Under Construction A

Is it Time to Dust Off our Little Desks?

A Childhood under the Sword of Damocles

When I was in elementary school, we were taught to crawl under our desks when we heard the air raid signal. By the time I was 10, the procedure had changed to filing out to the hall and lining up against the wall. I guess we’d grown too big to hide under our little desks. Being a precocious and nerdy little kid, it didn’t take me long to figure out that neither the desks nor the walls would protect anyone from a nuclear war. Pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after being hit by “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” are burned into the minds of tens of millions of us who saw them in newsreels and magazines in the 1950s.

In 1962, in response to U.S. nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey and the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion, Nikita Khrushchev agreed to Cuba’s request for nuclear missiles. With Soviet “nukes” 90 miles off the coast of Florida, the Cuban Missile Crisis reached a head by October. The news was filled with a mix of saber rattling and fearmongering. I don’t recall being particularly afraid. After a dozen years of living with the threat of global thermonuclear war always in the background, I had become numb. The crisis would be resolved … either with diplomacy or with massive death and the destruction of civilization. If the former, we’d all go on with our lives. If the latter, most of us would be dead or rebuilding the world … our lives drastically shortened by a high level of background radiation. Fortunately, quiet diplomacy won.

In November of 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and with it the Iron Curtain. Thereafter, one by one, Eastern European countries declared their independence from the Soviet Union. I recall a network TV reporter saying, “The cold war is over and we won.” I, and most people living in the western democracies, breathed a sigh of relief and moved on to other concerns. Now, over 30 years later, I fear that our sighs may have been premature.

100 Seconds to Midnight

On January 20, 2022, the “Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” announced that the Doomsday Clock is at 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to civilization-ending apocalypse.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin began amassing his military on the border with Ukraine early in 2021, he made a point of mentioning that Russia has nuclear weapons. He ordered those forces across the border on February 24, 2022. Those forces met unexpected resistance from the Ukrainian people. Teenagers and grandparents are standing up to the invaders. The Ukrainian government quickly issued 18,000 rifles to their people and broadcast instructions for making Molotov cocktails. Some Ukrainians living in other countries have returned to protect their homeland.

On Sunday, February 27th, Putin moved the Doomsday Clock a few seconds forward by putting Russia’s nuclear arsenal on high alert. He is threatening to initiate a thermonuclear war. Whether it’s a real threat or a bluff is unknown. Who can know the mind of a narcissistic, monomaniacal dictator with delusions of godhood?[1] He probably doesn’t know himself. It may not matter. The chance of accidental war on a larger scale is high.

The North Atlantic Treaty

On April 4, 1949, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States signed the North Atlantic Treaty. The preamble to that treaty states:

The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.
They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area. They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security. They therefore agree to this North Atlantic Treaty.

Since 1949, 18 nations … Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey … have joined the original 12.

Article 5

Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty says:

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Since the original signing of the treaty in 1949, Article 5 has been invoked only once. From October 9, 2001 through May 16, 2002, NATO forces used Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft to patrol the skies over the United States in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Some sent forces to Afghanistan to assist the U.S. in its pursuit of Al Qaeda.

WW III … Intentional or Accidental?

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but it is an independent and democratic nation under attack by a nation run by a dictatorial bully. Lead by the United States, NATO is doing what it can without open and direct confrontation with Russian forces. Given Vladimir Putin’s repeated references to Russia’s nuclear arsenal, his isolation from the rest of the world, and his distorted rewrite of history, his willingness to use “weapons of mass destruction” must be taken seriously.

Even without direct intervention, it is possible that Putin’s war could spread across Western Europe. This map shows that Ukraine is bordered by both Russia and several NATO nations.[2]

What happens if Russian forces, planes or artillery stray into Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, or Romania? There’s also the problem of Kaliningrad Oblast … that little piece of Russia on the Black Sea. Here’s a close-up:

A Russian Oblast is a political entity in a federal union with representation in the Russian Federation Council. It is a level of government administration just below the central government … roughly analogous to a state in the United States. Just as the state of Alaska is separated from the “lower 48”, the Kaliningrad Oblast is discontinuous with the main body of Russia. It is separated from the rest of Russia by Belarus, Lithuania, and Poland. The oblast’s city of Baltiysk is Russia’s only port on the Baltic Sea that is free of ice all winter. Having overland access to Baltiysk would probably please President Putin. Belarus is no problem. It’s a friendly “client state”. Poland and Lithuania are a problem. They are nasty blue NATO nations.[3] If his campaign of Ukrainian conquest is successful, Putin may try to take a piece of one or both countries to connect Kaliningrad to Belarus … bumping into Article 5 of the NATO Treaty on the way.

