Clara Campoamor and Mercedes Formica: Two Exceptional Feminists, Victims of Political Correctness

The progressive doxa and ideology make the women’s rights movement in Spain, in the 20th century, a sort of preserve of radical and Marxist feminism. The leading figures, invariably cited by the mainstream media, are the socialists Victoria Kent, Margarita Nelken and Carmen de Burgos y Segui, the Marxist-Leninist-Stalinists Dolores Ibarruri and Matilde Landa, and, to a lesser extent, the anarchist Federica Montseny. Apart from these? Nothing or almost nothing. Even the famous and talented writer, Emilia Pardo Bazán, has been met with embarrassment or hostility on the grounds that she was an aristocrat with conservative or even traditionalist-Carlist convictions. Other examples? Feminists as important as María Espinosa de los Monteros or Consuelo Gómez Ramos, to name but a few, share a similar fate and are even ignored or blacklisted for having been supporters of a conservative Catholic feminism or for having held public office under the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera.

Another significant case is the Republican-Liberal Clara Campoamor. Honored and admired, often referred to as the most prestigious feminist of the 1930s, her biography is nonetheless watered down, if not glossed over, to avoid mentioning her harsh criticism of the Popular Front. But the archetypal example of ideological amnesia is without question that of the lawyer Mercedes Formica. A major architect of women’s emancipation under Franco’s regime, her Jose Antonian and Falangist convictions, affirmed throughout her life, led to her being placed squarely under the radar.

Clara Campoamor Rodriguez and Mercedes Formica-Corsi, are undoubtedly two almost perfect victims of the “historically correct.” One is instrumentalized and manipulated by the politico-cultural power, the other is caricatured, ignored or passed over in silence. They deserve to be rethought, reevaluated and revisited.

Clara Campoamor: A Scandalous Political and Cultural Recovery

Clara Campoamor was born in Madrid on February 12, 1888. While still a child, she lost her father and had to help her mother survive. She was successively a milliner, a commercial employee, a post office employee and a mechanics teacher. She then resumed her studies, entered the University, obtained a law degree and enrolled in the College of Lawyers in Madrid in 1925. A well-known lecturer, she helped found the International Federation of Women Lawyers and the Spanish Women’s League for Peace.

Clara Campoamor. Credit: Historia.

In 1930, at the age of forty-two, on the eve of the proclamation of the Second Republic, Clara Campoamor entered politics. She was a member of the national council of Manuel Azaña’s Acción Republicana, the embryo of the party that he would officially create in 1931. However, she soon left this party to join the Radical Party of Alejandro Lerroux, a centrist party that was then more to the right. On June 28 of the same year, in the general elections, she was elected deputy in a Madrid constituency. A month later, she was appointed by her party as a member of the Commission in charge of drafting the Constitution. She succeeded in having the draft of the fundamental law proclaim the full suffrage rights of women. During the debates in the Cortes, when she defended the wording of the law, she came up against another woman, the radical-socialist deputy Victoria Kent. Like many members of her party, Kent was against the right to vote for women and asked for its postponement, fearing that it would favor the right because of the Catholic convictions of too many Spanish women. A few days earlier, a famous PSOE politician, Margarita Nelken, later affiliated to the PCE, expressed the same opinion in the press. A surprising point of view, but in agreement with that of a good number of socialist-Marxist leaders who, through “elitism”, shared with the reactionary right the same distrust and contempt for the people, who were considered uneducated and had to accept, willingly or not, to be guided by the enlightened elite.

As a result of the successive speeches, including those of Kent and Campoamor, the Parliament was divided into two blocks. Socialist leader Prieto, who also opposed women’s suffrage, left the room before the vote. The final result was clear: 161 votes in favor, 121 against and 188 abstentions. Taking into account that the PSOE had 116 deputies and the Radical Socialist Republican Party had 61, out of a total of 177 socialist deputies, 83 voted in favor and 94 against. 40 percent of those elected to the chamber abstained or were absent.

It was therefore against the will of a majority of left-wing deputies—socialists and socialist radicals (the right-wing deputies were almost absent from this chamber)—that the principle of women’s right to vote was acquired. But, let us emphasize, it was in Spain before France, since French women had to wait for the provisional government of General de Gaulle, in 1944, to become finally electors and eligible as men.

On the occasion of this vote, Clara Campoamor’s intervention was decisive. She has the honor of having been the deputy who contributed most to obtaining the right to vote for women. But it is necessary to remember here an important point; she belonged to the radical party of Lerroux, a republican and liberal party, nourished by anti-Catholic Freemasons, of which she was deputy from 1931 to 1933. She was not a socialist militant or sympathizer, as many leaders and historians of the PSOE say or imply today, trying to appropriate her figure. She expressly rejected Marxist socialism and communism.

Clara Campoamor was also, under the same government, Director General of Beneficiencia y Asistencia Social and delegate to the SDN of the Spanish Republic. She was also one of the main drafters of the law establishing divorce in Spain. And her little known or misunderstood history does not end there. In the aftermath of the socialist uprising of October 1934, against the government of the radical Lerroux, Clara Campoamor, who, it seems, disagreed on the way to repress those responsible for the insurrection, decided to leave the Radical Party. She immediately tried to join the Izquierda Republicana (Manuel Azaña’s party), but was refused admission. The “cardinal sin” that she was accused of, she said, was the women’s vote, which would have led to a victory for the right in the general elections of November 1933. This is at least the interpretation of most of the left-wing leaders of the time, which today is not unanimously accepted by historians. The defeat of the leftists can be explained more by the disappointment of a part of the electorate and the wear and tear of power than by the importance of the female vote.

But the ordeal of Campoamor had only just begun. Too often, it is said and written in an imprecise way that she voluntarily went into exile to escape the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. The unvarnished truth is much less glowing for her opponents. In reality, in September 1936, fearing to be arrested and summarily executed in one or another of the Chekas of Madrid, she fled, with her family, the Popular Front zone, not wanting, as she would later write, “to be one of those details sacrificed unnecessarily.” Having managed to reach Switzerland, via Italy, she published less than a year later in Paris, La Revolución española vista por una republicana (Plon, 1937), an edifying work that curiously was not published in Spain until the early 2000s.

In this book, Clara Campoamor analyzed the origins of the Spanish Civil War and severely denounced the violations of Republican legality by the Popular Front government that emerged from the February 1936 elections. She explained how the situation deteriorated very quickly; how the government, indecisive and inactive, proved incapable of maintaining public order and preventing physical violence and assassinations. She emphasized the extent to which the left, the socialists and the communists, had prepared for war, carefully hiding substantial arsenals of arms and ammunition, and forming and organizing militarily trained militias. She told how from the first days of this fratricidal conflict, leftist terror spread to more and more victims; and how the political persecution spread throughout the Popular Front area.

Clara Campoamor summarized her testimony in “The Causes of the Government’s Weakness, as Seen by a Republican,” an instructive article published after her death in a special issue of the journal Histoire pour tous/History for All (La guerre d’Espagne/The Spanish Civil War, no. 16, February-March 1980, Paris). Here are some brief excerpts to enlighten the reader:

“From the first days of the struggle a bitter terror reigned in Madrid. Public opinion was tempted at first to blame the violence in the cities, and especially in Madrid, on the anarchists. History will one day tell whether they were justly blamed for these events. In any case, it is up to the governments, without distinction, to take responsibility for them.”

“As the exhortations of the government newspapers eloquently show, terror reigned in the rear from the beginning of the struggle. Patrols of militiamen began to make arrests in homes or in the street; wherever they thought they would find enemy elements. The militiamen, outside of all legality, set themselves up as popular judges and followed their arrests with shootings…. The guardians of the law were either indifferent or powerless before the number of executors who carried out this odious task.”

“At the beginning, they targeted the fascist elements. Then the distinction became blurred. People belonging to the right wing were arrested and shot; then their sympathizers; then members of the radical party of Mr. Lerroux, sometimes even—tragic mistake or class vengeance—members of the Republican Left party… When these mistakes were noticed, the murders were blamed on the fascists and continued… The government found every morning sixty, eighty or a hundred dead lying around the city.”

“And yet the government could have stopped the looting and the anarchy, because it had at its disposal the Civil Guard, which, being very numerous in Madrid, did not side with the insurgents. This force, by its numbers and training, would have been sufficient to maintain order in the capital if it had been wanted to be used… The government therefore did not want to use this force which, in order to re-establish order, would have had to repress the violent acts of the militiamen”.

“During the night, Madrid did not sleep, it trembled. Everyone listened attentively to the sounds of the street, strained one’s ears for footsteps on the stairs… always expecting a search by the militia…. Madrid had fallen to the lowest degree of disorganization and bad taste…. But only by hiding under ground could one escape the ferocity of the carnivores of the rear.”

“Of the thousands of prisoners in the central prison in Madrid, only two young men managed to escape. All the others were massacred. Among them were well-known personalities, such as Mr. Melquíades Alvarez, a member of Parliament, a former Republican and leader of the Liberal Democratic Republican Party, and Mr. Rico Avelló, former Minister of the Interior in the government presided over by Mr. Martinez Barrio in 1933, and High Commissioner to Morocco in February 1936. The shooting echoed all night long inside the prison, spreading terror in the neighboring houses.”

“These last facts finally convinced the government to take the leadership of the repression by forming a tribunal, composed of members of the magistracy and a popular jury recruited from all the parties registered in the Popular Front. This tribunal, given the publicity that its verdicts would receive, would be required to measure their scope and justify them. However, it was not afraid to pronounce sentences such as those of Salazar Alonso, Abad Conde and Rafael Guerra del Rio, former ministers of the Radical Party in the Lerroux cabinet, who were accused—without any proof—of having promoted the uprising. Their crime was quite different: it was to belong to the old radical party, under whose government they had been several times ministers.”

“It is all very well to say that in the exasperation provoked by a civil war all these excesses can be explained; but they remain unjustifiable. The peaceful citizens, the humble merchant, the civil servant, the petty bourgeois; in short all those who do not look at life on the historical level but as it is presented day by day, suddenly understood the danger this terror constituted for them, which was exercised by a resentful rabble and envenomed by a hateful class propaganda.”

“Yes, the pay of ten pesetas per day, paid to the militiamen and militia women, the parade in the city, and for some the looting and the revenge, were sufficient baits to attract in the militias many people who should have been in prison…. Debauchery reigned at the front. and many combatants had to be hospitalized.”

“The terrorists worked on behalf of the insurgents more successfully than their own supporters. These elements always forced the government to continue the struggle, and for good reason…. They had the perfect life: provided with money, looting, massacring and satisfying their thirst for revenge and their baser instincts.”

It is understandable that the admirers of the Popular Front boycotted or ignored the honest and severe testimony of this notorious anti-Francoist. Ignored or marginalized by both sides, Campoamor went into exile, first in Switzerland, then, from 1938, in Argentina, before returning to Lausanne in 1955. She lived on her writing and her profession as a lawyer, publishing articles and lecturing at conferences. Her three requests for permission to return permanently to Spain, which were made by visiting her country three times between 1948 and 1955, were all rejected. In 1964, the Tribunal for the Repression of Freemasonry and Communism was abolished, but by that time she had long since given up her plan to return. She died of cancer in Lausanne on April 30, 1972. Her body was cremated and the ashes were deposited in the Polloe cemetery in San Sebastian, in accordance with her last wishes.

Mercedes Formica: An Admired Feminist Turned Pariah

The biography of the lawyer Mercedes Formica is much less known, but it is no less admirable. Mercedes Formica Corsi-Hezode was born on October 8, 1916, in Cadiz, into a relatively wealthy family. Her father, an engineer, was the director of the Gas and Electricity Company of Seville. She was the second daughter of six children who lived their early youth peacefully, without any major problems, between Seville, Cadiz and Cordoba. Her mother, Amalia Hezode, wanted Mercedes to be able to work one day, to be free, independent and to marry for love. She encouraged her daughter to pass the baccalaureate and to study. Mercedes was the only young woman in Seville to enroll in law school in 1932. Unfortunately, that year was a very dark one for her because the family home was destroyed. Her father decided to start a new life with a young German woman. The separation was all the more painful for her mother, who refused the amicable divorce and lost parental authority. Worse still, at the request of her husband and his lawyer, the courts ordered her to move to Madrid with her daughters, one of whom was barely three years old. Amalia would not see her only son again except on rare vacations, barely a few weeks, until her death. The extremely modest alimony she was granted condemned her to live with her daughters in complete destitution. Only scholarships allowed Mercedes to continue her university studies. Divorce law of that time (1932) was favorable to the man; it enshrined the triumph of the stronger, the only one really protected by the law. The marital home was conceived by it as the “husband’s house,” and it gave him the right, humiliating for the woman, to get rid of her by “depositing” her with her parents, in a monastery or in any other place he wished. Mercedes, still a teenager, would never forget the terrible injury and grief inflicted on her mother.

Doña Mercedes Formica de Llosent y Marañón, Madrid, 1954. Credit: SBMA.

Intelligent, hard-working, charismatic and extremely beautiful, Mercedes Formica became a lawyer, historian, novelist and feminist (although she never liked this last label). Her literary work includes the novels, Monte de Sancha (1950), La ciudad perdida (1951), El secreto (1953), A instancia de parte (1955), La hija de Don Juan de Austria (1972), María Mendoza (1979), La infancia (1987), Collar de ámbar (1989) and the trilogy of her memoirs: Visto y vivido (1982), Escucho el silencio (1984) and Espejo roto y espejuelos (1998). However, despite her undeniable literary talent, it was her political and social commitment that made her famous.

Married in 1937 to Eduardo Llosent Marañon, poet and man of letters, Mercedes Formica rubbed shoulders with all the intellectuals of post-Civil War Madrid. Her husband, Llosent, former director of the magazine Mediodia in Seville, was a friend of poets, such as García Lorca, Gerardo Diego, Rafael Alberti and Dámaso Alonso before the Civil War. He was also known for having contributed to the tribute book, Coronas de sonetos en honor a José Antonio, with the poem “Eternity of José Antonio.” Close to the philosopher Eugenio d’Ors, he was soon appointed director of the National Museum of Modern Art (now Museo Reina Sofia). But the couple’s marriage would only last for a while. After separating, Mercedes Formica obtained an annulment and in 1962 she married José María de Careaga y Urquijo, Mayor of Bilbao and Technical Secretary General of the Ministry of Industry.

Mercedes Formica’s social-political commitment went back to the very beginning of her life as a student. In her memoirs, she recounts that on a visit to a friend’s house one Sunday in October 1933, when she entered the living room, she heard a man’s voice on the radio saying: “We are not a party of the left, which in order to destroy everything, destroys even what is good, nor of the right, which in order to preserve everything, preserves even what is unjust.” This chance “radio” encounter with José Antonio Primo de Rivera, during the broadcast of the founding speech of the Falange, would condition her entire life. Years later, she wrote in Visto y vivido (1982), this “young, intelligent, courageous man was feared, rejected and ridiculed by his own social class, which never forgave him for his constant references to injustice, illiteracy, lack of culture, miserable housing, endemic hunger in rural areas, with no other resources than temporary work, the urgent need for land reform. To confuse José Antonio’s thought with the interests of the extreme right is something that ends up rotting the blood. It was the extreme right that condemned him to civil death, waiting for the physical death that they thought he deserved.”

In Mercedes Formica’s life, the meeting with José Antonio marks a before and after. She would be faithful to his memory and his ideas until her last breath. From 1934, she was resolutely involved in the life of the phalangist movement, not hesitating to put her life in danger. Affiliated with the SEU (Sindicato Español Universitario), she was the only female Phalangist in the Faculty of Law in Madrid. The sympathizers preferred not to join so as not to risk paying with their lives.

