Nuclear Weapons - Ukraine and the Bomb

There is a famous Russian painting entitled “The    Zaporozhian Cossaks' Reply to the Turkish     Sultan” made by the prestigious artist Ilya Repin in 1891. It vividly   depicts the    boisterous       defiance of     Russian Cossacks to the humiliating demands of surrender from the Sultan. This place, on the river Dneipro, which was the scene of iconic heroism in Russian historical narrative, is now known as Zaporozhzhia.

Note that we all must now spell this with two “zh’s”, just as we now say Dneipro and not Dneipr’ , and Kiyv not Kiev, because these are the Ukrainian spelling and not the traditional English/Russian. And now that we have reallocated this country from the category of the Evil Empire (which it has been for all of my life) to helpless victim of those terrible Russians, this makes it clear that these are now the good guys, but the Russians are still the baddies. Understood?

So, Zaporozhzhia is now Ukrainian, and is the site of a huge nuclear power station where there has been fierce fighting between Ukrainians and Russians. Incidentally, the safe and clean nuclear power plants make ideal targets in a nuclear war, which of course, will never happen because we have a deterrent…

Russia must be the only country that has national war monuments situated in land that is now foreign. The Crimean War memorials to Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol and Balaklava are in Ukraine, not Russia. As for the graves of the British fallen in the Crimean war, they are abandoned and neglected now. So much for those brave souls  who galloped off into the Valley of Death in the famous Charge of the Light Brigade….

Crimea itself was only “given” to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev in 1953, because he was fond of Ukraine. He was, in fact, born in a Russian village close to the Ukrainian border, but raised in Eastern Ukraine, which is now de facto ruled by pro-Russian rebels backed by Moscow.

The capital of Ukraine is Kiyv/Kiev, which is famed in Russian history as “mat’ Russkych gorodov” - the Mother of Russian cities. “Kievan Rus’ “ is lodged deeply in the Russian psyche, something like Arthurian England is in British. The two nations have intertwined and complicated histories. But in terms of political influence, Ukrainians have shown much acumen, dominating political life in Russia’s predecessor state of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union had ruled between 1922 and 1991 and Ukrainian-origin leaders led the country for more than half of that time.

Having said that, there is no escaping the fact that Putin’s war violates all legalities, and is inexcusable. So what can we do?

Well, of course the honest answer is - nothing.  Our earnest talking and writing about peace is futile. The Juggernaut is unstoppable. It escalates inexorably. It always has, and always will. When the nuclear age started a bomb was something you dropped out of a plane, Now it is delivered by rocket from outer space. Progress. Ever onwards and upward. That is the nature of the beast.

We never have enough bombs, never enough guns, never enough bullets. As soon as a new war comes along, which they do an average of every two years since the end of WWII, production will be ratcheted up.

Because it is profitable - unimaginably so. The Western world’s biggest defence companies by revenue were (in 2020) Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, BAE Systems, Northrop, General Dynamics, L3 Harris, Airbus, Thales and Leonardo. Before the outbreak of the Ukrainian war these merchants of death,  generated total annual  revenues of $150 billion . At this point the global defence market was growing at about 4% per year.  Now Lockheed alone is predicting revenues of $66, up from $45 billion in 2020. Raytheon expects sale of $77, up from $24, and the other firms have made similar increase in profits.  Their total revenue is up to 7.5 % per year.

War is the gift that keeps on giving. And advances in the technology of mass extermination are relentless. The Gadarene race to extinction grows ever more frantic. We make unimaginable advances in the technology of industrialised killing; hypersonic aircraft, smart drones, AI (artificial intelligence) all promise new and undreamed of toys to feed our necrophilous idolatry. And Trident will be superseded by the much advanced Dreadnought. Which will be dumped on Scotland, of course.

The war in Ukraine is a proxy fight between NATO and Russia. NATO has been described by an American politician as “Snow White and the 27 Dwarfs”, because it is  essentially an extension of American power and is designed to foster the interests of the Empire. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Gorbachov was assured by Reagan that NATO would not advance East to threaten Russia. Gorbachov believed him and the Warsaw Pact was dismantled. But since then NATO has simply moved the goal posts 500 miles to the East. The  Baltic states have sought protection of the American nuclear arsenal through fear of Russian revanchism, and the UK has stationed forces in Estonia and Poland.

When the Warsaw Pact  ended and the Soviet Union collapsed there was a brief window of opportunity. We could have escaped from the post WWII psychotic divisions of Europe. We could have constructed a pan European peace treaty with Russia being recognised as a historic part of Europe, which it is. Gorbachov used the lovely expression “nash obshchii Yevropeisky dom“ -  our common European home.  But alas we choose to continue with the old animosities and hatreds . The Cold war is over, long  live the Cold War.

The stage is set for a possible nuclear confrontation, and Putin has issued warning of this. Neither side wants a nuclear showdown, but nobody planned WWI either, yet when Gavrilo Princip fired the shot in Sarajevo the whole house of cards tumbled down.

Either by accident or mishap the nuclear catastrophe is imminent. The Doomsday clock is closer to midnight than at any other time in the past. Closer even than during the Cuban missile Crisis, which has been described as the most dangerous moment in history. Those of you who have seen John Pilger’s film “On the coming war with China: (which should be compulsory viewing), will understand. The  rest will drift aimlessly on.

But all this is just the working out of a fatal flaw in the whole concept of deterrence. In order to make you fear my deterrent, I must develop it so that it has the characteristics that make you think that I will use it.  I must develop undetectability, great power and secrecy. And if I develop the characteristics of usability, the weapon becomes more, well, usable. It ceases to be an unusable deterrent, and just becomes another tool in my box of weapons.

This fatal flaw in theory has worked itself out in reality. So the dance of Death goes on, ever more frantic and faster.The terminal human act of global nuclear suicide looms ever nearer.

Jesus wept foreseeing the destruction of Jerusalem. (Luke 13:34) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling”. This was his hearts cry foreseeing the destruction of  Jerusalem by the Romans after the siege of Jerusalem of 70 CE. in which the Roman army led by future emperor Titus besieged Jerusalem. The city was utterly destroyed.

What would he say to those who are planning the ultimate blasphemy, the reversal of genesis? And what should we do in this time of hopelessness? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that till my dying breath, I must say No to  death, No to killing.

On the wall of a police station in Katowice, in Nazi occupied Poland, a young woman wrote these words:

“Because there is no Love, I believe in Love, because there is no Hope, I believe in Hope. Hail Mary’.


Brian Quail