Monday 20 June 2022

Dulce et Decorum?


In an article in yesterday’s Sunday Times, Boris Johnson confirmed in his own words the point made here on Saturday – the decisions that he and others have taken (or as his acolytes insist on putting it, ‘getting the big calls right’), to encourage Ukraine to fight for total victory over Russia rather then seeking a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement, whilst at the same time denying them the types of weaponry which might give them a chance of doing that, will lead, as Johnson himself says, to a long drawn-out war of attrition, as lives and materiel are expended by both sides in return for marginal gains of devastated territory. Johnson’s latest ‘solution’ is to provide more help training Ukrainians who can be sent to the front line to replace those being killed or wounded. Between 100 and 200 Ukrainian soldiers are currently dying every day, according to government sources there, but the true number is probably higher – whilst any war is in progress, both sides exaggerate the number of enemy dead and understate their own losses. Training 10,000 every 120 days – the target Johnson seems to be setting – doesn’t even replace the numbers being killed, let alone those being wounded as well. It’s an approach to war which keeps the conflict going until, eventually, they run out of Ukrainians to train.

I wonder if Johnson sees – or is even capable of seeing – these trainees as real people rather than numbers. They are all somebody’s sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters; they are individual human beings with hopes, dreams and aspirations. Yes, of course, the ‘fault’ lies with Putin and Russia, for launching an unprovoked, illegal and immoral assault on a neighbouring country. But that doesn’t make it right to stand on the side-lines and encourage the defenders to fight to the last Ukrainian, whilst taking the soft option of selectively supplying weaponry, training replacement soldiers, and implementing economic sanctions at a snail’s pace against the aggressor. Neither the losses being inflicted by the Ukrainian defenders nor the inadequate and patchy sanctions will be enough to force Russia to the table, which is the only way the killing can be brought to an end. In the meantime, and not for the first time in human history, a nation is left mourning the loss of a generation, as this story from Ukraine relates. The immediate priority should be to stop the slaughter rather than prolong it, but Johnson’s response sounds more like harking back to what Wilfred Owen called the old lie than a serious attempt to stop the killing.

1 comment:

dafis said...

"I wonder if Johnson sees – or is even capable of seeing – these trainees as real people rather than numbers." The answer is NOT BLOODY LIKELY ! The man has never viewed anything through any prism other than his own grandiose delusion - the great leader blah blah. His recall of other great leaders, Churchill being the most obvious, is highly selective and shaped to suit his own silly visions/delusions.