I have just completed my book of antiwar poems. It is going in for publication today. This is the introduction.
Crying For Ukraine
I started writing this book at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine back in March 2022. I have been steadily writing poems as the news started to emerge of the horrors of war and the atrocities committed by the Russian army.
War is obscene.
Not only does it permanently traumatise the victims of violence but it also has an effect on the perpetrators. The soldiers are dehumanised, purged of emotions, stewed in terror and hate, fermented in horror. They witness their comrades slaughtered and maimed. They expect the same will happen to them. I can only imagine the slippery spaghetti of emotions that poison their nightmares and waking moments.
Human minds are weak. Violence and trauma permanently damages them. The soldiers are as much victims as those they are shooting. War eats minds like acid.
They felt immune to the normal restrictions of civilisation and free to indulge themselves. Their fear bred hate. Their experiences of seeing their comrades slaughtered bred hate. The stream of propaganda justified them doing anything. They felt free to rape, loot, pillage, torture and kill without any thought of retribution.
Young men were turned into brutes. Kind, tolerant, compassionate young men transformed into barbaric rapists, torturers and executioners. It was as if all morality had been expunged by the brutality of their experience. They became monsters.
It was terrible to witness the wanton destruction of modern cities as they were reduced to rubble by missiles and shelling. Unbelievable. These were things that happened in faraway countries not in civilised Europe in 2022.
It raised my awareness of just what had been happening in places like Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea, Myanmar, Lebanon, Libya, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and so many more. They too had modern civilised cities destroyed by this disease. Just because they were further away did not make it any less shocking.
Is there no hope for mankind? Are we forever trapped in this cycle of violence and destruction? Do we constantly elect greedy warmongering leaders who, for their own vanity, greed or paranoia, stoke up hatred, racism and fear to go to war? Is there a major flaw in our DNA that makes us cruel and violent? It looks like that to me. We are the most vicious, cruel species on the planet. We never learn.
War is always justified by the perpetrators.
As the days wore on the atrocities grew. I watched the trail of death as the wanton destruction, the targeting of hospitals, schools and civilian homes took place, as the mass graves were exposed, the executions and torture. As the list of war crimes grew.
I listened to the feeble justifications – the eradication of neo-Nazis for example. That seemed absurd. For fascists who control their own people with secret police, lock up or poison all opposition and pump out lies and propaganda to complain about neo-Nazis is ironically incredible. It felt like bubonic plague criticising smallpox. Putin is a neo-Nazi.
Then we have the justification that NATO is moving on to the Russian borders with their missiles and threatening the very existence of Russia. I would find that easier to believe if it wasn’t for the way that Russia has been planning this for so long. Putin has been orchestrating a campaign to weaken the West just so that he could take over his neighbouring countries and rebuild the Soviet Union.
How has he been attempting to weaken the West?
Putin obviously saw the USA, EU and UK as major threats and sought to undermine them. To this end he set up an army of computer hackers to interfere with our democracy. This plan has been executed over a decade or more.
It is my belief that in the USA he set about first entrapping Trump with bribes, backhanders, business deals and hookers. If he couldn’t hold him through his greed he could control him through blackmail.
By targeting specific voters with carefully selected propaganda he was able to influence their vote. Putin was eager for division, fear and hate. Using immigrants, racial stereotypes and Muslim terrorism he turned voters and split the country. In a close election the pro-Russian Trump was elected.
Putin had engineered the election of an incompetent, pro-Russian fool into a seat of great power and in the process severely split and weakened the USA. Stage 1 complete.
Using the same tactics to undermine the democratic process in Europe Putin funded Brexit and used the same internet targeted messages to both get Brexit done and the incompetent clown Boris Johnson elected.
The EU was wounded by the loss of Britain and Britain was wounded by breaking with the EU. Not only is Boris Johnson useless but the ERG are a greedy bunch of self-serving extremists. Putin was able to use his oligarchs to infiltrate Britain and gain influence. They even got oligarchs into the House of Lords.
Through donations to Tory funds and individual politicians, including Johnson, Russia sought to gain influence.
While this was going on he was selling cheap gas and oil to the EU to make them dependent. He did not want them making too much of a fuss as he first flattened Chechnya, then Syria before moving into Georgia and Crimea.
There was hardly a bleat from the distracted West. We were struggling with the wave of mass immigration and Islamic terrorism (both largely of our own making through wars in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan) – wars, racism and terrorism that Putin was able to use against us to cause the divisions he craved.
I think Putin thought that while the West was weak he could incrementally start taking back the satellite countries lost from the Soviet Union. He thought we would bleat a little and turn a blind eye. He thought that he could smash into Ukraine, displace the government, put in a puppet regime like he’d done with Belarus and it would all be over in days. Then he could turn his attention on Estonia, Poland, Finland, and Moldova, picking them off one by one with little fuss from a weakened West.
How wrong he was. The Ukrainians are smashing his armies and embarrassing the hell out of the superpower Russia just like Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan had done with the USA.
War rarely goes to plan. The West was not so weak that it didn’t rally.
I watched day after day as the atrocities built up, the destruction took place before my eyes and the poor people of Ukraine were driven out of their homes with their lives in tatters. I watched at the death toll of Russian and Ukrainian soldiers rose and as the extent of innocent casualties was made public.
This was modern warfare. It was attrition. It was horrendous. Schools, theatres and hospitals were deliberately targeted. The war machine was brutal.
Most days I wrote a poem or two in an attempt to describe what I was seeing and feeling. I published those snapshots on my blog. Now, I have accumulated these anti-war poems into an anthology and I am putting them out as a book.
War is obscene. Can it ever be justified? Are we justified in arming Ukraine against Russia? Will this all escalate into a bigger confrontation – into World War 3?? Who knows?
As of now we are arming Ukraine with the latest weapons. We have stated that we wish to degrade Russia so that it will never be strong enough to wage this kind of war again. We are applying sanctions to permanently weaken Russia.
But the world is split. Russia has its allies in places such as China, India and Brazil. It appears that some of the world thinks that invading sovereign countries, reducing their cities to rubble, slaughtering civilians, torturing, looting and raping are OK.
Or is that all propaganda that we are lapping up?
Russia is now threatening to wipe us all out in a nuclear holocaust.
We are told that Putin is terrified of a coup, is suffering from cancer and Parkinson’s and exists in a paranoid state of dementia partially brought on by covid. He’s on his last legs, backed into a corner and is capable of anything.
I wonder how much of that is real?
All I really know is that war and violence are despicable and that we humans are the most terrible animals that evolution has thrown up.
Here’s to a world without war!!
Oh for a strong UN that could put an end to all these conflicts and bring these loathsome warmongering leaders to trial!
Here’s to an end to war and the start of real civilisation!
Here’s to the future!