The meaning of war in the 21st century

Interrupting his series of articles on the war in Ukraine, Thierry Meyssan delivers some thoughts on the evolution of the human dimension of war. The end of industrial capitalism and the globalization of exchanges do not only transform our societies and our ways of thinking, but the meaning of all our activities, including wars.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not part of any military strategy. Japan had already intended to surrender. The United States just wanted them not to surrender to the Soviets who were beginning to pour into Manchuria, but to themselves.

Since the end of World War II 77 years ago, Europeans (except for the former Yugoslavs) have known peace on their soil. They have forgotten this distant memory and discover war with horror in Ukraine. The Africans of the Great Lakes, the ex-Yugoslavs and the Muslims from Afghanistan to Libya, passing through the Horn of Africa, look at them with disgust: for many decades, the Europeans ignored their sufferings and accused them of being responsible for the misfortunes they were suffering.

The war in Ukraine started with Nazism according to some, eight years ago according to others, but it is only two months old in the consciousness of Westerners. They see some of the suffering it causes, but they do not yet perceive all its dimensions. Above all, they misinterpret it according to the experience of their great-grandparents and not according to their own experience.


As soon as it starts, war forbids nuances. It forces everyone to position themselves in one of the two camps. The two jaws of the beast immediately crush those who do not comply.
The ban on nuances forces everyone to rewrite events. There are only “good guys”, us, and “bad guys”, those on the other side. War propaganda is so powerful that after a while, no one can distinguish the facts from the way they are described. We are all in the dark and no one knows how to turn on the light.
War causes suffering and death without distinction. It doesn’t matter to which side you belong. It doesn’t matter if you are guilty or innocent. One suffers and dies not only from the blows of those on the other side, but also collaterally from those on one’s own side. War is not only suffering and death, but also injustice, which is much more difficult to bear.
None of the rules of civilized nations remain. Many give in to madness and no longer behave like humans. There is no longer any authority to make people face the consequences of their actions. Most people can no longer be counted on. Man has become a wolf for man.

Something fascinating is happening. If some people turn into cruel beasts, others become luminous and their eyes enlighten us.

I spent a decade on the battlefields and never went home. Although I now flee from suffering and death, I am still irresistibly drawn to those looks. That is why I hate war and yet I miss it. Because in this tangle of horrors there is always a sublime form of humanity.


I would now like to offer you some thoughts that do not commit you to this or that conflict, and even less to this or that side. I will just lift a veil and invite you to look at what it hides. What I am about to say may shock you, but we can only find peace by accepting reality.

Wars are changing. I am not talking about weapons and military strategies, but about the reasons for conflicts, about their human dimension. Just as the transition from industrial capitalism to financial globalization is transforming our societies and pulverizing the principles that organized them, so this evolution is changing wars. The problem is that we are already incapable of adapting our societies to this structural change and therefore even less capable of thinking about the evolution of war.

War always seeks to solve the problems that politics has failed to solve. It does not happen when we are ready for it, but when we have eliminated all other solutions.

This is exactly what is happening today. The US Straussians have inexorably cornered Russia in Ukraine, leaving it no option but to go to war. If the Allies insist on pushing her back, they will provoke a World War.

The periods between two eras, when human relationships must be rethought, are conducive to this kind of disaster. Some people continue to reason according to principles that have proven their effectiveness, but are no longer adapted to the world. They are nevertheless advancing and can provoke wars without wanting to.

On the night of May 9, 1945, the US air force bombed Tokyo. In one night more than 100,000 people were killed and more than 1 million were left homeless. It was the largest massacre of civilians in history.

If, in peacetime, we distinguish between civilians and soldiers, this way of reasoning no longer makes sense in modern warfare. Democracies have swept away the organization of societies into castes or orders. Everyone can become a combatant. Mass mobilizations and total wars have blurred the lines. From now on, civilians are in charge of the military. They are no longer innocent victims, but have become the first responsible for the general misfortune of which the military are only the executors.

In the Western Middle Ages, war was the business of the nobles and of them alone. In no case did the population participate. The Catholic Church had enacted laws of war to limit the impact of conflicts on civilians. All this does not correspond anymore to what we live and is not based on anything.

The equality between men and women has also reversed the paradigms. Not only are soldiers now women, but they can be civilian commanders too. Fanaticism is no longer the exclusive domain of the so-called stronger sex. Some women are more dangerous and cruel than some men.

