On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

By Juan Jaramillo Antillón

Abraham Lincoln, having been elected president of the United States, but during his term of office a civil war broke out between the northern and southern (slave) states, he said:

We pray to the Lord for victory, because we believe we are right. But those on the opposing side also pray to Him for victory, because they believe they are right. What will the Lord think of us!

War in society is the cruelest form of violence, because it does not respect age, sex, disability, religion, ideology, work and, in addition, it destroys the infrastructure of peoples or countries, and, above all, it damages the identity that children are forging; innocent figures in the game of the wickedness of the political-military destruction of men.

From remote antiquity to the present, man realised that, by means of the aggression he possessed as an innate character to defend himself, if he exercised it violently, either individually or in groups, against other human beings, he could obtain things such as: food, land, wealth, slaves, natural spaces to use, etc. This attitude of violence led humans to attack other humans, thus conquering the above, but destroying and killing without a real need and only for the profit they obtained from this violent behaviour.

First, they made weapons with stones and spears using sticks from trees, then bows and arrows, then axes and mallets with which they were able to kill their opponents more effectively. When the Sumerians appeared in Mesopotamia some 6,000 years ago and elsewhere, they grouped themselves into villages and then into cities, and, to protect their crops from the nomadic hordes who wanted to steal them, they organised groups of people to guard and defend themselves against them. In time these groups were called police, and later troops or armies.

But, having a protective army, the temptation arose to conquer other peoples or city-states, and from then on this never stopped. The tools for individual use by mean of physical force took second place when gunpowder, rifles, cannons and bombs were invented, and then each people (if they could), so as not to be defenceless, set about finding ways of obtaining them and, it was said, arming themselves to the teeth to defend themselves.

This is how an arms race began centuries ago, an arms race that persists to this day and which euphemistically the civil and military authorities of each country euphemistically point out is only to gain respect and fear of retaliation from a “probable aggressor or enemy”. Unfortunately, however, the framework of the violent struggle expanded until the First and Second World Wars began in 1914 and 1939, where the Christian and cultured peoples of Europe clashed destructively, extending the war to Asia and making it general. Worst of all, the peoples of Germany and Italy and Japan were induced by deception to go to war without adequate justification.

It is not understood how the governments of Europe when Hitler annexed Austria, and then Czechoslovakia, continued to believe in his songs of peace, yes, this megalomaniac Nazi dictator had written the following:

Nature has not reserved European soil for the possession of any particular nation, on the contrary, this soil exists for the people who have the FORCE to expropriate it (Mein Kampf).

After a triumphant start by the Nazi-Japanese group, the so-called “Allies”, the United States, Canada, Russia, and England, and other nations returned with their weapons the destruction created by the others, leaving the infrastructure of the invaders devastated and thus repaying them for all the damage they had caused and leaving them in ruins with an estimated loss of life of 60 million people, leaving Europe and Japan destroyed in the end.

The victors in 1945 were two ideologically antagonistic groups. On the side of liberalism, capital and democracy, the United States, Canada and the countries of Central Europe. And the Soviet Union and adjacent European countries, as well as China, Vietnam, and others with communist ideology. It is well known how the Soviet Union, with the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985, eventually fragmented into Russia and several other countries, leaving Russia militarily weakened in terms of the classic division of navy, army and air force, compared to the past, but infinitely superior militarily as one of the three great nuclear powers, along with the United States and China. Between the three of them, they can destroy humanity several times over.

It should be noted that those who resort to war justify themselves by claiming that they are doing it for a just reason and point out that they were provoked by their opponents who betrayed their trust in some way. They have expert propaganda systems to convince the masses of their country to support their decision to go to war (through armed violence), and usually by making their people aware of what has happened only through their media.

There is always an aggressor and an aggressed country, the aggressor does not like to be singled out as such. In the end, it is only the victors who can justify their actions.

We must emphasise that neither Russia nor the United States are saints to be confessed to, for both represent nations that in diplomacy are said to have “no friends, only interests”, and to demonstrate that I will point to the prolegomena of this Russian war against Ukraine, the background to which goes back to before the First World War. At that time Ukraine was an independent country, but when the Soviet Union was formed, it absorbed it, even though it did not want to, because it was the breadbasket of Europe and Stalin took away its crops and terrorised and massacred that nation for years.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1989 it was left as Russia and a series of countries that made up the Russian Federation, leaving Ukraine independent, but supposedly under the protection of Russia and with pro-Soviet presidents. However, in 2014 the people overthrew the last of these presidents (according to Putin, with US help) and elected in his place a “comedian” named Volodimir Zelensky (during this war he has shown himself to be a brave gentleman) who, listening to his people’s cry for democracy, was trying to get his country into the European and US military organisation, NATO. Putin does not accept NATO’s expansionism, as it was approaching his country, and hence this invasion, which was expected anyway, since in 2014 he had annexed the Crimean Peninsula on the grounds that 60% of it was ethnic Russians who spoke that language, as well as being a Russian naval base. Moreover, a democratic Ukraine was a bad example for Russia.

