By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart
As I sit in my Kailyard I often wonder about the future.
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be Thankit!
We are but a few days away from the birth date of one Robert Burns. The national bard, meaning poet, of Scotland, was a man of passion and a man of desires. His creative output is often fought over and debated with some vigor. Above is his Selkirk Grace, written to show that all should show gratitude in times of dire need for others.
I can think of no more dire need than if your very existence is under threat by an aggressor who is trying to destroy you. In Europe we are facing that threat in an aggression, much of which we have brought upon ourselves by indulging tyrants rather than facing up to them, but it is manifest in Ukraine.
But the recent news that Germany is sending tanks, the UK is sending tanks and now the US is sending them too gives great hope to those of us who wish to see a secure settlement in that part of our continent.
And here is why.
Firstly, emotionally. My daughter has a new teacher in her dance school. A Ukrainian who was once a ballerina in Moscow. Don’t think that this war is remote – it comes to us in very many different ways and here we have it on our doorstep. The refugees who have been welcomed into our communities have been welcomed because they should be, but they are also contributing. Like thousands, nay millions before them, they provide more than they take to the communities in which they are housed.
Secondly, solidarity. NATO, as an alliance, was faltering. Open to the types of criticism that Trump could level that the US were paying far too much and receiving back far too little, there was some truth in the criticism as the alliance was too complacent. It isn’t now. With two countries wanting to join it, Ukraine clear they wish to accede to it and some purpose to its activities in sharp focus, the NATO countries shouldering the burden of supporting Ukraine practically has widened and solidified. I am in no way, an enthusiastic supporter of NATO and aspects of it cause me some concern – nuclear weapons for example – however, the coming together of democracies in defense of freedom should not be something we jettison because there are elements of NATO we do not like.
Thirdly, tactically. The tanks are the weapon needed most once the winter begins to abate. It will allow the Ukrainians to mount serious counter offences as, once more, just like in Afghanistan, Russian forces underestimated their opponents and over egged their capabilities. The more Russian military hardware floundering on Ukrainian soil, the more it looks like the corrupt Generals in Moscow were repeating the mistakes of the past. When tyrants ask, people comply, telling them what they want to hear. If truth is the first casualty of war, then frankness is the first casualty of tactics when faced with the type of tyrant who thinks nothing of blowing up the sovereignty of another nation.
Finally, an end in sight. There must be an end at some point. If Russia prevails and overruns Ukraine, does Putin stop there? If the Ukrainians get to the tail end of Crimea and recovers all of its territory again, they will stop. The right side shall have won. The Ukrainian flag shall fly where the Ukrainian flag belongs. More tanks make that more likely as the Ukrainian military will have the capacity to make it happen so with apologies to Burns, the Grace from the East could be rewritten thus: –
Some hae tanks and canna fight,
And some wad fight that couldnae,
Now they hae tanks and they can fight,
Sae let the west be Thankit!
A view from the new Kailyard or, how you look over there, from over here…
(Kailyard n. a cabbage patch, often attached to a school of writing – the Kailyard School – a genre of overly sentimental and sweet Scottish literature from the late 19th century where sentimental and nostalgic tales are told in escapist tales of fantasy, but here we seek to reverse it by making the Kailyard Observations of effective invective comment from that looks not to return to the past but to launch us into a better future by the one Donald worth believing…