miércoles, 29 de junio de 2022

Ukraine is the latest neocon disaster

Jeffrey D. Sachs



The war in Ukraine is the culmination of a 30-year project of the American neoconservative movement. The Biden Administration is packed with the same neocons who championed the US wars of choice in Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Syria (2011), Libya (2011), and who did so much to provoke Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The neocon track record is one of the unmitigated disasters, yet Biden has staffed his team with neocons. As a result, Biden is steering Ukraine, the US, and the European Union towards yet another geopolitical debacle. If Europe has any insight, it will separate itself from these US foreign policy debacles.     

The neocon movement emerged in the 1970s around a group of public intellectuals, several of whom were influenced by University of Chicago political scientist Leo Strauss and Yale University classicist Donald Kagan. Neocon leaders included Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan (son of Donald), Frederick Kagan (son of Donald), Victoria Nuland (wife of Robert), Elliott Cohen, Elliott Abrams, and Kimberley Allen Kagan (wife of Frederick).   

The main message of the neocons is that the US must predominate in military power in every region of the world, and must confront rising regional powers that could someday challenge US global or regional dominance, most important Russia and China. For this purpose, US military force should be pre-positioned in hundreds of military bases around the world and the US should be prepared to lead wars of choice as necessary. The United Nations is to be used by the US only when useful for US purposes.  

This approach was spelled out first by Paul Wolfowitz in his draft Defense Policy Guidance (DPG) written for the Department of Defense in 2002. The draft called for extending the US-led security network to Central and Eastern Europe despite the explicit promise by German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher in 1990 that German unification would not be followed by NATO’s eastward enlargement. Wolfowitz also made the case for American wars of choice, defending America’s right to act independently, even alone, in response to crises of concern to the US. According to General Wesley Clark, Wolfowitz already made clear to Clark in May 1991 that the US would lead regime-change operations in Iraq, Syria, and other former Soviet allies.  

The neocons championed NATO enlargement to Ukraine even before that became official US policy under George W. Bush, Jr. in 2008. They viewed Ukraine’s NATO membership as key to US regional and global dominance. Robert Kagan spelled out the neocon case for NATO enlargement in April 2006:

[T]he Russians and Chinese see nothing natural in [the “color revolutions” of the former Soviet Union], only Western-backed coups designed to advance Western influence in strategically vital parts of the world. Are they so wrong? Might not the successful liberalization of Ukraine, urged and supported by the Western democracies, be but the prelude to the incorporation of that nation into NATO and the European Union — in short, the expansion of Western liberal hegemony?

Kagan acknowledged the dire implication of NATO enlargement. He quotes one expert as saying, “the Kremlin is getting ready for the ‘battle for Ukraine’ in all seriousness.”  After the fall of the Soviet Union, both the US and Russia should have sought a neutral Ukraine, as a prudent buffer and safety valve.  Instead, the neocons wanted US “hegemony” while the Russians took up the battle partly in defense and partly out of their own imperial pretensions as well.  Shades of the Crimean War (1853-6), when Britain and France sought to weaken Russia in the Black Sea following Russian pressures on the Ottoman empire.  

Kagan penned the article as a private citizen while his wife Victoria Nuland was the US Ambassador to NATO under George W. Bush, Jr.  Nuland has been the neocon operative par excellence.  In addition to serving as Bush’s Ambassador to NATO, Nuland was Barack Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs during 2013-17, where she participated in the overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, and now serves as Biden’s Undersecretary of State guiding US policy vis-à-vis the war in Ukraine.  

The neocon outlook is based on an overriding false premise: that the US military, financial, technological, and economic superiority enables it to dictate terms in all regions of the world.  It is a position of both remarkable hubris and remarkable disdain for evidence.  Since the 1950s, the US has been stymied or defeated in nearly every regional conflict in which it has participated.  Yet in the “battle for Ukraine,” the neocons were ready to provoke a military confrontation with Russia by expanding NATO over Russia’s vehement objections because they fervently believe that Russia will be defeated by US financial sanctions and NATO weaponry.  

