The greatest threat to the security of the West is not the deliberate withering away of its armed forces. It is not the cessation of armaments nor the lack of skilled professionals. The greatest threat to the West is the unpreparedness and inexperience of the public in matters relating to war. Commentary by Robert C. Castel.
During the long geopolitical vacation, generations have grown up in Europe without having to reflect on national security issues with any sort of seriousness. The moral and intellectual muscle memory developed over centuries of warfare has slowly dissipated. It has been replaced by reflexive pacifism, unrealistic moralizing and legalistic nit-picking. These three trends dominate the discourse on the war in Ukraine. Instead of practical questions about the war in the neighbourhood, such as how to act given the situation, the discourse is one of intense navel-gazing. And in the case of navel-gazing, as we know, the visual acuity is always 20/20.
- „War is never the solution to anything.”
- „There are no winners in war, only losers.”
- „The evil one, who is on the darker side of history, will inevitably receive his just punishment.”
- „The use of white phosphorus is prohibited under international law.”
Etc., etc. These are all very nice thoughts when war is raging on a foreign continent, but when the guns are booming next door, it is very difficult to find cover behind them.
And that’s just the bright side of the coin. The fact that this leads to passivity and fatalism is not necessarily a bad thing.
It’s not the lazy or helpless clumsy person that we tend to fear, but the energetic and hard-working clumsy person.
The one who rushes with determination and firm steps towards the precipice. Because that is the other, less sunny side of the coin.
Western democracies have gradually lost their ability to represent the will of the electorate within the normal political paradigm. Emergency mode has become commonplace and it is highly doubtful that we will ever return to normality. The pretext is entirely beside the point.
Whether it’s Brexit, Trump, climate change, the COVID epidemic or even the crisis in Ukraine, Power lurks like a fish in water.
It has an irresistible attraction, the potential to dismantle traditional checks and balances, silence dissonant voices and impose a soft despotism.
The collusion of political elites with a permanent bureaucracy, Big Media and Big Technology, is replacing old-style representative democracy with a neo-feudal system.
Tom Friedman had us well fooled with his Golden Arches Theory. We did not transform China into a liberal democracy, it transformed us into its own image.
For this emergency mode to be sustainable, it is necessary to keep the electorate in a state of permanent anxiety and indignation.
The Matrix lives here with us, but it is made up of emotions and feelings instead of computer code.
The cable that connects us to the Machine merely allows our primitive reptilian brain to function, shutting off higher-level analytical and critical functions.
Modern Western man’s greatest desire is to be a good and virtuous man, and his greatest fear is that he will fail to do so. Since
with the decline of religion, we have long since lost our reference points of absolute good and absolute evil,
these categories must be projected onto us by the Matrix. Only in this way, can we ensure that we march on in close formation. Since machine code is never perfect, there is always the risk that critical thinking will emerge from the background. To prevent this, the Matrix constantly toggles between the on-call Good and Bad, like an old Windows 95 screensaver.
- Global cooling
- Acid rain
- Gay rights
- Amazon rainforest
- Trans rights
- Global warming
- Population explosion
- Climate change
- Systemic racism
The crazy magic lantern flashes three times a second, causing epileptic-like symptoms in the audience.
The ultimate goal is to keep the individual in a state of constant uncertainty as to what the current measure of virtue is.
And if my poor soul asks whether Agent Smith et al. want a filtered or unfiltered cigarette, the immediate answer is, „Hey, look, he’s not wearing a cap again.”
And what is the individual response to these collective forms of domestic violence? Endless forms of Orwell’s Two Minutes Hate.
We go to protest in defense of the Good, to wave nonsense on cardboard signs like a medieval lynch mob in a feverish witch-burning frenzy.
We are impatient to know when we can finally slip into the Obertwitterführer’s protectorate at the end of a work day to pick fights with strangers. We sort through rubbish, wear second-hand clothing just so we can look down on the lady next door because she doesn’t. But mostly we flaunt our virtue by bowing to the Good on duty, as we learned from our elders who applauded enthusiastically at party meetings.
Servility has not disappeared, only transformed.
What does this have to do with the war in Ukraine?
Unfortunately, it has a lot to do with it.
It is one thing to shout in a pink cap in front of the White House. Or glue yourself to the asphalt for the climate.. Or smash statues of systemic racism. Or replace gender pronouns. But it’s quite another thing, on the same level of sanity, to besiege governments with the demand that we pass Mig-29s to Ukraine. Or close off the country’s airspace with our air force. Or send troops against the Russians.
Because the climate won’t shoot back. And neither does systemic, toxic masculinity.
The Russians, on the other hand, can shoot back.
This time, it’s not a sham crisis invented by bored intellectuals to replace their desks with even bigger ones. This is a real crisis, the stakes of which could be an unconventional European or even a nuclear-armed world war.
This time, the virtue-signalling has a price, and it is measured in kilotons.
This does not mean that the Ukrainians should not be helped. It is our duty to help them. Nor does it mean that, if the situation so requires, we should not go to war and fight to the last man. It simply means that these decisions must be taken with cool rationality and that, in a democracy, it is not only the responsibility of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but of all of us.