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Man mourning a body outside an apartment complex in Kharkiv after airstrikes (Getty image)

If we say “never again” while doing nothing to stop the atrocities going on in Ukraine, then we are lying to ourselves and each other, and being the worst kind of hypocrite there is.

If we collectively—the U.S., NATO, the United Nations, European Union—have the power to stop Putin now, to put boots on the ground and planes in the air to push him out of Ukraine, and if we do not do it, then we are no better than he is.

He is acting on his worst instincts because it personally benefits him and his ambitions. We are refusing to act on our best instincts for fear it could personally harm our own self-interests.

If we have the power to stop this and fail to act, then we too are morally responsible for the slaughter we refuse to stop.

It’s not enough to stand on the sidelines and supply Ukraine with the weapons it needs to defend itself, as we are doing. Although giving them all they ask for would be a step in the right direction—-the planes and tanks, and no-fly zone, and humanitarian safe-zones. To merely arm them, impose sanctions, is a safe way for us to feel good about ourselves. But it is being dishonest and cowardly.

Did we not promise to defend their security when they willingly gave up their nuclear weapons? If only they had kept them, they would be safe now. If only we had promised at the outset to put boots on the ground if Putin attacked, to defend their borders as we had promised to do so then, they would be safe now.

Surely there is some leader somewhere n the world who has the moral integrity and courage to step within Ukraine’s borders and fight with them.

You would think Israel which had been created as a haven for those who fled the Holocaust, who cried “Never again” when it was their own people were being slaughtered, would have been the first to put boots on the ground in Ukraine.

You would think Germany, who to their shame had allowed Hitler to rise to power and slaughter millions, would be the first on the battlefield to make up for the great wrong it had done in the past.

You would think the United Nations, which was created for this very purpose, to say “never again” to this kind of slaughter of civilians and naked aggression of one nation over its neighbor, would do more to stop this. And yet it can’t even expel the naked aggressor from its ranks. Zelensky is right. It should dissolve itself because it has proven to be a feckless power.

You would think the United States who professes to be the Leader of the Free World and the Defender of Democracy would stand on the battlefield with Ukraine, rather than merely arm Ukraine to defend itself. Or else we should relinquish these titles for all time.

Our Generals have already said that to allow Putin to win this war would be a global catastrophe. It would embolden him to attack the Balkans and start another World War. If that is true, then we should be putting all our efforts into ending this war as quickly as possible. And if we and our allies put boots on the ground we would win this war. Putin would be defeated, the catastrophe averted.

Yet we continue to hold back . . . . why?

Because it could trigger a nuclear war? Yet we are committed, so we say, to defending every inch of NATO territory should Putin invade it, which could also trigger a nuclear war. So it’s okay to do so if Putin enters the Balkans, but not if it enters Ukraine? What kind of intellectual sophistry is this? What kind of moral high-ground our we holding with this kind of reasoning?

If we had allowed Ukraine to enter NATO when it had tried so hard to do so, we would have put boots on the ground then. Or would we? Would we have stood back even then? Will we do so when Putin wins this war because of our cowardice and enters a NATO country? I wonder.

And I’m sure Putin wonders too. I’m sure he’ll be willing to gamble that his threat of a nuclear attack will always allow him to win whatever war he decides to start. And I fear he will be right.

If we do not do everything within our power to stop Putin now, we will be like little OliverTwist holding out our empty bowl, saying “More, please” to Putin and to every tyrant in the world. And we will deserve the bitter porridge they serve us.