Daniel Johnson on the imminent threat of war

There is an excellent piece by Daniel Johnson about the looming threat of a return to war on The Article site.

Here are a few extracts.

"We have lived with the expectation of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine for many weeks now. A miasma of fear has spread across Europe, wreaking more havoc than Storms Dudley and Eunice. The world is learning to live again with the nightmare of sudden annihilation, which hovered over us for more than 40 years during the Cold War. Older people can still recall Chamberlain’s chilling announcement of the outbreak of the Second World War. 

We are returning to a world in which dictators prey on vulnerable neighbours, where landscapes are disfigured by killing fields. Europe is a haunted continent, whose phantoms are rising from the mass graves of all too recent atrocities. That unquiet past has never really passed away; now it threatens to return."

"It is not only the Ukrainians who dread what is to come. Poles and Romanians, Latvians and Lithuanians, Estonians and Jews in every country are deeply apprehensive about what may be about to happen. Wars that begin in one region of these “bloodlands” tend to spread to the rest. From 1939-1945 Belarus lost a quarter, Poland 18 per cent, the Soviet Union (including Ukraine), Lithuania and Latvia 13-14 per cent of their prewar populations."

"One man, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, has it in his power to banish this hideous vision of Hell from our minds. He alone can tell his generals to desist from unleashing forces that will ultimately destroy not only countless numbers of civilians as well as those whom he regards as his foes, but many thousands of his own troops and very probably his own regime, too."

"Putin can halt his aggression now and prevent all of the consequences that must inexorably flow from it, or he can go down in history as the uniquely iniquitous individual who knowingly condemned Europe to repeat the bloodiest chapter of its history. For that crime, he would deserve to be arraigned at The Hague. He would be a war criminal no less guilty than those tried and punished at Nuremberg."

"He should be reminded by the international community that launching a war of aggression remains a war crime, regardless of the crimes against humanity that would inevitably follow later. The moment he gives the order to invade, his life and liberty are forfeit."

"For this crime, there can be no excuse, no forgiveness and no escape. Even if he were never arrested, Putin would be a fugitive from justice for the rest of his days. He would be an indelible stain on the reputation of his country. Is that what Putin wants for himself and for Russia?"

You can read the whole piece here.


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