Evil Putin, the madman Putin, the terminally ill Putin, the isolated Putin, each of these statements made in relation to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his actions since 2012, have picked up more steam since the Russian invasion of Ukraine to assist the two breakaway republics.
Whenever we read of Russian state actions or perceived actions, they are presented to us through the prism of one man — Putin. He longs to reform the USSR or Imperial Russia (a contradiction because one is diametrically opposed to the other), and he feels cheated by NATO. All actions are shown through the prism of one man, made personal.
I find this interesting because this is not how statecraft or foreign policy works. It is never one man who drives the ship of state. The actions Russia is taking today would have been made if anyone was in power, even Yeltsin. No Russian premier would have countenanced the ancient invasion highway being rebuilt and occupied by what they perceived as hostile forces. The pro-West liberals have championed this war, the pan-Slavs have supported it, the communists have tabled the parliamentary motion to have Russia recognise the two republics and intervene, and the pan-Eurasian crowd is behind it, as is the far-right in Russia simply because it is in the national interest that this action is taken.
The ship of state is a complex thing, and like any ship, unless a drastic change is made (read revolution) it will remain on course, bar a few degrees, regardless of who is at the helm. We see this all the time. Locally, for example, Edward Seaga took office after Michael Manley, Manley came back and gave it to PJ Patterson, and Patterson handed it to Portia Simpson Miller who then gave it to Bruce Golding, who gave it to Andrew Holiness.
At the next election, Holness gave it back to Simpson Miller, and now at the helm again is Holness. The actions of all these leaders in differing eras show us that the ship of state remains on the same course; policies remain the same and unless something drastic is done things remain the same.
We have, however, the exception that proves the rule. Seaga and Manley differed on the economic points. Manley was more socialistic, and Eddie had no time for that. We had a mini civil war and the victorious Seaga ditched Manley’s economic policies. He did, however, maintain the social gains, bastards are no longer a thing, JAMAL was kept, free education — at the secondary level — wasn’t touched, nutri-bun was introduced and so on.
The ship of state on the social side remained the same because Seaga was never a frothing fascist, he was a liberal capitalist, and all the social policies are things he himself mused about in the 60s. The only thing that was changed during that period — the control of the economy — happened because of a radical move by the JLP, a price the nation still pays.
We see this in the US as well. George Herbert Walker Bush was followed by Bill Clinton. After him came George W Bush, then came Barack Obama, Donald Trump and now Joe Biden. To a T their economic and foreign policies have been the same and again, the only difference between the two (social) came about because of a radical takeover of the Republican party beginning in the 60s and coming to fruition in the 90s (we see the progeny today). To a man, these leaders have maintained, as an example, the same genocidal policy towards Iran. To a man, they have maintained the blockade on Cuba. To a man, they all engaged in the subjugation of Iraq (and I don’t mean the first Gulf War but everything after that when US policy was explicitly the removal of Saddam and the breaking up of Iraq).
The policies of Cuba remain much the same; Fidel Castro came and went, Raul Castro has had his time. Now, Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez is at the helm, and Cuban policy has remained unchanged. Again, we see that the decisions of the state are not made at the whim of one man (this was the case in Nazi Germany, Churchill’s Cabinet, or the USSR), they are made by that which makes up the state (apparatus and people) and are channelled through a party or man. If they go, the policy remains the same so it would really help the discussion of why this has happened and how best to end it if we didn’t moralise and make everything out to be the idea of one man who is painted to be God-like in his capabilities.
This war, though, has also forced some people to mention, or in some cases conveniently forget, the atrocities of the US and West in general and we must ask why is that? They have done literally the same thing Russia is doing, and not in the distant past either. Kosovo was partitioned 20 years ago. I am older than the breakaway province as Serbia calls it. The US gave us Kurdistan, partitioning Iraq in all but name and making it further ungovernable, and no mention is made.