That same year, Mercedes Formica was appointed by José Antonio as the female delegate of the SEU in Madrid. When the first SEU National Council met on April 11, 1935, she gave a report in which she insisted on the urgency of creating a Book and Textbook Exchange and on the need to increase the number of scholarships, grants, restaurants and student residences. At the suggestion of Carmen Primo de Rivera, one of José Antonio’s sisters, she agreed to contribute to the activities of the Women’s Section. In February 1936, she became the national delegate of the SEU, and as such a member of the National Committee of the Falange.

After the execution of José Antonio on November 20, 1936, and even more so after the adoption by Franco of the decree-law of April 19, 1937, which imposed the fusion of all movements—Carlists, Phalangists, monarchists and other affiliations—fighting in the national camp, Mercedes Formica felt cheated and disappointed. She was reluctant to remain involved with the new political structure created by Franco, the Traditionalist Falange of the JONS. In 1997, she confided to Rosario Ruiz “Franco was not a Phalangist, and I understood then that all this was going to be a kind of gigantic mess, in which there were many converts who, in order to save themselves, had very cruel ‘merits.’ Before the conflict, José Antonio’s followers were very few, perhaps two thousand in all of Spain, and perhaps even less; and in the Franco zone, only a minority remained, perhaps one hundred or two hundred. Those who were in Madrid and Barcelona were shot.”

She did not hesitate to ridicule last-minute converts, and mockingly asked the question: “But where did so many blue shirts come from?” She reproached the newcomers for having set themselves up “as representatives of something they did not believe in; intolerance being their distinctive sign.”

At the beginning of 1944, the National Delegate of the Women’s Section, Pilar Primo de Rivera, offered her the editorship of the weekly Medina. She also worked for the Institute of Political Studies. In August 1944, she accompanied her husband on a diplomatic and cultural tour of Argentina and met Juan Domingo and Evita Perón. Mercedes Formica lost many years of study due to the Civil War and her involvement in the social activities of the Women’s Section, especially in favor of the children of the defeated. But she finally obtained her terminal degree in 1948. Her first wish was to join the Diplomatic Corps; however, she had to give it up so as not to have to live far from her husband. At the same time, the only woman diplomat in Spain was Margarita Salaverria, who was the first to pass the entrance exam during the Republic, in 1933. Faithful to the national camp, she continued her career under Franco. In the 1970s, her husband was appointed Spanish ambassador to the United States and she lived with her family in Washington.

At the end of the 1940s, Mercedes Formica decided to apply for the public prosecutor’s and notary’s examinations, but again she had to give up quickly because one of the requirements was to be a man. For lack of anything better to do, she joined the Madrid Bar Association. But it was extremely difficult for a woman to join a well-known law firm. Therefore, she opened her own law firm, and also became a journalist, novelist and essayist. In 1951, Pilar Primo de Rivera asked her to participate in the Hispanic-American-Philippine Congress. She was given full freedom to write a report proposing reforms on the status of women. But her paper on the situation of university-educated women in the workplace was eventually deemed too committed and buried. A year later, however, the First National Congress of Justice and Law of the FET de las JONS joined her voice to those of the Phalangists of the Women’s Section who demanded more rights for women.

In 1953, Mercedes Formica was alerted to a news item in the press. It was about the assault of a woman by her husband, who stabbed her several times. When the journalist asked the distressing victim why she had accepted her husband’s abuse for so long, she gave a chilling answer: “I tried to separate from him, but a lawyer I consulted told me that I would lose everything, children, house and my few possessions.” Outraged, Mercedes Formica decided to publicly denounce the absurd law that left separated women without any protection.

On November 7, 1953, she published a famous article in ABC, a liberal-conservative monarchist newspaper, entitled “The Marital Home.” The repercussion was enormous; it was taken up, commented upon, or quoted not only in the national press, but also abroad. In the United States, the New York Times, Time Magazine and Holiday magazine echoed it. The same was true of the European press in Great Britain (The Daily Telegraph and the Morning Herald), Germany, Switzerland and Italy, and of course in the Iberian-American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Cuba). In Spain, this article was praised in the anarchist weekly CNT by the communist activist of the PSUC, Lidia Falcón, future founder of the Feminist Party in 1979 (This famous figure of Spanish radical feminism, would be accused of transphobia and incitement to hatred in 2020 and excluded from the communist party Izquierda Unida (IU), allied to Podemos).

In Madrid, on November 18, 1953, the director of ABC, decided to publish a new article. Its title was unambiguous: “The marital home is not the husband’s house.” At the end of November and the beginning of December, the Madrid daily launched a wide-ranging survey to which the most important Spanish jurists and lawyers were invited. At the 1954 National Congress of Lawyers, lawyer-priests were among those who spoke out in favor of the reform. Some of them did not hesitate to point out that in his 1931 book, La familia según el Derecho natural y cristiano (The Family According to Natural and Christian Law), Cardinal Isidro Goma, the strongest supporter of the “Crusade” in 1936, wrote: “It is time to underline the offensive inequality to which the civil code has relegated the Spanish woman and mother.”

For her part, Mercedes Formica did not stop there. On March 3, 1954, she published an interview in the magazine Teresa, in the Women’s Section, in which she summarized her point of view. Again, on July 10, 1954, she gave a lecture on “The legal situation of Spanish women” at the Medina Circle of the Women’s Section. She did not fight, as one might think, against the retrograde laws of Francoism, but against legal principles dating back to the nineteenth century. The Constitution of the Republic of 1931 stated the general principle that “all Spaniards are equal before the law,” a principle that was taken up by the Fuero de los Espanoles of Franco’s Spain in 1945; but in both cases there were no concrete laws or regulations to implement it. The Civil Code of 1889 had remained unchanged under the Republic, despite the law on marriage and divorce, and then, just as unalterable under Franco’s regime, which had deviated from the law on divorce and introduced penalties and sanctions against abortion, infanticide, adultery and child abandonment. Women needed their husband’s permission for any act with legal consequences. Spain was not an exceptional case; in France, for example, it was only with the law of July 13, 1965 that married women were allowed to work without their husband’s prior authorization and to open a bank account in their own name. On both sides of the Pyrenees, the same prejudice existed in the middle classes—the work of married women was perceived as proof of the man’s inability to provide for his family.

For almost five years, the debates and polemics, initiated by Mercedes Formica, followed one another at a good pace. The lawyer and journalist did not give up. She visited the president of the Supreme Court, José Castán Tobeñas, and obtained his support; she convinced parliamentarians of the Cortes; finally, she had a meeting with the head of state. In order to obtain this meeting, on March 10, 1954, the mediation of Pilar Primo de Rivera was essential. When before the “Generalissimo,” Mercedes Formica mentioned the need for the wife’s consent to dispose of her property during the separation, he corrected her: “No. Consent must be required at all times, with or without separation.” Franco knew from experience the difficulties of children of separated or divorced parents. He remembered that when he was an army cadet and his mother’s alimony payments were late in coming, he was forced to ask for credit at grocery stores. At the end of the hearing, the Caudillo invited Mercedes Formica to go and speak on his behalf to the Minister of Justice, the traditionalist Antonio Iturmendi.

Her efforts were successful, but only four years later. The law of April 24, 1958, would modify sixty-six articles of the Civil Code. The concept of “husband’s house” was replaced by that of “marital home;” the discriminatory concept of “wife’s deposit” was abolished; the man’s absolute power over household goods disappeared; and widowed or remarried women no longer lost parental authority over their children. Mercedes Formica was undoubtedly responsible for this reform of the Civil Code; but it was not until 1978 that the Penal Code was reformed and the discriminatory treatment of women in matters of adultery was repealed. Other legislative reforms aimed at establishing equality between women and men were initiated by Mercedes Formica and her friends in the Women’s Section, such as Monica Plaza and Asunción Olivé. These included the Law of July 22, 1961, on women’s professional and labor rights, and the Law of July 4, 1970, on the consent of mothers for adoption.

In 1970, Mercedes Formica’s signature was among those of 300 writers, some of whom had been volunteers in the Blue Division, artists and intellectuals who protested against clerical censorship to the Minister of Information Manuel Fraga Iribarne. Mercedes Formica intervened again to demand an improvement in the situation of destitute pensioners (1966), to demand an increase in the number of childcare centers (1967), to defend the law decriminalizing adultery (1977), and to denounce the non-application of sentences against rapists (1998). From the 1970s onwards, her work was taken up and extended by the lawyer María Telo (who had a letter-writing relationship with Clara Campoamor) and by Concepción Sierra Ordoñez. Both of them were founders of the Spanish Association of Women Jurists (1971), an association in which the Phalangists of the Women’s Section Belén Landáburu and Carmen Salinas Alonso were also active. These four women were behind the 1975 law on the legal situation of married women and the rights and duties of spouses.

Mercedes Formica’s fight was not only in favor of women, but was part of a larger struggle against injustice and in defense of the weak. It was not, she said in the twilight of her life, an extravagant or senseless struggle, as the opposition (Immobilists) maintained for a while; nor was it a paradoxical, contradictory or even superficial struggle to change nothing in depth, as the extreme feminists claimed. Mercedes Formica wanted to be consistent, in accordance with her youthful convictions, which were against the stereotypical image of the submissive woman, of the angelic housewife, confined to the private space to take care of her husband. She was aware of the reproaches made to the founder of the Phalange for having made comments about women that were described as ambiguous and stereotypical by his opponents. Hadn’t José Antonio said that the Phalange was feminine because it had to have two major virtues, self-abnegation and a sense of sacrifice, which are much more common in women than in men? Didn’t he keep saying that he wanted “a joyful Spain in short skirts?” Didn’t he refuse to plead divorce cases during his life as a lawyer, judging them to be a source of suffering for the children? But to the inevitable scorners and critics, Mercedes Formica answered stoically, as in her Memoirs: “On the anti-feminism of José Antonio and the thesis so widespread, according to which he wanted a woman at home, with almost a broken leg, I must say that it is false. It is part of the process of interpretation to which his thought was subjected. As a good Spaniard he did not like the pedantic, aggressive, extravagant woman, full of hatred for the man. From the beginning he could count on women academics, and he gave them responsibilities. In my particular case, he didn’t see in me the angry suffragette, but the young woman concerned about Spain’s problems, who loved her culture and was trying to make her way in the world of work.”

Mercedes Formica continued her activism into old age. She wrote her last article in 1998, before the first serious symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease affected her. She died in Malaga on April 22, 2002, victim of a heart attack. Very few people attended her funeral and few media reported on her death, even though she was undoubtedly one of the most important women of 20th century Spain. Recognition is not a virtue of the vulgar, it is the prerogative of great hearts, they say. These were not legion at the time of her death. In 2015, at the instigation of the Marxist and far-left party Podemos, the municipality of Cadiz removed the bust of Mercedes Formica that had been installed in the center of the city, in the Plaza del Palillero. But two street names perpetuate her memory to this day, in Malaga and Madrid.

Arnaud Imatz, a Basque-French political scientist and historian, holds a State Doctorate (DrE) in political science and is a correspondent-member of the Royal Academy of History (Spain), and a former international civil servant at OECDHe is a specialist in the Spanish Civil War, European populism, and the political struggles of the Right and the Left – all subjects on which he has written several books. He has also published numerous articles on the political thought of the founder and theoretician of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, as well as the Liberal philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset, and the Catholic traditionalist, Juan Donoso Cortés.

The Leviathan Leads to War: A Talk with Henri Hude

Former director of the Ethics and Law Department at the Research Center of the Saint-Cyr Military Academy, the philosopher Henri Hude has just published, Philosophie de la guerre (Philosophy of War), a book written for decision-makers who, in the tragedy of history, have an urgent need to rise to the level of the universal, in order to appreciate situations objectively, and master them effectively. Faced with the persistent risk of high-intensity war that threatens the world, Hude defends the thesis that the solution to the problem of war does not lie in the power of a planetary empire, a kind of “global Leviathan,” but in a philosophical and spiritual awakening, in which religions are called upon to take an essential place and to cooperate in view of a “cultural peace.”

[This interview was conducted by Guillaume de Prémare of the magazine, Permanences, through whose kind generosity we are able to bring you this English version].

Permanences (P): In the present state of our civilization, what are its weaknesses and strengths in the perspective of a return of the tragedy of History?

Henri Hude (HH): It was Reason that made the fortune of Western civilization. The major weakness of the West today is the loss of strong reason and the sense of truth, if that truth is objective, universal, demonstrative and binding. Human freedom, which also characterizes Western culture, is a power of rational self-determination. If reason weakens, thought becomes delirious, and freedom arbitrary.

The great modern philosophy—Kantian, for example, that held sway under the Third Republic—was idealistic; but while losing reality, it had kept objectivity, that of science and morality. Man was everything. Nature and God were who knows where, but Reason remained an impersonal principle at the core of the human soul, capable in theory of absolute truth and in practice of universal and categorical obligation.

Postmodern thinking has swept all that away. Neither God, nor Nature, nor Reason, nor Being. The individual replaces everything, and facts are only what he wants them to be. Individuals therefore spread the infinite magma of data, giving it through their discourses a form of consensual objects, temporarily consensual. It seems that shared envy and common arbitrariness, in affirmation or negation, will suffice to produce reality, even objectivity. Even science bows before desire and interests. There are only fictions left—but these fictions are also all of reality. Western society thus begins to look very much like an insane asylum. Of course, this is only a collective paranoia: one bomb falls somewhere in our country, and very real realities, which mock our discourses, are destroyed and this philosophy collapses. While waiting for war and defeat, or a revival of rationality, to restore, perhaps, realism, the West lives without foundations and plunges into a kind of blur, into a non-functional culture and a somewhat ungovernable society. The powers that be no longer have any leverage to reform—they are all-powerful to deconstruct, powerless for the rest. Let’s not be surprised that history is becoming tragic again.

P: How do you define the tragic?

HH: The tragic is not evil, it is fatal evil. The tragic is beyond the dramatic, where we still oscillate between fear and hope. The tragic is when there is no way out and we are forced to go through it. We sometimes imagine that tragedy would disappear completely if all problems could find a technical solution. This would be true, if all reality were mechanical. But it is not the case. To believe this is to institute a society in which everyone is treated as a cog in a machine. This is why technology, which solves so many problems, immediately creates other, even more serious ones. It itself becomes an unsolvable problem—through technology. This is what the invention of the atomic bomb clearly shows.

P: This tragedy, which we may have thought we could escape, was very much present in the ancient culture from which we come. Why did the Greeks write so many tragedies?

HH: The Greeks were the first humanists of the West. Aristotle said: “Man is the animal in which there is a lot of the divine.” Humanism guesses the greatness of man. Courage is part of this greatness and expresses the awareness of it.

Heroism is the depth of courage. It is the capacity to measure the tragic without dissolving it, without hiding it. It is the capacity to face death, destiny, freedom, salvation or perdition, and evil in all its forms, including war—that universal phenomenon, in time and space. It is part of human existence.

P: We thought we could overcome war, and some say that we have become somewhat soft. Can a nation and a people adapt and quickly convert their mentality and worldview in a crisis situation?

HH: Experience must answer, more than reasoning. What will happen if we have to switch from a soft dream to a hard reality? For example, if we cut electricity in Paris or Lyon for several weeks, what would happen? If the Internet stops working, how will we react? Will we be able to adapt quickly to a new situation that radically shakes up our daily lives and our gentrified mentalities? No one can know a priori. In Ukraine, which is a more rustic country, it is a return to their youth for the older people, because the memory of very difficult times is still recent and vivid.

