Saturday, May 25, 2024

Russia-Ukraine war; We are watching.

April 8, 2022 by  
Filed under News, Politics, Weekly Columns

( As Russia’s completely unnecessary (and increasingly brutal) war in Ukraine rages on, President Volodymyr Zelensky has been steadily trying to ratchet up the pressure on the United States and its allies to provide more assistance to his country. In pleading his case, Zelensky is appearing in every forum from the Congress, to news shows, to the Grammy Awards. Broadcasting from a bunker somewhere in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, Zelensky told the music show’s viewers:

“The war. What is more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people. Our children draw swooping rockets, not shooting stars. Over 400 children have been injured and 153 children died. And we’ll never see them drawing. Our parents are happy to wake up in the morning in bomb shelters, but alive. Our loved ones don’t know if we will be together again. The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence.”

President Joe Biden and the Congress are listening. They’ve approved billions of dollars to address Ukraine’s military and humanitarian needs. As I’ve previously stated, I’m all for that. Indeed, I’ve been exceedingly clear about my support for Ukraine from the beginning of this war. Russia’s invasion is just one of the myriad ways in which democracy is under assault both in the U.S. and abroad. While the global postwar order is not at an existential crisis — yet — the time is now to move beyond platitudes in confronting and defeating totalitarianism. Democracy must be a nonnegotiable imperative. Beyond that, it is unimaginable to me that anyone could look at what’s going on in Ukraine and not be deeply moved.

russia-ukraine war

Yet, we should be mindful of the fact that there are, and always will be, conflicts around the world in which civilians are in danger of losing their freedom — and their lives. I understand that the stakes are high in Ukraine given the threat that Russia poses to the stability of Europe and the wider world. The fact is that the geopolitical and military implications of Russian imperialism play into the West’s calculus as much as the human tragedy that is unfolding. Policymakers here and in Europe understand the dire threat that Russia poses.

Yet, I wonder what this nation (and our allies) will do when there is a conflict that involves a majority Black or brown nation that is just as brutal but doesn’t necessarily pose a threat to democracy or the world order — especially if it doesn’t garner the overwhelming worldwide coverage that Ukraine has. The U.S. is obligated, for example, to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression. We must also be very wary of North Korea’s bombastic moves (and prepared to meet to counter them as necessary). But what about the ongoing crises on the African continent and in Latin America? The West in general, and the U.S. in particular, has a moral obligation not to allow humanitarian crises to go unchecked, even when the security of our homeland is not directly threatened. If we are truly to be the world’s “indispensable nation,” let us act like it.

If such mobilization of military might and monetary means does not occur for conflicts outside Europe, millions of Black folks will say, “See, I told you so. White folks in America only care about white folks in other countries being slaughtered. We stood firmly with them on the side of the Ukrainians. Where are those white folks now?” This sentiment would be very understandable. Indeed, I would share it. But morality, which knows no racial or geographic boundaries, demands that we stand on the side of justice and humanity — wherever and whenever they are threatened. It is also incumbent upon us to continue the 400-year struggle for justice and humanity for African Americans. We will not fail to do so. And we are watching.

Columnist; Larry Smith

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