Who are we at War with? We Don’t Fully Know Ourselves yet…

For some time now, there has been a talk of a hybrid war on the border of Lithuania. So, I will not repeat what has already been said about it, what has been said about Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin’s collusion against us. I will try to look at it from a slightly different ‘angle’ – why we are not succeeding and why we are not succeeding when we are militarily and in every way superior.

According to classical theories, a war is a form of politics, admittedly a rather unpleasant one, and costly in every sense. Every major war is ended with the idea that this is the last war, that there will be no more wars because we do not want them so badly. Until recently, I almost always heard that we would have no one to go to a war with. The small ones won’t attack, and we won’t be able to defend ourselves against the bigger ones anyway… And yet, the talk of the economy being the cause of everything has never been borne out, but it is being believed again and again. That’s not why wars happen…

Isn’t it strange that we are not fighting a war for big money, we are fighting a war that we never dreamed of, and we have people on our borders that we do not even consider to be the enemy. We are a part of perhaps the strongest defence alliance in the world, but we do not know if we can defend ourselves. Even worse, we do not know whether we really need to defend ourselves against those who are attacking us (in the most literal sense), we do not know whether we have a right to defend ourselves and Europe as a whole under the current law…. and there are many other questions like that.

Today, we can find mountains of documents, treaties and conventions on the rules of war, on the ethics of combatants, on the rights and duties of combatants and civilians, on prohibited and non-prohibited weapons.

However, today we are being cynically at war without any rules. On 11 September 2001, a group of terrorists carried out what has now become a classic attack on the United States and, it was later decided, on the whole NATO. The United States were attacked without a shot being fired, it was not attacked by any particular country, the attackers did not wear any uniform and had no other identifying marks, they destructed themselves  and there was no need to ‘expel’ them from the territory of NATO. The wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Gaza often resemble a match, with different players playing different games on the same field. It is not surprising that despite the obvious combat and technical superiority of the ‘righteous’, such wars are won (or at least the tension caused) by those who… do not follow them.

In the 21st century, wars under hybrid and other fancy names are mostly wars of criminals against law and order. Increasingly, it is less often that the state that wages war. Something undefined is at war, but that something is a major threat to the real rule of law. Those who fight by the rules believe that the elephant must fight the elephant, and then the smaller elephant naturally loses to the bigger, stronger elephant. Those who do not follow the rules can use not the force they expect, but a technically powerless virus against the elephant. The tools in the hands of those who do not follow the rules are what we traditionally call weapons of mass destruction, when in reality they are weapons of social chaos. The early 20th century demonstrated that people are panic-stricken about new diseases, long-term radiation, mass chronic poisoning, and that those who wage wars without rules are as likely to ‘offer’ such threats as they are to do so. Now they are offering migrants ‘disguised’ as refugees, whom we are obliged by international law… to accept under the cloak.

Today we face civilians that we should protect rather than destroy, but they are the dangerous part of the war, the virus that we have no right to allow into our territory.

The use of civilians in war is not a new invention. In recent decades, almost every major war has not been fought without an (often artificially induced) wave of refugees and humanitarian catastrophe. Civilians as human shields are a common phenomenon in the Middle East, and they ‘proved their worth’ in the wars of the former Yugoslavia. Thus, in the near future, we should expect warfare by so-called unconventional means. And such means can be acquired by poor, small communities. Their war strategy is to paralyse and demoralise their opponents, not to create a new political quality. If we begin to disagree on how to proceed, the opponent can say that he is winning. At least this and that…

And then there are the international security organisations… They are set up to bring states together. At first, they usually do, but eventually they degenerate into fractions and ‘interest’ groups, turning into forums for disputes instead of consensus, and punishing those who break the rules. The organisations themselves become ‘dinosaurs’, with very long and convoluted statutes and programmes of action, but they become completely inflexible, because they have no protection against terrorists under the guise of some supposedly holy writ, against new viruses, or the emotional prerogative of defending values, real or false. So, in conclusion, we need to recall the now somewhat forgotten concept of the New Middle Ages: war was a local issue and the rules were not global.

Three principles apply in a war or dialogue with real or fake refugees. Humanitarian – helping people in distress. We do that, we do help, the European Union helps, Lithuania helps. The security principle – we are an EU and NATO country, protecting the external border of both communities. It is not only our right, it is our duty. It is not a question of letting in or not letting in, it is a duty to ensure security, and there is no need for sentimental whining here. This is a field of war. There is also a principle of choice. We have a right to grant residence permits or even to declare people our citizens, according to the logic of their choice and according to the law. It depends on how we see it…

We did not start the war, but we repelled its first waves, forcing our opponents to find ways out and to take actions for which they did not seem to be seriously prepared. So, it is not all bad here.

So, what’s wrong?

Our geopolitical strategy is not a good one. We are behaving like the winning side ‘according to a definition’, which is not the case. The principle of EU and NATO policy is not geopolitics, but so-called crisis response. This means that the script of history is being written by others –  Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping, so they play the white pieces and we react with notes and fears, but we proudly believe that they will lose after all. Anyway, we… all these democrats and so on…

Our tactics is outdated. It is well known that big powers tend to talk to smaller ones individually rather than in large alliances. The Russian dictator is doing just that… and the smaller ones are tempted to become some kind of discussion partners of Vladimir Putin…

Something for post scriptum. I have tried to explore various walls-fences in human history. And what happened to them and their builders. Here are the results. Building a wall-fence has a political and security meaning. However, historical experience teaches us that those who built a fence just to hide behind it and not to be interested in what was happening on the ‘other’ side ended badly. The fence did not help. Those who put up a fence to try to turn the enemy behind the fence into a friend usually won. So in this hybrid war, too, it is not enough to win by defending one side of the fence, but to win by changing the order on the other side… We don’t care about the government in Minsk and beyond…

Egidijus Vareikis

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Autorius: Voras Online