Only the cruelest person remains unaffected by war. The one now taking place in Ukraine is particularly galling. How should one understand the needless killing of thousands of persons, the uprooting of millions, the daily cruelty and perversity? A war between two countries that, until now, were united by blood, by family? Many observers believe that, notwithstanding Putin’s assertion that his country was being encroached upon by NATO, he would have carried out this insane aggression against Ukraine anyway. However, rather than launching a brutal war, he could have begun by suddenly cutting the flow of Russian gas to Europe, thus forcing the conditions for a diplomatic engagement. But Vladimir Putin, a small man with big ambitions, wanted something more to fulfill his lifelong dream of retaking territories lost after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and recreating the Russian Empire. While claiming that Russia and Ukraine were sister nations, he started the systematic ravaging of that country. A peculiar way to treat a family member. What he has achieved is not a quick victory but rather enormous loss of life and treasure for both countries that will take generations to recoup. Of one thing we can be sure. Because of the incredible heroism of the Ukrainian people, when this madness ends, Ukrainian flowers will again bloom through the ashes.
The following poem by Carlos Duguech, an Argentinian poet, political analyst, and creator of the radio program Peace in the World, reflects the feelings of all peace-loving people in the world.
The dull white of bones;
nor the still gaze of the dead;
nor the hopeless brown
of all the blood
now defeated and abased;
nor the clangor of the iron gunners;
nor the insolent whistle of the bullets;
nor the speeches of the conquerors;
nor the others’ relentless yes-sirs;
nor the rags raised as flags
of a white, forlorn surrender;
nor the ostentatious signatures of those who sign as gods,
the instruments of surrender of those who lose,
who always lose;
nor the newspaper pages that make haste to write
headlines full of vain homages
to those who win
while they corner, oh shamelessness of the trade,
those who lose, who always lose;
nor medals of gold or silver
or bronze or of coarse gold plating
that they pin on the breasts of battle heroes;
nor the new ranks that are added and added,
from death to death;
nor the prayers that no gods answer,
busy as they are with just being gods;
not even remorse,
nor the traumatized conscience
of the survivor of so much death,
of the sordid and smoking trench,
of so much flesh defiled by shrapnel.
None of that, nothing,
will be of use when the time comes
that you ask
the reason for all wars.
(Translated from the Spanish by D.P. Snyder)
César Chelala is a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award for the best article on human rights.