April 18, 2022

The Sadness of War

It’s quite a sight, across America, Americans waving Ukrainian flags, boycotting vodka, petitioning universities to cancel courses in Russian lit, and so on, while the MSM feeds us a daily stream of pro-Ukrainian propaganda. This is not to discount the massacres perpetrated by the Russian army; all that is horribly real. Although the US also continues to massacre civilians (via drones) on a daily basis, in the name of “fighting for democracy.” Americans have no objections to those massacres, and are happy with the military euphemism for the slaughter of innocents: “collateral damage.” So Putin is Hitler, a madman, a butcher, etc.; no further analysis of the situation is required.

What the MSM, especially the social media, also does is block out (i.e., censor) empirical studies and alternative narratives. Keen political analysts like John Mearsheimer, Scott Ritter, Glenn Greenwald, and Michael Brenner are not welcome on its sites. And what do these scholars and journalists point out? Among other things, that Putin was trying, for 15 years, to sit down with the US and discuss its concerns regarding Russian border safety. After all, when JFK discovered that Khrushchev had planted nuclear missiles on Cuba in 1962, 200 miles from Miami, he displayed no Putinesque restraint: he rightly hit the ceiling. So now, NATO and the US want to do the same in the Ukraine, near the Russian border, and America refuses to discuss it. Only our concerns count, apparently. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that America, and Biden, prefer war to peace, détente, and negotiation. A black-and-white, Manichaean narrative is much easier to grasp, and, in fact, much more satisfying. Why would that be the case?

The typical American carries a huge load of sadness within him/her. For reasons I have explained in various articles and books, s/he is pretty miserable. Their lives did not turn out as planned, and they are bitter, angry, and hurting way deep down. In such a case, what would be the sensible way to deal with this terrible constellation of emotions? You go to a therapist, you admit your pain, and you learn how to work through it. But this is not what the typical American does. Instead, he or she turns to opioids, alcohol, suicide, cell phones, television, food, drugs of all kinds—and especially, the self-righteous energy of war. This is not an original observation on my part; many writers have pointed it out. War mobilizes tremendous energy, such that all of that internal pain gets repressed, and deflected into rage against a cartoon ‘enemy’ who is barely understood.

So today, the mistake of the Cold War, which devastated both sides of the fight in so many ways, is now being resurrected and replayed. Americans are certainly not open to Mearsheimer’s argument (for example), that it is the US that bears responsibility for what is happening in the Ukraine. Americans barely know what facts are, and in any case are not interested in them. What gets their attention are emotions, which they stupidly confuse with ideas. And when the dust settles, their inner pain will still remain, because repressing it through war finally will not work. This is the immense sadness of war, and one thing is guaranteed: we will not pursue a different path. Hiding out, so to speak, whether on a microlevel or a macrolevel, can only work against us; it is the latest development in the ongoing, and inevitable, disintegration of the US.