This Is More Than Just Standing Up for the Little Guy

Stephen King recently shared in a tweet that "What most of us learned as kids on the playground: You don’t stand by while a big kid beats up a little kid. You might take a punch or two making the big kid stop, but that’s the right thing to do."

His metaphor claiming that even though there may be losses, we have to get involved in the war between Ukraine and Russia to help out the little guy. He is not alone in this belief. People everywhere – from celebrities to politicians to media outlets to your neighbor – have all echoed this sentiment. With good reason because in a vacuum, that sounds pretty great, but in reality, it is deeply flawed.

I’ll answer King’s comparison with one of my own. When I received my concealed carry permit, my instructor said to me "From this moment on you need to be the biggest coward in the room. When a fight breaks out you don’t join, you get away. If you’re in a bar and a guy tries to feel up your girlfriend, you simply remove yourself from the situation. Under no circumstance should you confront that guy. What he did was obviously wrong and it feels wrong to let him get away with it, but from now on, every conflict you have has the capacity to escalate to the use of lethal force. That carries a very heavy weight and is a very burdensome responsibility." I’ve taken these words to heart ever since that day. And the geopolitical foreign policy equivalent of the guy who carries a gun is the nuclear armed foreign power. What Russia is doing is undoubtedly terrible. Ukraine deserves no such suffering. But the moment the US decides to enter a war we now see two powers entering into a conflict with each other where either one could escalate it to the use of nuclear weapons.

Even if they do not resort to this absolute worst case scenario, devastation is sure to follow. The US’ involvement will only raise tensions as it will force Russia to rise to the challenge and escalate further. US involvement will be sold on pretenses like the claim King pushed forward, but that is deeply misleading. It’s easy to say that we will only "take a punch or two" but once we get involved in this fight the little kid is going to be absolutely decimated in the crossfire. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya have always been attempted to be sold on the basis of some noble cause that was spoon fed to us, but in hindsight we’ve seen that the people who were hurt most were the individuals we were supposedly there to help. Ukraine will be no different. This is not a noble cause.

All we have to do to see that this is not a noble cause is look to a previous publication here on Shortly after the end of the war in Afghanistan I published something here explaining that in response to the end of America’s longest war, we should’ve expected the military budget to decrease, yet it was increasing instead. As I claimed then, "Even now, seeing the end of a war, we are not seeing the actual contraction of the empire, just moving pieces around." It is finally being revealed to us not just that it was right, but how it was right and to where the pieces are moving. This is not some honorable defense of the little kid on the playground – no matter how much they want to phrase it as such. No, this is the next move on the board. This is the expansion of the empire. However this time, the expansion of the empire has more risk than ever before. It is time that we as a nation recognize that the weight we carry on the global level is the same as a man who now carries a gun. This is a responsibility and we must bear the weight appropriately by not intervening, not escalating, and not leaving Ukraine in a burning pile of collateral damage.

Connor Mortell graduated from Texas Christian University with a major in finance and a minor in Chinese. After graduation, he went on to work as a legislative aide for the Florida House of Representatives for two years. He then returned to school and is currently studying for his Master of Business Administration at Florida State University. Additionally, he is a graduate of Mises University where he passed the Mündliche Prüfung Viva Voce Exam on Economics. He can be contacted at

21 thoughts on “This Is More Than Just Standing Up for the Little Guy”

  1. “What Russia is doing is undoubtedly terrible. Ukraine deserves no such suffering.”

    See my post in the “All War Is a Failure of Diplomacy” thread.

    It’s not clear me what “Ukraine deserves.” It’s not even clear to me what the hell is meant by referencing what a “country deserves” – or even what that country’s people “deserves”.

    This is the kind of moralistic language that obscures more than it enlightens.

    The reality is that, as the saying goes, “People get the government they deserve”. What this means is that people are responsible for the government they have in power – unless they’ve been invaded and occupied – and even then they have the right to insurgency. In other words, if your government is doing something bad, to you or anyone else, then you either do something about it or you STFU and do what you can to minimize your involvement.

    The Ukrainian population did nothing to prevent their government from being taken over by hard line nationalists and neo-Nazis – not to mention the US CIA and neocons – who proceded to proclaim ethnic cleansing of the Russian population. They are thus responsible collectively for subsequent events.

