On the example of Medium.
Some people know East European history and politics better than others. I am one of the former.
Before the war started, I warned that the only way of avoiding it was by telling Putin that if he attacked Ukraine, America would respond in kind and that we meant it. Editors at Medium did not place that article in the Medium Daily Digest. Very few people read it. I am not happy that I was right.
After the war started, I wrote that Putin and his cronies should be declared war criminals. Their only fate is to stand in front of judges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Knowing that Putin and his assistants will be outcasts forever, the Russian elite will act swiftly to remove Putin.
Some pundits split hairs, claiming that it might be hard to indict Putin because of the legal constraints regarding who is the signatory to which agreement. Launching an unprovoked war is a crime. Nazis were sentenced in Nuremberg for invading peaceful nations.
Today, March 10, 2022, in the Medium Daily Digest, in the top position, there is a column by Douglas Rushkoff rambling about the moral dilemmas of people who are happy that today bombs do not fall on them but on others. Before writing, Mr. Rushkoff devoted a few days for “reading the room,” as he phrases it. He confesses that he is not an expert on East European politics. Unfortunately, when trying to educate himself, Mr. Rushkoff could not find my article among the recommendations that Medium sends daily to all its members. Again, Medium editors decided that the proposition of declaring Putin a war criminal is not an idea worth spreading.
Ideas matter; spreading them matters too. Medium is big enough to make an impact, to make history.
But Medium recommends to me articles like the one by Douglas Rushkoff. My take on the situation is less rosy. With every day that this war goes on, the risk of America getting involved in it goes up. It seems that our military help to Ukraine has been critical in the Russians’ inability to win the war so far. It is only a matter of time before Russia hits the military supply before it reaches Ukraine. Trying to avoid angering Vladimir Putin is merely delaying the inevitable.
After a 90-minute conversation with Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron said that things would get worse and that Putin is determined to fight to the end. It was a week ago, and we all can see that he was right. In the meantime, Russians claim that they feel threatened by the likelihood that the West will use nuclear and biological weapons. My reading is that Putin is preparing his audience for Russia using these weapons “as a preventive measure.”
Putin seems eager to press that red button. Our only hope is that some Russian generals come to their senses before that and disconnect that button from the nuclear launchpad. If they do not, we face a risk that our missile intercept system might not catch bombs heading to our coastal cities such as New York, where Douglas Rushkoff teaches, or San Francisco, where Medium is headquartered. The bombs sent to Chicago, where I live, have lower chances of reaching the destination. That means that both Douglas Rushkoff and Ev Williams, the Medium CEO, have a greater chance to die than I do. That outcome would deprive me of the doubtful satisfaction of telling them: I told you so.
In the meantime, every minute innocent people are dying in Ukraine. The only practical help that media people can offer is insisting that Putin and his accomplices are war criminals who have no honorable exit; their destiny is in prison. His facilitators in Russia will never get back their yachts and never pull even a penny from their seized bank accounts. We can offer an exception for those who put Putin on a plane and drop him at the doorsteps of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Medium is big enough to make this message a worldwide consensus.