War is Father of All

Given that the conflict or war between Russia and the West is one based on the incompatibility of two basic world systems, one of which is collectivist and socialist in nature while the other is capitalistic and individualistic, means that the conflict or war is a constant or perennial one and it is one with a global scale and scope that will determine all aspects and dimensions of our collective life. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: “War is father of all, and king of all. He renders some gods, others men; he makes some slaves, others free.” 

Also, given that what was at stake and still is at stake are the basic principles or philosophical underpinnings of a world system, it follows that both in the past and in the present, the United States “had to be prepared to wage a war it did not seek, but which could arise as a result of its own pursuit of national security goals” to borrow from Melvyn Leffler. 

Hence, war is a constant or perpetual characteristic and feature of relations between Russia and the West for a variety of reasons, some of which are hard to accept or comprehend. Even Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the chief architect of today’s ‘United Nations’ (UN), said in the early 1940’s: “There have always been cheerful idiots in this country, who believed that there would be no more war for us if everybody in America would only return into their homes and lock their front doors behind them.” Roosevelt also said that “enduring peace in the world has not a chance unless this Nation – our America – is willing to cooperate in winning and maintaining it.” 

In turn, there have always been religious, ideological, and survivalist connotations and overtones to American rhetoric as it pertains to foreign policy. These religious, ideological, and survivalist connotations and overtones, however, reached their peak in the 21st century, when containment and deterrence of the former Soviet Union switched to global hegemonic war as the basis for American foreign policy. And after decades of hegemonic war, we are back to square one, in the sense that we are assessing and deciphering Russian intentions. But there is an issue which is far more important than assessing and deciphering Russian intentions which needs to be accounted for and dealt with, namely the manner in which foreign relations are conceptualized and implemented in Washington. As Melvyn Leffler wrote: 

“But even when one attributes the worst intentions to the Soviet Union, one might still ask whether American presuppositions and apprehensions about the benefits that would accrue to the Soviet Union as a result of Communist (and even revolutionary nationalist) gains anywhere in Eurasia tended to simplify international realities, magnify the breadth of American interests, engender commitments beyond American capabilities, and dissipate the nation’s strength and credibility.” 

Leffler added:

“And perhaps even more importantly, if Soviet foreign policies tended to be opportunist, reactive, nationalistic, and contradictory…then one might also wonder whether America’s own conception of national security tended, perhaps unintentionally, to engender anxieties and to provoke countermeasures from a proud, suspicious, insecure, and cruel government that was at the same time legitimately apprehensive about the long-term implications arising from the rehabilitation of traditional enemies and the development of foreign bases on the periphery of the Soviet homeland.” 

In sum, and to conclude: “To raise such issues anew seems essential if we are to unravel the complex origins of the Cold War.” And arguably, much of the complexity of our current dilemma and situation as a result of the renewal of a Cold War context comes from the fact that the “containment” and “deterrence” of an adversary requires us to look into the mirror and to assess our own ethical and moral standing in the global community to a certain extent. 

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