Leader of Austria’s FPÖ Herbert Kickl said yesterday in a television interview that the FPÖ condemns Russia’s attack on Ukraine but wants to remain neutral, and that “understanding must be developed for both sides.” This statement, full of logical contradictions, is nonsense:
- Either one condemns something; then one is not neutral.
- Or one wants to be neutral and show understanding for both sides; then the condemnation is an empty phrase, politically correct deception without substance.
In a conversation with former Australian Prime Minister John Anderson, American political scientist John Mearsheimer says that NATO’s gradual eastward expansion, and particularly the potential membership of Ukraine in the Western alliance, is the cause of the war in Ukraine, and that many politicians in both America and Europe had warned against this. This may be true, but it is at most a (partially) explanation for Moscow’s attack on, and ongoing war against, its neighbor, but certainly not an excuse. Ultimately, Ukraine must also be allowed to exercise its right to self-determination without violent intervention from its neighbor.
Imagine a street with residential houses. The residents of house numbers 1 and 9 do not get along very well, and house number 1 is more or less closely associated with the residents of houses number 3, 5, and 7. Over time, however, they come to the conclusion, not least because of the behavior of the head of household number 1, that a friendship with house number 9 would be better for them and they approach number 9: first number 7, a little later number 5, and finally also number 3.
The head of household number 1 gets terribly upset about this, breaks into house number 3, and starts smashing everything to pieces. Would we find that justified and say, If only number 9 hadn’t befriended number 7, 5, and 3, then none of this would have happened?
Unfortunately, many of us tend to excuse behavior in international relations that would be completely unacceptable in interpersonal dealings — at least as long as it does not directly and immediately affect us.
But sooner or later it will affect us:
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former British and NATO commander for chemical and biological weapons and now visiting professor for security issues, writes in the Daily Telegraph,
“Like Stalin, Putin also has an insatiable ego and a desire for greatness, whatever the cost. Those in the West who believe that a ceasefire will be followed by a return to ‘normality’ are complete fools. No one who understands the Kremlin believes it is certain that Putin will stop his march westward. The increasing militarization of the Russian state and the growing demands for a larger offensive must serve as a warning that the West must wake up before it acts. We must fully support and arm Ukraine. If we do not, NATO will be at war with Moscow within a few years, as predicted by the Polish security chief.”