goodbye to peace

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By FLAVIO AGUIAR*

The flag of peace is in a twilight situation, while the pink-fingered aurora makes the one of war rise on the horizon

“I know that the night is not like the day” (Ernest Hemingway, Farewell to weapons).

“We are abandoned like children, and we are tried like the old, we are crude, unhappy and superficial – I think we are lost” (Erich Maria Remarque, Nothing new from the western front).

What would the Old World be without an occasional war? Would it lose its identity and the link with its past? Well, the situation is different from that of the leader of the New World, the United States, which apparently needs a war all the time.

It is true that these geopolitical spaces were the protagonists of large pacifist movements in the past. In Europe, at least since the First World War, when intellectuals from different backgrounds took refuge in Switzerland and founded some of the avant-garde art movements of the time. At that moment, peace also became a banner of international communist movements. But these were seen by others as traitors against the homeland on all sides of the conflict.

In the United States, the peace movement grew enormously during the Vietnam War, although it had existed before, since the time of the beatniks, in the 1950s. The same thing happened in Western Europe during the Cold War years, and the fear of the outbreak of a nuclear war boosted movements on both sides of the Atlantic. From this conjuncture, the Green Parties were born on the European continent, combining the flag of peace between national States with a pacification of human relations with the surrounding nature. European social democracy waved the flag of a “third way” of commitment between concerns with the collective and individual freedoms, navigating the stormy sea dominated by the armed powers of the Cold War.

On the official side, there was never a renunciation of war. Western European countries, such as France and Portugal, found themselves directly involved in colonial wars, and on the oppressive side. The United States was directly or indirectly involved in the repression of national liberation and/or socialist movements in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, in addition to maintaining constant vigilance on the European scene, helping extreme right movements such as that of the Greek dictatorship, and the long duration of the Francoist and Salazarist regimes, in addition to collaborating to prevent leftist movements in other countries, such as Italy. Here, there and there they had the support of valuable allies, such as Australia and the United Kingdom, as the latter liquidated what was left of its Empire where the sun never set and opened space for the establishment of some tax sanctuaries in the Caribbean.

It is necessary to recognize that these waters were really stormy, because above the Iron Curtain the communist danger always spied, through the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, in addition to it growing disproportionately in Mainland China and surroundings and dangerously in the North American backyard, in Cuba. For this very reason, the democratic North American empire found itself in the ever-present circumstance of supporting, stimulating and financing bloody dictatorships around the world, even training its low, medium and high-ranking agents in techniques of torture, murder and disappearance of inconvenient corpses. . Not that on the other side of the Iron Curtain one lived in a human rights paradise: hell was similar, and from time to time Soviet tanks made their appearance to quell dangerously libertarian movements, as in East Berlin in 1953, in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

In Europe, the Pax Americana kept its armed wing, NATO, ever vigilant: the Old World had long been transformed into a military protectorate of Washington with a few hints of autonomy. Rather than attenuating, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the communist world increased the intensity of these protective bonds. The peace promised, then, by the progressive foundation of the European Union was always accompanied by the warlike trait of the protective presence of NATO, manifested, for example, in the severe bombings during the War in the Balkans, helping to destroy once and for all what was left of the agonizing and non-aligned Yugoslavia.

And NATO was extending its action, reaching North Africa and Afghanistan, in addition to the United States extending its intervention to Iraq. Although with some dissent, in general the European social-democratic parties submitted to the Pax americana and NATO. A little more reluctantly, and also with exceptions, the Green Parties lined up in the same pool. Simultaneously, the European social-democratic world adhered once and for all to the triumphant neo-liberalism and its plans of social austerity and financial deregulation that spread throughout the world, notably after the Reagan-Tatcher militancy and the anti-communist crusade of John Paul II.

The birth of the so-called “Islamic terrorism” only reinforced the belligerent tendencies that were growing in the “West”, which was becoming a veil of nebulous and uncertain limits due to the lack of a concrete and closer enemy. Even though this “Islamic terrorism”, aided by the United States when the movements that gave rise to it were fighting the late Soviet Union, was the perfect enemy, hidden in the shadows, with its potential for tentacular and unpredictable interventions everywhere.

But the concrete and closest enemy soon rose from the ashes of the former Soviet Union: Russia under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. There was a symbiosis: Putin himself, former head of the KGB, was also reborn from the ashes of the late USSR, reworked by the pro-Western Boris Yeltsin, who ended up sinking the former conglomerate in the worst economic, social and humanitarian crisis in its recent history. , with dramatic proportions: the drop, including the average life expectancy of its population.

Sitting on one of the two largest nuclear arsenals in the world, on all the knowledge accumulated by the KGB, supported by its remaining staff, which became the FSB, Federal Sluzhba Bezopasnosti, and in rather “raw” methods of action, compared to the “well-cooked” ones practiced by Western agencies, such as the CIA and the British MI5 and MI6, as well as other no less brutal agencies, Vladimir Putin was willing to lead the restoration of the now Russian Federation as a world power.

