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Journalists make their living with words. But sometimes there are no words.
I am usually not left speechless, but the horrific bombing of the hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, has me searching for ways to express the revulsion felt by the entire civilized world.
This civilized world no longer includes Russia, which not only commits war crimes, but also unthinkable crimes.
What country in the 21st century considers it acceptable to blow up a hospital for children and mothers? Any type of hospital should be banned, of course, but the one for pregnant women and babies, who have been carried, bloodied, from the wreckage?
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It has pricked the West’s conscience in a way that dwarfs all of Vladimir Putin’s other atrocities, and the list goes on.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy understands this, which is why his rebuke of Western leaders – especially after the Polish plane swap was vetoed by the Biden administration – seems to be wrong. more and more severe.
“It’s not ping-pong! It’s about human lives!” Zelenskyy said in a video. He was pleading.
“You will be responsible”
Separately, Zelenskyy denounced Russian pundits who defend Putin’s regime in what are now fully state-controlled propaganda outlets.
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“I want to tell them one thing: you will bear the responsibility, just like all those who give the order to bomb civilians. You will certainly be prosecuted for complicity in war crimes. … You will be hated by Russian citizens, all those that you have been constantly deceiving for many years in a row.”
The Kremlin issued a daring denial in its absurdity: first that the hospital was deserted, having been invaded by fictitious extremists, then that the victims were in reality actors. This is beyond insult, and Putin’s people know full well that the outside world doesn’t believe a word of it. These explosions were not provoked. This is Baghdad Bob’s territory.
Every day, Putin’s henchmen issue denials contradicted by the evidence before our eyes. Russia claims not to target civilian areas while every day we see images of buildings and houses destroyed by its missiles.
reach for the words
Watching newscasters and correspondents cover the hospital’s story – “the world watched in horror” – is like watching them search for words that fit the magnitude of the moment, as I do now, and find it impossible.
Putin may be trying to send the message that he will stop at nothing to secure his victory. It’s the madman theory of the story: if he bombs a children’s hospital, what won’t he do? — designed to break the will of Ukraine by inflicting untold human damage. Perhaps that is why nuclear weapons have already been mentioned.
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The United States and its NATO allies have done an incredible job waging economic warfare against Russia and trying to help Poland and other neighboring countries with endless streams of Ukrainian refugees. The fact that Russia had previously bombed the escape routes it had negotiated for safe passage was the previous low water mark for these filthy fighters.
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Now I understand that war is hell. I know very well that the United States does not have a spotless record. There have been times in our previous wars when errant missiles or drone strikes have killed civilians, including children. But we investigated, sometimes apologized, and on rare occasions charged or court-martialed our own soldiers.
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The shock our country and the West now face is whether the daily drumbeat of atrocities could be stopped by more aggressive action. A no-fly zone was ruled out, given the likely confrontation between two nuclear powers, and supplying Ukraine with enough lethal weapons proved problematic. So we watch the slaughter continue, in great anguish, at a loss for words.