At first it may seem of course a terrible thing even to just entertain such a thought. Yet there are a lot of elements to suggest that Europe and the United States may not entirely be disinterested in the prolongation of the Ukrainian crisis, since February taken to a new level by the open confrontation sparkled by Russia’s invasion.
Surely for the various Jeans, Josephs, Joes, the Annes and the Annas, the “common” people that make the vast part of the population in Europe and in the United States, and who experience the tragedy of the Ukrainian war from what they read on the internet, see on television or (a much smaller group) read in their newspapers, what is happening in Ukraine is a frightful and despicable event. Surely the war and the chaos that war brings with itself are still relatively far away, but the Ukrainian lesson serves as powerful reminder that the enemies of democracy and freedom are demons always ready to haunt and attack liberal societies whose only sin is to want to be free.
This kind of explanations of course are entirely devoid of the complexity that belongs to all human events; yet exactly for this reason grand stories like this are extremely powerful and get a strong hold of the collective mind of the public. There seems to be a dominant idea that in contemporary Western progressive, “liberal” and “democratic” societies the vast majority of the people must be gifted with some special kinds of intelligence. Surely among such sophisticated and educated people of the West propaganda and lies are impossible and would be carefully dissected and analysed, would they not? Yet this is obviously not the case with the current Ukrainian war. The more one knows about Russia and Ukraine and the events of recent years, the more one stands at a disadvantage when trying to explain to the public at large what is happening (and what has been happening at least since 2014). The public needs a simple message. What is better that a message that can make us all feel good at the same time?
People in the United States and in America seem to be convinced to possess a quality that put them far above the people of all the other countries in the world. It is not just about the abstract institution of democracy or an an independent judicial system (we can’t look here at how well the judicial system fares in every single Western country, but this is a different story), it is a special quality that the vast majority Western citizens accepts as a dogma that would be absurd even to start questioning. This is of course never openly said, but to ignore this is to ignore one of the most important foundations of the psychological of Western countries dealing with the world. Other countries and other peoples simple cannot be taken seriously.
The West may have its faults (different parties see different faults of course), but these differences are put aside when Europeans and Americans try to understand and interpret the rest of the world. The Western narrative of the free world versus the not so free world is powerful as never before, it is powerful today just as it was in 1955 or 1989.
In spite of the tragedy of war, the ruling elites in Europe and America, bounded to always project an image of boastful and imperturbable confidence and superiority, are happy to see in the Ukrainian war a chance. Some openly rejoice the possibility of a fractured European Union now uniting under the Ukrainian flag. Europe and the United States seemed on the verge of going two different ways when Donald Trump was president. Now European leaders do not let a day pass without praising transatlantic unity. It’s an old adage that nothing unites people and countries more that a common enemy. Had one wanted, the conflict between Russia and the West over Ukraine could have been solved easily before Russia began its “special operation”. Yet months of talks led only to the US secretary of state Anthony Blinken uncompromisingly declare that there would be no change and that the door for Ukraine in NATO was open. Europe of course could not afford to dissent.
Hence it does not matter how long Russians and Ukrainians hate and kill each other. They could go on for years or even decades for that matter. It does not matter how much blood is split, how many lives and homes are destroyed. Western unity, that unity that has appeared so frail so many times over the past years, is worth these sacrifices. The West has already made clear it won’t accept any another solution to this conflict other than on the battlefield. Devoid of any form of pragmatism, in spite of all the tears and sentimentalisms, the West is perfectly content with the war in Ukraine, the natural consequence of the senseless Drang nach Osten to expand right up Russia’s borders.