The War in Ukraine: What We Shouldn’t Forget?

No matter how you saw the situation in Eastern Ukraine before, it is clear now that a full-scale war in Ukraine has started.

Putin did something that might have seemed incredible – just too massive – even for him.

If we are anti-war, we have to condemn this aggression, call for a ceasefire, and ask how people in Ukraine – in all of its regions – can be truly protected, under what arrangement.

But there are also two other things we have to allow ourselves to do – even if these are potentially unpopular decisions.

One, if we are for peace in Ukraine, that peace has to involve all of its regions and all of its ethnic and linguistic groups.

This means we have to acknowledge that the Eastern regions of Ukraine, too, deserve their human rights to be respected, which is something both the Russian and Ukrainian governments would have to guarantee. “Pro-Russian” doesn’t mean unworthy of a life of dignity. What are ‘separatist regions’ for some governments are still people who we have to include when we craft a new political arrangement that would allow for a transition from war into…non-war.

We know that, historically, to peacefully resolve a conflict that is a mix between an intra-state war and an inter-state war (in other words: a war within a country and a war between countries) is extremely difficult.

What political systems in a post-conflict environment can leave all sides content has been one massive question for the discipline of comparative politics.

A complete separation?
A federal state?
External bodies governing certain regions?
What type of government to have? What electoral system?

These questions are as difficult as they can get.

But we have to get to a ceasefire first.

Two, we have to allow ourselves to draw broader parallels between conflicts in other regions and extend our empathy further without engaging in a certain type of accusations that we might hear.

What are these types of accusations? Let me give you an example here.

Just yesterday, on my social media, I reshared a post that showed a map and airstrikes that happened that day: Russia bombing Ukraine, Israel bombing Syria, Saudi Arabia bombing Yemen, and the U.S. bombing Somalia.

It was in fact this post:

Right away, I received a message that accused this post of relativism. Or, to use another word you might have heard, what-about-ism.

And indeed: if one assumes a cynical tone here, we can see how it can be interpreted as an attempt to say that Ukraine is just another war that we are seeing unfold. I, too, deeply dislike when someone tries to use what-about-ism in real life, saying that because someone chooses to talk about A, this means B does not matter. 

A kind reply to an accusation like this is a simple one: it is that we don’t have to be cynical here. We can say that, absolutely tragically, now we have even more people suffering. We don’t have to engage in comparing suffering. We can say “yes, and.”

So this is the second important but potentially unpopular thing we can do here: we can continue condemning wars everywhere, we can continue speaking out against atrocities committed by any superpower, and we can surely draw parallels between imperialist policies around the world.

That is not an insult to our humanity. That is an expression of it.

A child whose house is bombed in Gaza by Israel, a child whose house is bombed in Yemen by Saudi Arabia, and a child whose house is now being bombed in Ukraine by Russia are all the same child.

They might not be seen the same in the media but we can choose to see them as equals and we can say “this, too” as we condemn it.

Our hearts can go to so many places at the same time.

See my articles and other resources on Afghanistan here.
See my articles and other resources on Palestine here.

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Black Lives Still Matter, Systemic Racism Still Needs Dismantling

It’s been two years since George Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin. The protests that followed launched the US – and, in a way, the world – into a new stage of racial reckoning that the US is still in. Some new laws have been passed, and some old statues finally toppled.

But the system holds. On the 2nd anniversary of George Floyd’s killing, I’d like to share a beautiful interview with Toluse Olorunnipa and Robert Samuels who have just released a book on George Floyd.

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Palestine? Part 8: Erasure

Attacks on Palestinians have intensified during the holy month of Ramadan again – they resemble what we saw last year. And the year before.
I’ve written a lot about Palestine but it’s time combine several things that I’ve partly mentioned in my previous episodes and focus this one on something rather obvious: the concept of erasure.

How Can We Actually Help Afghanistan?

We know that political turmoil – on top of devastation of a 20-year war – after the Taliban took power in August 2021 is a big factor in this crisis.
But we also know what one other factor that could immediately alleviate this suffering of the Afghan people is: these are the frozen funds that belong to the people of Afghanistan, and that are kept in mostly U.S. accounts. Hear about all this from the first civil society women’s delation that visited Afghanistan recently.

Noam Chomsky on Russia, Ukraine, China, US, and The State of The World

What would it take to negotiate a peace settlement in Ukraine?
What could Vladimir Putin see as a way out of this?
What role is the US currently playing here?
What’s happening with China?
And what’s the state of journalism and the mainstream media as the war in Ukraine is happening?

When an Empire Offers You a Moral Compass, You Can Pass

As the war in Ukraine has started, we have seen some absolutely hypocritical statements made by U.S. officials.

But they’re only hypocritical if we know a bit of the context here.

And when we do, we are much better equipped to construct our own moral compasses, without any help from the U.S. This is what I illustrate and explain much better in my episode.

What Would Peace in Ukraine Look Like?

If we believe that peace in Ukraine is possible, we have to ask what it would look like. What could a negotiated settlement between Ukraine and Russia be?
Listen to what Anatol Lieven from The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft has to say.

The War in Ukraine and Its Multiple “Yes, And”s (Part 2)

Can we talk about the war in Ukraine and its complexities without being shut down or accused of minimising its horrors?

I think that is possible indeed – yet not that easy.

In my second episode, I talk about (1) racism in the media, (2) the overtness of racist and xenophobic immigration policies when it comes to accepting refugees, and (3) the difference between what-about-ism and saying, “this, too” when it comes to the war in Ukraine.

The War in Ukraine and Its Multiple “Yes, And”s (Part 1)

Can we talk about the war in Ukraine and its complexities without being shut down or accused of minimising its horrors?

I think that is possible indeed – yet not that easy.

In my first episode, I talk about (1) NATO expansion, (2) the extreme right in Ukraine, and (3) what we have to know about how sanctions work.

What Do We Have To Know About The Frozen Afghan Funds?

What right does one country have to freeze the assets of another one?

What about when the country sanctioned is undergoing a major crisis?
These are the questions we have to ask about what the U.S. has been doing to Afghanistan.

The US and Russia: Is There An Alternative to The Drums of War?

The military escalations between NATO (well, the U.S., really) and Russia over Ukraine are no joke.
The price of war between two nuclear superpowers is as terrifying as it is clear. So what is it that can get in the way of saying NO to military escalations?

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