And look – the Brits are really on our side, feeling deeply the pain of the war in Ukraine. That’s because it speaks to their most important national trauma: World War II. They were wounded but fought gloriously and stood up to the enemy. Like Ukrainians. So it’s easy for the Brits to get on the same wavelength. They have nothing to be ashamed of in their memory of WWII, so they react to the war in Ukraine with sincere, open support.
Germans, on the other hand, are much more ambivalent. Since they became a nation, they’ve never been invaded without provocation. They never stood up to invaders because they didn’t have to. Instead, they have invaded, and they don’t like to be reminded of that.
The French have been invaded but in the most recent invasion they rolled over fast and agreed to peace on humiliating terms. Have you noticed how Macron keeps trying to persuade Ukrainians to agree to their own Vichy? Subconsciously, the idea that everybody ultimately rolls over for General Guderian is pleasing because it speaks to the biggest national trauma. If Ukraine agrees to a humiliating “peace,” it means there wasn’t anything that shameful in the Vichy regime.
Spaniards are supportive of Ukraine but not passionately so. They understand that Ukraine’s cause is rightful but the whole thing bores them. The Spanish nation-state was, indeed, created in response to an invasion from the closest neighbor. It was a moment of high national glory. Spaniards fought ferociously and beat back the much stronger enemy by the sheer force of patriotism and willpower. The only problem is that this all happened in 1808. Today, only faint echoes of all this remain in the national psyche. Spain has had bigger traumas since then, and, like always happens in Hispanic countries, those problems were entirely home-made.
Of course, this all works only for the countries with a fully realized, mature nation-state whose most recent major wound to the body of the nation comes from an invasion or something like it. Mexico, for example, was invaded in the 19th century but it’s biggest national trauma is the more recent Mexican revolution and the ensuing civil war. So Mexicans have no interest in what’s happening in Ukraine. It doesn’t speak to them because it’s unfamiliar.
I just came up with this theory today, and I think there’s something to it.
Happy Daylight Savings Time, everybody! It’s my second favorite night of the year after New Year’s Eve.