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1914 and 2023

COMMENT / What should we say to the children, in the minutes before the nuclear explosions, when they cry and ask: "couldn't you do something... couldn't you talk to each other?"

It is just like in July 1914. The train has left the station. All litter trays. It goes faster and faster. All rule against war. Does anyone doubt how this is going to end?
Think back half a year. And where are we now? Has the world become safer? The Russians are preparing a new major offensive, we read. Now they mean business. Last February; 190 thousand men. Now maybe it will be twice as much? So how many new weapons and weapon systems are we going to bring in now? And now there are no restrictions. All talk of defensive weapons is gone. Stoltenberg recently stated that he sees attacks inside Russian soil as legitimate.
Who do the Russians feel they are fighting? Oh no, sorry, I had forgotten; that question is forbidden to ask.
And there are already attacks against Russia inside Russia. When will more come? Where? Moscow?
It is now absolutely certain how this is going to end. Open military confrontation between NATO and Russia. Is it possible to imagine that, without it quickly escalating into nuclear war?
No. There will be a nuclear war.

Obviously, that's what everyone wants. Just read what is said. Ministers put it bluntly: "we must pursue this track until Russia is permanently weakened," says the US defense minister. Lloyd Austin. It couldn't be clearer. Politicians and writers say so.

"When peace is not the best" calls Jonas Bals one of his articles

Jonas Balls

When peace is not the best calls Jonas Bals one of his articles. Think about those words. Not peace. War. That's better. Just like in 1914; One more war is needed. "It is our democratic legal order that is at stake", says Bals elsewhere. Our democratic world. Our international legal order? So what are these our sacred values? Is it our right to demonize and go to war against any country that dares to challenge the hegemony of the West, he is referring to? Attack or exploit countries that have natural resources we want? Or countries that dare to challenge us; Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia or Libya? Invade Syria from the north (NATO country Turkey)? Our right to – by supporting Israel, to destroy the lives of millions of Palestinians? Our right to blanket bomb Cambodia and spray thousands of cluster bombs across Laos? Or perhaps our oppression of former colonial powers? That they live in abject poverty because we force them to pay national debt to us. After we have exploited them for centuries. That must be what he's thinking. The slave trade perhaps?

We are the good ones. We have the law and the truth on our side.

Our world! That our multinationals operate unscrupulously and cynically continues to siphon them off for their raw materials. That since World War II we have manipulated countless elections and enriched corrupt heads of state who will do business with us, while their people suffer. Iraq's oil. Copper and cobalt from the Congo. Gold, rutile, bauxite and diamonds from Sierra Leone. That there are children working in the mines, 15 hours a day, we don't care about that. Or maybe it is that we invented the concentration camp during the Boer War? That children and women were shut into them until they starved to death, so the Boers had to give up the fight against the English invading army? France's dirty war against Algerian independence? That must be what he means. The behavior of the British during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in the 50s? Or the cruel war they waged against the independence movement in Malaysia from 1948-60? After they had promised them independence if they helped against the Japanese. Maybe he means the Vietnam War? We are the good ones. We have the law and the truth on our side. We have our legal order. And when it doesn't give us what we want, we use other methods.
And we cannot understand why a lot of countries in South America, Africa, the Middle East and the East do not wholeheartedly support our cause now.

These days we get a lot of advice in the media. Has anyone considered that everyone who gets away to give advice is military. They say, “More guns. Then we win. More war. Then we win." Winner? What do they mean by that? "Relax" they say – that the Russians are not going to use their nuclear weapons. It will go badly for the Russians. They are approaching collapse. They can't even fire most of their nukes. They have lousy morals. Unfortunately, we have to teach them a lesson. Look how bad it is for them! It is quickly over. We win. We must deal with them. War creates peace – they say.
Before there can be peace, weapons must be brought into Ukraine, says Stoltenberg. Unfortunately, we have to fight.

Completely irresponsible

But all this, it is a lie. It is completely irresponsible and it will cost us dearly. Leading politicians, they talk about our security. Safety? They should not be allowed to use this word. The truth is that we are getting closer to the edge of the cliff with each passing day. And it can go fast at the end. Because when in a few months, or maybe some just a few weeks, we approach; then maybe it applies to the nuclear forces on each side to strike before the other does? It's a topic you military should really tell us about! Is that how it works?

We humans never learn. Now, as before, we are ruled by a deadly, power-hungry elite who are driving us towards a new major war. It is obvious that they have decided on a war with Russia. Everything that is done points to that. And enormous economic forces lie behind them. The military industry now rules the country. This is what the outgoing president Eisenhover warned against in his farewell speech as president on 17 January 1961. Now we are there.

Now it is July 1914 again: Austria-Hungary saw the shots in Sarajevo as a pretext to invade Serbia. The Russians mobilized to support Serbia, which was being attacked by Austria-Hungary. Then Germany mobilized in response. The train was set in motion. No one even tried to stop it. Everyone longed for a showdown. Now it was finally coming.
There we are again. No one is trying to stop the madness. There will be a nuclear exchange that kills everyone.
What should we say to the children, in the minutes before the explosions, when they cry and ask: "couldn't you do something... couldn't you talk to each other?"

Fredrik Lund
Lund is professor of architecture at NTNU.

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