Steve A. Stone
Dear Friends and Patriots,
Can you tear yourself away from following the Will Smith – Chris Rock slappy-face tiff long enough to focus on something that may be real? I know the Oscars is, like, a mega-important event that feeds us in so many, many ways, but – I beg you! – pay heed to something less meaty, just for a short moment.
I’ve been contemplating that scene in Ukraine again. How can I not? Even though I haven’t had my TV on in over a year, don’t listen to the radio except when driving in my car, and only take one weekly newspaper (Epoch Times, if anyone cares), I still dwell on mischief and mayhem. This week I visited a friend and was a bit taken aback when I realized Fox News was running something like marathon coverage on the war in Ukraine. Full time coverage! Gee, if anything screams “SHINY TOY HERE!” that’s it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that level of coverage is the “if it bleeds, it leads” habit of the old press. No, the war in Ukraine is a diversion writ large.
I’m pretty sure if I made such a statement to anyone in Eastern Europe right now they’d do a “Will Smith” to my own face, only they’d use a fist instead of an open hand (what was that sissy move, anyway?) I’m pretty sure even average man-in-the-street Russians would look askance at me and question my sanity. The Polish, who are now awash in a sea of refugees, would certainly tell me to grow up. But, because I’m not in Eastern Europe I have the luxury of taking my time to evaluate what I see in a more dispassionate way. I can look beyond the chaos and destruction and see the calculus problems for what they are. There are several of them, too.
The media and political class want us focused on the war itself. I choose not to be. The business broadcasters and writers want to focus us on the effects the war is having on things like energy, food, and other goods that are seeing price escalations. They aren’t uttering ancient tropes about how war is always good for business – even though they darned well know it is – for a select crowd. There are precious few articles and live examinations of the puts and takes of the war that help identify the winners and losers. That dearth of offerings of stratospheric consideration creates a gap in the narrative. I want to attempt to fill that gap, at least in part.
In every conflict there are winners and losers. Even if a war is fought to a stalemate and there’s something of a peace agreement reached, there are still winners and losers. Those who’ve studied wars and their aftermath understand it takes at least two generations after the end of any war to figure out who won and who lost. Take World War I, for example. Maybe you haven’t heard this, but the biggest loser of that war was Great Britain. The aftermath of World War I set the stage for the sunset of the great British Empire and ushered in the set of dynamics that resulted in World War II. Conversely, that very same war heralded the rise of the greatest national power of the 20th Century – the United States of America. There was a brief period when the solution to that calculus problem was a bit in doubt. There were many who were betting on Hitler’s German Reich to emerge as the world’s dominant power, but the problem was solved correctly after the Reich was finished off. The lesson of history that many don’t quite get is – what we think of as the end of a war only ends the killing. The aftermath is what determines who really won and lost. The reason it’s a calculus problem? There are many variables that include every nation on the planet, each nation’s economy, and each nation’s political trajectory. With each one of those variables in a constant state of flux, it just plain takes time for the ultimate answer to be determined. And, then, there’s another truth that regards that answer – it’s only valid for a certain span of time. No answer to any calculus problem that involves history has ever been static. Rome lasted about 500 years. Hitler’s 1,000 year Reich only managed about 13. America? The jury is still out on that question.
When I look to the east and contemplate the war in Ukraine I can’t predict the ultimate winner. I will go out on a limb and say I don’t think it’s either Ukraine or Russia. I don’t know what nation it will be, or if it will be any nation at all. It could end up being one or more multi-national corporations. I’m pretty sure I won’t live long enough to find that out – if I’m lucky. If the winner becomes readily apparent much sooner that’s a very bad sign. That would mean the entire war was engineered to accomplish a much greater purpose – one no one should willingly wish for.
While I can’t see the winner yet, I can certainly tell you who’s losing. Most of the world is losing already. Though it’s a regional conflict the dynamic effects aren’t localized. No, this one is affecting almost every household on the planet to a greater or lesser degree, almost universally in a negative way.
The war is causing financial chaos everywhere. That’s intentional. It’s causing chaos in commodity markets. That, also, is intentional. It’s causing political chaos everywhere, too. Again, that’s intentional. Most nations seem to be lined up against Russia. After all, they’re the aggressor nation, aren’t they? They’re the big, bad wolf in that neighborhood and they’ve attacked Red Riding Hood in the guise of Ukraine. There was poor Ukraine, minding its own business when that evil villain Vlad Putin set upon it with his big, bad army. It’s terrible! It’s not fair! He’s a monster! We have to do something!
I’m reminded of a fight I witnessed after school, back when I was in the Eighth Grade. One of the Ninth Grade bullies met across the street from the baseball field and duked it out with another Ninth Grader, who wasn’t a bully, but was a real jerk. What made it interesting was the crowd that gathered around to watch. Only a couple of people in that crowd were obvious fans of either combatant. The rest of us were silent. I think most of us didn’t give a hoot who won. The jerk deserved to be kicked around a bit – he was always mouthing off and doing something to irritate us, just because he could. Likewise, the bully wasn’t our friend – he was our tormenter. So, we stood silently and watched as those two threw punches at each other, then rolled around on the ground for a while. The fight only lasted about twenty minutes. After the two wore themselves out they finally let go of each other, stood up, and walked silently away. There was no winner that day. Not between them, at least. But, something happened. We who watched didn’t think of ourselves as participants, but later on I came to the realization that our silence had made an impression on both of those kids. The one who was a jerk became a lot quieter and made much less trouble. The bully didn’t push nearly as many of us around as he did before. It could just be that the silence of the crowd that witnessed their fight led them both to understand just how unpopular they both were. Both of them lost. The spectators won, and we won for a lot of other people as well.
