By Sarah Khan

End of dream, return of history

March 16, 2022 - 16:1

Russian military assault on Ukraine is debilitating blow to American-led Liberal Leviathan and final nail in the coffin of ‘End of History’ delusions. Western security analysts are incessantly scrutinizing that what led to this preventable catastrophe?

Blinded by oriental stereotypes, Putin is being condemned for his ‘expansionist designs’ and machismo politics. In its bloodthirsty eagerness to portray Russia as devil empire, U.S. Republican senator Lindsey Graham even openly suggested assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin, referring to Brutus, who was involved in assassinating Roman emperor Julius Caesar. Mark. B Smith in ‘The Russia Anxiety’ explained this contempt by stating that Russia Anxiety is a cycle, and disregard can soon turn into contempt and then to fear. Years after the end of the Cold War, the sum of these feelings is as dangerous as ever, even though history shows that the Anxiety is almost always misplaced. Western propaganda blitzkrieg, conspiracy galore and activation of financial nuclear weapons all have failed to defend Ukraine. 

What led to vivid display of Russian revanchism?  John Mearsheimer, the realist international relations theorist at the University of Chicago has been clamoring for years that NATO’s eastward expansion would catalyze Russia’s war machine and only option to salvage Ukraine is its non-alignment with Western bloc.  The EU itself is subordinate to U.S. strategic interests and blocking the Nord Stream 2 is suicide for Europe but inclusion of Ukraine in the EU and NATO is portrayed as sovereign decision to join ‘free world’. Weaponization of ideology is standard regime change tool of Western playbook under garb of ‘freedom’ but Ukrainian leadership miserably failed to understand that beating the drum of Atlanticism is tantamount to slavishly follow the dictates of Washington while impoverishing Eurasia. 
In order to understand the Ukraine quagmire, let’s delve into history. After disintegration of USSR, Russian leaders made it categorically clear that former Soviet states would not join NATO or hostile military consortium in return for sovereignty. The U.S. led Western bloc accorded legitimacy to principle of ‘sphere of influence’ and 2008 Bucharest declaration exposed Western hypocrisy when NATO announced that Georgia and Ukraine would also become part of the alliance. Peter Conradi in “Who lost Russia?” elucidates the way U.S. was interfering in Ukrainian politics behind the scenes. He mentioned a recording of a phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, can be accessed on YouTube apparently courtesy of the Russian intelligence services. The conversation featured European Union and their frustration that it was not doing more to contain Russia. “Fuck the EU!” exclaimed Nuland.

In retrospect, instead of striking a delicate balance between the East and the West, Ukraine’s destiny was hijacked by pro-EU liberals to thuggish far-right nationalists, lacking astute leadership but united in their cause to topple pro-Russia former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Myriad instances testify outrageous Western meddling in Eurasian Great Power’s underbelly. For instance, Yanukovych emerged victorious in Ukraine’s political architecture under tutelage of dubious American political consultant Paul Manafort, a long-time American Republican strategist. Manafort dramatically choreographed Yanukovych’s party’s public perception from mobsters to legitimate political authority. Sensing Ukraine’s longstanding yearning for stability, Yanukovych dashed Western hopes of steering country out of Kremlin’s sphere of influence. The Ukrainian parliament approved a law proposed by Yanukovych that abandoned the previous administration’s fatal fantasy of acquiring NATO membership. Western Machiavellian tactics to hamper Ukraine’s efforts in joining Eurasian Customs Union, a Russian initiative aimed at economic integration of region, led to escalation of geopolitical tug-of-war in the country. The protests aimed at ousting legitimate political government of Yanukovych saw solidarity visits by German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the U.S. State Department’s hawkish assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs Victoria Nuland. 

In a commentary for the Washington Post, published just over a week after Yanukovych’s fall, Henry Kissinger accused the EU of turning a “negotiation into a crisis by failing to appreciate that in Russia’s eyes Ukraine could never be just a foreign country. Kissinger wrote, “But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other, it should function as a bridge between them.” 
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere but global North exhibited callous disregard for injustice in Global South as toxic cocktail of tyranny, imperialism and Western enlightened despotism took toll upon Muslim nations. It’s not just selective outrage of international community that exposed Western contempt for ‘barbarians’ in the East but sheer display of discrimination against refugees as multiple media reports suggest that ‘civilized’ Ukrainians are denying non-Europeans safety passages. Moreover, European refugee crisis post-Arab Spring unraveled shocking cruel face of ‘free world’ when they mercilessly closed doors of Europe to war-ravaged Muslim refugees fleeing CIA choreographed proxy battles in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Africa. Displaying blatant double standard, Europe is now embracing Ukrainian white refugees with progressive jubilation, offering them visas and other benefits concomitant with mass movements showing solidarity with refugees. Adding insult to injury, racist and orientalist rhetoric plagues coverage of Ukraine conflict whereby many Western media outlets are hell-bent upon depicting blue-eyed white Ukrainians as civilized enough who do not deserve war. CBS News foreign correspondent Charlie D’ Agata had audacity to mock Iraqis and Afghans by normalizing war in those ‘uncivilized’ places. This racialized framing of Ukraine gambit testifies colonization of global media.
There is a method in Russian madness since bombardment of Ukraine is final blow to U.S.-led world order and U.S. as benign desperate hegemon helplessly sees possibly the worst European war in over 75 years. The U.S.-led Ukrainians down the primrose path and bequeathed Russians an opportunity to flex their military muscles over second largest European country. The blind American exceptionalism has rendered Ukrainians collateral damage and NATO’s bellicose rhetoric is also hurtling Taiwan towards Ukraine’s faith without committing protection. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in the Guardian article debunked Western obduracy by expounding that invasion by Russia is not an answer; neither is intransigence by NATO. World order is increasingly becoming de-Westernized and eroding credibility, legitimacy of the U.S. remains inevitable consequence of the Ukraine quagmire. 

The writer is MPhil in international relations from National Defence University Islamabad. She currently works as script writer at PTV World, the state broadcaster of Pakistan. 

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