I walked into the pub and saw Vicky polishing glasses at the bar. ‘I hear you had the covid,’ I said. ‘Yeah, it wasn’t too bad. A couple of days of headaches and congestion. It scared me though but I soon got over it. Troy, my son, probably brought it home from daycare. He never had any symptoms though. I now have two jabs and one recovery. Should be good for a while.’
Everything seems so normal here: The pub, the lovely view, the beer. Meanwhile Europe is at war and the death, destruction and lasting impact on the world, the environment and the crippling psychological impact and devastation of Putin’s brutal war are ongoing. Ukraine is suddenly Aleppo or Srebrenica or worse.
When Camp walked and sat down, I knew that the war in Ukraine was the elephant in the room. No way we could not talk about that catastrophe. He plunked down his newspaper, I think it was the Globe and Mail, and sighed. ‘It doesn’t look good,’ he said.
I didn’t have to ask what he was talking about. ‘No, it doesn’t’. You think our news media is giving us a balanced picture of this war?’
Camp looked at me as if I drank his beer by mistake.
‘You’re kidding right. We have solid news reporters in the field, from CBC, the BBC, and yes, CNN. Anderson Cooper, Christiana Amanpour, Adriane Arsenault, Susan Ormiston, Margret Evans, Bryer Stewart, Erin Burnett and many more are outstanding reporters and foreign correspondents and put themselves at risk every day to bring us the view from ground zero. Facts matter. Reality matters.’ Camp said.
‘If the Russian people would have access to the world news and social media, there would be a revolution. They surely would not put up with their despotic leader one minute longer but alas, there is only the Big Brother news feed from the Kremlin, all other forms of communication are shut down.
‘I’m not saying they are not reporting the truth, just that maybe there is more to it than what we see and hear.’
‘Maybe some Russian people, especially older ones, really believe what they hear from the Kremlin news channel and blame us for their loss of services, businesses, news feeds and social media.’
‘You’re playing the devil’s advocate, right? I get it. It’s not the Russian people that are to blame. It’s a one pony circus with some loyal clowns, except they hold the fate of the whole world in their itchy, sweaty palms. They hate us, the western way of life, freedom, yes, I’ll use that most abused of all words: freedom. I’m convinced of that.’
‘The Russian people will be blamed for this, guilty or not. It took two generations after the war before the world accepted Germans as ordinary people. This war will cast a large shadow of mistrust, blame and hate over the Russians.’
‘Yeah, there is not much love coming out of Moscow these days. It’s a tragedy in this day and age, when we should be fighting climate abuse and champion equality and women’s rights. Instead, we have to watch the whole Russian Army force their way into a neighbouring country in order to subjugate, conquer, kill and destroy it. How is that even supposed to work?’
‘Does Putin really think the Ukrainians will thank him for this occupation and annexation which in perfect Orwellian news-speak he calls a ‘Liberation’ and a ‘Peace Mission’? Is he going to re- build their roads, schools and hospitals? Is this the way to earn the trust and willingness of the Ukrainians to work with their brutal occupier.’
‘It’s a ludicrous concept,’ Camp agreed.
‘You think Zelensky should just resign and thereby potentially save thousands of lives and stop the war because eventually the Russian army will prevail.’
‘He’s in a difficult position. He’s a standing up to the Russian bear for independence and sovereign rights and he’s an inspiration and a hero but he may have misjudged Putin’s psychotic resolve to win at all costs. His heroic stance might cost thousands of lives. On the other hand, even if he agrees to let Luhansk, Donetsk and Crimea go and say No to a NATO membership, none of which he has control over right now, the Ukrainians would see themselves betrayed and would fight on. Maybe.’
‘And don’t count on the Chinese to support the West, NATO and the US. They’re sticking to Putin and Xi promised him eternal, rock-solid friendship.’
‘It’s the New World order. Forget about world-wide co-operation on anything. If anything it’s East vs West. And the atomic clock is ticking close to midnight.’
‘What is the good news today?’ Vicky asked when she dropped by for service.
‘Spring is on the way in and covid, masks and vaccine certificates on the way out,’ Camp said lamely.
‘And the nasty war in Europe?’ she said.
‘Yes, it’s a humanitarian disaster for the whole world.’
‘That’s more like you,’ Vicky said. ‘You never disappoint.’