Comments, In Focus

Ukraine, the graveyard of Putin’s dreams?

Fukuyama’s influential claim that history – driven by the conflict of ideologies – ended with the end of the USSR and Gorbachev’s commitment to stop interfering in the affairs of eastern European countries, was revised by its author in 2018. He adapted his analysis to say instead that identity is the key issue going forward.

 

War Ukraine. Photo by Ministry of Defense of Ukranie / Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Graham Douglas

 

But whether it is the closed identity politics of Jihad, or on the other hand, McWorld which attempts to erase identity and turn citizens into consumers, peace has not arrived on planet earth, and democracy is suffering everywhere.

In any case, fascism, Madeleine Albright said, (yes, the same Albright who thought 500,000 dead Iraqi children was an acceptable cost of US sanctions on Iraq) was not a philosophy but just a methodology for gaining power and holding it. And on that basis, it is Putin who is the fascist.

Putin, this monster from the black lagoon of European history is so disconnected from reality that he claims that Ukraine is ruled by a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis. Faced with Zelensky, the modern family man -like a dream husband just stepped out of an ad for kitchens, but cool and heroic too- Putin is not very media savvy.

1989-91 was the end of the Russian empire, it just happened without a major war at the time. The countries whose empires were ended by the two world wars, the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and then the British, or the Portuguese and French soon after, have had a long time to mourn their losses and adapt.

Vladimir Putin. Photo: Pixabay

Russia has not -if there is such a thing as mourning for an empire: it seems stuck in the denial phase moving now to anger, and may yet finish with a third world war.

It is also a question of the generations, while some older Russians may hanker after the certainties of the past and believe the words of the president because he is the president, younger people want the new world of consumer freedom, and are shocked by this war.

But even older people are shocked that Russia is declaring war on a brother nation.

It is very clear that the US has been the bigger aggressor than the USSR or Russia since 1945, in addition to being the only country to use nuclear weapons. They have attacked 36 countries on three continents since then, without counting the coups engineered in Latin America and – with British help – in Iran in 1953.

By contrast, the USSR or Russia has invaded neighbours Afghanistan, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and has recently supported Assad’s murderous campaign against his own people in Syria. But despite the claims of some on the left, US imperialism does not justify the invasion of Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo: President.gov.ua. Creative Commons License Attribution 4.0 International.

The Carnegie Institute in Moscow points out that Russia was willing to build a security organisation based in Europe – even considering NATO membership themselves in 1990 and again in 2000 and offering in 2001 assistance to US troops in Afghanistan.

The US is the real threat to Russia, not Europe, despite Putin’s rhetoric, because missiles can be launched from EU bases without the need for NATO membership or ground forces on Russia’s borders. And the US has bases in countries all around the world, 750 in 80 countries, contrasting starkly with the 21 that Russia has, all in neighbouring countries, with the exception of Syria and Djibouti.

It is not hard to see which country is more interested in world domination. The Carnegie institute report also analyses Russian military policy and notes that instead of exporting its world view militarily as the USSR used to, it is now more like a mercenary company exporting influence into niches where there is a market for security, and in this limited form, it has a growing global reach.

The fact that Russia did not join NATO was “one of the worst mistakes in political history”, according to ex-Kremlin advisor Sergei Karaganov. How it happened and who made the mistake seems less clear, depending on who you ask.

But what is clear is that a chance was missed to create a new security structure for Eurasia and since 2014 and the Russian invasion of Crimea, the situation has become more and more unstable.

Stop war. Photo by Ivan / Flickr. Creative Commons License.

And the invasion of Ukraine has had the effect of driving more countries, including Sweden and Finland towards NATO, a failure for Putin.

Who can stop it? Probably only the Russians themselves, whether politicians, the generals in the army, or the people.

Especially perhaps the mothers who did not know their sons had been sent to Ukraine. Time for the Madres de la Plaza Roja? March 8th is International Women’s Day.

But, returning to the question of history, this is a period of change that requires politicians with imagination and generosity to navigate it – not parasites and liars such as those that play at running a government in the UK while taking Russian money, or the varieties of kleptocrats that cluster around Putin.

Nor those on the left who do not seem to have noticed that Russia today is not the USSR they admired so much, the USSR that subjugated Eastern Europe to the Stalinist boot.

And in the end, there is no point being the President of a graveyard.

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