What about that war?

Now we know what it takes to push an illegal, immoral and unjustified war off the front page and off the air.

It takes a madman who walks into an elementary school and slaughters 19 third- and fourth-grade children and two of their teachers. Yes, the Uvalde, Texas, massacre has dominated the news and yanked our attention away from that war in a faraway place called Ukraine.

To be candid, I don’t yet know which story depresses me more.

The Ukraine War was doing a nice of job of sending me into prolonged periods of funk. The Russians invaded Ukraine intending to drive out the government and installing a puppet regime to do Moscow’s bidding; it hasn’t worked. Indeed, the chatter now is beginning to telegraph a different sort of message, that Ukraine actually might win the battle on the field.

Weird, man.

Meanwhile, a grieving United States of America is coming to grips with the Uvalde tragedy and our citizens are now asking pertinent and legitimate questions about whether the police responded properly to prevent further carnage.

All of this is enough to tax anyone’s emotional strength.

We all need to remain strong.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I apologize, Mitt

Mitt Romney appears to have earned a worldwide apology from those of us who once scoffed at a notion he put forth while he was running for president of the United States in 2012.

A decade ago, the junior U.S. senator from Utah said Russia posed the “greatest geopolitical threat” to the United States. President Barack Obama led the snickering and tittering — and the ridicule — of the Republican presidential nominee’s assertion. I joined in the laughter.

Well, guess what. It turns out Romney was correct.

Russia has launched an unprovoked war with Ukraine, helping plunge the world into utter chaos.

To be clear, I don’t recall that Romney foresaw what the world is witnessing when he made those Russia remarks during the heat of a presidential campaign. He offered a statement that has borne much more truth than we imagined in the moment a decade ago.

Now the senator is saying that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ought to consider responding militarily if Russia uses tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine. A full-throated NATO response would pulverize Russia, Romney said.

Am I going to laugh now at such a suggestion coming from Sen. Mitt Romney? Hardly.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

W’s ‘gaffe’ was no gaffe

George W. Bush spoke an unintended truth the other day that raised eyebrows all across the nation, not to mention in the room at the Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.

The 43rd president was trying to make the case against Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. Then he said this:

“In contrast, Russian elections are rigged. Political opponents are imprisoned or otherwise eliminated from participating in the electoral process. The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq. I mean of Ukraine.”

As another former Texas governor, Rick Perry, once said: Oops.

I cannot possibly suggest that President Bush intended to make that statement. However, he did tell the truth. The invasion of Iraq in March 2003 was based on “false intelligence,” and that’s being generous. It well might have been that the Bush team knew all along that the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction.

Whatever the case, I suggest the former president draft a statement aimed at telling the loved ones of those who died during the Iraq War that he didn’t really mean what he said this week in Dallas.

Then again, would that be truth?

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Can he declare victory?

The late U.S. Sen. George Aiken, a great Republican from Vermont, once lamented that the nation could conclude the Vietnam War simply by saying: “Let’s just declare victory and go home.”

The war was going badly, even though American forces were winning on the battlefield. Our victories were overshadowed by protests at home as Americans grieved over the casualties we suffered for a mission that no one at the Pentagon was able to articulate.

Russians are facing possibly the same the dilemma. Their forces invaded Ukraine months ago. The idea was to subdue Ukraine quickly, tossing out the government led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and installing a pro-Moscow puppet to dance to the tune called by Russian despot Vladimir Putin.

It didn’t happen.

The Ukrainians are fighting for their survival against Russians who are fighting to soothe the ego of a dictator.

Can the Russians now just “declare victory” the way Sen. Aiken saw many decades ago? It’s all right with me.

I want the bloodshed to end. I am sickened by the destruction brought to Ukraine. I am heartened, though, by the courage that Ukrainians are demonstrating — under Zelenskyy’s leadership — in fending off the invaders.

As for Putin’s possible victory declaration, I want to stipulate that none of that would preclude an international trial on charges of war crimes being leveled against this monstrous tyrant. By any measure one can make that charge against Putin, given that his forces have struck soft targets — schools, hospitals and apartment complexes — in direct violation of the Geneva Accords meant to govern the rules of war.

