Dantesque adjectives are often used to define situations with characteristics of hell, and the collective imagination often associates the ideas of fire and fire with them. War breaks out in Ukraine by the Russian invasion matched some modern events in that conceptualization, with sieges, with civilians and hospitals being bombed, with two and a half million refugees in just two weeks. However, it is interesting to note that, with great poetic intuition, Dante imagined the deepest corners of his Hell as a terrible frozen space – Ice Cocytus-. It is the spectral coldness of the soul, the calculated and conscious abuse of the most sacred thing that man possesses: his intelligence, his free will. It is less sinful to incontinence than to be premeditated, thought the poet, under Aristotelian inspiration. Many criminal laws today collect the same distinction. From that icy spring came the worst rain of fire.
The immense suffering of the Ukrainian population is the result of the sensible and cruel calculations of the mind of Vladimir Putin. Many scholars believe that, in the end, he was responding to, to a greater or lesser extent, the perverted reasoning in the key to personal political survival, which made his actions even more shameful. Again, faced with such an incarnation of evil, the poet has interesting things to tell us. On his journey of prophetic salvation, Dante manages to leave the icy Cocytus behind him, come out of the terrible subterranean layers and see the stars again. He achieved it under the guidance of Virgilio -reason- activated by Beatrice -love, grace-. One of the two is not enough: the collaboration of the two is necessary, in the right measure, to be saved. And therein lies the key in devising the medium and long-term strategy of those who oppose Putin’s aggression, his worldview.
A purely emotional-ideal attitude may be wrong. The formation of factions that exclude democratic values. Everyone knows that in this conflict, and in the future world, China is the key. Building action solely on democratic values means antagonizing China, consolidating its relationship with the Kremlin and, ultimately, a new cold war, a bipolar world with Washington and Beijing at the forefront, the European Union and Russia as stooges, and so on. many others, standing on the board on one side, on the other, or in the middle, with more or less conviction. Perhaps continuing to try to integrate China into a rules-based order is the better option. It is not a democracy, but it has an interest in global stability that separates it from Russia.
And a purely rational pragmatic attitude may also be wrong. Attractive deals in exchange for little or nothing with oil satrapies or a poncio-pilatesque stance against human rights tramplers of strategic value would seriously undermine democratic positions.
By Andrea Rizzi
In the picture, a bus passes by a screen showing Putin in Simferopol, Crimea, on Friday. (Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters)
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