The TikTok War

If you can believe it, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia is now over 100 days old. What’s worse, I still have my Horrendous Withdrawal from Afghanistan decorations up!

For a brief time, it seemed Ukraineamania was running wild. Everybody and their grandmothers were putting Ukrainian flags on their Twitter profiles along with supportive phrases showing how much they support freedom because, well, freedom. Then, over time, the virtual support was still there, but the vocal support died out. Even the media moved on, save for occasional puff pieces on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that would make Teen Beat sue for copyright infringement.

It wasn’t until recently that I noticed the void of pro-Ukraine voices, and it got me thinking as to why. I came up with two possible reasons, one more plausible than the other given the American media. The first reason was the media was so heavily invested in backing Ukraine that they were hiding bad news to maintain the facade. Although this is true to form for the media (see President Joe Biden), I decided it wasn’t the case because it would require actual journalism to be done and today’s media just aren’t up to the task.

The other, more plausible explanation is the media stopped covering it like it did in the beginning, so people stopped paying attention to it. I mean, it’s not like there are people dying for their country or anything, right? Oh, wait…

This lack of attention isn’t just at the personal level, either. In the past 100+ days, has anyone who beat the drums of war like a Neil Peart solo come up with a concrete reason why the US has to get involved in the Ukraine/Russia conflict? If they have, they’ve hidden it pretty well. And, yes, I know “because freedom” is persuasive to Americans because we value it so much, but that isn’t a justification to commit to an action. If it were, US forces would have been deployed to a few African countries where young men are fighting for freedom against an oppressive government.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Seriously, though, the fact we don’t have any straight answers about our involvement in the Ukraine/Russia conflict, let alone the conflict itself, has been a sore spot for me since the beginning. If I am to support intervention in a foreign country, I kinda need a reason I can sink my teeth into intellectually. The lack of such a reason leads me to believe there isn’t a good reason to do it, so we’re left with appeals to emotion to pick up the slack. It works well for a while, but once the emotions die down, we’re still lacking a reason.

What’s worse is most people don’t see the issue. After all, we just had the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial and that was super-important! I mean, the legal implications may last for at least a week, maybe two!

The problem is this makes us look fickle in foreign affairs. It doesn’t seem to matter if Ukraine loses a significant number of people in this conflict because we’ve moved onto the next super-important issue (even if we haven’t updated our Twitter accounts yet). This turns the conflict into the geopolitical equivalent of a TikTok dance craze, which does a great disservice to the people we allegedly support.

Here’s where the shit really hits the fan. Our gradual disinterest in what’s going on in Ukraine helps Vladimir Putin because it gives him the belief we will lose our taste for war if he just waits us out. And the sad thing is he’s right. American attention spans are shorter than an ant’s inseam and we get attracted by a new shiny object/issue on the regular.

That’s right, kids. America has ADD.

In matters of pop culture, this isn’t a big deal, but on the battlefield it’s deadly. If we insist on fighting Russia via proxy, we need an explanation, and by my calculation, it’s overdue by, oh, 100 days. If there isn’t one better than “Ukraine Good, Russia Bad” or “because freedom,” then we need to rethink our strategy and justifications for getting involved. There have been too many wars in recent history that have ended badly because we didn’t have a real reason to get involved and were too stubborn to admit it.

So, let’s have it, so we can have it out once and for all. And let’s make it sooner rather than later in case there’s a new dance craze on TikTok.

Author: Thomas

I'm a writer and a ranger and a young boy bearing arms. And two out of the three don't count.

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