War, war, war, what is it good for?
Volume 2 Edition #9 Editor: Su McVey
These are a series of stories and headlines we are tracking in the
Grey Swan Guild’s Global League of Sensemakers Newsroom. Here is The Great, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Grey of what we observed the week that was.
This week’s theme is: War — Think Different
We have been in various forms of lock-down, government and health safety restrictions for the past two years. There were multiple recessions across the world as the economic systems of the world were blown up, shattering supply chains everywhere, at the same time The UN has officially declared we are running out of time on addressing climate change. There is a war raging in Ukraine (along with 4 other conflicts with 10,000 or more conflict-related deaths in the last year) Divide and conquer is the new rulebook. Standard solutions and the status quo are not working. The rules of international law are being re-written.
This week’s wrap takes inspiration from the Apple campaign “Think Different”.
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify them, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a round peg in a square hole. No question about it. This actor and former comedian is crazy enough to think he can change the world and he has, in a few short days.
This week we are consumed with what is happening in Ukraine. The stories in this week’s wrap will look at examples of how countries, governments, brands and people are thinking different about what this war means through the lens of the Great, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Grey Zone of Uncertainty.
It must be noted that in the case of such a fast-moving and constantly shifted crisis, the stories here, are a moment in time, a limited and filtered snapshot of a much larger significant world crisis. In the span of 10 days, it is reshaping geopolitical fault lines and its full impact is still to come.
The Great 😊
1. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine President
Who would have thought that a TV star funnyman turned President would be inspiring millions around the globe to support his fight against an unprovoked military invasion of his country. He has been dubbed the “first wartime hero of the social media age.”
He has won praise for his presence on the streets and battlefields of Ukraine and he is not shying away from his people nor their struggles. He is in danger, recently avoided a purported assassination attempt and his now-famous quote, rejecting evacuation from Ukraine, is already etched forever in the stories that will be passed down:
Whatever the outcome of this war, Zelenskyy will have made his time as President, inspirational and memorable. His somewhat mixed background with a degree in law and a career in acting is not the traditional route to being a nation builder and leader. See his impact on his diplomatic peers and average people alike. Thinking different about where leadership can come from and what it looks like, is playing out in real-time for the world to see. He is a hero.
2. The Ukrainian Resistance
The Ukrainian government has called its citizens at home and abroad to arms and they are responding. Ordinary citizens have rallied and instead of watching from afar Ukrainians outside Ukraine are also taking action with reports of 80,000 returning to fight for their country. Resistance has been meritorious so far. The country has created a foreign legion to attract foreign-born fighters to commit to 3 years of military service to protect the nation, and thousands have responded to the call.
Breweries have converted their facilities as well to aid in the production of thousands of Molotov cocktails. Think different about taking on a nuclear giant next door.
Ukrainian resistance slows Russian troops - but for how long?
Russia's war in Ukraine has met stiff resistance from Ukrainian soldiers and everyday citizens who've taken up arms…
3. The surprising effectiveness of financial sanctions.
In a globally connected economy, it’s astonishing to see what a little financial unity vs. evil can do to send a message home to a bad player, their leader and importantly their oligarchs who have benefited from previous economic stability. The economic tied up of $600B of foreign Russian reserves will have a massive impact on spending to support the war in a county with a GDP slightly larger than Canada’s. The Rould has dropped by over 30% in a week and other financial instruments are trading at junk levels. It is such a precious drop that American vulture financiers are buying Russian and Belarusian state bonds and corporate debt. We hope they are betting on a fast end of the war and not easy profits.
International companies are pulling out of the country. The ruble has plunged despite Russia’s decade-long diversification of reserves. Their central bank has run out of options. The Russian economic pratfall is destined to be a bigger collapse than the 1998 meltdown and may stay longer.
This is giving China pause to reconsider its pursuit of Taiwan, as it would even be more vulnerable to the winds of global economic interconnectedness. Perhaps war is now prosecuted just as much by the cancelling of a SWIFT system than at the end of a rifle.
The Good 😊🙌
1. The concept of the West has returned, Putin isolated
Putin has done more in the last seven days to inadvertently unite the Western European nations than the last 50 years of diplomatic wrangling had done. His invasion provoked the leaders to think differently about the vulnerability of their sovereignty and they have united by applying not just diplomatic sanctions, but crippling economic sanctions.
Putin has been ostracized and isolated. It does not mean that he has been broken but his vision for fractures in the EU and trans-Atlantic relationships have not materialized. In fact, Ukraine has been asked to fast expedite itself as a European Union member.
2. Switzerland’s neutrality moved by Putin’s actions
Switzerland, the ever-neutral country, favoured by oligarchs and other billionaires for its strict banking secrecy and security has joined with other European countries by thinking differently. They have applied economic sanctions and other measures saying that it is in defence of international law.
