The above paraphrasing of Clausewitz’s most famous dictum would imply that those who would understand war would do well to have some understanding of politics. This thought leads us to what occurred in the UN Security Council on Wednesday the 23rd. What the Russian Ambassador called a “special military operation” the Ukrainian Ambassador rightly called a declaration of war. Now I am not a big fan of the UN (for lots of reasons) but I do believe that if we are going to maintain such an organization, then we should use it. Thus, following the maxim that ‘legality is better than bestiality’ it is worth noting the recommendation made by the Ukrainian Ambassador: expel Russia from the UN.
This is a tricky issue and needs a legal scholar to explain it fully to an old soldier like me, but if I followed the Ukrainian argument correctly, it seems to make sense. The argument is that Russia took the Soviet Union’s seat because it was empty and they assumed the USSR’s mandate. But Russia is NOT the USSR and the former soviet republics had to apply for membership; why not Russia? Arguably, it made sense to placate a Russia that was suffering and teetering on the edge of anarchy. The plan was to bring Russia into some kind of closer alignment with the West and so rather than castigate it, the West coddled it.
It would appear that the coddling needs to end. Mr Putin has no intention of EVER aligning himself with any Western power so perhaps the Ukrainian proposal has merit. The UN is a body ruled by law and if the legal case can be made that Russia usurped the USSR’s seat illegally, then cast them to the outer darkness. Close all the embassies, send all the UN officials back to Moscow. Let them deal with their puppet states and with China — and no one else. Mr Putin is reputed to have a ‘war chest’ of some half a billion USD, but that will not last indefinitely.
We say that we are nations who live by the rule of law; either we are or we are not.