The end of the year is usually a time of introspection and prognostication, the latter by experts of every kind from futurists to fortune tellers. What is going to happen in Ukraine? Is there a New World Order? Indeed, if Russia and China are busy trying to establish a new world order, the somnambulistic US president is sleepwalking through destiny. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is rumbling like an old volcano, threatening to erupt again in 2024.
Quite naturally the president is angered by Chinese prevarication and he blames them for this country’s economic problems. Unfortunately, mere anger is not enough, particularly when not followed by a substantive response — usually in the form of a carrot or stick. But the carrot is not sweet enough and the stick, not stout enough.
The Chinese have brushed it all off like an African warding off flies with a fly whisk. And the Russians are seriously reassessing their options in Ukraine, which does not at all mean an end to their campaign. By most accounts, they are training new conscripts to be led by the battle-hardened veterans, who have first-hand experience of fighting the Ukrainians, with the prospect of a new offensive.
The tragi-comic history of the region reminds us that the West’s neo-Nazi allies in Ukraine are descendants of Ukrainians who allied themselves with Nazi Germany and went pillaging Poland, performing guard and other duties at concentration camps and ending up in the dock at war crimes trials when it was all over.
One achieved notoriety when Israel indicted John Demjanjuk on charges of murdering and torturing Jews during the Second World War. He was convicted, then the conviction overturned by Israel’s Supreme Court on grounds of reasonable doubt as to mistaken identity.
The Germans then tried and convicted him on 27,000 counts of murder — one for each death at the Sobibor camp during his time as a guard. He appealed the verdict but died, aged 91, before his appeal could be heard.
With the passage of time rivalries and alliances change. The Russians were US allies during the war; now they are rivals, and the US is reputed to be undermining Russian economic progress. Thus aiding Russia’s enemies keeps them occupied in wars like Ukraine, and Afghanistan and in rebellious Russian republics earlier.
With climate change breathing hot air down the earth’s neck, perhaps one day we will all modulate rivalries, and instead work together to cope with what really is an existential threat.