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The risks of the war in Ukraine

How America’s current leadership is leading the world into a slippery slope towards nuclear war

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | The war between Russia and Ukraine has brought important insights. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the U.S. has become a bull in a China shop. Rather than be moderated, humbled and tamed by its victory in the Cold War, America has grown arrogant, belligerent and bellicose. Today, it stands as the biggest threat to world peace. What America’s post-Cold War behavior teaches us are the lessons enshrined in its’s own founding philosophy – the danger of unrestrained power.

The founding fathers of the USA were afraid of power concentrated in one person. They designed a constitutional mechanism that threw many obstacles in the way of any leader. These checks and balances did not stop the U.S. from enslaving its black population or exterminating Native Americans.  On the contrary it facilitated these evils. The critical point, however, is that these evils were embedded in society, the state only reflecting existing societal realities. However, they did stop any single president from exercising the kind of tyrannical power a Stalin or Hitler did.

I have spent a lot of my time on this planet reading international politics; especially great power politics. My dad introduced me to this intellectually stimulating area of study when I was only 16 years old. He gave me a book written by Robert Kennedy titled The 13 Days about the Cuban Missile Crisis and asked me to read it. Like every book he asked me to read when I was young, he would then ask me what it was about and the lesson I drew from it. The book rivaled some of the best thrillers by Robert Ludlum, Fredrick Forsyth and Jack Higgins that I had read in terms of intensity. It led me to a life-long interest in world peace.

Over the years, I have read, viewed and listened to everything on the Cuba Missile Crisis that I ever got my eyes and hands onto. This crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. Had either U.S. President John Kennedy or Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev not exercised a high degree of restraint, America, the USSR and Europe would have been destroyed. The lessons drawn from this crisis are critical for world peace.

One such lesson, common with the realist school, is that nations have core or vital interests – and they will go to great length to defend them. Kennedy learnt that neither super power should challenge the other in its area of core or vital interest. Every subsequent U.S. president till Bill Clinton took this lesson to heart. That is why the U.S. and the USSR fought wars in peripheral parts of the world, not in those theatres where either had a core/vital interest. The reason for this is simple: war is cloudy; any small mis-judgement, miscalculation, miscommunication or mistake can be catastrophic.

One needs to read Barbara Tuchman’s majestic book, The Guns of August, and Christopher Clark’s classic, Sleepwalkers; How Europe Went to War in 1914 to see my point. Both books demonstrate with incredible insight how a series of miscommunications, miscalculations and mistakes drove European powers into World War One. And the danger of war is that it is rare to predict the outcome. None of the powers that began this war won. The German, Austrian, Russian and Ottoman empires collapsed as a result of this war. Britain and France emerged from the war ravaged, weakened, exhausted and bankrupt, too timid later to stop the raise of Hitler.

From the news (largely from Western sources), the Russian army has encountered stiff and unexpected resistance from the Ukrainians. One reason for this is obviously the continuous and massive supply of arms and other sophisticated military equipment from the West. Some (again Western) intelligence sources say that one reason Russia has lost many generals is because of the drones supplied to Ukraine by the USA. The same applies to the sinking of the Russian warship in the black sea.

Reading the celebratory tones in Western media about these Russian losses is both depressing and scaring. Any serious person should know that Russia cannot afford to lose in Ukraine. If anyone expects Moscow to accept a humiliating retreat from Ukraine, they must be deluded. Ukraine is too close to Russia for Moscow to withdraw in defeat. It has to win in Ukraine. Ukraine is of vital interest to Russia, not USA. So Western powers should not escalate the war to achieve an impossible Ukrainian victory but use their influence to make Kiev negotiate a peace with Moscow.

Again, whatever terms of that peace, Ukraine, as the legendary Henry Kissinger has argued, has to accept some loss of territory, which is sad and depressing, but which is the best solution. Continuing to supply arms to Ukraine to prolong this war in the hope of a Russian defeat is a dangerous idea. Even if it worked, proving that I was wrong in my predictions, I would still argue that it is too dangerous a risk for Europe and the world to take.