A Close Brush with Armageddon

Between 3 and 4 AM Ukrainian time on March 4, 2022, Russian artillery fired on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant near Kyiv. The plant is the largest in Europe. This was the first time in history that any nation has risked firing on a nuclear plant. To do so is a violation of International Law. There was a fire in a nearby building that was extinguished. The power plant was unharmed. It’s not clear whether the target was the plant or the Ukrainians trying to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. Ukraine had a nuclear plant disaster on April 26, 1986 … Chornobyl (aka Chernobyl). It doesn’t need another, larger one. (Zaporizhzhia would have released 10 times the radiation of Chornobyl.) The fallout would have been most likely to hit Kyiv, eastern Ukraine and, ironically, Russia, but there’s no certainty with wind patterns. Had a disaster occurred and the fallout hit an adjacent NATO nation, would that be considered “an attack on one” and trigger Article 5?

Fear and Anger

I am afraid like I was when, as a little kid, I first understood what a nuclear war meant. I’m afraid for my friends. I’m afraid for my family. I’m afraid for myself. I’m afraid for my cat. I’m afraid for every living thing on Earth … even the cockroaches.

I cannot remember when I have been so angry. I remember a time when I would occasionally get really upset … a berserker rage … for 15 to 30 seconds. What I feel now is different. The anger seems to be smoldering under the surface most of the time.

When the anger bubbles up to the surface, I want more than a “no fly zone”. I want my country and the rest of NATO to move into Ukraine with the combined force all branches of all of our militaries, sweep the invaders out of Ukraine, move on into Russia, capture Vladimir Putin, his advisers, and his generals. then lock them up somewhere and expose them to worldwide public humiliation for the rest of their worthless lives … or, maybe, just kill them.

Sometimes, when I am in that state of mind and, if I had the power, they’d be dead already. I think, “What the Hell! let’s have “World War III” and get it over with.”

… And then, I Remember …

… and then, … I calm down and remember the “youngsters”. I have two daughters, two sons-in-law, five grandsons, and a granddaughter-in-law. My brother and sister have children and grandchildren. Some of my friends have children or nieces and nephews who also have children. My friends, siblings. and I have more life behind us than ahead, but the “youngsters” have as much or more to come. I also remember that “World War III” is a euphemism for “Nuclear Holocaust” between Russia and the NATO Nations … and, maybe, China, … and North Korea, … and India, … and Pakistan, … and Israel.

For a moment, I believe that NATO and the European Union need to exercise extreme caution “for the sake of the children”, but then I remember German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller’s 1946 poem “First they came …“:

Then Putin came for the Ukrainians and I did not speak out because I was not a Ukrainian. Memory can be a terrible burden sometimes.

Echoes of Wars Past

Putin’s 21st century war on Ukraine has distant echoes of an 18th century war … the American Revolutionary War.

In 1776, the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. In an effort to subjugate his former colonies, Great Britain’s King George III sent his army and navy to attack the new country. In 1778, France joined the war on the side of the Americans. There was a growing opposition to the war in Great Britain as well. In 1781, British General Cornwallis was besieged at Yorktown, Virginia and eventually surrendered.

Ukraine had been part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. When the U.S.S.R. dissolved in 1991, Ukraine returned to being an independent country. This does not sit well with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. When Putin received little protest from anyone outside of Ukraine, he was emboldened to continue his aggressive action against his neighbor. Russia began to amass military forces on the Ukrainian border late in 2021. Those forces crossed into Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Russia has more than 3 times the population of Ukraine. It has about 28.4 times the land mass. Russia isn’t the “World Power” that Great Brittan was in 1776,[4] but no analogy is perfect. They do have mercenaries in Ukraine … the Wagner Group. Does that make NATO the analogous equivalent of France?


What are you trying to say?[5]

I am not an expert on Politics, Military Strategies/Tactics, or Diplomacy, but graduate studies qualify me as something of an expert on Information. As I listen to the news reports on the Putin’s War on Ukraine, I get the impression that many commentators and their guests are using euphemisms.[6] Some listeners may not fully understand what the speaker really means. Conversely, the speakers may not be aware that they’re using words with euphemistic undertones for some of their listeners. There are some open questions/apparent assumptions that may be distorting the views of Putin, NATO leaders, and the public. Here are the ones that I believe to be the most problematic:

  • The term “World War III” is probably the most confusing to the most people.

