Open Letter to Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky

Dear Mr. Zelensky

I am not in the habit of writing letters, especially to the heads of states like yourself. But seeing your country plundered and your people suffering as victims of a war have stirred a mixture of emotions in me that is no longer tolerable. Every morning, I wake up in anticipation which immediately turns into deep outrage and dread. I must admit, I can easily suffer each emotion by itself, it is their mixture that is doing me in. Let me explain.

Knowing your background as a comedian, every morning I wake up in anticipation that I am to see you on one of those handmade videos of yours, announcing to the world in relief and a mischievous smile, that you were just kidding about joining the NATO. And that the whole world including Mr. Putin and Mr. Biden just didn’t get the humor in it.

For whom else but a comedian, or a fanatic ideologue, would take such a mis-step in managing the affairs of his state and the people in his charge. Who would in all seriousness, subject his country to a certain losing battle with a powerful neighbor by proposing to join a military alliance that is formed to contain and confront that neighbor?

You are the head of the poorest country in the European continent both in terms of GDP and GNI, according to the World Population Review.  And, according to the Council of Europe, in 2017, Ukraine was the most corrupt country in Europe, after Russia. This abysmal standing has not improved by much as of 2021, according to the Transparency International. Now, if the war between your two corrupt nations spills over to the world stage, I’m sure you, as a comedian, would appreciate the historic proportion of its irony.

I am sure you are to tell me that you live in a bad neighborhood, and that living next to an expansionist bully is not as easy as it seems. Ask Palestinians, Mexico, or the old Iran living next to Tsar of Russia. In just two short wars between the years of 1804 to 1828, Persian Empire forever lost Georgia, Nakhichevan, Dagestan, Armenia, and a great portion of Azerbaijan to Russia.

Of course, I understand. But I think the element of bad luck is not so much spatial but temporal.  See for example the faith of Native Americans and the Aborigines of Canada and Australia who couldn’t be farthest removed from the colonial Europeans of the time. I know that you might not be interested in a history lesson at this time, but the point is that the art of politics becomes all the more important in a bad neighborhood.

Going into a definite war with a powerful neighbor in a vague hope that joining into a military alliance with some other powerful countries might protect you against the future evil acts of your neighbor, is neither about a bad neighborhood nor a curse of time. It is about a terrible decision.

Let me just be blunt Mr. Zelensky. Everyone will win in this war except you and the Ukrainian people.

Mr. Biden got his sagging popularity up, at least momentarily, after the utter failure of his domestic agenda. The meek president at home, whose entire program was held hostage by two representative of his own party in the US senate, is now able to act as a combatant ruler in the world stage, albeit with a borrowed money, The US got its fix for its addiction to the profits of the War games, barely three months after its withdrawal from Afghanistan. Mr. Schumer and Ms. Nancy Pelosi eventually served their revenge to Russia for its interference in the 2016 US election in favor of Trump. The US military industries began selling arms to Europe in earnest after militarizing the Middle East to its teeth. NATO got its prestige and recognition back, after Mr. Trump trashed it for four years. Mr. Putin will get most his demands met one way or another. Besides emerging as a king maker, China will buy into Russia’s strategic oil, metal, and mineral industries for penny on a dollar. Its currency will gain even further recognition against the US dollar which has become a political vehicle instead of a fair international exchange tool. Even Madura of Venezuela will eventually be recognized as a president by the US, after his people did so in 2013. JCPOA will eventually be ratified in a hurry to allow the flow of the Iranian oil to the world markets to replace the sanctioned Russian oil. And to pave the way for this transaction, the Iranian people eventually received their $530 Million dollars back from the British after close to 50 years. In its perfect colonial tradition, England reneged on a deal that was signed with the deposed Shah of Iran some 50 years ago and kept the money through a shell game as a sort of a non-interest-bearing bond, or a ransom, depending whose newspaper you read. I even heard today that the butchers of Arabia are getting their Patriot missiles as an apology from Biden for not doing the War Dance with them and for not touching their Orb. Indeed, hunger for oil does wonders.

I know you are about to say if there are so many winners, there ought to be more losers other than just Ukrainian people. I agree. And that brings me to the outrage.

Yes, the Russian billionaires’ toy yachts and other assets were first to be taken away. Let that be a lesson to all oligarchs in the world: you can have all the toys you want as long as your boss submits to the world order designed by Washington. You can get to play with them anywhere in the world no matter who you are and by what ill means you’ve gotten those billions. Just have your dictator fall in line.

The discourse of War and the lexicon of its reporting has changed overnight. Which frankly, Mr. Zelensky, it is very confusing. From marveling in the infinite wisdom of Colonel Powel’s doctrine of using overwhelming force in the war theatre (by the powerful), our media pundits are now suddenly carping about the use of excessive force by the Russians.  From continuous maligning of any act of resistance in the Arab lands, whether it was mounted against the US occupation, or launched against the everlasting Israeli land grab, we are suddenly told resistance against power is an act of heroism. Wolfowitz and the neocons’ pipe dream of the genocidal “nation building” project, which effectively was meant to destroy nations to their cultural foundation by the corporate-military means and then rebuild it in the image of some Harvard graduate, is now transmuted to the sacred sovereignty and independence of the nations and the right of the people to choose their own destiny. Rumsfeld’s proud declaration that the attack in Iraq will “shock and awe” the world, is now morphed into the evils of Russian air superiority. 

