We Are All Here

Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba gave a long interview recently and told about what the first days of the war were like for him. He was in the White House the day before the war. Suddenly, the door opened and Biden walked in with his cabinet. That’s when Kuleba knew that things were really bad. Presidents meet with presidents. They don’t make unexpected visits to Foreign Ministers.

Kuleba says everybody at the White House treated him like he had terminal cancer. Biden showed him a photo of his dead son and said, “You have to think about your children.” Nobody expected Ukraine to survive the first 72 hours. Look at the map of Eastern Europe, and you’ll understand why. Kuleba listened to the President of the United States say farewell to him, went home, and went to work.

That’s why it was such a big deal when Zelensky filmed himself and his cabinet in the streets of Kyiv in the first days of the war saying, “I’m here, we are all here, the party leader is here, the entire cabinet is here. We haven’t left, we are staying, and we will fight.” I never thought he would leave. Even at the lowest point of my esteem for Zelensky, I would have never suspected him of leaving. My fear was that he’d be captured and murdered in some horrible, humiliating way. Seeing him stand outside with his whole cabinet and reassure everybody meant everything. I have now watched that short video maybe a hundred times. I believe that the most important lesson in life is to be able to say, “I’m here and I’ll keep fighting.”

Arestovich also said he wasn’t expecting to survive the first two weeks of the war.

Think about this. He knew he would die but he went on YouTube every day to reassure millions of people and carry us through those terrible days with nothing but the force of his personality. This is enormously beyond any stoicism. You can decide not to whine and meet death with strength. But to carry millions of people out of despair and into a certainty of a win while you are preparing to be killed, you’ve got to have something inside yourself that makes it possible. Obviously, Arestovich is a deeply religious person but there are many religious people who couldn’t do this.

Here’s Kuleba’s interview with English subtitles. The translation is not great but still understandable:

And then I see people who think it’s OK to claim they are harmed by the presence of Ben Shapiro, and. . . Yeah. Don’t be like them. Be like Kuleba, is all I can say. The future belongs to the brave, not to pathetic little snowflakes who “feel unsafe.”

Look at Kuleba, too. He’s only 41. He has young children. This is not a ripped, muscular hero. Kuleba is nothing like, for example, Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Zaluzhny who is huge and tough and looks like an armored vehicle. Kuleba is a nerdy, soft guy in eyeglasses. But his quiet, dignified bravery is stunning.

Think, also, about how it happened that the entire Ukrainian leadership consists of these young, extremely strong people who speak languages, have a vision, and have proven to be completely unbreakable. This is not an accident. There is an entire philosophy of life behind this phenomenon. The way they explain it is that they are what the West really is, not as a region but as a way of being in the world. And if what traditionally counts as the West has forgotten about it, we will keep it alive because we are here.

We are all here, we haven’t left, we are staying, and we will keep fighting.

11 thoughts on “We Are All Here

  1. It is amazing how youthful Ukrainian leadership is. You can tell they have a vision and a goal; without this I don’t think they would have had the wherewithal to resist so valiantly.

    Russia, on the other hand, is a dying country. They don’t have any real vision for the future and Putin and his backers are mostly old people with old ideas living off of the nostalgia and longing for the past. Maybe you can correct me Clarissa, but I don’t think Putin is very popular with the younger population.

    To me, one of the most surprising aspects of this war was how the FSB and Russian intelligence were leaking info like a sieve, and overall were completely unable to successful carry out clandestine operations in Ukraine. I’m sure they wanted to murder a lot of the Ukrainian leadership, they were just unable to. That is huge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a cult like devotion in Russia to the USSR. They haven’t been able to move on from those old glory times, as they see them. And as a result, everything hearkens back to the Soviet era. The leaders, the music, the ideas. Everything is outdated and old. So totally, it’s a dying country that is poisoning the air with the putrid odors of its decomposition. Russians have everything they need to succeed but they are not embracing it. I don’t know why. It’s just what it is for now.