It became the palpable enemy ('Islamic terrorism' was effective in this role, but impalpable) that bodies like NATO and the equally elusive US 'Deep State' needed to keep themselves alive and expanding. “Deep State”: the intelligence conglomerate, secret service, think tanks private, National Security Agency plus its outsourcing companies which, along with the former military-industrial complex, began to dictate the terms of US foreign policy for Democrats and Republicans alike.

The siege against Russia came to replace the siege against the former Soviet Union. Islamophobia, with its covertly racist phobic content and its cultural phobia, seemed a cousin of the ever-living traditional anti-Semitism and therefore unattractive to social democrats, greens and liberals, mobilizing more and better right-wing extremism in defense of Europe " Christian". But the Russian enemy mobilized the old Russophobia, revived Sovietophobia and was close at hand, joining Sino or Chinophobia, also fueled by the growing economic dependence of the entire world on the former Chinese Communists, today advanced capitalists to the point of envy Wall Street.

In addition, it also mobilized the same dark DNA of “Christian Europe”, since Vladimir Putin, more than the enigmatic Chinese world, became the perfect caricature of the threatening demon, with his style that mixes the poker face, the aggressive subtlety of a chess player and the obvious toughness of a MMA fighter. If in doubt, consult Lucifer de the lost paradise, by John Milton, Book II. Costumed with illuminist and enlightened values, the medieval Old World was reborn from its old age: the war in Ukraine took on the air of a fight between David and Goliath, and of a Crusade against the blasphemer.

The condemnable invasion of Ukraine was the icing on this cake that gave new life to the Cold War that was threatening to go moldy in the closet. Cold? It opened the doors to a Hot War by NATO, the United States and the United Kingdom, but outsourced: these three contenders are willing to fight until the penultimate (not the last) Ukrainian.

Penultimate: because the main thing in this war is the weakening of Vladimir Putin's Russia. If Ukraine is completely destroyed, that objective founders. Putin, to defend himself, put himself under the Chinese wing. It does not suffer from the isolation that the West wished for it, but it took a tunda in the UN vote that condemned the invasion, both due to the 140 and so many votes against it, and, and above all, due to the almost forty abstentions and absences of traditional allies, such as China itself.

As in the case of (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction in 2003, justifying the invasion of Iraq, the domesticated part of the media mainstream from the West, which is the majority, rushed quickly, adopting the beacons of their parti pris: demonization of Russia, with the line of denouncing only the alleged (still need to be proven, in most cases) war crimes by Russian forces; turning a blind eye to possible (also lacking proof in most cases) war crimes by Ukrainian forces; cover with a veil of oblivion or minimization the ties of battalions like Azov and Aidar, with Nazi symbols and practices, as well as the crimes committed by neo-Nazis during and after the 2014 coup against leftists and Russian speakers in the Donbass region; always describe Russian action as defeated; extol the “heroism” of the spearhead of the West in the undertaking, Commander Zelensky and his careful visual game-of-scene, as an effective and necessary weapon against the demon on the other side of the border. Furthermore, to exempt NATO and the United States from any responsibility for creating a favorable climate for armed conflict and insist on the need to supply weapons and more weapons to the Kiev government.

The hot war is at an impasse, with Russia establishing its dominance over the border region of Donbass and Crimea, which includes control over Ukrainian ports; the hybrid media war is going from strength to strength, winning hearts and minds for the new belligerence galloping wildly across the European continent. Many people who until a year ago went to demonstrations singing Bella Ciao or remembering Where have all the flowers gone covered his eyes with the colors of the Ukrainian flag, stuffed his ears with the bellicose preaching of Volodymyr Zelensky and stuffed his mouth with the “need” to send arms and arms to Kiev

Peace and diplomacy lost shares in this soul market, while investment in the spirit of war capitalized on extraordinary gains and dividends. Criticism of the behavior of NATO, the United States and its allies, such as the fierce United Kingdom or the vehement governments of the Baltic and the openly authoritarian Poland, came to be seen as “auxiliary lines of Putin's dirty game”. At the very least, what you hear is “this is not the time to do them”, if you don't feel the poke of the hard finger pointed at the “traitor”.

In short, the flag of peace is in a twilight situation, while the pink-fingered dawn makes the flag of war rise on the horizon. There are demonstrations for peace, yes, and for the end of this macabre war that is destroying Ukraine, with the mutual suspension of belligerence. In Germany a courageous manifesto of 400 intellectuals was published that goes in this direction; valiant articles and statements have been issued by traditional pacifists and critics of all imperialisms. Its authors and signatories have been stigmatized as “traitors” or at least “naive”, recalling the old days when criticizing US imperialism implied the label of “useful innocent”. In Europe, a “hybrid Eurocentrism” in defense of its “endangered values” has intensified. Hybrid? Yes, because one of its foundations is to settle on the military person North American, filled with its soldiers on the European continent.

From afar, but with a very close look, the impassive Chinese sphinx watches everything. After all, so far, it is the only victor in this conflict that has torn the flag of peace.

PS: Please don't anyone tell me I'm advocating invasion. Poker player, chess player, or karate-kid, or all together, Vladimir Putin was right to complain about the provocative expansion of NATO; he lost it by responding to provocation with a military assault on Ukraine.

* Flavio Aguiar, journalist and writer, is a retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Chronicles of the World Upside Down (Boitempo).

 

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