Connecting the dots on Ukraine
How yet another bloody war requires us to rethink global capitalism
First things first: The Russian invasion of Ukraine is criminal, indefensible, and atrocious. There needs to be an immediate ceasefire and Western democracies should obviously support Ukraine in every way possible. The war is also proving to be highly damaging to Russia. Many Russians know this, and the question is whether they can do anything about it. I was encouraged by the open letter from Russian scientists protesting the war: It is bitter for us to realize that our country, which made a decisive contribution to the victory over Nazism, has now become the instigator of a new war on the European continent. (English translation, Russian original). The last time I checked, more than 5000 people had signed the letter.
Whether the war could have been prevented through a more intelligent policy towards Russia after the fall of the iron curtain is a different question altogether. I encourage everyone to watch this lecture by Vladimir Pozner on “How the United States Created Vladimir Putin.” The eastward expansion of NATO has been condemned by many on the left and by high-ranking diplomats and strategic experts from the US. Both George F. Kennan and Jack F. Matlock called it a catastrophic and unprovoked strategic mistake by the US and other Western democracies. How could anyone believe that it would be possible to create a united and peaceful Europe without including Russia?
Western media’s reaction to the war has given us many examples of double standards, as summarized in this article by Al Jazeera. People are dying from horrible wars in many countries, but the media often ignores it unless there are European (or, dare I say, Caucasian) casualties. Currently, people are starving in Afghanistan, and there is a brutal proxy war raging in Yemen, to name only two examples. Apparently, reporting about death and destruction happening far away is not good for ratings and does not generate enough clicks.
There is also another level of hypocrisy, which western media fails to address. As Garry Kasparov pointed out recently, Western money pays for all the bombs now falling on Ukraine, just as it pays for the bombs falling on Yemen. As long as the crazy and ruthless dictators do not do anything too stupid and continue to deliver natural resources at a reasonable price, we do not mind. Below are the American oil imports from Russia.
Vladimir Putin came into power in 1999. If he had continued to deliver oil without showing any imperial ambitions, we would not have minded him oppressing his people. After all, Mohammed bin Salman is also not big on democracy and human rights, but this does not prevent him from buying weapons from the West. As the saying goes, “he is a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch”.
Western oil companies have been very active in Russia. Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon who went on to become the US Secretary of State under President Trump, received a Medal of Friendship from Vladimir Putin in 2013. Nobody seemed to care.
It is time for US and Western European consumers to own up to the fact that they are all part of a global kleptocracy. Their governments and corporations plunder the planet, often at gunpoint, to keep voters and consumers happy. I do not care whether you call this neocolonialism, slavery by other means, or simply theft, but it is not a basis for a sustainable and peaceful world.
Global Climate Compensation is a simple plan for taking money out of the fossil fuel sector (making oil less important as a source of conflict), giving the money back to people in poorer countries, and promoting international collaboration. The only problem is that it would also force us all (if you are fortunate enough to live in a wealthy country) to consume less. To me, this seems like a reasonable price to pay.
So think about this the next time you fill up your car: there is a lot of blood flowing into that gas tank. If you have a problem with this, you might consider supporting Global Climate Compensation. I am looking forward to your feedback.