Discrediting the appeasers, those who seem to want to add an unnecessary element of complexity in the reading of the events in Ukraine, is not a new thing, something that has emerged only since the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Appeasers” have been attacked at least since 2014, after the Maidan revolution and the passage of Crimea to Russia. Much of the international media was widely disappointed with the “weakness” of the West, at that time led by the US under Obama, in confronting Putin; European politicians who were not hard enough on Putin were accused of cozening up to the Russian dictator and to sell their souls to Russian interests and money. When Trump, the man who should never have won, became President, the media went ballistic about Russian interference in American election. Now it was not just about not being resolute enough in the face of the Russian threat; now it was about outright collusion and working for the master of evil.
In some places, like much of Eastern Europe and the US, these attacks were more vehement and rabid; in places like Germany, France or Italy, this criticism may have seemed a bit more restrained at first, but there was always a clear dissatisfaction with the West “not doing enough” to support Ukraine against Russia. The general undertone was: talking to a tyrant like Putin and to a dictatorship like Russia makes no sense at all; Russia and Putin must be brought down. The spectre of the tragically pathetic figure of the British Chancellor Neville Chamberlain, who thought he had achieved “peace in our time” and of a new Munich were always around the corner. Putin was of course nothing less than a new Hitler and should be dealt with accordingly.
The appeasers are cowards and defeatists in the face of evil are the usual not very concealed or extremely subtle line of accusations, pathetic fools and useful idiots. Pacifists may be right in condemning war but thinking pacifists, unlike their blind and unthinking cousins, should be able to see the difference between a defensive war, the one that Ukraine has thought since 2014, not since 24 February, and a war of aggression. War is horrible but some wars are good and necessary.
The Chamberlain and the useful idiot arguments are used as a means to induce shame and dishonour in the “pacifists” who today believe that the war in Ukraine is too distant and complex a matter to be able to clearly choose a side. But although every war is equally horrible and deplorable, not all wars are identical and not all wars can so easily be reduced to a fight between good and absolute evil like that fight against Hitler and Nazism.
The friends of Ukraine today, those who have found in Ukraine the latest woke cause, those who know paint their faces in blue and yellow and until yesterday knew nothing about Ukraine, those who are convinced that Ukraine was attacked only because it wanted to be free and democratic, the victim of an unjustifiable aggression just because it wanted to be like us in in the West, turn their heads the other way when they are told that the war in Ukraine has been going on for eight years and that the causes were complex.
In those years a large section of the population, the Russian-speaking and moderately Russophile, has been publicly demonized and terrorized, without impunity and without the West, which regards itself as the highest moral authority of the modern world and hence as the highest moral authority in the entire history of mankind, saying a single word of condemnation. It is not a question of wanting to be pacifists at all costs: it is a question of wanting to avoid uncritically accepting tendentious positions and to seek a pragmatic solution to a conflict that would have been easily avoidable and which must not be given the opportunity to go beyond Ukraine and engulf the whole of Europe. That would not only be just blind, but suicidal. Being brave and resisting are good things. Yet this is not the first war in history and all wars end in some kind of treaty and reconciliation: this should be a priority, especially when total destruction is a real possibility.