High Desert Sketches 

Illustration by crowcrumbs

Murder is still murder when it’s done at a long distance 

“It is forbidden to kill” therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” This quote is from my favorite satirical writer, the Frenchman Voltaire (1694-1778). Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been trumpeted by the media around the world. Murder is still murder when it’s done at a long distance with cruise missiles, which can have a range of 400-1800 miles depending on the type. The distance between the two capitals is less than 500 miles. 

To understand the mind of Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, you must understand his background. He was trained as a member of the Soviet Union’s notorious KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti), the most murderous collection of spies that actually rivaled the Nazi’s Gestapo and SS (Schutzstaffel). KGB agents did not hesitate to kill unarmed men, women or children if those objects stood between them and their mission. It is ironic that the invading Russian army used the same tactics against unarmed civilians in the Ukraine. The irony of ironies is that Putin has claimed that he is attacking eastern Ukraine to root out a nest of Nazis by using the same tactics used by the Gestapo and the SS. President Putin finds it incredibly easy to push the buttons that will send the bombs to destroy their targets a thousand miles away. 

Unfortunately, the trumpets are being supplied to him by Tucker Carlson on his nightly rants on the Fox News channel. Putin found Carlson’s comments so flattering toward his cause that he decided to promote them within Russia’s media spheres. 

On March 3, as Russian military forces pounded Ukrainian cities as part of Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of his neighbor, the Kremlin sent out talking points to state-friendly media outlets with a request: “Use more Tucker Carlson.”

“It is essential to use as much as possible fragments of broadcasts of the popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who sharply criticizes the actions of the United States [and] NATO, their negative role in unleashing the conflict in Ukraine, [and] the defiantly provocative behavior from the leadership of the Western countries and NATO towards the Russian Federation and towards President Putin, personally,” advises the 12-page document written in Russian. It sums up Carlson’s position: “Russia is only protecting its interests and security.” The memo includes this quote from Carlson: “And how would the US behave if such a situation developed in neighboring Mexico or Canada?”

History will probably record Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the first war by cruise missiles and smartphones. It will probably go down as the first war that was almost totally recorded by civilians. It has led repeatedly to accusations of war crimes and the criminals are being identified by their names, thanks to facial recognition software. 

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova has released the names of 10 Russian soldiers suspected of torturing civilians in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, during weeks of occupation.

Venediktova said on April 28 that the soldiers of the 64th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade of the Russian armed forces are suspected of “cruelty toward civilians and other war crimes.”

“In a short period of time, investigations revealed that during the occupation of Bucha these very persons took unarmed civilians hostage, tortured them … kept them on their knees with their hands tied and their eyes taped, humiliated, and beat them,” Venediktova said.

The war that started our colonial secession was a notorious loss at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Too often Americans forget that in the earliest days of our colonies our rag-tag group of misfits challenged the might of Britain. Their early battles were not successful but mad King George sent the most powerful army and navy on earth against these misfits who didn’t have a chance to succeed. But those rag-tag colonists who became our Founding Fathers won against overwhelming numbers. At the end of America’s Revolutionary War, Benjamin Franklin told America, “We have given you a republic if you can keep it.” Can we keep it?