As mentioned in a previous blog, I have become increasingly disinterested in the entertainment industry. Watching the Oscars, the only award show that I pay any attention to, was a surreal experience this evening. And I am not even talking about the Will Smith assault on Chris Rock’s face for his funny joke about Smith’s “untalented” wife. The whole night felt like one long hazy dream. As an example, there had never been more movies nominated in one year that I HAD NOT SEEN. Every time any political issue was brought up during the telecast, I could not help but sarcastically smug. Who really cares about what Sean Penn thinks? Or the fact that most actors think about the complexity of geo-political issues about as often as they think about anyone other than themselves. A big thanks to Will Smith also for showing his incredibly, indomitable ego mixed with remorse once he realized that his one violent action may have fucked up his career. Because nothing is more vital than maintaining that feeling of inflated, narcissistic, fake self-importance to a Hollywood actor or performer. Going along with the narrative is all these people can do. Spending three hours of time with these ‘elitists’ felt untimely in a world that is rapidly descending into a hellscape.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started a few weeks back, I have been very quiet about my personal opinion on this ongoing tragedy. War is never an enjoyable topic of debate. While the United States government and its supplicant media promote stories about this war that almost seem like they were pulled out of a Marvel comic book, the Russian media (Until it got censored by all the United States media and tech companies) has also dived head first into the propaganda narrative. The first casualty of war before any blood is spilled is always the TRUTH. The truth will eventually come out about the events ongoing in the Ukraine that will likely be different from both the geo-political narratives bombarding our brains. Many of my closest friends know my opinion on war. As an American, every war or conflict we have engaged in since World War II was very much avoidable. After September 11, 2001, we went into Afghanistan (Which can be considered a legitimate invasion since it was a direct result of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil). But overthrowing the existing Afghan government (Which stormed back into power in 2021) and engaging in regime change never should have been the goal. Once Bin Laden was killed, the occupation of Afghanistan should have ended. Then there is Iraq, Libya, our support for the Syrian rebels against the Syrian government, and our quiet support for the Saudi Arabian massacre of Yemen. Over the past 20 years, there has been no country that has spilled more blood than my beloved United States. All these wars could have been avoided if saner minds had prevailed.
This brings me to the Russia-Ukrainian War. My preferred opinion on this conflict is Swiss-like neutrality. Because unlike the LORD OF THE RINGS-type “good vs. evil” narrative coming out of the West regarding Russia’s actions and the “there have been no real problems with our military plan” Russian denials, the realities of war are never clear cut. The events of war always live inside a world of grey. As a person who studied World War II religiously during my junior high years, I have never agreed with many of the historical narratives that came out of that war. Because like war narratives, history is very malleable. Governments and individuals seeking power can choose to use history for their own personal advantage. Here are a couple of examples that directly relate to the ongoing Russia-Ukrainian War and the ongoing misunderstandings that have polluted the narrative ‘waters.’
First, what is a Nazi? According to the Oxford dictionary, it has two specific meanings. The first one is its historical meaning of being a member of the National Socialist Party, the ruling party affectionately called the Nazis when they ruled Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. National Socialism is an embrace of a collectivist mindset wrapped around extreme pride in a nation. It is an ideology that takes the worst elements of the left (Authoritarian Collectivism) and the right (Racist Nationalism) and combines them into one authoritarian ideology. But the second meaning is the interesting one, “A person who uses their power in a cruel way; a person with extreme and unreasonable views on race.” This aspect of Nazism could also be defined as racism. Per the education system of my childhood, Nazism gained its power through the subjugation and demonization of Jews which is historically accurate. Six million Jews perished in World War II, often in brutal concentration camps. But as the war expanded, two other ethnic groups also suffered devastating losses. One was the European Romany (Known in the derogatory term as “Gypsies”). With a population of 1 to 1.5 million on the continent of Europe, the Nazis managed to kill anywhere between 250,000 to 500,000 Roma. But another genocide is often overlooked. The Slavic genocide during World War II may have very well exceeded the number of deaths committed on the Jewish people. As many as 11 million Slavic people were likely slaughtered during World War II. This number may actually be low. Estimates put the war dead of the Soviet Union at 8.7 million and the total dead at just under 27 million. Since the Nazis controlled most of the Slavic territory during World War II, it would be a proper estimate to assume that the majority of these deaths were Slavic. So why do I bring this up? Why does this also lead to my personal non-recognition of the Ukrainian president as a hero?
Since 2014 when an American backed coup led to a pro-NATO government that had “Nazi” support, Ukraine has been at war with the Russians. First, Russia democratically annexed Crimea, a historical port dating back to the time of Catherine the Great. This also led to a Civil War between the Eastern regions of Ukraine that are a Russian majority (the Donbass and Lutansk). The Ukrainian government has killed at least 14,000 people since this war started. They have also passed laws that basically outlaw various aspects of the Russian language and culture in their society. So who are these Nazis? A recent article by Pepe Escobar dives into this debate. When people hear the term “Nazi”, they usually assume that it is referring to right-wing nationalists who have an irrational hatred of Jews. And this is a proper definition. But as history has shown, Nazism can also be an irrational hatred of the Slavic people especially ones of Russian origin. That is why Israel has defended its support of the Ukrainian Nazis. Because that movement is not anti-Jewish, it is anti-Slavic. This dates back to the World War II era and the history between Nazi Germany and the Ukraine. Stepan Bandera, a hero to many right-wing nationalists, joined forces with Adolf Hitler due to his hatred of the Poles and helped lead the invasion to capture Poland at the start of World War II. It expanded to Lvov, Ukraine where a pogrom was put into place to execute and eliminate the remaining Poles (Slavs), and Jews in the territory. After Ukraine declared independence, Germany arrested Bandera. He was later released to help fend off the advance of the Soviet Union in 1944 as Germany began losing the war. This is when the hatred of the Russian people became engrained into the mindset of right-wing Ukrainians. Right now, one of the leading battalions of the Ukraine, the Azov Battalion, recognizes Bandera as its “hero” in their fight against the Russians. This battalion is also filled with Nazis. The same type of Nazis that consider the Slavic people as second-class citizens. Nazism has a dark history with other Slavic people too. The Ustase militia during World War II may have been one of the most brutal and racist Nazi collaborators. The movement was composed primarily of Croatians who executed hundreds of thousands of Serbians, Jews, and Romani.
Ukraine has also been the home to lots of wonderful political ideas. The 1905 anarchist revolution led to a rise in anarchist political movements in various cities including anarcho-syndicalism in Odessa and anarcho-individualism in Kyiv. The whole movement also committed many violent acts during the time of World War I before it was finally crushed, and the country of Ukraine was placed under the control of Josef Stalin in the new Soviet Union in 1921. This is also where the existing borders of the Ukrainian state were drawn as the new Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. This is how Crimea, a province with a majority of Russians living inside of it, became part of the Ukrainian territory. If Ukraine can be compared to any state in the United States, it most resembles the open, agricultural fields of Iowa. But those fertile fields of the Ukraine have been a warzone for many centuries of human history.
So as you can see, the history of the region is quite complex. Like all human stories, there are no real “good” guys and “bad” guys. The Ukrainians and the Russians have committed awful crimes. But both groups of people have also done wonderful things for our world. In addition and as an American, why should my opinion on this war even matter? Even if you count the death toll from this Russian-Ukrainian War, neither country does not even come close to toppling the amount of people the United States has killed since September 11, 2001. So why are we even giving an opinion on this war anyway? Russia and Ukraine have a complicated history and it is none of the United States business to take sides in a war that the majority of our citizens have no understanding.
EXPERT OF SOME