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|Presenting The Russian-nato War In A Way An Average Nigerian Student Can Underst by xborr: 8:40am On Mar 13|
PRESENTING THE RUSSIAN-NATO WAR IN A WAY AN AVERAGE NIGERIAN STUDENT CAN UNDERSTAND IT
(By Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire)
To tell the story of the ongoing war in Eastern Europe, I have to use my personal experience as an angle of illustration. I am sure one will immediately wonder how the experience of a Nigerian man would help explain a war occurring at the opposite end of the world. But be patient with me and you will understand.
In 1987, I was a first year student of law in University of Benin. The first year was spent on non-law electives, to give the student a general knowledge of things through related courses in social sciences, arts and philosophy. One of the compulsory non-law courses we took was philosophy. That was how I met Professor Christos Theodoropoulos. He was a Greek man. He taught philosophy and jurisprudence in University of Ife, before he followed Professor Itse Sagay to Uniben to found the law faculty there. I liked Theodoropoulos immediately I met him. He was different from other professors. He said things I never heard before but which were already on my mind, though I was too scared to voice them out. For instance, Theodoropoulos shocked us in class one day when he said to us in the middle of a lecture: “Man made God in the image of man. As the image of man changed, the image of God also changed. This is why the primitive man had to have a primitive God, and a modern man has to have a modern God, who even has a family of father and son born out of wedlock”. This was crazy! But, I began to follow the man because I wanted to know more about his thoughts. I eventually became his protégé in Uniben.
The greatest impact Theodoropoulos had in my impressionable mind then was that he taught me dialectics (which continues to guide my analytic thoughts to date). He also turned me into a Marxist and a Communist as a student. That was a sufficient radicalization process any young man could undergo then.
From this exposure, I understood that the world was divided into two ideological blocs with distinct global positioning. The ideological blocs were capitalism and Communism and their distinct places on the face of the earth were America and Western Europe for capitalism and the Soviet Union on the eastern part of Europe for Communism. As a Marxist student, I identified with the way the Communists saw the world while I doubted the capitalist worldview. There was constant tension between the leaders of these two ideological blocs, which I learned had been there since after the Second World War. Despite the tensions, there was a balance. It was assumed that the two blocs were stalemated and were equal in strength such that none could swallow up the other. The anchor of the balance between the two blocs was the fact that each side had amassed sufficient nuclear bombs to be able to mutually destruct in the event of violent confrontation between the two. So, they vehemently opposed each other but without direct violent and physical confrontation. That was why that era was termed the Cold War, presumed to be the non-physical hostilities between the two sides. The capitalist countries, led by America, formed a military alliance for their joint security against the Soviet Union led by Russia, which formed their own military alliance called the Warsaw Pact to checkmate NATO.
By 1991, when I was leaving University of Benin and heading to the Nigerian Law School in Lagos, there was incredible turmoil going on in the world which seemed to alter the pre-existing stalemate between the two blocs. The changes were of both ideological and geopolitical dimensions. In geopolitical terms, the countries that came together to form the Soviet Union disintegrated, and each became independent. It was like peeling away of an onion. As each member of the Soviet Union went its way, it shrank the base that hosted the Communist world.
However, as the Soviet Union peeled away, NATO and the capitalist world remained intact and bourgeoning. So, in a way, you can view the changes that occurred in 1990/91 years as the collapse of the Soviet Union and Communism. So, capitalism defeated Communism. Russia, the dominant state in the Soviet Union, rapidly began to reform its economy along the model of American capitalism. Another part of the world that was Communist but not part of the Soviet Union was China. Though part of global communism, China was not in a state of cold war with NATO and the West, as the Soviet Union was. However, when it appeared that there was a defeat of global communism, China also began to reform its economy in the direction of capitalism.
By 1993, I was a graduate student at Harvard University. This was at the peak of market-oriented reforms of former Soviet countries and China. These reforms dominated academic discussions, research, and thoughts at Harvard University. For me, as a student, I was again involved in the same thoughts and subjects that had dominated my educational development in Uniben. But this time, it was more complex, more advanced, and occurring at Harvard, where the professors involved were actually the global leaders of thoughts on the subjects. For instance, while at Harvard, I took courses in economics, one of which was taught by Professor Jeffrey Sachs. I mentioned Sachs because he was officially one of the leading economists of the world that Russia had hired to guide it through reforms at the earliest stages. So, here I was, a student brought up with Communist thoughts, but now studying under a leading capitalist economist of the time. I was amazed as Jeffery Sachs proclaimed that, indeed, Carl Marx was right in predicting the withering of the state and that that had been realized by the collapse of the Soviet empire.
