Via Basel: War, Peace, and Responsibility

Castle Romeo, 1954, Bikini atoll

It is generally acknowledged by historians that throughout human history the default condition was war and violence with short interludes of real peace interspersed in between. Because of advancement in the killing machines, a peak in death and destruction was achieved in the first half of the last century with two world wars.  Other regional and more limited wars followed—Korea, Vietnam, Iran-Iraq, first Gulf War, Afghanistan, and others, but, as bad as they were, the damage was still limited and did not involve a direct confrontation between the major global powers.

The introduction of nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles made the world seem safer because of MAD (mutual assured destruction), and the concern was some rogue smaller state with a crazy leader using them for local and limited benefit. Recently, respected historians such as Yuval Harari stated that contrary to our perception, the world was going through an era of relative peace in the last 50 years or so  (in spite of above mentioned local conflicts), and he quoted real statistics to back it up. He also noted as % of GDP nearly all nations including the USA spend a small fraction of what they used to in the past on the military.

That is, until four weeks ago, when Russia invaded a sovereign state, Ukraine, and set in motion the first major European war since World War II with increasing ferocity and devastation. A war between a world nuclear power and a smaller state supported and supplied by NATO, an alliance of several major nuclear powers, not withstanding that at this time Ukraine is not a member of NATO. It’s now plain that even if we really were in this peaceful hiatus we’re back to the default condition of war as in the old days. Except that now for the first time in history if this escalates we have two opponents with enough firepower to destroy each other, along with a large chunk of the human race. This may sound like hyperbole but all it takes is a miscalculation or unintentional act on one side or the other to start the conflagration and the annihilation process. Why? Is it because a deranged isolated dictator and a small band of cohorts made that fatal decision to start this reckless war, and now, several weeks into it, as their losses mount, all the pundits are trying to figure out if  these leaders are unstable enough to consider nuclear weapons or other mass destruction means.

My question is: who is responsible? Unless you think that Putin is justified, then I would withdraw it and suggest you take a crash course in the history of Europe specifically Eastern Europe and for that, an expert like Timothy Snyder (below) might help enlighten you.

For my answer and personal point of view, you will have to wait a couple of weeks for my next column….

Until then, be well dear reader and keep working and praying for Peace and Sanity.


Basel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Christopher Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body. His loves in life include reading, writing, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family, and now, semi-retired, he is exploring new avenues in medicine, education, public speaking, and social engagement.

Via Basel: Winter Blues

Ahmed Alsoudani at EIL

Paul Shambroom at EIL

Atomic at the Acorn at EIL


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