Why Ukraine Has Captured The Global Imagination

From Kara Swisher’s conversation with Clint Watts on her podcast, Sway.

Swisher asks Watts why Ukrainians have captured the global imagination so much more than most other victims of war.

Watts:

“Several factors have changed over the last decade that are important. One, cell phones in everyone’s hands worldwide. Two, social-media platforms of all stripes connecting everybody at the same time. But the bigger ones, just to be honest, are, this is a predominantly white, predominantly Orthodox Christian population in Europe. And so the West cares. Having worked on Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria over the last 15 years, which is how I got into this, I’ve never seen so many people care about what’s going on.

People see that fight, and they see themselves. It’s implicit bias in social media. You like information from people that look like you and talk like you. And you’re seeing that kick into full gear with this battle. And people can identify with themselves, particularly in Europe. Poland — very worried about what’s going on. Germany, all of the sudden, has kicked up its military commitments. We begged them to do this since World War II with NATO, and they didn’t do it. So I think that is the biggest driver of it.”

Swisher points out that there has been horrific imagery from other conflict zones to which Watts responds:

“Absolutely. And I think if you went to the Middle East today and listen to discussions, they’re like, oh, everybody cares now. What about last decade when all of these invasions and battles, and Assad is barrel-bombing? Oh, you don’t know what’s going to happen in Kyiv? Maybe you should have watched Aleppo, or maybe you should have seen in Grozny. That’s their perspective on it.

And I think there’s an importantness, which is the power of translate today compared to 10 years ago. You can engage with Russian content on Twitter or Google when you do a search on a website. You can read it now. It almost magically switches, right? So that’s allowing the West to engage in languages and platforms that they otherwise would have to — they wouldn’t even know existed. They wouldn’t be able to compute it.”

Later in the conversation Watts asserts:

“We could find several Ukraines around the world right now.”

He references the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar specifically.

Our compassion, activism, and charitable giving doesn’t have to be a finite, zero-sum game. We should extend just as much compassion, activism, and charitable giving to all victims of war regardless of their skin color or religion.

my emphasis added

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