Thursday 26 January 2023

I Don't Quite Get It

Going through old photographs, I found this from the Times of April 2020. It seems there was a time, not long ago at all, when even professional journalists could not tell the difference between Hungary and Ukraine.

This only intensified my confusion about what we are doing in Ukraine. 

While it is clear Putin is a thug and a monster and Ukraine has been attacked without having done anything that could be interpreted as aggressive provocation, what I don't understand is why this conflict is being treated so differently to the conflicts in other countries where in recent decades equally unfair attacks have been made - and in some cases the aggressor has been Putin, just like now. 

Somehow, the whole of the West has been whipped up into wild outrage by this particular war, as opposed to all the many cruel unfair wars in the world that we usually turn a blind eye to - in fact, simultaneous with expressing our horror at what is happening in Ukraine, we are turning the blindest of blind eyes to poor old Armenia, under regular and unjustified attack from Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, in fact, at least, according to Ursula von der Leyen, is a reliable and trustworthy partner, not like brutal Russia at all (except it is). 

So why here, why now, do we suddenly find our (selective) moral compass? And most especially, why here? I mean, when Boris Johnson wrote in his usual bombastic way, "What conceivable grounds can there be for delay" in providing more assistance and weaponry for the Ukrainians to fight back against Russia, was I the only one to think, "Er, mate, the fact that you are taking on a madman with a vast nuclear arsenal who, if driven too hard, might decide to use those weapons, because he is cruel, blood thirsty and completely mad and if we leave him nothing to lose who knows what will happen."

Am I a dreadful appeaser? Or is there something to be said for noting that Hitler did not have nuclear weapons and Putin does, and therefore the situation between Russia and Ukraine might deserve a slightly more delicate strategy than simply going in hard, hard, hard?

The Ukrainians are in the right, no doubt about it, but so many others are - and have been - in similar skirmishes. Why have we all suddenly found our morality for this war but no others? And, having found our compass, are we sure the best solution to what is a horrific problem is to goad the bear?

I sound pusillanimous. I am. But I am also suspicious, simply because our response to what is happening in Ukraine strikes me as very much the exception to the rule, and I would like to know why that is.

And somehow I don't feel tremendously encouraged by the news that there has just been a purge of very senior people in the Ukrainian government who were corrupt - not because the purge isn't good news but because the news only came yesterday, suggesting to me that we have all been going round thinking this is a fight between good and bad, when actually it's a fight between not that great and terrible, in terms of the leaders. 

Would the purge have happened, I wonder, if the Ukrainian leadership hadn't been forced into it by us, its new allies? Who are we dealing with really - not the civilians but those who run things in the Ukrainian government? If Ukraine wins and the immediate aftermath is not that we are all drenched in radioactive fallout, will the corrupt individuals purged yesterday come sliding back and resume their business? Are we being encouraged into a huge and endless war because of some other agenda, or is it just that Ukrainian civilians are more attractive to us than those in the Caucasus or Armenia? Is Putin really a threat to the entire free world or is he just an elderly thuggish Russian with stupid dreams that he cannot actually sustain or even fulfil? 


  1. Yes, getting behind Ukraine seems at once so obviously right and so obviously mad. In view of the latter, it might be wise to back pedal...

    1. Voicing any fear on the subject is difficult as it seems faintly dishonourable. Someone told me the other day that the effects of radiation are greatly exaggerated, which reminds me of living in Belgrade when Chernobyl blew up and the Medical Officer from Australia's foreign office coming over and essentially trying to persuade us that a bit of fall out was not only not a bad thing but might actually spruce up our unexciting genes. Hmmm