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I simply cannot seem to get my head around the fact that Europe is experiencing a major war in 2022. I really thought that we had finally gone beyond this madness; yet here we are, dealing with old men fighting over idiotic notions of power, even though they possess more power than their old bodies will allow them to enjoy. And what’s worse is that they are actually from an era that multiple generations never even experienced. No person under forty really remembers the world we lived in in the 1980s; held hostage by Cold War theatrics with the world divided into two completely different ideologies. 

It’s incredible to think that young people have no clue about what it’s like to have a divided Europe where countries like Poland, Hungary and Romania were impossible to go to and countries like Latvia, Estonia and, of course, Ukraine didn’t even exist. So, as we try to prepare ourselves for something that we really cannot predict as I write, it is our generation who owe an apology to the young people of Europe and the world. We have failed to recognise the threats and, in some cases, completely ignored them when we did see them. Instead of isolating and hindering the likes of Putin, we returned to an almost childlike naivety by thinking that his like could be reasonable, or worse, our ally. We allowed ourselves, despite the well known fact that he was once a ruthless member of the KGB, to be stupid enough to think that he was a victim just as much as everyone else in the Soviet Union. We believed he was somehow coerced into joining this despicable gang and that really Putin was a good guy with a difficult job. That’s why he has the image as somewhat cold or detached. It was because his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin was such a bad leader that he left Russia bankrupt which required Putin to adopt a strong man approach; something that his supporters claimed was a reluctant role.

Of course, it was total rubbish and the truth is that all along Putin had never really left the KGB and, in fact, that mob had never gone away, now part of his inner cabal as oligarchs, government ministers or personal advisors. We still hoped for the best, offering them the football World Cup, the Winter Olympics and invitations to Davos. We even encouraged our citizens to watch their new IV news channels, all in the name of getting alternative viewpoints. Seeing it from the other side, so to speak. When those very news channels started to churn out utter nonsense and lies, we still let them pass for respected media, using the excuse that the staff were professional journalists andthey would always reason that theirs’ was the real story, which was rubbish, and experienced Western journalists who gladly took the jobs were nothing more than media mercenaries, happy to write whatever for the sake of a few pieces of silver.

We tried to legitimise their business interests, even though so many people were saying stop. We let them buy public institutions like football clubs, prime locations in cities around the world and, of course, seats on the biggest corporations. Despite the fact that even when we had evidence in front of us like the facts revealed in the Panama papers, we still thought that it was just too much trouble to try to remove them, so we ignored the signs.

Then there are the energy deals. In our lust for consumer energy at the best price possible, we literally took the easy route by doing the deal with Russia for our gas and oil. We had alternatives in Norway, Africa and the USA, but in our goal to appease and normalise our relations with Russia and Putin, we went with him and even now, as unborn babies are being murdered by his troops, there is still a considerable element saying that we still need to pay him for our energy.

So is there an answer? I’m not here to even suggest one. Putin still has us over a barrel with the nuclear weapons threat, so it’s now very unlikely we can intervene and, as I write, the Russians are taking on more brutal tactics like killing and kidnapping Ukrainian civilians, bombing non-military targets and generally acting like the Huns at the fall of Rome.

So, let’s be honest and say that it’s not the fault of NATO, the UN or EU; it’s all our fault for watching Spartak Moscow beat Chelsea, for buying something cheaper on a Russian website, for praising Putin for how he has modernised his county and generally being stupid enough to think that his mafia and he were not the brutal savage murderers they actually are.

I have no idea what we should do, but first of all we need to look at ourselves in the mirror.

Image by Vitalii Odobesku on Pexels.

Ken Sweeney
Committed to idea of supporting aspiring writers and journalists. Serial podcaster.

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