Generally speaking, humans are built in such a way that they can cope with all sorts of hazards, but this capacity to adapt—to be resilient, as we say today—depends a great deal on the culture: to adapt to the torment, one must accept the very idea of suffering, so that suffering has a meaning, that life and death have a meaning. I fear that if culture is unable to offer us such a meaning, it is not functional—it does not put man in a position to face the hazards of his condition. There is tragedy. Perhaps we will have to bear our share of it. But if the collective meaning of our existence is reduced to consuming satisfactions and living to be old in almost good health, we will not be able to face it. We escape from this nonsense by recognizing the transcendence of man’s soul and that of the Absolute, of God.

P: This sense of transcendence is not very developed today, to put it mildly.

HH: The great philosophy of the Enlightenment, which—as we have said—still reigned in France under the Third Republic, was a religion of Man. There was no longer any Transcendence in the biblical sense of the word, but there was still one, within the Great Divine Whole that man believed to be between the impersonal universal ground that was Reason and the individuals in which it was, so to speak, always incarnated. And this Reason founded objective truth and moral obligation. This dissolved with what is called postmodernity, coming from Nietzsche or Freud among others.

The great rationalist philosophy was rejected because of its neurotic moralism; also because the evolution of sciences had made it partially obsolete; also because it was very aristocratic, elitist, not very accessible, hardly taking into account the individual, of his lived experiences, of the affective, of language, of the body and finally, perhaps especially, because this residue of transcendence constituted still a source of obligation and a limit to the pretensions of the individual freedom to a boundless independence.

Demolishing God, Nature, Reason, Being, Truth, etc., this postmodern evolution leads in practice to nihilism. Living together in confidence under these conditions becomes almost impossible and society becomes ungovernable. Without a cultural revolution, including the recognition of metaphysical foundations, the West will persevere in this nonsense and it cannot even imagine to what extent it will lose its aura and its position in the world. It is a functional culture that allows a civilization to be present in history and to stay there.

P: The prospect of a philosophical, spiritual and cultural upsurge seems rather distant today. Can a time of crisis make decision-makers arise and/or new leaders emerge who will be able to face the situation, and give meaning to events and involve all citizens?

HH: The great crisis occurs when culture does not allow solutions to be found to problems that have become absolutely vital. The non-functional character of culture is today, in my opinion, the root of all problems. I think that we will have difficulty in seeing the emergence of true decision-makers, without a cultural awakening.

P: Today, the West is still dominant, despite its non-functional culture, but it is fragile for the reasons you indicate. On the other side, there is what we can call the rest of the world, which functions according to very different mental patterns. We have the impression that, for the other civilizations, war and the tragedy of history are quite normal things. Doesn’t this create a gap between the West and these other cultural realities, confirming in a way the famous “clash of civilizations?”

HH: We exaggerate cultural relativism. There is a human universality, a community of human nature: each of us is born, dies, suffers, works, exchanges, loves, speaks, questions, invents, negotiates, wars, is cunning, meditates, is anxious. Every man in existence becomes aware of our common nature; and it is this common awareness which is the culture. In all functional cultures, the fundamentals are present, like friendship or truth. The same questions arise everywhere. Zhu Xi could dialogue with Thomas Aquinas, Socrates with Confucius.

However, the human condition also depends on technical progress. Now, in technology and in science, a whole way of thinking is forged. If this way of thinking does not manage to be in harmony with immemorial wisdom, culture becomes dysfunctional. This does not prevent the sciences from being true, nor the techniques from being efficient. And since the West is the place where science and technology first developed, Westernization is inevitably universal. But as it is the reason which made the fortune of the West, so its unreason deprived of wisdom is making its ruin. For the West is becoming the least rational fragment of the planet. If it does not return to reason and wisdom, we will see, in our lifetime, its marginalization—and its great suffering.

P: All the same, the fundamental principles are not the same in all civilizations; for example the notion of freedom in China, or that of equal dignity of persons in India.

HH: You have to look at things in the long term. The simple fact of owning, for example, an iPhone provides a feeling of individual power that was previously unimaginable. This feeling leads to the emergence of an individualism, which is not necessarily negative and anti-social in itself. Technology allows man to realize his power and nourishes the consciousness of a transcendence of the human being. This phenomenon can be devastating for all premodern cultures, and lead to non-functional ways of thinking, where we no longer understand anything about the Absolute or about God, about life, about the universe, about good and evil, about Salvation… But it can make a civilized humanism grow everywhere. The most reasonable solution is to profoundly rethink the relationship of humanist culture to the religion of the God-Man, that is, of Christ. Otherwise, the West will go out of history. But I believe that all its positive values will survive, carried by other peoples.

P: The Romans, then Christianity, developed the concept of the just war, and the Church tried to moralize war. Are there equivalent reflections in other civilizations?

HH: The Canadian researcher Paul Robinson has written a book entitled Just war in Comparative Perspective, in which he shows that all civilizations have had a similar reflection. It is easy to understand why. On the one hand, everyone realizes that goodness is found in justice, peace, mutual service, good understanding; and that war, which uses violence and trickery, is the opposite of the charity we owe each other.

On the other hand, absolute pacifism, in its pure state, seems equally immoral. For if the use of force were unconditionally immoral, intrinsically perverse, there would be no right of collective self-defense, and surrendering to an intrinsically perverse power would be a duty. Moreover, all non-violent resistance would be physically eliminated. Thus, on the one hand we have the immorality of war, on the other the immorality of pacifism. The theory of the just war is an attempt at a solution. War is evil itself; but one must be ready to defend one’s own against aggression. For it is a fact—conflict exists, not just cooperation. The world is full of transgressors, aggressors and unjust people, who take pleasure in appropriating everything and find their enjoyment in the persecution of others. One must therefore be ready to defend one’s own. This is what every functional culture must teach its members. But this is not possible if we sink into the illusion that everyone can remain quietly in his corner, in a passive individualism.

P: The classical theory of the just war has, however, been challenged by Pope Francis.

HH: I read very carefully the chapter of the encyclical Fratelli tutti that deals with war. Paul VI also said, at the UN, “Never again war!” Surely, you don’t want the Pope to be in favor of war! The text expresses, I believe, a fear of the possibility, once again very serious, of total war, therefore nuclear. In this chapter, which (with all due respect) can be described as rather vague, the only perfectly clear formula, although drowned in pacifist rhetoric, maintains the Thomistic doctrine of the just war. It seems to me, therefore, that the Pope is not changing anything in substance. In previous years, in the face of the terrorist problems of 2015, he had in fact, unlike his predecessors, a much more classical and Thomistic attitude on the question of war. What terrifies us today—for example, the atomic bomb—will be surpassed tomorrow by other, far superior means of destruction. It is in this perspective that the Holy Father’s words in Fratelli tutti are justified.

Today we do not know how to live in peace without the balance of terror. With the postmodern crisis of culture that we are experiencing, it is possible that this balance of terror will give way to what Thérèse Delpech calls the “imbalance of terror.” The preference for life makes deterrence credible; but this principle is itself suspended from the conviction that life has meaning. To wage atomic war is to commit suicide by killing one’s opponent. If suicide becomes possible because culture induces a preference for death, then nuclear war is ultimately possible. The desire for euthanasia manifests a preference for death. La Fontaine said in one of his fables, “Rather suffer than die is the motto of men.” But the postmodern culture is suicidal. It says, “Rather die than suffer.” That is why the Pope is right to draw attention to the fact that deterrence between rational actors is no longer guaranteed within the framework of this culture that the West is spreading throughout the world.

P: What is the basis for an ethics of war?

HH: The basis consists in knowing that the good is peace, and that nothing should be done in war that would give rise to a definitive hatred, making the conflictual relationship irreversible. It is a matter of, for example, not to create a hereditary enemy, but rather to use force in a measured, proportionate way, and to limit the time of the war. The ethics of war is the imperative of peace regulating war.

P: In 1945, was the use of the atomic bomb by the USA against Japan proportionate and morally acceptable?

HH: When the means are extremely debatable, the end justifies the means, if and only if the end is morally necessary, and if this means is rigorously necessary to reach this necessary end. Thus the question is: what was the end pursued by the United States? Was this end necessary? And, if so, was the bombing necessary for that necessary end? These are the principles, expressed as questions. Their application is obviously by nature more contingent and dubious than the principles themselves.

The political goal of the United States was to impose on Japan an unconditional surrender that would allow it to change profoundly, militarily, politically and culturally, and to make it a satellite in its Empire. Such an imperious goal is part of a policy aiming at imposing on mankind the Pax Americana. If one considers this goal to be morally necessary, then, in relation to such a goal, the use of the atomic bomb was certainly a necessary means. The conditions demanded of Japan by the USA were exorbitant, and it was to be expected that Japan would put up a tremendous resistance. The atrocious use of the bomb broke this resistance and certainly spared more lives, American and Japanese, than it sacrificed.

The answer to the question you ask leads back to the answer to a more fundamental question: Is the global hegemony of one state morally and politically necessary for the common good of humankind? If so, then the use of weapons of mass destruction is probably justified, at least objectively. If not, then not. In other words, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are an impressive show of force and decisive action, which are legitimate only if the United States can reasonably pretend to be the universal Empire, to be the universal hegemon bringing peace and a true flourishing civilization. Otherwise, what would have been legitimate would have been a reasonable negotiation in which the loser would have accepted to take his loss, without being totally subjugated. When a head of state judges that an end is necessary and that the means to that end is necessary, it is he who makes that judgment and assumes the ultimate moral responsibility for it—it is he who will be accountable to the Supreme Judge.

P: Today, some people seem to think that a universal empire is better than war. Does this seem justified to you?

HH: The “great game” for empire has always existed. Powers want to ensure their hegemony, out of ambition but also out of fear. Let’s think of Athens and Sparta, or Rome and Carthage. Is building an Empire, ideally building the Empire, a just cause for war? The Empire brings peace after the time of conquest, the Pax Romana for example. But every Empire will end. What chaos follows! Today, would the constitution of a planetary Empire be a just, permitted and necessary end? As the techno-scientific world becomes more and more unified, the idea that some kind of universal political authority could emerge has some logic and appeal. But this does not necessarily mean a world state, led by a universal imperial power. The “function of empire” must be fulfilled. Exploring this question is precisely what my book does.

P: How do you characterize the Leviathan and the peace it proposes to us?

HH: I reflect upon the future, from the probable state of technology, in a century or two. We must imagine that we will be able to colonize the universe. We have to imagine the military technology that goes with it. Today, it is science fiction, but tomorrow? If there has been no cultural revolution, it is highly probable that we will have such a fear of war that we will accept an absolute security tyranny. The Power will have access in real time to the brain and the whole body of each individual to take immediately, on the basis of automated and very fast anticipations, the decisions required for the collective security. The security requirement will become such that freedom will be reduced to nothing. This is what I call the “Leviathan.” People will accept it and want it, because there is apparently no other way; and there will be no other meaning to existence than to keep this miserable meaningless life.

My thesis, which I believe I have demonstrated, is that far from being a guarantee against a possible nuclear war, the advent of the Leviathan, on the contrary, will make it highly possible. It will bring us total war; and that will be the sad end of history. That is why we need another solution, without the Leviathan.

P: You are looking for the solution of a political and cultural peace without the Leviathan.

HH: If we do not take the risk of freedom, we take the risk of the Leviathan. It is a profoundly unstable regime, extremely oligarchic, concentrated, dictatorial. The dictatorship will have to rely on a kind of planetary and omniscient “Stalin,” with the right to life or death on any human being. Let us be sure that utilitarianism can justify everything, even the worst, in the name of the good. This supposes the injection of a culture of powerlessness upon the planetary people. It is necessary to develop egoism in order to kill courage. It is necessary to fear death in order to favor materialism. It is necessary to suppress all morals and laws in order to make the crimes of the Leviathan seem normal. It is necessary to fear everything in order to cling to the Leviathan as the one who will save us.

P: All current transgressions are justified in the name of the good. Western elites do not present themselves as villains who would like tyranny, on the contrary.

HH: I am not thinking only of Western or Westernized elites. I am a philosopher and my book is neither a political position nor a geopolitical interpretation. I think that any leader, both powerful and influential in the world, is tempted by the Leviathan solution. The Leviathan is not necessarily a conscious and assumed project; it is in any case an objective dynamic that unfolds, as long as the culture remains unchanged, and which can in this framework be seen as the lesser evil. If we want to avoid the Leviathan, preserving the pluralism of states is necessary, because it is the only way to ensure the division of powers. It is also the only way to have a basis for social justice and regulation. Of course, states remain rivals, with their various ambitions, their greed too. But these States, because of the danger of the Leviathan, must be able, individually, to renounce the universal Empire, whose concrete figure is the Leviathan, and, collectively, to take on the function of Empire.

P: However, one can imagine a strong resistance of the people to the Leviathan.

HH: In order to resist an excess of power or exploitation, one needs a coil—to reduce this resistance, one needs to break this coil. This is why the Leviathan must reduce the intellectual and moral strength of individuals and peoples to a minimum. It must intoxicate the masses with a “culture of impotence”: all sorts of nonsense, even monstrosities, but it must remain unharmed. Indeed, if the Leviathan’s elite began to believe in the nonsense it inoculated into the people in order to subdue them, the Leviathan would reduce itself to impotence.

For the Leviathan to exist and last, it needs a caste of hard, rational, ruthless, cruel, immoral men at its head, who are in solidarity with each other. But how to believe that beings armed with such a culture and endowed with such a psychic apparatus will be able to live in peace without devouring each other? The Leviathan cannot keep its promises of peace. We therefore need to find a culture of peace and a political system without the Leviathan, allowing a world balance, a kind of planetary civilization which does not fall into the absurdities we know. For this, we must start from what exists. The religions and wisdoms that have lost the initiative in relation to the philosophy of the Enlightenment must take the initiative again, now that the Enlightenment has gone mad.

P: However, religions themselves can cause wars.

HH: Of course, religions can cause war. Men fight for an interest, which can be material or moral, i.e., political and economic, or cultural. God, or the Absolute, being the supreme Good, religion or wisdom is also, by definition, a supreme interest. Why should men fight for oil or a piece of territory, but not for the very meaning of life? The more necessary the goal seems, the more man is theoretically inclined to use all means to reach it.

P: When Cavanaugh says that there are no wars for religious reasons, but that all so-called religious wars have a political, cultural or economic underpinning he seems to be reasoning against reality.

HH: Most wars have three aspects: economic, political and cultural. In the term “cultural,” I include the religious dimension. The so-called “religious wars” therefore always have both political and economic dimensions. When, in the 16th century, the English nobility seized the property of the Church, or when the German princes strengthened their independence in relation to the Germanic Emperor, it was not primarily out of religious sentiment. In spite of this, fighting for a metaphysical good is possible, because it touches on the absolute, an absolute for which men are willing to die. To pose the problem well and to be able to solve it, it is necessary to universalize the notion of war of religions and to speak about wars of cultures. Thus, the wars between ideologies born of the Enlightenment, although they do not have a motive that would normally be qualified as “religious,” are nevertheless battles waged for what seems to have an absolute value. These wars of ideologies have probably caused more deaths than all the religious wars. However, if religions can be a factor of wars, they can also be a factor of peace.

P: How can religions be a factor of peace and also bring part of the solution to the problem of war, and thus spare us the advent of the Leviathan?

HH: If we take into account and respect a factor of personal freedom in adherence to the truth, religion automatically leaves the logic of war. For peace to reign, a formula of equity must be found, a way of sharing power, authority, wealth, territories, natural resources, etc. This is why most of the great wisdoms and religions are capable of making an extremely positive contribution to the definition of a kind of global social pact of equity.

