John Queripel: The blind side to western wars and western war crimesAug 22, 2022
The calls mount for the Russian leader to be dragged before a War Crimes Tribunal, while everyone from international sporting bodies to businesses and banks is busy sanctioning Russia. Yet, the three world leaders responsible for the illegal Iraq war of 2003 have still not been held to account
One of the ideas, central to the thought of the Swiss founder of Analytical Psychology Carl Jung, was the shadow side. This is the side of our personalities we find unattractive which we, as a means of defence, then project onto others.
Jung asserted, it is not only individuals, but whole cultures, which are inclined to do this. Thus, in the years preceding the Nazi takeover, Jung spoke of Germany, caught in a cult of intellectualism, denying primal forces, projecting their unacknowledged dark side on to ‘the other.’ Of course, we know that the Nazis rose to power exploiting this projection of darkness to others, be they Communists, Romanies, Jews or homosexuals. The end of that journey was mass extermination in such places as Auschwitz.
It is very comforting but deeply dangerous to project our own darkness onto others, whom we then demonise. Currently most of those things, dark and evil in world politics, are being projected on to Russia, in particular their leader, Vladimir Putin, understood as ‘megalomaniac,’ ‘tyrant,’ and ‘war-monger.’ He may indeed be these things, but projection of these forces on to him saves us having to face up to their presence in ourselves.
The West, so vociferous in their criticism of Putin, cannot front up to the reality that it has been equally criminal in invading a sovereign state on concocted excuses. Unable to convince the U.N. Security Council, over what, even at the time, was a highly dubious claim that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction,’ which the then U.K. Prime Minister, Tony Blair claimed could reign down on British cities within 40 minutes, the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ chose to go to war.
The resultant destruction was horrendous. Though figures vary greatly, the highly reputable medical journal, ‘The Lancet’ estimated there were 654,965 excess deaths in Iraq from the time of the 2003 invasion to mid-2006 only. In that year, 2006 alone, the U.N. estimates the number of innocent civilians killed as totalling 34,452. The most potent image of the destruction wrought by that war is found in images of Fallujah after the allies had finished their bombing. Putin and the Russians still have a long way to go to reach that level of death and destruction.
The calls mount for the Russian leader to be dragged before a War Crimes Tribunal, while everyone from international sporting bodies to businesses and banks is busy sanctioning Russia. Yet, the three world leaders responsible for the illegal war of 2003 have still not been held to account. Nor were those bodies, now declaring their abhorrence to war, imposing sanctions against the Western nations guilty of the same aggressive invasion of a sovereign state. Having, trashed the ‘rules based international order,’ of which it so loves to speak, did the West not suspect that one like Putin would profit from such?
It is comforting to project one’s shadow side on another, but Jung asserted, it comes back to bite in a highly destructive way.
John Queripel is a Newcastle-based theologian, author, and social commentator