War, Power, Power Plays – Power Balance – The Cruelty of Politics

game of chess with fire in background
Image courtesy pixabay.com – Free license

Politics is about tactics too, the official definition in the Oxford dictionary states, as one meaning:
The activities of governments concerning the political relations between states.
Politics can be wise and be based on sound values – or they are cruel and serve a few with no values at all, except their bank account(s).

Others use politics as a means to heal wounds of vanity, retrieved some time during their lifetime. Like, dreadful example, though one of many, really, Adolf Hitler, ‘Reichskanzler’ (Chancellor of the 3rd Reich) during the Nazi dictatorship in Germany.

Famously applied at the Vienna Academy of Arts and rejected he spent the rest of his life redeeming a fragile self-confidence or rather image.

To this day dictators often are about this more than anything else: Many take the wealth in the wake of power as a means to an end – and bathe in any kind of public recognition and the approval of one part (usually the rich and extremely rich) of the respective society.

These patterns are recurring, and usually do so cruelly – as per latest example, in regard to Putin in his way to power – and the Ukraine.

The Ukraine is part of the power plays between nations and actually the former Soviet Union and its remnants – as well as a personality the likes of Putin who took over this vast country of Russia bit by bit in more than two decades.

His own motives may be hidden in biographical privacy yet – but they seem rather apparent when watching recordings of his public and private appearances: Extreme understatement standing out as the apparently simple guy, the almost nice, familiar neighbour who wears his business suit anywhere, even in parades among numerous highly decorated militia…

Yet, when seen driving big motor-cars and enjoying the fact that he is a ‘force to be reckoned with’, the purported modesty and neighbourly demeanour are revealed as so much window dressing.

In the long run educating people to the values that have proven to be vital to any civil, democratic society, namely the Human Rights Declaration, are the only real weapon we have against such populism and cruel repression.

In the short run, being aware of the balance of power and respect it early on might be the safe route around war.

Adam Smith in World Politics? – Diplomacy Beyond Popular Images

image of a world map and a compass
Diplomacy needs among other things these very basic skills: The ability to look beyond images, propaganda and popular opinion.

Politics of peace need them too.

The Western world in my eyes is blinded in their view of the world, politics and negotiations by something almost amounting to idealism:

It‘s about money, in any shape or form, we are about it – and everyone else is too.

This is perhaps the most tragic misconception that will endanger peace in all parts of the world again and again:

Indeed certain factions of the Christian religions in the backwater of the rise of civil society around the 13th / 14th centuries claimed, in principle:

Wealth is the sign of God‘s pleasure.

Ever since an ever larger part of the world – especially rooted in the beginnings of the US society with the first actual settlers on the Mayflower representing that idea – are exactly of that frame of mind:
Be wealthy and God is with you.

Most Eastern societies from Africa, over Russia all through Asia in one way or another – in principle that is – value the community and the dignity of the individual even more.

Dignity!

I have spent most of my adult life around all manner of extremely peaceful, knowledgeable and kind people from the Near, Middle and Far East.
I have studied Persian poems and literature and have met other people from around the globe.
I have had the privilege to call books my friends in childhood and adolescence and still do. I studied languages and culture at a prestigious university and earned my M.A. degree there.

The most tragic misunderstanding between the Western world – leaning towards Adam Smith‘s ideas of economy – and the Eastern world – leaning towards trade among dignified, respected and proud tradespeople is that:

Dignity

The European literature of certain times and people as well as later stereotypes about life in the Eastern world – or the ways and means of trade and politics – is practically steeped in this painful repetitive almost ridiculous contempt:
If you know about their ‚purse‘, you know about their interests. Anyone with a contempt for money is stupid.

This is not the real driving force of mankind: Indeed, wealth was always craved, if people had gone hungry or even starved; but dignity and respect in combination with extreme poverty can be thought of in the East – not so in the West.

In the Western world, respect and the consequential dignity of a person – or a nation – are closely related, if not tightly interwoven with their monetary means.

In most parts of the Eastern world this is not the case. Dignity is a fundamental possibility that can be envisioned easily with little or no money.

Among nations dignity is crucial. Treat them with respect, dignity and regard, let them safe face.

And remember this fine part of the Christian bible that actually was originally written in that Eastern culture:

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

(Matthew, 25:40)


Author’s Note (April 2022):

In view of the latest developments I’d like to enlarge on this, make it clearer yet. The question after motives and real reasons is not always easy to answer. But if we are really interested in successful negotiations we need to do that. Not always is the answer to ‘cui bono’? : ‘money only’ as stated above.
Usually the attributes associated with money, or more money are actually much more important:
Respect, attention and power in certain circles.
Bluntly put: If it was about taking the Ukraine, they would have taken it long ago.

