Thoughts about the War in Ukraine

Thoughts about the War in Ukraine

My dear Friend,

Here are a few of my thoughts regarding the War in Ukraine in response to your Facebook Comment.

One: Genocide

First, I would like to comment on your use of the word genocide, with the implied accusation Russia is committing mass extermination of the Ukraine population.
Extreme examples of genocide include:
The Nazis ‘Final Solution’ in which six million European Jews were exterminated.
The Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire during World War 1
Srebrenica Massacre of 1995 https://www.dw.com/en/remembering-the-1995-srebrenica-massacre-of-bosniaks/a-54117604
Rwanda Genocide https://www.history.com/topics/africa/rwandan-genocide
Cambodian massacre by Pot Pol https://cla.umn.edu/chgs/holocaust-genocide-education/resource-guides/cambodia
Trail of Tears https://www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/trail-of-tears
(By the way, in connection with US treatment of Native Americans, you might download the pdf file referenced here: https://scholarship.law.stjohns.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=7173&context=lawreview

I don’t want to belabor the point. In my opinion, Russian troops have not committed genocide. Better to have said, they have committed War Crimes. https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/war-crimes.shtml
At this point, I have to give vent to personal feelings. Western accusations about Russian atrocity reveal the hypocrisy of Western powers. One has only to go back to the Afghanistan war. Reports of war crimes by Coalition Troops have been largely unreported, ignored, or forgiven. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202109/1235240.shtml Remember the news when President Trump overruled top military leaders in granting pardons to three servicemen convicted of war crimes. https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-pardons-troops-convicted-or-charged-war-crimes-restores-rank-2019-11
What did the Trump pardon signal to the rest of the world? The signal sent to me was: Americans are exempt from having to face charges of war crimes. It is OK for American forces to commit atrocities. ‘We can point the finger of blame at others, but, brother, you better not point any fingers at us.’

Of course, in all wars, the enemy has to be demonized. https://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=79071 Using emotive words like genocide creates images of concentration camps, mass killings, and systemic extermination.
I came across examples from history of how effective and frightening the demonization process has been. During World War 1, the Germans were demonized to such an extreme that they were reduced to monsters. https://youtu.be/yJ-ce6RZMdk
(Thank God the propaganda machine regarding the Ukraine War has not gone to that extreme.)
A final thought about the topic of war crimes. The concept of war crimes is a two-edged sword. Ukrainians are also capable of committing them, or at the least, of committing less honorable acts. https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-61325277 https://www.christianitytoday.com/better-samaritan/2022/march/who-is-my-neighbor-honest-look-at-racism-inside-ukraine-cri.html
I believe we should be less emotive; instead, we should seek ways of how to prevent this war from escalating.

Two: Military Package Deal

I believe sending military arms and equipment helps no one but the defense industry. As a little boy growing up in the 1950s, I remember the Eisenhower presidency. I shouted ‘I Like Ike’ in the schoolyard. I watched on a neighbor’s TV the Inauguration of Ike. (My parents didn’t get a TV until much later.) I remember watching him on TV giving his farewell speech. I didn’t understand what he was instructing the American people at the time about the Military-Industrial Complex. https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/president-dwight-d-eisenhowers-farewell-address and https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/eisenhower-warns-of-military-industrial-complex But today, I do.

The Defense Industries have grown into gargantuan proportions. https://about.bgov.com/top-defense-contractors/ Of course, the US Defense Industry faces steep competition from defense manufacturers from Russia, China, and the European Countries, among others. But let’s just focus on US manufacturers. You can imagine the glee in their boardrooms when they review the sales of weapons to warring factions in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and other war-torn areas. I know. I am letting my imagination and emotions run away with my more rational thinking.

President Biden announced an $800 billion dollar military package for the support of Ukraine. https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/biden-speak-ukraine-war-amid-expectation-new-military-aid-2022-04-21/ I suppose what irritates me is what is taking place in the country of my birth, the USA. I will only focus on infrastructure and leave the political and social issues to the more savvy younger generations
https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/state-us-infrastructure https://infrastructurereportcard.org/
What could we do with the $800 billion dollars sent to Ukraine? To begin with, it could help the US government get a grip on the growing list of problems the US government must contend with — homelessness, global warming, toxic water supply, need for healthcare, and coping with dwindling quality of life.

