On the war in Ukraine
By Vijay Prashad
Unofficial transcript of remarks to End the War Scotland, March 26, 2022
This is a terrible war. it’s catastrophic for the people in the middle of this war. I think it’s well worth considering that this war of course didn’t begin in February. It began in 2014, perhaps even earlier. It’s an ugly situation now accelerated.
Of course, there must be ceasefire, there must be negotiations; the faster the war ends and the negotiations begin the better for the Ukrainians, the Russians, people in the region in general.
Also of course other wars must end; we have forgotten about the one Yemen, which is prosecuted by Saudi Arabia using British arms. British arms-makers have been making billions of pounds pummeling the Yemeni people, but few people on this call, at least few people in Britain, know what the colors are of the Yemeni flag [as they do Ukraine’s].
Few people know the names of the towns and cities in Yemen, which are being pulverized, yet you know, Mariupol. We always say that people in the United States learn geography, when their country goes and bombs places outside the US borders. Europeans are learning Ukrainian geography; you didn’t know the names of these towns before.
But will you ever learn the geography of Yemen? Did you learn the geography of Iraq and Afghanistan? There is an international division of humanity, and I want to begin with that. Some people are considered more human than others; this is unforgivable. Europe has not looked in the mirror and faced up to its colonial past which continues to haunt it and haunts it yet.
Let’s face it friends, the United States is the most powerful country in the world, $1 trillion is its annual military budget; that’s not just the official military budget but the intelligence agencies, also, of course, the Department of Energy budget where it hides its nuclear spending –- a trillion dollars, you know, 2 million soldiers in arms at 800 bases around the world in over 80 countries.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is being blasted out to us as if it’s a great humanitarian organization. It’s not a humanitarian organization, but it’s also not sui generis. It’s part of a range of Treaty Organizations set up in the 1940s and 50s for the United States to effectively extend its military power outside its own borders. It begins with the Rio Pact of 1947, not even in Europe, the beginning is in the Americas, with the Rio Pact of Inter-American reciprocal cooperation, in other words military alliances, so the US could build bases in Colombia and other countries.
Even NATO, 1949, is part of a process, including the Manila Pact, the South East Asian Treaty Organization; the Baghdad Pact of 1955, the Central Treaty Organization, the creation by the United States of a “Hub and Spokes” military system to essentially dominate the world through extending its military power, including by the creation of things like Southern Command, the Central Command, the Indo-Pacific Command and so on, to organize better its own military forces. That’s how you get military bases in places like Subic Bay Philippines. That’s how you get the entire Arab Gulf region, peppered with US military bases, that’s how you have military bases in Germany. These bases don’t come from nowhere they are an extension of US power. NATO, my friends, is a Trojan horse for US power. Europeans have an illusion when they think they’re equal partners in NATO. No, you are a piece subordinate to the United States. Let’s face it, Europe has never been permitted to develop an independent foreign policy; all that talk of Gaullism you know from Charles de Gaulle came to nothing. The plans in 1961-62 came to nothing, the Maastricht Treaty in 1997; “Let’s have a common security policy” really didn’t come to anything. Your high commissioners on Foreign Relations answer to Washington DC. NATO is Washington’s instrument with Brussels nodding along; Ian Stoltenberg and others, they nod along when the United States tells them to do this or that. When Joe Biden was recently in Brussels, all of them get in line, including Emmanuel Macron with his minor petty Gaullism, a shadow of Charles de Gaulle’s Gaullism. Boris Johnson so eager to stand next to Biden and mimic his gestures, there is no independence in Europe, you are an instrument of US foreign policy.
When you are attempted a linkage with Eurasia, this was frowned upon. Look that energy dependence on Russia doesn’t come from nowhere; it comes from the fact that you participated in NATO’s war to destroy Libya, on the one hand, and you participated in a US-Israeli policy to suffocate Iran, two of your principal energy sources, Iran and Libya, taken offline not because you decided independently to go to war in Libya, that you decided independently to put Iran into the dog house. No, it’s because you followed the US policy stuck with no other sources of energy, you become dependent on Russia, of course you do you integrate with Asia, it makes sense.