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a neocon think-tank led by Kimberley Allen Kagan (and backed by a who’s who of defense contractors such as General Dynamics and Raytheon), continues to promise a Ukrainian victory. Regarding Russia’s advances, the ISW offered a typical comment: “[R]egardless of which side holds the city [of Sievierodonetsk], the Russian offensive at the operational and strategic levels will probably have culminated, giving Ukraine the chance to restart its operational-level counteroffensives to push Russian forces back.”  

The facts on the ground, however, suggest otherwise. The West’s economic sanctions have had a little adverse impact on Russia, while their “boomerang” effect on the rest of the world has been large. Moreover, the US capacity to resupply Ukraine with ammunition and weaponry is seriously hamstrung by America’s limited production capacity and broken supply chains. Russia’s industrial capacity of course dwarfs that of Ukraine’s. Russia’s GDP was roughly 10X that of Ukraine before the war, and Ukraine has now lost much of its industrial capacity in the war.  

The most likely outcome of the current fighting is that Russia will conquer a large swath of Ukraine, perhaps leaving Ukraine landlocked or nearly so. Frustration will rise in Europe and the US with the military losses and the stagflationary consequences of war and sanctions. The knock-on effects could be devastating if a right-wing demagogue in the US rises to power (or in the case of Trump, returns to power) promising to restore America’s faded military glory through dangerous escalation. 

Instead of risking this disaster, the real solution is to end the neocon fantasies of the past 30 years and for Ukraine and Russia to return to the negotiating table, with NATO committing to end its commitment to the eastward enlargement to Ukraine and Georgia in return for a viable peace that respects and protects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is an economics professor; Director of the Center for Sustainable Development in the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

martes, 28 de junio de 2022

NATO and a War Foretold

by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies Posted on June 28, 2022


As NATO holds its Summit in Madrid on June 28-30, the war in Ukraine is taking center stage. During a pre-Summit June 22 talk with Politico, NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg bragged about how well-prepared NATO was for this fight because, he said: "This was an invasion that was predicted, foreseen by our intelligence services." Stoltenberg was talking about Western intelligence predictions in the months leading up to the February 24 invasion, when Russia insisted it was not going to attack. Stoltenberg, however, could well have been talking about predictions that went back not just months before the invasion, but decades.

Stoltenberg could have looked all the way back to when the U.S.S.R. was dissolving and highlighted a 1990 State Department memo warning that creating an "anti-Soviet coalition" of NATO countries along the U.S.S.R’s border "would be perceived very negatively by the Soviets."

Stoltenberg could have reflected on the consequences of all the broken promises by Western officials that NATO would not expand eastward. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous assurance to Soviet President Gorbachev was just one example. Declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted by the National Security Archive reveal multiple assurances by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and 1991.

The NATO Secretary-General could have recalled the 1997 letter by 50 prominent foreign policy experts, calling President Clinton’s plans to enlarge NATO a policy error of "historic proportions" that would "unsettle European stability." But Clinton had already made a commitment to invite Poland into the club, reportedly out of concern that saying "no" to Poland would lose him critical Polish-American votes in the Midwest in the 1996 election.

Stoltenberg could have remembered the prediction made by George Kennan, the intellectual father of US containment policy during the Cold War when NATO moved ahead and incorporated Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary in 1998. In a New York Times interview, Kennan called NATO expansion a "tragic mistake" that marked the beginning of a new Cold War, and warned that the Russians would "gradually react quite adversely."

After seven more Eastern European countries joined NATO in 2004, including the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which had actually been part of the former Soviet Union, the hostility increased further. Stoltenberg could have just considered the words of President Putin himself, who said on many occasions that NATO enlargement represented "a serious provocation." In 2007, at the Munich Security Conference, Putin asked, "What happened to the assurances our Western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?"

But it was the 2008 NATO Summit when NATO ignored Russia’s vehement opposition and promised that Ukraine would join NATO, that really set off alarm bells.

William Burns, then US ambassador to Moscow, sent an urgent memo to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin)," he wrote. "In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players, from knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin’s sharpest liberal critics, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests."

Instead of comprehending the danger of crossing "the brightest of all red lines," President George W. Bush persisted and pushed through internal opposition within NATO to proclaim, in 2008, that Ukraine would indeed be granted membership, but at an unspecified date. Stoltenberg could well have traced the present conflict back to that NATO Summit–a Summit that took place well before the 2014 Euromaidan coup or Russia’s seizure of Crimea or the failure of the Minsk Agreements to end the civil war in the Donbas.

