By Andres Kogan Valderrama
HAVANA TIMES – The Russian Federation’s ongoing invasion of the Ukraine, led by Vladimir Putin, not only demonstrates once more the imperial character of that government, but also – unfortunately – reveals the misguided support and silence of a large part of the European and Latin American left.
I point this out, since it’s hard to understand how sectors that for decades have denounced the imperialist actions of the United States in different places across the world, are now parroting the arguments of the Russian government to justify or put in relative terms the invasion of Ukraine.
Putin’s idea that his military intervention isn’t an invasion, but the liberation of the Ukrainian people in Luhansk and Donetsk from fanatical fascist and Nazi sectors, is the same calcified script that George W. Bush used to invade Iraq in 2003.
It’s a very crude tactic that has not only led certain governments to support Putin, but has also been repeated by some civil society organizations and European and Latin American leftist movements to support the idea that what Russia is trying to do in Ukraine is eliminate the Nazis.
Apparently, these groups have still not noticed the deeply capitalist, conservative, patriarchal, homophobic, nationalist and authoritarian nature of Putin’s political party, United Russia. That party is much closer to old Tsarist Russia than to the Russia that Lenin imagined during the Russian revolution.
Arguments could be made for the disastrous role of NATO and its criminal history in different countries of the world. That’s certainly true. But to go from there to justifying an invasion by a different body makes no sense for the peoples who are suffering under bombardments and watching their lives being destroyed.
In addition, those who criticize NATOs military interventions are forgetting the Warsaw Pact [a 1955 collective defense treaty between the Soviet Union and seven other Eastern bloc countries], an alliance which then invaded other countries, like Czechoslovakia in 1968. At that time, a large part of the world’s Left also looked the other way and refused to take a stance.
The exact same thing is happening now with Ukraine, in the name of “the anti-imperialism of idiots”, as Leila Al-Shamien aptly put it when a good part of the Westernized Left supported the regime of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. Meanwhile, not only the United States, but also Russia, were bombarding and destroying that Middle Eastern country, with no respect whatsoever for human rights.
It’s certainly possible to be against a certain government because of its conservative, nationalist, religious, or authoritarian character, or because it has ties to fanatical organizations. But to go from there to actually invading it, as occurred in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Ukraine, is totally unacceptable and must always be condemned.
In other words, that same argument could be employed to justify the invasion of a long list of countries, among them the Russian Federation itself, for being a regime that has brutally concentrated power, and has persecuted, imprisoned and assassinated dissidents of all kinds that appear on the path.
That’s why it’s sometimes a good thing to know what’s happening with internal dissidence in countries, and to distance oneself from the official propaganda governments used to justify their crimes. These end by repeating imperial arguments completely opposite to what the people see.
The position of Ilya Budraitskis, a leftist Russian historian, is a case in point. He postulates that, in the end, what lies behind Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is an effort to change all the post-Soviet borders, which for him are artificial and deny the existence and self-determination of those countries.
Faced with this scenario of imperial war, the United Nations should undergo a process of reinvention. Since its creation in 1945, it’s served as a place of refuge for the large imperialist powers, which have dedicated themselves to vetoing any condemnations passed in the General Assembly. That’s because, following their victory in the Second World War, the large powers – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the USA – awarded themselves a privileged presence in the Security Council.
Finally, it’s ever more urgent that we promote a new Latin American and Caribbean system of strong regional and multinational institutions. Such bodies need to put at the center the care of life – human as well as non-human. The military, economic and socio-environmental threats to the region, especially from large powers such as the US and China, should unite us more than ever in support of a new process of de-imperializing the world.
*Andres Kogan Valderrama is a Chilean sociologist.