OK, so now the US is sending a generous military aid package to Ukraine. But who takes control of the weapons and how will the weapons be distributed? https://www.npr.org/2022/05/02/1095861433/where-is-the-u-s-military-aid-going-to-ukraine-making-the-most-difference

How assured are we that those weapons will end up in the right hands? Perhaps I am succumbing to my imagination again, but I believe with that much hardware going to Ukraine, people with purposes other than saving Ukrainians will siphon off weapons for financial gain. https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2019/02/middleeast/yemen-lost-us-arms/
Hopefully, I am wrong, but you can rest assured that weapons falling into the hands of America’s enemies will not affect the bottom line of the US Defense manufacturers’ spreadsheets. And what will happen to the weapons after the Ukrainian conflict ends? Will they be left behind? https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10760917/The-left-7-billion-military-gear-including-78-aircraft-12-000-Humvees-Afghanistan.html

Three: Thoughts about the Russian Invasion

Quite simply, I believe Mr. Putin made the same mistake other major powers have made when they thought they were all powerful and did not take into consideration the opposition they would face. The invasion demonstrated that major power leaders including Putin do not learn from history.

Shock and Awe! Remember that battle cry when another nation with big balls invaded a 5th rated military power — Iraq. Was the war justified? Here are two arguments. https://billofrightsinstitute.org/activities/was-the-invasion-of-iraq-justified

So we went into Iraq. Our leaders gave the impression we would be in and out in no time. How sorely misled we were. For eight years American troops were entangled in the poor country. But at what cost? ( https://www.brown.edu/news/2021-09-01/costsofwar) (https://www.businessinsider.com/us-taxpayers-spent-8000-each-2-trillion-iraq-war-study-2020-2) (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/09/cost-wars-iraq-afghanistan/499007/)

And we are continuing to pay the cost in human terms. The wounded veterans who fought in the war are still suffering. https://theconversation.com/iraq-and-afghanistan-the-us-6-trillion-bill-for-americas-longest-war-is-unpaid-78241
Obviously, Putin must have thought his justifications for going to war were sufficient reasons for sending troops into Ukraine. But like his fellow major power leaders, he forgot about Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Putin fell into the same major power folly: a swift military victory.

The question remains: What are my suggestions for ending the conflict? To be honest I wouldn’t know where to begin. Right now Putin and the West are at loggerheads. The West making accusations; Russians denying the accusations. Putin has stated goals. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/blog-post/putins-goals-ukraine-and-their-consequences and https://time.com/6166383/putin-ukraine-invasion/ Will he give up? Not easily. Arguably he could fall into the same pattern as Lyndon Johnson and Dick Nixon whose policies and plans to bring the Vietnamese to the negotiation table were to escalate the war by intensifying the bombing and invading Cambodia. (Cambodian incursion, Nixon called it. Shades of Orwell)
Well, we all know what happened? The ignominious rout of Americans from Saigon.
Sooner or later, Putin will have to come to terms with the costs of his invasion in terms of human suffering in Ukraine. And he will have to face the long-term damage to his troops. Many will suffer from psychological and physical trauma. More than a few will need to go through extended physical therapy to adjust to missing limbs. https://www.health.mil/News/Articles/2021/08/09/Since-Gulf-War-Advanced-Prosthetic-Technology-Saves-Lives-Careers

For the Western Powers, I guess what makes me upset is that each time the US or the UK make sanctimonious accusations, it turns my stomach. I’d rather read about Western leaders seeking ways to diffuse the problem. Instead of accusations, I would love to see the vaunted Western diplomacy come into play. I am sure there are behind-the-scene avenues of communication exchanges, of which I know nothing. Are there?

Four: Personal Feelings

I am approaching my 80th birthday. In those years, I have experienced and endured phrases like the domino theory, bomb the Vietnamese to the conference table, and statements like Donald Rumsfeld’s “Five days or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last longer.” And now we are protecting the sovereignty of Ukraine. (Do you know how hollow those phrases sound to me? Especially spoken by a country with a long history of meddling in the domestic affairs of other countries?)

I have reached the end of my tether of believing in proclamations by political leaders. Leaders are as venal and human as I am. But I do have compassion for those suffering in Ukraine. Before I go to sleep at night I pray to God to look after the Ukrainians. I also pray for the Ethiopians, the Yemenis, the Middle-Eastern families corralled in camps, and the people suffering from oppression in Myanmar. I hope you include them in your prayers as well before you go to sleep.
Thank you for your reply to my Facebook entry and for reading through the ramblings of an aging scribbler. You made me think through my opinions about the war.
Cheers until we can clink glasses in person.

 

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One Reply to “Thoughts about the War in Ukraine”

  1. You have done your research, Kerm. And you have given me much to mull over. Thanks and I look forward to clinking coffee cups with you soon. Cheers, mate!

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