‘Leaders’ hungry for resources or eager to prop up their failing regimes turn to war by proxy. The Ukrainian War is turning into what has happened over and over again with unaccountable heads of State that have no constraints on them, armed with deep pockets looted from their respective populations. As proved with Blair, they are not even bothered about being brought to trial as war criminals.
As a young man doing a history degree, I was asked to pick a subject that I knew little about so that I could demonstrate research skills. I chose the Spanish Civil War. In the eighties there were still many people still alive from both sides of the conflict who I could take first hand testimony from. These included people who fought for both sides in a brutal war that still reverberates in Spanish politics today.
There are reports from the Ukraine that volunteers with military experience are joining the Ukrainian ‘Foreign Legion’ to support the Zelensky Government, under attack from a major nuclear power. Faced with a prospect of an unpopular war at home, Putin is advocating that foreign volunteers/mercenaries from Syria are brought in to bolster Russian regulars who have failed for many reasons to take Ukraine in days.
In Spain, the International Brigades were poorly armed until Stalin belatedly got involved, however his megalomania insisted that to receive hardware Republican forces had to be purged of ‘unsound’ elements. The Nationalist forces were heavily supported by Germany and Italy, with ‘volunteers’ fighting for Franco in the Condor Legion which remorselessly bombed civilian populations in cities like Guernica.
Much the same happened in post colonial Africa. In Angola and Mozambique, Cuban ‘volunteers’ effectively run the wars for the communist backed forces. Fantasists like ‘Colonel Callan’ formed mercenary units from Britain. I have seen the poverty and misery wrought by these wars by proxy. The infamous ‘wonga’ coup in Equatorial Guinea was clearly about oil and gas.
South Africa has very strict anti mercenary laws that Mark Thatcher fell foul of for his part in the Wonga Coup.
Liz Truss is fundamentally wrong in Law to encourage British Citizens to fight in this war. Yet France and Spain still have Foreign Legions. The United Kingdom has the Gurkhas but these are fully integrated into their national armies.
Von Der Leyen has betrayed her imperial ambitions stating that the Ukraine ‘belongs with us ‘, the us being the EU. Since Brexit, the United Kingdom has been subject to ‘punishment beatings’ by the EU, yet there is an expectation that the United Kingdom will follow Brussels into the military abyss.
This war is escalating. When national governments are suppressing fuel prices, as they are in France from Monday, you can see that they are digging in for the long haul.
"War is merely the continuation of policy by other means" - Clausewitz
Usually by a political class whose sons and daughters who are never likely to be killed or impoverished by war.
Millions are being forced from their homes and fleeing the deliberate bombing of civilians. Escalating the war risks the possibility of a nuclear exchange, so bringing the war to a rapid end needs to be the prime objective of policy. In this, Russia needs to withdraw its forces from the internationally recognised borders of Ukraine. In this we need to support the mass demonstrations against war inside Russia. Putin is a Cold War warrior whose time in power has come to an end
Governments create war, not people.
Andrew Withers FRSA