Before it causes unnecessary conflict, politicians need to tone down their inflammatory and unwise talk
Based on what I heard and read over the weekend, there seem to be some people in Washington who want to see war with Russia. Why? But what would war do, other than the destruction of innocent lives. It is clear that there would be absolutely no gain from war, other than the loss of innocent lives.
Instead of expressing themselves in plain language, both parties to the Atlantic are spending these days hyping the idea of war. US President Joe Biden, for example, announced that “Things could quickly go insane” and told the country’s citizens to leave Ukraine, which led other nations around the world, including the UK, to swiftly follow suit.
Biden’s administration also declared Wednesday the date of any Russian invasion, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan claimed that missiles could fall on Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
This line has been parroted by the UK’s Armed Forces minister, James Heappey, who said, “My fear is [an invasion] is very imminent, that’s not to say it’s definitely going to happen … this is a warning because minutes after Putin gives the order, missiles and bombs could be landing on Ukrainian cities.”
Western media can be just as responsible as politicians in fostering war rhetoric. Look at the headlines this weekend that seem jingoistic and you will see the public being seduced into hyperventilation. “Countdown to War” and “48 hours to save Europe” were just two of the front-page splashes. A cursory glance at US cable channels like CNN reveals an almost unquenchable hunger for conflict.
On Friday, I felt a sliver of hope that this sense would prevail. Following meetings in Moscow, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, declared that “We’ll keep at it” to find a diplomatic solution. However, it seems that he didn’t have the script in his mind because he did an interview with the Sunday newspaper within 24 hoursTimes in which he said there was a “Munich, whiff” about the attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
For those unaware, Wallace was comparing those who are trying to negotiate a way out of this current crisis to Neville Chamberlain’s attempt to deal with Adolf Hitler in 1938. This statement provoked incredulity at almost all levels. Wallace is suggesting that Vladimir Putin might be a parallel to Hitler. Moreover, doesn’t he know that Russia was the biggest victim of Nazi Germany’s expansionism, losing up to 27 million people as a result?
Modern-day politicians often try to channel Winston Churchill’s inner wisdom, but the results can be dangerous and misplaced. It’s been used repeatedly as an excuse for war. It is worth reminding Wallace that Churchill also once said that “jaw, jaw is always more preferable than war, warfare”; politicians today would do well to heed this advice.
This is why? Why is it that politicians seem so keen to hype the dangers of war? Call me a cynic, but could it be that it’s down to Biden performing poorly in the polls and facing wipe-out in the mid-terms, or that Boris Johnson is on the ropes over Partygate? Although no one is able to say the truth, what I do know for certain is that the foreign adventure has been used in past times to distract people from domestic failings. If this is the case – and I sincerely hope not – then they are playing a very dangerous game with the lives of many people, which could lead to catastrophic unintended consequences.
It has already happened. Europe was at war with the United States in 1914 because of alliances, threats and poor communication. It didn’t matter if King George V or Kaiser Wilhem wanted it, nor did Tsar Nicholas. But politicians’ bellicose rhetoric and threats led to mobilization that could not be stopped and Europe became almost an accident.
No one understood the origins of the First World War by the time it ended. There have been many arguments about this ever since. The history of the world is prone to repeat itself. I am urging politicians to tone it down and not act like warmongers from the early 20th century. This conflict isn’t 1914. It’s 2022. And there will be no benefit from it.
While I don’t consider myself a left-wing activist against war, it is clear that all diplomatic options must be explored before making any decision that could lead to the death of innocent civilians. It is important to adhere to previous agreements and to make compromises. This is not appeasement, as I am sure some hawkish types would see it – it is simple common sense.
Real statesmanship is now the priority, not political posturing and jingoism.
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