Let the bastard declare victory and then then commence a trial to convict him of crimes against humanity.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Putin’s No. 1 goal? Pffftt!

Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine those many weeks ago to prevent an expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Hah! What happened then? Oh, Sweden and Finland have applied for NATO membership. Indeed, if Finland is accepted as a NATO member, the Russian tyrant will watch his country’s border with NATO expand by roughly double what it is at the moment.

So, this begs the question: How is it working out for you … Vlad?

It ain’t!

Russian troops are getting their butts kicked on the battlefield by dedicated Ukrainian soldiers and militia. Putin sought to conquer Kyiv and Kharkiv — Ukraine’s two largest cities — only to watch those efforts literally go up in flames.

Russian soldiers are suffering from low morale, lack of ammunition, faltering equipment, resupply crises and are showing signs of insubordination on the field of battle.

None of this is likely to stem the assault that Putin launched against a sovereign nation. He now is threatening Finland with reprisal if NATO accepts the Finns and the Swedes.

I must point out, too, that NATO — thanks to the diplomatic efforts led by President Biden — is more united than ever in its mission to stand as one against any threats from Russia.

If I were advising Putin, I would consider offering a suggestion for a way to declare victory and just get the hell out of Ukraine.

Johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

How does Ukraine persist?

When the Russians invaded Ukraine I was skeptical that the Ukrainians would be able to declare victory on the battlefield. The Russian army was numerically and technically superior to Ukraine.

Then the Russians discovered something in real time on the field of battle. The first thing, apparently, was that they weren’t as fearsome a fighting force as they — or many of the rest of us — thought they were. The second thing is that they likely underestimated the Ukrainians’ will to fight to protect their homeland against a foreign invader.

What astounds me is that the Russians’ misjudgment of Ukraine’s will to fight would exist at all, given their own country’s military history.

In June 1941, Adolf Hitler launched the invasion of the Soviet Union. He likely didn’t think the Russians would fight to the death in the manner that they did. The Red Army then turned the tide against Hitler’s forces in a city once known as Stalingrad. What’s more, Ukrainians were fighting alongside Russians in their struggle against the Nazi invaders.

This is what happens when a nation invades another sovereign state. They learn that their adversary is committed to the struggle to survive and their commitment well could carry them forward against a supposedly superior military force.

We hear now several things are going badly for the Russians. They have lost several field generals in the battle; the Russian troops are suffering from low morale; Russian soldiers aren’t obeying officers’ orders; Ukraine is getting plenty of help from allied nations — such as the United States; the Ukrainians are putting their military hardware to good use.

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not about to declare that Ukraine will declare victory and that Russia is going to skulk off the battlefield. There likely will be much more struggle to take place.

It does make me wonder how much more humiliation Russian despot Vladimir Putin can take. Moreover, I will stand on my belief that Putin is not stupid enough to launch a nuclear strike, given his knowledge of how “mutually assured destruction” would play out.

If there is an exit to be found, my strongest hope is that Putin can look for it and get the hell out of Ukraine. I wouldn’t even mind if he decides to declare victory. Let him crow all he wants. The world will know better.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Ukrainians winning grassroots support

I am trying to remember a time when a nation involved in a war in a far-off land has earned the kind of support on American soil that we are seeing demonstrated for Ukraine in its struggle against Russia.

I am 72 years of age and have seen quite a bit during my time on this Earth. I went to war once myself while wearing my own country’s uniform and I have watched many conflicts erupt all over the world.

This one is so vastly different in terms of the response coming from rank-and-file Americans. I see it constantly.

Vehicles flying Ukrainian flags; they are adorned with bumper stickers proclaiming support for Ukraine; business owners are plastering Ukraine-flag posters on their windows.

My wife and I recently returned from a brief trip to the Texas Hill Country and when we parked our travel trailer at an RV park in Johnson City, we noticed a propane gas dealer flying a full-sized Ukraine flag on the lot next to Old Glory in Dripping Springs.

Judging by that overwhelming show of support for Ukraine over the butchery bring brought to that country by Russians, the only conclusion I can draw is that our politicians — who represent our needs and wishes — had better do what the folks back home are demanding of them.