The question “cui bono” needs to be researched and answered in all directions of cause or effect or impact. Basic human motivators.

The Russian Bear – War: ‘Strength’ or Weakness?

drawing of a schematic bear on green background

Russia and Ukraine – hopes have been shattered today. War has been started. I still believe that negotiation is the only long-term solution to keep the peace.

At the same time to understand motives can help. Looking at it from here in the middle of Europe the actual situation President Putin finds himself in is indeed that of a trapped bear in many ways:

  • He started his own journey down the road of dictatorship a long time ago: The first change of laws to enable his repeated candidacy and elections for him as president was the first sign that power indeed corrupts.
  • Internal affairs are at an all time low: More and more opposition has to be met with more and more arrests and violence, even political murder, also going on for some time now. A political leader who feels strong enough would not use such measures, indeed would not need them.
    • ‘Bullies’ always were like that – and will stay that way if we let them be: They feel weak and in consequence they do everything to appear strong – or what they take for strength.
  • The situation as regards NATO from a Russian point of view is less straightforward:
    The balance of power between the ‘superpowers’ always was a rather pointed one – not to say fragile –  since WW II and stayed that way after the Cold War had ended. As long as the  more verbal than actually written agreements on the limits of NATO expansion were observed there was some manner of peace.

Imagine yourself living in your house or flat attending to your own business – and suddenly a tall apparently friendly guy knocks at your door and when you open – you see him standing there with a ‘big ol’ smile’ on his face – carrying a machine gun…
Wouldn’t you become nervous, in spite of appearances?
I get the impression that for some time now Russia may have felt like that person in the flat, seeing all those friendly people – with weapons … right in front of their place…

Make Peace Not War – Korea, Vietnam, Irak – Ukraine?

Vietnam woman swatting beside coal fire
Image courtesy unsplash.com – Free license (Woman in Vietnam)

The recent US American history since WW II is fraught with wars and interventions practically all over the world. I have posted about their last but one president almost too often in some ways; not naming names can be important.

President Joe Biden is a representative of sanity and goodwill in the Oval Office and millions of people there and elsewhere are grateful, altogether.

Mr Putin may have just lost his way temporarily… or is seriously lost to the good cause.
Yet, even he knows what war means, one part being a dreadfully bitter truth about it: In the short run weapon arsenals and storage spaces will be cleared by it – to make room for new ones…

But one thing is true too:

Soldiers, armies, naval forces – they are not nameless masses – they are people!

Each and every one of them is the son to a mother and father, perhaps a brother or nephew, maybe uncle – and father himself some day; these days also often daughters and nieces, aunts and sisters, in many parts of the wold; beloved, cherished – and remembered for their smiles, their laughs, jokes, games and even arguments or fights.

Wars kill people!

Wars ‘create‘ enemies.
The Russian arts and crafts are sometimes just wonderful, think of Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, or in music, Tchaikovsky, to name only a very few.
There are things that are quite special about the US culture:
Although a very young culture yet, they have artists, writers, painters, poets, musicians: Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Emily Wharton, George Gershwin, to also name just a very few; and a huge movie industry; their laws even allow major, high-budget movies be made that criticize their system and culture.

This is my own trailer version of the movie „Good Morning Vietnam“ that makes the bold move to show both sides of the story of a war and telling it from the only real perspective there is: the human one, the story of people, smart, kind, good or bad.

„War and Peace“? – War is the Ultimate Failure of Diplomacy

image of map of Russia, Europe Ukraine marked
Image courtesy OpenStreetMap, France

Ukraine, Russia and the US, Europe in between – it is not really new – it is once again the fight for power and money. Gas, weapons and influence on the continent are among the most prominent features of this conflict.
The global balance of power too is at stake, to some extent. Or so it appears.

But:
War is no option. It is no solution. War is driving a knife into the ‚Gordian‘ knot that others have tied – sometimes it‘s not even really ‚Gordian‘, just made to appear that way.

War is the ultimate failure of diplomacy.

War sometimes is just a means to hide even uglier goings-on.

Sometimes it is used as a means to make more money by selling weapons to both parties.

Sometimes it may even be a means to reinstate apparently lost pride. Which is perhaps the most pitiful of all reasons for war imaginable. In my opinion that reason would be sign of a severely disturbed mind.

History is full of examples for that too: Russian opposition in any shape or form is handled so cruelly and severely, not even murder being excepted in subduing any other than the official opinion; it‘s sad, tragic and dreadful all at the same time. Putin for quite some time now has become another sorry excuse for a man.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have been born and raised in peaceful and democratic surroundings, living in such a country where I can write what I think without having to be afraid.

That the expansion of NATO is viewed with vary eyes from all – others – concerned is only natural. Having Russian influence in Cuba for decades is one of the other variants of these opposing forces.

