Lest we forget --- what?
Lest we forget？Forget what? Lessons we’ve never learned?
Learning from history can be hugely embarrassing though, and may shatter the glossy self-image we’ve fabricated for Homo sapiens. Perhaps that’s why not many people remember World War One.
WW-I which began in 1914 wasn’t exactly a world war. It was a European carnage but for Japan’s opportunistic manoeuvres in China. The conflict was officially triggered by the assassination in Sarajevo of some Archduke Ferdinand of Austria whose name would otherwise not be worthy of mention.
Pundits have speculated many underlying reasons for the conflict in retrospect — just the usual greed, pettiness, and arrogance which are no less insulting to humanity’s self-declared intelligence. Anyway, about fourteen million died. Not sure who was doing the counting, but we can be certain that a huge number of people suffered greatly. Millions died for nothing — absolutely nothing.
What could one learn from such a deadly cataclysm, I wonder.
WW-I resulted in the Treaty of Versailles. Some say the treaty was so barbarically unforgiving that it effectively sowed the seed of WW-2.
WW-2 started off as yet another European war in 1939, but eventually turned global when Japan — again? — joined the slaughter a couple of years later. Google says something between 45 to 70 million died — that’s what I call a coliseum-class ballpark figure. Out of that, six million were Jews.
According to academic looking records, there were under ten million Jewish people living in Europe before the war. Nearly two-third expired. I will never doubt these horrifying figures though. No matter how well-intended or objective or commonsensical, questioning any official detail of the Holocaust is a cardinal sin, like eating God’s apple. Even the most timid doubter may be labelled a Nazi sympathiser, justifiably condemnable by all of mankind unless, well, unless his sympathy lies with the Ukrainian Nazis presently being threatened by the Russians.
All a bit confusing, right? Suffice to say that WW-2 was just as stupid as its prequel, and many more people died.
Will they start WW-3 in Europe (again!) and let MANY MANY more people die this time for reasons which would be far too ludicrous for future historians — if they exist — to comprehend? Quite possible.
Depending on who ‘wins’ WW-3, and whether the ‘winner’ would be alive enough to fantasise annals of war which would make man seem less foolish, it could be summarised as thus:
During Soviet era, NATO was created years before the Warsaw Pact in order to counter the Warsaw Pact. When the Soviets collapsed, NATO promised with a grin not to expand eastward — of course not! Come on, what for? — but did exactly just that and doubled its membership in less than three decades. Russia eventually woke up and found it difficult to breathe. After making countless friendly requests and angry warnings which America and its vassals consistently snubbed, Russia was backed against the wall. When its Slavic brother Ukraine became the next in line to join the ever-expanding NATO, Putin lost it. The rest is unfolding in a European theatre near you, once again.
It is extremely difficult not to see America’s motives in the ongoing Ukraine conflict, yet some actually manage to do so. The human mind is indeed flexibly impaired. Both Russia and Europe are deemed potential threats to American hegemony — one explicitly, the other denied. Uncle Sam is hoping to kill two birds with one Ukraine — one by sanctions, one by suicide. Whatever the outcome, the euro will leave the US Dollar in peace for at least a few years to come.
While the suicide is happening smoothly, Russia proves tougher than expected, especially in the financial battlefield. Escalation may be necessary. What about Finland and Sweden joining NATO? What about deleting the sensibly-earned term Finlandisation from the dictionary to force Russia into stationing nuclear warheads at the border? What about enlarging the war to cover the Baltic bunnies and Poland?
Hey, why not? As long as it stays in good old Europe!
Putin is serious when he asked ‘Why do we need a world if Russia is not in it?’
If pushed against the corner, he will also have enough common sense to target the metaphorical head ultrasonically, not only the fists (link: WW-3 vision). America’s homeland will not be spared. Therefore…
The end of humanity may not seem existentially creepy to a dotard though. What’s the big deal about losing a few remnant years of senility? In a relatively clear-headed moment, he may even find the idea of taking the entire species with him to the netherworld rapturous.
A million-euro puzzle in the Ukraine war is Europe’s emotional and suicidal response.
In the best scenario, it will suffer damaging disruptions and setbacks; the worst scenario will be thoroughly devastating. Why suicide? What for? To demonstrate loyalty to America? Do they really believe Russia harbours an iota of ambition to ‘conquer and rule’ Europe? Is it moral indignation at work? Since Europe regrettably overlooked Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia etc. etc., its moral conscience may be finally waking up? Is it the hallucinating effects of a parallel universe created by the mainstream free press?
No idea. Europe’s ruling elites defy rational analysis, especially after Merkel’s retirement.
The ordinary citizens of Europe may be the last hope to stop the worst from happening if they start asking themselves the above questions. Mass demonstrations the scale of Vietnam to demand sensible answers may help prevent a catastrophe before too late and make the situation more rational, however ugly it may stay for a while.
WW-3 will be infinitely more devastating than the previous two world wars, even though the cause remains similarly primitive. Lest we forget.
James Tam 2022.4.22