Rorate Caeli

Towards a Global War? Ducunt fata volentem, nolentem trahunt - by Roberto de Mattei

Corrispondenza Romana
April 17, 2024

As missiles and drones ply the skies from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, the concern of Western diplomacies seems to be to procrastinate as much as possible a general conflagration that everyone believes is inevitable. One reason for this pessimism is the apparent lack of a way forward in the face of increasingly intractable international issues, such as those in Ukraine and the Middle East. Only an axiological view of politics could offer a glimmer of light, but today every state, every coalition, makes Carl Schmitt's categories its own, according to which it is up to those who guide the destinies of peoples to decide from time to time who is the friend and who is the enemy. To the traditional social order, based on the Augustinian "tranquility in order"(De Civitate Dei, lib. 19, c. 12, 1), Schmitt opposes, as the norm of politics, the principle of disorder, based on Hobbes' theory of homo homini lupus . However, in the age of international disorder, nothing can be predicted and calculated with certainty, and politics turns into a game of chance, whose only rule is the imponderable. Probably neither Russia had calculated well the risk of the invasion of Ukraine, nor Hamas the consequences of the October 7 attack. The process of subsequent events is fraught with uncertainty and randomness.

From this perspective, the discussion of responsibility for events is in itself sterile, because no one, from the beginning, wanted things to go the way they are catastrophically going. The era of conspiracies, in which everything could be arranged, has been overwhelmed by that of permanent chaos. Seneca's words "ducunt fata volentem, nolentem trahunt" ("Fate leads he who wills to be led, it drags he who wills not," Epistles to Lucilius, 107, 11, 5) apply to a situation in which a world that turns its back on God, the only Lord of history, finds itself subject to the inexorable law of a fate it does not master. The gaze must therefore be shifted from the starting point to the possible end point of events.

As far as the Middle East is concerned, the Tehran-Tel Aviv tug-of-war has two possible endings: the collapse of the Iranian regime or the obliteration of the State of Israel. In the first case, the danger of Iran's nuclear intervention would be averted, and Israel could resume the path of the "Abrahamic Accords," which were discontinued after the Oct. 7 attack, to build peace relations with some Arab countries. In the second case, the disappearance of the State of Israel would be seen by the Islamic umma as a symbol of the collapse of the West and the beginning of a Muslim reconquest of Europe. Lands that belonged to Islam, from Sicily to Andalusia, would be claimed and the ideological and demographic project of Eurabia, would become a reality.

What could happen simultaneously in Ukraine? Here again we are faced with two possible pictures. In the first case, the winner of the upcoming U.S. elections, whether Biden or Trump, continues to provide Ukraine with weapons to fight, allowing Zelensky to resist Putin and, based on this balance of power, to seek an acceptable negotiation. In the second case, on the other hand, the U.S. and Europe abandon Kiev to its fate, the Russian army ramps up to Lviv, Ukraine becomes part of the Russian Empire once again, and the victory prompts Putin to expand his expansionist project to the countries that were part of the dissolved Soviet Union and to impose his protectorate on those bordering them.

In either case, the abandonment of Israel and Ukraine would spell the demise of the West. Southern Europe would fall under the yoke of Islam on dhimmitude terms, and Eastern Europe, as far as the Balkans, would become vassals of Moscow. But since a centuries-old enmity runs between Russia and the Islamic world, it cannot be ruled out that Europe could become, in this case, a land of confrontation between the two imperialisms, as happened when, in the 16th century, the powers of France and Spain struggled to seize the Italian peninsula.

In a situation in which the attitude of the United States will be decisive, the wisest thing Europe can do is to arm itself, even at the cost of decreasing its standard of living as a result of this choice. But will the Europeans want to do so, or will they prefer to argue endlessly about the lack of economic resources and the difficulty of the legal steps required to wage war? To arm themselves would take that fighting spirit that has made Europe great over the centuries and that descends from the teaching of the Gospel that Christ came to bring not peace but the sword (Mt. 10:34-35; Lk. 12:51-53). Today, however, peace is sought at any cost, and the former slogan, "better red than dead," has been replaced by that, "better submission than war."

Pope Francis makes incessant appeals for peace, as did his predecessors on the eve of the two great world conflicts of the twentieth century. But the 20th century popes identified the cause of war as the abandonment of God's law in international life and pointed to a return to natural law and the faith of Christ as the only condition for establishing true peace.

Peace will certainly not be secured by what is called the "liberal order." The dream of building a civilization on the principles of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution has failed miserably. It is certainly not in the name of those values that the West can delude itself into thinking it can stand against the enemy that assails it. But it is even more illusory to imagine that a compromise can be found with the Islamic world that assails us, or to think that a bulwark against chaos can be represented by Putin's Russia.

It is true: neither in Islamic countries nor in Russia is there a place for homosexual marriage or gender theory, but there is no room for the spread of the Catholic faith in them either. In the West, on the other hand, the dictatorship of relativism persecutes Christians, but young people are returning to God, crowding churches and filling seminaries when the Catholic religion is offered according to traditional doctrine and liturgy. This revival is precluded both in the land of Islam, where Christian witness is punished by death, and in Orthodox Russia, where laws prohibit the apostolate of Catholics. In the corrupt West, freedom still exists, and a return to the civilization that made Europe great, with God's help, is still possible.

Let there be no illusions. The gambling of actors on the grand stage is destined to be ruinous, and appeals for an unconditional peace will fail to cover the noise of arms. The fire can only be extinguished by a love for a Christian civilization willing to do the ultimate sacrifice.