I could go on writing and perhaps not end till after another thousands of pages, because the principles involved are very very familiar.

Lets learn! Let‘s learn again and make peace. Not war!

Which means:
Learn and start realizing if not already done so, to understand each of the parties’ involved necessities to ‘safe face’. Which is probably the most crucial aspect of international diplomacy.
After that: Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate again, and again, and again. Perhaps that kind of patience can be learned from trade:
No trade, no profit; no agreements – no trade…

War is the ultimate failure of diplomacy – and no doubt about it.

Open Letter to the US Democratic Party

drawing of USA map as a shape

(I sent the following to the Democratic Party of the United States and its Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer:)

“Ladies and gentlemen, hello esteemed party of long standing and its representatives [Hello Mr Schumer,], for lack of a more personal[/formal] address,

I am a German who lives in Austria. I am extremely concerned about how things seem to be in your nation/country.
I am also very surprised to learn that the democratic party seems to be bent on supporting D. Trumps 2nd run for office?
Are none of you smart enough to see the signs?
He was on the brink of overthrowing (albeit rather clumsily the 1st time) a democratic parliament only a couple of months ago! Hitler and his 3rd Reich were almost the same! He failed the first time and even went to prison for a while. Then, he tried again. I hope you know what dreadful and cruel results that had!
Do you not know history well enough?
Do you really believe that a nation such as the U.S. would never be in danger of becoming a real dictatorship? History – if only outside the US – should be able to teach: Ever since mankind ‘invented’ the concept of democracy around 2000 years ago in Greece, Europe, history has shown us again and again and again that *no country is safe* if its parties and population do not watch out.
Greed and the decision to do as one pleases and disregard others, the community at large, are eternally there, alongside other human traits.
I would earnestly and seriously ask you as well as your and your party’s supporters to reconsider and unite behind a president such as Joe Biden: Free of most of the more mundane shortcomings (be that drink, adultery or worse, please excuse this rather realistic yet blunt mention) as far as I can tell, he has great plans and he and his supporters should see your party indeed united!
I am sorry that I feel like saying: “Shame on you to be so careless about this government – or D. Trump’s so obvious plans!” Have you forgotten that the majority of supreme court justices have been named by him?
I would a little pathetically declare: “Wake up.” (Sorry, here comes the blunt version: “Wake up, d…n it.”)
PLEASE!
D. Trump has caused so much unnecessary pain and suffering as a president the first time around!
Your country needs fresh impulses to bridge gaps – not create ever deeper rifts.
Have a heart and say no to more greed and short-sightedness!
Countries all around the globe are painfully dependent on US (foreign) policies.
Watch out, be smart and careful! This may be your last chance, really.
Kind Regards”


Author’s note: The tone of this letter is rather less businesslike or formal or polite than I have used on similar occasions.
I feel the matter to be urgent. I hope to catch the attention of the politicians concerned – as well as others who might be able to do something directly – this way, better, in this case.
The idea being of course that instead of first caring about their own interests, the democratic party politicians who recently refused support will think again: D. Trump whose name I do not really like to bring up at all, has already started his own alternative to Twitter. From day 1 he had and still has enough wealthy supporters who are interested much more in their bank accounts than anything else. Underestimating ‘enemies’ is foolishness, as the old saying has it:
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
See also the documentary on D. Trumps life and background broadcast on PBS, created by award-winning documentary producer Michael Kirk, for details.

‘Reading the signs’: In archaeology as well as in history, journalism, psychology or in criminology one thing you learn early, if the teaching is of any use at all:
Gather your material carefully, check back with existing facts and start putting a line of reasoning together that fits all the facts.
Anything else will not hold water.

Make Vaccines Mandatory Against the Corona Virus!

animated image of ICUs in several countries
Free images of ICUs in times of Corona from online sources via Ecosia search engine

Mandatory Vaccines against the Plague, Poliomyelitis or Lockjaw (Tetanus) are basics. No one doubts for one minute how important they are. Dreadful diseases, each and every one of them.

The plague was a scourge – and still would be if people hadn’t been mass-vaccinated into the 1970s when I was still a child. It was considered a merit, not to say a virtue to be vaccinated against it. Since then the plague has been basically extinct globally.

But the Corona-virus vaccines are still a matter of discussion in political bodies – as regards making them mandatory?

How is it possible?

Haven’t we seen enough people dying – or seriously sick with dreadful symptoms, especially in the respiratory system?

Isn’t ‘Long-Covid’ – as a summary of symptoms persisting months up to a year after an infection and surviving it – ‘plague’ enough?

What has to happen in terms of costs, billions and billions all around the globe, dollars, euros, pounds, you name it… until proper laws are made, at last?

How many doctors and nurses have yet to be brought to their knees, figuratively speaking, in terms of severe fatigue, burnout, and eventually quitting their jobs?

