How far are we willing to go?
We are outstandingly blasé about stoking the fires of pan-European war.
FOR a nation which utterly shat the bed over a mild virus, we seem remarkably insouciant about pushing for World War III. Perhaps having gone through a collective bout of the sniffles we now feel sufficiently toughened up for a spot of nuclear war. I confess I have my doubts.
Blood lust is in the air. The killing of Russian soldiers is met with collective shrieks of orgiastic joy. ‘Kill the invaders!’, ‘the only good Ruski is a dead Ruski’ – comments such as these are not hard to find. A video of the sinking of the Russian ship Moskva was overlaid with Dschinghis Khan’s 1979 song Moskau; the mocking of dead young sailors good sport for those sitting comfortably hundreds of miles away.
No doubt these same people would be rightly horrified were the tables be turned. Think of a young British squaddie dying in some far-flung hell hole, and few would crack a joke. Thoughts of his grieving family would flood straight to mind. Yet apparently we show our humanity by insulting the loss-struck families of poverty-ridden Russian towns for whom many the armed forces are one of the few routes out.
Ah, but they are just Russians: they must learn their lesson. What are the broken eggs of a few dead sons and daughters when we have our omelette of righteousness to make?
None of this is to excuse the invasion. Not that such a caveat means anything. Just as in every panic in history, you are either with us or against us. For most people at most of the time, the mind can only work in binary. Much easier to slot yourself onto the side of The Good than to think about the horror of war.
We keep pushing for casualties. The media craves for more, and our government extends the conflict, never encouraging peace but flooding Ukraine with more and more arms. The longer it goes on, the longer it is likely to go on; events slowly taking on a gravitational force of their own and sucking in everything around it. It seems that many treat this just as a video game; perhaps the result of decades of films with endless explosions and mowing down baddies in Call of Duty, where one respawns seconds after a horrific death.
Until now the war is, for most people, a titillating spectacle; an anvil upon which they can forge their public virtue. Yet, it may not remain just so. As it continues more players will enter the fray, the chances of some dreadful flashpoint rise exponentially, and the possibility of large portions of the world being dragged into the horrors of war grows.
But as long as the war remains far away then we can continue our morality tale. Yet for a country which wasn’t willing to run the risk of going to the shops without wearing a mask, we are outstandingly blasé about stoking the fires of pan-European war.
Why more are not keen for establishing a lasting peace, I cannot begin to imagine. That there is a realpolitik solution to this is anathema to a society and political class which has lost all ground with reality.
Chesterton’s saying keeps coming to mind: When people stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything.