The settlement at the end of The Great War will be effected, let us hope, not by a regimental mess of fire-eaters sitting around an up-ended drum outside the Kremlin, but by some sort of Congress at which all the Powers will be represented.
Now I foresee a certain danger of Ukraine being taken by surprise at that Congress, and Z making himself unnecessarily tedious and unreasonable. Such a Congress will most certainly regard Ukrainians as being, after the Irish, as the most quarrelsome animals in the universe. I am quite conscious of the surprise and scandal this anticipation may cause among my more highminded readers, including Russian opposition leaders, who will not be represented. If just contemplating such a venue is unbearable, consider the alternative proposed by Maxim Mironov in his essay at Politico1.
After considering Maxim’s opinion, we all feel, I hope, shocked enough to continue.
Whereas trashtalking Russians in general will not hurt Ukrainians, a clearer view of the political situation globally will certainly help us all. I do not believe that the trueborn Ukrainian in her secret soul relishes the pose of injured victim any more than I do myself.
So, the time has now come to put on our big boy pants, completely legalize marijuana and begin to write soberly about the war. At first the mere horror of it stunned the more thoughtful of us, and even now only those who are not in daily contact with its heartbreaking wreckage can think sanely about it, or endure to hear others discuss it coolly. As for the thoughtless, well, not for a moment dare I suggest that for the first few weeks Z and his team were scared shitless.
Residents of Kyiv do not allow their perfect courage to be questioned, and only experienced soldiers, foreign legionnaires and foreign flaks are allowed the infirmity of fear. But they certainly were, especially participants in the Anti-Terrorism Campaign a decade ago, a little upset. They felt in that solemn hour that Ukraine was lost if only one single Russophile in their midst let slip the truth about anything in the universe.
It was a perilous time indeed. My professional habits have not prevented me from taking a one-sided view (read: all invaders must die), even as the result of being open-minded could prompt a punch in the face by someone with ptsd. Yet, until Martial Law ends, I shall retain my Irish capacity for criticising Ukraine’s leaders with something of the detachment of a foreigner, and perhaps with a certain slightly malicious taste for illumunating the pettiness of politicians everywhere.
Having frankly confessed my bias, which you can allow for as a sniper allows for windage, I will give my views for what they are worth. They will be of some use, because, however blinded I may be by cultural assimilation, my prejudices are not those which blind ordinary Ukrainians, and therefore I am sure to see some things that have not yet struck them.
And first, I do not yet see this war as one which has welded third-world governments (read: The Global South) into complete and sympathetic solidarity against what should be our common enemy. Ukrainians are united in a fierce detestation and defiance of the views and acts of authoritarians everywhere. I see zombified citizens of Russia and China stirred to the depths by a similar antipathy to their detractors, willingly duped by their demagogues into wreaking havoc and jumping at the chance they have longed for in vain for many years to ressurect their failed states as dominant global players.
The fact that that the rate of consumption maintained during our collective defense is much greater relative to the highest possible rate of domestic production sustainable without continued promised foreign assistance should trouble us all.
No doubt the heroic remedy for this tragedy is for Russian soldiers, stricken by “mouse fever,” to frag their commanding officers on the zero line, go home and make a revolution in their towns. But this is an impracticable solution, because they haven’t yet accepted the fact that that committing genocide rivets the intolerable yoke of fascism more tightly around their own necks. The chances of them yielding to the ecstasy of decency and common sense are, alas, zilch.
So, more of this:
Time for Ukraine to work with the Russian opposition. The Russian opposition has expressed its desire to cooperate with Ukraine since the war started. It is now time to accept this offer and pool efforts (Politico, December 19, 2023)