Thursday 24 February 2022

Opinion: Ukraine is a test of leadership in short supply

Putin is possessed

One is not known for commentary on international politics, nor am I informed enough to postulate on the historical relevance that leads to contemporary events being let loose on Ukraine. However, from what I have seen so far, something has rumbled the graves of Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin, awakening their malevolent spirits to possess by legion Vladimir Putin.

The optics are there, the inordinately large tables, the command of his court by distance rather than a collegiate cabinet is the metaphor for a humongous throne with an absolute arch-emperor before whom a mirror would fail to reflect reality but profuse flattery that apparent trickery and genius would no doubt lead to a catastrophic fall through missteps that humans who have suspected themselves of inviolable omnipotence have come to the harsh truth of both mortality and transience of power.

It is just wrong

There is no doubt that we all have to hold our nerve on this matter that we cannot in the 21st Century have a potentate marauding the northern hemisphere acquiring lands and nations in a quest for apparent security in buffer countries that immediately brings them to the borders of the threat they rail against. It might seem smart now, but our collective resolve needs to be demonstrated not in the sophistry of words but in the deftness of effective action.

Meanwhile, the traffic of 24-hour of rolling news has its toll on those of us who can only depend on our politicians to act for the sake of the preservation of humanity from untrammelled barbarity, wanton vandalism, atrocious impunity, and incurable madness. I switched my radio from BBC Radio 4 which is full of commentary, much of which is talk shop and vain jangling to BBC Radio 3 where I find the calming strains of classical music and absent myself for longer moments from the psychosis that is engulfing our world.

Indeed, there were other issues the world has been at fault for not addressing and we need to come back to look at them with a commitment for better peace and resolution in those troubled lands, but whataboutery is an expensive hobby. What is upon us is Ukraine, and it needs to be arrested with everything we have the power to do now.

Leadership is required now

My heart is with Ukraine, much as I have the luxury of being far away from the midst of conflict that touches me through energy prices and the cost of living that I am fortunate to have some means to weather. If we fail to contain and push back the menace of Putin, we would have unleashed what would have been the prospect of Hitler winning his war. It does not bear thinking of. It calls for leadership, statesmanship, political nous, and nerve. I hope the world leaders are up to the task.

If anything, like we have seen with the pandemic, we might choose comical and entertaining leaders in times of peace, but when they are tested in times of adversity and taxing circumstances, how many innocent lives would have been lost to the wrong choice of leaders we have made? If anything, competence is needed when it matters, and it matters more today.

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