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Open Letter to Noam Chomsky (and other like-minded intellectuals) on the Russia-Ukraine war • The Berkeley Blog

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coauthored with Bohdan Kukharskyy (Metropolis College of New York), Anastassia Fedyk (UC Berkeley) and Ilona Sologoub (VoxUkraine)

 

Expensive Professor Chomsky,

We’re a bunch of Ukrainian educational economists who have been grieved by a sequence of your current interviews and commentaries on the Russian warfare on Ukraine. We consider that your public opinion on this matter is counter-productive to bringing an finish to the unjustified Russian invasion of Ukraine and all of the deaths and struggling it has introduced into our dwelling nation.

Borodyanka, Ukraine, Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2022.

Borodyanka, Ukraine, Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2022. Supply: https://apimagesblog.com/russia-ukraine-war-drafts/2022/4/6/day-42-rows-of-body-bags-in-ukraines-bucha

Having familiarized ourselves with the body of your interviews on this matter, we observed a number of recurring fallacies in your line of argument. In what follows, we want to level out these patterns to you, alongside with our temporary response:

Sample #1: Denying Ukraine’s sovereign integrity

In your interview to Jeremy Scahill at The Intercept from April 14, 2022 you claimed: “The very fact of the matter is Crimea is off the desk. We could not prefer it. Crimeans apparently do prefer it.” We want to carry to your consideration a number of historic info:

First, Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 has violated the Budapest memorandum (by which it promised to respect and defend Ukrainian borders, together with Crimea), the Treaty on Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation (which it signed with Ukraine in 1997 with the identical guarantees), and, based on the order of the UN Worldwide Courtroom of Justice, it violated the worldwide legislation.

Second, “Crimeans” will not be an ethnicity or a cohesive group of individuals – however Crimean Tatars are. These are the indigenous folks of Crimea, who have been deported by Stalin in 1944 (and have been capable of come again dwelling solely after the us fell aside), and have been compelled to flee once more in 2014 when Russia occupied Crimea. Of those that stayed, dozens have been persecuted, jailed on false expenses and lacking, in all probability lifeless.

Third, if by ‘liking’ you consult with the end result of the Crimean “referendum” on March 16, 2014, please notice that this “referendum” was held at gunpoint and declared invalid by the Common Meeting of the United Nations. On the identical time, the vast majority of voters in Crimea supported Ukraine’s independence in 1991.

Sample #2: Treating Ukraine as an American pawn on a geo-political chessboard

Whether or not willingly or unwillingly, your interviews insinuate that Ukrainians are preventing with Russians as a result of the U.S. instigated them to take action, that Euromaidan occurred as a result of the U.S. tried to detach Ukraine from the Russian sphere of affect, and many others. Such an angle denies the company of Ukraine and is a slap within the face to thousands and thousands of Ukrainians who’re risking their lives for the will to dwell in a free nation. Merely put, have you ever thought-about the likelihood that Ukrainians want to detach from the Russian sphere of affect because of a history of genocide, cultural oppression, and fixed denial of the suitable to self-determination?

Sample #3. Suggesting that Russia was threatened by NATO

In your interviews, you’re wanting to carry up the alleged promise by [US Secretary of State] James Baker and President George H.W. Bush to Gorbachev that, if he agreed to permit a unified Germany to rejoin NATO, the U.S. would be sure that NATO would transfer ‘not one inch eastward.’ First, please notice that the historicity of this promise is highly contested amongst students, though Russia has been energetic in selling it. The premise is that NATO’s eastward growth left Putin with no different alternative however to assault. However the actuality is completely different. Jap European states joined, and Ukraine and Georgia aspired to affix NATO, so as to defend themselves from Russian imperialism. They have been proper of their aspirations, provided that Russia did assault Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. Furthermore, present requests by Finland and Sweden to affix NATO got here in direct response to  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in keeping with NATO growth being a consequence of Russian imperialism, and never vice versa.

As well as, we disagree with the notion that sovereign nations shouldn’t be making alliances based mostly on the desire of their folks due to disputed verbal guarantees made by James Baker and George H.W. Bush to Gorbachev.