The Swiss president, Ignazio Cassis, said it was possible a precedent had been set, but added: “Never since the second world war has the rights of one country been so violated by another. You cannot stand aside. To play into the hands of an aggressor is not neutral.”
The move by the Swiss is unprecedented and surprising given their decades-long adherence to the role of mediator and neutrality. They decided it was time to think different.
3. Germany rethinks its dependence on Russian gas
Germany has faced pressure for years to reduce its dependence on Russian gas. The war in Ukraine has shown an increased need to be independent of Russia and Germany has just announced an accelerated plan to get 100% of its energy from renewable resources by 2035. A few days before the invasion, Germany had halted the approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline citing it could not proceed under crisis circumstances.
As dramatic, Germany and the rest of Europe may have to extend their exit from nuclear power to support this shift.
This may make the member nations rethink their relationship with fossil fuels altogether with their dependency on an increasingly, threatening supplier.
The Bad 😬
There are so many aspects of war that are bad, ugly and unconscionably, unbearably horrific. Too many to talk about and document here. They sadly will keep coming as the days and weeks unfold, these are but a few stories that we need some different thinking on.
1. Everyday Russians paying the price for Putin’s aggression
Many Russians are protesting in the street and want no part of Putin’s war. They didn’t ask for it, nor did they vote on it, nor did they petition for it. And they, not Putin, are paying a heavy price. Their currency has lost significant value, some are stranded, unwelcome, in foreign countries -flights and airspace vanished, money limited, internet prices climbing, and not being able to do anything other than risk the penalty of protest. Will rouble be carted in wheelbarrows? Will there be runs on banks? What will happen with the Russian Stock Market re-opens after being closed for a week? We Russia return to a soviet-style planned economy.
Russians have been ostracized and isolated in the sports world with Russia being banned from hosting and participating in most events planned for this year and beyond. No FIFA World Cup. No UEFA. US Major Leagues cutting economic ties. Brands across sectors are pulling out, the following a growing list of brands:
On Tuesday, Nike and Apple closed their online stores in Russia. Earlier Tuesday, the world’s biggest shipping lines, MSC and Maersk, suspended container shipping to and from Russia. Airplane giants Boeing and Airbus have both stopped supplying parts and support to Russian airlines.
There must be a way to think different about a population that for the most part is held captive in a place that is being punished for the actions of few and not the desire of the many. Although the approval ratings of their leadership improved back in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea, this time it’s very different, the effects are very personal.
The Ugly 😱
1. Racism at the Polish border
Videos went viral purporting to show Black people from African nations being left stranded at Ukrainian train stations or being blocked from boarding trains, and groups of African and Indian students being menaced with guns and vans and pushed and beaten at the Polish border.
It is beyond time to think different about ethnic, racial, religious and gender differences and focus on our undeniable and universal similarities. We are humans.
2. The Human Toll
The number of people affected by this crisis is impossible to accurately calculate. There are reports on the number of people who have died, who have been injured, displaced from their homes and those sheltering. Lives taken, cut short, and forever changed. Countries are stepping up and accepting Ukrainian refugees and aid organizations are scrambling to help. As of March 3, 1,000,000 Ukrainians had left their country,
“I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one,” United Nations Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement Thursday.
Experiencing and living through this war will live on in history. For Ukrainians and Russians, the human toll, the devastation will forever cause them to think differently about the other, those that rallied to help and those that sat on the sidelines. The suffering that war causes are passed down from generation to generation, assessing the damage done already is impossible. Collectively we need to ‘think different’ about war, aggression and what it leaves in its path.
The Grey Zone of Uncertainty🧐
1. Russian reaction to the invasion, not exactly an endorsement for Putin
The currency is nosediving, the market is in panic, and frantic residents are trying to withdraw savings from increasingly barren ATMs. Meanwhile, anti-war protesters are joined by members of the billionaire elite who have broken rank against their embattled president. There are questions about the country’s capacity to survive the crisis — and what it may do next in desperation.
This is not Ukraine under siege, but rather the blowback for its invader, Russia.
There are even reports that a Russian billionaire has put a price on Putin’s head for war crimes. Oligarchs are calling for an end to the conflict. Division and dissension where agreement is the norm. Not the reaction Putin expected. His approach, styled after his previously successful forays into territorial conquest, is failing on many levels. Let’s hope he can find a way to exit without destroying all that is in his path.
2. How long can Ukraine hang on
The world is holding its collective breath as the fighting continues and the images of death and destruction continue to appear on social media and newscasts. Late Thursday, after the second set of talks between Ukraine and Russia, a small concession was made to allow ceasefire zones for humanitarian corridors. The two sides are at odds over Russian calls for Ukraine to demilitarize and become neutral among other demands.