President Joe Biden, his advisors and the leaders of America’s satellite states in Western Europe should be able to see this. If Russia feels it was losing, it may be forced to escalate the war. One way would be to deploy low yield tactical nuclear weapons – exactly what America did to Japan when its expected casualty rate was going to be high. If Russia is forced onto such a desperate measure, Kiev’s allies must think deeply about its implications on the Ukrainian people. Entire cities and populations would be incinerated.

So, if Moscow employed nuclear weapons to retrieve a lost war, what would be the response of the U.S. and her allies? Would they retaliate with nuclear attack on Russia? If they did, what would be Moscow’s response? Russia would respond with the full might of its nuclear capabilities and raze down America and Europe. Of course, Russia itself would be destroyed by the USA, UK and France. Some countries would realise that the security they seek in NATO is a delusion. NATO would have only saved them from an unlikely Russian occupation (and keeping their populations alive) only to draw them into inevitable nuclear annihilation.

We go back to the lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis. In a speech at the American University in 1963, Kennedy reflected on the lessons he learnt from that crisis. He said, I paraphrase: we must avoid those confrontations that force our adversaries into a binary choice to either accept a humiliating defeat or nuclear war.



  1. Mr Russian Propagandist and American hater Mwenda at it again.

    Mwenda – you are so biased in all your articles. I wish you could be objective [ but most of it is because you do not do your research thoroughly. ]

    When it comes to America and Russia both as bad as each other. They both through their Nuclear power strength around.[ In the mix in a few years time is China]. But of those two evils, I would rather have the human face bullying of United States of America.

    Start with America – She has directly invaded countries like Iraq, Panama , Afghanistan . She/he wanted a change of leadership in those countries. She/he cannot be excused because he interfered in sovereign and independent states.

    Russia has got involved in War in Syria and invaded , Georgia , Moldova and Ukraine. This is after a number of international agreements of which Russia was a signatory .e.g. The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances of 1994 and the Minsk Agreement of 2014.

    Russia invaded a sovereign and independent country that he had promised to protect (in the agreements above). No excuse can be given for his actions by Mwenda and the Kremlin Propaganda machine. For instance one of the excuses given was that Ukraine wanted to be a member of NATO, Ukraine applied to be a member of NATO in 2008 and in 2010 withdrew the application and gave a pledge that for the sake of security in the region , she was never going to be a NATO member. So that excuses among others is debunked and other can be easily debunked if Mwenda did his homework well instead of spreading falsehoods and being a Kremlin mouth piece regarding this war. Russia invaded, has plundered , raped women , killed thousands if not tens of thousands ; forced civilians from Ukraine into concentration camps to cold and freezing Siberia ; razed cities, town and peoples homes to the ground….. all because it is a superpower with nuclear weapons.

    This is not the first time he has done this – did the same in Georgia and Moldova.

    So Mwenda supports Kissinger’s analysis that a big and powerful country should invade another country and grab land and be allowed to do so by the international community ?? Help me understand this. Amin tried it in 1977 with TZ [ took Kagera basin]and was thoroughly condemned and when TZ defended itself against this aggression the world supported her. Regardless of Nuclear weapons involved, no country should be allowed to violate the boundaries of another country .

    Back to America , they invaded the countries mentioned above but did not cause the damage we see in Ukraine that Russia is causing nor did America want a land and resources grab.

