Written by Ed Poucher-Saunders
With Russian troops marching swiftly toward Kiev, many of us are asking ourselves how this may affect us in the West. The general sentiment from the residents of my little South Shropshire town, from work, church or the pub is undiluted apathy. Those in the ‘Westminster bubble’ and high media would regard our position on the matter as insular, small-minded, even parochial. ‘Don’t you know that if Putin is allowed to march into the Donetsk, then it would set a precedent that a similar action would be tolerated in Kosovo?’. The answer from the working man, having finished his fourteen-hour shift at the textile plant would likely be ‘Where’s Donetsk’, or even ‘I think this barrel’s gone; pint tastes a bit weird’.
So, what could be the source of our disinterest? At the least, we have become apathetic to foreign conflicts, treating their utility with scepticism. For nearly forty years now, a series of unpopular armed vanity projects have led to untold bloodshed in the name of advancing ‘democracy’ – aims which have universally failed. It’s not the sons of politicians and columnists that get filled with bullets in foreign climes, it’s the lad who signed up at age sixteen because the only other job prospect in his area is asking if you’d ‘like fries with that’.
In order for a nation to go to war with fervour, it must rally around a set of values which it regards as worth defending. It’s no longer evident that we are on the side of freedom, individual liberty, or personal autonomy – since COVID, anybody championing these things has been branded a ‘conspiracy nut’. Whichever side of the jingoistic fence one sits, Russia’s employment of a strong sense of national unity is something which it finds very helpful in gathering the troops. Any British politician doing the same would be denounced as ‘Enoch Powell Mk. II’. Depressingly, a lack of enthusiasm for war will not prevent our government from engaging in it. No matter who wins the battle in Eastern Europe, the loser will surely be freedom.