Fear and the Ukrainian War


Thucydides says that fear sparked the Peloponnesian War. Fear was behind Sparta’s attack on Athens.

In the 50 years or so after the Persian wars, 479-431 BCE, Sparta watched the rise of Athenian power with grave concern – and fear. This was the main reason for the breakout of the Peloponnesian War in 431 BCE.

The united forces of Sparta and Athens, and their Greek allies, defeated the vast armies and navies of the Persian Empire in early fifth century BCE.

At the end of the Persian wars and the expelling of the Persians from Greece, Athens, and Sparta parted ways. Sparta remained the Greek superpower in Peloponnesos. It refused, however, to join Athens in protecting Hellas, Greek poleis (city-states) spread all over the Mediterranean, from the Persians.

Athens founded the Delian League in Apollo’s sacred island of Delos in the Aegean and close to the Ionian coast dotted by Greek poleis. The Persians resented those Greek states so close to their borders. Persian troops invaded and captured them, often working out relations that were tolerable, but at other circumstances acting ruthlessly.

In one case, after capturing a Greek polis, the Persians castrated all young boys and young men, getting them ready for serving them as eunuchs. They also sent the young women to the brothels of the king.

These dangerous relations of Ionian Greeks with Persians naturally led them to seek assistance from mainland Greek powers. Sparta refused. Athens sent an expeditionary force, which liberated the Ionian states and burned a provincial capital of Persia. The king of Persia, Darius, did not forget this Athenian attack and in 490 BCE invaded Greece.

Is the war in Ukraine another Peloponnesian War?

There are startling similarities between the Peloponnesian War and the war in Ukraine. Russia is following the Spartan example. Fear is behind everything Russia does. Its president, Vladimir Putin, has been warning America and its NATO European allies not to encroach its borders. But despite promises by President George Walker Bush, that the United States and NATO would not expand into eastern Europe, the exact opposite has taken place. Former Soviet Union (Russia) dependencies (Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Bulgaria) were invited into NATO.

America’s wars

In the 1990s, the United States bombed an ally of Russia, Yugoslavia, into ruins. Kosovo, a tiny Moslem state, emerged out of the destruction of Yugoslavia. The United States built a large military base in Kosovo.

The United States continued its wars, wrecking the Middle East, including Afghanistan. In each of these numerous wars, from the 1960s to 2020s, in Latin America and the Caribbean, southeast Asia, and the Middle East, giant America with a gigantic military armed with the latest high tech weapons, lost to peasant soldiers fighting to defend their homeland.

Russian fear

The Russians observe American policies with fear, seeing America with Spartan eyes. Not that they confuse America with Athens. But they regret they willingly broke up their global empire, Soviet Union, without any treaty guaranties NATO would not take advantage of their economic meltdown during their transition from communism to capitalism.

This Russian fear and the unwillingness of NATO (America) to keep its promises has brought the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

War psychosis

Like all wars, the war in Ukraine is ferocious in its indiscriminate destruction and death. Yet American media report the war as if it was against the United States. Nothing that Russia does, especially President Vladimir Putin, is right. He is a tyrant surrounded by oligarchs, all of them, including all Russians, are blood thirsty. They must pay a price by wrecking their capitalist economy and, with NATO weapons, Ukrainian soldiers must defeat the Russians.

I have stopped watching television, but I keep reading the New York Times with its numerous article per day about Ukraine. Most of those articles, mirror the typical war hysteria against Russia inflicting America and Europe.

The prospect of annihilation

Despite that bias, the New York Times reports on unpopular issues like what if Putin feels so threaten by NATO guns flowing daily into Ukraine that he uses just one tactical nuclear weapon. Russian strategy does not exclude nuclear weapons. What would follow such a fierce explosion of Russian fear?

Would the United States return the favor and throw a nuke over a Russian city? Would that be the end of humanity under the rain of nuclear weapons flying in seconds against north America and Europe?

And yet, despite that possibility, Biden went to Brussels to promise more lethal weapons to the comedian presiding over Ukraine. The thoughtless European leaders, acting like marionets, applauded Biden, thus confirming the paroxysm of madness before a potential nuclear cataclysm.

What about the hovering climate chaos?

War in Ukraine, like the ceaseless warming of the planet, exacerbates all other tragedies inflicting humanity. War covers up the consequences of unleashing the extreme violence of the anthropogenic climate chaos. War is also causing climate chaos.

Any solutions?

I would hope that people of good will from all over America and Europe take it to the streets demanding that NATO stops arming Ukraine. Ukraine cannot win. Arming Ukraine simply expands the killing and hardens both sides for more bloodshed and destruction.

The NATO leadership should tell Ukraine to negotiate with Putin. They should also convince Putin they will never invite Ukraine to join NATO.

Delusions of grandeur

America should understand its days of being (or pretending to be) a world hegemon have long passed. No country can be in such exalted position, if for no other reason than the fear it sparks among the rest of humanity.

If Athens could build a Parthenon, which it did, and still generate fear and loathing among Spartans, one can safely assume America cannot be higher than Athens.








Evaggelos Vallianatos is a historian and environmental strategist, who worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 25 years. He is the author of seven books, including the latest book, The Antikythera Mechanism.