Europe’s Yellowstone Ranch

The events in eastern Europe over the past week (or 16 years) compare eerily with an episode of the popular television series, “Yellowstone.” Of particular note are the responses from several of our politicians who have pronounced their admiration for the biker club leader, er, Vladimir Putin.

In the TV story, a passing motorcycle gang cuts a barbed wire fence and moves into the pasture to build a fire and drink some beer. They are having a grand time when a couple of hands from the ranch stop to advise the intruders they were on private land and should leave.  A fight ensues and the bikers leave rather than be buried in the pasture.

They come back at night, prepared to burn the pasture, and are met by ranch owner John Dutton.

“This is my home,” Costner/Dutton asks. “If I did this to your home, what would you do?”

“I’d kill you,” biker guy answers.

Biker leader V. Putin seems to have the same idea. In the best tradition of bullies everywhere, he starts a fight, and then tells his opposition if they defend themselves, he will beat them up. So far, he has repeated the process with impunity.

In August 2008, at the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency, he invaded Georgia – not the state in the U.S. south but the nation at his southern border.

In 2014, he took it a step further. He threatened to invade Ukraine, then settled for annexing Crimea – the latter being a region at the southeast corner of Ukraine.

Also in 2014, he won some medals with what turned out to be drug-enhanced competitors at the Winter Olympics.

The Olympic committee banned Russia from future Olympics, and Russia changed its name to Russian Olympic Committee. “We are not Russia,” the banned nation declared and was allowed to compete in the 2022 Olympics – with what turned out to be at least one drug-enhanced skater. So far, the only result has been delay of awards to the other skaters while officials decide whether to award a medal to the illegal skater.

Now Putin has upped the ante in Ukraine. He has invaded the part of the nation from which he was convinced to withdraw in his previous attempt.

Those who don’t learn from history …

Interestingly, Putin invokes denazification as a justification for invading Ukraine. His efforts are right out of Adolph Hitler’s playbook. Adolph Hitler announced he wanted Czechoslovakia. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberland gave it to him in the apparent belief Hitler would settle down.

The following year, Hitler invaded Poland, and Britain declared war on Germany. Hitler annexed several more previously independent nations before the U.S. decided to enter the fray.

Once again, we are in the pasture, the barbed wire cut and the fire burning, and the biker leader is not going quietly back to his suburban home. Instead, Putin is threatening to employ nuclear weapons to enforce his thievery.

I’ve been friends for several years with a man whose parents were Ukrainian. He has family still there, and his daughter served there with the Peace Corps.

Next door to my home is a neighbor whose maternal grandfather was from a town near Chernobyl, and his paternal grandfather was from a town just west of Lviv.

They worry, as should we all, about the safety of family left behind, fighting or trying to escape as did our citizens when this nation was aborning, facing down a more powerful bully.

This is not a television movie. The solution to our immediate global battle is in the hands of people whose paychecks have many more zeroes than mine. The bully must be stopped, we hope without destroying all our homes, before his fire spreads to other pastures.

Thanks for sticking with me. If you like what you’ve seen, please take a moment to share it with your friends.

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