Secondly, 17 countries including Poland in 2015, and Italy in 2019, integrate with China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. Why, because it’s rational, because China is coming to you with surpluses, with technical know-how and so on.
What does the United States do? United States says, No, you cannot integrate with Eurasia, you have to reintegrate or deepen integration with the North Atlantic, they say, Don’t buy natural gas from Russia. Instead, we’ll send liquefied natural gas from the United States, we’ll arrange for liquefied natural gas from the Gulf countries, thousands of times more expensive in the long term, believe me, and it’s going to be super dangerous because the danger of an explosion. So, we are going to provide you Biden says liquefied natural gas instead of natural gas coming to Nord Stream to secondly, cut your ties with China Huawei and so on.
Look at our Boris Johnson ducked his tail between his legs and the British administration said we’ll ban Huawei. At least, Olaf Scholl, Chancellor of Germany, had the decency yesterday at the Brussels meeting to say if Germany bans Russian natural gas, we will have a serious, serious recession.
Okay, why is NATO still around? For three reasons. NATO has been used by the US to extend its power. First is the obvious one, which I talked about not allowing your Europe to have an independent foreign policy to integrate rationally, in the process of history, with Eurasia, but to reintegrate across the North Atlantic. Second, using article five of the NATO charter, the United States has essentially pushed an agenda to make need to, quote unquote, global NATO, that was NATO’s inauguration into the war in Afghanistan and the war in Libya. You know after the Lisbon Treaty in 2007 Europe created a High Representative on common foreign and security policy, what do they do, they don’t do anything independently. Foreign policy again not able to be advanced as an independent thing, they’ve actually started to talk about global NATO global NATO. It’s well worth reading the text, NATO 2030.
But this whole business of global NATO: NATO has participated including the US, not just in putting pressure on Russia; the fault line is not just from the Baltics to the Balkans, it goes all around Asia, because what has NATO been been doing? NATO countries have been participating in the so called freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, British warships Queen Elizabeth has been sent out there to harass the Chinese.
What a mature attitude toward the development of China, you know you act so maturely sometimes. Let’s go and provoke another war. Look at the way the UK, the United States and Australia did the Orcas agreement shutting out the French from their submarine deal and creating a nuclear armed nuclear powered submarine, a deal with Australia, and then of course there is the Indo-Pacific alliance in the Quad with Australia, Japan and India, the talk of an Asia NATO.
I mean, this is all extremely disturbing. But I want to put on the table friends, is that, of course, this war is catastrophic but I don’t believe that this was merely about Ukraine. This war is about a contest. And this is the tragedy of wars like this. This was a contest over what should happen in parts of Asia, and what should be allowed in Europe, should Eurasia, integrate. Or, should the United States have a dominant role in the world as it did for decades previously.
the Ukrainian people are struggling and suffering as that contest is taking place. The United States is an ill prepared to contest China commercially, ill prepared to deal with China through trade. You want to make a better phone than Huawei make a better phone than Huawei in India, for instance, Chinese phones are de rigueur because they are cheaper. They are as good as Apple phones. People can’t afford to buy Apple phones. You want to compete with China compete with China, but they cannot compete, they don’t have the ability to compete.
Therefore, the United States uses the coin that it has: that coin is force. Europe is being dragged into a world confrontation by the United States, because it’s no longer able to confront countries like China businesses in China, economically, it’s unable to deal with the fact that China and Russia have come closer together. We are being brought perilously close into nuclear war. The United States is the one that walked out of the Anti-Ballistic-Missile Treaty, the United States is the one that walked out of the intermediate nuclear forces treaty. The departure from these treaties sent a clear signal to Moscow, that the United States might put intermediate nuclear missiles back in Europe, within five minutes they can strike Russian targets. It was Europe, in the 1980s that fought for freeze it was Europe, that put the IMF on the table today Europe is doing nothing to prevent us from coming closer to nuclear annihilation. I implore you, please do something to prevent yourself from becoming the poodle. Not just Tony Blair, but you’re becoming the poodle of the United States.