Violence is a central fact of human experience. History records the use of force, or the threat of force, in relations between men and their communities in all epochs, civilizations, cultures, and geographic spaces. Inherent in mankind, violence reflects his immutable nature regardless of the cultural context or the level of technological development. We have always lived in a Hobbesian world and always will.
The war in Ukraine, far from being a shocking aberration in the post-Cold War era, is “unique” only because it involves two eastern Slavic nations with shared historical, cultural, and spiritual roots. In broader terms, this war confirms that there is no linear march of history toward an ever-improving humanity, let alone toward eternal peace. Nor is the war a Manichaean morality play, as absurdly presented in the legacy media. It is a conflict that Russia started when its leaders concluded that the cost of not responding to Western challenges might be higher than the risk of military action and the political and economic ramifications.
Those challenges included the Maidan regime-change operation; the ensuing massive influx of NATO arms and instructors; the premeditated fraud—as admitted by Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko—of the Minsk Accords to buy the Kiev regime time to rearm; the relentless shelling of civilians in the Donbas; and the clampdown on the rights of Ukraine’s 14 million Russian speakers, which included closing their schools, media outlets, and canonical churches.
Russia’s “special military operation” is illegal, but not more so than America’s interventions, over the past quarter-century alone, against Serbia, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. It is, for now, less costly in human lives than the war in Iraq or the proxy war in Yemen. For both Russia and the U.S., borders are not inviolable separators of sovereignties but impermanent military-political arrangements that are subject to changes depending on power relations. They shift in favor of the stronger and at the expense of the weaker, regardless of rights and “justice.” Legal signatures, sooner or later, merely verify any given outcome of the struggle itself.
In Ukraine’s case, a negotiated agreement leading to the signing of legally binding documents seems unlikely for many years to come, regardless of the pace and scope of military operations on the ground. But even if the war is successfully turned into a frozen conflict—an unstable interim solution advocated for pragmatic reasons in these pages—its long-term geostrategic significance will be to weaken Europe as a whole.
On Feb. 24, 2022, Europe entered a new and irreversible stage in the process that started in the summer of 1914 and has continued with varying intensity ever since. A generation after a flawed peace treaty was signed at Versailles in 1919, the Old Continent reeled into an even bloodier and more destructive sequel to the Great War. In both cases, one key geopolitical cause of the disaster was the inability of two potentially compatible continental powers, Russia and Germany, to reach a long-term strategic understanding.
Subverting the alliance between Berlin and St. Petersburg had been a key objective of British foreign policy in the late 19th century, but it was beyond Albion’s means to drive a wedge between the two powers as long as Otto von Bismarck was the Reich’s chancellor. Bismarck’s unworthy successors abandoned this paradigm in favor of an unnecessary and ultimately fatal bid for multi-spectral hegemony. The Kaiser’s decision to fire Bismarck in 1890, to terminate the alliance with Russia, and to embrace the audacious and self-defeating Weltpolitik can be seen, in retrospect, as one of the most fateful moments in modern European history. One of its tragic consequences was the subsequent Nazi obsession with conquering the Lebensraum in the East and enslaving or exterminating its inhabitants, primarily Russians.
The long European Civil War of 1914-1939 radically and permanently reduced the importance of Europe in global affairs. With the United States taking over the mantle of global thalassocracy from Britain after 1945, the old objective of keeping Germany and Russia apart was given a permanent form in NATO, the collective security mechanism—according to its first secretary general—designed “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” The quip was intended as a joke, but it was a broadly accurate summary of NATO’s purpose until the disintegration of the USSR.
In the post-Cold War era, the duopoly in the United States chose the path of “benevolent global hegemony” (in the memorable phrase of Messrs. William Kristol and Robert Kagan). This precluded any notion of Europe’s reintegration treating Russia as its integral and necessary part. On the contrary, the neoconservative architects of full-spectrum dominance categorically treated Russia as the ultimate other: either a smoldering ruin to be debased and plundered—as it was during the Yeltsin decade—or an incorrigible foe to be surrounded by NATO bases from without and actively subverted from within.