Jeffery Sachs' initial reform activities in Russia met some serious criticisms, mainly because he moved too fast. He reformed certain economic institutions far ahead of some critical legal institutions. For instance, he reformed state-owned enterprises and issued vouchers in lieu of shares to citizens, but without a company/business law to regulate the bundle of rights attached to shares or vouchers. As criticisms poured in, there was a serious debate as to whether shock therapy which Russian reforms characterized was as good as or better than the gradualist approach that China adopted. There was also a discussion as to whether democracy was a prerequisite to successful economic reform. In this particular regard, China was constantly compared with India, which, though with the history of communism was indeed the biggest reforming democracy in the world. Then, it seemed that Russia was too eager to become like America in terms of market reforms. On the other hand, China appeared slower in embracing America market forces. I was young, and I was involved in these debates going on at Harvard then, albeit initially, as a student.
A couple of years later, Jeffery Sachs was appointed the Director of Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID). Many erstwhile Marxist scholars in the University brought up again the old criticism they had for Jeffery Sachs – that he had no respect for rule of law, that he reformed the market ahead of rule of law and thereby could not protect the reformed Russian economy from corruption and the activities of the few powerful individuals who cornered the reformed economy, later to become known as the oligarchs. To deflect some of these criticisms, Jeffery Sachs recruited three lawyers to join him at HIID. The goal was for him to be able to show the world that he now understood the importance of the rule of law in economic reforms. Hence, he had three lawyers in his staff. The three lawyers were: (1) Jonathan Hay, an American, stationed in Russia to cover HIID activities in Russia, (2) Catherina Pistor, a German legal scholar, and (3) Emeka Ugwuonye, a Nigerian, stationed in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Our work was to help guide economic reforms in various countries where HIID was engaged for the purpose of ensuring that economic reform was progressing at a pace that embraced corresponding reforms in legal institutions.
How did those events lead to the moment we face today? Though Russia lost its empire and its glory at the end of the Cold War, it remained militarily powerful. However, Russia, in reforming as it did, became swallowed by the West/NATO in terms of the economic control of the world. Russia did not like this. Russians also believe that they, too, have a destiny to remain a superpower. The increasing gap between Russian military strength and its economic weakness was disturbing to Russia. On the other hand, NATO countries never believed that the Cold War was over. The West continued with a desire to impose every of its values on the rest of the world, including a super power and a proud country as Russia. Rather than maintain the geopolitical boundaries that existed during the Cold War, NATO began to expand by swallowing up countries that formerly allied wish Russia. The implication was that the Russian sphere of military influence (which it now describes as its security concerns) continued to shrink as that of NATO continued to expand.
Russia had hoped that NATO would not expand by shrinking its sphere of influence. It tried to counter it in many ways, including through nefarious interferences in elections in the NATO countries. It did not succeed. Clearly, America and NATO were seeking what has been described as the liberal hegemony, that is, the desire to impose their values of human rights and democracy across the world. Market-oriented reforms were achieved in Russia and to a great extent in China, but political reforms in terms of democracy and human rights have not quite been achieved to the satisfaction of the West. The idea of liberal hegemony sought to conform democratic institutions in Russia to those in America, as it has been done in the economic front. Russia resisted. American expansion through NATO threatened Russia. Clearly, Russia is not a leader in the world economy. It has lost any hope of that to American capitalism. And Russia did not want to lose its military might as it lost economic power.
Of all the former Soviet Union countries, Ukraine is the closest to Russia. They have shared commonalities throughout history. Admitting Ukraine into NATO would place NATO at the door steps of the heart of Russia. Russian Government understood that such would place it at significant disadvantage as a superpower, that it would lose much of its clout as a military power. Putin goes further to believe that the ultimate aim of NATO in getting that close to Russia was for NATO to eventually physically conquer Russia. Hence, Putin saw NATO expansion as an existential threat to Russia. Viewed in such a serious manner, Putin would go to war to stop it from happening.