We are not aware of these changes. In any case, we do not draw any conclusions from them. This leads to bizarre positions such as the refusal of Westerners to repatriate the families of jihadists they have let go to the battlefields and to judge them. Everyone knows that many of these women are far more fanatical than their husbands were. Everyone knows that they represent a much greater danger. But nobody says so. They prefer to pay Kurdish mercenaries to keep them and their children in camps, as far away as possible.

Only the Russians have repatriated the children, who were already contaminated by this ideology. They entrusted them to their grandparents, hoping that the latter would be able to love and care for them.

For the past two months, we have been receiving Ukrainian civilians fleeing the fighting. They are only women and children who suffer. So we do not take any precautions. However, a third of these children have been trained in the summer camps of the Banderites. There they learned the handling of weapons and the admiration of the criminal against humanity Stepan Bandera.

 The Geneva Conventions are only a vestige of the time when we reasoned as humans. They do not stick to any reality. Those who apply them do so not because they believe they are obliged to, but because they hope to remain human and not sink into a sea of crimes. The notion of “war crimes” is meaningless, since the purpose of war is to commit successive crimes in order to achieve the victory that could not be obtained by civilized means, and in a democracy, each voter is responsible.

In the past, the Catholic Church forbade strategies directed against civilians, such as the siege of cities, on pain of excommunication. Besides the fact that today there is no moral authority to enforce rules, no one is shocked by “economic sanctions” affecting entire peoples, even to the point of causing murderous famines, as was the case against North Korea.

Given the time we need to draw conclusions from what we are doing, we continue to consider certain weapons as prohibited while using them ourselves. For example, President Barack Obama explained that the use of chemical or biological weapons is a red line that should not be crossed, but his Vice President Joe Biden has installed a large research system in Ukraine. The only people who have forbidden themselves any weapon of mass destruction are the Iranians, since Imam Ruhollah Khomeini morally condemned them. Precisely, they are the ones we accuse of wanting to build an atomic bomb, as they do nothing of the kind.

In the past, wars were declared in order to take over territories. At the end, a peace treaty was signed to modify the land register. In the age of social networks, the issue is less territorial and more ideological. The war can only end with the discrediting of a way of thinking. Although territories have changed hands, some recent wars have resulted in armistices, but none in a peace treaty and reparations.

We can see that, despite the dominant discourse in the West, the war in Ukraine is not territorial, but ideological. President Volodymyr Zelensky is the first warlord in history to speak several times a day. He spends much more time talking than commanding his army. He writes his speeches around historical references. We react to the memories he evokes and ignore what we don’t understand. To the English, he speaks like Winston Churchill, they applaud him; to the French, he reminds of Charles De Gaulle, they applaud him; etc… To all, he concludes “Glory to Ukraine!”, they do not understand the allusion which they find pretty.

Those who know the history of Ukraine recognize the war cry of the Banderites. The one they shouted while massacring 1.6 million of their fellow citizens, including at least 1 million Jews. But how could a Ukrainian call for the massacre of other Ukrainians and a Jew for the massacre of Jews?

Our innocence makes us deaf and blind.

For the first time in a conflict, one side censored the enemy media before the war started. RT and Sputnik were shut down in the European Union because they could have challenged what was to come. After the Russian media, opposition media are beginning to be censored. The Voltaire Network’s website,, has been censored in Poland for a month by decision of the National Security Council.

War is no longer limited to the battlefield. It becomes essential to win over the spectators. During the war in Afghanistan, US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair considered destroying the satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera. It had no impact on the belligerents, but it gave pause to viewers in the Arab world.

It is worth noting that after the 2003 war in Iraq, French researchers imagined that military warfare might turn into cognitive warfare. If the nonsense about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction only lasted a few months, the way in which the United States and the United Kingdom managed to get everyone to believe it was perfect. In the end, Nato added a sixth domain to its usual five (air, land, sea, space and cyber): the human brain. While the Alliance is currently avoiding confrontation with Russia in the first four domains, it is already at war in the last two.

As the areas of intervention expand, the notion of a belligerent is fading. It is no longer men who confront each other, but systems of thought. War is thus becoming globalized. During the Syrian war, more than sixty states that had nothing to do with this conflict sent weapons to the country, and today, twenty states are sending weapons to Ukraine. As we do not understand the events live, but interpret them in the light of the old world, we believed that the Western weapons were used by the Syrian democratic opposition while they were going to the jihadists and we are convinced that they are going to the Ukrainian army and not to the Banderites.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Roger Lagassé


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