If at all, there is a need to sincerely analyze the tensions in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, 2014 had to be the starting point. In this Americanized world, the heaps of biased discussions and mass media propaganda do not only weigh on contemporary historians as a burdensome enterprise but also contaminate the purities of intellectual diets of which its consumption has become causal factors for all scholarly diseases. When Biden ascended into the high office of the United States, surprisingly, analysts, from mainstream media failed to trace the root of his administration from Hillary Clinton’s quasi anti-dictatorial foreign policy, Obama’s invasion of Libya and Syria, the Color revolution in the Balkans, and from the flooding Syrian refugees across the Mediterranean that woke Neo-Nazis, fascists and identarian groups in Europe from their political slumbers.
These catastrophes, and the F word from Victoria Nuland, the then US ambassador to the EU, changed the face of European politics, redefined Islamic terrorism and of course, fumed US-Russia tensions to a more dangerous confrontation. While these events were unfolding in high-resolution pixels, historians were busily cataloging the mechanisms of dictatorial governments, demonizing Vladimir Putin from the oracles of the Soviet Union, at the same time, chanting Obama’s name in the theatres of democracy.
We live in an age of bloated information “a little bit of light here and there, but there is a tremendous amount of darkness” Chomsky put it. And we owe more to nostalgia than present nuances. These tendencies, to the historian, a dilemma, perhaps, predetermined wounds to be inflicted in the whole pursuit of human history. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations was just another miniature of even a mere ideologue of demonization of Islamic fundamentalism, yet, the prejudices it evoked soon were shut for 9/11 to broaden its perspectives. From that moment on, Western historians have never spoken anything pretty about the Middle East. Justifying almost every war the United States has fought and still fighting there.
After 1991, it was only as if the United States has found the antidote for communism. Hence, to the 21st-century historian, political scientist, IR analysts, communism and the remnants of it were evil. Mao’s atrocities in China, Stalin-Lenin’s Gulag and artificial famines in the Soviet Union, Pol Pot’s genocide in Vietnam, and Castro’s upheavals in Cuba still run between the lips of the mainstream media and opinion leaders. In that same period’ Kissinger’s rain of B-56 bombs in Indochina, Pinochet’s atrocities in Chile, the CIA’s assassinations, coups, and mass killings, and Washington’s apartheid South Africa, if it can’t be used to demonize the United States, are covered and silenced because liberal democracy was lifted as the peace banner to the world.
How then, can historians know, that the new Russia-Ukraine war was Washington media-driven? How do they analyze nations by their respective representations of history? How do they strip off, the all-ideologue style of analyzing different State actors from the tenets of liberal democracy? How do they even recognize at all, the novelty of a brutally-suffered nation like Russia? Geopolitically, would they admit that Russia, amid its vast weapons and military strength, has no regional hegemony like the United States’ North America, hence, at anytime Russia can be humiliated by any power from three different geographical lines?
They have been told that the United States was the victorious power after the Cold War, and have been made to dogmatically wallow America’s liberal democracy as a beacon to world peace. That anyone who denounces it should be condemned as a political heretic and should be made to face the wrath of the United States. For that matter, NATO and other Western military organizations have a justifiable course to wage wars, bomb innocent civilians, and kill whoever they choose to.
Contemporary historians cannot only be sincere on all sides during wars like this, they also cannot tell the truth about the nations the United States tag as enemies. We are not only pretending as if fairly and analyzed documents have not been done on Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, but we are also determined not to accept any facts that favorably put Russia on good terms. People like Noam Chomsky, Stephen Cohen, John Pilger, Archie Brown, and the likes have written extensively on US-Russia confrontations, and Russia-Ukraine tensions, giving tons of revelations and facts to support their intriguing claims. Almost none of them have been taken seriously.
As American and Western literature continues to creep into the private faculties in all cultures. Works of literature like Chinese, and Russia have no taste in the public at all.
Firstly, very few people know that Russia never experience the European renaissance, reformation, enlightenment, scientific revolution, and the industrial revolution that shaped their economics, science, technology, language, music, art, culture, and politics. For that matter, political and economic ideologies, on whatsoever premises the western world preaches aren’t having roots and education since their existence.
Secondly, Russia as a State and Nation religiously adhere to only Greek orthodoxy which was bred and nurtured from the Byzantine Christendom years before the existence of many European nations. While still harboring the resentments from the great West-East religious schism, Russia continues to develop to this day, great contempt for evangelical and catholic credos that lurk behind Western superpower religiopolitical crusade.
Finally, Russia only heard about the Gregorian calendar in February 1918, 336 years after it was adopted by the West. Thus, the celebrated “October revolution” in 1917, didn’t happen in October at all.
Contemporary historians simply cannot squeeze themselves with these facts.
What has been out there is; “Putin is an evil man” “Putin was a KGB agent. By definition, he doesn’t have a soul” “He controls Russia with oligarchs to enrich himself” “Putin is an unconstructed Russian imperialist and KGB apparatchik…his world is brutish, cynical place, we must prevent the darkness of Mr. Putin world from befalling on humanity”. These and other vicious rhetoric and misinformation have been propagated and made to become truth in the eyes and minds of all who hear about Russia. Embodying Russia’s foreign policy with “dictatorship” “authoritarian” “oligarchism” and others. But the demonization of Vladimir Putin, Kissinger warned “is not a policy. It is an alibi not have one”.
In the spirit of such a conundrum, historians would not only fail to assess the tendencies which really define this war, but they will also fail to predict and understand the aftermath consequence which has started looming. Mere vilification leads to unwarranted blame games and now is as if Putin has been scapegoated for all global economic woes. This might be another sham calculation, a set of grave misconceptions that would define global politics in the next decade. And these could be more dangerous than those that were conceived after the Cold War; that the United States was the only superpower, that liberal democracy, and free-market capitalism were the answers to global political and economic upheavals.
We would be swayed, out-maneuvered, and out-witted for the second time if we continue following disabled historians, who are wounded by the West.
The Russian-Ukraine war has failed to get the ideal interpretations it deserves, at the same time, been dejected from its true appearance. The Western media wants us to believe that Russia’s Putin has waited long for these brutalities. The US State Department wants the world to despise Putin’s regime. Europe, especially Britain, wants to discredit Putin by taming his so-called oligarchs. Analysts want to blame Putin for all current upheavals. And historians want to have all their predictions of Russia, coined from the liberal credos, to be vindicated. These allegories, if at all, can be proved and substantiated, have dominated Op-Eds, essays, articles, columns, and opinions. But once again, we shall all be surprised.
How International Relations studies exhausted the ideals of history cannot be overemphasized here. In our age where all historians have vociferously turned into diplomats to daunt the domestic culture they represent, is overwhelming. In the process, they have submitted all their intellectual energies to an all liberal-capitalism dominated global politics which in this century, has been imprisoned by education from the West. We didn’t generally understand the conventions and fundamentals of the Cold War and its aftermath, hence, have no real image of Vladimir Putin and Russia. China took the world’s economy by surprise and with shame, we are baffled with histories to pretend as if we have a full grip on what is going on in Ukraine. We would still be deluded, maybe with our own nostalgia, or Russia’s enigma, or both.