Living with the Shame of Bucha, Ukraine
The horrors of Russian war crimes have been exposed and in Europe we feel the shame of our inaction. Passively we stand by while Putin’s war machine brutalize and kill the people of Ukraine. Can we live with ourselves?
I have long argued against NATO involvement in Ukraine. I do not want to risk putting in motion a series of cascading events which eventually leads to a full our nuclear war and destruction of all of humanity. Yet, that position is getting harder to maintain as it becomes ever more clear how brutal the Russian invasion is. The images and stories from Bucha are the most recent and starkest reminder.
Europe has been a continent of war and destruction for hundreds of years. We have done unspeakable things to each other. After two immensely destructive wars which turned into world wars we swore to each other: Never again.
We tried hard to make this be the end by creating the UN and the European Union. The Yugoslav civil war was the first shock. A war in the midst of Europe. What should not happen ever again did. However NATO was able to act and bring the war to an end. Perhaps it should have been a shock as it came in the aftermath of the turbulence of the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. Europe suddenly had a multitude of new countries striving towards embracing a democratic future away from the Soviet imposed oppression over many decades.
In the late 90s we came to believe it was the end of history as Francis Fukuyama proclaimed. The idea was that Western liberal democracy had won. It did not quite work out that way. Yet most of the former East Block and Soviet Republics have gradually progressed towards democracy, prosperity and more freedom. Then Donbas happened. It was the first warning shot.
Now we have a full scale invasion of Ukraine. This is something new. Yugoslavia was a civil war and Chechnya was a rebellion against Russian rule in a relatively small country of only about 2 million people. Ukraine is a huge country not just in area but also in terms of population. It has about the same population (44 million) as a major Western European nation like Spain. Russia invaded with an enormous army of over 200 000 soldiers.
This is war at a scale we have not seen in Europe since the end of WW2. We swore this should never…