Sample #4. Stating that the U.S. isn’t any higher than Russia

Whilst you admittedly name the Russian invasion of Ukraine a “warfare crime,” it seems to us that you just can not accomplish that with out naming in the identical breath the entire previous atrocities dedicated by the U.S. overseas (e.g., in Iraq or Afghanistan) and, finally, spending most of your time discussing the latter. As economists, we’re not ready to appropriate your historic metaphors and, for sure, we condemn the unjustified killings of civilians by any energy up to now. Nevertheless, not bringing Putin up on warfare crime expenses on the Worldwide Felony Courtroom within the Hague simply because some previous chief didn’t obtain comparable remedy could be the flawed conclusion to attract from any historic analogy. In distinction, we argue that prosecuting Putin for the warfare crimes which can be being intentionally dedicated in Ukraine would set a global precedent for the world leaders making an attempt to do the identical sooner or later.

Sample #5. Whitewashing Putin’s objectives for invading Ukraine

In your interviews, you go to nice lengths to rationalize Putin’s objectives of “demilitarization” and “neutralization” of Ukraine. Please notice that, in his TV address from February 24, 2022, marking the start of the warfare, the verbatim objective declared by Putin for this “navy operation” is to “denazify” Ukraine. This idea builds on his lengthy pseudo-historical article from July 2021, denying Ukraine’s existence and claiming that Ukrainians weren’t a nation. As elaborated within the ‘denazification manual’ printed by the Russian official press company RIA Novosti, a “Nazi” is just a human being who self-identifies as Ukrainian, the institution of a Ukrainian state thirty years in the past was the “Nazification of Ukraine,” and any try and construct such a state must be a “Nazi” act. In accordance with this genocide handbook, denazification implies a navy defeat, purging, and population-level “re-education”. ‘Demilitarization’ and ‘neutralization’ suggest the identical objective – with out weapons Ukraine won’t be able to defend itself, and Russia will attain its long-term goal of destroying Ukraine.

Sample #6. Assuming that Putin is all for a diplomatic answer

All of us very a lot hoped for a cease-fire and a negotiated settlement, which might have saved many human lives. But, we discover it preposterous the way you repeatedly assign the blame for not reaching this settlement to Ukraine (for not providing Putin some “escape hatch”) or the U.S. (for supposedly insisting on the navy quite than diplomatic answer) as a substitute of the particular aggressor, who has repeatedly and deliberately bombed civilians, maternity wards, hospitals, and humanitarian corridors throughout these very “negotiations”. Given the escalatory rhetoric (cited above) of the Russian state media, Russia’s objective is erasure and subjugation of Ukraine, not a “diplomatic answer.”

Sample #7. Advocating that yielding to Russian calls for is the best way to avert the nuclear warfare

Because the Russian invasion, Ukraine lives in a relentless nuclear menace, not simply because of being a main goal for Russian nuclear missiles but additionally as a result of Russian occupation of Ukrainian nuclear energy crops.

However what are the alternate options to preventing for freedom? Unconditional give up after which elimination of Ukrainians off the face of the Earth (see above)? Have you ever ever puzzled why President Zelenskyy, with the overwhelming assist of the Ukrainian folks, is pleading with Western leaders to supply heavy weapons regardless of the potential menace of nuclear escalation? The reply to this query will not be “Due to Uncle Sam”, however quite because of the truth that Russian warfare crimes in Bucha and lots of different Ukrainian cities and villages have proven that dwelling beneath Russian occupation is a tangible “hell on earth” taking place proper now, requiring quick motion.

Arguably, any concessions to Russia won’t scale back the chance of a nuclear warfare however result in escalation. If Ukraine falls, Russia could assault different nations (Moldova, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Finland or Sweden) and also can use its nuclear blackmail to push the remainder of Europe into submission. And Russia will not be the one nuclear energy on the earth. Different nations, akin to China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea are watching. Simply think about what’s going to occur in the event that they be taught that nuclear powers can get no matter they need utilizing nuclear blackmail.

Professor Chomsky, we hope you’ll think about the info and re-evaluate your conclusions. Should you actually worth Ukrainian lives as you declare to, we want to kindly ask you to chorus from including additional gas to the Russian warfare machine by spreading views very a lot akin to Russian propaganda.

Do you have to want to interact additional on any of the above-mentioned factors, we’re all the time open to dialogue.

Form regards,

Bohdan Kukharskyy, Metropolis College of New York

Anastassia Fedyk, College of California, Berkeley

Yuriy Gorodnichenko, College of California, Berkeley

Ilona Sologoub, VoxUkraine NGO