In an earlier statement posted on Facebook, Zelenskyy said, “We are a nation that broke the enemy’s plans in a week” and praised his military forces and Ukrainian civilians who have taken up arms to defend the country.
‘Can you imagine, this morning, two cruise missiles hit Freedom Square. Dozens killed. This is the price of freedom.’
The translator’s voice then cracked with emotion and he choked out: ‘We are fighting just for our land. And for our freedom.’
The man took a deep breath and managed to continue with Zelensky’s speech, adding: ‘Despite the fact that all of our citizens are now blocked, nobody is going to enter and intervene. Believe you and me, every square, no matter where it is.
‘Nobody is going to break us, we are Ukrainians.’
In another speech, Zelanksy appeals to the world.
“We want our children to live. It seems to me that this is fair. Yesterday, 16 children died. And again, President Putin will say ‘this is an operation, and we are beating the military infrastructure.’ Where are our children? What military factories do they work at? ON which rockets? Maybe they ride in tanks? You killed 16 children!
‘We are fighting for our rights — freedom and life — and now we are fighting for survival. And this is our main motivation. But we are also fighting to be equal members of Europe. The EU will be much stronger with us. Without you, Ukraine will be alone.
‘Do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you are indeed Europeans, and then life will win over death and light will win over darkness. Glory to Ukraine.”
3. International Outrage, but not Universal
A lot of interesting results from a Leger US/Canada opinion polls surfaced days ago:
- 89% of Canadians and 78% of Americans are personally concerned about Russia invading Ukraine.
- 66% of Canadians and 62% of Americans believe the Russian invasion of Ukraine has the potential to develop into a world war.
- 45% of Canadians and 38% of Americans think stronger economic sanctions should be imposed on Russia.
Of particular interest, 83 percent of Canadians said Ukraine and 71 percent of Americans backed Ukraine in the dispute. Which leaves a healthy minority unconvinced or backing Russia. Even in a pretty declarative attempt at subjugating the people, we can’t get universal outrage.
When asked to weigh in on Putin’s claim “I have decided to conduct a special military operation… to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide… for the last eight years”, in reference to why Russia invaded Ukraine, 5% of the North American population believe he was telling the truth and 25% didn’t know. Ughhh. When such obvious lies are willed upon us, we really do need to demand a higher level of critical thinking of our populations. Fact check and use of facts is the responsibility of the government, the media and citizens. This is a UN Report on Disinformation, Misinformation and their risks that is worth studying.
At the Grey Swan Guild, we celebrate making sense of the world. Sometimes it is harder than others. What we do know, is that to solve the world’s biggest problems, we need to think different.
Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people.
Why not join us on Sunday, March 6th at 8am (PST) 11am (EST) / 4pm BST We’d love to hear your thoughts on this wrap , so why not join us on Clubhouse this Sunday the 6rd of March 2022 at 8 am PST | 11 am EST | 4 pm BST | 5 pm SAST to make sense of it all, have your say, and engage with your favourite Grey Swan Guild Wrap Editors:
Doyle Buehler, Sylvia Gallusser, Sean Moffitt, Agustín Borrazás, Rob Tyrie, Louise Mowbray, Ben Thurman, Antonia Nicols, Esmee Wilcox, Geeta Dhir, Gina Clifford, Su McVey with Clubhouse Captains Howard Fields, Scott Phares, and Lindsay Fraser.
The collection of images, videos, and charts delivered by the zeitgeist that is the internet as it filters and disseminates the news cycle.
Meme of the week:
Movie of the Week
Winter on Fire — The Annexation of Crimea from Ukraine 2014 a Documentary — Trending.
Lexicon - Revanchist
re·vanch·ist | \ rə-ˈväⁿ-shist \
1. Of or relating to a policy designed to recover lost territory or status. of or relating to a revanche. Each of Hitler’s allies had their own, partially interrelated, expansionary or revanchist motives for attacking the Soviet Union. — Michael Burleighe. Wilson brought with him a sheaf of high principles — democracy, self-determination, world government — that bore little relevance to the tangled politics and even more tangled geography of postwar Europe. His idealism was soon drowned out by the revanchist passions of his allies. — Kenneth Auchincloss
2. Advocating or fighting for the recovery of lost territory or status. While revanchist emperors, such as Julian, were still mouthing the aristocratic ideology of imperialist aggression, more realistic rulers, like Constantius II, recognized that the future lay in accommodation with the so-called barbarians who had already infiltrated the heights of army and administration. — C. R. Whittaker
Songs of the week
Cartoon of the Week
Chart of the week:
The Simpsons — Futurists?
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