The Western media is intent on monopolizing the war narrative by all means necessary. For example, the National Public Radio on its All Things Considered, 13th of March 2022, tried to shine a friendlier light on Ukraine’s bloody history by whitewashing its horrifying crimes against the Jewish people in the early part of the last century. Interviewing a podcaster who had traveled to Ukraine to find a couple who helped his Jewish grandparents scape the atrocities of antisemites in Ukraine, the program culminates in a patronizing wisdom that there were some good people in Ukraine during those massacres. As if, that were in any doubt. Facts, however are stubborn things, as it is said. In his introduction to The Pogroms in Ukraine, 1918–19; Prelude to the Holocaust, by Nokhem Shtif, Maurice Wolfthal, claims that between the years 1918 and 1919 some 1200 pogroms occurred in Ukraine, which resulted in the systematic killings of tens of thousands of innocent Jews. see here, page 2.

The jump on the price of oil and many other commodities, including the essential food items like wheat, is bound to bring misery and possible huger to the poor nations and their vulnerable populations, see the Global Citizen. So, say goodbye to General Sisi of Egypt and the company, as another “Arab Spring” is due to blossom as a result of the scarcity of the goods.

Now that we are saying our goodbyes, we might as well say goodbye to the free press and independent thinking again. Granted, this is not like the Iraq war where media members were completely in bed, sorry, I meant to say imbedded, with the military for the fear of their lives. But nevertheless, right in the first few days of Russian invasion, both the United States and Russia came down very hard on each other’s media outlets and censored the social media platforms as much as they could under the pretext of dispersion of fake news. And the more the big powers become belligerent towards each other, the more corporate media will feel obliged to wrap itself in the flag.

So, you see Mr. Zelensky, your decision to be the last link in closing the NATO’s semi-circle wall around Russia from the European front, has disturbed the relative calm that was to descend on the world and the US after its bloody and historical slaughters in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan that indeed “Shocked and Awed” the conscience of all peace-loving citizen of the world. 

And this brings me to the feeling of dread.

Now, I am sure you are about to ask me that if your case is such a lost cause, why then you are receiving such a unanimous praise from so many politicians and the media; standing ovation from the British parliament the likes of which even Mahatma Gandhi didn’t see; zoom meetings with the members of US congress; expressions of affection in the Doha gathering and all European heads of states; a non-stop praise of your courage by the bored retired generals of NATO. CNN can’t have enough of you. NY Times, Washington Post, even NPR, all have put their full faith and weight behind your dangerous undertaking. Indeed, from the unanimity of voices from the media, the establishment politicians, and the US military, one can get the same eerie feeling that was so pervasive leading to the Iraq’s disastrous invasion under a false pretext. This time, sleepwalking America into an unnecessary cold war with a corrupt second rate capitalist nation that could have easily been brought into the fold; allowing the US to manage its relationship and profit from it as it does with many other corrupt capitalist nations from Philippines to Guatemala.

Indeed, the few lone voices in the US congress against your scheme are squarely suppressed by the media, and you hardly see or read the real reason behind their opposition to the fanning of the flames by the Biden administration. This unanimous consent seems to have three components to it. The first two are specific to the US enthusiasm and the third is more universal.

1) Revenging Russia’s interference

Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election and Trump’s friendly disposition towards Putin throughout his Presidency have caused tremendous ill-will in the US, from halls of congress to other branches of government, to many corporations, and media.  They all felt diminished and harbored a deep scorn towards Russia. And now, it is time for a revenge.

2) Nostalgia

Don’t quote me on this, but I think the desire of Americans to have a unified and therefore a functional government has led them to some form of nostalgia for the old cold war era where they were unified around a single narrative. We were all Americans then; we were all good and Russia was bad. We were all capitalists then; we were all good and Russia was bad, a socialist, whatever it meant. Very bad. So, we lived in harmony and discarded socialists wherever we found them, from Vietnam to South America to Hollywood. We were one nation under God, and we acted like one. Everybody was or had to be a part of the single holy entity; a concoction of Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney with 10% Biden. No irreconcilable divisions like today’s. No social democrats or QAnons in congress, no Obama, no Black Lives Matter, no fuss about minority right, no fuss about LGBTQ, no fuss about anything.

3) Inhumanity Fatigue

And this feeling applies to us all. For how long can the conscience of the world watch Abu Ghraib torture chambers, Black Water mercenaries and say nothing? For how long did the world had to watch soldiers knocking down doors of people’s homes, find out about illegal prisons sites, endless Guantanamo Bay prisons and say nothing? Since it began counting, The Bureau of Journalism, has identified at least14,040 drone attacks by the US, resulting in thousands of extra judicial causalities of which between 283 to 454 are children. For how long can one witness the destruction of village after village, bombing after bombing of  weddings in Afghanistan on the vague suspicions of a tall man attending, the height of the mass murderer Bin Laden, without becoming numb to its own humanity?

Yes, Mr. Zelensky, I believe our silence in the face of so much injustice in a unipolar world is what has rallied so many towards your cause. If you cannot fight the big bully, defy the lesser one. Find your cause in beating on it as hard as you can so you can feel your humanity again. The world wholeheartedly rallied around you, not to save Ukraine rather to feel moral and to gain its conscience again.  You had other choices than the path of war. Your neighbor Belarus, Russia’s mindless and steadfast ally, enjoys almost twice your county’s GDP with somewhat less corruption. You could have remained neutral and chosen neither Russian alliance nor NATO’s. You could have declared a Switzerland-like status for Ukraine.

By now, it must be clear to you that neither Europe nor NATO wants you. Your deprived country is a liability to the calculating West, but your innocence is profitable.

If you will insist on this path, and it is then that the comedian in you has transgressed into the tragic.

Behrooz Ghorbanian

One Reply to “Open Letter to Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky”

  1. The best analysis ever.
    So complete.
    It’s like a magical mind behind this writing remembering the most recent disasters of the world caused by all these war mongers.

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