December 8, 2022

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War serving regimes and Putin’s Russia goals Corriere.it

From Angelo Banibianko

Moscow wants to rebuild an empire but above all knows that peace is a danger to absolutism

The Pope again called for peace in Ukraine. As it has done on other occasions in the past (for example, on the occasion of the war in Syria), it has condemned the international arms trade. A condemnation consistent with the general orientation of this papacy on the issues that plagued man at this historical stage. There is no doubt that technological progress has made it possible to produce and market increasingly destructive weapons. It is important for people not to draw the wrong reasoning (a mistake the Pope certainly does not make) in believing that the arms trade is the main cause, or even one of the causes of wars. How, just to give one example among many, the genocide (rough estimate: 1 million deaths) of Tutsi victims in Rwanda in the 1990s was illustrated: firearms were certainly used but it is also true that many killings were committed with simple machetes .

In Europe, the myth spread after World War I that the war was caused by cannon dealers. Faced with a massacre of such proportions, and noting that the arms dealers made very high profits, a portion of European public opinion, frantically searching for a simple explanation for that colossal catastrophe, concluded that it was precisely these dealers who wanted and caused a war.

Not so. World War I, as historians explain, was for political reasons, a The competition between European countries is not much different from that in which the great powers participate today on a global scale. There is no doubt that those who produce and market arms benefit from them, but there is no doubt that wars are fought for political reasons (power struggles), commercial rivalries, religious conflicts, and clashes between opposing ethnonational identities. Even if the arms trade, by premise, were limited, the wars would not stop. Through conventions and other legal instruments, efforts are being made and an attempt is made to ban the most destructive weapons. But As we have also seen in Ukraine, the veto does not stop the authorities who decide to hire them. Russia has already widely used weapons (for example, certain types of bombs) that are prohibited by the international community.

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Much has been written about the causes of the war in Ukraine. surely The official Russian motive, which spoke of reunification with the Ukrainian brothers, is false. As the massacres against civilians show, mass graves have been found in many places, as well as kidnappings of children. If this motive had an ambiguous connection with the truth, then Putin, from the beginning of the war, would have given the strict order to strike only Ukrainian fighters and not to touch the civilian population in any way. On the other hand, what the Russian army did created an unbridgeable chasm of hatred. Certainly, the memory of this war and its horrors will forever be engraved in the collective memory of Ukrainians.It will be passed down from generation to generation through the centuries. And with the end of the war, the process that had already begun in 2014 (Crimea, Donbass) is now over: the barriers separating the supposed brothers have become a wall too thick and high to be insurmountable.

There are still two other non-conflicting and certainly valid reasons in this field. first that The Russian leadership, for purposes of internal legitimacy, wants to rebuild the great empire of the past. By betting on the weakness of the Western world. At the moment, the Russian policy of revenge is facing great difficulty due to the resistance of the Ukrainians and their military successes, as well as the hoarding that the Westerners have shown so far in support of Kyiv. But the game is still open. Putin believes that time suits him, and that the Western Front will eventually dissolve. In the coming months we will understand whether he wins or loses his bet.

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The second motive has to do with The Kremlin fears a possible democratic contagion. The possible consolidation of democracy on the frontier is always a danger to an authoritarian regime: it may spread disruptive (democratic) ideas among its population, and it can destabilize the absolutism.

For these two reasons, I would like to add another. Despotism, Montesquieu argued, is based on fear: the subjects fear the tyrant, the tyrant afraid of the subjects, He is afraid that sooner or later they will overthrow him. Peace is a danger to tyranny. Prefer palace intrigues and riots. For this, Montesquieu believes that authoritarian regimes need war. To keep the subjects united and to make secret maneuvers aimed at replacing the tyrant more difficult. Unlike other regimes that, if devoted to military conquests, do so for commercial reasons or as a result of geopolitical rivalries, according to the French philosopher, authoritarian regimes, for the most part, wage wars in an attempt to install the power of the tyrant and his supporters. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they don’t. But since this is the motive, the result that the wars of tyranny are destructive wars, they leave in ruins the lands struck by their wrath. Tyranny does not care that the occupied territories remain economically prosperous. Since his economy is a burglary, the tyrant cares neither the welfare of his people nor, much less, the condition of the lands he occupies.

If we follow Montesquieu, we can draw two conclusions about the ongoing war. first that Western sanctions are effective if they undermine (as they appear to do) Russia’s military capabilities. The sacrifices that war and a break in relations with the West impose on the Russian people, on the other hand, are not a problem that could worry the Kremlin. At least as long as the force apparatus is able to prevent large-scale riots. The second conclusion, combined with the first, is that Self
The part of the Ukrainian lands that remained in the hands of the Russians at the end of the conflict was completely destroyed, even this was not important for Putin and his group. In the social name of despotism – especially when it comes to kleptocracies as in the Russian case – no thought is given to concern for the well-being of the population under administration.

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Oct 17, 2022 (change Oct 17, 2022 | 9:30pm)