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14 Feb, 2022 15:23

Do the hawks in America and Britain actually want a war with Russia?

Unwise, inflammatory talk from politicians needs to be toned down before it sparks an unnecessary conflict
Do the hawks in America and Britain actually want a war with Russia?

From what I have been reading and hearing over the weekend, it would appear there are those in Washington and London who are keen to see a war with Russia. But why? What would war achieve, beyond the loss of innocent lives? The answer, clearly, is absolutely nothing.

Rather than dialling down the language and acting like statesmen, politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have spent the past few days talking up the prospect of war. US President Joe Biden, for example, announced that “things could go crazy quickly” and told the country’s citizens to leave Ukraine, which led other nations around the world, including the UK, to swiftly follow suit.

The Biden administration has also named Wednesday as the day of any potential Russian invasion, with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan claiming that bombs could rain down on the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

This line has been parroted by the UK’s Armed Forces minister, James Heappey, who said, “My fear is [an invasion] is very imminent, that's not to say it's definitely going to happen … this is a warning because minutes after Putin gives the order, missiles and bombs could be landing on Ukrainian cities.”

The Western media are just as culpable as the politicians of dialling up the war rhetoric. One look at the jingoistic headlines over the weekend reveals that the public are being whipped into a sense of hysteria. “Countdown to War” and “48 Hours to Save Europe” were just two of the front-page splashes. And a cursory look at the US cable channels, such as CNN, shows an almost insatiable appetite for conflict. 

I had a scintilla of hope on Friday that sense was finally prevailing. Following meetings in Moscow, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, declared that “we will keep trying” to find a diplomatic solution. It seems as though he had not read the script, however, because within 24 hours he gave an interview to the SundayTimes in which he said there was a “whiff of Munich” about the attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

For those unaware, Wallace was comparing those who are trying to negotiate a way out of this current crisis to Neville Chamberlain’s attempt to deal with Adolf Hitler in 1938. This statement prompted incredulity on almost every level. Is Wallace really suggesting Vladimir Putin is akin to Hitler? Moreover, doesn’t he know that Russia was the biggest victim of Nazi Germany’s expansionism, losing up to 27 million people as a result?

When modern-day politicians attempt to invoke their inner Winston Churchill, the results are nearly always misplaced and dangerous. It has been used as the pretext for war time and time again. It is worth reminding Wallace that Churchill also once said that “jaw, jaw is always preferable to war, war”; politicians today would do well to heed this advice.

But why is this happening? Why are these politicians so eager to talk up the potential of war? Call me a cynic, but could it be that it’s down to Biden performing poorly in the polls and facing wipe-out in the mid-terms, or that Boris Johnson is on the ropes over Partygate? No one can say for certain, but what I do know is that foreign adventures have been used in the past to distract the public from domestic failures. If this is the case – and I sincerely hope not – then they are playing a very dangerous game with the lives of many people, which could lead to catastrophic unintended consequences.      

This, of course, has happened before. In 1914, Europe went to war because of threats, alliances, and a lack of communication. No one really wanted war, whether that was King George V, Kaiser Wilhem, or Tsar Nicholas. But bellicose language and threats by politicians led to mobilisation, which could not be stopped, and Europe cascaded into war almost by accident.

By the end of the First World War, no one really understood why it had started and there have been arguments ever since over its origins. History does have an uncanny habit of repeating itself. So, this is a heartfelt plea to the politicians: tone down the rhetoric and stop acting like early 20th century warmongers. This is not 1914, it is 2022, and no good will come from this potential conflict.

To be clear, I am no left-wing anti-war activist, but there is an obvious need for all diplomatic solutions to be exhausted before any decisions resulting in the loss of life are taken. Previous agreements must be adhered to, and compromises will have to be made. This is not appeasement, as I am sure some hawkish types would see it – it is simple common sense.

Now is the time for real statesmanship, and not cheap jingoism or political posturing.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.