THE GREAT GAME
EVERYONE GETS HURT
BY Priyan Rajapaksa
I’m brassed off because no one called me or sought my opinion on Ukraine. I’ve been aware of the situation in Ukraine and Crimea since 1966 when I began to read military history as a boy.
A crisis brings experts crawling out of the woodwork. Two years ago, it was COVID-19; now it’s about the continuation of a war around Crimea and Ukraine that began in the 1850s. The experts are guessing and my guess is as good as theirs.
History can only be discussed tomorrow when today is history. Today, we are counting the dead. Not being the shy type, I thought I’d invite myself to the show.
This is my interpretation of events since that’s all one can give of history.
It’s impossible not to weep for the people of Ukraine and Russia killing each other over a piece of real estate that has seen many owners since the 9th century.
The Great Game, which is also known as Bolshaya Igra, was a political and diplomatic struggle between czarist Russia and imperial Britain that began in 1830.
This game was to deny Russia access to a warm water port and protect British interests in India. The British invaded Afghanistan three times between 1838 and 1919 with the same objective.
However, the playground has changed and India is independent while Great Britain is now ‘Little England.’ But the game continues between a kleptocratic Russian oligarchy and the successor to the British Empire, which is blindly capitalistic American imperialism and its running dog (courtesy Mao), which constitutes the European vassal states.
The US has seven fleets based in Virginia, California, Florida, Bahrain, Italy, Japan and a ghost fleet in Maryland waging cyber ops. Russia has six fleets comprising Northern, Pacific, Black Sea, Baltic, Caspian and Middle East.
Similar to the game of battleships and cruisers that I played in school on square ruled exercise books, these big boys also move their ships around the world. If their game was not apocalyptic, it would be fun.
Strangely, the Russian navy’s patron is St. Andrew – the same saint who protects Scotland. The Scots are glad that St. Andrew has two eyes and probably favours pounds to rubles.
The game is the same between the major powers. They control each other’s spheres of influence, and maintain buffer countries such as Poland and Afghanistan in-between – like human shields – to limit damage to their own nations.
For the past millennium, Britain has been fighting in Europe to maintain the balance of power and stay war away from its shores.
Sadly, there is much hot air about a rules-based new world order, democracy, recognition of human rights and so on. Great ideals – but subject to the whims and fancies of the superpowers.
Countries and individuals living among power blocs have to decide which ideals to sacrifice. It is cynical but realistic and deals need to be cut in a hypocritical world that runs on the balance of power sharing agreements between the more powerful.
Guppies should not play at being whales – because sovereignty is nebulous.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was ‘Ukrained’ – as the new word says – and decided to fight Russia due to hints of aid and NATO membership… even if it upset the balance of power.
Now NATO says that it’s too inconvenient for its members to stop buying Russian gas immediately. That will reduce their comfortable Western European living standards – so they will do it in the summer!
The war will lead to new export orders for the UK’s Next generation Light Antitank Weapon (NLAW) antitank missiles. The US has committed US$ 1 billion in military aid including drones made in Turkey. Yes, Turkey is acting as a mediator too.
“As Western arsenals empty their stockpiles, flowing some 17,000 ‘fire-and-forget’ missiles into Ukraine, the small rockets are being consumed faster than the West can currently replace them,” claims Forbes magazine.
The Javelin system, which shoots two missiles each minute, was developed and produced for the US Army and Marine Corps through
a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies.
These are also manufactured under licence by Airbus Defense and Space in Germany and Roketsan in Turkey, and cost a mere 175,000 dollars each. Conversation.com notes: “The shares of Lockheed and Raytheon are up by around 16 percent and three percent respectively since the invasion, against a one percent drop in the S&P 500.”
Even The Economist is offering a special on its subscriptions, inviting readers to stay abreast of what’s happening in Ukraine, which is currently the greatest show on Earth.
War is great for business, and the expendables who are paying the price are Ukrainian and Russian soldiers, as well as civilians in Ukraine.
When enough blood has flowed and puffed up egos have been satisfied, the upright Western leaders – happy to have used the Ukrainians to thwart Russia – will go home.
The Ukrainians will rebuild; and the dead of Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka will remain in my memory.