Sorry I’ve been off-line for so long. Russian Military forces have invaded Ukraine. The last thing the world needs is another angry little blogger shooting his mouth off:
On Being Asked for a War Poem
I think it better that in times like these
A poet’s mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter’s night.
- William Butler Yeats
But I am not a poet, and this feels so momentous, so world-changing that to say nothing would be to reveal the childish frivolity of anything I chose to say instead.
So, I will just state, for the record, that I wholly condemn this nakedly evil, inexcusable act. Vladimir Putin has cold-bloodedly decided to visit violent death and misery upon countless Ukrainian and Russian people, and to seriously damage the world economy, putting millions of lives at risk of further hardship and food and fuel shortage. He has wreaked havoc on international relationships and started a new cold war by threatening nuclear attacks against anyone who attempts to stop him. By violating international laws, codes and agreements, without even attempting a valid excuse, openly invading a sovereign, democratic nation to impose his will upon them, he is encouraging and enabling all other violent and irrational actors, so that international and national politics could become a bearpit of violence and immoral self-interest, where only might is right and war becomes more much more common.
Finally, his actions will derail the absolutely urgent, necessary international work of combatting climate change and global poverty and inequality as all nations turn their attention to the problems created by this war, and take money from development work and climate projects to try to mitigate the damage it has done.
In other words, Mr Putin’s actions will damage the very fabric of civil, moral and political society across the globe. In fact, he’s been doing this for years. The murder of Russian dissidents, such as Alexander Litvinenko (and the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal); the annexation of the Crimea, the fostering of conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia, all can be laid at his door.
And nobody wanted this war apart from Vladimir Putin. It is a consequence of his pursuit of his own personal and nonsensical wishes. Those aims are largely the result of Mr Putin’s paranoid and fictional world view, and thus the benefits of the conflict are wholly imaginary, and for him, alone.
That’s the problem with allowing individuals so much personal power. We saw that with Donald Trump. What do you do when a nutter gets the missile codes? Institutions like democracy or international agreements are not moral in themselves. The democratic process doesn’t transform a nasty or immoral activity into a good one by being voted in by MPs in parliament, or the people in referenda.
However, these institutions are the frameworks within which moral activity can be fostered and protected.