About me.

Andrew M. Mwenda is the founding Managing Editor of The Independent, Uganda’s premier current affairs newsmagazine. One of Foreign Policy magazine 's top 100 Global Thinkers, TED Speaker and Foreign aid Critic

Monday, March 7, 2022

The Ukraine tragedy

How America is dragging the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation in a matter of no strategic interest to it

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Western media coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been propagandistic. It demonstrates that they are not independent as they claim. Instead, they are mouthpieces of their governments. How else can they fail to hold their governments to account for dragging Ukraine to war?

For 24 years, Russia has complained that NATO expansion eastwards is a threat to her security. Even an amateur in international relations would acknowledge this fact. Ukraine is right on the border with Russia. Its membership to a hostile military alliance poses an existential threat to Russia.

On the other hand, Ukraine is of near-zero strategic value to the USA, the country pushing her satellites in Europe into this. Why risk war where the only thing to suffer is loss of prestige and loss of face?

This war runs the risk of escalating into a nuclear conflagration. For those who may think I am being an alarmist, it is important to read two books on the outbreak of the First World War. The first is The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman, the second is Sleepwalkers; How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark. Both books show that this Great War was a result of miscalculations, misunderstandings and misinformation.

After the war that killed more than 10 million people, the former foreign minister of Germany said “I wish we had known.” Therefore, we must be wary that the same can happen today. Given that we live in a nuclear age, civilisation could come to a tragic end.

My views of global power politics are entirely influenced by American and a British scholars and foreign policy experts from the realistic school of thought. I have never read or listened to Russian scholars or security experts about their nation’s security until recently when I watched a video clip of President Vladmir Putin.

Therefore, although I am very critical of West policy towards Russia, I have never consumed Russian propaganda. On the contrary I am a student of Western scholarship. I therefore wonder why voices like those of Henry Kissinger, Graham Alison, John Mearshimer, Stephen Walt, Stephen Cohen, or even the liberal Joseph Nye do not appear on Western television.

The western media give a one-sided account. Instead of addressing the serious security concerns of Russia, which it has argued for 24 years, and which America and her satellites in Europe have continually ignored, they attack the personality of Putin. They present the problem as a result of the psychological make-up of Putin, whom they claim is old, isolated and delusional. These diversionary tactics may win over the masses to support a war policy but will not save the world from nuclear annihilation.

When USA integrated Poland, the Check Republic and Hungary into NATO in 1998, Thomas Friedman, a senior American establishment journalist with The New York Times called George Kenan and asked him about its implications. Kenan is the architect of containment, the very foundation of USA policy toward the USSR during the cold war. He is one of the finest minds in foreign policy strategy America produced. I quote him: “I think it is the beginning of a new Cold War. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely, and it will profoundly affect their politics. I think it is a tragic mistake. There is no reason for this whatsoever.”

In 2004 when then President Bush sought to expand NATO to include the Baltic states, the U.S. security establishment wrote a memo arguing against this move. The memo clearly stated that this move would anger Russia and stimulate a new cold war. They were ignored. In 2008, when the Bucharest Summit invited Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at the time, William Taylor, sent an urgent cable to Condolesa Rice, then U.S. secretary of state, advising against such a move and giving the same reasons as Kenan in 1998 and the U.S. intelligence community in 2004. He too was ignored. Therefore, the arguments against Ukraine joining NATO have not been made by Russians alone, but by leading pillars in the U.S. academia and foreign policy establishment. And we need to appreciate that the cause of the current crisis is attempts by the USA and her satellites in Western Europe to integrate Ukraine into NATO.

I used to be suspicious of Putin’s claims that the West was seeking to destroy Russia until this conflict reached its height. The way Western governments have reacted with sanctions and other measures against Russia is illuminating. It seems they have been looking for an excuse to totally destroy that country, Ukraine was just an excuse, a provocation. Listening to their politicians and journalists speak in sanctimonious tones about Russian aggression and violation of international law is frustrating. America and her allies have invaded and occupied Iraq without UN approval. They bombed Serbia and forced the independence of Kosovo under similar circumstances. America bombed and sanctioned Sudan and forced the independence of the south. With her NATO allies they invaded and occupied Afghanistan for two decades. America with UK and France invaded and bombed Libya, removed its government, killed its president and destroyed the state.

In all these military adventures I did not see the sanctimonious appeals to international law from Western journalists and their media (except a few exceptional cases). Why then do they make a huge fuss over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In any case, America’s middle eastern allies Saudi Arabia and UAE have been indiscriminately bombing Yemen where innocent men, women and children are being killed in thousands daily. There has not been any condemnation in the Western press, academia and diplomacy except for a few marginal voices. It seems therefore that international law only applies to everyone else but America and her European satellites.

In fact, Moscow is using the very script America and her allies always use when they invade a small country. They always accuse the local leadership of killing its own people. Russia claims to be fighting neo NAZIs and genocide by Kiev – I suspect they do this cynically to mock USA and her satellites. Indeed, the demonisation of Putin as psychologically deranged, isolated and angry could be used by the Russians against U.S. president Biden, Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama. I always wonder why decisions by non-Western countries are often presented by Western media as a reflection of the megalomania of individual leaders. I agree with Kissinger when he said that “the demonisation of Putin is not a policy, it’s an alibi for not having one.”


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