Beware of Long Wars

W.J. Astore

Ukrainian Attacks on Russia Are Dangerously Escalatory

Reports that Ukraine is launching modified drones to strike airbases deep in Russia highlight the unpredictability and escalatory nature of wars. Ukraine is no longer content at defending itself against Russian aggression; Russia itself must be made a target, which will likely provoke harsher Russian counterattacks. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress continues to authorize billions in military aid to Ukraine, which is pitched as defending democracy and freedom.

War is many things but it is rarely democratic. Indeed, as James Madison warned, war is inherently anti-democratic. It strengthens authoritarian forces and contributes to abuses of power and corruption. As the Russia-Ukraine War goes on, with no clear resolution in sight, Ukraine suffers more even as the chances of escalation rise.

James Madison warned that no nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare

What’s needed now is resolute diplomacy — a committed effort to end the war by all parties involved, obviously Russia and Ukraine but also the U.S. and NATO. The longer this disastrous war lasts, the more unpredictable it will become, the more atrocious it will prove, and the more likely ordinary Ukrainians and Russians will suffer and die, whether at various battlefronts or on the homefront.

Negotiation is not weakness nor is it appeasement. Negotiation is sensible, rational, and life-affirming. But there’s little reason for Ukraine to negotiate when it’s enjoying a blank check of support from the U.S. and NATO.

Meanwhile, as Ukraine continues striking deep into Russia, one wonders to what extent the U.S. military and intelligence agencies are involved. Did the U.S. provide technology?  Targeting information?  Intelligence? Or is Ukraine doing this entirely on its own, a scenario that is less than comforting?

I sure hope the U.S. and Russia are talking.  In the confusion and chaos of war, how is Russia to know for sure that an attack on one of their strategic air bases is coming from Ukraine and not from NATO territory?  Even if it’s clearly coming from Ukraine, if these attacks are enabled or approved by the U.S./NATO, will the Russians see them as an act of war? Will they respond militarily, creating even more escalatory pressure?

Bizarrely, Ukraine’s defensive war against Russia has been sold as America’s “good” war, a chance to weaken Russia and Putin in the cause of defending Ukrainian “democracy.” But as Ukraine’s tactics turn more offensive, and as the Ukrainian government likely becomes more authoritarian due to the pressures of war, how wise is it for the United States to continue to send massive amounts of military aid there while discouraging diplomacy?

Policies that end in prolonging the Russia-Ukraine War in the name of teaching Putin a lesson and eroding his power may teach us all a lesson in how war is not just anti-democratic. War runs to extremes, and only fools believe they can control it in a way that is conducive to liberty and freedom and justice.

11 thoughts on “Beware of Long Wars

    1. I did as you asked, though there was nothing wrong with your comment. Many people feel the same way.

      Negotiation is not capitulation, especially when you negotiate from a position of comparative strength.

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      1. My words were a bit heated, and could have caused a long drawn out discussian away from your points. I both agree and disagree, but in todays world I do not wish to argue. I think I knew how you would react, but I do not know about others.
        Thank you for deleting. I fully understand what you have said and actually at times have said much of the same, as I know the truth (reality) of what is going on.

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  1. “As the Ukranian government likely becomes more authoritarian due to the pressures of war”.
    I’m somewhat confused by that remark, for as far as I can see the Ukranian government became more authoritarian as soon as the US put nazis in the power seat, and Zelensky haD become more and more authoritarian even before Russia’s Donbas attack. Zelensky has outlawed all political parties to the left of his party – in other words , if you’re not fascist in one way or another, you can’t have a legal political party. I’d say that’s pretty “authoritarian”. Also Zelensky seems to lie a lot; frankly, I don’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth. I’m just wondering, are you being careful not to antagonize our government media? I note that you don’t come down very hard on Ukraine’s behavior – all the lies and the continual greed for money and arms. Now some freed Russian prisoners of Ukraine are telling horrendous tales of torture. I know it’s just their word, but I tend to believe it, because we’re dealing with nazis here, and the Russian prisoners stories have the sound of truth.
    This constant US media propaganda (like always using the word “unprovoked” to describe Russia’s attack to protect Donbas and never mentioning the fact that nazis are an important part of the Ukraine government) is sickening to me, and I note that when I read comments by Lavrov or Putin or the UN Russian ambassador they are much less pugnacious than Zelensky or others in the Ukranian government. I have no sympathy for the Ukranian people. They elected Zelensky and they could protest, but if there is anything like protest coming from the people, we have not seen it or heard it. Even reporters who are not part of the MSM have not reported that the local citizenry is unhappy with their leaders in any way, as least I haven’t seen it. Have you?

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    1. I don’t pretend to know what’s happening in Ukraine. And of course you hear so many conflicting stories.

      My point is general: war–and a state of war–is conducive to authoritarianism and the stifling of dissent. War provides the rationale for suppression. Silence! We’re at war! Be obedient! That kind of stuff.

      Some people see a (flawed) democracy in Ukraine; others see Nazis. What I see is war contributing to more authoritarianism and more dissembling.

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