At the last minute and due to the tremendous destruction of his nation, today, 15 March, Zelensky tells the press that he promises that Ukraine will not join NATO.

This war between Russia and Ukraine is the last pre-emptive war in the 21st century; unfortunately, according to the press, a genocide is being committed on the people of Ukraine, as there is a systematic extermination not only of infrastructure, but of lives in the cities of Mariupol and Kiev. Now everything depends on the ability to inflict damage to the Russian army on the part of the Ukrainian military, and on the resistance of the people.

Before talking about the other unjust pre-emptive war in this century, but, in this case, provoked by the United States and other countries against Iraq, I would like to point out the following.

From 1979 to 1992 there was a war between the Soviet Union – later Russia – against Afghanistan, where the Soviet army supported the ruling socialist faction of that country, which was confronting the mujahideen, a group of Islamic Afghan guerrillas who sought power. The Russians were able to resist the Russians because the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Iran (an incredible partnership) supported these Afghan fighters with arms and money for years. Russia abandoned that war afterwards after 9 years of fighting and withdrew in 1992. And Afghanistan became an Islamic state.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated, the Chechen Republic was formed by groups of Chechen separatists who declared independence, leaving aside the pro-Russian politicians, so in 1994 the Russian army tried to recover that Republic by fighting (the first war) without success until 1996, when the Russian army left that country. However, fighting between socialist and pro-Islamist factions created great instability, and Russia threatened to invade. At that time, a group of Islamic separatist terrorists carried out attacks that killed Soviet citizens in several Russian cities. In addition, a pro-Islamist Chechen separatist group invaded neighbouring pro-Russian Dagestan, and then in 1999 Vladimir Putin ordered a new Russian invasion of Chechnya (the second war) to weaken its defences. After a fierce months-long siege of their capital Grozny, they were defeated. I have pointed this out so that the people of Ukraine do not expect peace with Russia, unfortunately, they are going to be massacred by the army of this nation who are already mercilessly bombarding the cities of Mariupol and Kiev, under the strategy of terror already used by Putin in Chechnya, and now the inhabitants of Ukraine live under its rubble, without water, electricity, heating and food and its streets full of dead, provoked all this so that they give up.

We do not forget also that, afterwards the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia had gained independence from Russia (Moscow), but, in 2018 Russia made war on Georgia by supporting two separatist and self-proclaimed Republics, South Ossetia and Abkhazia (both had always been pro-Russian, although they belonged to Georgia). The Russian army crushed the Georgian army and Georgia lost the war and the regions.

In September 2001, the people of the United States watched in horror as their country, the strongest in the world militarily, was attacked on its own soil by a group of Islamist terrorists who destroyed two New York buildings, called the Twin Towers, killing three thousand people. The response was a righteous and forceful attack on Afghanistan (a country they had helped to fight against Russia), which was ruled by the Taliban and harboured the Al Queda terrorist group whose mastermind was Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi Arabian landowner. The Americans quickly defeated the Taliban and exiled them. After afterwards 20 years of occupation and having failed to democratise that nation, they left at full speed in September 2021.

In the present 21st century the other unjust “preventive” war has been the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the United States and other countries, claiming that Saddam Hussein, its president, had weapons of mass destruction, despite the fact that the United Nations (UN) had pointed out that this was not true; what was really desired was control of its oil and to have a supposedly democratised country in the Middle East. The existence of these weapons was never proven; in the end the Americans left Iraq several years afterwards in 2011. This war had a gigantic cost in money and lives, which, as always, was paid for by the American people, leaving Iraq badly destroyed, with an unpopular government and full of terrorism between the Shiite and Sunni factions in that country.

Let us also remember that, for the people of the United States, the abandonment of Afghanistan meant not only a military defeat, but above all an economic drain, since maintaining such a war for 20 years cost $2.3 trillion. But there were winners, as it was big business for that country’s war industry, with several private companies lining their pockets with billions of dollars thanks to contracts with the Pentagon.

What is difficult to understand is, how is it possible that the “military intelligence” of the United States could have believed that Afghanistan and Iraq, people whose religion is Islam, could be indoctrinated ideologically trying to make them democratic, since for that they should leave their religion where the Koran governs all the activities of the life of the people. By the way, even Alexander the Great, who conquered Persia (which included Iraq) and the rest of the known world, did not want to conquer Afghanistan because he considered those inhospitable mountains and their warriors difficult to subdue.

