Fragments from a War Diary, Part #124
I want to tell you why I’m here. There must be a reason; there always is. Why am I in Ukraine, fighting a war on behalf of other people? The answer is because the Russians have tried to destroy me in the past, and they failed. They couldn’t do it. So then, to try to crush my spirit, the destroyed the most valuable thing in the world to me. And she was Ukrainian.
If you want to know how I know so much about this unusual and distinctive country, it is because I lived and breathed it for seven years. I know, therefore, that there is heartlessness and callousness of which the Russian people are capable that would never occur to others. They have no respect for human life or for human relationships and their society is embroiled in a collective psychosis in which death or hurt inflicted upon other people, even by the most unsavoury means, is simply another event in the day. They have no concept of tactics that are off limits. It is this collective psychosis on the part of the Russian people, in which life is meaningless and the dead can just be replaced with more corpses, which ultimately must explain why they have a psychopath as their leader, And that explains why we are fighting this war.
I know more than a little bit about fighting. Actually it is the only thing I am really any good at. I was brought up to fight, because nothing is given to you on a plate and I have learned that for everything you want to achieve, you must fight relentlessly for it. That, anyway, is how my life has been. I have not found that people are willing to help you out of the goodness of their hearts, as a general rule: normal people yes, the ordinary men and women you bump into every day: but not the people of power and influence. You have to fight to get where you want to go in life. And so I came here to Ukraine to join the fight against the Russians, because I wanted to use my skills to resist the sort of callous ruthlessness that I know they are capable of because they have done it to me and to my family. While individually they may show kindness, warmth, fear and paranoia, collectively the Russians are bastards and it is in their historical psyche to be like this.
Russia needs to be hauled into the twenty-first century by a military defeat of such colossal and monumental proportions that they learn to re-civilise themselves and they learn common European values of humanity, lawfulness and consideration for others. People are not just objects to be used and thrown away, to be manipulated by any means available. This is barbarism, and I have experienced it first-hand. I have almost died at the hands of the Russians, several times, and after you have almost died a few times you become quite fearless. And a fearless enemy is an exceptionally dangerous one, because he feels no adrenalin and can act with total calm and calculating reason. And that is the enemy the Russians have made in me.
I cannot tell you the details of all the ugly things to which I allude in this essay; that would not be proper or appropriate to a range of other people and I have many secrets I must carry with me to my grave. But the Russians will not be digging that grave. They have tried, on many an occasion; but here I am, again, fighting in my own way alongside the Ukrainians. And I think with a strategic sweep. I do not think just of the fights of the day, and keeping myself alive, important as those things may be; I ask myself how to mobilise still more effectively an entire nation, an entire community of like-minded international volunteers and other well-intentioned people who, like me, are appalled at the Russian psychosis and at the way they are prepared as a nation to disregard all contemporary norms of civilisation in the pursuit of their primitive and frankly worthless goals. Occupying another country’s territory and trying to rewrite international boundaries are parlour games of nineteenth century politicians born before the prospect of total annihilation emerged in the course of the twentieth century and as humankind invented the trenches, the atom bomb and countless other horrors. The Russians are stuck in the past, as a society of culturally backwards people for whom the principles of rule of law, decency and compassion in international politics and international relations, and the ideals of the European polity, passed them by like ships in the night somewhere towards the end of the twentieth century.
I have long been of the view that warfare is an inevitable and intrinsic part of human nature; people are drawn to conflict by their competing desires and institutional obsessions and there is nothing that can be done to prevent wars completely but there are things that make them less likely or that moderate them or that bring them to an earlier conclusion and we call those things in the contemporary era international law; human rights; liberal democracy; and mutual respect. By having compassion for our fellow man or woman, and by operating reasonably and fairly by each other, listening to what others have to say and trying to understand their perspective rather than just narrowly and relentlessly pursuing our own interests, we make the world a better place and we decrease the prospects of mindless and bloody conflict.
Nevertheless, while I do everything I can to decry the concept of collective responsibility, something which I abhor, I say to Russia and all her people: there is something deep within your psyche that renders you responsible for this disgraceful war that is a gross affront to all the values that I cherish. Yours is a society in which wanton lying, cheating, manipulation, threats, arbitrary treatment of people, and even murder, are all condoned by the state and in substantial part the reason why your society is like this is because you acquiesce in this lazy disregard for collective human decency and this is a substantial cause of the war. And if you want a fight, you have found the right man to have it with. Against your irresistible force, you have found in me an immovable object.