    To almost anyone born before the 1970s, World War III means the United States and Russia firing all of their transcontinental nuclear and thermonuclear missiles at each other in a barrage of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), killing hundreds of millions of people in less than an hour, poisoning those remaining with radiation, and bringing on an ice age called nuclear winter.

    To many born after the 1980s, World War III probably means a big war involving lots of countries fighting with “conventional weapons” … an expanded version of the wars that have been in the news throughout their lives (e.g., the Persian Gulf War, the Bosnian War, and the 21st Century wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) … or, cyber warfare. Even warfare using drones and robots might come to mind before any thoughts of thermonuclear war.

    Reality is somewhere in between. The United States has 1,357
    deployed warheads … 56.17% of our Cold War maximum. Russia has 1,456 … 58.47% of their Cold War maximum. We may have eliminated the likelihood of Armageddon, but between the U.S and Russia … not to mention other nuclear-armed NATO nations and, perhaps, China …, we kill a lot of people, destroy a lot of cities, and create ecological disaster on a global scale.

  • Declaring a “No Fly Zone” does not make it real. If we could speak a no fly zone into existence, why not declare a “No War Zone”? A no fly zone must be enforced. That means NATO planes shooting at Russian planes … aerial warfare that will quickly escalate into general and wide-spread warfare.

  • President Biden cannot declare war on Russia. Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 gives Congress the right and responsibility:

    To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

    If you want the United States to take direct military action against Russia, contact your Representative and Senators. They … and 532 other representatives and senators … are the ones who have the authority to act on your preference.


  • “What ifs” serve no useful purpose. “Woulda, coulda, shoulda” can enhance feelings of hopelessness. The focus must be on the situation as it exists now. Beating up NATO, President Biden, and/or other world leaders past and present (other than Vladimir Putin) does not help Ukraine.

    Ukrainian President
    Volodymyr Zelenskyy understands this. He doesn’t bemoan the help he was denied in the past. He asks for what he needs now. As the situation changes, his pleas change. Understanding that a NATO-initiated no fly zone is not going to happen, he has changed his what he is requesting … planes, anti-aircraft artillery, recognizance and attack drones, etc. With those tools, his forces can secure their own skies.

    The NATO nations and the non-NATO members of the European Union need to get those vital tools to Ukraine now. Putin has blustered that he will consider such action aggression against Russia. So what? He has already resorted to indiscriminately shelling and bombing civilians; medieval siege warfare; and threats of nuclear, biological, and/or chemical warfare. He has shown us who he is … a despotic war criminal who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. We must believe him … and act accordingly.


  • Providing Ukraine with military equipment and sanctions on Russian oil are not significantly increasing inflation. The inflation … and supply-chain problems started before Russia invaded Ukraine. The pandemic caused by SARS-COV-2 shutdown the whole world for most of 2020 and part of 2021. Demand went down in general and/or shifted dramatically.[7] Production and the supply-chain slowed and/or shifted.[8]

    Now, with vaccines to prevent serious infection and hospitalization and post-infection medication, SARS-COV-2 is moving from pandemic to endemic. We still need to deal with it, but we have the tools to do so. Demand is returning to and, in some cases,
    [9] exceeding that of 2019.

    Demand has a large psychological component … people want “stuff”. Supply has a large physical component … the “stuff” has to be manufactured or extracted and processed, then distributed. When demand exceeds supply prices go up. When prices increase in a lot of segments of the economy at the same time, we call that aggregate Inflation.


Enemies Within; Allies Without

A majority of Americans support Ukraine and oppose Russia’s invasion. Some prominent “influencers” disagree. Soon after Putin’s forces crossed Ukraine’s border, Tucker Carlson had this to say:

Not to be outdone, former U.S. President Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic brilliance:

A month into Putin’s unprovoked, murderous, atrocity-laden war of choice, Trump decided it was time to ask his buddy Vlad to provide evidence for yet another anti-Biden conspiracy theory:

Our “beloved” former President failed to intimidate Ukrainian President Zelenskyy into helping him win our 2020 election. Perhaps, he hopes that flattering his idol will help him overthrow that election … or win the next one.

While these “fifth columnists” try to undermine Ukraine, their own country, and NATO, those who support the Ukrainian people in their fight to retain their freedom and independence gained surprising allies … the extranational hacker collective who call themselves “Anonymous“.