This was indeed a war foretold. Thirty years of warnings and predictions turned out to be all too accurate. But they all went unheeded by an institution that measured its success only in terms of its own endless expansion instead of by the security it promised but repeatedly failed to deliver, most of all to the victims of its own aggression in Serbia, Afghanistan, and Libya.

Now Russia has launched a brutal, illegal war that has uprooted millions of innocent Ukrainians from their homes, killed and injured thousands of civilians, and is taking the lives of more than a hundred Ukrainian soldiers every day. NATO is determined to keep sending massive amounts of weapons to fuel the war, while millions around the world suffer from the growing economic fallout of the conflict.

We can’t go back and undo Russia’s catastrophic decision to invade Ukraine or NATO’s historic blunders. But Western leaders can make wiser strategic decisions going forward. Those should include a commitment to allow Ukraine to become a neutral, non-NATO state, something that President Zelenskyy himself agreed to in principle early on in the war.

And, instead of exploiting this crisis to expand even further, NATO should suspend all new or pending membership applications until the current crisis has been resolved. That is what a genuine mutual security organization would do, in sharp contrast to the opportunistic behavior of this aggressive military alliance.

But we’ll make our own prediction based on NATO’s past behavior. Instead of calling for compromises on all sides to end the bloodshed, this dangerous Alliance will instead promise an endless supply of weapons to help Ukraine "win" an unwinnable war, and will continue to seek out and seize every chance to engorge itself at the expense of human life and global security.

While the world determines how to hold Russia accountable for the horrors it is committing in Ukraine, the members of NATO should do some honest self-reflection. They should realize that the only permanent solution to the hostility generated by this exclusive, divisive alliance is to dismantle NATO and replace it with an inclusive framework that provides security to all of Europe’s countries and people, without threatening Russia or blindly following the United States in its insatiable and anachronistic, hegemonic ambitions.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection.

Nicolas J. S. Davies is a researcher with CODEPINK, and the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

lunes, 27 de junio de 2022


No cabe duda de que el presidente López Obrador (AMLO) conoce bien la idiosincrasia del mexicano. Sabe perfectamente como distraer al público y a los medios de comunicación de los reales problemas del país.

Desde el año pasado el presidente abrió el juego sucesorio, mencionando a 5 o 6 de sus colaboradores como sus posibles sucesores; y entre burlas, provocando a los partidos de oposición para que también ya comiencen a buscar a sus posibles candidatos presidenciales.

La realidad es que el presidente  ha diagnosticado el muy caótico cierre de sexenio que le espera, y por ello ha adelantado el proceso sucesorio, sabiendo que si algo ha fascinado a la clase política, a los medios de comunicación, a los analistas y al público medio interesado en los asuntos políticos, es el juego sucesorio, que desde la época priista ha concitado tanta atención y polémica.

Con ello AMLO logra dos objetivos primordiales, primero desvía la atención de problemas serios, que no se resolvieron mínimamente, ni se resolverán en lo que queda de su gobierno, como la inseguridad, con más de 120 mil homicidios dolosos durante su administración (más que los dos anteriores gobiernos de Calderón y Peña Nieto); más de 100 mil desaparecidos; y una tasa de impunidad de más del 96% de los delitos.

Eso, sumado al crecimiento exponencial del delito de extorsión y cobro de piso en todo el país, que exprime aún más recursos económicos a la población, ya golpeada por dos años de pandemia y de cierre obligado de actividades económicas; que ahora, también debe sufrir los efectos de una inflación de casi 8%, un crecimiento económico raquítico que este año no llegará ni a 2% (y en promedio, en todo el sexenio seguirá con la misma tendencia); y tasas de interés que podrían llegar al 10% al final de año, para combatir la inflación, pero que provocarán un freno mayor a la economía.

El segundo objetivo de AMLO es adelantarse a la oposición política en la campaña presidencial, aprovechando la visibilidad que él puede darle a sus posibles sucesores desde el gobierno, y así ganar presencia entre la población para sus precandidatos; además de que mantiene el control del proceso sucesorio dentro de su coalición gobernante.

