This isn't the cheeriest time in Oregon. It's cold. We're approaching the shortest day of the year, so it's dark a lot.
But imagine that a malevolent foreign power who wants to make Oregon part of their country was attacking our electricity infrastructure with missiles and drones, causing our state to suffer massive electrical blackouts in winter.
And those attacks keep happening. As soon as we make repairs and get the lights and heat on again, the foreign power strikes another time, plunging a large share of Oregon's population back into cold and darkness.
Oh, and to make matters worse, that foreign power isn't only attacking civilian areas from afar. It first invaded Oregon eight years ago and has been fighting to take more of our territory ever since -- committing horrendous war crimes such as torture, rape, bombing of hospitals and schools.
What I just described is only imagination for Oregon. But it's reality in Ukraine.
Nicholas Kristof, after unsuccessfully attempting to run for Oregon governor this year, has returned to his job at the New York Times as a columnist. Yesterday the Times published a great piece by Kristof, Are We in the West Weaker Than Ukrainians?
Download Opinion | Are We in the West Weaker Than Ukrainians? - The New York Times
I highly recommend that you read the whole column, especially if you have some doubts that the United States should continue supporting Ukraine in its fight against Putin's Russia invasion. Here's some excerpts.
“We will beat the Ukrainian out of you so that you love Russia,” a Russian interrogator told one torture survivor I spoke to in Ukraine, before he whipped her and raped her. That seems a pretty good summation of Vladimir Putin’s strategy.
It isn’t working in Ukraine, where Putin’s atrocities seem to be bolstering the will to fight back. That brave woman triumphed over her interrogators, albeit at horrific personal cost.
But I worry that we in the West are made of weaker stuff. Some of the most momentous decisions the United States will make in the coming months involve the level of support we will provide Ukraine, and I’ve had pushback from some readers who think President Biden is making a terrible mistake by resolutely helping Ukraine repel Russia.
...The fundamental misconception among many congressional Republicans (and some progressives on the left) is that we’re doing Ukraine a favor by sending it weapons. Not so. We are holding Ukraine’s coat as it is sacrificing lives and infrastructure in ways that benefit us, by degrading Russia’s military threat to NATO and Western Europe — and thus to us.
“They’re doing us a favor; they’re fighting our fight,” Wesley Clark, the retired American general and former supreme allied commander of NATO forces in Europe, told me. “The fight in Ukraine is a fight about the future of the international community.”
If the war ends in a way favorable to Russia, he argues, it will be a world less safe for Americans. One lesson the world would absorb would be the paramount importance of possessing nuclear weapons, for Ukraine was invaded after it gave up its nuclear arsenal in the 1990s — and Russia’s nuclear warheads today prevent a stronger Western military response.
“If Ukraine falls, there will certainly be a wave of nuclear proliferation,” Clark warned.
For years, military strategists have feared a Russian incursion into Estonia that would challenge NATO and cost lives of American troops. Ukrainians are weakening Russia’s forces so as to reduce that risk.
More broadly, perhaps the single greatest threat to world peace in the coming decade is the risk of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait that escalates into a war between America and China. To reduce that danger, we should help Taiwan build up its deterrent capacity — but perhaps the simplest way to reduce the likelihood of Xi Jinping acting aggressively is to stand united against Russia’s invasion. If the West falters and allows Putin to win in Ukraine, Xi will feel greater confidence that he can win in Taiwan.
...In arguing for the West to stand with Ukraine, I’ve emphasized our national interest in doing so. But we have values at stake as well as interests, for there is also a moral question to face.
When one nation invades a neighbor and commits murder, pillage and rape, when it traffics in thousands of children, when it pulverizes the electrical grid to make civilians freeze in winter — in such a blizzard of likely war crimes, neutrality is not the high ground.
Let’s not let Russia beat the Ukrainian out of us: The world could use a spinal transplant from brave Ukrainians.
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