I am not at all sure that the current Western formulas, which are liberal extremisms, can achieve anything other than instituting selfishness and war. It would be absurd to deny the potential or actual frictions between the various wisdoms and religions; for they exist, as between the various modern ideologies. However, a very new fact has appeared—from now on, we see the Leviathan emerging; and we know that, if religions allow themselves the luxury of wars between religions, they will all “die.” Indeed, the Leviathan has two ways to impose itself against religions: to divide them in order to throw them against each other, or to dissolve them in a relativistic syncretism.

P: A kind of universal and humanitarian soft religion?

HH: Yes. Religions will be tolerated if they manufacture impotence; but they will nevertheless remain suspect, under surveillance. The important thing is that they produce power for the Leviathan and powerlessness for the citizens. The situation being what it is, with the Leviathan on the horizon, either religions will show exceptional stupidity and will be dissolved by harshly opposing each other, or they will find what I call “a non-relativistic understanding” based on a culture of philia, excluding armed struggle and discrimination, but not excluding proselytizing and conversions.

P: So, you believe that friendship between religions is possible.

HH: Yes, this philia is the natural law itself, which allows a decent public order. Natural law proposes a system of virtues, a golden rule, universal ethical principles, even if we justify them differently by our metaphysical and religious beliefs. I believe that this can work.

P: This assumes, however, that this culture of philia is shared by the different religions. Do you think, for example, that contemporary Islam, as reaffirmed since the early 1990s, could adhere to this this principle of philia?

HH: There are two options: either we practice this philia without denying ourselves, that is to say, by following our conscience and continuing to seek the Truth; or this philia is a dream, a utopia, and there will be no alternative to the Leviathan. This is my conviction.

P: For the Islamists, the West still represents Christianity, a land to be conquered.

HH: Any intelligent person who opens his eyes knows that the West is no longer Christianity, and that the present Western powers have practically nothing Christian left. As for wanting to conquer seven billion people with 5% of a billion and no up-to-date military technology, this is nonsense. This is what the Egyptian president Al Sissi once said.

P: For religions to cooperate, they would have to recognize a common enemy of sorts.

HH: The Leviathan is obviously this common enemy, which is at once a pure concept, an objective dynamic and a real potential for power. Faced with this enemy, an alliance of non-relativistic religions and wisdoms and of nations, excluding the universal Empire. If to this is added a philosophical progress which takes us out of modernity and postmodernity, but which is at the same time traditional and ultramodern, then yes, at this moment, we can hope to live an era of peace and freedom.

P: So, you include the religious question in what you call, in your book, “cultural peace.” In this perspective, Catholics fear that Christianity is moving from a reasonable humanism to an unreasonable, almost naive humanitarianism, and that interreligious dialogue is accelerating a kind of post-Christian decomposition within Christianity, even within the Catholic Church itself.

HH: If you have faith, if you believe that God is God, that Christ is truly the Son of God, that He is seated at the right hand of the Father, that He will reign in glory, you can perfectly well go to your Buddhist or Muslim neighbor and talk to him. Knowing each other is important, so that we don’t get the wrong idea about each other, without deluding ourselves about others and ourselves. Since we have the choice between surviving together or dying together, we must learn to talk to each other.

Father Bertrand de Margerie, a Jesuit theologian, a very good man whom I knew well, wrote a book entitled, Liberté religieuse et règne du Christ (Religious Freedom and the Reign of Christ). He thought that religious liberty, properly understood, was the best way to establish the reign of Jesus Christ in the future. However, without this freedom, clashes between religions or wisdoms are most likely and the Leviathan will prosper by capitalizing on these conflicts. Yet it is by taking into account the dimension of personal freedom in the religious act that a religion can extract itself from a logic of war.

You will tell me, of course, that this or that religion gives less importance to personal freedom and seems fatalistic. But one should not caricature. You will also find Augustinian texts which will give you the impression that Saint Augustine was a fatalist and that he does not really believe in human freedom because Grace does everything. But the praxis of man shows that he is nevertheless aware of his own will and of a certain capacity for self-determination. This is part of the universal human experience. If you want freedom, and if you want to save your soul and not end up as a slave of the Leviathan, you have to get out of a logic of religious war.

You ask me if I believe that the Leviathan will impose itself. I answer that it has a reasonable chance of success. But I also think that the future is very open. The more the postmodern West loses control of the world with reason, and the more diverse Asia remains, the less chance the Leviathan has in the short and medium term. The problem will undoubtedly arise again in a hundred years, but in very different terms and circumstances.

P: My hypothesis is that the extraordinary technical power on which the Leviathan relies is inseparable from economic reality. It is therefore a techno-market reality, a power of technique and money that exercises a form of tyranny. In this context, what is likely to prevent the triumph of the Leviathan is the collapse of technical civilization, as the collapsologists tell us.

HH: To the question “Will the world destroy itself?” Zhu Xi answered: “Men will one day reach such a degree in the absence of the Way, that they will fight each other, giving rise to a new chaos during which men and other beings will disappear to the very last.” Very dark perspective, but very profound. Technology however is not in itself a monstrosity.

P: In itself no, but we are reaching technical levels that are becoming monstrous.

HH: What is monstrous is not the great power of man, it is the decorrelation between science and philosophy, between technology and spiritual reality. For example, we do not see that the human body is a “body of spirit” and we treat it as if it were only a machine without a soul. It is true that, if this decorrelation persists, the future state of technology, in the next centuries, will be absolutely monstrous. More likely, History will have come to an end, despite the Leviathan’s promise of immortality, and especially because of the Leviathan’s inability to keep his promises. To re-establish the correlation, it will be a Cultural revolution which will not block technology, but will humanize it radically and will make it, paradoxically, infinitely more efficient by avoiding most of its perverse effects. But this is impossible without a return, in grace and in strength, of religions and wisdoms.

P: Nevertheless, there remains the hypothesis of an impossible control. At a certain level of sophistication of technology and the means it offers, notably in terms of absolute control of social life, it can become impossible to resist it by wisdom, by culture and politics. The task is perhaps too complex because the temptations are too powerful to resist.

HH: This is unfortunately possible, but it is always possible to hope with reason, because evil is always self-destructive. The will to power, carried to its paroxysm, wants its own death, which frees us when all seems lost. Like the scorpion that stings itself. A dark future is therefore not at all written, and we can try, with a reasonable hope, which can also be supernatural, with all that is humanly possible, to give back to our world, and particularly to the West, the cradle of modern technology, a culture and a philosophy worthy of the name. A humanized technology, too. A non-reductive, humanistic science. I believe that that is the urgent work, both necessary and possible.

Wokism: The Engine of War in Ukraine and Poland

LGBTIQ+ propaganda is developing in Poland under the influence of American show business, but also because of Ukraine and the internal tensions that the war there is causing in Poland.

On December 31, 2022, like every year since 2016, Poland organized a big New Year’s concert in the city of Zakopane with international stars. On this occasion, the public television channel TVP, which was broadcasting the event, betrayed its conservative editorial line and caused a scandal by allowing the invited American rap group Black Eyed Peas to wear LGBTIQ+ armbands on stage. LGBTIQ+ propaganda is developing in Poland under the influence of American show business, but also because of Ukraine and the internal tensions that the war in Ukraine is causing in Poland, as Polish President Andrzej Duda mentioned, in justifying the veto of the Czarnek Law.

Between 2004 and 2014, Ukraine was the scene of two color revolutions that boosted what used to be known as leftism and is now called Wokism, i.e., the defense of ethno-cultural and LGBTIQ+ mixing. The main actors in this morality revolution are George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, but also NATO, the armed wing of globalism, which also advocates “inclusive diversity” and “open society.” Thus, shortly after the Orange Revolution in the winter of 2004-2005, the Ukrainian government began to take steps to encourage massive non-European immigration to Ukraine and to re-educate Ukrainians to accept it more readily.

Among other initiatives, in 2007, the Ukrainian authorities launched an “anti-racist” social engineering program, under the name of the Diversity Initiative, with the support of the UN and its International Office for Migration (IOM). This population replacement policy, also implemented by the European Union, was supported by many Ukrainians who hoped to integrate into it and join the modern West, and its ethnomasochism.

This Ukrainian identity suicide was only stopped by the Russian military intervention, launched on February 24, 2022. However, cosmopolitanism in Ukraine continues to affect the paramilitary units, comprising Islamists waging their “holy war” against Russia, since the beginning of hostilities in 2014, with the endorsement of Kiev and NATO. The latest of these combat groups to come to the aid of Ukrainian nationalists is called the Turan Battalion, a reference to the Turkic-speaking world, and is composed mostly of Asian Muslims.

The second strand of Wokism took hold in Ukraine right after EuroMaidan, the coup d’état in the winter of 2013-2014, which allowed the new power to enshrine the whole LGBTIQ+ legal arsenal in Ukrainian law. This led to the legalization of Gay Pride in several cities, but also to the strange phenomenon of the “LGBTIQ+ soldiers,” who recruit homosexuals and transgender people willing to fight against Russia, and are organized in the Union of LGBTIQ+ Military of Ukraine sponsored by the US embassy, as can be seen on their website. More anecdotal, but nevertheless typical of the mix of genres that characterizes the era—no longer a Marilyn Monroe whom the US empire sends on tour as part of its soft power to support troop morale and the war effort—but a Ukrainian transvestite, Verka Serdutchka, whose real name is Andriy Danylko, to sing “Goodbye Russia!” with his glitzy band that evokes the world of Drag Queens.

Across the border, Poles are beginning to understand what is happening in the neighboring Ukrainian pandemonium, and the hell the Brussels regime is dragging them into—the EU and NATO together. Of course, not without some caution, lest they be accused of being “Russian spies,” but something is happening in Polish public opinion beyond the rather narrow circles of anti-globalist organizations like Rodacy Kamraci, Falanga, Zmiana or Konfederacja. A strong current of opposition to the war is emerging—equally opposed to Wokism—of which Leszek Sykulski’s Stop Amerykanizacji Polski movement and the January 21, 2023 demonstration in Warsaw are only the first steps.

Symptomatic of this evolution of mentalities in Poland is that on October 13, 2022, the Catholic media outlet Polonia Christiana commented on an article in the digital newspaper Do Rzeczy [The Essential] about the progression of the LGBTIQ+ collective in Ukraine, including in nationalist (Banderite) circles, which we translate below.

“Kiev prefers to sign a pact with the Western left rather than fall victim to Moscow’s imperialism. That is why Ukrainian patriotism increasingly adopts rainbow colors. And so do the Neo-Banderites,” writes Maciej Pieczyński in the weekly Do Rzeczy.”

The journalist points out that a part of the Polish right wing fears that Ukraine, under Western influence, will become an “outpost of globalism,” a “bastion of leftism” in these latitudes.

In the opinion of the circles cited by the editor, the main cause of the war in Ukraine was EuroMaidan, a revolution to defend the pro-Western course of the country. “Ukrainians are perhaps the only nation in the world where people have died for the European Union with the slogan ‘Ukraine in Europe!” (Україна—це Європа!) on their lips. Russia attacked to make this course impossible.

“Does this mean that in Ukraine there is a war between, on the one hand, the alliance of globalism and left-liberalism and, on the other hand, conservatism? Moscow would very much like Ukrainian and Western conservatives (including Poles) to believe in this simplistic view,” Pieczyński remarks.

Pieczyński recalls that homosexual relations were forbidden in the USSR and that Ukraine was the first of the former Soviet republics to repeal this ban. Despite the adoption by the country’s authorities in 1996 of a law in which marriage was defined as “the union of a man and a woman,” since EuroMaïdan there has been in Ukraine a clear “left turn” on this issue, a turn for which the former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko is particularly responsible, who “publicly declared,” Pieczyński continues, “that he had nothing against a Gay Pride in Kiev…. In response to a request from opponents of the parade, he stated that he shared their concern, but that his intention was to build a tolerant, democratic and European society in Ukraine.”

Maciej Pieczyński then notes that, at the beginning of his term, President Zelensky did not take a clear stance on LGBTIQ+ ideology. But this changed with the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“While in Russia,” Pieczyński continues, “propaganda of homosexuality is not allowed, in Ukraine the rainbow ideology is seeping even into the ranks of the army. Already in 2018, an NGO called LGBTIQ+ Soldiers was established on the Dnieper River to provide support for non-heterosexual soldiers.”

In foreign policy, nothing is free, and Ukraine, which absolutely needs the support of the West and longs to be welcomed into Western living rooms, must prove that it adheres to the same values of Wokism that prevail in the West.

Lucien Cerise, PhD in philosophy, writes from France, where he lives high up in a maid’s room and works in the basement of the BNF. This article appears courtesy of El Manifesto.

Featured: The insignia of the Union of LGBTIQ+ Military of Ukraine (a mythical creature for more make-belief?)

To Be and To Endure: A Conversation with Padre Christian Venard

Padre Christian Venard studied history and law in Paris, before going to study philosophy and theology in Rome. He became a priest in 1997, and he has been a military chaplain in the French army for 22 years, mainly with the paratroopers. He participated in 16 overseas operations in all the theaters where France was engaged (from Kosovo to Mali, through Afghanistan, etc.). Since September 2020, he has been chaplain of the Monaco Public Force (Carabinieri and Firemen) and episcopal delegate for the Communication and Digital Evangelization Department of the Diocese of Monaco.

He is the author of Un prêtre à la guerre: Le témoignage d’un aumônier parachutiste (A Priest in War: The Testimony of a Paratrooper Chaplain), and La sainteté de A à Z: Dopez votre vie spirituelle! (Holiness from A to Z: Boost Your Spiritual Life).

We are so very honored to have this conversation with him.

The Postil (TP): Please tell us a little about yourself. What led you into the vocation of an army chaplain?

Padre Christian Venard (PCV): I come from a military family, going back several generations. So, when the question of a vocation to the priesthood came up for me, it was quite obvious to me that I wanted to serve Christ and His Church in a military setting.

TP: Is military priesthood different from being a pastor in a parish?

PCV: Yes and no. No, in the sense that one is a priest exactly like any other priest with the same obligations of life and prayer and that one exercises one’s ministry within the particular framework of the diocese of the armed forces.

Padre Christian Venard. Photo © AFP

Yes, because the lifestyle of the military chaplain is similar to that of the “worker priests” in the 1950s and 1960s. The chaplain is immersed in military life, while remaining fully a priest; he adopts the customs and habits, the uniform, the way of life, the training, the departure on operations. His objective: to be as close as possible to everyone—always available, open and welcoming to all. Finally, this ministry allows the priest to be in contact with a whole population that is largely outside the churches: mostly men between 20 and 40 years old!

TP: Are men in the army more religious than civilians? Or, is secularism more predominant than faith?

PCV: The French army is the image of the civil society from which it comes, and this is rather reassuring. The men and women who work in the army are mostly indifferent to religion, and practice a kind of practical state atheism, taught by the French national education system. That being said, the specificities of the military, the official presence of the four recognized religious denominations (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim) and certain sociological particularities (in particular the rate of Catholic religious practice among Saint-Cyrien officers, or the tradition of the feasts of arms) mean that religion is more present within the armed forces than in the rest of society.

TP: What are some of the challenges that you faced as a chaplain?

PCV: The first one is to be accepted in such a particular environment. Certainly, because of my family history, several elements predisposed me to it. However, as for every chaplain, you have to “prove yourself” in some way. One cannot impose oneself only with one’s title of clergyman. It is necessary to show that you have the human qualities that can make you a “member of the clan.” This was particularly true of paratroopers. You had to go through the parachute certification and regularly go jumping out of planes with the guys.

A second challenge will probably surprise you. That of standing up to the hierarchy of military chaplaincy. I have known four bishops in the armed forces, appointed by the Vatican, who knew little about the specific vocation of military chaplaincy. The last three surrounded themselves with advisors who would blinker them in this respect. This put me (and other chaplains) in very distressing situations, and led to misunderstanding, even persecution, because of this hierarchy not wanting to accept the particularities of military life.