For its part, the European Union (EU) embarked on the construction of a quasi-superstate, with its headquarters in Brussels. From the pragmatically devised European Coal and Steel Community of the 1950s, the project entailed a series of gradual yet regular transfers of sovereignty from national capitals to the Brussels headquarters. The resulting EU became a super-authority rather than a superstate.
But however autocratically solid it appears, the Europe of Brussels has been unable to establish a political identity distinct from the general Western drift into wokedom and postmodern insanity. This has enabled the hegemonic clique that conducts American foreign policy to bring Europe to heel, in the aftermath of the Russian attack on Ukraine, more determinedly and thoroughly than at any time during the Cold War. This process has been facilitated by the fact that both American neoconservatives and Eurocratic neoliberals see Russia as the last major European obstacle to the frenzy of cultural and moral self-immolation gripping the West on both sides of the Atlantic.
Very few prominent Europeans dare speak up. Thierry Breton, EU commissioner for the internal market, complained last fall that U.S. policies represented an “existential challenge” for the economy of Europe. “There is, indeed, a growing feeling in Europe,” he said, “and I say this with regret, that something is broken in our transatlantic relations.” He added that “trust between the EU and U.S. has been eroded.”
Those “latest events” include the fact that, by giving up on Russian gas, Europe has given the United States an enormous competitive advantage in energy prices. Add to that the local content requirements of $369 billion of green subsidies in the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which is openly calculated to encourage companies to relocate and make America the leader in green tech at Europe’s expense.
The destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic is the most tangible symbol of Europe’s degradation. Over six months after the explosions, German authorities say they are still looking for those responsible. The investigation has not progressed beyond a truly remarkable statement that the bombing was the “result of a deliberate act.” It is like the 9-11 Commission saying that “deliberate flying of aircraft into buildings” was suspected.
As it happens, most Europeans—including those supportive of the bellicose posture of their governments vis-à-vis Russia—have a pretty good idea of what happened. They know that Seymour Hersh is probably right: the U.S. government blew up the pipeline in an audacious act of state terrorism against their ostensible friends and allies. The latter dare not complain or even ask questions. Neither Khrushchev nor Brezhnev had ever been able to establish that degree of control over their East European satellites.
As the global distribution of power regains its multipolar character and as America continues to lose its briefly held position of full-spectrum dominance, the traditional nation-states of Europe are no longer able to act as self-respecting powers. They are no longer able to imagine themselves as such. Throughout the centuries, the rise and fall of states, nations, and civilizations have followed the dialectic of the violent challenges they face and how they respond to those. Tragically, the leaders of today’s Europe have lost the ability to balance the end and the means in real space and real time. For the most part, they are supine wimps—such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz—or ideologized fanatics who believe that human will can trump the laws of nature—such as his foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock.
It would be in the American interest for the U.S. to promote the preservation and recovery of European nations, which share, in principle, a common civilization and a similar world outlook with the Old Republic. This should entail a set of common Euro-American objectives in relation to the rest of the world, objectives that would not treat Russia as an enemy.
The U.S. government is failing on both counts. Its policies do not reflect any awareness of the fact that Europe is in the midst of changing its character and changing it so profoundly that the end result, within a few decades, will be the emergence of a mutant superstate inherently inimical to America, once the term “Eurabia” becomes real.
Far from grasping the danger to American interests inherent in such developments, Washington is an accomplice in the project. As early as 2005, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice elicited high praise from French bien-pensants (“right-minded persons”) because, in Paris, she asserted that both America and France were not nations but propositional polities since both have inherited from the Enlightenment “the faith in freedom and the universalism of democracy.”
This is the kind of agreement that both America and Europe must do without. It is based on a flawed reading of history and a perverse view of nationhood. It leads only to unnecessary new wars abroad and to the suicide pact of multiculturalism at home.