Every conflict is unique and stands alone in history and location, but there's also many commonalities that reflect in each conflict, after all wars are characterized as human conflicts and people are killed. You can use the threads of history to gain insights into present times or even into the past, as much as past events are also very much unique. They are isolated events that also thread into broader ones. There's refugees, leaders, humanitarian crises, ideologies, and often foreign interests, etc. Ukraine is not Spain, 2022 isn't 1936, but that isn't a rebuttal, there are things to learn there, and things to learn today.
My last writing on this was a realization, a call, and a prediction to international unofficial support in Ukraine. In writing about and passively studying several subjects for personal entertainment and enrichment, Ukraine-Russia conflict surfaced 8 years ago as one of the primary subjects of interest because of its prominence and relevance. In writing about it alone I've spent at a minimum 200-300 hours just writing about this conflict, and there's easily at least 2-3k hours spent in the decade literally studying it. It also overlaps with significant other areas like history, Russian history was one of my first serious historical fascinations. When it comes to making references, first off, this isn't professional or for a grade; and the people that disagree usually don't care about references anyway, and neither might those that agree. Anything I say I do my best to recall with eidetic memory and you can go reference for yourself; we can all learn from each other here.
I don't know everything, but I know what I know, and I've been through gauntlets of information and misinformation and was forced to reflect upon and change perspectives on it all several times. It's not the same thing of course, but minimum for bachelors degrees is about 120 hours. Point is, this isn't just a casual assessment based on something that caught my interest 11 days ago when all this seemed to be entering a new phase. To disagree with me is to disagree with scores of esteemed experts with decades and decades on these matters, this isn't just light weight opinion to dismiss, it's best as I can muster facts and justifiable induction and inference. I'm all too used to the blogging format where things devolve into hostility and hatred, and so I'm a little too used to having a hostile audience and address that. In these matters we are forced to choose sides, the difficult part - at least it can be difficult - is knowing what side to be on, and realizing whether you actually have a choice in the matter. The philosophical and historical burdens can be leaden.
Our lens through crypto, once you make the switch and you experience it replacing your fiat and your traditional finances, can begin to change your outlook on other matters - for better or worse - but it's at least a shift in perspective. Decentralization is a theme, where power and control is deliberately distributed as much as possible. For, among other reasons, "Money is power; absolute power corrupts absolutely; love of money is the root of all evil." There's a theme there, and a relationship, money and power, as well as other things that I wont bring up this time.
Consider for example the conundrum that in order to decentralize the networks we need miners and nodes everywhere, but most of the equipment nd a lot of the software to do that comes from a handful of centralized sources. I'm not saying whether this is good or bad, but I'm giving the decentralization purists a check to think about. Though useful, and of course a major pillar for crypto, it's not the complete and total answer to everything. Another instance of these interesting exceptions to the rules, or where the rules make things predictable, China's crackdown on crypto and mining for the presumed purpose of having control and power over their market, presumably for money. Note that while this was a set back perhaps for China itself, and particularly for China's cryptopians, consider that their centralized moves ultimately aided in the network decentralization. China also must not actually fully care about crypto as a market factor they are up against because they could've done a lot of damage banning the production of the hardware and equipment for mining, or the trade in them. Their centralization succumbed to its own corruption in a way and only half, or barely succeeded in doing anything to "stop" crypto.
Pondering on decentralization though, some critical questions that do have answers. If enough people decentralize, isn't that in itself a form of centralization? In the democratic perspective of decentralized power or authority, things are determined by the majority rule much of the time. Although there are many ways of balancing that with yet other decentralizing forces and enabling the rights of the minority. There's a fundamental appeal in both democracy and in decentralized networks that hopefully the majority is right the majority of the time, and if not, then hopefully things don't crash and burn; it's also inversely true for the minority. However, consider that in regions on the blockchain and in political matters a 51% attack can be local, even though it reflects a broader minority. Just things to think about.
As a measuring stick, being in the majority or minority isn't an automatic route to the truth, but it can be one reliable metric to test against. Consider the comparison of blockchain decentralization and democracy as a consensus mechanism, it is what makes things official, but it's also one of the things that's under threat of corruption in order to break that consensus down. For blockchain and democracy it's a constant battle, every transaction is ideally as true as possible. Perfect, divine, absolute truths might not justifiably exist, but they are goals to aspire perhaps, but more of a direction to face and head towards. I just think it's interesting to have the tool of crypto to have another angle for reflection to view things like democracy and governance.