Many who have heard of Anonymous think of them as “the bad guys”. They are, after all, vigilantes [10] and (Oh My God!) hackers. Indeed, they have, at times, skirted the edges of the law and made trouble for authorities, but they’re fighting Putin on his own terms. Putin and his autocracy have been implicated in hacking other countries for years. Since invading Ukraine, he has eliminated all independent media in Russia. Anonymous could not have chosen a more appropriate leader to oppose.

Bucha, Mariupol’, Kramatorsk, and Odessa

Bucha

Bucha is a suburb of Kyiv, , the capital city of Ukraine.

As part of an effort to encircle and lay siege to Kyiv, Putin’s forces invaded and occupied Bucha on February 22, 2022. During the month that followed, Ukraine’s forces and resistance from Ukrainian civilians made it clear that Kyiv was not going to succumb. Using the excuse that their original purpose was to liberate Ukraine’s eastern oblasts, Putin’s forces withdrew from Bucha on March 31st. They left evidence and civilian reports of atrocities so barbarous that they put ISIS to shame. Putin and his forces are not the leader of his country and that country’s military. They are terrorists. The pictures and reports are so horrendous that I, like the TV news channels, am not going to “just spring them on you without warning” but, believing that everyone should see them, I have posted them as an extended subsection of this article.

To go to that subsection, click HERE. Each part of the subsection has a “Return” link that will bring you back to this point in the main article.

Mariupol’

The city of Mariupol’ is in the Donetsk Oblast in the southeast of Ukraine. In 2012, the Ukrainian parliament began work on an agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. In 2013, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych rejected that agreement in favor of closer ties with Russia. This led to the Revolution of Dignity and the eventual removal of Yanukovych. Since then, the Donetsk Oblast has been a center of conflict between the Ukrainian government and the a pro-Russian political/para-military group that calls itself the Donetsk People’s Republic.

Mariupol’ is the largest city on a land corridor connecting Russia with the ,,, formerly Ukrainian … Crimean Peninsula that Russia “appropriated” in 2014. Putin’s army put the city under siege on February 25, 2022. Bombardment has destroyed most of Mariupol’. Without proper shelter, food, water, medicine, … and a means of escape …, 10-20 thousand of its citizens have died.

Kramatorsk

On April 8, 2022, Putin’s forces bombed a train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine where civilians were preparing to embark for the relative safety of the western part of the country. The bombing killed at least 50 people. At least 5 of the dead were children. Ukrainian investigators found the remains of one of the delivery rockets with a message in Russian painted on its side.

Some sources say that the writing means “for our children“. Others translate it to “for THE children“. These phrases do not mean the same thing. “For our children” implies “in defense of our children”. “For the children” could be an idiomatic or poetic way of saying the same thing, BUT it could also mean “for killing the children of our enemy”. The former is protective. The latter is genocide.

Both Alphabet’s Google and Microsoft’s Bing have translator options. Both show the identical Russian translations for the English phrases “for our children” and “for the children” respectively.

Google Translator
Bing Translator

Take a close look at the writing on the rocket. The last word is almost complete, but look at the visible fragment of of the preceding word. Does it look like a Russian Cyrillic “xa” (X) or a “ja” (reverse R)? You be the judge.

Odessa

On April 22nd, one of Putin’s generals announced plans to invade the Transnistria region of Moldavia. Moldavia is another non-NATO country that was once part of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian city of Odessa stands between Moldovia and the parts of southern Ukraine already under Russian control.

Portions of Ukraine and Moldova that Putin wants to control

On Saturday, April 23, 2022 … the day before Orthodox Easter …, Russia fired missiles into Odessa. One of those missiles hit and partially destroyed an apartment building.

Russia calls this sort of attack an accident. They insist that they were aiming at a nearby support delivery system, weapons depot, etc. Considering what they’ve done in Bucha, Mariupol’, and Kramatorsk, it seems more likely that they intended to hit the building.

When you fire on civilian homes, you kill civilians. Among the dead was a 3 month-old child and her 27 year-old mother. The baby’s maternal grandmother died in the attack as well. The next day, Vladimir Putin attended Easter Sunday services in Moscow.

When Putin ordered is forces to invade Ukraine, he said that their goal was to free Russian-speaking people from Nazis who controlled the country. The baby’s grandmother was originally from Russia. If Vladimir Putin wanted to find Nazis, he should have started by looking into a mirror.

Is it Time to Dust Off our Little Desks?

