Not that I’m quite that old but I remember a lot of the news stories from the fifties and sixties, the height of the cold war when fear of the enemy was a way of life.
The cold war was raging, West and East facing off across the Fulda gap and on every other continents and ocean on Earth. Proxy wars were the order of the day. Any government that supported the other side was an enemy to be toppled, replaced or crushed. Any government that supported your side was an ally to be cherished and little details like police states and human rights were ignored.
NATO and the US facing off against the Evil Empire, American freedom staring down Soviet oppression. Good guys against bad guys.
The history of the era is available for anyone to see, as is the propaganda, the posters, the booklets, the TV reports and the movies. Western and in particular US culture was shaped by the cold war, it led to the Macarthy investigations, the’ is your neighbour a commie’ campaigns and the expenditure of huge amounts of money, blood and human lives.
Which makes recent news all the more worrying. The fighting in the Eastern Ukraine has been increasing in both violence and frequency. Kiev agreed to give the two rebel districts home rule and to stop fighting then carried on fighting anyway. Putin continues to deny that he is supporting or arming the rebels but they continue to have the weapons they need to fight back.
Both sides blame the other for the whole mess that started with the overthrow of the democratically elected Ukrainian leader and his replacement by a Pro EU leader who quickly turned his army on those eastern districts that didn’t want him.
The EU, the US and Nato have been supporting the new leader, Russia supports those who stand against the west. Sanctions, diplomatic pressure and more are being brought to bear against Russia in order to force them to accept that the Ukraine will become a member of NATO and the EU.
NOTE. the above sounded a bit pro Russian and anti US. In fact I am anti both sides here, but I see a lot of evidence that this mess was created by the EU and US who were behind the overthrow of the old regime and who have been deliberately aggravating Russia ever since.
Anyway the reason I am concerned here is that we now have reports from both sides of massive expansions of the fighting.
Here in the west the US is considering sending weapons to arm the Kiev military so it can continue the attack on the East to match the support they receive from Russia. But the Ukrainian army is well below western standards, they will not know how to use western weapons, they will need to be trained and advised.
But there is far more to warfare than just tanks and boots on the ground, they will need constant supplies of ammunition and supplies, they will need intelligence as to where the enemy are and what they are doing, satellites, signals intelligence planes and stations, how about drones for battlefield recognisance. What happens then, air support, fighters and bombers, artillery?
From the other side we see boasts of 100,000 soldiers being raised to fight for the eastern Ukrainian Russians and to drive back the fascists.
Political groups waving swastika flags declare their support for Kiev, elderly Russian soldiers, their coats covered in medals, talk of the great war and the terrible fight to drive back the Nazi tide.
The region is in flames and on both sides we see people throwing petrol onto this proxy war.
After all this has worked so well in the past. Arming the Iraqi armed forces to stand against a Russian ally Iran, where are those tanks and weapons now? Arming the Syrian groups claiming to stand against Assad, a Russian ally. Where did those groups end up?
More weapons, more guns, more bombs, satellite reports, drones, recognisance, advisors and those trainer wearing special forces. None of these will stop the fighting, all of these will fan the flames and encourage yet more Russian support.
Arming Kiev with Russian anti tank and anti aircraft weapons, with sniper rifles and machine guns, what guarantee is there that these items will not end up in the hands of the Neo Nazi groups who so openly support Kiev and operate in the country.
NONE. There is no guarantee that would be worth the paper it was written on.
More weapons, more bombs, more tools to kill and to maim being put into the hands of people filled with hatred. Will the Ukraine turn into another Syria or another Libya? After all this is not some dust bowl in the Middle East, this is a Nation that borders Poland, fighting in the Ukraine can spread into NATO land so very easily.
Now at the same time the US is looking at sending in weapons we have reports that European leaders are travelling to the region to try and seek peace, to negotiate an end to the violence.
Why now, why not last year?
Is it because their sanctions aimed at bullying Russia have not worked, is it because simply encouraging the Kiev regime with words and not support has produced nothing but more death and destruction.
Is it because of reports that Putin has been restricting the flow of gas to Europe?
NATO and by extension Europe had no chance of influencing the events in the Crimea and the eastern Ukraine by military might, none at all. Western military influence is a mere token, more provocation than deterrent. Four NATO fighters in the Baltic states, hardly enough to slow down the Russian air force but enough to start a shooting war, a shooting war that NATO cannot fight with conventional forces!
The Kiev government is in an extremely difficult position. They exist only because of EU and IMF support, they are almost completely financed by loans from those bodies, the Ukrainian economy is a basket case, the industrial strength is in the East being bombed by Kiev and fought over by the separatists.
Yet they have no choice but to appease their masters in the West because they are owned lock, stock and barrel. If the west stops the money the Ukraine dies as a nation and will become a handful of states, the East taken by Russia and the west taken by the EU.
Now, finally, we see western leaders actually going to talk, to try and peace agreement and peace not by empty threats or contempt and insults for Putin or an economic cold war against Russia but by the diplomacy and negotiation they should have used last year.
We run the risk of Eastern Europe collapsing into the same semi permanent battlefield ruled over by warlords that western meddling has created in the middle east.
Have our leaders finally noticed the mess they have been creating?
Or are they panicking at the thought of the US flooding the region with more weapons?