Does no one have a heart for them?

It’s incredible – tragic, not to say cruel.

What are legislative bodies afraid of, really?


The official WHO (World Health Organisation) video on how it is faster and still safe in these times to approve new vaccines:

The Oval Office’s Heavy Burden – The Fight for Internal and External Peace

image of planet earth ion space with dove of peace about to land on it

The last but one president of the US was a nightmare, a cruel and selfish excuse for a man, who does everything he can to regain power and a sort of reputation, even if the worst: A possible dictator who’s just good enough to influence people that are not well-educated enough to see the whole story – and understand the truth behind his ‘tantrums’.
One of the worst being the attack on the Capitol he initiated – directly or indirectly.

He also instated a couple of supreme court justices, let’s not forget that. Last, but not at all least, the impeachment process was not even properly started against him.
This means he could run a second time for another ‘go’ at the office – and if he succeeded he might fulfill what he seems to have tried once already: Become a modern ‘king’, in terms of a then void democracy and its rights and laws and freedoms – a ‘dictator’.
And in his case the freedom of the press would go first. No doubt about it.

It is a relieve every day to have someone like the present president Joe Biden there. In the place of a so-called ‘superpower’s’ most powerful seat.

Politics are no child’s game. Anyone making out they were, is a fool. To say the least.

In particular in the 20th and 21st century with a heavy historical burden, often left over for generations by all kinds of governments with very different, no to say multiple, secret agendas – left wing, right wing, right wing again.
So many actions and reactions just forced by industries in the background who provide money and thus the necessary media forces to ‘advertise’ one’s cause. Not least of all that sorry excuse for a man, Mr Trump, who wouldn’t be where he is in terms of actual infamy without those industries and conglomerates and banks.

‘Marketing’, ‘advertisements’: There is no way around them. In order to make an impact you have to use social media and the internet these days, just as TV appearances and talk-show discussions or have newspapers write about you.

A sad fact is too that traditional media such as TV or newspapers have to sell. So, to some extent, if someone does not offer much sensational ‘fodder’ for talk, it may become quiet around him – or her.

When all is said and done, anyone in their right minds should know how precious peace is, and equal chances for all – the best possible attempts we can make for a planet that will not ‘overheat’ after all – and that supporting all those who really are fighting for it is no less than an obligation.
Or, simply: A fine cause.

Austria, Politics and Political Approaches

Flag of Austria with ensign
I love this country of Austria. But mine is not of the kind that makes you blind… On the contrary I can safely say, I see patterns, in politics just as much as everywhere else. Mine is surely not the definitive position on this matter. Just one among many…

In general, there are a few ‘inalienable truths‘ about politics as well.

Politicians need networks in order to get somewhere – and stay there for a while. Once they have proven their ‘staying power’, things can and usually will change:
Others are craving the place in the limelight; or the possibility to wield the power, as in: Have influence and a position in society, more or less respected…

Look into recent and older history of the world: Some politicians are and were extremely ruthless, some are corrupt, some are even cruel.

Some are ‘just’ using the age-old instruments that can be smaller or larger kinds of ‘buddies’ to build a network and sustain support.

To always be white-headed and innocent in such a system, where everyone else encourages one to take advantage – apparently is impossible. Not one single country in this beautiful part of the world – or anywhere else – can say that such things never happened to them.

And power, alas, also has the ‘power’ to corrupt people who weren’t in the first place… I still think that modern democracies that have a working system of exchanging their governments at regular intervals by some kind of voting system, are the best possible solution.

Politics are – human, therefore not perfect. One should make sure to control as far as possible the weak points – point out failures in order they can be put right. But also not expect too much, in view of the facts above.

This is a peaceful country, beautiful, with many, many kind and responsible people around, let’s not forget that!

‘Social’ Media, ‘Shitstorms’ or: Types of Public Recognition…

image of skewed social media icons on a smartphone surface
I think I can thank my lucky stars that I never was part myself of the so-called
‘social networks’, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Their really ‘unsocial’ character is proven daily. I watched a documentary on a prestigious TV channel the other day and the amount of dirt used to discredit journalists or political opponents makes me shudder.

I know for a fact too, that younger and inexperienced people may suffer serious damage and pain from such hunts. That is tragic.

As a blogger and part-time writer I safely can say: If there was any shitstorm raised from some corner of those nets against me – it would be a sign only that I had hit a weak spot of such a politician:

Trump in the US, Salvini in Italy and Bolsonaro in Brazil come to mind. Each of them just interested to manipulate those that are too simple-minded to be able to know the truth.

Facts can be checked, there is no interpretation possible of facts.

That kind of recognition by reactionary representatives of an actual silent minority of too rich and too selfish groups in society would actually make me proud.