TP: What was the most humorous experience that you had as a chaplain?

PCV: One day, with a fellow parachute chaplain, we were with our young people who were learning to jump and were in the plane for their first jump. The two “padres” were each at a door and my confrere said to me in a loud voice, just before the jump: “And you, Christian, what do you think about organ donation?” Imagine the faces of the poor young soldiers, who were already having a hard time. But we were laughing our heads off!

TP: What advice would you give to young people about service in the military?

PCV: Give it your all. Don’t look back. Never compromise yourself. Follow your ideal at the risk of your career. May the young man that I was, be able to look at the old man that he has become one day and not be ashamed of anything. “To be and to endure” (motto of the 3rd RPIMa, my beloved Regiment).

TP: Turning to larger contemporary issues—as the West becomes further de-Christianized, how should the individual Christian, who feels isolated, even “under siege,” respond?

PCV: You know the famous answer of Mother Teresa when asked what needs to change in the Church and she answered: “you and me.” There is no better way to put it. Indeed, Catholics must realize that this old European continent that they have forged through their religion over the centuries is almost no longer fed, in the public sphere, by the values of Christianity. For those who are called upon to exercise important responsibilities (in the public or private sector, it doesn’t matter), it is advisable, in its rightful place, to make the Christian faith shine, through behavior, in decisions, in philosophical choices. For all of us, it is important to bear humble witness in our daily lives, in the strongest possible fidelity to Christ and His commandments.

TP: The Church has called for the re-evangelization of Europe. Despite difficulties, are you seeing any signs of success?

PCV: Is it a distorting mirror? As the person in charge of communication in the diocese of Monaco, I can see that many Catholic initiatives are taken on social networks and with a certain success. This is a hope. Moreover, if, for the moment, the dominant culture remains rather hostile to Christianity, it seems to me to perceive in the younger generations a thirst for transcendence, for meaning, which reopens doors for evangelization. But nothing can be done today, as we well know, by arguments of authority. Only credible witness counts. In this respect, the terrible crisis of pedophilia, the equally serious crisis of authority within the Church, are so many deleterious counter-witnesses.

TP: In the modern world, we have very few heroes; we are overwhelmed by celebrities. Should we see saints as heroes?

PCV: Yes, the heroes (heralds!) of the Gospel. Men and women, whose holiness has been officially recognized, have been, according to the well-known image, illustrations in time and space, of the evangelical virtues. Virtue is both strength and struggle. One does not become virtuous by crossing one’s arms, but by boldly advancing on the path of life, always strewn with pitfalls and temptations.

TP: Who is your hero?

PCV: Many saints inspire me. Charles de Foucault is one of those who touches me the most. The vigor with which he followed the road of sin first, then that of sanctity, pleases me. There is nothing bland about this man. An immense appetite for the absolute. A confounding humility when he discovered the true meaning of his life. A form of activism almost naive in his will to create a “religious order.” Yes, all this speaks to me deeply.

TP: Holiness in our daily lives has certainly weakened, and we seem content with the ever-expanding struggle for “rights.” How can individuals cultivate and advance in holiness, given all the “noise” of the world?

PCV: To find silence, solitude (inhabited by the Spirit). Leave time for God and our soul. To extract ourselves from the tumult. It is virtuous. It is a daily struggle. Accepting the Cross of Christ, in humility and perseverance. To appear to be nothing in the eyes of the powerful—even in the Church—and to rejoice! To dare to be fraternal with those we meet—that is to say, to fully accept the inevitable wounds that will result from this, as rivers of charity for this world.

TP: Many people struggle with faith, and some have even lost it entirely. What do you say to people who cannot believe in God, let alone in Christ?

PCV: This is the question that has been asked by so many men and women after the Shoah. We cannot miss the atheist questioning. I do not know a priori what to say. I know that we must stand by, suffer with those who suffer, weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice. To witness that being a son of God is to love one’s neighbor as oneself and God above all else, at the risk of losing oneself, the better to fall into the arms of Love. Our free and respectful response to the atheist is our life. Life is a risk. Witnessing to God is a risk, if we take Him seriously.

TP: Padre Venard, thank you so very much for sharing with us your valuable experiences and ideas, and giving us your deep guidance.

History Returns to Europe

The liberation of the Donbas by the Russian army has surprised us all, as I believe that nobody thought that the situation would end in an armed clash. Yesterday, after the commemoration of the Homeland Defense Day, the Kremlin government decided to put an end to a conflict in which the threats of the Atlanticists have been answered with facts by Russia. In these chaotic hours, we have the feeling that history has returned to Europe with the liberating advance of the Russian troops.

A war correspondent in a helmet and bulletproof vest, “reporting” from Ukraine. Behind him, a couple of tourists taking pictures. Source.

It seems that the dogmatic reverie of the foolish social democracy is collapsing, that the old and rotten liberal structure is falling down. NATO, the Western partitocracies, and also we, ordinary Europeans, find ourselves faced with the most unexpected of responses, faced with the thundering echoes of the ultima ratio regum, the motto that Louis XIV inscribed on his cannons and which graphically explains what is the essential core of the sovereignty of a State: force, the element that supports the political decision of a national community. Something the twilight Europeans do not know the meaning of, since they have long since handed over to stateless elites and organizations their ability to act as agents of history. Since the 1960s, Europe has tried to live outside the historical future, to sacrifice community identity—the being of the nation—to the opium of Welfare and the hedonistic aberrations of extreme nihilism. Russia is just the opposite example.

The End of History consisted of the forces of money, personified in the United States, imposing on the whole world the American Way of Life, the free market and democracy according to their regal whim, while Europe limited itself to assisting Washington and justifying its aggressions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria or Libya. However, this unipolar conception of geopolitics is not real. In 2016, the Americans themselves showed that they did not want to be the instrument of international elites and elected Trump as president, who could only be removed after a very dubious electoral process, a real coup d’état of the globalist oligarchy.

Russia, a power with a much smaller military capability than the United States and its NATO sepoys, stood up to the attempt to sow Islamist chaos in Syria and is now challenging the Anglo-Saxon hegemony with a bold move, responding unexpectedly to the ultimatums that the U.S.-backed government in Kiev had launched against Moscow in the last month. The bluffing game of the Zelensky histrion was accepted by Russia, and Moscow’s envoy has thwarted with blood and iron all the palaver of the NATO rabbis and the Open Society millionaire bonzes and sycophants.

Today, the end of the End of History has begun. American world hegemony is in question. Russia has broken the borders of an artificial state, which was built on the union of the historical Ukraine and New Russia by Lenin, and has defended the rights of its popular community, of that half of today’s Ukraine which is and feels Russian. Faced with these facts, the stateless plutocracy of the West will have to react somehow, or else its dominance will crumble, its New World Order will become a paper tiger that no one fears. The lapsed Joe Biden already has his war—but this one has blown up in his hands, possibly much earlier than he planned; he thought Putin was going to play by Washington’s rules and timelines.

The awakening has been bitter for the decrepit figurehead of the elites. His entanglements are unleashing a disaster that is dragging down his puppet regime, established after the Maidan coup of 2014, the work of Soros, Brussels and the American embassy in Kiev. The essential objective of the Anglo-Saxon strategy, to antagonize Russia and Ukraine, to prevent concord between the two states, had been achieved. The consequences were calamitous for Ukraine itself, whose political authority was erased overnight in Crimea, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kharkov and even Odessa. Only Putin’s excessive prudence, which limited itself to securing Russian Crimea and protecting the stable rebel nuclei in Lugansk and Donetsk, prevented the dissolution of Ukraine eight years ago. The Kremlin’s big mistake in 2014 was not to have reached out to Kyiv.

Like Poland in 1939, Ukraine has been thrown into an enterprise from which it will emerge battered and divided. This is what the Maidan “Revolution” and the political adventurism of the global plutocracy and its Ukrainian puppets have led to. America’s credibility will depend to a large extent on its response to this challenge. If it does nothing, the thesis of a unipolar world, of an American sphere, will be no more than a bad dream, a multicultural nightmare dissipated by the cold wind of the Russian steppe.

Sertorio lives, writes and thinks in Spain. this review comes through the kind courtesy of El Manifesto.

Featured: The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Bernardino Licinio; painted ca. 1530s.

Being Christian in the World: Refuge and Risk

The present situation makes the Benedictine option desirable and plausible, but it is not without the risk of sliding towards communitarianism. And a Christian cannot run away from his responsibilities to a temporal order, and notably the political.

The present situation of the Catholic Church in our country seems to me to be determined by the following three parameters:

First, the rapid decrease in the social presence of Catholicism since the 1960s—a quantitative decrease that is approaching a threshold where the disappearance of the Catholic fact becomes conceivable.

Second, the irruption of a historically unprecedented factor, Islam, which occupies a growing place, visibly growing, in French society.

Third, the enthronement of the ideology of human rights as the exclusive principle of political, social, and moral legitimacy, installing each “me” in an immanence sure of its right.

On whatever side the French Catholic turns, he sees a threat rising up that can seem insurmountable, coming simultaneously from within, from outside and from himself! The temptation is great to respond to this triple offensive by resorting to the eternal strategy of the weakest party: the defensive, the refuge in a stronghold. In fact, we still have sufficient resources to build a good-looking Catholic fortress: sheltered behind its ramparts, we would no longer be demoralized by the indifference or hostility of global society, Muslims would become external and foreign to us again as they were forty years ago, and by “tightening the bolts” of a Christian life delivered from equivocations and timidities, by forming among ourselves this “Christian society” that France is no longer, we would be able to reorient our lives in the direction of the Transcendent.

Need for Social Support

This last argument must be taken seriously. Indeed, as supernatural as it is in its source and its intimate workings, the Christian life inevitably depends on social supports placed at our disposal by the collective organization of which we are members: places of worship, financial means, competent administrators, respected pastors, and in general everything that contributes to the social authority of the religious institution. It is only when they are subjected to systematic persecution—a situation, as we know, which does not exclude great spiritual fruitfulness—that Christians are entirely deprived of such support.

It is, moreover, the need to find such support that in the past led the Church to ask for help from the political authorities, a help that she obtained at the price of obscuring her own vocation, which caused an incurable wound in her credibility. No one today asks for or proposes such political support. It is unthinkable. That is why the withering of the Church’s social vitality (that social vitality which had allowed her in the first part of the last century to adapt with some success to her exclusion from the political sphere) is such a cause for concern or anguish for Catholics today, a concern or anguish which makes the “Benedictine option” desirable and plausible.

However, if this option is to effect—that is its purpose—of concentrating the forces of Catholics and giving them back a sense of strength, this revival would, I believe, be short-lived. This Benedictine option seems to me to have three disadvantages.

  1. Any defensive regrouping entails the risk of sectarian closure, with the inevitable weakening of intellectual and even moral demands, since we would now be “among ourselves.” As soon as we give up trying to convince, persuade or even interest those who are “outside,” a great source of improvement is lost. Moreover, we would be claiming to be reaping before the renewal of Catholic intellectual life (which is the most encouraging aspect of the present situation of Catholicism) has reached maturity.
  2. Since we need collective or social support, we must not exaggerate their contribution to Christian life. Whatever the political and social situation, leading a truly Christian life remains the most difficult and improbable thing in the world; it remains that fragile miracle which constantly enlightens and renews the life of the world. If Catholics, or Christians in general, are sincere, they admit that our little faith, hope and charity are not responsible for anything other than our little faith, hope and charity. The threshold of the Christian life is therefore not the accusation of the “world” or “society” but penance, “the repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).
  3. There is no remedy, nor should we seek one, for the situation facing the Christian. It entails a double obligation, of fidelity to the Church and of mission to one’s neighbor, a mission as urgent and perilous today as it was in the time of the Apostles. Let us not covet, but rather fear, the impression of recovered strength that a Catholic “gathering” would easily create. Paul’s authority assures us that there are always enough of us so that God’s strength can be seen in our weakness.

Moreover, our responsibility as Christians is no less political or civic than properly religious. This Europe that turns its back on us, let us not turn our backs on it in turn. If we want to give a generous meaning to what otherwise risks remaining a slogan, the “Christian roots of Europe,” we must hold ourselves responsible for what is happening in Europe, co-responsible with the other citizens concerned about the common fate, but also especially responsible as Christians who claim the unparalleled part—good and bad mixed—that their religion has taken, in the deepening of the European soul.

The Civic Obligation of Christians

This is where the relationship of the Church to herself, to her own life, and her relationship to Europe come together. Christians cannot devote themselves exclusively to the deepening of their sacramental life, however essential it may be. As citizens and as Christians they cannot abandon Europe to its fate. They have an inseparable civic and Christian obligation to preserve what, for lack of a better expression, I call the “Christian mark” of Europe.

Now, the shift imposed by the present pontificate has redoubled the difficulty of this task. On the one hand, ad intra, the sacramental rule is obscured or “blurred,” those thresholds that give meaning and relief to the interior life of the Church are erased. On the other hand, ad extra, religions are equalized, indifference to their dogmatic and moral content is shown, and the religious composition of the European population is shown to be of the utmost indifference.

Thus, the political and religious articulations of the present world are ignored or brutalized. This politically and religiously unformed humanity is the subject and the vehicle of a religion without any other content than emotional or sentimental. In such an involution, the dulling of the religious requirement is one with the darkening of the political view. We see that the urgency for the Christian citizens of Europe is not less civic than religious. For them, it is a matter of preserving or reviving the Christian mark of the European nations, and inseparably of preserving or reviving their political legitimacy. Instead of seeking refuge in a “small Christian society,” accept to be a citizen and a Christian in the greater society, inhospitable as it has always been.

Pierre Manent is a political philosopher at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Centre de recherches politiques Raymond Aron, and Boston College. His many books are widely translated into English, including, Metamorphoses of the City: On the Western DynamicA World beyond Politics?: A Defense of the Nation State, and Modern Liberty and its Discontents. This article appears courtesy of La Nef.

Featured: Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, by Ambrosius Francken I; painted ca. early 16th century.

The First Schleswig-Holstein War: The Beginning of Military Interposition

1848 was a turbulent but critical year in the modern history of Europe, which saw the major crisis of the so-called “Vienna system,” with politically and socially originated revolutions and revolts across the continent.

Within this context, the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein were caught between rising nationalism and the will of the German-speaking people for unification.

The case of Schleswig and Holstein remains a minor part of that momentum, overshadowed by other major events, while also overlapped by the first Prussian-Danish war. Thus one of the first neutral interposition operation in Europe has been marginalized and largely forgotten.

The majority of Schleswig-Holsteiners were German speakers (despite a prominent minority of Danes), who believed that the inclusion of their territory within the German Federation, with its own constitution, was the optimal option for their own future.

In this light, they naturally looked to Prussia.

In Denmark, as in many other European countries, the call for a democratic constitution was initially triggered by the February riots in Paris against King Louis-Phillipe of Orleans.

The Danish Crown, in crisis, constitutionally and in terms of monarchical succession, wished to keep a firm hand on the southernmost duchies and sent military forces to crack down on the insurgents and the Prussian forces that supported them.

During the conflict, a truce was established, and a Swedish-Norwegian force, supported by a British naval squadron, was dispatched to the region, with the mandate to garrison one part of the disputed area.

This could be considered the first interposition experiment carried out by a neutral actor.

This force often at the center of skirmishes and clashes, anticipated similar situations in peacekeeping operations in the 20th century.

Finally, also, the withdrawal of the neutral force saw many clashes.

