A group of Ukrainian academics has written an open letter to Noam Chomsky critiquing his commentaries on what they categorically define as the “Russian war on Ukraine.” The critique is in fact addressed to Chomsky and “other like-minded intellectuals.” As I have featured many of these intellectuals and their views on my blog, I feel it is important to share this critique.
7 key errors are identified – #1: Denying Ukraine’s sovereign integrity #2: Treating Ukraine as an American pawn on a geo-political chessboard #3. Suggesting that Russia was threatened by NATO #4. Stating that the U.S. isn’t any better than Russia #5. Whitewashing Putin’s goals for invading Ukraine #6. Assuming that Putin is interested in a diplomatic solution #7. Advocating that yielding to Russian demands is the way to avert the nuclear war
While I recognize the validity of this critique, and the nobility of the national perspective it represents, I would like to suggest that this view might be tempered by the acknowledgment of the enmeshment of Ukraine, by virtue of both history and geography, within the geopolitics of Imperialism, both Russian and American. I suggest that this crisis arose as a result of a disregard or misjudgment, by all responsible parties, of the forces at play. I further suggest, that there can be no solution, no peace, without a realistic reconciliation and containment of the now unfurling forces. The longer the conflict ensues, the more it deepens, and the more irreconcilable the situation becomes.
An international Zoom rally on April 9 organised by Peace in Ukraine called for two days of protest and campaigning against the war on May 7 and on June 25, days before the NATO summit in Madrid.
Code Pink and their fellow travellers are calling for –
the withdrawal of Russian troops
an end to the military escalation by the NATO countries and
for all efforts to be focussed on finding a negotiated solution..
They are calling on all anti-war organisations, progressive groups and concerned individuals to come together on May 7 and June 25 to organise protests, public meetings and petitioning sessions as part of an international day of action for peace.
Geetha Mohan of India Today conducts an incisive interview with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov about the situation in Ukraine. He explains the Russian perspective that the war is rooted in the US and West’s efforts to create a springboard against them by pumping arms into Ukraine. Regardless of one’s position on the war, it is refreshing to see the art and craft of the journalism alive and well in India. The interview is presented unedited and in its entirety. Geetha is persistent yet graceful in her pursuit of answers.
As early as Feb 28, Major General G. D. Bakshi had set out the basic truths about this tragic conflict. While his military analysis is astute, it is the moral picture that he paints that is of the greatest significance. He salutes the bravery of Ukrainians but points out that it is immoral to press on with an unequal fight in which there will only be destruction. His most damming indictment is of the USA and the West who, for their own strategic ends, are inciting the Ukrainian to fight to the last man, while they themselves will not come into the fight directly.
This perspicacious conversation, which took place on 3rd March, was hosted by the Committee for the Republic, which is a non-partisan, nonprofit American organization that sponsors regular conversations on the challenges faced by the American Republic. This conversation features John Mearsheimer and Ray McGovern giving their views on the ongoing crisis in Eastern Europe. As I have previously shared Mearsheimer’s views (from 2015 and from days before the invasion) on the crisis, I will start the video at McGovern’s segment and outline his key argument here.
Ray McGovern is a long-time Russian specialist. After serving as an Army combat intelligence officer, he was a CIA analyst focused on the Sino-Soviet conflict and then chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch. In encapsularing his position, McGovern offers the analogy of being bullied at the hands of bigger bigger guys as a kid, “When I get big I’m never going to let anybody do that to me …. Putin just got big, he got big last year, he got big when the Chinese decided to throw their lot in with him,” McGovern’s proposition is that the shift in the balance of power brought by an emerging Russia-China alignment helps explain Putin’s apparently irrational invasion of Ukraine, an invasion that McGovern himself had failed to anticipate.
In an essay titled Ur Fascism, Umberto Eco lists 14 Fascistic characteristics. This essay appeared in the June 22, 1995 issue of the New York Review. I have taken the liberty of encapsulating Eco’s explanation of these characteristics as follows – 1. A penchant for traditionalism 2. The rejection of modernism 3. The cult of action 4. A prohibition of disagreement 5. A fear of difference 6. An appeal to the middle class 7. A belief in conspiracy theories 8. A feeling of humiliation 9. The glorification of war 10. A contempt for weakness 11. The cult of heroism 12. The cult of machismo 13. A charismatic populism 14. A stupefaction of language
It is instructive to compare, contrast and combine this list with Robert Paxton’s List from his The Anatomy of Fascism which I present in my post titled It’s Time to be Clear 3. It is imperative, given the unprecedented storming of Capitol Hill by Trump supporters, that Americans and, indeed, people of all nations consider their national polity in these terms. As we move deeper into the 21st Century, many other exemplars of democracy, albeit of less consequence on the world stage than the USA, will fare just as badly, if measured against these criteria.
For Americans, I suggest that this means more than seeking retribution from the Donald. While I do not doubt that he is culpable, I feel that such simplistic scapegoating, belies the true nature of American exceptionalism, of the bipartisan dialectic of its military-industrial project: War on Crime – Globalization – War on Terror – Yes, we Can! – Make America Great Again! The Republican Party will want to purge the memory of their willing Trumpian engagement from the record and the Democrats will want to foreground this entanglement for political advantage, but all this will distract us from their reciprocal complicity in their nation descent from democracy into oligarchy and authoritarianism.