En suma el país, se debate en una crisis de inseguridad, violencia e impunidad cada vez más aguda; en medio de una precaria y mediocre situación económica y con una creciente polarización política y social (azuzada desde la misma presidencia de la República); ahora estará dos años entretenido en las apuestas y especulaciones sobre quiénes serán los candidatos presidenciales, mientras los problemas siguen creciendo y el país se sigue hundiendo.

domingo, 26 de junio de 2022

Shireen Abu Akleh: UN finds journalist was killed by Israeli forces

UN Human Rights Office also said it was 'alarming' that Israeli authorities had not conducted a criminal investigation


MEE and agencies

Published date: 24 June 2022 


The United Nations (UN) has concluded that Israeli forces fired the fatal bullet that killed the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank last month, its findings showed on Friday. 

UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva that the organization found that the shots that killed Abu Akleh came from Israeli forces.

“It is deeply disturbing that the Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation," she said.

"We at the UN Human Rights Office have concluded our independent monitoring into the incident.

"All information we have gathered - including official information from the Israeli military and the Palestinian attorney-general - is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli Security Forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities."

Multiple eyewitnesses, including Middle East Eye contributor Shatha Hanaysa, said the 51-year-old veteran Al Jazeera journalist was shot dead by Israeli snipers while reporting during a raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.

However, Israel quickly tried to suggest Palestinian gunmen were responsible, with both Israel's military and its US embassy tweeting a video of Palestinian gunmen in Jenin firing down an alley. 

'Well-aimed bullets'

In response to the UN's findings, Israel's army said it was " impossible " on Friday to determine how Abu Akleh was killed.

"The IDF (Israeli army) investigation clearly concludes that Ms. Abu Akleh was not intentionally shot by an IDF soldier and that it is not possible to determine whether she was killed by a Palestinian gunman shooting indiscriminately... or inadvertently by an IDF soldier." 

During the press conference, Shamdasani told reporters that the investigation examined multiple sources, including photos, videos, and audio material, visiting the scene, consulting experts, reviewing official communications, and interviewing witnesses. 

The findings showed that seven journalists arrived at the western entrance of the Jenin refugee camp soon after 6 am.

At around 6.30 am, as four of the journalists turned into a particular street, when "several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets" were fired at them from the direction of the Israeli security forces, according to Shamdasani.

“One single bullet injured Ali Sammoudi in the shoulder, and another single bullet hit Abu Akleh in the head and killed her instantly,” she said.

US senators call for an investigation

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has urged Israel to open a criminal investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing and all other killings by Israeli forces in the West Bank and law enforcement operations in Gaza. 

On Thursday, two dozen US senators called on President Joe Biden and the FBI to launch an “independent investigation under US auspices to determine the truth” about Abu Akleh’s death. 

Led by Senator Chris Van Hollen, the letter read: “the US government has an obligation to ensure that a comprehensive, impartial, and open investigation into her shooting death is conducted - on which all parties can have full confidence in the ultimate findings.

“In order to protect freedom of the press, a thorough and transparent investigation under US auspices must be conducted to get to the truth and provide accountability for the killing of this American citizen and journalist.”

Several international news agencies that have looked into the shooting have also concluded that the fatal bullet was fired by Israeli forces. 

While Al Jazeera has referred the case to the International Criminal Court and vowed to bring the killers to justice using international legal platforms, Israel has said it is not subject to the court’s mandate because it is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, and that abuses in Palestinian territories cannot be investigated because Palestine is not a state. 

sábado, 25 de junio de 2022

El poder de la mafia

Ruth Zavaleta Salgado


El papa Francisco fue contundente: “¡Cuantos asesinatos en México! ...” fue parte del mensaje que emitió para expresar su consternación por el cruel asesinato de los jesuitas Javier Campos y Joaquín César Mora Salazar en la comunidad de Cerocahui, Chihuahua. Las expresiones de indignación en México ya se habían extendido desde el martes 21 , cuando se supo la noticia.

