in the US and on my blog about what is happening, and ask what I can do to help. If Ukrainians (the ones who are in Ukraine, I mean) decide that their current government is not doing its job, that will be their decision. But it would be incredibly bizarre if I – as an outsider – started rubbishing the Ukrainian leadership. And it is even more bizarre when people who don’t speak a word of Ukrainian do it. I’m getting really tired of the endless “Ukrainians are idiots” articles and tweets that come from people who claim to support Ukraine.

This post is written in answer to a question two readers asked me as to why I “defend” Ukraine’s President Poroshenko. It is not my place to defend or not to defend him. Poroshenko’s job is not to please me. It is to work for the people who elected him. But when I see these constant attempts to scrutinize and criticize every single thing that Ukrainians do, I get angry. If you are so sure that you’d do a better job if you had to battle a foreign invasion, let’s wait until you get an opportunity to do that and then we will all joyfully follow your shining example. Until then, though, it would be great if people could just keep their useless advice on military and political strategy to themselves.

WordPress Is Acting Up

I just received an email from a reader whose comments were not appearing on the blog. I searched in the Spam Box and found them there. It is an absolute mystery why WordPress decided to censor this long-term reader and his valuable comments all of a sudden. I have restored the comments and apologize for the inconvenience.

Please know that I haven’t banned anybody from the blog since the unfortunate and offensive comment by reader Kyle who said that Michael Brown deserved to be killed. Since then, not a single commenter has been banned or censored in any way. So if your comments are not posting, tell me and I will try to restore them.

El Salvador and Ukraine

I will be talking about the murdered nuns in El Salvador during my “Latin-American Conflicts” lecture today, just when the poor nuns are back in the news again for the first time in decades. Weird. I hope nobody asks me about Bill O’Reilly in class because I’m consciously as politically bland in the classroom as it is humanly possible*.

Where I’m not going to be bland is the talk about Ukraine that I will be giving to the university next Wednesday. People stop me on campus all the time to ask me about Ukraine (my very bright scarf in the colors of the Ukrainian flag might have something to do with it) but it’s hard to provide a short but meaningful response on the go. I have pretty much turned into the “Russia invaded Ukraine, pass the news along” person, and that’s getting old. At least, talking about Ukraine in public will make me feel better.

My colleague from Ukraine spoke about the war to the area’s retirees, and she says it was the best experience. The retirees remember the Cold War vividly and understand exactly what is going on. I will have a younger audience, and that is tougher.

Going back to El Salvador, in every class on Latin-American conflicts students ask, with a look of complete shock, “But why did the US support and finance this horrible regime?” And when I mention the Cold War in response, it doesn’t register a whole lot. I, on the other hand, am doing some real rethinking of history because of current events. The Cold War looked like a big joke from my side of the Iron Curtain because it was obvious that, after Stalin’s death, nobody was going to use nuclear weapons. But now I am understanding the terror of the crazy Russians that fed the Cold War from the West’s side and led to seemingly crazy things like financing nun-murdering regimes. 

* Not worth the aggravation is why.