Now, finally, it must have been shocking to observe the speed with which NATO crippled the Russian economy through sanctions. Why was that possible? That was because Russian economy was intricately integrated with Western economic institutions. Indeed, the effect of the sanctions must have convinced Putin of what would happen in any other area where Russia allows NATO to dominate it. Russia, through economic reforms occurring since 1990, has subordinated its economy to that of the West, and now the West has exercised the leverage and crippled Russian economy. Similarly, should Russia subordinate its security concerns to NATO, it will be a matter of time for NATO to leverage that to the point of neutering Russia permanently. Every hegemonic power ultimately gets expressed through military might. You saw that in Iraq, Libya, and nearly Syria. Russia knows what NATO could do to dislodge you if they could.
Time has gone by. Today is much different from 30 years ago. Propaganda and disinformation have always been weapons of war. But, Putin could not have prepared for the level of propaganda made possible by the social media today. He has been outgunned when it comes to propaganda and disinformation. As NATO powers ban Russian news agencies while at the same time dishing out exaggerations and untruth against Putin, he must realize that there was an aspect of this warfare he was not prepared for. And what do you think about the sanctions-based attack on the assets of Russian businessmen? Their only true sin was that they happened to be Russians. The claim that the oligarchs are friends of Putin makes no sense. The Russian businessmen who formed partnerships with their American and European colleagues must have been shocked at their victimization.
For me, I am still a student studying events as they manifest and unfold.
|Re: Presenting The Russian-nato War In A Way An Average Nigerian Student Can Underst by Olutozn54(m): 8:41am On Mar 13|
Well done, thanks
|Re: Presenting The Russian-nato War In A Way An Average Nigerian Student Can Underst by Kestolove(f): 8:46am On Mar 13|
Puttin will be gadaffi'D
|Re: Presenting The Russian-nato War In A Way An Average Nigerian Student Can Underst by Goodmarlian: 8:49am On Mar 13|
In your dreams,you think they are no nationalist Russians who support Putin?
|Re: Presenting The Russian-nato War In A Way An Average Nigerian Student Can Underst by francotunsco(m): 9:14am On Mar 13|
The caption is misleading.
|Re: Presenting The Russian-nato War In A Way An Average Nigerian Student Can Underst by MikeBetty(m): 9:59am On Mar 13|
This is the actual thing happening in Russia. The real weapon of the war has already been applied (economic sanctions) and it is dealing with Russia. Ukraine is fighting the physical war while US is fighting by proxy. US is the beast in the book of Revelation.
|Re: Presenting The Russian-nato War In A Way An Average Nigerian Student Can Underst by SadiqBabaSani: 10:23am On Mar 13|
|Re: Presenting The Russian-nato War In A Way An Average Nigerian Student Can Underst by huptin(m): 10:32am On Mar 13|
This is very illuminating.
|Re: Presenting The Russian-nato War In A Way An Average Nigerian Student Can Underst by ivolt: 10:44am On Mar 13|
You should have been embarrassed to copy and paste this nonsense.
You can't even get the heading correctly.
Even a kid knows that the war is between Russia Ukraine. NATO is not part of the war nor Ukraine a member of NATO.
Russia's cyber gang managers are obviously not recruiting the brightest.
I wouldn't bother with the rest of the thrash as I do not expect a below average student to understand the main issues.
|Re: Presenting The Russian-nato War In A Way An Average Nigerian Student Can Underst by xborr: 1:23pm On Mar 13|
If you have any atom of common sense you should have known that the war in Ukraine is a proxy war between NATO and Russia.
|Re: Presenting The Russian-nato War In A Way An Average Nigerian Student Can Underst by gaddafe(m): 1:48pm On Mar 13|
An average Nigerian student does not have the patience of reading such long epistle.
|Re: Presenting The Russian-nato War In A Way An Average Nigerian Student Can Underst by needanswer: 4:02pm On Mar 13|
A good piece but it failed to outline why the former Soviet states are romancing NATO and joining them. They aren't be forced to join NATO but they are surely been offered great financial and security incentives to join NATO, one which Russia can't afford to give them because of her dwindling economy since the 1990's.
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