A Voice From When News Was News

I often miss the newscasters of yore, people like Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Diane Sawyer, John Chancellor, the team of Huntley-Brinkley, and more.  One who is still around, though no longer serving as a news anchor, is Dan Rather.  His periodic newsletters are insightful and informative, and today I share his latest, his take on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.


Reacting to War

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

Feb 24  

The world spins.

The sun sets on a nation under attack.

The sun rises on a desperate awareness of a new, dire, and unpredictable crisis. 

Panic spreads across Ukraine as the sounds of death echo across its cities and countryside. We must think first and foremost of those facing the brunt of the invasion, especially the civilians who will inevitably be caught in the crossfire of conflict. We can picture the parents desperately trying to soothe the fears of their children, even as they wonder with sickening uncertainty about how they can protect their families.

The tragedy ripples outward. A sense of stability has been shattered in Europe, and around the globe. There are other countries, like the Baltic states, who must wonder what Putin’s plans are for them. There is the NATO alliance, tested in new and urgent ways. And there are the world’s leaders who must decide how to react so as not to risk escalation but also not let this injustice stand unanswered.

What Putin’s motives really are for destabilizing our world order are hard to definitively discern. Perhaps he himself doesn’t know. A return to a perceived Soviet-era glory? A determination to leave his mark as a man of conquest and consequence? A twister of history and fact who believes his own lies? Likely some of all of that, and more.

Reports are that many in Russia are shocked by the turn of events. Do they really want a war? Against a country with whom millions share close ties of friends and family? The chaos Putin has unleashed in their name will reverberate back across the Russian state. What will happen when young Russian soldiers come home in coffins? What will it do to the Russian economy?

A lot of the justification for this conflict, including among Putin’s cheerleaders in the United States, has been that this was provoked by the West, that it was due to the encroachment of NATO to the Russian borders. The tides of history are difficult to separate into simple cause and effect. Many others have noted that NATO expansion has been used as an uneven rationale for Russian grievances. Far more damaging to Putin’s visions of Russian power is the example that Ukraine poses as a counternarrative. Here is a country that could thrive outside of Russia. It is a democracy that challenged Putin’s autocratic vision of Russian destiny. In that way it is similar to what Taiwan means to China.

And here is where I gather hope. I believe that the vast majority of peoples around the globe do not yearn for war. I think most will side with the Ukrainian people, even if world leaders have trouble in the short term mustering an effective response. We have seen a march of authoritarianism and attacks on a world order that has, for all its faults and needs for improvement, nonetheless provided for an era of broad peace since the end of World War II, especially in Europe. Under this umbrella of peace, an internationalized culture has flourished, especially among younger generations. This talk of empires and lines on the map feels dangerously dated, the deadly games that old people play with the lives of the young.

Putin is empowered by an autocratic government he has made pliant to his will. He uses the grievances of fabricated history to justify his actions. He stokes divisions and plays to the faded dreams of a past that never existed. This is also the playbook of some actors in American politics. We must all awaken to the danger.

Might this be the spurring of a great response? Might this be the wake up call the world needs? Might countries reinvigorate old alliances and create new ones to repulse aggressors? Are these the last gasps of the unresolved conflicts of the 20th Century? Or is it something new entirely?

At this point there can be no certainty in any direction. But I hope that by staring into the abyss, we can find a way to understand all that is at stake. Out of upheaval can come new ideas and energy. Outrage can be a motivator for resolve. Putin has started a war that could, in the long term, have the exact opposite results from those he intended. I suspect he will be considered a villain in the histories he does not have the power to rewrite. And I hope that the ultimate response to that villainy is a new commitment to peace, security, and democracy.

54 thoughts on “A Voice From When News Was News

  1. “The chaos Putin has unleashed”

    Let me guess, this is commentary out of the American thought bubble, right? Putin reacted to chaos that was unleashed by the USA in 2014’s Maidan coup. With the goal to destroy any EU/Russia cooperation. And since then Russia’s attempts to start a constructive dialogue were met with *crickets* … while NATO crouched forward in eastern direction. Illegally I might add.

    Is America’s selfishness and hubris really that bad that they’ve hypnotized a whole nation – and a number of minion states – into following their destructive path so blindly?

