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On The Idiotic Notion That It's Brave To Support Nuclear Brinkmanship In Ukraine
During a Sunday appearance on Face the Nation to plug his new Zelensky movie, actor Sean Penn decried the “cowardice” of the US government in its caution around provoking a nuclear exchange with its proxy warfare in Ukraine.
“It is my absolute feeling that the caution with which the United States has pledged support, which seemed, in my reading of February 2022 was a, like a lean on in the fear of nuclear conflict, something I think all of us should look very carefully at and understand that, of course, is possible,” Penn said. “And that’s to be concerning. The likelihood is extremely low. And as one of our witnesses in the film says, you know, are we going to let a gangster with nuclear weapons dictate the way we live?”
Penn emotionally lamented the fact that the Biden administration did not pour F-16 warplanes into Ukraine from the very beginning of the conflict, initially fearing the move to be too escalatory. Describing this hesitation, Penn said that “at some point, caution becomes cowardice.”
As you might expect, the interviewer refrained from challenging Penn on his claim that the likelihood of nuclear war is “extremely low” in spite of his acknowledgement that it’s a real possibility, or on his claim that resisting increasing the likelihood of nuclear war is an act of cowardice.
Sean Penn has been one of Hollywood’s most egregious empire apologists for some time now (in 2020 he told CNN that “there is no greater humanitarian force on the planet than the United States military”), but even by his standards these comments about nuclear brinkmanship are remarkably odious.
There’s this obnoxious idea that comes up in mainstream political discourse about Ukraine that an aversion to nuclear brinkmanship is somehow cowardly, and that being willing to risk the life of every terrestrial organism advancing US strategic objectives is somehow an act of courage.
We saw this back in July from Paul Massaro, an advisor to the US government’s Helsinki Commission and a minor celebrity in online Zelenskyite circles. During this year’s “Captive Nations Summit” with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, Massaro mocked westerners for being “fearful” of proxy warfare in Ukraine leading to nuclear warfare.
“I think the biggest thing is fear, I think we’re fearful,” Massaro said. “It’s very funny to me, because you meet Ukrainians, not a single Ukrainian is fearful. You talk to Ukrainians it’s like ‘What if the Russians use nuclear weapons?’, they’re like ‘We’ll keep fighting, we’ll win.’ You know it’s only the westerners that are like ‘Oh my god, I’m over here in California and what if the Russians use nuclear weapons?’ You know, it’s almost pathetic.”
It’s a common theme. Any time you talk publicly about the risk of the continually escalating war in Ukraine leading to nuclear catastrophe you’ll get empire apologists calling you a coward and saying we all need to be brave and stand up to the big bully Putin. And it’s just such a disgusting perversion of what courage actually is and what it looks like.
Empire loyalists often talk about nuclear brinkmanship like it’s something courageous that they personally are doing, as though gambling every terrestrial life on strategic grand chessboard maneuverings is a brave risk that could only hurt them. If you think you are brave for risking the life of everyone on earth to advance your personal geopolitical agendas, you might be a malignant narcissist, because you think the world revolves around you, and other lives exist only as props to support your main character adventures.
Hardly any human on this planet gives a shit who governs Crimea or the Donbass — and exactly zero of the plants and animals do — but people like Sean Penn and Paul Massaro think they have every right to not only gamble all their lives on a bid to control that outcome, but to call themselves courageous for doing so. Imagine being so self-absorbed you think you’re a brave hero for putting the lives of Africans, Asians, and South Americans on the betting table who’ve never even heard of Donetsk or Luhansk and don’t care who governs them, as well as every non-human life on earth.
I mean, the absolute arrogance. The fucking gall. It’s as emotionally stunted and infantile a perspective as you could possibly come up with, but these are the people whose worldview is shaping outcomes on this planet. These are the sort of people who are setting the trajectory of our species as a collective.
The mainstream western political consensus is a sickness of the mind. Its existence should make us all want to fall to our knees and beg the forgiveness of every life on this earth that it imperils.
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