Sigmund Freud wrote of war:

Evolution does not make the techniques of war more docile and humane, but makes them crueller and more unbearable… We are confused by not being able to recognise the difference between the stranger and the enemy, we discover that rivalry and enmity are within ourselves… This stems from the fact that being human is not at all equivalent to having humanity; moreover, war marks the end of the dream of a peaceful existence.

It has been pointed out that the phrase si vis pacem para bellum: “if you want peace, prepare for war” has value as a preventive first step to avoid conflict, allegedly from the famous Chinese general and philosopher Sun Tzu, who in 544 B.C. pointed out that this can work. However, there are many examples over the centuries that contradict this, as in ancient times when one country armed itself over time it attacked others.

Examples of this are the constant wars between the city/states of the Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian civilisations, Persia against the Greeks, Sparta against Athens, Athens against Thebes, Macedonia against all the Greeks, Alexander conquering Persia, the Romans conquering the world, and fighting each other and the provinces, and much earlier, the struggles of the Canaanites against the Israelites and the Israelites against the Philistines and then against the Palestinians; the Mongols descended from Genghis Khan invading China and afterwards the Middle East and even Europe and so did the Huns of Attila; the prophet Mohammed after seizing Medina and Mecca, his followers the Muslims conquering lands in the Middle East and even Spain and today’s Turkey.

The US war against Spain over Cuba and the Philippines. The US army’s invasion of Mexico, which lost part of its territory. The struggles between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Japan’s invasion of China. The war between the two Koreas. The countless wars between the African peoples. The wars already described in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq, and not to fill pages and pages of wars between other peoples and countries, we finally come to Russia’s invasion and war against Ukraine at the present time. It is therefore rare for the world to have moments of lasting peace; until today “man has been the wolf of man”, as the philosopher Hobbes pointed out.

Incidentally, the Latin sentence quoted above and attributed to Sun Tzu apparently actually belongs to the 4th century Roman military writer Flavius Vegetius. And we underline that he did not seem to be wrong after all – if a country prepares for war, it avoids war. For from 1948 to 2021, although there have been many wars and clashes between countries, yet there has not been another world war, due to the deterrent character of nuclear weapons in the possession especially of the United States, Russia, China, India and Pakistan and even Israel; this has prevented the twenty times more numerous and surrounding Arab and Muslim countries from attacking it again.

The reason for avoiding a war between atomic-armed nations that could result in the total annihilation of the opposing countries is precisely that deterrent. Now, there is a great danger that if Russia continues to move beyond Ukraine into NATO countries, or if NATO and the United States decide, because of the genocide to which Russia is subjecting Ukraine, to give it air or military protection on the ground, World War III may break out.

The Prussian general Karl von Clausewitz said that war was the continuation of politics by other means and that it was usually resorted to by the contenders when it was estimated that the gains would outweigh the potential losses. According to him, this was the rational element of war; the others were hatred, enmity and primitive violence. Machiavelli pointed out that the causes that prevented unification between the city-states of Italy were diverse and complex and generated hatred and passions between factions, but agreement had to be reached at the outset by seeking to understand the causes of the confrontation, and to make them aware of the consequences of war with loss of life and material goods in order to dissuade them from war, for once war is started it is almost impossible to stop it.

Albert Einstein, afterwards seeing how his mathematical formula E=mc2 had given rise to the atomic bomb, became a fanatical pacifist and fought all his life to try to create a supranational institution more powerful than the UN to enforce peace and prohibit the creation and use of atomic weapons. This has not yet been achieved. He said “if a third world war breaks out, the few men who are left would wage a fourth war only with stones, for they would be the only weapons they could get”.

Finally, on the subject of the use of atomic weapons, I am going to give you a summary of a speech that Gabriel García Márquez sent to be read at the inauguration of the University of Peace in Costa Rica.

One minute afterwards the last explosion, more than half of all human beings will be dead, the dust and smoke of the burning continents will defeat the sunlight, and absolute darkness will once again reign over the world. A winter of orange rains and icy hurricanes will alter the course of the oceans and rivers, whose fish will have died of thirst in the burning waters and the birds will not find the sky, perpetual snows will cover the Sahara Desert, the vast Amazon will disappear from the face of the planet… The few human beings who survive the first fright, and those who would have had the privilege of a shelter… will only have saved their lives to die afterwards from the horror of their memories. Creation will be over. In the final chaos of dampness and eternal nights, the only vestige of what life was will be cockroaches.