By Abdul Razak Bawa
Let me begin this article from the end, as I have often done: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is depraved in the 21st century and must not be supported by any right thinking human being. The attack deserves all the condemnation and sanctions that has greeted it.
Now back to the substance of this article. The world of geopolitics, sadly is not a moral place and to put it in proper contest, let me quote the Athenians when they sent an ultimatum to the Melians during the Siege of Melios, “the strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.”
When all is said and done, the world of geopolitics, is no longer about what is right, but about right. We have seen this being displayed in many instances and Africa, has had its fair share of it.
I was disappointed listening to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, who speaking at the United Nations (UN) Security Council meeting held on September 22, when she said that Ghana will not recognize any annexed territory of a sovereign state.
Her comment comes on the back of plans by Russia to hold a controversial referendum to annex four Ukrainian regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
She described the effects the war as ‘intolerable’ and called for urgent steps to be taken to halt the war.
“Some 14 million people, mostly women and children, have been displaced from their homes and face heightened risk of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. Human trafficking, filtration processes and forced disappearances, torture and other violations of the right and freedom of the people are widespread,” Ayorkor Botchwey said.
“The suffering in Ukraine is abhorrent and should not be dismissed as the mere consequence of war. To do so, we will be endorsing the atrocities and sanctioning impunity. In this regard, we underscore the importance of ensuring accountability for all war crimes committed in Ukraine. Accountability is fundamental to preventing impunity,” she further added.
There are a lot of questions to be asked of our foreign minister in that statement, starting with, what are Ghana’s interests? Are they served by joining a bandwagon to pile in, or are they served by being circumspect like India has been?
India, a country with a keen sense of self and of its history, has taken its own interests into account first and has sat solidly on the fence in this matter.
India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, simply appealed for a ceasefire, but did not take a stand on the issue.
He is right. India has a huge agricultural economy, and a significant portion of its input, especially fertiliser, comes from Russia. As a matter of fact, the Indians are working on a mechanism to trade with Russia using their own currency in order to avoid the impact of Western sanctions. This is what serious countries do.
The fact that, we are here today, if I must remind our minister is because, this conflict is about self-interest and powerful countries, led by the United States of America, will do what they can to either protect or advance their interest.
Ghana and Africa, for that matter must consider what its interest is, before making statements that have far reaching consequences not only for today, but in the future,
Africa, has always played second fiddle to the interests of the so-called powerful nations. We have all heard the maxim that, United States of America does not have permanent friends, but permanent interests. This clearly demonstrates that, if they have to choose between Ghana and Russia, who today are their foes, they will choose Russia. Monkeys, they say play by sizes.
This ongoing proxy war Ukraine is fighting on behalf of USA, is one we should not get involved in. they have set their agendas right and until we know what our interest is, this is not the time to pick a side. This fight is bigger than Ghana.
Shirley Ayorkor Botwey, must learn what is moral relativism, before she goes poking her nose into an issue that has the whole world watching. Your friend today, could be your enemy tomorrow.
The West has not shown much interest in a better Africa. It is almost unarguable that a lot of the new economic packages that the West is sending to our neck of the woods is in response to the rise of China. Heck, they never say anything when France misbehaves in our part of the world (and the French have been misbehaving for decades here). It is alright to be honest, because the bitter truth is that we do not rank high on their ladder of interests, and this is the game we need to learn to play.
As far back as ten years ago, scholars and strategists, had warned the Western countries to stay away from trying to co-opt Ukraine into NATO.
George Kennan, a former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, and a major architect of the Truman Doctrine for containing Russia, was critical of US efforts to expand NATO until he died in 2005, aged 101.
Henry Kissinger, a former US Secretary of State, and the architect of the rapprochement between the US and Mao Zedung’s China, warned about the NATO expansion many times, and including in a seminal piece in the Washington Post in 2014.
John Mearsheimer, one of America’s leading geopolitical scholars, said in a University of Chicago lecture in 2015 that, “The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked. What we’re doing is in fact encouraging that outcome.”
Ultimately, everyone is out for his interest, regardless of what cloak they attempt to dress it up in, and in the final analysis, only pay lip service to the values of human rights and sovereignty they profess.
The Eastern European countries that are screaming about human rights and sovereignty are only doing so because it is in their interest to get the Americans in and protect them from Russia, their historical oppressor.
I would point out that their very attitude towards Africans, especially students, shows very clearly that when it comes to others, their talk about human rights et al will dissipate, and this is where we come right back to our interests.
What are Ghana’s s national interests? How do we pursue those interests? Who do we have to play against to advance those interests?
I suspect that sheepishly following Western interests would actually be acting against our own interests.