About a week before Russian forces crossed into the borders all around Ukraine, I saw an independent English Hindi news reporting and interviewing foreigners that had volunteered in Ukraine. In recent days I've also seen a handful of reports from the Polish borders of foreigners entering, as well as a report in Thailand claiming to have had 2k applicants for recruitment. To my understanding Ukraine has a semi-official foreign legion operating with up to 17k members, and there's clearly a trickle inbound. One of these reports indicated there were 26 countries represented; the handful that I've seen, US, Canada, France, Germany, UK, India, Thailand, but I'm sure there are many others, and probably some surprising ones.
This is all striking and relevant to me since Nato is supposedly hand-tied from escalating in an offensive capacity, much less intervening in any hands-on manner based on treaties and on Russia's perceptions, so much so that Germany for example is being careful about the specific weapons it's sending and in what manner and through which parties (it's a Nato thing in general. We can't just "send planes." Which I assume the Ukranian government understands that but is making their appeals to violate treaties and declare war on Russia anyway, sigh). Imo this is a tight rope that could and perhaps likely lead to Russia experimenting with flexing it muscles on a Nato country like Poland or the Baltics, just to put Nato on the defensive and test what happens. As irresponsible as it seems now to come to Ukraine's aid (I'm actually for putting Putin on the defensive, but I realize that's a really tough conideration when you're talking about trading bodies for more bodies, or trading cities in a nuclear conflict, but what option do we have if this is already ww3 and we might be headed there anyway even if we play nice and by rules that Putin isn't?) If he can invade a non-nato country and claim the defensive, he basically has the same rhetorical tools to do and claim the same in a nato country as he does in Ukraine. He's already broken international treaties, laws, and human rights, not to mention norms; there's no real reason to suppose he wouldn't continue. The trend is your friend. Let's go do a Bin-Laden style night raid with 2 helicopters and end this nonsense???
The volunteer foreign forces have their reasons, but among them, some themes that stick out: a fight for international democracy, a fight for truth, for what's right, to stand against authoritarianism; they see this fight as their own, and they want to help in a direct manner. One of the Westerners made a comment in one of the reports, he said this was like the Spanish Civil War, and it's a fight against fascism. What a statement. It checks out. One of my favorite historians, Timothy Snyder, goes on at length about how Putin at some point picked up a German-Russian fascist thinker, and for good reasons suspects that those ideas have influenced Putin. He also says Ukraine is a central moment in European and World history, they've been forced onto the world stage as the battleground where democracy, truth, and humanity are once again going to have to fight for these things.
I wish I could remember a similar opinion from years ago, I want to say it was ex-American military leadership, talking about Putin since Donbas, the air of ethnic reunification, a Slavic ethno-fascism. Things for you to ponder and find out more about on your own, if you're in 2022 and don't know what fascism is yet, welcome to the fight brother. There's a tendency, especially for Western-front countries, perhaps especially the US, to exclusively or overly associate Nazism and fascism. Related ideologies, but not necessarily synonymous. Usually the standard defense of fascistic ideas and sometimes even policies is the holocaust; so long as there aren't trainloads of people being eradicated you can get away with all manner of fascistic evils.... but I digress. I think it was the recent author and CIA policy researcher, Barbara F Walter, that described fascism as basically evil democracy. Sort of a spectrum, and yes, the US is on that spectrum, but that's not what today's episode is about.
I need to point out George Orwell's voluntarism in the Spanish Civil War, I'm hoping most don't need his face introduced, but such is the passage of time and generations. If you want to learn the wisdom of how to thread the needles in the tapestry of truth, Orwell is a great figure, and it's tragic we lost him in his relative prime. Ideally it would've been great if we had Orwell live all the way to 1984 so we could've had his lifetime of commentary in the 20th century. The man stood up against of course fascism, of course the statist manifestations of communism in Stalinism, and stood up against imperialism at home in UK. It's not hard to guess where Orwell would've stood on matters today. We need to all be Orwell's.
Consider in the national node of Russia there has long been a 51% attack on their local democracy. Glastnost and the immediate post Berlin-wall and post-Soviet era had a lot of euphoria, but I'm not familiar enough to know whether elections and messaging around them ever had a chance there. But consider that in the world, and to some degree even vs its own former republics, Russia is in a minority when it comes to that consensus idea. Now, ponder, is the majority consensus in democracy and blockchain authoritarian? Is the truth authoritarian? Is peace authoritarian? Things to invoke some thought and provocation. If 51% of the world disagrees with Putin engaging in war, and also what now seems to be a very clear Putinism, what is the path of correction for that error-fork of Putin and the lies he's pumped into his population for decades? - A sad continuation of the lies proliferated in the Soviet era.
