Muzzling the dogs of war: the time to stop the madness is now

Jul 2, 2024
Map of Europe Ukraine under the magnifying glass Image:iStock/:naruedom

It may be time to think the unthinkable: all the signs are pointing to the West preparing to launch a proper war in Europe. Once started it could bring, for the first time in living memory, millions of Western civilians into uniform and see the cities of the West attacked. Preposterous? Jumping the Shark? Listen to what the leaders in the West are saying. The time to stop the madness is now, not once the elites drive us into the abyss and civilians are stripped of all rights to oppose.

“War has returned to Europe. Germany and its allies once again have to deal with a military threat. The international order is under attack in Europe and around the globe. We are living at a turning point.” Verteidigungspolitische Richtlinien, Germany’s Defense Policy Guidelines 2023.

NATO military committee chair Admiral Rob Bauer says we may be heading for war with Russia. “We have to realise it’s not a given that we are at peace. And that’s why we are preparing for a conflict with Russia,” he said earlier this year.

General Sir Patrick Sanders who was UK’s Chief of the General Staff until June says that the youth of Britain may have to be conscripted. Recent UK Defence Secretary Tobias Ellwood says, “We need to listen and listen carefully” when “cerebral thinkers” like General Sanders speak. “What’s coming over the horizon should shock us … and we are not prepared… There is a 1939 feel to the world right now. “

People are normally shocked when war breaks out – and by the time it ends – regret enormously that more wasn’t done to prevent it. Even if you assess the risk as low, the stakes are too high to leave to the generals and the politicians.

France’s President Macron has repeatedly threatened that French forces may take on the Russians in Ukraine.

“If Ukraine falls, it will be a catastrophe for the West; it will be the end of Western hegemony”, Boris Johnson said in a recent opinion piece. We stay top dog or we burn the house down.

US B52 bombers have flown close to Russia in a piece of nuclear brinkmanship that is reckless and unnecessary. The NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg indicated in June that the alliance is considering increasing the number of nuclear weapons it has at its fingertips.

Across Europe military budgets are soaring, the military industrial complex is making hay and global production of nuclear weapons is multiplying. Conscription is a hot topic.

If the German army wants to reprise its Nazi-era struggle with Russia it will need a much bigger army – and that is what the major parties have agreed on. Serving the Fatherland on the Eastern Front may, astonishingly, be back on the agenda.

“I’m convinced that Germany needs some kind of military conscription,” Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told a US audience in May. He says bringing in conscription is part of a reimagining of the German military. It requires, says Pistorius, a new military doctrine, one that aims to turn the Bundeswehr into an army that can “wage war”.

Many European countries, including frontline states like Estonia, already have conscription; others, like Italy, are looking at reintroducing compulsory military service.

On the other side of the Eastern Front, few people in the West are even aware of the fury that is building inside Russia – including frustration at Putin – for what they see as the government’s weak response to NATO missile strikes on Russia territory, including American ATACM missiles killing civilians with cluster munitions on a beach in Crimea last week. Imagine the response if it was US civilians instead of Russian ones being hit with the other’s missiles.

The trigger for a wider war may be the defeat of Ukraine on the battlefield. Ukraine isn’t out of the fight yet – it has received hundreds of billions of dollars in arms from the West, is supported by a vast Western military backroom and overhead apparatus, a growing number of Western personnel on the ground, and now increasingly deadly use of missiles being fired into Russia. Despite all this, the Ukrainians are losing and will lose this war. As scholars and military analysts, including Professor John Mearsheimer and Colonel Daniel Davis, point out: the casualty exchange ratio (respective kill rate in attrition warfare) has swung decisively in Russia’s favour. The average age of a Ukrainian soldier is now 42 years old. If the Ukrainian army cracks, if the vital Black Sea port of Odessa is close to falling, or the Russian army appears at the gates of Kyiv, the West could well decide to enter the war. Once that Rubicon is crossed the chances of keeping it limited in scale becomes vanishingly small: strikes and counter strikes would inevitably see ports, bases and cities across Europe hit with ferocity.

What I fear is that a moment will come when a wider war starts and – as has happened in countless wars in countless countries of every political shade – the right to oppose, to express alternative views will be removed, the press freedoms, the rights of assembly and all forms of freedom of speech will be curtailed in the interest of the war. Our media is a disgrace at the moment: on major geopolitical issues it is little better than a mouthpiece for the Pentagon and the elites. What will it become once a war starts?

Despite Western propaganda, Russia has never signalled an intention to move West, but it does have valid concerns about NATO expansion into Ukraine – which current CIA director William Burns once famously called in a leaked memo “The reddest of red lines”. When he was US ambassador to Moscow he also warned colleagues in Washington: “Nyet means nyet”. No means no.

You don’t have to like Putin or Russia to understand that they will fight to the bitter end to ensure Ukraine does not become a NATO bone in its throat, that the great Russian port of Sevastopol is not turned into a Western base to threaten Russia. The peace proposal that was first accepted then rejected by Ukraine/US in Istanbul in 2022 was better for Ukraine than the one Russia’s president proposed this month (Ukraine would now cede four Russian-majority oblasts and Crimea, and must not join NATO). What comes next will be worse than what has gone before. It would be prudent to be mindful of real-world realities, not just ideological or emotional preferences, and seek peace through respectful dialogue.

War is neither necessary nor desirable. Peace is possible. It hinges on the idea that Ukraine cannot join NATO and we no longer live in an American-owned world. We live in a multipolar world where everyone’s interests must be respected and balanced. Even a cold, frozen conflict is preferable to a hot war.

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