The Region

The Schleswig-Holstein situation, one of the most intricate grids because of ethnic and dynastic reasons in all of entire Europe, was seemingly solved by way of another conflict in the second half of the 19th century, and was finally resolved with a plebiscite, carried out under the joint auspices of the Allied and Associate Powers and the League of Nations after WWI.

The Schleswig-Holstein represented, as mentioned above, one of most complicate situations, due to the ethnic and dynastic quagmire of contrasting trends and interests, both local and regional.

This conflict was the mirror of several ongoing mutations in the political, economic and social landscape of the European continent.

Denmark, like many other countries in Europe, was caught in the broader transition between absolute monarchies to a constitution-led state model.

In this already complex scenario, emerged a new military model—the use of neutral force between warring parties.

In the past, there had been some cases (Italy, during the “Salt War” and in Switzerland); but the case of Schleswig-Holstein represented, for the time, one of the most coherent experiment.

It should be noted that the deployment of Swedish-Norwegian troops in Schleswig-Holstein was the transformation of initial, planned deployment in support of Denmark, into a neutral-intended intervention, representing a major change in the political stance of Stockholm.

The Political Landscape

The German communities, who lived in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, governed from Denmark, revolted, in April 1848, against the Copenhagen rule, inflamed by similar revolts which swept across all of Europe.

The German Federation, an organization which brought together all states of the post-Vienna Congress Germany, inflamed by self-determination and national unification principles, mandated Prussia to support the insurgents.
Facing a serious threat, Copenhagen asked help from Great Britain, Sweden-Norway and Russia.

The three foreign parties brought in their own international and regional interests to the crisis as well as their broader worldviews.

Stockholm, in one of the first examples of Nordic solidarity, and on the request of Copenhagen, sent a contingent, in May, to Denmark (4.000 out of the 15.000 men deployed in Scania), ready to intervene, supported by a large naval force.

Aside from the deployment of troops, not involved in clashes, and aside from Danes against pro-Germans and Prussians, Sweden sent to Prussia a declaration, stating that any further action against Denmark would lead Stockholm into a direct intervention into Copenhagen, a city considered vital for the strategic security of Sweden.

The mere presence of Swedish-Norwegian troops, which landed in Fyn, blocked further progression of pro-Germans forces and Prussian elements up towards the north.

However, it should be said that Sweden-Norway also asked Denmark to refrain from any action that might lead to a worsening of the crisis, like launching counteroffensives against Schleswig-Holstein, under control of the pro-Germans and Prussians.

London, following her traditional approach and policies, sought to avoid any possible change in the balance of powers in the continent, as much as possible.

The strategic position of Denmark, a key area between the North Sea and the Baltic, made the request for assistance from Copenhagen, a matter of strategic interest for Great Britain.

Russia, which since the Napoleonic wars considered Prussia her protégé, did not appreciate the liberal shift ongoing in Berlin and interpreted the move for Schleswig-Holstein, not coordinated with St. Petersburg, as a sign of political independency.

For St. Petersburg, this initiative risked dismantling the legitimacy of the political system ongoing in the continent, set up with the so-called “Vienna System.”

On British initiative, in the month of May 1848, peace negotiations were organized in London, between Prussia and Denmark, with Britain as mediator.

In the talks, it was proposed to split the territory between Schleswig and Holstein, but which was not accepted by the Danes.

Despite this initial failure, Lord Palmerston, the British Prime Minister, insisted on continuing the negotiations in Malmoe, Sweden.

The negotiations, coupled with the provisional halt to military operations, led to the signature of the first cease-fire signed in Malmoe, under the auspices of London, St. Petersburg and Stockholm.

The issued ceasefire put Berlin in an embarrassing situation, given that the German League Parliament, seated in Frankfurt am Main, did not ratify it. Consequently, the King of Prussia did not ratify it, either—while Denmark did ratify the ceasefire.

Then, a rift took place. The pro-German forces, refused to accept the ceasefire, reflecting the ambiguous stance of Berlin and Frankfurt.

In this regard, Denmark, despite talks ongoing since mid-July, on the 24th of that same month, declared the temporary armistice null and void.

Copenhagen, though it did not resume ground operations against the pro-Germans and Prussians, established a rigid naval blockade of Baltic coasts, enjoying the support of London, St. Petersburg and Stockholm, and was strongly hostile to Berlin’s refusal to ratify the truce.

A new truce was signed in Malmoe on 26 August 1848. During this truce, lasting seven months, no political results were obtained.

At the expiration of the truce, fighting erupted again between the Danish forces on the one side and the Prussians and local insurgents on the other; but this time it saw the dominance of Danish forces, testified by the Battle of Fredericia on 7 July 1849.

The Neutral Force

In Malmoe, with the reopening of war, a new session of negotiations was immediately promoted by Norway-Sweden, Russia and Great Britain, and in July 1849 led to a result.

Russia and Great Britain were strongly interested in normalization, given that their commercial trade with Prussia was heavily affected by the Danish naval blockade.

This led to a new truce for six months, which was extendable for a further six weeks.

Despite fierce resistance, Denmark accepted the idea of partition of the disputed territory (an option that emerged during talks between the other stakeholders) as the only way to solve the issue.

Prussia signed the armistice on 10 July and Denmark on the 17th.

Prussia provisionally administered Southern Schleswig and Holstein, inhabited mostly by German populations, and garrisoned the area with 6.000 troops.

Northern Schleswig, with a stronger ethnic mix, was administered by an international commission, directed by a British diplomat, along with a Prussian and one Danish deputies, thus setting up a tripartite administration, based in Flensburg.

The international commission was assisted by a force of 4,000 Swedish-Norwegian soldiers, supported by a British naval squadron and one (much smaller) Swedish-Norwegian naval force.

The Swedish-Norwegian troops arrived in Flensburg on 27 August 1849, and they policed the area, disarmed the pro-German forces and monitored the withdrawal of Danish troops back into Jutland.

The Force Commander was the Commanding Officer of the Värmland Regiment (one of the oldest units of the Royal Swedish Army), Colonel O. A. Malmborg, who for this duty was promoted Major-General.

The international presence was constantly punctuated since its arrival by serious incidents and clashes, especially with pro-German insurgents, and in-between those with the Danish-speaking irregular armed elements.

The surveillance of the line separating northern from southern Schleswig was very problematic due to the nature of the area.

The Southern Schleswig remained the base for pro-independence militias, which despite the heavy losses in the war against Denmark, remained ready to fight.

The Prussians, who were tasked to disarm them, instead supported their raids in the north.

In January 1850 a Swedish-Norwegian detachment was attacked by 800 armed units in a heavy battle, south of the demarcation line, southeast of Flensburg.

The international troops, in a recce mission, following an incursion of pro-German units, was forced to cross the demarcation line and engage the insurgents in clashes, and thus defeating them.

The mandate of the international force expired in January 1850, but was extended for other six months, as in Berlin a decisive phase of the negotiations between Prussia and Denmark, ongoing since December 1849, was taking place.

The talks required many weeks; and only on 2 July was there reached a final agreement, in which Denmark returned to exercising sovereignty over the Duchies, but with the commitment not to conduct unfair policies and/or reprisals in the German minority.

During the spring of 1850, Russia suggested that the Swedish-Norwegian force should also garrison Southern Schleswig, replacing the Prussians forces.

The proposal was rejected by Sweden, on the ground of a substantial risk of even greater involvement in dealing with a hostile, pro-German, population.

On 2 July 1850 peace was signed in Berlin between Denmark and the Prussia and German League.

The agreement allowed the withdrawal of Swedish-Norwegian and Prussian forces from their areas of responsibilities.

In late July, the Scandinavian troops left the territory. The operations of re-embarkation were characterized by incidents, heavy gunfire and several fallen among the troops and the German separatists.

At the same time Prussia withdrew its forces from southern Schleswig and Holstein. As soon as foreign forces were withdrawn, the duchies were re-occupied by the forces of Copenhagen, according to the peace treaty.

The Danish forces crushed in few days another uprising of the pro-German armed groups, which exploded immediately after the arrival of the troops of Copenhagen.

Although little known, this mission contains within itself the harbingers of future peace support missions: interim administration, approval of the parties involved in a conflict with regard to the deployment of a neutral military force, disarming of irregular military formations, and patrolling the lines of demarcation.

The other point which led this operation to a success, and often forgotten when there is an analysis of the achievements of a peacekeeping operation, the existence of a serious political will in supporting the forces on the ground.

Finally, a politically-minded observation. The role of London, Stockholm and St. Petersburg, even if appearing as neutral, in reality, none of these were “honest brokers,” given their political interests and/or strategic imperatives; and these kinds of dynamics should be analyzed for a proper interpretation of third parties in international crisis.

Enrico Magnani, PhD is a UN officer who specializes in military history, politico-military affairs, peacekeeping and stability operations. (The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations). This paper was presented at the 53rd Conference of the Consortium of the Revolutionary Era, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, 2-4 February 2023.

Featured: Danish Soldiers Returning to Copenhagen, by Otto Bache; painted in 1894.

Tales from Nulandia: Uncle Sam Wants You!

Images from the Munich Security Conference this February shew Odessa MP Alexei Goncharenko tenderly entwining a bracelet fashioned from spent ammo-cartridges round the wrist of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and then pressing up against the motherly bosom of EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. (Now that I think of it, Goncharenko so much resembles the latter physically, might he be her eighth child? Just a thought.)

Safely ensconced on the other side of the Atlantic, Goncharenko’s alter ego, US civil servant Paul Massaro, has posted on his Twitter account a likeness of himself swagging with the Azov Bataillon flag—although his jubilant Hey, Look What I’ve Got! (sic) Tweet, thrusting the Stepan Bandera insignia sewn to his sleeve into the viewer’s face has, for some reason, vanished—though not before his admirers had immortalized it.

An alumnus of the National Endowment for Democracy and the Robertson Foundation for Government (its in-house slideshow portrays Secretary Anthony Blinken inter alia), Massaro is also a Hudson Institute associate.

That read and done, so to speak, one cannot but surmise that the “Paul Massaro” publicly-accessible webpages have been scrubbed of all clue as to his true mentors, sponsors and income-sources; the latter may well be substantial, given Massaro’s overseas trips, smart attire and gleaming array of teeth.

Paul Massaro: Statesman, Thinker, Banderovite

Whatever. Beamed from these “prestigious”, certainly official sites, the Massaro pages have apparently been drafted by their Subject Himself, so carefully crafted are they to glorify the polymath, workhorse and above all, statesman endowed with every gift of nature.

Thus we learn from the National Endowment for Democracy site that he serves the OSCE (Helsinki Commission ) as Senior (!) Policy Advisor at the venerable age of 32, with a portfolio including “topics such as anti-corruption, sanctions, finance, trade, Arctic issues, and energy security. He is also responsible for Mongolia and the OSCE Asian Partners for Cooperation (Japan, Korea, Thailand, Australia, and Afghanistan).”

Now, bearing in mind that a career diplomat of rank will not, as a rule, intervene into more than one or two major regions or policy areas, one inclines to the view that Massaro, with an MA from the Maryland School of Public Policy, and speaking only English and some German, cannot by any stretch of the imagination master “topics such as anti-corruption, sanctions, finance, trade, Arctic issues, and energy security. He is also responsible for Mongolia and the OSCE Asian Partners for Cooperation (Japan, Korea, Thailand, Australia, and Afghanistan).”

Dwarfing Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov no doubt.

Accordingly, one would suggest that like Alexei Goncharenko, Massaro is a paid buffoon, deployed abroad to finger potential adversaries of Nulandia, while winkling out bounders, so sorry I meant allies, such as Anastasia Colosimo. The latter, a self-righteous little blonde aged all of 30 or so, has just been appointed advisor to President E. Macron in a diplomatic capacity, while lacking all experience in international relations. Miss Colosimo’s previous day job was as Office Manager to Mme. Sarkozy’s latest spouse at New York

Turning next to what appears, again, to be a Massaro Samizdat (self-published) page on the CSCE site, one encounters flattery that breaks all bounds.

Dixit the OSCE page, Massaro’s work “has advanced the recognition of corruption as a national security threat. He has been described in the media as ‘one of America’s foremost corruption experts’ and an ‘endless source of democratic ingenuity.’ His work has been similarly described as “breathtakingly prescient.” He has worked on over 13 pieces of counter-corruption legislation and facilitated the founding of the Congressional Caucus against Foreign Corruption and Kleptocracy and the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance against Kleptocracy.

“His work on the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, a landmark law redefining doping as fraud… has for the first time held to account the authoritarian actors who use sport as a tool of foreign policy. His work on the Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention (TRAP) Act was similarly groundbreaking, serving as the first-ever U.S. law to respond to abuse of INTERPOL by authoritarian regimes.”

Presented by Rep. Steven Cohen of Tennessee, the TRAP act’s explicit targets are Russia and similar recalcitrants—Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkey—and its aim, to bring INTERPOL to heel—the US heel.

Alexei Goncharenko: From Russophile to Terminator

Born in 1980, Massaro’s alter-ego Goncharenko though actually a Russian-speaker, now affects the Ukrainian spelling Oleksyi and has succeeded, with which funds one knows not, to get himself elected MP for Odessa, a Russian city currently spelled “Odesa” in Nulandia.

Goncharenko came to fame or rather notoriety, for the bizarre role he played during the ritual sacrifice by fire of trades-unionists on May 2nd, 2014 at Odessa.

In his native city, what is said of Goncharenko would not, perhaps, be music to Vikki Nuland’s ears.

On September 20, 2021, a Ukrainian journalist, Sergei Shilov, penned a psycho-profile of this little thug for the on-line Klymenko Times, intitled “Oleksiy Goncharenko: Poroshenko’s parliamentary jester.”

Written in English, the article reveals some background to the disorders that define Goncharenko’s personality. He is one of the numerous progeny of Alexei Koktusev, MP from 1998-2001, former Mayor of Odessa, former Chair of the Anti-Monopoly Commission (2001-2008) and serial seducer, bouncing from one marriage to the next. According to reporter Shilov, on leaving the conjugal domicile, Koktusev left his own fecal matter in the breadbasket as a parting gift. Goncharenko was aged 3 at the time; this must have been a most edifying scene for a toddler.

After medical studies at Odessa, Goncharenko was somehow elected or appointed President of the regional Green Party, before leaving for Moscow to study economics (2002-2005). On his return, he became municipal Chairman of the Union Party (Soyuz), then headed by pater familias Koktusev. As a member of Soyuz, an overtly pro-Russian party, Goncharenko became favourably known to locals by pledging to grant the Russian language and its speakers equitable, official status.

From 2005 to 2013, now onto his third political party, the Party of Regions, Goncharenko continued to lobby for Russian-speakers, and succeeded – again, doubtless thanks to the pater who then owned television stations – to join Odessa’s municipal council as an opponent to the Mayor Edward Hurwitz, a self-described Ukrainian patriot.

Suddenly however, pater Koktusev returned to Odessa from Kiev, with his sights trained on Town Hall. Father-son oedipal battles ensued, with the police occasionally called in.

Cut to the year 2013, the year before the Maidan coup d’état. From a steady flow, US money swelled to a torrent (according to Vikki Nuland, the USA had invested $US 5 billion into Ukrainian politics), and Goncharenko’s fingers inched towards the butter on the sliced white bread.

For an outsider to unravel the labyrinth of Odessa’s ultra-corrupt politics is no easy thing. In a nutshell, then-President Yanukovich intervened to demand that the city’s Mayor, pater Koktusev, resign. Since that time, our attempts to trace Koktusev have proven fruitless – he seems to have evaporated (gone fishing, or to Russia?).

On 19th February 2014, as US winds blew to gale force, Alexei Goncharenko quit the Party of Regions to find, as Shilov explains, a new sugar daddy in the person of Pietr Poroshenko, soon to be President of the 51st US State, along with a brand-new identity as a fire-breathing Ukrainian “patriot”.

