The Russian invasion of Ukraine should wake us up

“all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England, from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs” — George Orwell, “Homage to Catalonia”

Few events create as much moral clarity as the unprovoked, brutal invasion of a peaceful nation by a militaristic empire. It’s the backdrop or the driving conflict of so many of our stories — Star WarsCasablancaLord of the RingsThe Sound of Music — precisely because it creates heroes and villains so easily and automatically. On one side, the haughty, iron-fisted dictator with his legions of destruction — on the other side, children hiding underground while their parents make a desperate stand to protect their homeland.

The story of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fits that archetype perfectly. Ukraine wasn’t threatening Russia in any way; Ukraine never fired a shot into their neighbor, even though that neighbor had already carved off pieces of their country in 2014 and subjected them to a grinding eight-year war. Putin simply declared that Ukraine is historically part of Russia and sent in his troops. Soon, Russian missiles were blasting practically every city in Ukraine, Russian tanks were rolling into Ukrainian cities, and Ukrainian children were huddling in bomb shelters:

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