I began researching and writing this article a few days after Putin’s forces entered Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Just before the invasion, Putin rattled his nuclear sabers. That noise woke a little boy who had grown up with a nagging fear of sudden, instant death lying just below the surface of his consciousness. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the terror rose to the surface. I was sure that our time was up. At any moment, we’d hear the sirens, try to hide, see a flash, die, and find out what comes next. I “whistled in the dark” trying to hide it. I don’t know if I fooled anyone else, but I didn’t fool myself. After the crisis passed, the terror burrowed back into my subconscious. In the years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, I forgot it was there.

Now, almost 33 years later, I have better coping skills than whistling. During the first month of Putin’s war, I comforted the frightened child within me. The research necessary to write this article, the determination, perseverance, skill, and leadership of the Ukrainian people, and the surprising incompetence of the Russian military helped in my “conversations” with my pre-pubescent self.

Putin’s ground forces have pulled away from Kyiv … with the rationale that liberating ethnic Russians in Ukraine’s eastern regions has been their intent all along. Considering the suffering and death the siege of the southeastern city of Mariupol has caused and considering that over 40% of the people of that city are ethnic Russians, the word “rationale” should be replaced by “excuse”. The truth is that the original reasoning for invading Ukraine was to feed Putin’s ego.[11] The truth is that they backed away from Kyiv because the Ukrainians were beating them there.

Putin and his generals made a major error in judgement. They thought that the attempt to conquer Ukraine would be similar to capturing Crimea in 2014. This invasion reinvigorated NATO and united Ukraine … exactly the opposite of what Putin expected.[12]

NATO, in general, and the United States, in particular, have been and are doing the right thing. The sanctions are hurting the Russian economy and isolating the country. More useful and more powerful weapons are moving into Ukraine quickly and in quantity. Ukraine will survive … independent, intact. and free. Putin, his “buddies”, his generals, and his forces will fail.

Putin is a despot, but not a fool. His hypersonic missiles could reach many countries in Europe from inside Russia, but he carefully kept the few he fired within Ukraine. He doesn’t want to fight NATO. Those missiles can carry nuclear warheads, but the “rattling sabers” didn’t. Even if they did, it wouldn’t guarantee a win.

Five nations, the United States, Russia, France, China, and the United Kingdom are signers of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).[13] Three of the five are NATO nations. Even if China were to join Russia in “World War III” … which is not guaranteed[14] …, NATO has the upper hand in deployed warheads.

Putin wants to conquer the World; not decimate it, …

… but, just in case, I’ve checked out the accommodations under my BIG wooden desk.

Now, I’ll get back to doing what I can to deal with our home-grown fascists and wannabe autocrats.

End Notes

[1]
You know the type. Four years with a “Narcissist-in-Chief” running a country is bad enough. Vladimir Putin has been alternating between Russia’s offices of Prime Minister and President for more than two decades. That’s plenty of time to add “megalomaniac with delusions of godhood” to his resume. Before he began playing musical chairs with those two offices, he gained a major dose of paranoia serving in the KGB for almost a quarter of a century.

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[2]
Belarus is allied with Russia. No doubt that makes it Russia in Putin’s mind.

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[3]
I found these map images on Google maps. I did not select the colors. I find it familiar and ironic that the “bad guys” … Russia and Belarus … are portrayed in shades of red while the “good guys” … the NATO nations … are portrayed in blue.

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[4]
Senator John McCain once called Russia “a gas station masquerading as a country”. Representative Denny Heck elaborated on McCain’s statement saying that Russia is “a gas station with nukes”.

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[5]
“What are you trying to say?” is the title of one of my earliest blog articles. Before I became really annoyed by national and world politics, I was moderately annoyed by poor grammar, recently invented buzz words, the use of multisyllabic words instead of their more common equivalents, misspoken idioms, etc. Those things continue to moderately annoy me. Someday, when National and International Peace breaks out, I’ll update that article or write a sequel. Until then, here’s the URL of that early article for anyone who is interested:

What are you trying to say? – My Less Than Humble Opinion

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[6]
The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. Though that freedom is sacrosanct, it carries with it a responsibility to be as clear and accurate as is possible. I would think that anyone, who has been given the power to influence the opinions of millions, would want to present their information in a way that most of their viewers/listeners/readers understand. Better to use more words than to use language that means different things to different demographics.

