Rep. Meeks. Why would an African want to take down Africa? Photo Wikimedia Commons.
On March 2, 2022, the UN General Assembly held a vote on a Resolution deploring Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine” and 141 countries voted on the Resolution. In all, 35 countries abstained including several African nations.
In the wake of this the African Union has rightly asked Russia to respect International Law and Ukraine’s sovereignty. It is well within the right of each country including those on the African continent to vote or abstain from any Resolution presented to the General Assembly; to suggest otherwise or coerce any country directly or indirectly is an infringement on International Law and the sovereign right of the respective country. That basic fundamental fact seems to be lost on some legislators when it comes to parroting the imperialist narrative of the United States.
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, a Democrat representing the 5th Congressional District in Queens, New York, and Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, on March 31 introduced H.R. 7311 titled “Countering Malign Russian Activities In Africa.”
The bill, in part, would direct the U.S. Secretary of State, using “detailed intelligence” to identify, in Africa, “local actors complicit in Russian activities.” This Resolution if passed seeks to monitor Russia’s relationship and interaction with African countries. This would be flagrant infringement on the sovereignty and independence of Africa. This is an attempt by the United States to coerce independent countries into participating in America’s neocolonial and geopolitical design for spheres of influence. It also exposes the desperation of an empire that sees its world economic and political hegemony threatened and now wants to bolster its imperialistic ideology and position at all costs.
The entire African diaspora must resist the Meeks Resolution, a colonial assault on self-determination and national sovereignty; the African Union must immediately enter actively into analyzing this Resolution and immediately develop a plan for resisting and defeating this neocolonial action.
Any call by any party elected or otherwise, or individual, to place sanctions against those African countries that abstained from the UN General Assembly vote on March 2, 2022 for Russia’s incursion into Ukraine is reactionary, hypocritical and a double-standard.
It is self-serving policy and plays along with the United States’ hegemonist foreign policy. Since the United States is so concerned and supportive of sovereignty and justice in Ukraine, why aren’t there any sanctions against the genocidal and apartheid policy of Israel and its atrocities against Palestine? Why aren’t there sanctions against Saudi Arabia for its devastating war against Yemen where war crimes are committed against an entire nation? Why aren’t there sanctions against the despotic regimes of Uganda, Chad, Sudan, and Rwanda?
Ever since February 24, 2022 we have been barraged by the corporate media with anti-Russian platitudes that have seen no equal; it has reached hysterical levels. The “reports” are unbalanced, irrational and lacks history and context. The intent is to shape public opinion into Ukrainian victim syndrome and bolster the pro-war expansionist and militaristic psychosis of NATO and continue the “encirclement” of Russia, much like the Western alliance did during the Soviet era.
War by any standard is devastating on human lives and property. The territorial integrity of every country is to be respected and not encroached upon by another country. It is reckless and irresponsible to encourage NATO to push towards the Russian border, knowing that Russia would understandably feel threatened leading to some type of retaliation, which was foreseeable. The civilized world would have preferred if the conflict were resolved through dialog and negotiations. In the current situation there are no winners. Both sides will experience irreparable loss.
Some African countries have had longstanding and non-adversarial relations with Russia. Many recall the soviet era of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) when African Liberation Movements received material support—weapons, finance, military training—in the struggles against western colonialism.
Today approximately 40% of Africa’s wheat and fertilizer imports are from Russia and Ukraine; and African countries have students studying in both countries. The call for denouncing Russia is not only self-serving and hypocritical but disguises the imperialistic and hegemonist intent of the United States. It’s continuation of the
historical encirclement psychosis of NATO since after WWII, even after the collapse of the USSR.
Not all countries believe in the warmongering and militaristic rhetoric of the US/NATO alliance. African countries are well within their rights as sovereign states, to exercise their right of self-determination and non-alignment not only in socio-economic matters but foreign policy as well.
The continued push towards the Russian border by the NATO countries is provocative and retaliation was inevitable; the war was avoidable if the US/NATO alliance acted responsibly and did not pursue this path of opportunism and adventurism. As a result, it has plunged the already vulnerable countries of Africa further into socio-economic devastation including continent-wide famine and premature deaths due to the global consequences of the conflict—food and fuel prices have escalated.
OXFAM has reported that every 48 seconds one person across Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya is dying of hunger today. With the reduction or lack of imports of wheat and fertilizer and draught—which has also affected some regions in West Africa—combined with the Covid pandemic, the impact has been catastrophic. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reports that as many as 30 million people in West Africa alone face hunger.
Even here in the U.S., people are feeling the pain. Blaming Russia for the current domestic problems, is a smokescreen for an inept and limping Administration that lacks vision and a viable plan to ease the socio-economic burden facing the working class.
The OXFAM report of May 23, 2022, “Profiting From Pain” states that a new billionaire has been created every 30 hours since the start of the pandemic. How does Russia figure into this capitalist greed and inhumanity?
It would have been better for Rep. Meeks to table a Resolution calling for an immediate cease fire and the beginning of meaningful and respectful negotiations between the warring parties to put an end to this conflict.
Ostracizing and demonizing Putin and Russia does nothing to ease the tension between the conflicting parties. It does nothing to address the critical issues of expansion and provocation. Sanctioning African countries that abstained from participating in this militaristic madness does no good for foreign relations and further isolates the United States ideologically even from some of its so-called allies.
The punitive Resolution which will bring more harm to Africa which is already struggling must be withdrawn. It is reactionary, hypocritical and double-standard.
Richard Dunn can be reached at: [email protected]