The dismay of us who no longer know how to think about war

This morning we were all in disbelief at the news of the war in Ukraine, despite being warned not so much by the Americans as by Putin himself. And now we feel the most frustrating of feelings: helplessness

Not only we are no longer capable of making war; we can’t even think about it anymore. To conceive it.

We are all this morning incredulous and dismayed, despite being warned not so much by the Americans as by Putin himself. And now we feel the most frustrating of feelings: helplessness. Which, depending on their sensitivity, each reacts by talking about something else or by closing in on anguish.

THE social they are full of ironies about Di Battista, who was unlucky: he had just written on Facebook that “Russia is not invading Ukraine”, and “I think Putin wants everything but a war”. In fact, there is nothing to laugh about; and not just because he is a former historical leader of the relative majority party, voted by a third of Italian voters. Former Prime Minister and geopolitical scholars did not understand much more. And a bit of all of us had deluded ourselves that the crisis would be limited to a correction of borders, to one of the many coups that Putin has accustomed us to.

The bombs on Kiev and the big Ukrainian cities, the first victims, the pincer maneuver: the scenario is completely different, and makes the diplomatic skirmishes of recent days not only useless but also a bit ridiculous. Now we really risk having Putin or a puppet of him on the eastern borders of NATO and the European Union; just as the Union measures its own fragility. Also because the only nation that has the know-how, the means and the culture to fight has just come out, if not for Ukraine, at least for itself and its allies: the United Kingdom.

Of course, there is a nuclear power in the EU, there France. Macron hoped to be able to campaign by stopping Putin. In the meantime, 40 days after the vote for the Elysée, the president withdrew the troops of Mali, where the Russian mercenaries are already deployed. Now, Macron is anything but a fool. He evidently knows that leaving the front line of the war to Islamic extremism, which has bloodied France in recent years and is not a secondary cause of the migratory wave that sweeps Europe, does not make people lose consensus; he makes money. It is France in June 1940; and on the horizon there is just not a general at the time almost unknown, Charles de Gaulle, who on the London radio invites us not to give up, ever.

Of course, in the EU there is an economic and political power, Germany; and in these hours we measure the absence of a protagonist from the stature of Angela Merkel. But on the international scene, Germany is still the country defeated in two world wars, without nuclear weapons, without a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, without the means and without the mentality to make a war. As for our armed forces, they just don’t deserve easy ironies. For decades, from the mission in Lebanon – a country where we are still engaged -, Italian soldiers have shown that they know how to get involved and even die to defend the values ​​and interests of the national community. Our men, the Alpine troops, the carabinieri are considered the best in the world in peace-building missions: because they are capable of dialogue and respect for other peoples; because they are bearers of that humanist and Christian culture which is the main reason why we can be proud to feel Italian. The same culture that led to writing in the Constitution that Italy rightly repudiates war as an instrument for resolving international disputes.

But what if the war is made by the others? Let’s face it: it dismay this morning it also arises from the detachment with which we followed the Ukrainian events. The difficult fate of a buffer country between Putin and free Europe. The poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko. The match between a pro-European democracy, however weak, which elects a former comedian as president of the country and the former heavyweight champion of Kiev, and a very strong Asian-style autocracy. Now the last thing to do is to clear the eastern border of the European Union. It is losing the East for a second time, after the hopes opened by the fall of the Wall and the enlargement of the EU.

The first crisis to be addressed will be that of refugees. But the real question will be there democratic seal – already severely tested by the sovereign wind – of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic; without being able to count (as Antonio Polito noted in this newspaper) on the Walesa, the Nagy, the Havel. The frontier of freedom must be defended at all costs. Also because this time America will be directly challenged. If China has not yet attacked Taiwan, it is because it knows that America would be willing to fight for Taiwan. If Russia attacked Ukraine this morning, it is because it knows that Ukraine was unwilling to fight anyone. If we were ready to go to war for Ukraine, there would be no war. Saying it now is perhaps useless. But it is very useful, indeed indispensable, to keep this in mind to avoid the next war.


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