“Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the streetwise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?”– Bonnie Tyler
Occasionally there are moments that boggle the imagination. In the movie “Wag the Dog” a filmmaker is called on to create a fake war in a fake country to distract the American people from a sex scandal involving the president. No one could call Ukraine a fake country. It is the largest country in Europe and would be much more well-known if it were in Western Europe.
As it stands, it exists in an important part of the world. The perception of Ukraine coming into the past few weeks was probably similar to the fictitious country from the movie. In the movie, actors and actresses were brought in to look downtrodden and pathetic. We were supposed to feel sorry for them. It wasn’t hard to imagine the reality of this situation being all that different.
Such a reality would have created a similar effect. Millions of Americans and citizens of other NATO countries would feel sorry for the Ukrainians and want to intervene. In essence, a part of that has happened, but the Ukrainians haven’t played their part in that morality play.
The leader in Ukraine is a legitimate badass. Volodymyr Zelenskyy got his start as a comedian and satirist. His rise to prominence would be most similar to Al Franken in our own country if you remove the sex scandal and instead make Franken the president of the United States. Zelenskyy has a presence and charisma that few American politicians can muster. He’s needed every bit of that over the past few weeks and more.
Something special has happened in Ukraine. Great sports teams often take on the personality of their coach. I suppose bad teams do as well. The Ukrainian people have embodied the spirit of their leader and are winning over the citizens of the world. They aren’t doing it the way that the Albanians did in Wag the Dog. They are fighting all the way down to the last adult, often making weapons through Google searches and whatever supplies they can find on hand.
Meanwhile, they are getting support from some of the unlikeliest of places. No one could scarcely say that the entire world is behind them. Even the most cockeyed of optimists wouldn’t go that far. However, it is pretty safe to say the majority of the world is behind Ukraine and that support has caused some Russia backers here in the U.S. to change their tune. They know who they are, so there is no need to belabor the point.
Meanwhile, the Russian army has embodied the spirit of their leader. They came in with a big, imposing force hoping to bully the Ukrainians into submission. Yet, their effort was largely disorganized and many of the soldiers don’t seem to have the will to continue. They may eventually overwhelm Ukraine, but they certainly haven’t looked good doing it.
Since the Cold War days you could credibly say that the U.S. and Russia were mirror images of each other. That might be more true than we thought. One wonders if we would even be capable of mounting the same kind of defense that Ukraine is mustering. All people are capable of acts of courage and bravery collectively and we are no different. Yet, you have to wonder if we have any leaders capable of doing what Zelenskyy is doing. Even if we did you’d openly wonder how many people would actually follow them.
Lord knows why these things happen. There are certainly no shortage of working theories here. Many think our former president was either an unwitting or witting Russian agent. Others just think he saw himself as an autocrat and therefore gravitated towards those kinds of guys. Maybe that explains guys like Carlson too. I’ve never been much to buy into conspiracies, so I’m not about to start now. What I do know is that we could use own Zelenskyy right now. Maybe Bonnie Tyler was right.