by Frank Schnittger
Tue Mar 1st, 2022 at 01:00:59 AM EST
War in Europe - Russia's assault on Ukraine (Seventh letter down)
A chara, - We are indebted to our MEPs Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, Luke "Ming" Flanagan, and Sinn Féin's Chris MacManus for voting against a European Parliament motion condemning the Russian build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border, a vote which was passed by 548 to 69. Mick Wallace and Clare Daly justified their vote on the basis that the Russian troop deployment was "clearly defensive". Perhaps Mick Wallace and Clare Daly could treat us to another one of their famous taxpayer-funded "fact-finding" missions to Kiev to see how Russia's self-defence deployment there is going. No doubt Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will greet them with open arms and show them at first-hand what a Russian defensive deployment looks like. - Is mise,
Sorry for the sarcasm, but I am simply lost for words at the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We have had wars in the former Yugoslavia before, but this is the first time since 1945 we have had a full scale invasion of a European country by a major world power.
My fear is not only for what this means for Ukraine and its people, but what it means for all the people of Europe. After many decades of relative peace, declining defence expenditures (as a proportion of GDP), and a reduction in the militarisation of European states, all these positive developments could well be thrown into reverse.
We could be witnessing the end of an epoch of relative peace, and the beginning of a new world order marked by a rise in militarism and military expenditure, a rise in authoritarian politics and the suppression of legitimate debate and dissent.
The warning signs have been all around us: the increased polarisation and militarism in the USA; the authoritarianism and suppression of civil liberties in Poland and Hungary; the rise of demagogic authoritarianism in Turkey and Israel; and the rise of extreme nationalism in England which lead to Brexit.
It is difficult to know for how much longer the EU can stand out and against such destructive trends within and around its borders. It's not as if we didn't have enough challenges to be getting on with - growing inequalities, mass immigration, climate change and the pandemic.
Quite why Vladimir Putin has chosen to put the entire post WWII world order at risk is difficult to fathom. Dictators often go to war abroad to distract from problems closer to home, but Putin's control of Russia seemed to be as secure as ever. His good friend and admirer, Donald Trump, even stands a good chance of being re-elected President in the USA.
Perhaps it was a certain hubris which led him to believe he could build on past "successes" in and Chechnya and Crimea and that the West's responses would be as toothless as ever. Perhaps, like Hitler, he simply doesn't know the limits of his own power. Let us hope he doesn't lead Russia and Europe to a similar fate.