Heraclitus believed that war was the father of all things and the king of all. A week and half ago, Europeans continued to debate COVID-19 in an attempt to end the pandemic. The latest proposals for regulation of digital platforms and the Green Deal were the topics that came up in Brussels. The world was changed almost instantly. But it wasn’t that quick. Vladimir Putin spoke Monday about the recognition of Eastern Ukraine’s occupied territories. On Thursday morning, the first bombs struck the capital of Ukraine and other Ukrainian cities. All other things must be put aside now that war has returned to Europe.
Many noted that wars occurred in the former Yugoslavia less than thirty years ago. A war in Ukraine’s east is raging from 2014. This time, it’s different. A dramatic scenario has emerged where Europe, as a whole, is playing the part of contestant in a situation that saw the invasion of Ukraine and nuclear threats from Putin. It’s impossible to stop the events from getting out of control.
It was amazing to see the speed at which war claimed European lives. It was the first time I felt that I truly understood 1914-1939 Europeans. Even though the European Union is known for choosing diplomatic language in public statements, it offered war intelligence to Ukraine via its satellite communication centre in Madrid. Top foreign policy officials suggested Ukraine should be allowed fighter jets to resist Russian aggression. In a historic speech, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called February 24 a “watershed in the history of our continent.” He added that the issue is whether brute power is allowed to prevail “or whether we have it in us to keep warmongers like Putin in check. That requires strength of our own.” His speech promised Germany will develop the capabilities needed for a new and dangerous world. Germany has decided to break from the past and invest over two percent of its gross national product in defense.
This is where the question arises. Did Europe fail? Europe’s political system after 1945 had been created in order to rid itself of all the ghosts that remained from its past. This refrain has never been repeated. We are now powerless to stop the genocide. Putin repeated in every public statement that the Ukrainian people don’t have any right to exist. The main purpose of Putin’s war is one. According to a Russian newspaper editorial, this week’s Ukrainian issue must be resolved immediately.
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This feeling of incompetence is the root cause of all the rage that is currently sweeping across Europe. It didn’t work. Every attempt was a failure. And now we must watch the old world go up in flames, in the mad spectacle of Putin’s orcs descending upon Kyiv to execute his macabre plan. We will see daily the complete barbarism of Ukraine on TV screens. There is no way to escape this spectacle.
It is only one way to read it, there are many other ways. Maybe the E.U. The E.U. wasn’t a project to promote peace. It was a project to increase power. Its goal was not to build the universal brotherhood, but to unify Europe and to make it strong enough for them to survive in a hostile world with unbridled power and planetary technology.
It is likely that war will continue to grow and become more common. Let’s not forget that Ukraine is about to be thrown into chaos. Russia will continue to deploy troops and control the country, ensuring that it is subject to a puppet government. Barbarism won’t end. It will continue to move towards the Romanian and Polish border. Putin wants those borders permanently unstable and will find pretexts real or imaginary to undermine the peace. Europeans will be the ones to blame for any insurgent attack. The order will be to destroy, neutralise, and show their total incompetence over and over. In sum they will be assigned the same role as Ukraine over the past decade. Lavrov already demands that all U.S. nuclear weapons be removed from Europe. This is just the beginning of a demilitarization process.
Some Europeans mistakenly believed that the European peace initiative was only applicable within current Union borders. Many would claim that Ukraine is part a completely different universe, with different rules. It is obvious that this worldview is a dead end. Only one world exists, one in which war is a constant possibility and where strength must be the foundation of peace. Ukraine is not considered a country outside of this one world. This is where peace and war are being solved. Although it has been an emotional week, these emotions must be correctly interpreted. The Europeans are not defeated. The work that they thought was done is not finished. It will again be peaceful Europe. But it will not be easy for us to correct our illusions in the coming years as we work hard on that peace.
Just over one week ago, just before my departure from Kyiv was complete, I enjoyed a day walking along the Trukhaniv Island beach. In the freezing February temperatures, some locals enjoyed volleyball on the beaches. Although life was fairly normal, some received military training. Others gathered together and paid attention to their instructor. A few days later, they were ready to fight the Russian invader in the trenches. The contrast taught them a valuable lesson. The contrast taught us that enjoyment and peace cannot be sustained on their own, but must be combined together with struggle and sacrifice.