Downsizing Satan

Critics of these belligerent and pugnaciously blameless, idle essays, have warned me, that in my low enthusiasm for the war in Ukraine, I stand to lose my carefully cultivated, decades-long reputation as a war-monger. And, not just for war in the abstract, as one of them argues. For if I won’t support a battle against Russia, what country would I go to war with? In the long view of history, would I have given a pass even to the Infidel Turk? Will I make a stand when we are invaded by Martians?

Well, I do like to pick my wars wisely. Some aren’t worth winning, and some (a smaller number) may not be worth even delivering a meaningless threat.

Was reading last evening, Sigurd the Dragon Slayer, by La Motte Fouqué — the glorious Prussian war-monger. I thought it might lift my spirits from this wan recumbent posture. Heinrich Heine wrote of Sigurd that he is “as strong as the rocks of Norway and as impetuous as the ocean that dashes upon them, he is as brave as a hundred lions, and has as much sense as two donkeys.”

Yes, there are great beauties in Fouqué’s little tales, and great humour though none of it is intended. One enjoys him as one enjoys an ice-cold shower. It was Chesterton, I believe, who pointed long before the Second World War, to the earlier modern Prussians as the proto-Nazis. As I recall, he didn’t even use the clinching argument, that they were Protestants. He did mention their Puritanical disposition, however. And like Puritans, everywhere, they loved to dress very smartly in uniform, beat drums and so forth. With some imagination, you might convince yourself to march along.

But also with Chesterton, I favour defensive wars, and discountenance the offensive variety. Wars of conquest do not appeal to me at all, and never did. You must fight, and die, for love of what is behind you. Hatred, even of Prussians, will not do as an excuse.

I thought my “soft power” views on Ukraine’s current predicament would be apparent. By all means, they should blow the Russkies away.