Here we go again. Another European madman murdering his way toward another world war for the sake of lebensraum (living space). Countries around the world arming up in response. Violent rhetoric – including nuclear threats and President Biden’s warning about the “prospect of Armageddon” – elbowing out diplomacy. The people of the world grimly awaiting the casus belli triggering NATO’s “an attack on one is an attack on all” doctrine and hurling us all into a hellish World War III.
The inevitable end result: Millions of us dead. Millions of us refugees. Millions of families broken. Millions of lives destroyed.
Are we as a species really willing to do this again? Are we willing to wage world war, particularly when we know that this time there are hypersonic nuclear missiles? Missiles that can travel at about one mile per second and change direction enroute, rendering them invincible to antimissile systems. All of which means that if a country detected an incoming hypersonic missile, it would have no time to do anything other than consider it a first strike and immediately unload its nuclear arsenal on the attacker: A real-life Doomsday Machine. Somewhere, Dr. Strangelove is sneering.
Is humankind really willing to play species-wide Russian roulette again, only this time knowing there’s a bullet in every chamber?
I don’t think we are. Ordinary people throughout the world learned the loathsome lessons of the twentieth century and know perfectly well what’s coming. We see that governments are responding as they always do in these circumstances, and that this will lead where it always does: wholesale slaughter and destruction on a global scale.
But maybe this time there’s an alternative. Maybe ordinary people can short-circuit the insane game of thrones their leaders have always found so irresistible. What if millions of Russians united against the war and refused to go to work until Russia withdraws from Ukraine? Such a national work stoppage would be an act of civil disobedience beyond any government’s ability to control.
Polls show that most Russians favor the war. But the government’s brutal treatment of Russians who oppose the war should make us skeptical that they’re an accurate reflection of Russians’ sentiments.
This is particularly true in light of the fact that the situation on the ground has changed. The Russian Army has suffered serious setbacks which, Mr. Putin has acknowledged, will prolong the war. In response, 300,000 underequipped reservists have been conscripted to fight in Ukraine. Are Russians willing to continue their blood sacrifice indefinitely for Mr. Putin’s misbegotten war of aggression against the freedom fighters of Ukraine?
Are the Russian people willing to stand by as Mr. Putin’s merciless attacks on civilian targets and the discoveries of more mass graves turn Russia into a pariah state?
Are Russians willing to risk further isolation from the international community by denying Europeans the fuel needed to heat their homes through the coming winter?
Russian citizens will be putting themselves at risk by declaring a general work stoppage. But they need to understand that at this pivotal moment, they’re in a unique historical position. They can potentially end the barbaric war in Ukraine and announce to the governments of the world that an attack on a peaceful neighbor will no longer be tolerated by the aggressor nation’s citizens. Let’s pray the Russian people do what’s necessary to save untold millions of us from ever again being crushed under history’s horrific wheel.