Looking on the bright side

With all the gloom and doom that is accompanying the anniversary of the start of full-scale war in Ukraine, I thought it would be good to lift the mood a bit and look on the bright side. Most of the world is doing ok. You can read my thoughts on the matter in my latest for Canadian Dimension here.

I hope it may lift your mood a little.

5 thoughts on “Looking on the bright side”

  1. “After all, the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 did not induce countries around the world to start attacking one another”

    But it did.

    It’s absolutely clear that had NATO been entirely peaceful/defensive between 1990 and 2022, there would have been no war in Ukraine right now.

    Moreover: had Desert Storm failed dismally, there may have been no NATO intervention in Yugoslavia, and had that gone really bad for US/NATO, there may have been no Iraq 2003, and so on.

    So yes, power players are constantly testing boundaries, and results matter.

    Otherwise, agree with article’s point: unless there are truly momentous developments in Ukraine prompting either RF or NATO to escalate steeply, the world will just carry on as usual, one foot in front of the other. Some people will die in wars, and other people will get richer. And as long as there is a causal link between the two, it will continue.

    Is it cause for optimism? Perhaps. It certainly could be worse.


    1. Yes exactly Iraq was just the start of a series of attacks on other countries, albeit the US was almost always the main perpetrator.

      What we are seeing now is the end of the US empire. Not the Decline, but the Actual Fall. The inability of Nato or US to supply more than a handful of tanks to Ukraine has been quite shocking – especially after the huge numbers of former Soviet equipment which was dug up last Summer.

      Sadly Paul’s Canada and my UK will be sunk with the US.


  2. Thanks Paul,
    the passage about the UN caught my eye. May I juxtapose it to a passage from Zelensky’s speech at the Munich Security Conference in 2021, which I read the first time today:

    Paul Robinson: On a global level, while states such as Russia and China may be challenging Western hegemony, contrary to many claims to the contrary, nobody is challenging the international system as a whole. Nobody is seriously proposing abolishing the United Nations, abandoning international law, suspending the rules regulating international trade, ripping up all bilateral and international treaties, and the like. And for very good reasons. It is in nobody’s interests to live in such a world. …

    Volodymyr Zelensky, February 19, 2022, Kyiv IndependentThe UN, which is supposed to defend peace and world security, cannot defend itself. When its Charter is violated. When one of the members of the UN Security Council annexes the territory of one of the founding members of the UN. And the UN itself ignores the Crimea Platform, the goal of which is to de-occupy Crimea peacefully and protect the rights of Crimeans.

    And now, when the world is talking about the threat of a great war, the question arises: is there anything left to pick up? The security architecture in Europe and the world is almost destroyed. It’s too late to think about repairs, it’s time to build a new system. Mankind has done this twice, paying too high a price – two world wars. We have a chance to break this trend until it becomes a consistent pattern. And start building a new system before millions of victims. Having the old lessons of the First and Second World Wars, not our own experience of the possible third, God forbid.

    I talked about it here. And on the rostrum of the UN. That in the XXI century there are no more foreign wars. That the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas affects the whole world. And this is not a war in Ukraine, but a war in Europe. I said this at summits and forums. In 2019, 2020, 2021. Will the world be able to hear me in 2022?


  3. > Nobody is seriously … abandoning international law,
    Ah, so we’ve all just imagined that insistent peddling of the “rules-based international order”.

    > suspending the rules regulating international trade
    Recent rounds of the US sanctions against China (and vice versa), the EU&US sanctions against Russia (and vice versa), plus the ongoing circus with the WTO’s dispute-resolving bodies would seem to suggest otherwise, but eh.


  4. I think this is largely right. It’s not that there aren’t really serious tragedies (the Tigray conflict is an example that deserves a lot more attention than it gets) and dangers that could lead to future tragedies. But any objective comparison of conditions around the world in terms of peace, order and material comfort with any time in the past suggests that things have never been so good in these respects as they are now.

    Given that this is so, I think it raises an interesting question of why so many people not only believe otherwise, but are very emotionally invested in believing otherwise. I think in some cases this is just a matter of not understanding the claim properly (eg. when people tacitly assume that because the world is getting richer and more peaceful, each specific group of people must be getting richer and more secure, which just doesn’t follow. There are certainly pockets of people that are obviously faring worse now than in the past, but this doesn’t negate the broader pattern).

    However, I think there’s more to it than that. A lot of people are just miserable (psychological surveys suggest loneliness and anxiety is extremely high in Western countries, for example), and seek some objective external factor to explain these feelings. “I’m anxious because of climate change” or “I’m lonely because I don’t have the money for a proper social life”. The general idea is that if I’m miserable, it must be because the world is bad and getting worse. There’s a lot of displacement of internal psychological distress onto the external world.

    I think a related phenomenon (which is basically “larping”) is responding to boredom and listlessness by manufacturing an exciting drama. If the world is on the verge of disaster, and I’m on the side of the angels, maybe my life can be a little less boring. I get the impression that some people really want there to be some sort of major cataclysm just so that they can feel the excitement of something actually happening.


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