Our arrogant mix of pacifism and political correctness

I would not have thought a war like the one in Ukraine would have been possible in Europe anymore. Not after Bosnia. Even the day before the attack I said: "They won't do it, they won't attack."

And then this: again Slavs attack Slavs, again it is extremely brutal. And again this is done with a justification based on concocted, seemingly mediaeval myths.

Just like in the former Yugoslavia. 600 years ago, there had been a battle between the Turks and the Serbs, which became the fundamental part of a national myth, which in the end led to collective megalomania and a series of extremely bloody and brutal wars in the Balkans. Who still remembers Vukovar today? Sarajevo? Srebrenica? None of this was long ago.

Back then, the West stood by, forged peace plans, sent soldiers in without a strong mandate, politicians wrung their hands, and so on. And now?

The same pattern. A mediaeval myth about the unity of Russians and Ukrainians.

A despot who thinks he can impose his will on another country and declare it forever Russia's front yard. "I decide who sweeps my forecourt," is the message. He sends tens of thousands of soldiers who have a really hard time of it fighting against their Ukrainian opponents (and more often than expected, pay with their lives).

And the West? It stands by and has a tough time. It is not true that (as was the case before) almost nothing is being done. At that time, those attacked in Bosnia had hardly any help; Ukraine at least is receiving significant help from some countries. But there again, they are not Muslims, one could say by way of historical comparison, which makes the European role in the Bosnian war look even more shameful.

How many books have been written about Bosnia! How convinced we were that it could never happen again! "Sarajevo and thereafter", was the title of one book. "Ukraine and thereafter" or "Bucha and thereafter" will be the titles of prudent articles in daily newspapers.

But are we Germans doing anything differently this time? The Federal Chancellor stares stoically into space when it comes to Bucha - or says nothing after the Ukrainian President has made a speech to the Bundestag.

At the same time, Russian creatives (the conductor in Munich or, more recently, the soprano Anna Netrebko) are asked to obediently recite the sentences that are expected of them - if they don't, they are thrown out.

They are not Putin, they are not the Russian army! But they have to serve.

According to the principle: we don't want to turn down our heating and as the EU we transfer a few hundred million to Russia every day, but if a Russian artist comes along, then they should kindly recite what we want to hear.

This is the most contradictory and at the same time arrogant form of that mix of pacifism and political correctness that we have acquired and in which we like to bask. Consistent political values with regard to vulnerable individuals over here, deceitful management of contradictions over there where action is actually necessary.

Perhaps the most pointed and, in my opinion, at the same time ugliest version of this unspeakable mix was recently delivered by Max Uthoff: He had every sympathy for the Ukrainian people in their situation, was one of the opening sentences. And after that, only cynicism cloaked in pacifism: all this is a spawn of toxic masculinity (Putin like Zelenskiy)...

This is admittedly powerfully eloquent - and because it is TV: also entertaining - arrogance paired with seemingly human desires, but without providing any answers as to what to do when someone is standing in front of you whose job it is to shoot you.

Taking this line of thought further, the author of such words would simply have to allow themselves to be shot if they could not manage to run away in time and run far enough.

As Bärbel Bohley put it, you can only be a pacifist for yourself. She went to Bosnia in 1996, as I did, to help rebuild the country. These "terrible experiences in Bosnia" taught her that it is cynical "when people in extreme need are presented with 'sunflowers'".

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