To some degree I highly supported the break away Donbass regions, though I am very ignorant of the legal mechanisms and frameworks that could've been achieved. The breach of territorial and political integrity of a country is pretty unthinkable in a lot of Western countries; that's also how the Ukranians see it. In an ideal sense, I support the democratic ideal that the sovereignty is within the people, with a lesser emphasis on the nation, and a much lesser emphasis on the land itself. But Ukraine is a troubled country with a troubled people and history; this is why it's important to be clear as possible, but it's important to realize that getting the absolute answers and absolute truths might not be possible, and you're forced to rely on another mechanism in democracy, compromise. Imo, peace should've been an option and pursued, Ukraine isn't innocent in this, but you have to realize that if we fully decentralized into atomic entities, each region and ethnic or political group in a country could make the same claims to legitimacy. That's a slippery slope and is supposedly somewhere in Putin's divide and conquer rhetoric and exported propaganda - just relativize everything until what's true and what's right doesn't matter anymore and you've given yourself and your own country up because of the weakness in the consensus mechanism for truth. Admittedly it's hard to change minds.
Propaganda btw has lost it's original meaning. It used to just be information. We're used to associating it with bad because of the Nazis and Soviets. Fact of the matter is propaganda can be neutral and good, as well as bias. Bias can help keep information coherent, it's not inherently bad. And sometimes propaganda (information) is factual. A lot of people get caught on that bottom rung of rhetoric, as if to have a bias against Russia, or to believe Western propaganda is inherently bad because these things are supposedly inherently bad. Hell, even Russia isn't inherently bad, Putin and post-Soviet Putinism is what's bad. There's more innocent people dying than we realize. I don't wish those Russian boys to die for the wrong reasons either. Learn to navigate this stuff and you can get a better handle on what's real and true, and then you can check it against itself and yourself against yourself, and hopefully shake out what's true. But be careful when you end up alone like Putin, and that it's only true to you, or only true in another context.
Something that's really important right now in my opinion is not obscuring things with history, even recent history like 2014. The situation has fundamentally changed and that needs to be respected as truth. There's also a lot of relativizing with the entities involved and locations. You can use right now to shine light on the US's atrocious foreign policy, reputation, and literal war crimes; but that doesn't justify what Russia is doing or anything Ukraine might have done either, what's wrong is wrong. We can correct it in the consensus at any time, we don't have to continue to be wrong just because we were wrong before. This is what happens when an error enters the consensus and is allowed to proliferate.
Sure, there are things to learn about former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, but to say that all of those things are the same things as now, or to equate Russia with the US, as if everyone has carte blanche to do bad things should be obvious falsehoods. Things like this a very easy rhetorical traps to fall into in the moment. Putin wants you to talk about other things right now, and to equate his actions with past US actions so that he can have a moral equivalence to be right while he's wrong. That's not how it works lol, it's just plain wrong no matter who does wrong things. I would've strangely been sympathetic with a measured approach to "liberating" Donbass if no shots were fired, that's something Putin could've done in a day successfully and then claimed the defensive and the moral high ground, but that possibility in the making for 8 years is completely gone now, he's busy trying to take the whole cake, and it's clear now that was his intent potentially as long as 14 years ago, if not longer.
Anyway, it's a tell when people focus too much on other things or those false equivalencies. They're unknowingly in the wrong, and unfortunately there's no actual real life consensus mechanism to correct them automatically. The process of democracy doesn't automatically change people's minds, but it can help. Russia is invading Ukraine today; talking about Viking conquests a thousand years ago misses a great deal of the point. It's the same for bringing up other stuff. Biden is not Putin, much less Satan, and not liking taxes shouldn't be a real reason to confuse yourself on those points. I wish the US was held accountable for its atrocities and errors, and I wish more could be done about that, but here's the thing, no country, no person, and no argument is perfect, and neither is any consensus mechanism. Errors in judgement, rhetoric, belief, etc, in the past are more or less set in stone, we can only understand them better with time; but the future is still unwritten do a large degree and we can correct our path ahead.
So yes, Ukraine is not Spain, and 2022 is not 1936, but foreign fighters rallying to a similar cause as then is a parallel enough to draw some lessons. Do we have errors in our democratic consensus mechanisms? Are there 51% attacks right before our eyes? Are some of the things we hold to be true actually false in the end? Does life and civilization matter? Does law matter? Is Russia invading Ukraine? Is the US foreign policy record atrocious? Does doing what's right matter? Does crypto have value? Is the sky blue? Decide for yourself, but on your journey towards being right, always hope you are wrong about the negative, and remain hopeful about the positives. Democracy, truth, what's right: we have to fight for these things every day, in ourselves and in our daily lives. Remember that.
Alright that 's enough for now. I need to go 51% attack my fridge.