    Individually, of course, some of them are not because they disapprove but are in no position to do anything about it effectively, so they don’t. And some of them may end up getting harmed by the current situation. That’s unfortunate for them.

    As an individualist anarchist, I’m not interested in apportioning moral blame for the actions of anyone or any country. However, I can recognize factually when a person or group is being “messed with” by someone else for their personal gain. I have long experience in my personal life with that, as I’m sure everyone else has.

    In this situation, the state of Russia has its “interests” (as they say.) So does Ukraine. So does the US and NATO. So do the Donbass residents (and they are not united, either.) The end result is that the balance of power to resolve the conflicts in these interests rests with Russia. That’s it. End of story. This is how the world really works, regardless of what moralists thinks.

    As Martyanov says, “It is what it is.”

    By the way, the “big kid” in this situation is Russia, the “little kid” is the Donbass. It’s not the US as “big kid” or Ukraine as “little kid.” That should be freakin’ obvious.

    1. I completely and vehemently disagree with the premise that the People are ever to be held collectively accountable for the actions of their governments. That’s blaming the victim. Yes, people can revolt or leave, but why should they have to? I’ve tried in my own ways, but when you’re vastly outnumbered and outgunned, you don’t get very far. This is also how the world works, as much as fans of democracy might pretend otherwise.

      1. “This is also how the world works, as much as fans of democracy might pretend otherwise.”

        Which is exactly what I said.

        “Yes, people can revolt or leave, but why should they have to?”

        Because that’s the way it is.

        Also note that I explicitly say I’m not apportioning “blame”. I’m apportioning responsibility. Not the same thing at all. I know that theoretically a population can rise up and control its leaders. I also know that practically this is almost impossible and has rarely been done – and when it was done, it usually resulted in a worse government, if not immediately, then eventually.

        Many anarchists, especially we individualist anarchists, are fully aware that “revolution” rarely solves anything and almost never involves the bulk of a society, but rather smaller factions. I’ve read that in the American Revolution, thirty percent supported it, thirty percent opposed it, and thirty percent didn’t give a damn. That’s just not how humans and human societies work. But unless and until human societies learn to take individual responsibility for events, this is the way it will continue. I’m not holding my breath.

        I’m well aware also that “society” does not exist. It’s merely a concept referring to a group of individuals, each of whom bears responsibility for their own actions either initiated by them or in response to other’s actions. But if you choose to act as a member of a “society”, you’re subject to the overall results of that “society’s” actions. “It is what it is.”

        The bottom line is: the population in Ukraine “let” hard line nationalists and neo-Nazis (and the US CIA and neocons) run their government and engage in ethnic cleansing of a group that Russia supported (as well as becoming threats to the national security of the Russian state.) This is what happens. Deal with it.

        1. So Congress is planning to approve billions more in military aid to Ukraine so Selensky can continue fighting an unwinnable war and prolongs this conflict so that they can kill a few more Russians.
          The longer this conflict drags, the higher the chances that somebody freaks out and we get into a confrontation w/ Russia which means instant escalation to nuclear.
          Lets see what the citizens of the world do while the media promotes the official version, misinformation and disinformation.

  2. From Twitter: He’s got it right.

    George Szamuely @GeorgeSzamuely

    The impotent rage Western policymakers feel today is not unlike the impotent rage many felt when NATO launched its illegal attack on Yugoslavia in 1999 or when US/UK launched its invasion of Iraq in 2003. They did it because they could.

    That’s what Great Powers do. They don’t act morally, despite all the hot air emanating from the likes of Blinken and Stoltenberg. Great Powers are not restrained by morality, but by rival Great Powers.

  3. Wow. Slinging ‘Steven King’ (a renowned international diplomat, of course), and ‘just walk away’ psychology poop, at the same time…
    That’s totally way better than being honest with ourselves and just not instigating a bunch of shit everywhere all the time.

