Volunteers to Fight in Ukraine? Bring Back the Draft?

February 19th, 2024 - by Douglas MacKinnon / The Hill: Opinion

Raise Your Privileged Hand If You’re
Willing to ‘Fight to the Last Ukrainian’
Douglas MacKinnon / The Hill: Opinion

WASHINGTON (February 17, 2024) — Hey, what’s a million-plus dead and wounded when you live thousands of miles away in a bubble of arrogant privilege?

In August 2023, U.S. officials estimated that approximately 500,000 Russian and Ukrainian troops had been killed or wounded since Russia’s invasion in February 2022. Back in November, the United Nations Human Rights Office said more than 10,000 Ukrainian civilians had died.

Recently, a former intelligence official told me that troop casualties are now over 1 million, and that the U.N. estimate of civilian deaths is dramatically higher. Over 1 million dead and wounded men, women and children.

Shouldn’t that obscenely horrific death and casualty number shock us? For a comparison, how would we react if every single man, woman and child in Dallas, San Diego, Austin, Jacksonville or San Jose were killed or wounded while large parts of those cities were leveled to the ground by air and artillery bombardments?

Sadly, tragically, but purposefully, there has been very little reporting on the human cost of the war between Russia and Ukraine. Some in the media have seemingly morphed into stenographers for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, with each story beginning: “As Ukraine reports…” or “As Zelensky stated…”

Media sites can still be “anti-Putin” while professionally and ethically reporting the absolute facts on the ground. Facts that paint a horribly tragic picture.

If the rationale by our government, the United Kingdom and others in Europe (along with much of the media, academia and various defense contractors) was to use Ukraine and its people as cheap disposable pawns to be sacrificed in a proxy war against Vladimir Putin and Russia, then they are succeeding at a certain macabre level.

However, if the idea of supporting the Ukraine war with Russia was to “save the people of Ukraine” and the country’s infrastructure, then those who advocated for that course of action have failed miserably.

How miserably? Well, as CNN reported recently, the war has devolved into brutal trench warfare: “The frontlines of Russia’s war in Ukraine have become infested with rats and mice, reportedly spreading disease that causes soldiers to vomit and bleed from their eyes, crippling combat capability and recreating the gruesome conditions that plagued troops in the trench warfare of World War I.”

Does any of that matter or register with the privileged and “neocon” class on both sides of the Atlantic who — from the safety of thousands of miles away while enjoying six- and seven-figure salaries — continually advocate for the youth of Ukraine to march into the teeth of the Russian war machine?

If they truly have no regard for the hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded; for the leveled infrastructure; for the 6 million-plus who have fled Ukraine; or for the billions of U.S. tax dollars that seem to have gone missing, then what is their opinion with regard to triggering World War III?

As was recently headlined in Fox News: “Leaked German documents show leaders are preparing should Russia launch World War 3.” Seriously, at what point does ignoring or brushing off that cataclysmic prospect amount to criminal malpractice of the highest order?

As with the CNN report detailing the current “trench warfare” replicating the horrors of World War I, maybe those continually pushing for this war should do a bit of research and remind themselves what triggered World War I in the first place. One seemingly unconnected trip wire led to the next and the next, and before anyone knew what had happened, over 20 million human beings were dead.

Kyiv official says Ukraine may have to go nuclear.

What would that number be today if a Russian general ordered the launch of a tactical nuclear weapon into the heart of London? Impossible? Not only have some in Russia articulated just such a response, but as my former high-level intelligence contact told me, under a “combat” designation, Russian generals have the “autonomy” to launch tactical nuclear weapons on their own.

As the CIA reported years ago: “Command posts of the Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF), the service in charge of nuclear missiles, and other units below the level of the general staff have the technical ability to launch without authorization of political leaders or the general staff. Controls over tactical nuclear arms — battlefield nuclear arms and nuclear torpedoes — also are assessed to be poor. These appear to be the weapons most at risk.”

Leaving aside the chilling prospect of a Russian general simply losing his mind and deciding to strike out on his own, it is easy to see — if you are looking — how the escalation of this war could lead to misinterpreted orders, false assumptions or even computer glitches. Any one of which could end up in the loss of tens — or potentially hundreds — of millions of lives. And for what?

Because people of privilege thousands of miles away from the battlefield and carnage decided to play a boardgame in which hundreds of thousands of real human beings are sacrificed in the guise of “saving a nation from Russia”; for nation-building purposes; or to fight a proxy war leading the world to the razor’s edge of World War III.

As the war rages on, who will acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children killed or wounded — or cry out in their defense? When did the outright slaughter of human beings or the very real possibility of igniting the next world war cease to matter to us?

In such a war, even the privileged and profiting, living in bubbles of luxury, wouldn’t be able to escape.

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.