The Russian invasion of Ukraine, along with rising tensions between NATO and Russia, have drawn comparisons to the outbreak of World War I.
In 2014, back when the open hostilities in Ukraine really began, the journalist Eric Margolis said “We can stumble into a war with Russia. This reminds me of 1914 all over again.”
This “stumbling” of course refers to the “sleepwalking thesis of war” that is part of both popular and scholarly narratives of World War I.
The International Relations realist Stephen Walt warned “the West is sleepwalking into war in Ukraine” the day before Russia invaded. The World Health Organization (yes, that one) has warned the world could be sleepwalking into a nuclear war. And the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network is concerned the world might be “sleepwalking into nuclear Armageddon.”
Unfortunately, it’s much worse than that. The United States is marching wide awake toward general nuclear war.
Princeton University historian Stephen Kotkin has criticized the sleepwalking thesis of war as a comforting myth that remains “close to people’s hearts” to this day.
“Nobody ever sleepwalks into war,” he says.
Kotkin points out that the government and military archives of the Great Powers contain thousands of orders to move horses, hay, and weapons systems into place to prosecute the war years before Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. The Great Powers also imposed military conscription to ensure they would have a wealth of young men to feed into the slaughter.
You go into the archives, and you see nothing but decisions being made towards war. And somehow this is known as sleepwalking towards war. There was no sleepwalking to World War I. There was only preparation for war. There was nothing but incessant preparation to war.
Libertarian Institute Director Scott Horton agrees; “You call it sleepwalking but everybody’s wide awake. It’s just, they’re stupid.”
The stupidity continues. This time it isn’t horses and Maxim machine guns being ordered into Europe, it’s “highly accurate guided tactical nuclear weapons.” That’s right, the United States is sending B61-12 tactical, air-dropped gravity bombs to NATO bases. According to Bryan Bender, Paul McLeary, and Erin Banco in Politico, the nuclear arsenal upgrade was originally planned for Spring 2023, but is being accelerated. The new bombs should arrive in time for Christmas.
According to the Politico piece:
Asked for comment, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder responded via email that “while we aren’t going to discuss details of our nuclear arsenal, modernization of US B61 nuclear weapons has been underway for years and plans to safely and responsibly swap out older weapons for the upgraded B61-12 versions is part of a long-planned and scheduled modernization effort. It is in no way linked to current events in Ukraine and was not sped up in any way.” [emphasis added]
Should we believe him? Sure, why not? The United States has been incessantly preparing for nuclear war for years. That sounds about right.
Here are some other American made decisions that have been marching us toward Armageddon:
- Expanding/enlarging the NATO military alliance
- Placing anti-ballistic missile systems that can also fire nuclear tipped cruise missiles in NATO countries
- Backing an anti-Russian coup in Ukraine in 2004
- Backing an anti-Russian coup in Ukraine in 2014
- Integrating the Ukrainian military into the NATO alliance structure
- Shipping hi-tech weapons systems to the Ukrainian military
- Sabotaging peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia
- Assisting the Ukrainian military with war strategy and enemy targeting
War is a massive production. It doesn’t just happen like a bar fight (bar fights don’t just happen either). In the French film Pierrot le Fou, an American director compares film to a battleground. We can reverse the idea and compare war to a film production. There are the financial backers: the taxpayers. There are the producers and directors: the politicians, generals and spy masters. And there are the extras: the soldiers.
There are also all the people who make the costumes and the weapons and the vehicles. The people who build the military bases and cook the meals and provide security and do the laundry and run the logistics.
As the American historian Daniel Immerwahr described the U.S. military during World War II:
Think of a GI, and you’re more likely to imagine a soldier on the front lines than a construction worker. But in the case of the United States, the construction worker is the better mental image. During the war, fewer than one in ten U.S. service members ever saw a shot fired in anger. For most who served, the war wasn’t about combat. It was about logistics.
This is true today. Sadly, there are no stars in war. Unless of course we count the fictions generated by the war propaganda.
Are all these people sleepwalking? Of course not. They are awake and they are working hard to make war possible. From a certain level of analysis, it is a tremendous feat of human cooperation and ingenuity. Hot biscuits! But since they are preparing for the annihilation of the human species, it is a truly horrific spectacle.
The American people are the ones who are asleep. We must wake up and push for peace.