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Robert McNamara: In a single night, we burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo. Men, women and children.

Interviewer: Were you aware this was going to happen?

McNamara: Well, I was part of a mechanism that, in a sense, recommended it.

McNamara, the former US Secretary for Defence was referring to his time as head of statistical control for the XXI Bomber Command, a polite euphemism for those with responsibility for firebombing Japanese people during WW2, what was essentially the holocaust before The Holocaust. McNamara admitted that both his and Colonel Curtis LeMay's actions would have had them prosecuted as war criminals if their side lost.

This prelude from far-away history brings us to the clear and present horror of Bucha and Borodyanka, the latest installment in a Russian produced horror-series that the West refuses to cancel. Do forgive me for equating the bloodbath Putin has unleashed on Ukraine - the rapes, the civilian executions, the systematic murder of children, the pounding of hospitals and schools in dust - to something as trifling as a Netflix show, but already there is a reluctance among certain countries to disengage from their Russian-themed financial entaglements. Oh war is horrid, but as with the barbrous Saudi terror inflicted on Yemen – 250,000 dead and counting – there is always the option to mute the notifications, turn it off and watch the football instead. This war won't end, at the very least the psychopathic Russian soldiers, those failed humans who are but reflections of their of psychopathic, failed human leader, will concentrate their efforts on dividing Ukraine, a de-escalation of the current war, but an escalation of what they have been doing since 2014. Poland's misfortune then, is to co-exist with a war criminal who commands an army of savages, a fiend who hasn't been prosecuted because, discounting the first Chechen war and that country's size, he has never been beaten.

And yet he could be. The Ukrainians are supreme fighters and it is the issue of scale that prevents them from ridding their land of this Russian contagion. What would they achieve if they had a force to supplement their indefatigable courage and chase this filthy scourge back to Moscow? Putin and his armies of death are effective when attacking maternity hospitals or when the odds are overwhelmingly in their favour, but never have the stomach for a real fight. They lack the moral fibre which ennobles the heart and pushes men and women to achieve the bold, courageous acts that win wars. Think of the good a Ukrainian victory would do for the world and those Russian civilians who oppose Putin's regime, to see the tyrant roundly defeated, scurrying back to his Dasha where he would succumb to a lonely and pathetic death tyrant's death, poisoned by one of his own, his carcass left in the sun as a feast for crows.

It is time for the international community to act. How many more opportunities do we give this monster to embellish his CV of terror? Do we, as Keir Giles said in The Guardian, "leave Zelenskiy with the appalling choice of continuing the fighting at the cost of innocent lives or making concessions to end the suffering?" Do we wait until one of the old frontline Soviet satellite's of Estonia or Lithuania catches Putin's attention? The former Latvian PM Valdis Dombrovskis, warned of such a scenario. "If we do not support Ukraine, it’s not going to stop in Ukraine… Unfortunately, it is likely this aggression will continue in other countries."

The Neville Chamberlains of the world will raise the spectre of Putin's deep and sincere commitment to nuclear reprisal for anyone who dares to stand up to him, a blackmail he continues to use over and over again for the simple reason that it works. It is a bluff and one that exposes the knowledge that lives in the tyrant's own black heart; his armies are incapable of military supremacy. Twenty years ago the Chechens gave them a hiding just as Ukrainian ground forces are doing today. The ultimate goal should be demilitarization of Donbas and Kaliningrad, including the missile systems aimed at Poland.

Morally and logically, we have to do everything within our power to stop Ukrainians innocents being slaughtered is the cause we should all be advocating otherwise we are rewarding Russian aggression and delaying the inevitable.


Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.

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