Absolute ideal war and real war

In the first chapter of his book “On war” Carl von Clausewitz makes a distinction between “absolute war” and “limited war”. Absolute war would be possible in an ideal world, the world of the perfection of the absolute. This kind of war, by definition, would entail the complete destruction of one’s enemy. In the real world, the everyday world of physical reality, however, this kind of clear-cut state of absolute perfection is unattainable.

Meanwhile there are more and more people in the West in all seriousness advocating for the dissolution of Russia. Only last week, the Polish European parliamentarian Anna Fotyga, in an article published in the pro-European website, Euractiv, independent but very close to the European Union, wrote that “The dissolution of the Russian Federation is far less dangerous than leaving it ruled by criminals”. These are not just words. The article ends announcing that: “we are glad to host numerous experts, historians, journalists, politicians from both sides of Atlantic, and leaders and representatives of more than 20 nations of the Russian Federation, who will gather in Brussels in the European Parliament to discuss prospects for the decolonisation and deimperialisation of the Russian Federation”. So these discussions are hold now in the European Parliament.

And this is not even the first article of this kind written by a very prominent figure. Apparently European parliament members and Washington think tank experts are so firmly convinced that Russians are so innately stupid and out of this world that they won’t take note of things like that. But the Russians do pay a lot of attention to these things. And how should we expect then the Russians to rationally react when prominent Western figures, politicians and experts, are openly calling for the dissolution of Russia? By now we have heard many times already from European politicians that the war in Ukraine will not end until there is a complete Ukrainian victory, that is when Ukraine recovers all its territory in the borders recognized by a majority of states worldwide, Crimea included. And now the West, which for years pretended that Ukraine was sticking to the Minsk agreements – she was not – is pushing for Ukraine to attack Crimea too. The West of course pretends not to be at war with Russia, but occasionally the truth slips out, most recently through the mouth of Annalena Baerbock. The kind of war the West is fighting with Russia resembles the ideal state of the absolute war illustrated by von Clausewitz. It is good versus evil. The good does not talk with the evil.

But as Clausewitz also notes “war is never an isolated act”. Russia’s attack on Ukraine of last February did not happen out of nothing. It happened in the context of war that followed the near disaggregation of the Ukrainian state in February 2014, when the President was forced to flee the country after the much glorified “peaceful” Maidan revolution took a very violent turn. The grand narrative, promoted by the all Western media, practically without exception was that the Maidan revolution, in Ukraine dubbed the “Revolution of Dignity”, stood for democracy and freedom, while the pro-Russian elements of Ukrainian society were dismissed of old remnants of the horrible Soviet dictatorship and nothing more, not real people. “This is what I heard from respectable people in Kiev. Not from the nationalists, but from liberals, from professionals and journalists. All the bad people were in one place – why not kill them all?”, as stood in one unique reportage that appeared in the London Review of Books in September 2014. The war in Ukraine, it turned out, was a bit more complex that a simple battle of perfect good versus perfect evil.

Russia has been quintessential evil through the ages, argues the Polish member of the European Parliament. If Russia is always bound to be in her essence hostile to the West and the forces of democracy, the rights of the people and freedom, shall the West bring the current Russian regime to a quick and painful end? If Russia is quintessentially evil, and the remnant of a past and more barbaric age, shall Russia be destroyed? In the new Ukraine that emerged after the revolution in 2014 people have often called for a break-up of Russia as a revenge since the loss of Crimea and the conflict in the Donbass. The new Ukrainian national identity after 2014 was entirely shaped by the rhetoric of the “war with Russia”. There was little more. Ukraine and Russia have been marked by one thousand of war and thing like that. In August 2018 the cover of a very popular magazine titled: “There will be only one left”.

Now the big question is: If Russia cannot be a democracy because it has never been a democracy and is innately and enemy of democracy does Russia deserve to exist as a country? Apparently many in the West think that it should not exist. Do only democracies have a right to exist then? And who decides what’s the democratic threshold for a country to legitimate its existence? Because clearly no country is a perfect democracy. Have democracies the right to wage war against non-democracies? Can the world ever reach peace until all major countries do not choose to be good and go down the path of democracy? Is this really a realistic expectation? It is incredibly that so many and idealistically motivated fail to see this, but this kind of moralistic absolutism could have terrible consequences for the “free world” too.

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