  4. So, I assume King was speaking of the need to step up and protest Ukraine’s attacks on Donetsk and Luhansk? No, was he talking about the Saudi attacks on Yemen? American attacks in Syria, Libya, Somalia? Israeli attacks on Palestine? Strange how so many people who don’t seem to give a damn about the constant military excess of Western states, suddenly become emotional about the topic when CNN encourages them to focus on the sins of a non-Western one.

    If King wants to use a playground analogy he should go for the one where:
    The biggest kid in the yard encourages a slightly smaller kid to beat up on the two scrawniest kids in the school. This goes on for seven years before another big kid, who has been trying to get them to stop fighting, says “I’ve had enough of this, and beats up the actual bully.” Meanwhile the instigator decides, “I don’t want to mess with that guy” and leaves their former lacky to get stomped.

    No, not nearly capable of capturing the nuances of the issue, and violence is never the optimal response, but a whole lot closer to reality than Kings ridiculous moral posturing.

  5. Maybe Mr. Putin has a brain tumor. Maybe he was abducted by a UFO and they programmed him. He and Biden could both be holograms and we’d never know it.

  6. When we attacked Iraq, the attack and devastation we caused was entertainment. We had the shock and awe Williams salivating at the fireworks while the Generals explained with the demeanor of a professor how the “precision” bombs passed thru a window. Nobody ever mentioned the human lives we were vaporizing on the ground. Ditto for Libya, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.
    When we invaded Syria, split Syria into two, kept the oil fields and gave it to the Kurds in “appreciation” for their services, the media not only kept quiet but lauded such a move.
    When we attacked Panama, plucked Noriega out of his bedroom and transferred him to a jail, everybody applauded.
    Why is it that this war is referred to as a “brutal” war, Russia’s medieval militarism, Russia’s invasion cannot go unanswered, need to punish Russia etc.
    The international law that the media and the politicians from Washington to Brussels keep referring to is the law made at the point of a gun. It is the law of the stronger, made on the fly as we see fit.
    And as long as we and the arm of the elite, the fake media (hate to say it but Trump was right on) keep this double standard, we are on the slippery path to oblivion.

    1. “the fake media (hate to say it but Trump was right on)”

      But it’s only fake if it isn’t loyal to him. It could spew the most nonsensical shit in the world (FOX) and he’d back it no matter what. Or it could waver in loyalty (FOX) and it would immediately be on the “fake” list.

  7. This war could have been prevented if the Minsk Agreements had been implemented signed by Ukraine. Ukraine can blame itself for not talking to Russia, endangering its own people and shelling and bombing their own countrymen in the eastern Donbas. War could have been prevented if Ukraine had not applied for NATO membership, and allow the US to place lethal weaponry all over its country. War could have been prevented if the regime had considered Russia’s legitimate security concerns. War could have been prevented if NATO had been dismantled in 1990 same as the Warsaw Pact and not had spread so close to the borders of Russia. Let’s be fair what would the US have done under similar circumstances? Remember Cuba 1962?

    1. Ukraine is NOT a member of NATO & since when does one vountry get to tell another country what international relations it HAS to have? Did Ukraine INVADE Russia?Did Ukraine ever BOMB Russia? No to all these questions so, Russia is the big bully in this & that seems pretty damn obvious. Amazing that fellow Leftists refuse to see something so basic: you DON’T INVADE other countries that haven’t attacked you. The peace movement I’ve been part of for over 30 years understood that when the U.S. was the aggressor–how come Russia gets a pass?

      1. Russia is the big bully in this- as if its some school playground fight
        Ultimately USA and Europe will not be able to do anything and why get upset over a country you couldnt care less about 1 month ago

      2. For the last seven years Ukraine has been shelling bombing their own people in eastern Ukraine, people who voted to join the Russian federation. NATO has been shelling bombing murdering thousands of people in the Balkans, Iraq, Lybia, Syria, Afghanistan for the last twenty odd years. How many countries has Russia attacked during the same time span. Please answer!! NATO is now trying to encircle Russia. It’s using the Ukraine as a proxy. Putin is no fool, he is well aware what the warmongers in Washington are planning. He is forcing Ukraine to come to the talking table. Open your eyes and don’t be fooled by all the vicious, demoni

  8. its always interesting that those people urging involvement are unlikely to be sent to the front line. King should stick to writing fiction

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