There are cries of genocide coming from Ukraine (debunked already by the UN), but what of the actual Saudi-inspired genocide going on in Yemen that the US fully backs and funds? What of Guantanamo, which is still occupied by US troops and where they practice torture? What of Syria where the US has allowed the Turks to colonise its northern provinces and the US occupies its grain and oil basins? As I breathe, the US is trying to separate the province of Taiwan from Mainland China, something we have been told over the past five months is an unpardonable sin — at least if you are Russia.
Do we turn a blind eye to those but readily get riled up at Russian actions because of the century of open propaganda aimed at, first the USSR, and now the Russian Federation? If you portray someone, a nation and a people, as villainous for too long people begin to buy it subconsciously, and like Pavlov’s bells jump to hate when the object is brought back out.
Again, this is obvious to us if we think of slavery and Black people. For centuries we were degraded as stupid, insolent, indolent, brutish, etc. People still believe that today, even though slavery has long been abolished and we see it on the TV whenever a black church gets shot up.
What also has been ignored totally, at the best of times, or totally degraded at the worst of times, as the Financial Times, did are their opinions of the global south. According to the Financial Times, it is time the West re-think how they view the third world. According to the piece, the global south was once home to liberation movements that inspired the world and now is home to people who side with the new Hitler, as a result, the benevolent West must re-think how they interact.
The piece neatly omits that the liberation movements were derided in the West by the same ‘liberal’ and ‘left’ groups who viewed them as too friendly to the USSR, Cuba, and North Korea and how the west, backed by the ‘left-wing’ trade unions and cultural icons, undermined at every turn the revolutions in those global south countries.
Why have we not looked at the Cuban stance? Out of the whole world, it is the most principled stance, condemning the blatant violation of international law and the inviolability of boundaries, but at the same time condemning NATO and others who have forced Russia to this atrocious point by their tactics of encirclement and openly calling for its carving up.
Why have we ignored the Chinese stance which is much the same? Why do we not listen to Nicaragua, Venezuela, North Korea, and Bolivia, nations which, like Cuba, face the real threat of invasion and partition, this time from the US? Do we really believe that these nations, all of them, are stooges of Russia unable to make their own foreign policy decisions? Do we think that they are all under some collective hive mind and if so, what is it based on, because it can’t be ideology, what with nations such as Brazil, Iran, and Serbia — all totally different — siding with Russia. Have they all swallowed hook, line, and sinker the propaganda from Moscow or is something else going on?
Something else is in fact going on, because — and history shows this — Cuba, Venezuela and others have always gone their own way and have been beholden to no one (much to the chagrin of the USSR when Cuba unilaterally accepted the invitation by the MPLA to aide their government). These governments have seen it fit for various current and historic reasons to condemn the US and be sympathetic with Russia and not because they are satrapies. To not question in an honest way why this is the case is a disservice and practising propaganda for one side, something journalism shouldn’t do apparently.
The propaganda has been blatant, it has involved the total rewriting of history. It is now Russian propaganda to say that Ukraine as a state is infested with Nazis. It is propaganda to state that Bandera is a Nazi collaborator even though the US, Canada, Germany and Ukraine all acknowledge this. It is propaganda to say that Nazi battalions form the strongest and most battle-hardened regiments in the Ukrainian army even though the NY Times, Times of London, MSNBC, ABC and BBC have all reported on the matter prior to the increase in hostilities (I say increase because hostilities have existed ever since the 2014 coup when Nazis began an attempt to cleanse the east of ethnic Russians as reported by the BBC, NBC and Times).
How many Hitlers have there been since 1945? Nasser was Hitler, Fidel was labelled such due to his speeches, and Saddam and Al Assad have also been painted with this brush. How is it that in all these instances we have seen new ‘Hitlers’ yet the people who oppose them are generally the people who funded the Third Reich?
Have we forgotten the still ongoing genocide against the indigenous people, have we forgotten about the inhumane siege of Cuba? Did we only have a nightmare of their backing to the hilt the death squads in El Salvador which State Department officials knew were committing genocide against the Mayan people, or the fact that the US in their mad rush to oust Al Assad funded and backed Islamic extremists just as Nazi Germany funded the Yugoslav Muslim extremists in WWII?
