In a recent episode of his YouTube political talk program ’60 minutes’, senior Lebanese political analyst Nasser Qandil argued that ‘the Ukraine war is part two of World War III’, after ‘part one in Syria had ended in a clear victory for Russia’.
I wish to talk about a number of points regarding the Ukraine war, because we – as always –aim at deepening and consolidating the understanding, awareness, and perception of all those watching us, and helping them to receive the means (that raise their) awareness and not (imposing) our own outcome, meaning they can use the tools, premises, and introductions (we present) to reach different conclusions – and this is an achievement that’s way more important than (merely) dictating to them the outcome (of analyses) and saying (that’s the whole thing) and ‘full stop’ (i.e. you don’t need to think any further). Therefore, our mission in this program is to increase the knowledge (of viewers), and not only to use (the knowledge) we have or that which people have (in our discussions).
The first conclusion I wish to consolidate with you, my dear viewers, is that this war is the largest war after World War II. I personally tried to check through history before adopting this conclusion, (looking into) the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the Invasion of Iraq, the Invasion of Afghanistan, the wars of Israel in our region (the Middle East) since 1967 including the October War we fought (against Israel) as Arabs, and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon; this whole outcome makes me confidently say, bearing responsibility for my words, that this is the world’s largest war after World War II, and I’ll explain why.
The first point is that the initiator of this war is Russia, while all the other wars had (another) common (factor). We haven’t witnessed a war – except for a limited number like the October War for example, like initiatives (by forces) opposing the American (hegemony) project and its extensions and alliances, the majority – 99% of the wars witnessed after World War II were wars of domination and control carried out by the US. Therefore, we are before a war, the first characteristic of which is the transfer of the military initiative in decision-making. This shift moved from a side that was the only one taking the initiative, and which has, for seventy years, taken the lead at the global level, which is the US, (that recently) withdrew from Afghanistan and (began) avoiding to take part in wars and (began) gathering its shreds and shrapnel from places it got involved in with the aim of incurring the least amount of (further) losses, and in an attempt to strike settlement (agreements), (while) on the other hand we have the rise of a side that has started – since more than 10 years within a limited (pace) – speaking about the South Ossetian war in 2008, the Crimean Peninsula war in 2014, the huge position (Russia took) in Syria in 2015, and (the part it took) in Kazakhstan in 2021. However, now (this war) is President Putin’s largest war – Russia’s largest war after this calm ascent (of Russia), and the parallel decline of American power.
Here, we can’t look at the war from the (aspect of) geography alone. Before going into the geographical (aspect), it’s a fundamental and essential issue yes. But (first) we’re talking about a descending arc of a state, which is the US arc (of power), and an ascending Russian arc – an arc that represents this rise of Asia as a whole, and can be seen in Eastern countries in different manifestations, even if there weren’t a precise and accurate coordination and approach between Russia, Iran, and China – because there are many who would try to dig up some cracks and holes within this presentation; we are not talking about congruence of approaches. Even in the Syrian war, China didn’t take the position that Iran took; Russia took time until it took (its) position (to support Syria,) but it eventually did and paid the price for it and reaped its fruits. Consequently, it’s not necessary to speak about congruence, yet there’s an Asian rise (of power) that no one can argue about, a rise that shakes American hegemony. No one can say that the rise of Iran is not evident, and that this rise (of power) didn’t lead to the erosion of America’s position and grip on the heart of Asia and especially in our region (the Middle East). (In addition,) China’s rise worries America and the entire West, and Russia’s rise is now evident in the military sphere and through this huge, massive qualitative step, which (helped) form this ascending Russian arc that expresses this rise of Asia, (a Russian arc) that is sometimes ahead of the (Asian arc) such that it enjoys a higher degree of courage in its decision-making, (all of this) while the descending American arc (lies on the other side)…here we talk about the second characteristic of this war, which makes it one of the world’s most important wars after World War II, which is that it’s taking place in Europe.
All other wars – in the view of the West that led the world, (the West being) the US and Europe – were on the peripheries and in third world countries. I mean, check (the history) of all the (previous) wars – it (will help) explain to us why this revival of racist thought is being seen in (the attitudes) of journalists and analysts through unintended slips of tongue sometimes, (because) maybe if they thought a little about it they’d be ashamed (of what they were saying). However, this war is actually in Europe, and not in a third world country.
Therefore, for the first time since World War II – although the Yugoslavian war was in Europe, it was a war carried out by the US and western Europe to destroy what’s left of the Soviet legacy, to pave the way for a tight grip on the entire geography, economy, and politics of Europe. Now, this is the first war to knock Europe’s door, meaning that Russia is fighting a war and it’s on the European door. This is the second factor.
