Normally here we do not write about politics, because we are a public venue, independently from anybody’s views on the matters. But here it is not just about Italian politics, but geopolitics in the broader sense. And we all are involved, not merely as Italians or Europeans, but as human race (consider the possibility of nuclear holocaust).
Beside, we are a company affected by the rise of energy and raw materials prices. Therefore, it does not seem inappropriate to us to comment, for once, this crisis unfolding not just on the military realm, but in the complete demise of rationality and diplomacy on the European scene.
Please allow us to start with a visual synthesis of the situation we are living in, whereas the ensuing dialogue will depict it in words.
Informato: Hello Simplicio! How are you?
Simplicius: Did you see the TV? Russians are bombing all of Ukraine. They want to conquer it, perhaps to later attack other European countries.
Informed: Uhm…wait, one problema at a time! First of all, I do not watch television, I gather infos from a variety. of sources on the web; one of them is part of the mainstream, all others are alternative ones. I have also been reading a lot about the subject, for a long time already.
First of all, how can you say that they want to conquer Ukraine? And how do you know that they even want to push it beyond that?
Simplicius: Why would they have invaded it, in your opinion?
Informed: Pardon me, but how long have you been following the situation ?
Simplicius: Well, since February 24th, when the Russians attacked!
Informed: What about before ???
Simplicius: Come on, before there was only talking about Covid and vaccines, who knew anything about it? Why, what about you?
Informed: I have lived in Poland since 2014 through 2017, when street demonstrations started in Kiev, even though the situation originates much before, may decades ago! Anyway, since then I have taken a chance to look more deeply into it. There were plenty of Ukrainians in Cracow, they proved a powerful stimulus for me to try to better understand the problem.
Anyway, how do you know that Russians want to conquer Ukraine rather than, perhaps, force it not to enter NATO, after years spent asking them in every conceivable way, in order not to feel their national security threatened ?
Simplicius: do you believe the NATO story ?
Informed: If I were inclined towards beliefs, I would probably be a priest, nay say…a hermit, since I am trying to speak with you just because you are asking questions: usually people are not interested in really understanding anything and I am painfully aware of it, so the job of the preacher would not suit me well. Anyway, you don’t have to believe anything either, you just have to take a look at Europe’s map and observe where Moscow and Saint Petersburg are located w.r.t. the Ukrainian and Finnish borders:
If you did it, now try to imagine how Russia could defend its main cities from missiles launched from those positions. To me it does not appear unreasonable that they would ask their enemies not to lodge their outposts so close to their national borders.
Simplicius: Maybe we can discuss this, but they have invaded a SOVEREIGN state!!!
Informed: I totally agree with you that Ukraine is a sovereign state, of course. On the other hand, I am unaware of any war, not in the history I have studied at least, in which a sovereign state has waged war against a non sovereign state, since national states defined in the modern sense exist at least, i.e. in the last 500 years of history…beside, Iraq was a sovereign state too in 2003, for the record, but neither anybody sanctioned the USA when they invaded it nor patronised them. Everybody is still waiting for them to prove the existence of the notorious, alleged mass destruction weapons, but nobody has frozen American citizens’ assets or the FED’s…you know, in war and in love, as the Italian proverb goes, everything is allowed, but in both cases lack of hypocrisy makes things easier.
Simplicius: But come on, sanctions -however quibbling and moralistic you may want to be- are the only way to stop Russia without directly fighting it.
Informed: Once again, I agree with you that they are the only way to fight without firing one single shot, even though we are dispatching weapons to the Ukrainians, which means we are fighting a proxy war, leaving to the Ukrainians -both nazis and ordinary people- the risk to be slaughtered while playing the part of the righteous ones. Thats is not merely my own opinion, it is shared by militaries.
Simplicius: So what are we supposed to do? Russians are equipped with nuclear weapons too, if we interfere they might use them! Beside, do you really believe in the Ukrainian nazis story? Did you know that Zelensky’s campaign was funded by a jew ???
Informed: Once it was customary to exercise diplomacy to avert wars. Since Macron’s and Truss performances, I am not surprised we are where we are.
As per Ukrainian nazis, once again I do not ask you to believe me, since I am not inclined to beliefes. I suggest you search for “Azov battallion” and “Donbass war” on Wikipedia, the region disputed between pro- and anti-russian Ukrainians. Human nature is such that a flag is not enough to make a person who today is attacked a certified saint, neither the attacker a butcher…and the other way around!