Un día antes (el mismo en que sucedieron los asesinatos), la titular de la Secretaría de Seguridad y Protección Ciudadana dio a conocer las nuevas cifras del dolor. Con un esfuerzo mal logrado, Rosa Icela Rodríguez trató de disfrazar los datos que evidencian el incremento de homicidios dolosos entre el mes de abril y mayo: De 2,554 a 2,833. Con estos números, mayo de 2022 se convirtió en el mes más sangriento desde que se registran las estadísticas. Pero, además, falta sumar los desaparecidos, que mes con mes se incrementan.

No hay duda, los datos son duros, aunque el presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador se lave las manos, ya lleva más de tres años en el gobierno y le falló a los mexicanos en materia de seguridad pública: 121,655 homicidios dolosos y más de 100,000 desaparecidos. No es una sorpresa, desde que inició este sexenio, no hay estrategia de seguridad pública y la impunidad y falta de procuración de justicia persisten.

Sólo así puede explicarse que el presunto asesino de los jesuitas en la sierra Tarahumara, José Noriel Portillo, alias El Chueco que ya había sido señalado por el propio exgobernador, Javier Corral de ser responsable del asesinato del turista Patrick Braxton Andrew en el 2018, siguiera libre imponiendo el terror en la zona, en donde, a decir del propio Presidente de la República, hay una fuerte presencia del crimen organizado. Si ya lo sabe, ¿por qué deja que los criminales controlen esa y muchas otras regiones del país? Es real, ahí están los testimonios de personas desplazadas territorialmente por los criminales en Guerrero, Zacatecas, Michoacán, Guanajuato, etcétera, que presenta Humberto Padgett en el noticiario de Ciro Gómez Leyva en Imagen Televisión, son demoledores, son dolorosos.

De esta forma, es evidente que el titular del Poder Ejecutivo comete un error al no querer escuchar los reclamos para modificar las acciones de seguridad. No sólo se lo pide la Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano, sino diversos especialistas del tema.

Incluso, tiene que recordar que él llegó a la Presidencia porque sembró la esperanza de que iba a enfrentar la corrupción, la violencia, la inseguridad. Aunque ahora diga que esos delitos son del fuero común, sabe muy bien que los gobiernos locales no actúan porque no pueden, no tienen recursos ni económicos ni humanos, porque él los ha concentrado. Incluso, a los gobiernos municipales les retiro los recursos para prevenir los delitos.

Por otra parte, aunque se empeña en echarle la culpa a los presidentes anteriores, una y otra vez repite: Abrazos y no balazos.

Tal vez el Presidente cree que el mensaje es recibido por los criminales y lo van a obedecer como si él fuera su líder moral. Pero ellos no le hacen caso, las consecuencias están a la vista, todos los días los balazos de los criminales cobran la vida de cientos de personas. Este sexenio ya es más sangriento que el de Felipe Calderón y, quizás, termine peor que el de Enrique Peña Nieto.

Lamentablemente, no existe ninguna evidencia de que alguien haya gobernado con abrazos y haya logrado pacificar un país.

Tampoco existe lo que supone el Presidente que él representa: el “pueblo bueno” que lucha contra el “pueblo malo”. No hay tal. Aunque el Presidente trate de dividirnos, existe un solo país de ciudadanos agobiados por los problemas públicos que él prometió resolver. Pero fue pura demagogia. Así son los gobiernos populistas. Ganan elecciones con discursos maniqueístas, pero no saben gobernar porque eso implica trabajar en equipo, respetar la ley, actuar sin autoritarismo, sin rencores, con coordinación entre los tres niveles de gobierno y, con el único objetivo de garantizar los derechos de todos los ciudadanos.

viernes, 24 de junio de 2022

 Why are some nations neutral on the Russia-Ukraine war?

Countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East have refused to isolate Moscow, despite the EU’s lobbying efforts.

By Priyanka Shankar

Published On 23 Jun 2022


Brussels, Belgium – European Union officials are meeting in Brussels on Thursday, where they are soon expected to grant EU candidacy status to Ukraine in a gesture of solidarity amid the conflict with Russia.

At the same time, the bloc has been carrying out a global lobbying campaign to boost support for Kyiv, with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Finnish President Sanna Marin, and other European leaders traveling to South Asia – namely India, Africa, the Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

New trade deals have been signed and more humanitarian and financial support has been pledged, in an attempt to support some of these nations to ease off their dependency on Russia.