By 25th March 2014, Goncharenko was found parading in a PUTIN-HITLER T-shirt at Strasburg during the Council of Europe’s Congress of Regional Authorities. Two short months later, on 2nd May 2014, this Russophile and Russian-speaker was sighted sporting a smart little cap and a twisted smile, as trades-unionists were trapped and burnt to cinders in the Trades Unions House.

“The Kulikovo Field Has been Cleared of Separatists”

Aleksey Goncharenko (in cap) watching the Trades Union House burn. Credit: Klymenko Time.

That same day, 2nd May 2014, a day of mourning for the guiltless dead, when mentally-healthy Ukrainians were reeling in shock and disgust, Goncharenko appeared on live television, to giggle that “the Kulikov Field has been cleared of separatists” (Shuster-Live). Thereafter, his every word made him hosts of enemies, save for Pietr Poroshenko and Co., who got him into Parliament for Odessa.

Sergei Shilov’s piece proceeds to set out a long list of variously puerile or repellent incidents involving Goncharenko, of which we shall report only one:

“… on September 7, 2021, the Verkhovna Rada met for an extraordinary meeting to consider address to the US Congress with a request to grant Ukraine the status of an ‘ally outside NATO’. The author of this idea was Aleksey Goncharenko, who collected 150 signatures of people’s deputies, but only 24 voted in favor. And it was not only that after the US left Afghanistan, the status of an “ally outside NATO” lost all meaning. The State Department itself spoke out against it, using its levers of influence in Ukraine to “dissuade” politicians controlled by itself from supporting this appeal…”

Since then, one finds Goncharenko everywhere—notably in England, or at the PACE Commission to which he was appointed Vice-President by “acclamation” (sic). Here, there, and everywhere—Goncharenko has only to open that gaping maw to reveal the extent of his psycho-pathology, the latest Make Russia Small Again podcast with fellow-buffoon Paul Massaro being a case in point.

Hush! Sadistic Clowns at Play!

And so, on the Massaro Method (sic) Podcast Make Russia Small Again (February 22, 2023, one hears Goncharenko utter the word bloodshed perhaps six times in half-an-hour – bloodshed, inevitable as Russia is to be carved up, Siberia thrown to the Chinese wolf, the Caucasus to revolt – bloodshed! Serbia’s goose will have to be cooked, since she acts as Russia’s Trojan Horse (sic), even were that to mean bloodshed. Fortunately Yugoslavia splintered, although at the cost of bloodshed.

How foolish a thing, says Paul Massaro, that some at Washington DC still balk at splintering Russia, fearful of unleashing a thousand times the Yugoslavian wars—bloodshed? No problemo! Hee-hawing like the ass he is, Massaro bares his row of giant teeth.

Press on!

Spilling the gut on his “father” fantasies, Goncharenko then portrays Russia as a maniac who kills women (sic !), “it’s a hunger” he says, a maniac who will go on and on if not halted. Russia cannot stop, she will invade, she threatens the entire world. She will throw herself on Moldavia, she’s spent millions to subvert Moldavia. Russia is the last empire left standing, all the others have happily been dismembered—the Ottomans, the Germans—and now Russia’s turn has come. Her weak link: the non-Slavic peoples, who must be stirred up into revolt. Chechenya and Daghestan must join NATO.

The two buffoons agree on one further, not inconsequential point: do not expect the Russian people to rise up against their President. Indeed, says Goncharenko, since but 10,000 of Moscow’s ten million inhabitants ever demonstrate against him, Vladimir Putin must be overthrown by exploiting every crack in his entourage, while closing every sanctions loophole. Neither can repress their Schadenfreude as Massaro cackles: “at least, the Germans are no longer buying their natural resources [sic] from Russia. You’ve gotta starv’em out!” Natural resources, yeah.

In a word, these individuals are sycophants, propitiators out for the main chance. Neither are possessed of any inner strength – their entire being is premised on propitiating whomever they perceive to hold the key to power and money. The moment power passes elsewhere, they will hasten to switch sides.

A buffoon is amusing, only when his master is not murderous. These buffoons’ masters are in the business of getting others killed.

Now, Goncharenko will likely come a cropper at the hands of Someone whose toes he has trod upon once too many – amongst Massaro’s Banderovite heroes there’s no lack of such Someones. Thieves DO fall out. As for Paul Massaro, if things go belly up with the Banderovites, he’ll ply his networks right lift and centre for a lucrative post retailing gibberish in the Ivy League, tucked up all safe and warm in the US of A.

And A Message from Dr. Sherwin Nuland né Nudelman, Vikki’s Pater Familias

Amongst the buffoons’ managers, one suspects Under-Secretary of State Vikkie née Nudelman Nuland, In 1995, her father, Dr. Sherwin Nuland né Nudelman, surgeon, wrote a best-seller on—you guessed it—DEATH, intitled How we Die. Very strangely, although by the year it appeared cancer treatment had made such strides that a diagnosis no longer meant a death sentence, Dr. Nuland fairly revels in the sheer wantonness of cancer, and in a way that would nicely fit our two Banderovites:

Cancer. “The disease pursues a continuous, uninhibited… barn-burning expedition of destructiveness, in which it heeds no rules, follows no commands, and explodes all resistance in a homicidal riot of devastation. Its cells behave like the members of a barbarian horde run amok…

“…the uncontrolled mob of misfits that is cancer behaves like a gang of perpetually wilding adolescents…. There comes a point at which home turf is not enough—offshoots of the gang take wing, invade other communities, and, emboldened by their unresisted depredations, wreak havoc on the entire commonwealth of the body. But, in the end, there is no victory for cancer. When it kills its victim, it kills itself. A cancer is born with a death wish.”

Charming, I’m sure.

By the way, and lastly—as a Jew, I must ask: how comes it that Jews like Victoria née Nudelman Nuland or Anthony Blinken, Jews of Slavic origin no less, have sold their soul to overtly-Nazi killers? Mendelssohn Moses has attempted an answer here.

Mendelssohn Moses writes from France.

What Ukraine Tells Us about the Coming War… Continued

“The Braudelian conception of time is fundamental to the student of war because it allows him to inscribe his vision as well as his theoretical reflection over the long duration, that which helps to access the time of war. The latter is opposed to the Man of the 21st century, a man in a hurry whose mental and temporal horizon is subject to the diktat of the instantaneousness of journalistic analyses, mass media and social networks” (Olivier Entraygues, Regards sur la guerre: l’école de la défaite [A Look at the War: The School of Defeat]).

After the acclamation of President Zelensky by the US Congress, the British Prime Minister’s public promise of an uninterrupted flow of ammunition to Ukraine in 2023, and, last but not least, Ukraine’s request to exclude Russia from the UN, the media is now talking about a great Ukrainian victory, a turning point in the war and a probable Russian defeat.

Faced with this media overkill, it is more important than ever to put into practice the principle of analysis elaborated by Fernand Braudel: “Events are only dust; they only make sense when they are placed in the rhythms and cycles of the conjuncture and the long duration.” By this, Braudel means that it is important first to understand the macro-social-economic and political framework as well as the major trends of the historical long term in which the events take shape, only then to be able to grasp their significance or, on the contrary, their marginality. Mutatis mutandis, we join the approach of the prospectivist Thierry Gaudin for whom, “recognition precedes knowledge.”

In the case of the war in Ukraine, we must keep in mind the following parameters in terms of long duration, if we want to take a somewhat relevant look at the events:

  1. We are dealing with a confrontation between a declining hegemonic power (the United States) and an emerging regional power (Russia).
  2. Following Paul Kennedy’s masterful study, we know that hegemonies in decline are particularly bellicose, seeking to compensate for their gradual collapse through war;
  3. As far as Europe is concerned, since 1945 it has become a dependency of the American empire (Marshall Plan, OEEC/OECD, NATO, and today the EU), and therefore shares the fate of its guardian—minus the military force;
  4. Symptomatically, Saudi Arabia (a faithful ally of the United States, a great oil power and protector of the holy places of Islam) is now distancing itself from the empire.

Consequently, rather than asking ourselves, as in a good old Western, “Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys,” we should take advantage of this Ukrainian moment to try to decipher what is happening to us and, if possible, to plan an appropriate response. For there is every reason to believe that it is in the matrix of this war that the world of tomorrow is being born.

It is with this in mind that I offer the following reflections:

1) Ukraine is on the brink of collapse. Since the end of the 1990’s, emigration has cost it more than 20 million inhabitants (out of the 51 it had when it became independent). With the war, its economy and its infrastructures are destroyed, the generation of men between 18 and 35 years old has been bled dry in the fighting (more than 500 killed and wounded per day since May 2022). Ukraine has been sacrificed by its mentors—it is now a failed state at the gates of Europe, an ideal platform for all mafia trafficking and the grey economy.

2) Russia, on the other hand, has time. Its economy is industrial and, unlike China’s, it is not financialized. It is therefore relatively solid because it is not very dependent on fluctuations in the dollar and is not a party to the abysmal American debt. It is based on the sale of products (gas, oil, cereals, etc.) to very large countries (China, India, Pakistan, to name but a few). This element is very important, especially if we admit that the Russian war aim is not mainly Ukraine, but the Western system and its destabilization. Therefore, the economic strength of Russia explains why it has time, why for it the territorial gains in Ukraine remain secondary. Moreover, concerning the fact of “having time,” let us also recall that Russian strategic thinking is accustomed, since the Napoleonic wars, to cede ground in order to gain time and, in the long run, to exhaust the opponent. Under these conditions, I would like to make the following points:

  • Given the hemorrhaging of manpower, there are not many Ukrainians in the Ukrainian forces anymore. Most of them are mercenaries (Poles, Slovaks and Germans for the most part), who are apparently now in charge.
  • On the Russian side, there should be no major offensive on Kiev. Why put yourself inside immense ravaged territories whose populations are hostile to you?
  • For the Western bloc, the exit from the war is becoming more and more urgent, given Ukrainian exhaustion and the increasing cost of the war for its arsenals (not to mention the financing of the mercenaries). Let’s not forget that, on the one hand, the United States cannot afford to disarm at a time of rising tensions between China and Taiwan, and, on the other hand, the frenzied printing of money since 2020 suggests that the dollar is its last instrument of power—namely, to finance proxy wars.
  • The main obstacle to getting out of the war—it is President Zelensky who, with his incredible political acumen, has undoubtedly understood that his mentors were manipulating him and who, in return, is raising the stakes by demanding hundreds of billions of dollars. So, his removal from the picture becomes crucial—but highly problematic. It is interesting to note in this regard that for some time now, the Russian and Ukrainian press have been buzzing (each in its own way, of course) about the hypothesis of a military coup in Kiev.

3) Europe is defenseless. Both because of its disarmament (abolition of conscription, professional armies with low numbers oriented towards external operations, recourse to mercenarism, dismantling of logistical infrastructures) and because of the suppression of borders between nation-states (the Single Market, the Schengen Area, the Frontex system)—its geographical space is once again open to the “great raids” (understand great invasions).

Let’s go back in history to understand the meaning of such a statement. The last waves of invasion took place in the 9th—10th century. Viking, Saracen and Magyar raids caused the collapse of the Carolingian Empire. Then, from the 11th century onwards, with the advent of feudalism, and later of territorial states, Western Europe was covered with a thick network of fortifications (castles, fortresses, garrison towns), making it almost impossible for barbarian raids to take place. The more the territorial powers are strengthened, the less possible the rides become. Today, this protective glacis no longer exists, the European territory has become an “open city” again. In this respect, we can readily mention the migratory flows, the drug and human trafficking that cross Europe from one side to the other, all of which constitute a conglomerate of mafias, gangs and the grey economy. The Ukrainian failed state will play a multiplier role in this respect with the extravagant quantity of arms dumped in the country and which are beginning to find their way into the parallel markets.

4) From then on, we are heading for a new war. But which one? Everything leads us to say so, and yet this is the most difficult question to answer. Indeed, we must not forget two essential lessons in this respect. On the one hand, history does not repeat itself; each era gives birth to its own conflict-situation; and on the other hand, a common mistake consists in considering the next war in terms of the previous one. Recently, the recurrent evocation of a Third World War is a characteristic example of this type of error.

We must therefore ask ourselves what are the main axes of confrontation that are emerging. In the current context, it is obviously tempting to evoke the hypothesis of an attack by Russia against its immediate neighbors (Poland, Baltic States) degenerating into a wider conflict. While it is obvious that NATO staff cannot ignore such an eventuality, it nevertheless seems very unlikely: Russia has neither the military means nor the logistics for such an ambition. Let us recall, moreover, that the end of the Cold War saw the scheme of inter-state war replaced by that of the empire/barbarian dialectic: namely, the American wars of globalization and the concomitant rise of Islamism-jihadism. This confrontation stretches from the first Iraq War (1991) to the catastrophic evacuation of Kabul in 2021. More than 30 years of war or, in other words, a “Thirty Years’ War” that definitively has exhausted the Western nation-state, transforming it into a penal-prison state controlled by global finance. Today, the war in Ukraine reveals a new pattern that does not cancel the previous one, but supplants it in the order of priorities—the dialectic between a disarmed Europe and the return of the great raids.

5) Disarmed Europe vs. the return of the great raids? With regard to the new axes of confrontation, for Europe it is this one that must first be taken into consideration. And I would like to add that it is not necessary to “stir up the Russian scarecrow” to imagine a war in Europe; armed violence is already very much present there with the actors of the mafia economy and the lawless zones whose trafficking of all kinds acts as a post-modern great battle. The state apparatus is struggling more and more to cope with it, as indicated by the narco-threats currently affecting Belgium and the Netherlands, which are themselves becoming narco-states.

On this subject, let us take the comparison with the last wave of invasions of the 9th— 10th centuries. The raids that precipitated the fall of the Carolingian Empire did not have a political objective. Their goal was the large-scale brigandage of territories and populations, in order to bring back slaves and booty. It was the intensity of these attacks, their repetitive nature over time, and their ability to strike anywhere and at any time that caused the collapse of Carolingian societies. The peasantry in particular (the backbone of the social structures of the time) found itself defenseless in the face of these plunders. For fear of revolt, the Carolingian nobility was more concerned with disarming its peasants than with protecting them. The local populations left the most threatened regions where churches, monasteries and villages were sacked (a bit like the European working classes who today live in precariousness and insecurity).

6) Carolingian collapse—EU collapse? Of course, comparison is not reason, and yet one cannot help but draw a parallel between the fate of the peasantry of that time and the slow destruction today of the middle and working classes of Western Europe, in the triple turmoil of precariousness, inequality and insecurity, abandoned by their political elites and disarmed by a state fearing riots. Mutatis mutandis, we find the type of situation that presided over the fall of the Carolingian Empire. A cycle of more than a thousand years has come to an end—Europe is defenseless and the migratory raids are on their way!

Bernard Wicht is a lecturer at the University of Lausanne, where he teaches strategy. He is a regular speaker at military institutions, including the Ecole de Guerre, and think-tanks abroad. He is the author of several books, including Vers l’autodéfense: Le défi des guerres internes (Towards Self-Defense: The Challenge of Internal Wars), Les loups et l’agneau-citoyen. Gangs militarisés, Etat policier et desarmement du peuple (The Wolves and the Citizen-Lamb: Militarized Gangs, the Police State and the Disarmament of the People); Citoyen-soldat 2.0, Mode d’emploi (Citizen-Soldier 2.0: A User’s Guide); Europe Mad Max demain ? retour à la défense citoyenne (Mad Max Europe Tomorrow? A Return to Citizen Defense); Une nouvelle Guerre de Trentre Ans ? Réflexion et hypothèse sur la crise actuelle (A New Thirty Years War: Reflections and Hypothesis on the Current Crisis); L’OTAN attaque : la nouvelle donne stratégique (NATO Attacks: the New Strategic Order); L’Idée de milice et le modèle suisse dans la pensée de Machiavel (The Idea of the Militia and the Swiss Model in Machiavelli’s Thought).

