a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
What do you remember about October, 1962?
I remember that, a couple of summers earlier, a neighbor on my (Midwestern, middle-class) block contracted to have some extensive construction work done in their back yard. The neighborhood kids became spectators of the more interesting aspects of the construction process. When an excavator showed up and dug a huge hole, speculation centered around the possibility of a new swimming pool.
As construction proceeded, it was gradually clear that it was not going to be a swimming pool. No, my neighbor was constructing a back-yard underground bomb-shelter. . . in Kansas! Long before Cuba became a factor, the Cold War was obviously taking a significant anxiety toll on some Americans.
October 16-28, 1962
I faced those twelve scary days as a newly-minted ten-year-old. Still, given my neighbor’s underground bomb-shelter, I took what seemed like the gravity of the situation quite seriously. I remember that it was very scary; well, I remember that I felt existentially anxious. I feel a bit like that, again, now. I recently heard a prominent foreign-affairs voice say that the world is presently in a more precarious and dangerous situation than the Cuban missile crisis presented us almost sixty years ago.
So, this week finds many of the world’s people under a rather significant geo-political threat. For those who have not been sufficiently moved by the ominous danger of climate-change, Vladimir “Putin’s criminal aggression” in Ukraine represents an existential challenge of tremendous salience and urgency.
A curated DIY
It’s my intention to share a few articles and media that I’ve been looking at this week regarding “Putin’s criminal aggression.” —Please note, these sources don’t all sing one song in perfect harmony. Rather, it’s my sense that these sources join to form a chorus simultaneously singing diverse songs about a theme that is, imho, self-evidently true; i.e.:
freedom is vastly preferable to tyranny, and is worth defending!
Links . . . .
- We’ve been considering George Packer‘s recent book, so, let’s begin there. Packer published an article in The Atlantic last Monday: Ukraine Is Redefining America’s Interests. Packer writes: “Since last Thursday, Ukrainian resistance to invasion has shamed and inspired much of the world.” And, “Ukrainians are fighting with the ferocity of people who know exactly what they have to lose.”
- Born in Moscow, now U.S. journalist, Masha Gessen offers a helpful breakdown (video here) of how Putin interprets current events. His aggression is explained as a bizarre “cosplay”—a copy-cat crime, so to speak. The reference-point/template is the (illegal) U.S./N.A.T.O. bombing in Yugoslavia in 1999. Gessen details Putin’s way of understanding the events then and what they mean to him in the present context.
- And, Gessen describes Putin’s (magical) thinking regarding reconstituting the Soviet Union. —I note that my Russian Facebook friend who lives in Moscow, Anatoly, wrote last week: “Putin wants to live in USSR.”
- Finally, Gessen also argues why sanctions won’t work, i.e., Putin’s protected himself and he doesn’t care a whit if Russian people suffer.
- Chris Hedges allows significant credence to the Russian “security concerns” narrative, yet he speaks plainly enough here: “Russia Was Baited Into War but That Does Not Absolve Its Criminal Aggression.“
- Russian born critic, Gary Kasparov, notes (video here) that as far as help from the U.S. and N.A.T.O., it’s more about “banks than tanks.” With regard to U.S. presidential leadership leading us here, Kasparov says: “We went from feckless (Obama) to reckless (DJT).”
- Ukrainian born, Peter Pomerantsev writes: (Jan. ’22 Time article) (Feb. ’22 Time article) (Feb. ’22 Guardian article).
- Historians Timothy Snyder and Yuval Noah Harari engage a very informative conversation (video here) with expert in authoritarianism, Anne Applebaum.
- Timothy Snyder makes an extremely important point (Substack article) about how Putin is deconstructing moral and linguistic structures.
- Yuval Noah Harari writes (Economist article) (Guardian article) (TedTalk video).
- Fareed Zakaria argues (WaPo article) that Putin’s “security issues” are with Western soft power; and that Ukraine has issued an extremely significant wake-up call to Western democracies.
- Interview with Fiona Hill regarding Putin (Politico article).
- Diana Butler Bass picks up on an important existing thread regarding the religious dimension of the conflict (article here).
- Financial Times . . . . War in Ukraine (free to read articles).
- Joseph Pisenti (RealLifeLore) sketches resource and relational dynamics from Russian imperialist perspective (video here).
And, finally, a similar in the different
A couple of days before “Putin’s criminal aggression” began, a friend posted a meme on Facebook that claimed violence is the world’s most dominant religion. I commented on the post and while not really liking what I wrote, I do believe that, sadly, it’s true. A snip of my reply:
Note: I’ll post some additional links to more information in a comment below. Please add your sources, too.
Next week: Two things can be true at once
[this post ~850 words (3 minute read)]