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[7]
The 2020 “paper products” shortage was a supply-chain problem. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the manufacturers of paper products maintained two separate supply lines … one supplied commercial needs and the other supplied private needs. This system allowed each supply line to closely track and predict the needs on its particular customers. Each line could produce and deliver what was needed while maintaining a small warehouse inventory. The small warehouse backup kept prices down. The approach kept both groups of customers happy with both supply and cost … until the whole world shut down to reduce the spread of the SARS-COV-2 virus.

Suddenly, the needs of commercial customers (restaurants, hotels, office buildings, etc.) dropped dramatically and the needs of private customers (you, me, and everyone else who was “stuck at home”) increased dramatically. The private customer supply-line could not keep up with demand. It took time for the producers to reorganize the commercial supply-line to help. (Large commercial customers are concentrated in big cities; private customers are everywhere.) “First World” people can do without napkins and paper towels, but we’re rather fond of toilet paper. When the news reached the people and the store shelves emptied, panic buying and hoarding began. (This is similar to what happens when a massive storm is predicted, but those events don’t last for months on end.

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[8]
With everyone working, studying, and protecting themselves at home, the need for gasoline dropped dramatically. The bottom dropped out of the price of crude oil. With demand reduced and prices down, petroleum production dropped in response. Reduced demand leads to reduced supply.

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[9]
After a year or more in actual and/or virtual lockdown, a lot of people want to travel. Some seem to be trying to cram three years of travelling into 2022. Cars, airplanes, cruise ships, and trains require fuel. That’s a LOT of oil. Petroleum producers everywhere reduced production when the demand dropped. Petroleum production is not a switch that can be turned on and off at will. It took a while to reduce production. It will take a while to increase production. With demand up and supply down, the price of all petroleum products will go up. The interaction of supply and demand is “Economics 101”.

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[10]
You know, vigilantes … horrible people who take the law into their own hands … like Batman and Spiderman. 😁

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[11]
To Vladimir Putin, the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union were among the most atrocious and unjust events in the history of the World … a violation bordering on sacrilege. He sees himself as the epic hero who will set things right. He will be remembered by the Russian people as a leader on the level of Lenin, Stalin, and Peter the Great.

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[12]
When Putin invalided and stole Crimea in 2014, he received little resistance from the NATO nations nor the European Union. Even the United States did little more than say, “Shame on you.” President Obama’s administration was more focused on domestic problems. No doubt, Putin saw President Trump as someone with goals for the World Order similar to his own. Trump had done much to neuter NATO without any outside encouragement. At the very least, he served as a “useful idiot” to forward Putin’s goals. President Biden must be a shock to President Putin. Unlike Obama, Joe Biden has decades of experience in the international arena. In a short time, he has reminded NATO leaders why their countries joined the alliance. He has been able to undo the damage initiated by Trump. Putin’s invasion is yielding results that are the opposite of what he wanted. NATO is stronger and growing. Finland has decided to request NATO membership … and, Sweden is close behind them.

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[13]
India, Pakistan, and North Korea are non-signatories who have nuclear weapons. Israel probably has nuclear weapons as well, but they don’t talk about it.

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[14]
China’s alliance with Russia is ideological … both are autacracies. Vladimir Putin sees himself as a savior who will return Russia to it’s former glory as a powerful force in the world. Xi Jinping sees himself as a wise leader guiding China to a level of world economic dominance that it has always deserved. Putin is inspired by the past. Xi is taking aim on the future.

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Bucha Atrocities
War Crimes? Genocide?

By the time the Russians left Bucha, they had destroyed large portions of the city.

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When Ukrainian authorities and the Press entered Bucha, they found graves in backyards where residents had buried their dead … and mass graves where Putin’s forces had dumped their victims.

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Putin’s forces seem to have been fond of shooting civilians riding on bicycles. Perhaps they considered it target practice … in case members of Ukraine’s military tried use such vehicles to attack their tanks.

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Bodies were everywhere. Some had died in the streets.

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Others had been shot down together in the courtyards of public buildings, or …

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… murdered while returning home with groceries.

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Some had been executed with their hands tied behind their backs.

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Many of the survivors of the Russian occupation of Bucha had horrifying stories to tell.

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Some Bucha civilians had been blown to pieces … or, perhaps, intentionally dismembered … by Putin’s thuggish troops.

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Those left behind were left with tears of grief, prayers for relief, and a sense of hopelessness.

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When Ukrainian forces reentered the city … driving out or capturing Russian stragglers …, soldiers like this one helped to give the citizens of Bucha the strength to go on and a bit of hope for their country’s future.

Return to the Main Body of this Article. There’s nowhere else to go.