At the time of this writing, it is the fifth day of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine on February 28, 2022. Just like everyone else, I am awestruck at the sudden onslaught by Russia while many experts are questioning whether or not Putin is a ‘rational actor’ due to the extremity of his actions. We know of a few of his top stated reasons, even though, in no way, can they ever justify his war crimes. This is more of a reflective look at what may have led to his grave crimes with the hope that we can take a deeper look into future diplomatic issues.
The Russian Federation is strictly not comfortable with Ukraine’s intentions to join NATO, or nearby NATO expansion, which has been in the works for well over 15 years. The idea of spreading democracy has appeared to be more based on fears of what could happen than pursuits of altruism. So now why invade over a longstanding concern? There has been new progress to potentially make this alliance finally happen. While it’s understandable that Russia wouldn’t want an expansion of NATO into its backyard, who can really blame Ukraine for not wanting to be a part of it?
Putin’s general claim on Ukraine seems based from before the Soviet Union fell, but this is of course a week declaration because if we were to seriously give countries back to previous owners, Ukraine would still not be returned to Russian rule since then the Russian Federation would have to give it’s throne back to a resurrected soviet union, that had dismissed Putin for suspicions that he did not have their interests at heart. Or give Ukraine back to itself as a nod to it's general independence from 1918 to 1920? Should China also return its control to the Qing Dynasty?
It is also noted that Ukraine had been messing with water supply flowing into Crimea for some time that is generally considered to be an illegal occupation by Russia. A building number of professors state that they expect wars of the future to be over water more than oil and this may be a small taste of this natural challenge to life. (And how important desalinization is of ocean water!)
The timing of this invasion is known to create some inflation, rising gas prices and economic damage felt throughout the world. These actions are also expected to influence voters or to make potential extremists even more extreme.
Clearly, there’s a lot to consider but I would argue there is a simpler beast at play that not only have we been neglecting, we’ve actually been poking on purpose. Countries will purposefully push the limits of others’ boundaries in an effort to make a stance, test the “strength” of their opponents and slowly whittle away their will to fight back, or at least test it. You’ll see soon why this standard action is responsible for most of our wars and needless bloodshed, especially when you add the exponential effects of stress into the mix.
While I am no expert on politics or geopolitics by a long shot. I believe there are clear cross overs from a micro scale that I’m sad to say that we’ve only started to study the effects of; which are stress, anger, emotions and mental wellness applied to geopolitics as a whole. How many wars have begun due to feelings of stress, fear and anger of a nation? How many wars had been waged out of fear or superstition by one side but instead became the very monsters they swore were ‘the others?’ How many wars had none of those emotions play a part in their creation? I’m sure you can guess my opinions here. That harmful actions in geopolitics seem to follow the same unfortunate courses of action in individuals that lead to events that usually blow up to near irrevocable levels of destruction.
Most of us have experienced stress and worry in some fashion, as well as time times we were so worried over something we may have made it worse. Just like how a person can become so stressed about a test that they can’t study, or so stressed about their weight that they have a hard time eating well, or so stressed about losing a loved one they end up pushing them away into a bitter divorce and custody war… It has long been considered human nature that we tend to become that which we fear. Countless religions, philosophers and businesses have been created with the purest and most beautiful of intentions but ended up falling to the mercy of their own fears, corporate greed and “the ends justify the means” fallacy that failed us in Iraq and countless other wars.
When we are stressed, we initiate fight or flight within us which then dictates the strategy of our minds and while we may think we are master chess players, the truth is that, at best, we are novice stone throwers. If nothing else, we should each take this time to realize how important mental health is as well as communication with others that’s not based on threats but efforts to understand and ease those tensions. For example, imagine if while Ukraine was pushing to join NATO it asked Russia to submit legal bylaws that would not allow Ukraine to mess with Russia with near impunity etc. Imagine if they invited Russia to those negotiation tables to make sure that the merger truly is just to keep Ukraine safe and not to be used as a stepping stone to attack or squash Russia’s national security. Which may be a current path to peace, aside from Ukraine agreeing to becoming neutral under the protection of the UN an NATO.
And although I’m first to admit that I am no expert in politics or geopolitics, it thus appears that troubles across our world share a few common elements we individually deal with.
Just like in a micro relationship between two people that’s having a hard time reconciling their differences as the fears of each drown out the possibilities of resolutions with a more and more hostile home front, we can trace at least some similarities between Russia and Ukraine over time, at least to the climax of decades of hostilities and seemingly unreconcilable differences with each other. The efforts of one side to defend itself have seemed to the other as an outright attack and threat of an oppressive future.
While Ukraine has been stressed and fearful that Russia would want to overtake it one day, hostilities and threats from Russia only led them to more seriously seeking to join NATO. What’s messed up is in Ukraine’s efforts for peace they had also given up their nuclear weapons to Russia, which is currently the main upper hand Russia has over them, obviously despite their much larger military force that thankfully has not been fully deployed.
At the same time, Russia has been chronically stressed and fearful of Ukraine joining NATO, afraid that would lead to a stronger foothold that would allow NATO to attack them or whittle down their voice at the table of the United Nations, and thus lessen trade and global rights down to nothing. At least in a small part, because of this fear, Russia seems to have believed it had no other choice than to continue to fight for its claim over Ukraine to the point of war.
I was surprised to find that Russia had actually asked to join NATO a long time ago. Again from a place of greatly limited knowledge I cannot see why we would not allow that, especially if we also created new bylaws that would restrict their ability to be a war criminal after a long list of reparations. I don’t see why we don't even seem interested in getting each country on board into a sort of unified effort of global peace that’s based on transparency and what mathematically works best for the people. While I know that was the intentions of the United Nations, I feel it needs much more work to truly make each country feel like it has a voice while helping the current super powers not fear their improvement.
I’m sure there are countless other solutions and resolutions that could be made by people far more educated than I, like John Mearsheimers recommendations to making Ukraine a neutral buffer state to NATO. The point is that we need to shift how we approach foreign policy and global geopolitics as a whole. While we’re condemning and sanctioning Russia’s further barbaric actions, at the same time I feel we should be offering an olive branch based on a laundry list of their own amends that can lead to some assuaging of their fears. Generally, a threat only approach doesn’t always work with the Psyche of an aggressor.
In any event, the simple truth across our world is that we cannot afford to neglect our wellness, stress and all of its manifestations any longer. If we truly want peace. If we truly want a world where we’re not worried about how we might eventually fall as a species. If we truly want to see a world where the hard-working individual can have an amazing life, where truth and justice reign supreme without life threatening penalties, were each country doesn’t lose nearly half of its income to stress-related diseases, accidents, injuries, lawsuits, divorces, destruction, war and so on and where those same countries can instead become prosperous with even humble amounts of income and resources. We are seeking the aide of a few mathematicians and geopoliticians to put our theory to the fire and see if we can get mathematical geopolitical renditions of the potential costs of anger and stress but more importantly what we have to gain if we finally address it.
It’s hard to estimate exactly how much we can save individually and worldwide by reducing the effects of stress upon our health and rash choices but it is certainly far more vast than we may yet care to imagine.
We must not let this crisis become another reason to cower in fear of how chaotic the world has become.
Instead let this crisis unite our efforts of peace and become our wake-up call, and that it is time for an intervention.