Beside, if it is true that, by nazism, we usually mean the German one of the 30’s and 40’s of the XXth century, generally speaking it is an ideology exalting the superiority of one’s nation and race and proclaims that using violence is legitimate to force such superiority.In the case of Hitler’s Germany, the enemies were Jews, Slavs and gipsies; for today’s Ukrainian Nazis, these are the Russians, but the ideological imprinting is exactly the same.
Concerning such topics, it is appropriate to listen to Massimo Mazzucco, who has been working on a documentary about the history of Ukraine in the XXth century, which clearly explains this situation we find ourselves stuck in now.; I have watched it thoroughly and it brings a lot of clarity, using documents. Documents…not slogans!
Simplicius: Be as it may for nazis, I will watch the documentary, thank you. But listen, who is this Truss lady? Every day I hear about somebody new to me…
Informed: Elizabeth Truss is the British minister of Foreign Affairs. She traveled to Moscow to speak with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian minister of Foreign Affairs. Lavrov has deemed the conversation “a dialogue between a deaf person and a mute one”. The content of the entire press conference following the meeting, which you can find on YouTube, is easy to sum-up: Europe and America have threatened sanctions and warned Russia that Ukrainians “will fight” and that “if Russia is serious in diplomacy matters, it has to withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border.”
Which is the same to say “Either you abide by our requests, or you are going to pay the price of it, we don’t care about your security concerns.” This does not look like diplomacy to me, but then everybody has their view…I am just saying we shouldn’t be surprised if this attitude has lead us here.
Simplicius: And what do you suppose they should have done?
Informed: If Europe has a foreign policy independent of NATO, i.e. of the United States, it would have understood Russian concerns and would have offered Russia to negotiate Ukrainian entrance into the EU, or at least the establishment of privileged commercial relationships in a few sectors, in exchange for military neutrality, to reassure Russia about its national security. But in Europe we haven’t been able to reach an agreement even on such a matter as immigration fluxes, so can you even imagine if, without puppeteer behind we could have appeared so united in diplomatically opposing and then economically sanctioning a state that provides us with so many goods, without which we are in a really big trouble!
No war would have been waged if we had listened to their concerns, as far as we know. Brzezinski himself had predicted that these very Russian worries, when NATO had reached Ukraine’s Eastern border, would have been legitimate and that reassurances and guarantees would prove necessary.
Simplicius: Who is this Mr. Brzezinski? Some conspiracy theorist in your league?
Informed: Actually Zbigniew Brzezinski was the American national Security counselor under Jimmy Carter, beside being a top-level strategic thinker, from whose books much can be learned. He has designed the guidelines of the American strategy for the Eurasian space management in 1997, in a momentous book:it’s called The Grand Chessboard.
The remarks I have just reported … I read them here, in the book of a top American diplomat. I do not consider Americans the absolute evil, however this may look to you. But neoconservatives, who have been holding the threads of politics in Washington for the last 20 years…they are pushing us all down the cliff.
Anyway, The Grand Chessboard is a prophetic book. It was penned in 1997, before Putin came into the spotlight, he is never mentioned in the book, unlike many other top leaders of that time. So the problem, you realise after connecting the dots, is not Putin, as television purports.
The problem is a relationship between Russia and United States, which needs to be revisioned, stuck as it has been in a limbo ever since the fall of the Berlin wall. Such a problem goes well beyond the personality of a single, individual character.
Simplicius: If you deny that Putin is a war criminal, I almost feel like I do not wish to be your friend any longer.
Informed: Propaganda and history are two different matters. Such animosity is not new to me: I used to feel it on an almost daily basis when I lived in Poland. Over there any excuse was ok to move the discussion towards the “Putin problem”. Every evil in the world was blamed on Putin. With time I realised why.
Simplicius: And what would be the reason?
Informed: Poland, as all baltic countries and those in the post-sovietic space do, harbours a deep resentment towards Russia, because they tend to still identify it with the USSR which has subjugated them for decades after 1945. Memories from that period are still alive in the younger generations. And there’s a lot of truth to it, of course, in the pain and the human losses and for the backwardness they were forced into for so long. Nothing to be denied. Wounds of this kind need time to heal.
