Just Say No To World War 3
Two weeks to stop the spread has become two weeks to flatten the war.
Let me first say, I was totally wrong about Russia’s major intentions for Ukraine, and I think it’s important to own that. For many months, a large Russian military contingent has been deployed to their border with Ukraine. My position was that Moscow was, since at least November, readying for a minor military campaign to seize only pro-Russian areas of Ukraine. I was wrong. The scope and scale of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is much more broad than I had predicted it could be.
However, it’s still in its first gear, and I hope that, unlike COVID Mania, cooler heads will prevail.
The short history of modern Ukraine, and Russia-Ukraine tensions, largely involves a series of proxy fights between Russia and its western adversaries. Although many seem to be under the impression that the timeline started late last week, the Russia-Ukraine situation goes back decades.
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine commenced many moons ago.
Since the establishment of modern Ukraine, both the West and Russia have been playing tug of war over influence in Ukraine. In recent years, the United States, the EU, and NATO have been vacuuming up influence in Ukraine, causing concern to the leaders of their nuclear-armed border state in Russia. The Russian political elite, especially Vladimir Putin himself, perceive this continuing encroachment as a threat to Russia’s standing in the world, and their own power, threatening their place in Moscow’s political hierarchy.
Ukraine has, unsurprisingly, not at all benefited from these geopolitical positioning battles, as it remains the objectively poorest and arguably most corrupt nation in all of Europe.
At the turn of the century, relations between Russia and the West had increasingly soured, and both forces began playing a greater and greater role in the internal politics of the post-USSR independent nation. There is a lot of blame to go around, and both sides have very much contributed to the current mess.
In 2014, after many years of running foreign influence campaigns in Ukraine’s elections, all hell broke loose. Western forces played a massive role in manifesting a color revolution that resulted in the exile of Viktor Yanukovych, the democratically elected pro-Russia president of Ukraine. The Kremlin, for its part, was obviously not thrilled about losing its man in Ukraine. Russia responded to the turmoil in its neighboring state with great opportunism, by annexing the strategically crucial land of Crimea. Russia also provided support for separatist, pro-Russia territories on their border with Ukraine, which Moscow alleges is now subject to routine bombardment by Ukrainian forces.
For the western ruling elite class, Russia has been labeled our world’s bogeyman, as a nation that is considered the epitome of evil. Ukraine, while sharing a similar culture and politics to its neighbor, is labeled a land of freedom akin to the vision of the American founding. These labels are meant to showcase a great distinction between the two neighbors, but they are simply not accurate. In reality, the authoritarian dichotomy is much smaller, but the powerful actors who are clashing on this issue remain opposed to one another.
Over the last few years, both the West and Russia continued to escalate with both overt and clandestine action. And just a few days ago, Russia decided to pursue a military invasion of Ukraine, with hopes to again secure the country as a pro-Russia state or buffer zone to NATO. Russia also appears to be utilizing the opportunity to attempt to secure more strategically important waterway access for its navy.
Now, tensions continue to escalate between the two sides.
In the western world, some of our elected leaders are ginning up levels of hysteria similar to the early days of COVID Mania. COVID is now old news, replaced by the potential for war with Russia. Similar to COVID Mania, the wartime propaganda has been relentless, and the same class of human zombies who embraced the deadly virus narrative have somehow seamlessly transitioned to supporting the war narrative. To these social justice warriors and frenzied fanatics, calling balls and strikes on the wartime propaganda is akin to being an agent for Russia. We are now told to register unapologetic support for these war narratives, even if they’re not remotely true.
Sure, go ahead and support Ukraine’s defense, but I don't believe it’s wise to “rally the troops” by banging the propaganda war drums. Instead, we should be looking for a way to de-escalate the rising tensions between nuclear-armed powers, and do so as fast as humanly possible.
There is a way out of this escalatory trap, but it involves both Russia and Ukraine coming to the table to negotiate a settlement. Both sides have entered initial peace talks with maximalist rhetoric. There are many countries with decent diplomatic relations with both sides of the war. India, Hungary, and Israel, could act as great mediators for this conflict. The Biden Administration, on the other hand, is way too far in the tank for Ukraine to do anything that could be perceived as fair, as many of its top officials have been behind the anti-Russia campaigns in Ukraine for quite some time.
Both parties have entered the negotiations with lots of demands.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has proposed a no fly zone. Such a proposal is so far being dismissed by the U.S. and NATO, and rightly so, because it can easily lead to armed conflict with rival Great Powers. It appears the no fly zone notion is most popular with Ukrainian politicians, who have the most to lose (their lives, sadly) in a scenario of Russian occupation, but the same may not necessarily apply to Ukrainian citizens (see: Crimea takeover). It also includes unhinged fanatics in the corporate press and congress.
Putin has listed Russia’s demands. Some of them, like the formal recognition of Crimea and the separatist areas as independent or part of Russia, are more than reasonable (especially if prolonged conflict can be avoided), and they represent the geopolitical reality on the ground. Yet other demands, such as the argument that Ukraine should completely disarm, are not reasonable.
In the early days of COVID Mania, we lost the fight to take the oxygen out of the crisis before it became a cataclysmic event, resulting in billions of people around the world suffering from draconian, destructive policies. The ruling elites saw a flu-like illness, presented it as Ebola, and took it upon themselves to usher in the equivalent of an economic and societal nuclear bomb dropped on the whole of humanity.
What is left of the free world can not let these same competing ruling classes of the world turn Ukraine into a global military and economic battlefield. Two weeks to stop the spread has become two weeks to flatten the war.
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