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      1. “Russians have everything they need to succeed but they are not embracing it”

        At times russia reminds me of the type of person who craves the disapproval of others, tolerance for their latest inane project just infuriates them into finding something worse… attempts to treat russia like a normal country just provoke to worse violations (and Germany, one of its biggest enablers, still hasn’t figured that out).

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  2. “completely unable to successful carry out clandestine operations in Ukraine”

    That puzzled me too until I read the Kamil Galeev thread on corruption in the russian army (shorter version – the army is the bottom of the social totem pole and gets robbed blind at every level).
    Also, apparently a crap ton of money set aside to try to bribe Ukrainian officials…. disappeared as well.

    russia just seems…. old and worn out and the russian failure to work out non-traumatic ways of changing head of state are a big part of that. There’s a reason I say that no person can be a fit acting head of state for over a decade (10 years average give or take two years). The more I think of it the more I think that the generational change in Ukrainian political leadership had a big roll in how well its done so far when most people didn’t give the country a week…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “That puzzled me too until I read the Kamil Galeev thread on corruption in the russian army (shorter version – the army is the bottom of the social totem pole and gets robbed blind at every level).
      Also, apparently a crap ton of money set aside to try to bribe Ukrainian officials…. disappeared as well.”

      Yeah, but the FSB/Intelligence agencies are separate from the army and generally well funded. This is why their failure is so glaring.

      ” There’s a reason I say that no person can be a fit acting head of state for over a decade (10 years average give or take two years). ”

      Agreed. There is a reason Democracies figured out term limits are so important. A leader trying to remain in power more than 10 years is a canary and major red flag.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In the US, I’d also like to see younger people coming into the leadership of both parties. We have a lower age limit for the presidency. There should be an upper limit, too.

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        1. “see younger people coming into the leadership of both parties”

          Poland is maybe (finally!) emerging a little from that. I don’t like the ruling party but the coldwar era leader is finally being recognized for the irrelevant fossil he is…

          The main opposition party has some promising people (esp the mayor of Warsaw) but they’re too shy about getting their feet wet and committing to the game.

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    2. Since 2004, whenever a president tried to overstay his mandate, people in Ukraine would take to the streets by the million and make the bastard leave. This is why I laugh when ignorant individuals say that the Maidan was “a CIA-backed coup.” You need to really have no understanding of Ukraine to say something like this.

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    3. And by the way, if CIA-backed coups were so easy and successful, why don’t we see one in Russia? If CIA can do something like it, why not do it where it would matter? The answer is simple: the CIA is kind of useless. And deep inside, we all know it.

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  3. One of the major ideas of Stoicism is that one should do one’s duty even in the face of death. It is a fact that you are going to die. Ultimately, it does not really matter if you die tomorrow or in a thousand years. You demonstrate that you have internalized these principles by performing your duty even when faced with death. You have the example of Cato the Younger, who committed suicide rather than submit to Caesar. Better to die now and be remembered as a defender of Roman liberty than live for years on an estate in the country as an example of how Caesar was a great guy.
    Nathan Sharansky, when he was arrested by the KBG, was told that, as a scientist, he should be willing to be like Galileo and sign a confession. Sharansky writes that being told this caused him to realize that his actions really did matter. Better to die than allow his name to be used hundreds of years in the future to convince some other scientist to confess to crimes they did not commit.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ben Shapiro … seriously?

    He’s a manufactured nothingburger with nothinglettuce, nothingketchup, and a side of nothingfries on a not-so-tasty nothingcricketflourbun.

    Everything he does reeks of being manufactured.

    The only use Ben Shapiro serves is for those who manufacture his supposed fame so that they can distract people into believing they’re following something genuine when in fact they’re just following more of the same.

    It’s like these “sponsors” are serotonin excess merchants who intend to keep you hooked so that you won’t develop anything resembling deep and meaningful inwardly-driven questions.

    The people you really need to worry about are the quiet people who wanted to be left alone.

    “… if CIA-backed coups were so easy and successful …”

    OMG ROFL HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. [laughs in Farsi]

    Do you realise how long ago that was? 🙂

    Like

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