But speaking at the GLOBSEC Forum in Bratislava earlier this month, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, the Indian foreign minister, said that Europe should grow out of the mindset that its problems are the world’s problems.

“The world cannot be that Eurocentric that it used to be in the past,” he said.

“If I were to take Europe collectively, which has been singularly silent on many things which were happening, for example in Asia, you could ask why would anybody in Asia trust Europe on anything at all,” he added.

According to Vivek Mishra, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in New Delhi, “Eurocentrism has been challenged in academia on multiple occasions but perhaps for the first time by a leading Indian policy maker on Europe’s turf.”

He told Al Jazeera that Jaishankar’s comments were “consistent with the EU’s shift to the Indo-Pacific from the transatlantic and underscore the idea that Asian problems are as important as anywhere in the world”.

He added: “There cannot be a comparative advantage to Europe or the West over Asia or Asian affairs. There is a colonial tinge there, which needed to be called out.”

India’s balancing act of appeasing both Russia and the West has caught the EU off guard but in New Delhi April in April, von der Leyen reiterated the dangers of the war in Ukraine at a press conference.

“The outcome of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war will not only determine the future of Europe but also deeply affect the Indo-Pacific region and the rest of the world. For the Indo-Pacific, it is as important as for Europe that borders are respected. And that spheres of influence are rejected. We want a positive vision for a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” she told reporters.

At the time, the EU had established a joint trade and technology council with India with an aim to bolster economic and strategic ties with the country.

But India has continued to maintain its neutral stance toward Russia.

The African Union has also not bought into the EU’s lobbying efforts to isolate Russia.

Concerned about the global food crisis, at a recent meeting with EU leaders, Macky Sall, the president of Senegal and Chairperson of the African Union (AU), said that the bloc’s sanctions on Russia threatened the import of grains and fertilizers to Africa.

In an interview with the French weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, Sall said that the AU wants to pay (for imports of grains and fertilizers) but it was now “becoming impossible”.

“So we ask the Europeans for the same mechanism as for gas and oil,” he said.

The AU leader also met Putin in early June and they agreed that sanctions would not solve the food crisis.

“I understand the sentiment of these regions because when countries in Africa and Asia have had wars, Europe has sometimes played a one-sided game,” Jacob F Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, told Al Jazeera.

“The EU has certainly underestimated the fact that the sheer outrage felt within the continent about this war and enmity towards Russia isn’t shared by the rest of the world,” he added.

But Harry Nedelcu, head of policy at Rasmussen Global and in charge of its Free Ukraine Task Force, told Al Jazeera that the onus is also on Russia.

“The response of the Indian foreign minister and also the statements from the African Union illustrate Russia’s narrative and its ability to turn reality on its head and make the victim look like it is the problem,” he said.

Russia’s basically saying that the food crisis is Ukraine’s fault. But in reality, the food is not going out because Russia is invading Ukraine. Russia attacked Ukraine and has blocked Ukrainian grain from reaching the rest of the world,” he added.

Path ahead

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Monday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell acknowledged the African leader’s concerns. But he stressed that the problem should not be blamed on EU sanctions.

“I have sent a letter to all African foreign affairs ministers, explaining how our sanctions are being tailored – how they work, whom they affect, what can be allowed under the sanctions or not,” he said.

He also added that the EU has pledged $1.06bn to address food insecurity in the Sahel, $633m for urgent support to strengthen food systems’ resilience in the Horn of Africa, and $237m to mitigate the effects of potential emerging food crises in North Africa and the Middle East.

“This is part of the action plan on geopolitical consequences of the Russian aggression,” Borrell said.

But according to ORF’s Mishra, ultimately the West, including the EU, has perhaps been more successful in solidifying an intra-West network rather than an inter-regional network with other areas of the world.

“With the war still raging on, most countries outside the transatlantic have harked back to the classic notion of realism which is ‘self-help’. They have been selective on which issues they can afford going with the West, and the ones on which they can’t,” he said.

“Whether it is Russian energy trade, bilateral currency channels with Moscow or travel and connectivity with Russia, countries have acted to suit their individual interests more than upholding morality, human rights, or even expectations,” he added.

But Nedelcu stressed that for now, the EU’s priority while lobbying globally, should be to tackle the Russian narrative.