We easily call one out, possibly because we speak the language, but I also think our media in particular is so wedded to the Western mantra and not able to think outside the box because it’s white people (or near white anyway) getting killed. Whites being killed is news, those who kill whites are bad, and coloureds dying is just a Tuesday and not worth batting an eyelid. It is unfortunate and disgusting but I think explains why Yemen, Ethiopia and The Philippines get no mention or are mentioned as coloureds doing normal things while this war in Ukraine is labelled the worst thing ever.
UN numbers state that the ratio of civilian to military deaths is 1:9, one civilian death for every 9 dead soldiers. This is not genocide, quite frankly this is not even the modern warfare we have become accustomed to which, in the 21st century, has seen levels of deaths reversed at the low ball estimate of the Iraq war 2003-2011, which is 100:1 or as was the case in Libya 3.7:1. It is hardly the conflict we are being told of when the majority of displaced people have gone to Russia and when the lion’s share of money coming to Ukraine (discounting grants and loans) still comes from Ukrainians sending remittances from… wait for it… Russia.
We who are on the left can all admit that Putin’s Russia is no paradise. Anyone who has eyes can see that. It is a capitalist nation, exploiting its workers and yes, even using nationalism as a weapon in this war to consolidate its powers. This is what great powers do. Yes, it is to be condemned whether the US or Russia does it, but to pretend that Putin is the next Hitler is silly. What Russia is doing is not any better or worse than any other big power. To condemn Russia as acting in a vacuum, that 30 years of pressure via NATO expansionism and the deliberate freezing out of Russia from the Western table it yearned to dine at didn’t lead us to this point makes no sense.
If we are truly against conflict then we must admit that the US is and continues to be the world’s biggest problem as seen by the fact that it instigated this conflict by laying down that gas, fireworks, and tinder and left the Russians little option than to blow the whole thing.
If we can’t acknowledge that the US remains the world’s biggest committer of ills and evils, then the condemnations of Russia ring as hypocritical. You complain about the lack of press freedom in Russia and the killing of journalists, but the US, aided by Sweden, Ecuador, and the UK, is seeking to extradite Julian Assange and no word is said. They complain about the Russians killing Russian citizens in lands far afield but there is general silence when the US drone bombs a wedding party with the target still not got.
The world understands what is going on; a bad nation is doing bad things to a really bad nation backed up by evil thugs who raped Africa’s shining beacon. There are no good guys in this war, but one has garnered more support from the majority of the peoples of the world because no one likes a hypocrite.
We who are on the left can all admit that Putin’s Russia is no paradise. Anyone who has eyes can see that. It is a capitalist nation, exploiting its workers and yes even using nationalism as a weapon in this war to consolidate its powers. This is what great powers do, yes it is to be condemned whether the US or Russia does it, but to pretend that Putin is the next Hitler is silly, what Russia is doing is not any better or worse than any other big power. To condemn Russia as acting in a vacuum, that 30 years of pressure via NATO expansionism and the deliberate freezing out of Russia from the Western table it yearned to dine at didn’t lead us to this point makes no sense.
If we are truly against conflict then we must admit that the US is and continues to be the world’s biggest problem as seen by the fact that they instigated this conflict by laying down that gas, fireworks, and tinder and left the gas on leaving the Russians little option to blow the whole thing up and are busy laying the groundwork for similar actions in China.
If we can’t acknowledge that the US remains the world’s biggest committer of ills and evils, then the condemnations of Russia ring as hypocritical. You complain about the lack of press freedom in Russia and the killing of journalists, the US aided by Sweden, Ecuador, and the UK are seeking to extradite Julian Assange and no word is said. They complain about the Russians killing Russian citizens in lands far afield but there is general silence when the US drone bombs a wedding party with the target still not got.
The world understands what is going on, a bad nation is doing bad things to a really bad nation backed up by evil thugs who raped Africa’s shining beacon. There are no good guys in this war, but one has garnered more support from the majority of the peoples of the world because no one likes a hypocrite. Russia is bad for invading Ukraine, but Jamaica must abandon Venezuela because the US wishes to topple its government by means up to and including invasion from ex-US servicemen?