< Back to Community News

Pine Nuts – Putin & Sakharov

November 8, 2022 | McAvoy Lane

Back in July Vladimir Putin quoted and credited Mark Twain. At the time, I suspected he was reaching out, maybe not with an olive branch, but maybe with a twig. He said, “To quote Mark Twain, ‘The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.’” I was wrong.

Putin went on to conscript thousands of young men to fight in Ukraine, creating a brain drain the likes of which has not been seen since China took back Hong Kong.

With sophistication of weaponry, warfare has become less romantic. I can just hear this refrain from young twenty-somethings on both sides of any war, “I want to stand up for my country, but I definitely don’t want to be blown-up by a satellite-guided drone made in Iran.”

It might be safe to say that all the romance connected to warfare passed away with the arrival of the drone. I can’t imagine Mark Twain wanting to write about the war in Ukraine. In fact, I’m reminded just now of how Samuel Clemens felt about fighting in our Civil War, when the desire to kill people to whom he had not been introduced had passed away, and he seceded from the secession. Some said he was too irregular, even for the irregulars.

I believe in my heart that Putin should be reading Sakharov: “Peace, progress and human rights are three inextricably linked goals.” Then too, I had forgotten how Sakharov was not allowed to travel to Oslo to receive his Nobel Peace Prize. I only wish he were with us today.

Escalation is the dirty word of the day. It starts with one dirty bomb, a bomb combining radioactive material with conventional explosives, repaid by two dirtier bombs, followed by a flurry of nuclear bombs, launched with the words, “I’ll get you (insert your profanity of choice here), before you get me.”

Suddenly there is nothing left but cockroaches and, “Phantom of the Opera.” But wait! A Russian finger said, “Nyet!” Which in this instance means, “Not yet!” And we live to fight another day.

Isn’t it too bad that romance was ever connected to warfare in the first place? Warfare is nothing more than a street brawl made large, a street fight brought on by older men and fought by younger men. Or as our mutual friend Mark Twain characterized it, “…each nation knowing it has the only sane system of government, each despising all the others, each an ass and not suspecting it.”

I wish I could sit at the other end of that long table of Putin’s, just the two of us, and ask him to explain to me the value of his invasion, and how it is benefiting the world at large. I doubt his explanation would earn him a Nobel Peace Prize, though it just might earn him an Oscar.

I would love to know what Putin has been reading of late. I am quite sure it has not been Sakharov…or Twain.

Listen to the audio here.

Related Blog Posts

Sign up for our weekly SnapShot newsletter