“The EU has to be more proactive in explaining who the victim is and who the aggressor is. That’s the only way to tackle Russia’s ability to twist the reality of situations and divide the world,” he said.

jueves, 23 de junio de 2022

The Grand Miscalculation: The US Helped Create the Russia-China Coalition

by Jacob Bosen Posted on June 23, 2022


For decades, the United States has actively pursued the containment and cornering of Russia with the goal of asserting its own power and influence. Instead of formulating a relationship with a major regional power, this process has brought the United States to the significant challenge of the Russian and Chinese coalition. Because of the active containment and cornering, Russia distrusts the United States and has been looking for a relationship elsewhere. While the United States offers Russia the door, China offers Russia partnership and a homogeneous viewpoint of the West. The United States had several opportunities to bring Russia into partnership – helping avoid China’s challenge to the United States as the major global power. United States foreign policy has tried to keep Russia at bay and the United States in a position of global power but has helped cement the rise of a feared, difficult to address, the anti-Western coalition between Russia and China – The Grand Miscalculation.

The story of The Grand Miscalculation largely starts with declassified documents in the National Security Archive at George Washington University that show U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s "not one inch eastward" discussion about NATO with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990. Former CIA Director Robert Gates stated that the Soviets were "led to believe" that NATO would not expand beyond Germany. In 2001, President Putin stated, “The simplest [solution] is to dissolve NATO…The second possible option is to include Russia in NATO. This also creates a single defense and security space.” The United States missed its opportunity. To this day, NATO has expanded all the way up to Russia’s border and is now pushing for Finland and Sweden to join. Finland and Sweden provide the United States with no strategic advantage, but a security liability. Russia has repeatedly identified NATO expansion as a direct threat to its national security for decades. Further, the United States could have avoided the current destruction of already strained relations with Russia by seriously considering Russia’s security concerns for Ukraine in early 2022. Instead, the United States labeled most of Russia’s concerns in Ukraine as "non-starters." Earlier this year, Russia invaded Ukraine because of the hard push for Ukraine to join NATO. It is obvious why Russia does not trust the United States and is looking for a trusting partner elsewhere. This distrust has resulted in the formation of a coalition against the United States and its Western partners. The United States certainly has not benefited from its foreign policy toward Russia.

China is the only major world power that is benefiting from the actions of the United States. China wants to see the continued deterioration of the United States and Russian relationship. The balance of power in the world is shifting. There is no strategic benefit in pushing Russia into China’s camp. Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia and China released a joint policy statement outlining their goal of cooperation against the United States and the West. China particularly admires Russia’s attempts to establish a "just" multipolar international system and asserts there are no "forbidden" areas of cooperation. Russia and China want to increase their partnership in all political, security, and economic sectors. Threatening the dominance and stability of the Dollar, the Russian Central Bank has halved its dollar reserves and has moved towards the Yuan and Euro. Currently, Russia and China are in their last phase of de-dollarization by establishing alternative payment and messaging systems. All actions that have been taken are directly threatening the United States and have been predicted by realist thinkers.

George Kennan and John Mearsheimer predicted what would come of poor treatment of Russia by the United States. Kennan argued that NATO expansion would be "…the most fateful error of American foreign policy in the entire post-Cold War era." This fatal error can be known as The Grand Miscalculation. The United States has conjured nationalistic and anti-Western attitudes in Russian society. The world is seeing the direct results of this in Ukraine and in the formation of the Russian and Chinese coalition.

The United States' foreign policy of containing Russia, disregarding Russia’s security interests, and trying to assert the power of the United States in Russia’s sphere of influence has caused the further development of the Russian and Chinese coalition. This coalition directly contradicts the goals of the United States and its Western allies. The stability of the international order is at stake. The United States and the West will increasingly struggle to counter the Russian and Chinese coalition in the future unless a change of policy is implemented. The United States must seek to split the coalition between Russia and China by resetting relations with Moscow. If the current course is maintained, then the actions of the United States will go down as the biggest foreign policy mistakes in the 21st century – The Grand Miscalculation.

Jacob Bosen is a graduate student of statecraft and international affairs at the Institute of World Politics. He participated in the Russian American Cooperation Initiative in Moscow in December 2021. Jacob can be reached at jacobbosen@gmail.com.