Nearly six months have passed since the Russian aggression against Ukraine. But the situation has become worse with no sign of any improvement except the recent agreement of allowing food supply from Ukraine. On the other hand, deaths, casualties, people fleeing from the war-torn country, etc, are continuing and increasing day by day.
War is both a business and a game for modern imperialism. But it is not any entertainment for the people with whom it is played. To them it is a question of life and death. Imperialism also does not arrange this game for their self entertainment. Capital, investment, profit, risks and limitless plundering are involved with this capitalist enterprise.
Russian President Putin had a dream of bringing a small state like Ukraine under his foot in a few hours of attacking it. But it didn't happen as per Putin's wishful plan. This war hardly deserves to be called a 'war' at all. This is in fact a shameless attack against a weak country. It cannot be called a war between the two countries, neither between their peoples. This so-called war has similarities with American attack against Afghanistan and Iraq. Difference is that this war is between brothers. It is because the Ukrainian and Russian people are very close in their socio-economic and cultural relation whereas the American people and the Afghan and Iraqi people are distant in many ways.
The historical experiences of the peoples of Ukraine and Russia are almost the same. There are also many distinctions between them. The distinctions were given due respect after the 1917 socialist revolution in Russia. After 100 years of that revolution, Putin has been making a confusion of everything regarding Ukraine. He wants to make Ukraine and Russia one country by dipping them into the intoxicating water of Russian nationalism. (Vladimir Putin, On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians, July 12, 2021, Presidential Executive Office 2022, Kremlin, website)
Putin's wish to make the two into one entity has not arisen spontaneously. There has been continual inciting and threats by the USA and NATO for bringing Ukraine into the western military alliance, which should have been nonexistent long ago after the collapse of the Soviet Union. US President George Bush suggested NATO membership for the country in 2008 when the people of that country had no headache about this. Later enthusiasm of Ukrainian governments, instigation by the western power and the domineering behavior of Russia pushed its people psychologically towards NATO. Thus the relation between the two neighboring countries has been muddled by several interest groups, which has now turned into a bloodthirsty war. This is going to be more damaging and long lasting in the future. (Russia's War on Ukraine Has Already Changed the World, interview of Volodymyr Ishchenko, Jacobin, 19 March 2022)
Then the US President Joe Biden poured oil into the cauldron of war. In a speech given in Poland on 26 March he declared, "For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power." (Biden: 'butcher' Putin cannot be allowed to stay in power, The Guardian, 27 March 2022) This American 'gentleman' has completely forgotten the butcher-like role he and his colleagues played in the attacks against Afghanistan and Iraq. The line of difference between Putin and Biden is the same between a thief and a robber. Many corrupt governments across the world are in power with the US backing. They have toppled many democratically elected governments and put in power many anti-people governments in the world. If he calls Putin a butcher and murderer, what will be his epithet for George Bush? Didn't he himself also sharpen the killing knife sitting in the butcher shop of Bush?
To take any side in this so-called war, one has to adopt a vision of future, not the past. Many of the wars going on from the end of the twentieth century to the beginning of the twenty-first are nothing but plundering of the weak by the strong, clear robbery in daylight. The two biggest examples are attacks against Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet the occupiers have named themselves civilized and called the occupied barbarians. And the attacks have been named 'war'. The plunderers posed as protectors of religion, humanity and nationality.
Putin has cast the same die in attacking Ukraine. He has seen there the face of fascism and taken the role of liberator upon himself, whereas the Russian attack is playing the actual role of strengthening the dark forces of the right and fascism. And the pity the US is showing towards Ukraine is like shedding crocodile tears. It is US administration which has backed Putin since his coming to power. The US interest lies in keeping this war simmering for a long time in the future. They like to see a weak Russia. The rise of China in the east is scaring them and they fear the possible unity of China-Russia in the world politics.
People are divided into three camps in the context of the Ukraine-Russia war-pro-Putin, pro-Ukraine and antiwar. Among them the pro-Putin camp is the most ludicrous. They are a hotchpotch of the right- and left-wing people. And the largest is the anti-war camp. Even people in Russia came to the street in protest against the war and they fell victim to the police attack. The young people and women also came out in protest and faced the government ire against them. Russians living in Ukraine also protested against the attack. People across the globe have protested against the war and the attempt to linger it by others.
It is to be kept in mind that people and state are bound in a relation of perpetual tension. This relation has got to a new stage in recent years by the state becoming much stronger than its people who are becoming weaker, divided and unequal. The state wields the weapons of keeping people under perpetual watch, in fear and under control. Moreover, the technology of doing this is becoming more and more powerful every day. On the other hand, people are losing their power of getting organized, expressing their opinions freely and taking decisions without fear. So the relation of perpetual tension between people and state is becoming worse and imbalanced making states as powerful as giants. The control of the state is falling from the hands of people into the grips of profit-hunting groups. Digital technology is speeding up this process in a more chaotic way. In this situation, the antiwar role of majority people across the world, including those in the attacking country, is historically important.
In this context, Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the British Labour Party, said in a discussion, "Some say that being antiwar is a sign of weakness. The opposite is true. It's a sign of strength that you are prepared to look at the current conflict and say this has to be resolved and we have to bring about peace. So, what we need is more voices for peace, more anti-war activists around the world to expose the dangers and the folly of war and oppose what their governments are doing." (Ukrainians Are Going Through Absolute Hell. Our Job Is to Stop It, Jacobin, 2 March 2022).
The war-mongers are now more powerful, cruel and anti-people than any other time in history, whereas people are becoming weak, divided and unequal. This trend is going on and will do so for some more time in the future. So now people's power lies only in their unity and one voice. The historical demand, therefore, in this altered world is the antiwar movement in every corner of the globe. Antiwar stand is now the most progressive humane duty in the current world.
The writer is Editor, Biggan O Sangskriti
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