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The Ukraine Show

Lead by its charismatic and heroic president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s stand against Vladimir Putin’s Russian invasion is far more than the mere epic stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster but an actual demonstration of the human spirit in its finest hour.

The historic and profoundly moving moment has ignited a global wave of celebratory support. Columnists are declaring the West healed at last from its long despairing ennui. Everywhere on social media waves the gallant blue and gold of Ukraine’s flag. Genuine good is facing down calamitous evil. Here are the undaunted Zelensky and his vastly outnumbered Ring Fellowship standing tall against the evil Wizard Vladimir Putin Saruman and his bestial Orcs. In response, Western coffers are flying open and sanctions are targeting the fat wallets of evil men.

To send troops, however: no. Against forces one hundred times its size, we require Ukraine to fight alone, in its burning cities and devastated towns. It is rather like a small handful of exhausted and vastly outnumbered gladiators facing off against waves of crack mercenaries and savage, starving tigers. In the social media arena, while ecstatic spectators alternately cheer at the heroism and gasp at the horror, the political circus in all its sickening and hypocritical remove jubilantly reels from cell phone clips of exhilarating “content”. Ukraine’s war news is an online live action TV show for safely ensconced Westerners who are no more impacted by the blood and agony of the Ukrainians than by wearisome speculative updates about this year’s possible Oscar candidates.

What Ukraine needs most desperately—what it is pleading for—we refuse to give: flesh and blood troop reinforcements from the free nations.

Ukraine needs soldiers: American, French, British, German, Swedish, Israeli, Austrian, Japanese, Moroccan, Italian, Irish, Scottish, Australian and so forth. But to this, the cheering, gushing, pitying, awestruck and ecstatic social media fans and their political reps flatly say no. Ask for anything: money! Even more money! And Op Eds! And sympathetic televised coverage, oceans of it. And congressional and parliamentary speeches raging against Putin, glorifying Zelensky. All this, Ukraine, is yours. But soldiers? Forget it.

Brave people of Ukraine! We will find ways to smuggle people and pets out of your country. We will provide medicine, shelter, food, sanctuary (on a limited basis of course) for your refugees. And just watch what we do to the yachts and estates of Putin and his oligarchical gangster cronies! We’ll hurt them in their wallets while they hurt you in your flesh. We’ll ding their revenues while they spill your blood and slaughter your children! We’ll cramp their lifestyles while they incinerate your homes!

But you cannot have what would bring an immediate halt to the war: battalions of soldiers representing the free nations of the earth conjoined in a defense of your soil.

About the Author
Alan Kaufman is an American-Israeli novelist and memoirist. His latest novel, The Berlin Woman, has just been published by Mandel Vilar Press. His other books include the novels Matches (Little Brown) the memoirs Jew Boy (Cornell University Press) and Drunken Angel (Viva Editions).
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