    And now that Russia’s finally run out of patience and reacts, everybody’s acting like totally shocked and flubbergasted. Are you guys serious???

    Clue up! Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p50mlVUTwm8

    Liked by 2 people

    • No, this is commentary from a well-respected journalist. Now, I really do not have the time nor energy to keep arguing the point with you … neither of us will change the minds of the other. In my book, Putin is a bastard, a dictator who calls himself ‘president’, and I hope the Russian people throw his ass out. I know your feelings, that you think he’s great and wonderful. I respect your right to your opinion, but again, I see no point in continuing to argue with you about it. Full stop.

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    • ‘Tis true that foreign policy hasn’t been particularly brilliant, but Putin is to blame for every drop of blood shed in Ukraine and Russia. Some here are attempting to blame President Biden, but that is so wrong. Putin is the power-hungry murderer, not Biden nor Boris. I don’t think the Kremlin’s influence goes as far as you think, my friend … I think … I hope … that most nations have the good sense not to see Putin as any sort of a positive influence. Trump and Fox ‘News’ may sing Putin’s praises, but those of us with brains know better.

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    • This is the first I heard of that, so I did a bit of checking. The photos are from 2015 and do not actually show Russia using them, and Snopes is leaving the claim as “Unproven” but still trying to get information to confirm or deny. If true, this would be grounds for every Russian citizen to protest … it is a horrible abuse of power and attempt to cover up reality. Sigh. Thanks for letting me know about this, Vic … I’ll let you know if I hear anything more about it.

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  3. The death of the phoenix? Or the rise of a new terror. Imagine if the Orange Turkey had to handle this? He would have helped Putin plan and execute the attack. I think the Dems should be using this to their advantage. This is what Americans can expect if they give Trump another chance at power. He’ll attack Mexico and Canada, simultaneously.

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    • I have waking nightmares of how this would have gone down if the former guy were still in the Oval Office. No doubt he would be trying to offer support to Putin instead of Ukraine! As it is, he’s praising Putin and calling him a genius. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

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        • I, also, liked Chris Cuomo … he was the only one who brought any degree of integrity to Fox. I like Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon, too, but even there, it’s not like the days of Cronkite, of Huntley-Brinkley, and many more who took seriously the job of presenting facts rather than opinion.

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          • I still remember Dan Rather standing and ducking when missiles would fly by him. Don & Anderson definitely speak it as they see it. I remember I would get so annoyed when grandma would have the news on all the time. Now I am the same way.

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            • I can relate!!! I used to wonder why grownups seemed to always want to watch the news, when in my view cartoons were a much better use of time than stodgy ol’ newsmen! But now … I’m checking my phone or laptop constantly for ‘breaking news’ updates!

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              • Me too! I actually go to bed with the news on these days lol. I think if my granny had cable in her room back then that she would have as well lol. I think I drive everyone crazy with my news watching in the house.

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                • If I wake during the night (which I usually do numerous times) I immediately grab my phone to see the latest news! Let’s face it, we are news ‘addicts’! I rarely watch television, as I am nearly deaf, but I stay connected to either computer or phone just about every waking minute! I’m sure my family is grateful I don’t watch television these days!

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                  • The only thing that has been a little frustrating is the lack of information that they are actually reporting. I am hoping it is to preserve and protect, but I still am itching to know how things are actually going in Ukraine.
                    I agree about the addiction too 🙂

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                    • Well … in any confrontation like this, information will be piecemeal at best, but just think what it would have been like 50 years ago, before the Internet! From all I hear this morning, things aren’t looking good. Sigh.

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                    • I was most impressed with the State of the Union address … I had worried, but I thought Biden did an excellent job. The two disrespectful bimbos to attempted to heckle him should have been thrown out, but it just shows their own ignorance. I will be writing a post on the address … takes me a while to sift through it all. Yes, Zelenskyy must surely be exhausted, but I very much admire him for not hiding away in a bunker or taking us up on our offer to evacuate him to safety. He is a man of courage!

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                    • Sorry I am just getting back to you! Life happened lol. I was watching them in the back too. I will be heading over soon to catch up on your posts 🙂 I think that Zelensky set the bar pretty high for model leaders. He’s a soldier!

