The main answer to the question of why we should help Ukrainians win this war
Watching a public lecture by the famous U.S. public intellectual Steven Pinker, I once again noted one of his conclusions, which has already become famous. Asking whether the world has become a better place, he collected a large amount of data showing that humanity has become much more prosperous, healthier, and safer than ever before in its history. In support of his conclusion that there is significantly less violence in the world, he cites data showing that the number of wars has fallen sharply since World War II and that those that do occur are much less bloody than the armed conflicts of the past. Therefore, despite the claims of pessimists, humanity is making progress, as health, well-being, and security are its leading indicators.
I have been familiar with Pinker's ideas for quite some time. While his conclusions about the growth of prosperity and health are convincing enough and do not require additional evidence, the thesis about a safer world has been on my mind for the past year and a half. Being in a country amid a terrible war, I have repeatedly wondered if this tragedy is not decisive proof against the American researcher's generalization. Finally, I concluded that he was right.
Humanity has indeed become safer, and wars are no longer as troublesome as they used to be. However, when there is progress, there are still cases that become exceptions to the general rule. The war in Ukraine is one such case. That is why many of us could not recover for a long time in February 2022, constantly wondering how this could happen in a world that seemed to have been rid of wars of this magnitude forever. The contrast between the world, which was slowly but surely building a system of peaceful coexistence between peoples, and the war in the center of Europe was so striking that we simply could not believe this was happening in real life.
It is a war to ensure the progress of a secure world
But one crucial clarification should be made here. The exception of the general trend of the world's development was not Ukraine, which was simply forced to respond with violence to its neighbor's aggression, but Russia. For decades, contrary to the general global trend toward a decrease in violence, the latter has consistently made it part of its mentality and policy.
Of course, other countries used to be like this, but they managed to overcome the tendency to resolve conflicts militarily. On the other hand, Russia did not try to do so and deliberately made efforts to develop a cult of violence. It actively increased the use of military force in its foreign policy (Georgia, Ukraine, Syria); physically destroyed oppositionists and simply undesirable people (even on the territory of other countries); systematically threatened various states; and cherished the image of World War II as a symbol of military victory that it "could repeat."
After all, it is probably no coincidence that one of the symbols of this country is the Wagner PMC, which, despite acts of barbaric cruelty that shocked the world, has become an idol for a large part of the Russian population. Thus, Russia deliberately developed a mentality of violence, which is strikingly different from civilized countries that have tried with all their might and quite successfully to get rid of it.
After the start of full-scale aggression, these countries faced another challenge of historic proportions. Now, they are trying to answer the question of why they got involved in this war. Among the answers that are heard are that it is a fight against injustice, for the freedom of the free world, against tyranny, etc. However, in view of the above, it is worth adding another answer to these answers, which is no less important: it is a war to ensure the progress of a secure world, which civilized countries have achieved at the cost of many efforts and human lives, continues.
This is a war to ensure that violence ceases to be a part of interstate politics and, ultimately, of relations between people. It is this progress that Russia has decided to stop, demanding that violence be returned to the norm in relations between countries. Unfortunately, it is big enough to succeed in this. If, God forbid, it succeeds, it will, of course, continue to pursue its foreign policy goals militarily, and other unstable countries will likely follow suit. Thus, Pandora's box will be opened, and the progress of a secure world will have to be forgotten.
However, it is not only this progress that will be reversed. Other areas that Stephen Pinker identified as components of progress, such as wealth and health, will also suffer. Due to the reduction in the number of wars, civilized countries have been able to afford to reduce their military budgets and use the freed-up funds to increase the welfare and health of their citizens. If, thanks to Russia's "efforts," the world returns to a policy of confrontation and war, states will again have to spend vast amounts of money on defense, and other areas will inevitably suffer.
If other countries' people and political leaders still wonder why they should get involved in this war, they should take a more global view of what is happening and realize that this war is a struggle for progress. If they want to see less violence in the world and their sons and daughters not dying in armed conflicts, if they want their countries to be able to afford to spend money to improve the welfare and health of their citizens, then they need to stop Russia, which wants to take away these achievements from the world. This is the main answer to the question of why we should help Ukrainians win this war.
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