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Picture: 123RF/SEZER ÖZGER
Picture: 123RF/SEZER ÖZGER

Following the formation of the government of national unity (GNU) and appointment of Ronald Lamola as international relations minister and co-operation is crucial to examine SA’s current position in the context of the tectonic shifts happening in global power dynamics.

The greatest current threat to global peace and prosperity is the war being waged in Ukraine — essentially a proxy battle, with Ukraine representing Western unipolar interests — and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

Human rights lawyer Nicole Fritz sharply criticised SA on these pages recently for not signing the so-called “Ukraine Peace Summit” communiqué that emerged post conference in Switzerland (“SA’s foreign policy needs reboot after Ukraine misstep,” June 27).

Conversely, Prof Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, who advised two UN secretaries-general and former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev, questioned the legitimacy of calling it a “peace summit” given that Russia was bizarrely not invited. How can there be meaningful dialogue or hope of peace without all parties at the table?

SA’s representative at the gathering, Sydney Mufamadi, rightly noted that “the world should be engaging in dialogue, not managing the war”, which essentially tells us what the conference was — a platform to drum up more billions of dollars to fund war with Russia.

The immediate post-conference escalation of the Ukrainian war by the dominant players present could be considered ironic, if it were not so deeply tragic:

  • Billions of dollars and even more weapons of mass destruction dispatched to Ukraine to continue the war.
  • More Ukrainian men rounded up, press-ganged into vans, and sent against their will to the front line (as documented by the BBC).
  • An immediate post-conference ATACMS missile (supplied by the US) fired into a summer beach gathering in Sevastopol, killing four Russian children and injuring dozens.

De-escalation of the war and negotiations have been ruled out by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and Washington, who with their Nato allies are rushing humanity at breakneck speed in the direction of nuclear Armageddon.

This is all the more alarming when one considers the commander in chief of the US military, which controls Nato, US president Joe Biden, is showing clear signs of dementia, and that Ukraine is officially the most corrupt country in Europe, where martial law has been declared and free elections cancelled.

During the Istanbul Peace Talks in March 2022, where Russia and Ukraine actually were at the same table and had agreed on a peace deal, then-UK prime minister Boris Johnson dashed in under orders and yanked Zelensky out of the room before he could sign, promising him as much money and weapons as Ukraine wanted.

This is well documented by former Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett, who was part of the negotiating team at the time and expressed his frustration at the West’s “determination to smash Putin”.

An African proverb wisely states, “You have to know where you are from to know where you are going.” There is only one path to peace in Europe, which by necessity includes an honest assessment of why and when the Ukraine war started, and transparent dialogue with Russia.

In a widely viewed interview two weeks ago, Prof Sachs clearly explained how the conflict began in 2014 when the US overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected president, Victor Yanukovych.

A pro-Western, pro-Nato, anti-Russian government was subsequently installed and immediately started arming and preparing the Ukrainians for a proxy war with Russia.

John Mearsheimer, a professor at the University of Chicago and leading proponent of the geopolitical school of Realism, argues that “Russia’s security concerns deserve respect”.

According to Mearsheimer, Nato’s eastward push and the arming of Ukraine with missiles aimed at Moscow are the direct cause of the Ukraine war.

Mearsheimer is at pains to emphasise that the Russians tried for two decades to stop the aggressive advance using diplomatic means, but Washington was having none of it. This is all well documented, with the Minsk agreements — ignored by Ukraine and Nato — being but one example.

Eventually, Ukraine became the final red line that was crossed. As Mearsheimer and others have rhetorically asked, how would Washington react if Mexico went into a military alliance with Russia and China and started preparing for war with the US?

What does this all mean for SA — a key member of Brics and the Global South — which still trades and has relations with the West? We are witnessing the final throes of an Anglo-Saxon empire and a European political elite, throwing everything at the war in a bid to prevent the rise of multipolar world where no single power has the authority to act like a rogue police officer.

The US and Nato’s history of illegal wars and bombing in places such as Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya — all condemned by the UN Security Council — have given democracy in the West a bad name.

Emboldened by Russia and China’s stance against imperialism, the resistance against unipolar Western hegemony in the global South is noteworthy and growing. In Africa, witness the Sahel bloc of Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, all expelling the French and Americans from their countries and declaring a new common currency.

Locally, the DA is closely aligned with the West and Nato. DA leader John Steenhuisen’s visit to Ukraine was sponsored by the Brenthurst Foundation, a neoliberal conservative think-tank funded by the Oppenheimers, who advise the DA on policy and are closely aligned with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

The NED is wholly funded by the US state department, and its founding director, Alan Weinstein, noted in an interview with the Washington Post that it “does much of the work the CIA used to to do”.

The ANC and all South Africans should be wary of becoming a vassal, or client state, of Washington, whose interests will always supersede that of the local population.

China, which presciently chose not to attend the Swiss gathering, is SA’s leading trading partner. It is worth noting that it has never invaded another country. That is unlike the US, which has encircled China with almost 400 military bases, part of more than 800 bases it has globally in the name of “democracy”.

The illegal seizure (theft) of billions in Russian assets by the UK, EU and US has also shown the developing world not to have all their eggs in one basket. “De-dollarisation” is therefore seen as a valid strategy for building self-reliance and a more equitable multipolar world. Brazil and China’s decision to no longer trade in dollars is a case in point.

The founding father of a free liberated Africa, Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah, noted at independence in 1957 that “we look neither west, nor east, but forward”. SA’s foreign policy is on a stable and ethical footing, well poised to embrace the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape.

Lomola’s key task is to keep SA’s foreign policy grounded in the distinguished work started by his predecessor, Naledi Pandor, while continuing to play a key leadership role in Africa grounded in principles of sovereignty and equality for all nations and people.

• Cohen is founder of pan-African design and communications consultancy Pathfinder Ubuntu.

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