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                    • No worries … funny how life has a way of changing our plans, isn’t it? I have tremendous respect for Zelenskyy … sadly, I think he’s outgunned and no good end will come of this, but we can still hope!

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                    • It sure does! Zelensky has the heart of a lion. He is 10 times a man. On the other side of it, I feel bad for the Russian civilians that are trying to have a voice also. He has taken away their words, and their civil rights that we know of in the U.S. are being stricken from them. My heart is heavy at the genocide being committed in the Ukraine, and the disregard for humanity in both Russia and Ukraine.

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                    • He does … the more I see of Zelenskyy, the more I admire and respect him! I, too, feel compassion toward the people of Russia for they are the ones who will pay the ultimate price for what Putin is doing. It speaks volumes that some of them are willing to risk imprisonment to make their opposition heard. Sadly, I don’t think Putin will give so much as an inch, for he is a man with a goal and he won’t let anything stand in his way. Best we can hope for is that his military ultimately turns on him, but even if he were assassinated or exiled, that begs the question … who will replace him? Could it be someone equally awful? Sigh.

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                    • I think the replacement would be just as bad. I am scared Europe will never be the same again 😦 Zelensky is getting frustrated with NATO and us, and I have been just crying for the devastation and genocide he is experiencing in his country. I am sighing with you, definitely.

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                    • It is quite likely that Europe will never be quite the same again, but there’s always the possibility that it may come out of this stronger, somehow better. Yes, I read today that Zelenskyy is angry because we won’t establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine, but the issue is more complex and we are walking a tightrope here, with Putin threatening the use of nuclear weapons, so I support Biden’s reluctance in this area. Like you, my heart is breaking for the people of Ukraine and also for the average Russian citizen who has been browbeaten for so long and is now suffering from the collapse of the Russian economy. Lots of us are sighing these days … sigh.

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                    • It would definitely trigger-happy him to aim them right at our heads. He is already escalating, and my fears are looking like they will come true. I think we have done what we are suppose to through NATO and not putting our noses deep inside of their business. I just do not see a good ending. I do agree that Europe will be stronger after this. It just hurts to watch.

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                    • Indeed, this gets more painful to watch every day. Today I saw a picture of a family … the mother and two children were lying dead in the street, and rescue workers were trying to save the father. That picture broke my heart. The people in this country who are whining over being asked to wear a mask should have to look at that picture every day, then tell us how they have no ‘freedom’ here! I think it will get worse before it gets better … I don’t see a good end anytime soon, if ever.

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                    • The heart of the world is breaking, and there is so little that any of us can do but stand by and watch the carnage, hope to be able to help the people of Ukraine either financially or by offering food and shelter at some point.

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                    • True, but the stock market will stabilize and rebound, and oil/gas prices will eventually do the same, but it is lives that, once lost, can never be replaced. Our suffering high prices and market declines is nothing as compared to the people in Ukraine who are losing their homes and loved ones, so I try not to complain much over paying more at the pump and the grocery store, cutting back on most things, for I know our own troubles will be relatively short-lived. Hang in there, my friend … the sun will come out again!

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                    • I will look forward to that sunny day, for sure. I mourn for the people of Ukraine, and you are right…I had a moment of weakness when thinking of the effects over here. It’s nothing compared to their suffering. Thanks for refocusing me back to the reality 🙂

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                    • Don’t worry about that moment of weakness, my friend … we ALL have such moments. After all, we are the ones living our lives, we cannot live the lives of the people of Ukraine, but we certainly feel our own problems first-hand. Knowing that others have worse troubles doesn’t necessarily make our own any easier. Heck, I rant over a little things like a garbage disposer that isn’t working or a dead battery in a clock I cannot reach! It’s just human nature and we are humans, not robots. At the end of the day, we manage to put things into perspective and realize that in the grand scheme of things, we are pretty lucky. 🤗

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                    • Sometimes I wish I was like the vampires on Vampire Diaries, where I could turn off my emotions and not feel the pain of the world. Then I realize that I need to feel those things in order to do better for those that need me to do better.

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                    • That might be good for a while, but … if we don’t feel pain, then how are we to do things to help future generations, to make the world a better place? I suspect that most great innovations have pain as the source for the inspiration that led to them. Some are good, some not so much, but it keeps the world interesting, yes?

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