The End of the Landscape (during the battle)

Raúl Zibechi

Photo: Luis Enrique Aguilar

When the war began, a timely communiqué from the EZLN analyzing the first days of the conflict concluded: “The war must stop now. If it continues and, as expected, escalates, then there may be no one to account for the landscape after the battle.”

A year and a half later, the journalist Rafael Poch de Feliu, who was a correspondent for more than 20 years in Moscow, Beijing, Berlin and Paris, and has a profound knowledge of these worlds, fully agrees with the Zapatista assessment. He quotes extensively the American journalist Matthew Hoh who published an article on on June 30, entitled “Destroy Eastern Ukraine to save it”:

Whoever “wins” in eastern Ukraine will gain a land depopulated and littered with destroyed infrastructure. This land will be contaminated for generations by the military toxins of war and littered with landmines and unexploded devices. Ukrainian mothers will most likely suffer the same as Iraqi, Afghan and Southeast Asian mothers, giving birth for generations to dead, deformed and sick children due to the enduring toxic legacies of modern warfare. Children and their families, decades from now, will be punished for this madness in Ukraine, just as children and their families continue to be punished in all post-conflict countries.”

Poch’s article is titled “Ukraine is losing the war, but Russia is not winning it,” and does not take sides, although he asserts that 70% of the responsibility for the war lies with the United States and its allies.

He begins by speaking of the failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, largely due to “desertions, forced recruitments and surrenders of Ukrainian troops to the enemy,” news that the European press rigorously conceals. Young people simply refuse to go to join the armed forces, with only one in five of those mentioned showing up for conscription.

He goes on to explain that there is real carnage on the front lines. “There is a horrible pattern of young men killed and maimed.” Some analysts consider that the life expectancy of a young man who is sent to the front is barely four hours!!!!

On the Russian side, things are no better. The country justified the invasion of Ukraine to defend the Russian population of the Donbas, but things are turning against it: “The population of the Donbas – and part of that of the Russian bordering regions of Belgorod and others – is now suffering much worse shelling and calamities than before the invasion.” Worse, the majority regions of Ukraine will be unstable for a long time and increasingly anti-Russian, a sentiment that Poch estimates will last for generations.

The truth is that peace is more and more distant, the two sides are clinging to their positions without the slightest capacity to foresee where the war is going and, as the EZLN estimated, it tends to escalate into a conflict between nuclear powers.

Many of the leftists we have heard during these months agree with the analysis of geopoliticians that we are facing a war destined to change the balance of power between North and South, between the G-7 and the BRICS, and in particular between China and Russia and the United States. Some are already speculating about how long the dollar will last as a reserve currency and the foreseeable erosion of the superpower’s power. They believe that being anti-imperialist is reduced to being anti-Yankee. As if it were the only imperialism on the planet.

The big problem with this political position is that it leaves in the lurch the human beings, the peoples who are victims of a war they did not choose. And this point links the war in Ukraine (and in Yemen, in Syria and all over the planet) with the wars of dispossession suffered by the peoples of Latin America. That is why we must be clear that there is only one war: the war of capital against the peoples. It is irrelevant whether that capital is today based in Europe, the United States, China or Russia. It is capital, period.

Will we be able to feel the war in Ukraine as an aggression against us? The question is also valid for those who still do not feel the aggressions in Chiapas or Oaxaca, in Jujuy or Peru, as part of a generalized attack from above against those below. As Brecht said, if we do not react now, when our turn comes it will be too late.

Original text published in Desinformemonos on July 24th, 2023.
Translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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