THE GREAT DICTATOR

War is a failure of politics and of humanity, a shameful capitulation, a stinging defeat before the forces of evil. — Pope Francis

A Ukrainian friend of mine in Brooklyn, texted me yesterday, saying her aging parents and her brother and his wife and children were in a shelter spending the night as bombs exploded all around. The previous day the children were at school.

War returned to Europe after a very long hiatus.

This time threatening to spill over borders which were once thought to be secure and stable.

As bombs fell on Kyiv and people sought shelter in subways and bomb shelters, and a mass exodus ensued, the all too familiar scene harking back to a time no one wants to remember even as their faintest dreams, seemed to emerge in the middle of Europe.

This time the dictator is different, but the tactics are the same.

Create a narrative, brain wash your population with propaganda, control the media, arrest and kill dissenters, get the generals and oligarchs in line, blame another power for provocation and then unleash fear and terror.

In recent memory the two cold war enemies, have invaded nations with impunity. Fighting proxy wars and playing geopolitical chess games with the lives of innocent people.

This round goes to Russia. A nation that has been under a dictatorship for almost three decades.

This dictator wears a suit and amasses fortunes all the while proclaiming himself to be a Russian nationalist and a patriot.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, which the great dictator sees as an unacceptable blemish on Russian pride, he has been entertaining desires of rebuilding the empire and raising the iron curtain. Hitler saw the collapse of Germany at the end of World War I and the The Treaty of Versailles in the same light.

By suppressing all dissent with poison, bullets and fear, he has turned Russia into a totalitarian police state where his cult is the only one there is to follow.

Now it seems he is entering the final stages of a dictator’s dementia. A state of paranoia.

The attack on Ukraine cannot be seen in any other terms.

The idea that the west is to blame for expanding NATO to his borders and provoking a sleeping giant, is only one small part of the story.

In the decades the dictator has been in power he has dismantled and destroyed all democratic institutions within his nation. He has ruled with the machismo of a thug. And has appointed and supported other thugs in power in his orbit so he can reign supreme. He suspended term limits for his presidency effectively declaring himself president for life.

His thuggery has been on display on the world stage for sometime now, as he used polonium to poison his enemies and disrupt infrastructure and elections in the US with cyberattacks.

He found a friend in Donald Trump, two people cut from the same cloth. For four years he gave his tacit approval of a thuggish man and hoped he would be able to engineer a coup and change the balance of power. Alas, that did not come to pass.

Anyone who sees this war as nothing else than wanton aggression against a neighbor with less power, is standing on the wrong side of history. A democracy is being blatantly trampled upon and if history is to be our guide, dictators do not relent.

The dictator’s track record of invasions and extermination of civilians is long in our modern times.

In the mid-nineties he along with his predecessor Boris Yeltsin lay waste to Chechnya, a break away nation of the Soviet empire. The destruction unleashed was termed “madness” by then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Today Chechnya is ruled by a sycophant thug.

Then followed Georgia, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine and now a full on assault to retake the second largest nation in Europe.

Dictators are driven by naked ambition and an ideology whose purpose is to disrupt the world order. Their power play is to trample conventions, discard treaties and undermine human rights and disregard life.

Empire building is always at the back of their mind. The goal is to expand at any cost and the project is to amass power so the world would negotiate on their terms. This is what we see transpiring in front of our very eyes today.

How long this will be tolerated from the sidelines is to be seen. The prospect of a nuclear war is the only deterrent in dealing with a mad man with buttons at his fingertips.

The last great war came to an end when the evil of nuclear weapons was unleashed upon Japan. If Hitler had nuclear weapons in his arsenal, one can only imagine the nightmarish outcome that could have been brought upon the world.

This dictator has more nuclear weapons than anyone in the world. He has already said he has put them on high alert.

The French President revealed that he did not know who he was dealing with, when he sat on the other end of the long white table, as the person seemed isolated and distant. The photo was telling.

Therefore we must tread lightly in order to not provoke a rabid dog, more than necessary.

As long as there are dictators in this world and weapons of mass destruction of all shapes and sizes infesting our civilization, as Mick Jagger says “War, children, it’s just a shot away.”

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Anand Kamalakar

Anand Kamalakar

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Anand Kamalakar is a Brooklyn based documentary film director, producer and editor. His latest film SALAM can now be seen on Netflix.