But it would be better if they could heal far away from such a tinderbox as the Russian border, a country that NATO cannot afford to set loose. Regrettably, the vassalage of Europe to NATO fuels such ideological tension. Baltic countries and Poland are a short shot away and Ukraine has beed designated for years to become the spark of a likely crisis…
Beside, during the Donbass war, which blasted shortly before I moved to Cracow…if we start to speak abut all that I have head, you could be listening to me for one week. But I can grant that there have been massacres perpetrated by Urkainians against pro-russian separatist regions that would make your flesh creep. But again: there may have been severe violence perpetrated by the filo-russian side as well; this is not about identifying good and bad guys in the absolute sense, but to look at the issue from a wider perspective.
Simplicius: So Putin would even be a good guy, following Mr. Brzezinski’s line of thought? What would be the wider perspective?
Informed: The only unconditionally good guys I have met are to be found only in fairy tales. In the real world I have only met people who are after their interests.As long as relationships among individuals are concerned, human beings may certainly be altruistic, merciful up tot he point of sacrificing themselves for others’ good. But it is not a scalable feature…among small groups it becomes super rare, for nations it never holds. The problem is that we tend to mistakenly invert the line of thought, to simplify our problems: when there are tensions at the national or even international level, tracing them back to the fault of individuals proves more comfortable. The way I see it is that Putin is trying to ward off the scenario where NATO could hold a knife at Russia’s throat, if it made it to Finland and Ukraine. He is accepting to pay a terrible price, in terms of sacrificed human lives; but we Europeans are as guilty as he is, because Russia is a strategic commercial partner for us and we should have listened to them and understand their concerns, had we been free to think autonomously. It may well be that Putin is a despicable individual, but I cannot know this because I know nothing about his soul. For sure, if has made it all the way up to his present tenure, on average he must have way less qualms than a saint when it comes to go after his goals, but please point to me a top level politician who is any different or consider whether there are or not such people on the street, who stay obscure to us because they lack the power to prove their true nature in a visible way.
Be as it may, according to Mr. Brzezinski the problem would have existed anyway, with or without Putin. The course of history can surely be influenced by the actions of individual human beings, who can anticipate or delay the accomplishment of the destiny of the people they govern; but geopolitical dynamics cannot, they belong to the level of nations and their interests, which trump individual moral concerns, as obvious to me…just look at history.
After World War I, Germany could have tried to have its day with somebody less antisemite in office, perhaps, but it was impossible for it to stay quiet for too long, given the conditions of the Versailles treaty.and we can provide countless examples.
The broader perspective is that, one way or another, the American hegemony over Eurasia is bound to end … because nothing lasts forever, even though we have grown accustomed to consider America “the indispensable nation” (Clinton) ever since we were born. Before Washington, Rome, Byzantium, London (to mention just a few) have been “indispensable”…the sunset has come for all of them. Even if the USA arm Ukrainian nazis and finance and instigate coups to overthrow democratically elected pro-Russian presidents; even if they send weapons to Ukraine; even if Ukraine won this war, a nation overwhelmed by debt as the USA cannot last for long.
Simplicius: You are hallucinating. If Russia loses, Americans remain without competitors!
Informed: For Russia the stakes are not so much about winning or losing the war with Ukraine, but to force Ukraine and Europe to suffer such a dramatic military and economic blow to give up on the NATO issue and concede; once they get that, they can withdraw. At any rate, Russia has already migrated to other markets for grain and oil exports: Iran, India, China…there are unbounded economic spaces further East, which grow in influence by the day.
We are those with more to lose. While you and I are fighting, between friends, to decide who is the worst guy between Biden and Putin, China watches and smiles.
Simplicius: How can you hold all of this in your head simultaneously? Don’t you manage a confectionery?
Informed: I only try to have informed opinions, without deeming people who make decisions I don’t understand a madman or a war criminal. I’d rather shut up
Anyway, it could be that I will manage my confectionery for a short time. If the electricity bill keeps rising and we won’t find flour after the summer harvesting, I will have to figure out something else…
Simplicius: Exaaaaaageration!!! I cannot imagine a world run by anybody else than the Americans anyway!
Informed: Try to start by imagining Torre dell’Orso without Dentoni…
Mirko Serino and Franz Panarese