Lewis: Putin must be crushed
I lived in San Francisco from 2007-2008 and it was a wonderful experience. The restaurants were great and the neighborhoods were fun to explore. San Francisco was vibrant and completely safe.
By 2014, I had moved to the East Bay but was still spending a good deal of time in San Francisco and dramatic changes in crime became evident. One day I parked on a main street in the middle of the day and darted into the office to pick up a friend. Ten minutes later I returned to my car to discover the side window smashed and my briefcase stolen. I contacted the police to file a report, but they responded by informing me that that would be a waste of time because nothing would ever be recovered. In 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47 which reclassified many crimes, including felony theft, from felonies to misdemeanors. This changed everything.
In 2019, San Francisco got a new ultra-progressive DA, Chesa Boudin, and things went from bad to worse. Petty crime surged. Boudin actually refused to prosecute certain so-called “quality of life” crimes like prostitution and public urination. By 2021, it was estimated that 74 cars were broken into every day but by then no one bothered to report them anymore. I would bet the actual number is three times that. The crisis hit a peak when Louis Vuitton was robbed in the middle of the day by a group of “smash and grab” thieves.
The impact of the crime epidemic has been so severe that 37% of San Francisco residents are planning to leave within three years. Tech companies are exiting in droves; by 2021 63% have downsized or left. Retail stores, like Walgreens, that could no longer afford the theft losses closed. Even progressive San Franciscans decided enough was enough and successfully recalled their DA in 2022.
So, what does this have to do with Putin? Everything.
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Laws and law enforcement exist for two simple reasons; to deter the offender from committing other crimes in the future and to deter others that might be tempted to commit similar crimes. When punishments are weak and/or laws go unenforced, crime surges, which is exactly what happened in San Francisco when DA Boudin decided not to prosecute petty crimes. With crime, like everything else, it’s all about risk versus reward.
As we pass the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Republican opposition to the war is reaching a tipping point whereby the MAGA contingent is becoming increasingly opposed to additional spending. Even the normally conservative Wall Street Journal is publishing editorials touting the idea of a compromise with Putin where Ukraine would relinquish a portion of its country. This is short-sighted and a terrible strategy.
Just like with crime, if we allow the aggressor to win, it will have ramifications far beyond this one conflict. It will send a clear message to countries like China, North Korea and Iran that aggressions will succeed as the U.S. may saber rattle but, in the end, will lack the fortitude for the fight.
Our goal in supporting Ukraine should be Ukraine reclaiming all of its rightful territory, Putin being deposed, and Putin being charged with crimes against humanity. Nothing less. Not only is that the just result but it also sends a clear message to other potential aggressors that invading other sovereign countries without justification has serious consequences.
It is hard for me to fathom that the group of MAGA Republicans that are the most vociferous regarding a tougher stance on crime and border security fail to see the direct and long-term ramifications of the U.S. “defunding” Ukraine in this war. Yes, it is costly and has hurt our economy, but the alternative would be far worse. We need one clear objective and that is victory for Ukraine.
The U.S. has made lots of mistakes, entering into conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan with tenuous justification and no clear exit strategy but this is different. We are reacting to a clear and unwarranted aggression. It has been almost a century since World War II but hopefully, we have learned the history lesson that the world needs to unite against militaristic imperialism wherever it rears its head.
Mark Lewis, a Colorado native, had a long career in technology, including serving as the CEO of several tech companies. He retired from technology last year and is now writing thriller novels. Mark and his wife, Lisa, and their two Australian Shepherds — Kismet and Cowboy, reside in Edwards.