Forever ago, in the home of the brave.
In those days, the B-52s would lumber back from wherever they had been to the airbase up the road, the only thing worth seeing on a long third-grade afternoon. Some days, I would see them after my little school did the nuclear drills for the day the Soviet Union would drop a bomb on us.
And I knew — knew with the naive faith as rusted as any ’57 Plymouth in a junkyard — that America was safe another day, that the Soviet Union would not win this Cold War, and that the greatest country in the world then or ever would protect not only me but every third-grader everywhere.
Run that dream down the flagpole as Russia gobbles up whatever it wants of Ukraine while Washington dithers and pretends that limp-wristed sanctions make our commander in chief Biden the Bold. America the indolent, the impotent. Shame.
Oh, no one should harbor delusions about Ukraine and its government. In the 30 years since the Soviet Union fell, there might have been one honest politician in the lot. But the same can be said of Chicago, and allowing innocent people to die for the incompetence of their politicians is not Biden administration policy there.
But what burns is the fact that Ukrainian men and women who believed deep in their souls that the U.S. would protect the free and the weak and those praying for a chance to avoid living under the heel of a conqueror have been abandoned.
No one has clean hands in this debacle. In the circular firing squad of American politics, the Ukrainian people are collateral damage. I will admit to anger with the right, my usual friends, because they were Ukraine’s only hope. Sadly, the promise of standing aside to watch another Afghanistan-like debacle lower President Joe Biden’s popularity has blinded too many to the reality that freedom is the loser, not Sleepy Joe.
As for the left, no help was ever coming. What is the cause of freedom to the self-important popinjays of “the squad,” given that no Ukrainians march under the Black Lives Matter banner? So what if people get shot, tortured, disappeared and have their dreams snuffed out by Vladimir Putin? After all, social justice warriors who care about all of humanity have very specific voting blocs to appease, and that takes priority.
This is not political jousting. This is conquest — conquest America could have stopped with bold action, a united front and a ringing clarion call to the world that the kind of international coalition formed to fight for oil in Kuwait could be assembled to save the Ukrainian people from the misfortune of living in a place for which no one truly cares.
If there is a nation that has earned the support of those who care about freedom, this is it. Ukraine, where up to 10 million starved in the 1930s famine known as the Holodomor, a bit of state-sponsored slaughter from Uncle Joe Stalin that took place while The New York Times spread his lies for him. Ukraine, where the Nazis killed half of the patriots at the start of World War II and the Soviets finished off the rest at the end of the war to ensure freedom would never see the light of day.
No one likes war. No one wants dead kids with forever young smiles to make the front page of the local paper for the first and only time. American parents did not raise children to have them die in far-off Ukraine. But from the Marne to Normandy to Seoul and even to Saigon, Kandahar and Fallujah, the men and women of the armed forces enlisted to fight for freedom, not have front-row seats to watch it die.
If you listen closely, amid the screams of Ukrainians seeing their allies forsake them, there is a long, soft and sad sound. It marks the end of the world’s respect for the nation that never counted the cost, only the gain, that fought for freedom for other people because it was the right thing to do, and that defied enemies with the courage of its convictions.
The end. And in Joe Biden’s America, it comes with a whimper.
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