The world’s media seems to have picked its side. They’re pretty much in the bag for Ukraine. After all – who doesn’t love an underdog, right? Even I don’t hesitate to admit I admire the willingness of average Ukrainians to take up arms and do battle for the sake of their homes and families. But, that is a ground-level consideration. It misses the point. Even though Ukraine has been in the top tier of corrupt nations for at least the past 25 years, and even though it was reported that the government of Ukraine has recently enacted a whole raft of totalitarian “emergency” edicts, the world’s press still insists on labeling them as heroes. Are they? Are we so sure? I might be willing to say the people of Ukraine are heroic, but it’s government? I’m not so sure, and you shouldn’t be, either.
It’s easy to state that freedom is being lost in the war. Most individual freedom in Ukraine is under attack. The same goes for Russia. Both governments are cracking down on all forms of dissent. I don’t know about you, but I kind of think neither country has been on any principled high road and wouldn’t know one if they tripped over it. The world’s press may wrap Ukraine in some kind of holy flag, but the truth it – the government there is hardly any better than Russia’s, and perhaps, in some ways, is far worse.
The people of both countries are losing. The people always lose. Never forget – those soldiers and partisans who are doing the fighting – they’re people, too. They’re being killed, maimed, and otherwise made to suffer at the behest of corrupt, dictatorial regimes. Once again, as in most wars, the people suffer while the rulers treat them as little more than pawns on their chessboards. I have no use for either Ukraine’s or Russia’s governments. The people of those countries, though … none of them wanted any of the sacrifices they have to make. It’s a very ancient story, really. It never seems to change.
Across the world people are losing. The sanctions against Russia are destabilizing currencies and markets everywhere. The diversion of billions of dollars to the war zone and to support the needs of millions of refugees add to inflationary pressures. Speculators are driving up crop futures, betting on poor harvests in Ukraine and diminished exports from Russia due to the sanctions. OPEC has weighed in and is keeping crude oil prices high. They’ve also begun to allow China to purchase oil using the digital Yuan instead of dollars. What do you think that’s going to do to currency markets? We already know higher fuel prices are causing near across the board price hikes. Yes, the numbers of people living in poverty the world over are increasing day by day. The people lose once again. Their governments do almost nothing for them.
Americans should understand the shortages we’re seeing, exemplified by empty shelves in our stores, are largely contrived by our government’s inaction, in some cases, and interventions, in others. There are no reasons why America isn’t working as it has for the past 75 years, other than our government wills that it won’t. It’s all COVID, you know. COVID has been the excuse for imposing incredible constraints on our people, none of which has a real precedence, and none of which has had any positive outcome. We’ve been made to suffer, because … someone said so. We know who it was. We know who it still is. It’s a Deep State operation against us. It’s our government, unmasked, acting as an enemy of its citizens. If you look abroad at other countries and see very similar events and conditions you should understand the actions of our own government have been according to a rudimentary script. As stated – it’s largely contrived.
There are winners in all this, you know. There have been all along. Pharmaceutical companies have been making a killing. Those who bought stock in those companies early on are making a killing, too. Now, it appears there are many who are capitalizing off the Russia – Ukraine war. Who are some of those people? Oh, the usual suspects. Look at the lords of money. They own this game. They never lose. Then, look at the politicians owned by those same lords of money. They pocket their own profits, all the while pretending they’re doing the will of the people who lined up to elect them. Just think of that, people – some of the worst crooks in our land are picked by us to play that role. Doesn’t that make you go “HHHhhhhmmmm”?
You should be a bit curious about the numbers. What does all the calculus indicate as far as how many are winners and how many are losers. How is that even characterized? Think about it. There’s only one nation that seems to be walking away from all of today’s chaos as a winner – China. There are myriad reasons for that. Just take it as truth that China is gaining as the rest of the world loses. They are the only clear winners on the stage today. Twenty years from now they may be nowhere near that stage, which means they may not be the ultimate winner. As for personal winners, that’s not even calculus. It’s a straight-up calculation. Estimate the population of the world, then take 0.1% of that number, and you have a good idea of how many individual people are in the “win” column. All the rest, the 99.9% of all humanity will ultimately be losers to one extent or another.
It’s all been predicted, many years ago. If you’ve been paying attention throughout your life, there are no real surprises, just disappointments and regrets. We all have choices to make, every single day. We can follow the herd and keep our eyes glued to the shiny toys offered up for our admiration and consumption, or we can avert our gaze and focus instead on what’s truly real. Freedom is real. Liberty is real. All our natural rights are real. At least, they are in this very moment. Who can guarantee our next moment, though? We can’t all wait for Will Smith to slap anyone for our sakes. We have to be willing to do that ourselves.
Steve© Steve A. Stone
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.