03 April 2022 | A European Failure

A European Failure

As long as I live, I never want to hear any European ever say, “Never again.”

Vladimir Putin’s imposed and unjust war in Ukraine has exposed so many faults in Europe that you need a flowchart to keep it all straight. All this talk about suddenly weaning off Russian oil and gas has laid bare the now obvious bullcrap about European commitment to green energy and zero emissions: well, if you were working on that all this time, why are you now in crisis mode trying to secure this stuff from other sources, like the United Arab Emirates? Guess all those pledges were just so much blah, blah, blah because Europeans are acting as though they have no Plan B for not having oil and gas to burn.

But the scale of the destruction in Ukraine is really Europe’s even grander failure. Right in their own backyard, you have a conflict of imperialist aggression. You have the wholesale ruination of a European country and bodies piling up everywhere and lots and lots of empty words from European capitals. I am not one of those people clamoring for a no-fly zone because I know what that actually means. And neither am I for demanding NATO involvement because that entails directly attacking the Russian military. But outside of NATO, there does not seem to be any kind of agreement anywhere to deal with such aggression at all. The European Union has no army of any kind, and apparently no backup plan for when one state attacks another. Despite the arms promised and sent to Ukraine, Europe has contented itself to just sit and watch and wear Ukrainian flag pins. I would not be surprised if Ukraine decides to form some other kind of military alliance with non-NATO aligned states since it’s become clear that Europe at large will do nothing. And really, an expectation that Ukraine must become “neutral” after being attacked and destroyed just seems so morally wrong.

Yet I have no doubt that Europeans will pat themselves on the back about learning the lessons of the past and promising “never again” without the slightest bit of self-awareness or irony. In a very real sense, Europe has abandoned and betrayed Ukraine. No amount of accepting refugees is going to make up for the complete and utter destruction that the Russians have inflicted on a sovereign European country. And sanctions alone cannot absolve the Europeans of their outright failure to deal with a rogue state and its imperialist ambitions. Nor can I escape the feeling that it will soon be business as usual once we get into the postwar phase.

“Never again” is the emptiest phrase that should be banished in every language, to be replaced by “wait until next time.”