A Superstitious War

Today more than ever, hatred toward Russia has never had such dire implications for the world. The fears of yesterday have become the even greater fears of tomorrow. The idea of peace has been waved away as meaningless, and any chance for a peace deal to end the war in Ukraine is not readily entertained, even by formerly peace-loving people.

They firmly believe that any compromise will lead to the annihilation of Ukraine and the entire world. Is this a reasonable perspective? How and why has peace become equated with escalation? Are we really going to save the world by waging war against Russia? Or is this potentially an apparition of sorts?

By the late 1940s, the power of Russian weaponry was on the minds of Americans as a harbinger of future calamities: unstoppable missiles and nuclear-powered planes were just some of the rumored advancements. Even early flying saucer sightings were suspected to be secret Russian technology.

Will the world ever learn from the ghosts of past wars? The dilemma starts here: those calling for war say it’s precisely the lessons learned from previous wars that prove this war must go on. Should the war really not be opposed? The biggest obstacle in understanding this war is the unwillingness to study it beyond newspaper headlines.

Recently, the esteemed American scholar Noam Chomsky was dismissed as a Russian propagandist for emphasizing the necessity of negotiations. Those echoing his thoughts are now the Neville Chamberlains of the world, derided as too simple-minded to see the totality of the situation. American democracy is suffering because unpopular opinions have become enemy propaganda.

Any form of compromise is strongly assumed to be what will erase Ukraine from this planet, but is this rather a confused conclusion? Influenced by decades of fear and worries about a foreign enemy. It is not only Republicans who oppose this war. Opposing the war in Ukraine and supporting the idea of a peace deal will help Ukraine more than arguing for the fighting to continue.

The first thing that should be studied and discussed about this war is whether there is freedom to be won. This is not to say it’s impossible. War proponents have sincerely asked, what are alternatives to the fight for freedom? The question should be, is freedom possible? Because it will not be won through an endless war, it is more likely to be won through dialogue.

More specifically, does democracy even exist in Ukraine? It’s very easy to think of this war as a noble battle for democracy, but democracy must exist first. Despite the appearance of a democratic election, Ukraine unfortunately is not a democracy, therefore it is not fighting for democracy. Ukrainians would need to elect an entirely new leader to even begin to have the possibility of democracy.

Even if Ukrainians were to win the war, they still will not have a democratic government. This puts the war in another light which only proves that the fight for victory is a tragically absurd proposal. To ignore all of this and still want the war to continue is the height of madness. The war in Ukraine has become a superstitious war.

We are losing ourselves in superstition rather than actually trying to understand this war. We will do more harm than good by letting our assumptions get the best of us. If people want to support Ukraine they should be against this war in every way. Ukraine is not saving democracy, Ukraine is not saving the world, no matter how amazing all of that sounds.

Zelensky’s endless demands for more weapons will not magically make things better, but is and will continue to make things worse. Until an agreement is reached, this war will spiral more and more out of control, not the other way around. It is our plunging into superstition which has convinced us that a peace deal will lead to the end of the world. It’s time to wake up.

Edward Alvarez writes from San Diego.