Dec 19, 2021.
In today’s Mail On Sunday, Hitchens column contains the following piece:
“A Ukraine war is not our concern.
Will there be war in Ukraine? What should Britain do if there is? Both the great European wars of the 20th Century were mainly between Russia and Germany and mainly about Ukraine, even though it did not then exist as a country.
It is an incredibly valuable piece of territory, a vital square on the Grand Chessboard of Europe. Whoever controls it gains huge political, military and economic benefits.
In 1914 and again in 1941, Germany was the aggressor in this struggle, and in both cases we found ourselves on the same side as Russia, despite its horrible regimes. In both cases, Russia ended up winning and Germany was rebuffed.
The European Union is the continuation of Germany by other means, a brilliant way of containing German power and using it (mostly) peacefully. The EU is dominated by Germany, which follows German desires but tactfully pursues them in Europe’s name. And the USA, which has long desired a united Europe, including the UK, is happy to back this arrangement.
There is no doubt that Nato’s eastward expansion is an aggressive revival of a century-old German desire to push deeply into the old Russian Empire. There was never any other political or military need for it, though it greatly suited the USA’s military industries, which lost a lot of business when the Cold War ended.
Russia kept protesting but was repeatedly snubbed. After the EU’s attempt to draw Ukraine into its orbit in 2014, Russia decided not to bother protesting any more, and acted ruthlessly. The world reacted as if this completely predictable slash of the bear’s claws was a total surprise.
I do not myself think that Russia plans to invade Ukraine directly. This is not because I think the Russians are nice. They are merciless in war, driven by shameless self-interest and capable of great brutality. It is because I do not think they are stupid.
These days, wars are fought – by us as well as them – with underhand methods. Why invade when you can overthrow an unfriendly government by subversion in the guise of ‘people power’? Why risk sanctions and UN condemnation by sending tanks across a neighbour’s border, when you can do just as much damage by the use of proxy troops and unofficial militias, and then deny it was you?
But for Britain, the question is surely ‘Why should we get involved in this dismal quarrel, in which both sides have behaved very badly and will do again?’ We have no stake in it, and would gain nothing from taking part. Beware of warmongers who seek to draw us in.”