While Kyiv was under siege last night, I had dinner in Malmö with a friend at a Swedish restaurant that will soon change owners and serve Lebanese cuisine. The conversation fluttered back and forth, wonderfully boundless. We talked about Putin. Of course, we did. My friend asked me what the United States would have done if Russia had installed short-range missiles in Mexico? Had Biden kicked back and chilled? Hardly. My friend locked up and without wavering pressed on,
– But Joakim, don’t you think that the situation in Ukraine is reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis?
I agreed. Then I took a few seconds and a deep sip of beer to gather my thoughts before saying,
– But the starting point, the Russians’ seemingly incurable, pathological wet dream of world domination is not “same same”. The United States only wants to dominate as long as it benefits American companies and prevents the spread of communism. The motives are plain to see. It’s not colonialism or a dictatorship fueled by insecurity and paranoia.
I can feel that I’m on a roll and continue, albeit somewhat hesitant about defending the country where I was born but have an increasingly difficult time relating to…
– The political system in the United States is lightyears from flawless, but it’s still considerably more transparent than the Russian has ever been. The Kremlin is just way better at whipping up nationalism and propagandizing myriads of myths.
My friend’s silence shouted agreement. We changed the topic to chat about art, traveling, and many other interesting things until it was time to pay the bill and leave.
The path back goes along slippery cold, desolate streets, many miles from Kyiv. Along the way, bright, flickering lights from living rooms with enormous television screens. I wander along the night’s gentle sea and let barely audible waves lull me home.