Which is to give Ukraine all the help it seeks to beat back the Russian invaders.

Has anyone seen any Russian flags flying support of what they are doing in Ukraine? Hmm. I didn’t think so.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Yep, Biden took the call

Franklin Foer has smashed a myth about President Biden, that the president is too weak and not up to the myriad tasks that befall a POTUS at any hour of the day … or night.

Foer, writing an essay in The Atlantic, points out quite vividly that Joe Biden “answered the call” that came to him around 3 a.m.

He writes about the time Hillary Clinton sought to exploit 2008 presidential campaign rival Barack Obama’s inexperience with an ad that wondered whether the future president would be able to “answer the call.” Well, he did answer the call, just as Joe Biden is doing now.

Biden Answered the 3 a.m. Call – The Atlantic

As his article in The Atlantic noted about Biden’s response to the Ukraine War: Joe Biden hasn’t received the full credit he deserves for his statecraft during this crisis, because he has pursued a policy of self-effacement. Rather than touting his accomplishments in mobilizing a unified global response to the invasion, he has portrayed the stringent sanctions as the triumph of an alliance. By carefully limiting his own public role—and letting France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz take turns as the lead faces of NATO—he has left Vladimir Putin with little opportunity to portray the conflict as a standoff with the United States, a narrative that the Russian leader would clearly prefer. He’s shown how to wield American leadership in the face of deep European ambivalence about its exercise.

The Trumpkins among us keep telling us that Putin wouldn’t have invaded Ukraine were The Donald still in the White House. Hmm. Probably not. Likely because The Donald would have looked the other way while Putin sought to bring neighboring states to heel.

Joe Biden has performed masterfully in applying his diplomatic skill and experience to produce a united front throughout Europe against the unprovoked, illegal, immoral invasion of Ukraine.

To suggest that the president of the United States has failed in responding to an urgent world crisis is to talk utter trash.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Story breaks my heart so many ways

The reporting from Ukraine is breaking my heart for many reasons, some of which I did not expect when it began flooding our homes with information in that faraway land.

One reason is so obvious I shouldn’t have to mention it, but I will anyway. The destruction is beyond belief. The pain of the people who endure it also defies my ability to comprehend how they cope and how they can hope for a better future.

But then I watch the broadcast and cable TV journalists covering the event and I am filled with compassion for them as well. What are they feeling when they confront such misery? How do they possibly report the news dispassionately?

I did not have the honor — and that’s how I would describe it — of covering a war in real time back when I worked in the field full time. The closest I came occurred in 1989 when I visited the Killing Fields at Choeng Ek, Cambodia, where the survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide had erected temples containing the skulls of thousands of victims dug from mass graves.

I visited with those who lived through that horrifying episode. I can recall one comment from a woman with whom I was visiting. She told me, “If the Khmer Rouge come back, we all will become soldiers.”

I got on the bus that would take us back to Phnom Penh … and I sobbed.

Thus, I have difficulty imagining how the reporters covering the Ukraine War can avoid getting caught up in the raw emotion of seeing the destruction being inflicted on brave people in real time.

For all I know, they are sobbing, too. That doesn’t make them less professional. It just reveals their humanity.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

War with NATO? Huh?

Now we are hearing reports that Russian madman Vladimir Putin is telling his people they should prepare for war against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which makes me believe more than ever that Vlad has a screw loose in that spook’s brain.

I cannot think of a worse outcome for Putin’s illegal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine than for him to send missiles into NATO countries bordering the Russian frontier.

We have this “thing” called Article V, which states that an attack against one NATO nation is an attack on all of them. All of them includes the United States of America.

To be clear, President Biden has said he will do everything within his immense power as U.S. commander in chief to keep our fighting men and women off the battlefield against Russia. I believe the president.

Putin, though, has far more to worry about than just the U.S. presence among NATO’s alliance of nations. The combined NATO military force constitutes an overpowering adversary. Does the Russian madman really intend to wage war against NATO? I want to believe the answer is no.

These chilling reports from Moscow, though, give me cause to think Putin really is mad.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com