Featured: “Attila and the Huns,” by Georges Rochegrosse; painted pre-1938.

1993: The Barry R. Posen Plan for War on Russia via Zombie State Ukraine

“We are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, January 24, 2023.

(For an unauthorised biography of Baerbock, see here).

On July 27, 1993, the US Department of Defense (DoD) and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MoD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation on Defense and Military Relations, establishing a programme of defence cooperation at the Department-Ministry-level, with “substantive activities” between those offices being launched in July 1994 (Cf. Lt. Col. Frank Morgese, US-Ukraine Security Cooperation 1993-2001: A Case History). Since that date, the Ukraine has teemed with US military advisors of every stripe.

The Morgese case study is a blow-by-blow review of the US military activity in the Ukraine between 1993 and 2001, designed to set up the Ukraine for her destruction. So detailed a review, that it would swamp the layman. Accordingly, we propose another document dating from 1994, readable by the laymen amongst us, and which spells out thirty years in advance, the full-blown War Plan for a zombie Ukraine.

Its author, Barry R. Posen (Rand, CFR, MIT, Woodrow Wilson Foundation), belongs to the leather-armchair school of strategy the US so excels in: arranging for others to die for the US living standard.

For obvious reasons, only Posen’s assessment of Russian military strength is dated. The remainder of his study predicts with such ghastly exactitude both events in the Ukraine over the last 20 years and the expected, indeed hoped for, Russian response, that one readily perceives that this is no prediction, but rather a fully-formed proposal for War—complete with Posen’s dismay, very faintly-veiled, at Operation Barbarossa’s failure, and his pleasure at the “high cost” Barbarossa exacted on Russia.

To give our readers the flavour of Posen’s text, we have selected a few, notable paragraphs from this Must-Read, one which Russia surely cannot have missed. All quotations are so marked and in italics.

Manoeuvring the Ukraine into Demanding the US Armed Forces Intervene

The problem here is that if Russia were to attack Ukraine, or threaten it conventionally, the US is not obliged to do anything. Ukrainian diplomats could, however, try to argue that any act of war or threat of war by a nuclear superpower involves an implicit nuclear threat sufficient to warrant US action. Even if this argument were accepted, however, Security Council action would be thwarted by the Russian veto. Nevertheless, it should be part of Ukraine’s diplomatic strategy in the event of trouble.

Partnership for Peace Designed to “impose considerable costs on Russia”

Even if Partnership for Peace (PFP) does not come through for Ukraine, it still holds the potential to impose considerable costs on Russia, which adds to Ukraine’s overall deterrent power. Paragraph 8 of NATO’s ‘Framework’ document for PFP states “NATO will consult with any active participant in the Partnership if that partner perceives a direct threat to its territorial integrity, political independence, or security. The precise action that would follow such consultation is unspecified. Nevertheless, NATO would look pretty sorry if it either failed to consult, or failed to take any action after consultation. Some politicians and pundits will trumpet the credibility costs of a failure to act. NATO might, of course, compensate for a failure to act on Ukraine’s behalf by stronger measures elsewhere, though this would be cold comfort to Ukraine. Fear of these stronger measures elsewhere are, however, another element of Ukraine’s dissuasive power.

If the Russian Government Reject further Western “Reforms,” NATO Must Act

The Partnership for Peace can be viewed as ‘NATO’s Waiting Room.’ The tacit bargain with Russia is that many central European states remain in that waiting room so long as Russia remains a good neighbor. If-and-as Russia begins to try to expand its power, the din in the waiting room will become disturbingly loud. The elements are in place for the rapid extension of NATO to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, even if a threatened Ukraine is tossed to the wolves. Russia can, by its own acts, bring NATO to its doorstep. Stephen Oxman, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs virtually stated this rationale.

…should reform experience a reversal of fortune in Russia, we can re-evaluate NATO’s needs and those of the Central and Eastern Europeans. At the same time, active participation in the Partnership will go a long way toward enhancing their military preparedness and allow partners to consult with NATO in the event of a threat.

Confrontation with Russia “Probable” and She can be Provoked into the Ukraine

Moreover, as noted above, complete inaction would damage NATO’s credibility for a probable future confrontation with Russia. If, as some now argue, NATO expands eastward more-or-less as a matter of course, this useful sanction will have been lost. Nevertheless, it seems that any near term NATO expansion will be accompanied by only limited military redeployments, so long as Russia-US relations remain moderately amicable. Russian policy makers might still calculate that aggression against Ukraine can leave them worse off because of the countervailing actions it would precipitate.

Moreover, near term candidates for NATO membership are only a subset of the PFP participants. Again, Russian action can precipitate more energetic alliance expansion. A word of caution is in order, here, however. If near term NATO expansion is accompanied by energetic military preparations that Russian policy makers view as unprovoked, they may be stimulated to try to reabsorb Ukraine out of their own defensive impulses.

The Ukraine Must be Shifted towards “Ethnic Nationalism”

…Ukraine has one other diplomatic asset. Thus far, the “state ideology” is organized largely around the idea of “civic” rather than “ethnic” nationalism. Anybody can be a citizen of Ukraine, and a good “Ukrainian.” Russians are not a persecuted minority. There are small ethnically Ukrainian elements who might wish to change this orientation. But “civic nationalism” is congenial to the West. Insofar as any future struggle can be portrayed as the “ethnic” Russians against the “civic” Ukrainians, the path of western intervention is eased. Moreover, it is not inconceivable that other states will draw a tragic lesson from an unopposed Russian “liberation” of its brethren in Ukraine. One is better off expelling such potential irredenta.

“Diplomacy Profits from Ghastly Television Footage”—Bucha, Anyone?

Ukraine must organize its military power to ensure the greatest probability of outside intervention. Russian fear of outside intervention could add greatly to Ukraine’s dissuasive power. Diplomacy needs time to work; it also profits from ghastly television footage. This means Ukraine must, as a matter of priority, organize its military forces to avoid the kind of catastrophic defensive collapse often associated with armored warfare.

The West could assist Ukraine in many important ways short of direct military intervention. But all assistance will have to move through Poland, Slovakia, or Hungary. It is improbable that these countries will be willing to cooperate without full fledged membership in NATO, so membership would have to be extended during the crisis. Ukraine will require outside sources of oil and gas if it is to hold out very long. Replacements for weapons lost in the initial battles would be very helpful. Given that many eastern European countries will, for the foreseeable future, have similar equipment to the Ukrainians, they are a ready source of easily usable replacements and munitions.

Give the Ukraine “Many More Opportunities to Inflict Disproportionate Casualties on the Russians”

One of the most useful forms of assistance that could be provided to Ukraine is intelligence. If Ukraine regularly knows where large Russian ground formations are, its forces will be much less vulnerable to catastrophe, and have many more opportunities to inflict disproportionate casualties on the Russians. (Similar assistance may be possible against enemy air forces.). Direct military intervention from the West will be very problematical. One suspects that some secret planning has been done for this contingency, but the task must seem daunting. NATO ground and air forces would have to cross vast distances to reach even central Ukraine.

The distance from the old inter-German border to Kiev is roughly 1500 km. NATO’s relatively few divisions would be swallowed up in the vast spaces of the East, even if they could get there. The optimum direct military assistance would probably be in the form of air strikes. Effective, sustained, tactical air strikes cannot efficiently be flown from existing NATO air bases in western Europe; 2000 km range sorties could just reach central Ukraine, but would be hard on pilots and would require high levels of aerial tanker support.12 (These sorties would also require Polish permission.) Another option would be to fly from bases in Turkey, a NATO ally. Sorties could be flown directly across the Black Sea to Ukraine. Ranges would vary depending on bases and targets, but it is unlikely that any sortie would need to go further than 1500 km. The problem here, of course, would be whether Turkey believed its vital interests were engaged, since the NATO treaty does not oblige them to come to the assistance of a non-NATO country, even if other NATO countries wish it.

Move NATO Ground and Air Forces into Poland

NATO ground and air forces might move into Poland and NATO aircraft could fly from Polish bases. (This would have to be negotiated, of course, and the cost would certainly be immediate full membership in NATO for Poland.) Unfortunately, most Polish bases were built to be close to the old “inner-German” border, the expected zone of east-west conflict. There are only about a half-dozen military airfields in the southeastern quadrant of the country that would meaningfully reduce sortie ranges, and thus the need for tankers. Even these would require sorties of over 1000 km, which is still demanding.for sustained tactical air attacks.

…It seems unlikely that NATO commanders would want to put their very valuable aircraft and support equipment onto Ukrainian bases, without the benefit of a large scale NATO ground force shield.A more arcane, but nevertheless extremely important problem would be the coordination of NATO fighters with Ukraine’s own air defenses to ensure that Ukrainians do not shoot at NATO aircraft. This should prove very difficult to improvise.

The West will Need to Repudiate its High Minded Principles Publicly in a Series of Venues, All Ostensibly Designed for the very Purpose of Protecting these Principles

Because NATO countries lived for nearly a half century with Soviet control over Ukraine, Ukrainians ought not to have confidence that NATO will come to its aid out of narrow strategic interest. Nevertheless, this assistance becomes more plausible, the longer Ukraine can resist, and the longer Ukrainian diplomacy can work. Ukraine should thus try, through its military strategy, to maximize Russian fear of this outcome. Ukraine has available to it a series of for a where it can present its case. Thus, the West will need to repudiate its high minded principles publicly in a series of venues, all ostensibly designed for the very purpose of protecting these principles. Since Munich already happened, this policy has a name and a historical meaning that will provide some additional leverage for Ukrainian diplomats.

The Ukrainian Defence will be a “Catastrophic Failure” and the Army, Destroyed

Even if the Russians start out with a limited aims strategy–with the intent of conquering Crimea, and the three or four easternmost oblasts of dense Russian settlement, the likely catastrophic failure of these forward defense or mobile defense strategies would incur the destruction of most if not all of the Ukrainian army.

A Divided Ukraine Would then Assume the Role in a New Cold War that Divided Germany Assumed in the Last One

Western Ukraine, though weak industrially, is agriculturally rich and ought to be able to feed itself. It does have considerable light industry which could be turned to military uses. Most importantly, it borders Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary, all potential sources of supply if NATO admits these countries, applies diplomatic pressure, and provides resources. These are big “ifs,” but for the diplomatic reasons outlined above, there are reasons for hope. If Ukraine makes its western reaches strong enough to resist for a lengthy period, at least several months, and employs its mobile forces effectively to generate serious combat from the outset of the war, Ukrainian diplomacy will have a chance. If the Ukrainian bastion can garner enough western European logistical assistance to survive, Russia will face the prospect of having to employ large active forces to contain it. It will go even worse for them if western Ukraine can get into NATO. A divided Ukraine would then assume the role in a new Cold War that divided Germany assumed in the last one. But the “inner-Ukrainian border” would be much closer to the centers of Russian power than was the “inner-German” border.

Encourage the Ukrainians to Blow Up their Own Cities and Infrastructure

Extensive demolitions would supplement more conventional military operations to slow the attackers’ progress, and complicate their subsequent logistics. Much of this could be organized well in advance; critical facilities can be “pre-chambered” to speed the placement of explosives. Necessary explosives can be cached close to the designated targets, under the control of local police forces or reserve military formations, as is done in Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, and even Germany. As the Ukrainians retreat into geographical areas where Ukrainians constitute a greater ethnic majority, it may prove possible to organize “stay-behind” forces to collect intelligence on the Russians and engage in partisan warfare. This too should be planned in advance.

The Ukraine Must “Convince its Neighbours that It has a Million Men Willing to Die”

A word of candor is in order on the nature of the combat that would be necessary to make this military concept work. The essence of the combat power of the organization I propose is the willingness of the Ukrainian soldier to fight and die for his or her country, in a war that may seem a hopeless cause. This is not a US or even an Israeli military system that strives to beat its adversary mainly through technological superiority, highly trained people, enormously competent leadership, and brilliant tactics. As noted elsewhere, the Ukrainian Army has no chance of achieving this. and they will be substantially outweighed in major items of combat equipment. Historically, the kind of fighting proposed here has taken a terrific toll in casualties–thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, would die. This organization can only inflict casualties on a mechanized adversary if it is willing to accept casualties itself. The mind of the individual Ukrainian soldier is the key. What is the commitment to an independent Ukraine? How untense is Ukrainian patriotism, or nationalism? The answers to these questions are already in doubt in many parts of Ukraine. If Ukraine cannot devise a host of ways to convince its neighbors that it can find a million soldiers willing to die on any day for the sovereignty of the country, then the deterrent power of this military system will be weak.

The Ukraine Must Learn to Love Poland, and Become A Dumping-Ground for Old Weapons

To increase the Russian perception that Ukraine might actually get western assistance to execute this strategy, there are a range of requests the Ukrainians might make of NATO in the context of the Partnership for Peace. Ukraine should seek joint air defense exercises that would familiarize western and Ukrainian air force officers and air defense officers with the coordination problems they would face in a real war. Ukraine should suggest that the Polish air bases closest to it are seen as assets, not threats, and should encourage the Polish air force and NATO to practice forward movement of NATO aircraft into these bases, again in the guise of joint “peacekeeping” exercises. They should also note their interest that these bases remain in good shape. Ukrainian Army personnel should seek joint training opportunities with NATO that would familiarize them with NATO anti-armor weapons. And Ukraine should suggest that anti-armor weapons that NATO armies might intend to retire could still find a useful life in Ukraine.

Alternatively, they could simply ask that such weapons be stockpiled, rather than sold or destroyed. The railroad gauge change yards that transshipped cargo from Russian to European trains should be well maintained so that supplies could be moved East expeditiously. Some might object that these kinds of exercises go beyond what is implied in the Partnership for Peace. But it does not seem beyond the creative powers of diplomats to rationalize them. Ukrainian diplomats are in a position to argue quite strenuously for these measures.

“Inherent Irrationality” of a “Violent Struggle of the Magnitude Envisioned Here” No Obstacle!

The third argument is implicit in the peculiar character of post-Cold War discourse on international politics. Violent struggles of the magnitude envisioned here among great and middle sized advanced industrial powers have come to be viewed as “inconceivable.” There is a widespread inclination to view them as beyond the organizational, economic, social, and political capabilities of these countries. The inherent irrationality of such struggles against the backdrop of modern societies that prize rationality has come to be viewed as a barrier to such conflicts. Many believe that the spread of democracy also makes such wars unlikely among democracies, since “median voters” will demand alternative solutions from their leaders on both sides. In short, while limited uses of military force remain possible, deliberate large-scale aggression of the type discussed here is simply not something Russia could or would do.

And if all else Fail, Nuke ’em

A useful next analytic step would be a systematic consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of this conventional strategy vs a nuclear one.… The strategy I have developed gives the Ukrainians almost no ability to stop a determined Russian attempt to conquer territories populated by ethnic Russians. It is moderately good at raising the costs of an attempt to conquer the entire country, but without outside assistance, it will ultimately fail. Presuming that Ukraine could generate a small, secure second strike capability against Russia, what problems might nuclear deterrence solve?

Ukraine would think of itself as trying to deter attacks on its territory. Russia might think of itself as trying to protect its countrymen–accidentally marooned on territory that has historically been Russian, but which is now incidentally Ukrainian.

Mendelssohn Moses is a Paris-based writer.