The third factor – I want to draw attention to the necessity of investigation, to reread information about Ukraine. Here, I’ll provide the main points to help (the viewer) get (the idea of) what we’re talking about. There’s a chain called ‘The European Bridge’ of five major European states, historically speaking: Spain, France, Germany, Poland, and Ukraine. Ukraine, in terms of (geographical) area equals (the area of) France plus a bit, (and it equals) Germany + Holland + Belgium + Switzerland (all together) in (its geographical) area. Ukraine’s population equals the population of France and equals the population of both Poland and Romania added together. The rest of the Eastern European countries became fragments – after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia – the rest, such as Lithuania, Estonia and Hungary are actually micro-states compared to the size of Ukraine. We’re speaking about 45 million people, meaning twice the number of Iraq’s (population) back when the war started (there). We’re speaking about an area of (about) 600,000 km², which is Syria’s size multiplied by three times and a half, and Lebanon’s size multiplied by 60. We are speaking about the second (most important) state in the Soviet Union after Russia, in terms of size, population, army, technical qualifications of its (various) generations, its colleges, participation in food and technical production, its position in terms of nuclear weapons.
So, we’re not speaking about Iraq, the besieged, disintegrated, weak Iraq that suffers from internal crises, that is not supported by any (external) side, and which is this far (from Europe) – if (in) Iraq, the US army’s entrance to the capital, Baghdad, took 20 days while they were at their peak of advancement, and so even if it takes the Russian army 200 days to enter Kyiv, they will still be considered as making (good) progress – (this approach) allows us to read the situation correctly. Ukraine – this is Ukraine, of course in Ukrainian history there’s a connection between it and Russia; Ukraine is to a large extent (considered as a) mini-Russia. Originally, Russia initiated from Kyiv, the Russian Empire was founded in Kyiv and then moved to Moscow. Therefore, there are efforts for reaching parity, or emulation and competition (between them). Ukraine believes – those who know the traditional Soviet environment (can relate), when we used to visit the Soviet Union, none would introduce themselves by their original nationality and point out that they’re not Russian, except for the Ukrainians; they use to say ‘I’m not Russian’. And I’m speaking about communists, he’d be an official whose mission is to negotiate with us and talk about issues. So, (we can notice that) Ukraine has a sense of competition, with the European background, and a dimension that is related to the way Ukraine was formed – which is a group of (mixed) ethnicities, and if you look at its geography you can notice that parts of it didn’t belong to Ukraine and Stalin later joined many of them to Ukraine: a part of Moldova, a part of Poland, in addition to the Crimean Peninsula that was originally Russian.
Anyway, Lenin and Stalin had a bias for Ukraine and a special interest in satisfying this Ukrainian pride and reassuring them that (Ukraine) is of an important and special status. Therefore, it has always been – I use a metaphor sometimes, I’d say that Ukraine’s (relation) with Russia is like Queen Elizabeth and Lady Diana, in which Queen Elizabeth represents the throne, history (of England), etc., and Lady Diana is the sweet, lovely, popular, (lady) that (represents) elegance, youth, and beauty etc. Therefore, Ukraine, in the eyes of the Soviet Union and the West – Brzezinski said in the 80s or 1978 that ‘Russia without Ukraine is a great state, and a very great one, yet without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an Empire’.
So, we must know what we are speaking about, and why am I saying these words. It is to say that the conclusion is that Putin – this is his war, (the war) that he had been preparing for since at least 2014, because the 2014 war when he annexed the Crimean Peninsula and joined it to Russia, it was the first Ukrainian war for President Putin. (Furthermore,) since 2008, when he entered South Ossetia, he wasn’t aiming at Georgia; look at the (world) map, you’ll see Georgia’s size compared to Ukraine, it can’t even be compared to it! The fight is over Ukraine, the same way Syria was (of great importance) in the Middle East; the one who controls Syria will have control over the (whole Middle East) region and the world through it, (now,) the one who controls Ukraine will have control over Europe and the world through it.
Therefore, the first point we must break free from in our thinking and debate, is talking about the duration of the war; who said Putin wishes to end it in a short period of time? Why put a formula that says that one of the signs of success is the speed in which the achievement is done? It’s not a rule at all! This war might be (intentionally) designed to be a long one, so that a new world system could be built upon its ramifications, developments, and (resulting) frameworks.
It’s a war that cannot end without (reaching) a Russian-American-European settlement. Who’s Zelenskyy? What (kind of) position and power does he have (compared to Russia’s power)? What can he offer in any kind of negotiations? And what kind of decision does he get to make in negotiations? Therefore, it’s a Russian-American war. Europe became part of it. And if Europe had made the decision of not being a part of it, the whole thing would’ve ended through a Russian-European settlement. Therefore, the US used all its capabilities to make Europe a part of it, but that’s not a permanent condition. Today the fight is over Europe; to what extent can Europe remain part of this war?
Therefore, we are before part two of World War III. If Syria was the first episode, then Ukraine is the second episode. The first episode ended – if we are speaking internationally – it ended with a clear victory for Russia. Now we are before the second episode.