    If what Kissinger and Mwenda are advocating was acceptable we may as well allow the world to be physically and violently carved up between Russia and America

  2. @ Jack Pinto. You start from a wrong premise by alleging that Mwenda is so biased in all his articles. In all fairness, your claim wrong, can’t stand and you know it. Some of Mwenda’s articles are biased, but some are really well balanced, analytical and accurate. You also seem not to know much about Russia-Ukraine geopolitical and strategic issues; and the USA. I suggest you do some extensive reading from balanced peer reviewed sources and reports to learn more about the formation and political background of the Eastern European countries that you highlighted above. Moving to the USA, just for your information, USA was formed by grabbing and annexing land/territories from her neighbors. Cheap point, not to imply or provide that Russia should grab, but merely to counter Pintos wrong claim that USA has never grabbed any territory.

    • @’Dick , I wish you could come with evidence to support your response. Give me and Mwenda’s readers which article he has written that is not biased, contradictory or not fully researched. Whenever I have responded to Mwenda’s Articles I have given reasons and evidence to support my argument.

      When it comes to Uganda, he now writes in complete support of the corrupt and oppressive regime of Yoweri Tibahaburwa M7 because his sister and brother hold high positions in the government and Army.
      If not biased , he is contradictory depending on what political agenda he is advancing. For instance In 2009 he wrote predicting the Rwakitura Dynasty and how M7 planned to relinquish power to his son Muhoozi . He condemned this Unconstitutional manoeuvring. Then of recent, he has been advocating for a Muhozi takeover/ Succession. He is even recognised by Muhozi as the leader of his takeover Movement.

      I can give you many examples of his biasness , contradictions , not fully- researched articles and political agendas
      2- Also educate me and others about Russia-Ukraine and USA geo Political Issues. You do not help yourself by just telling someone who have made points in his argument that he/she needs to go and read further on the subject. Tell me what you know.

      I will assist you with what I know and not just following TASS and Sputnik [ Russian News media that Mwenda follows] . Ukraine got independence 1991. It had the 3rd largest nuclear Arsenal stockpile . In 1994, Russia, America and Britain [ the last two representing NATO ] signed a memorandum/agreement [ BUDAPEST MEMORANDUM] , whereby Ukraine gave up its arsenal to Russia and the three agreed to be guarantors of Ukraine’s security , safety and borders. USA and Britain started training and arming Ukraine army in the spirit of that Agreement while Russia in 2014 attacked Ukraine and annexed her territory – Crimea and parts of Donbas Areas . in same year Russia signed another international Agreement – Minsk Agreement whereby he undertook not to invade Ukraine again ….. In 2022 He invades again under pretext of NATO forces etc…. Ukraine is not a member of NATO …… Prior to that in various comments Putin said that Ukraine is an artificial country / it is part of Russia. He refused to recognise it. [ Read between the lines about the reason of the current War and apportion blame objectively. Dont parrot what you hear from others and from Mwenda.

  3. One of Putin’s stated war aims is the ‘liberation’ of the Donbas region from the Ukrainian fascists/nationalists. The scortched-earth method of bombing everyone and everything in front of the Russian army is perhaps highest level of liberation anybody should ever wish for. It is like setting a neighbor’s car on fire so that you eventually own the ashen remains. That is liberation Russian style. People like Mwenda will blame that on the Americans as well.

  4. 1.The cowardly war tactics that Putin is using against Ukraine is a clear sign that he is just embarrassed.How do you bomb hospitals?There is provision of chivalry during war.
    2.Where does all the oil from Africa,Canada and the Arab world go?
    3,Is there a conspiracy by other nations to fool the World into believing that Russia is responsible for the world food and fuel crisis?
    4.Is the World so afraid of dealing with a mad man like Putin in that all superpowers are not coming out openly to condemn him?
    5. Why is China,S.Africa ,Japan,South Korea,Germany silent in this war?
    6.Basing on the pictures we see on International media;What is still left in Ukraine?
    7. Russia and Ukraine are neighbours for ever how will they reconcile?
    8.The abnormal loud silence by the super powers has been the greatest war tactic in that it has left Russia guessing and confused.
    9.COVID 19 is solely responsible for the world fuel crisis but not the war in Ukraine .I actually think that the oil companies have doubled their prices so that we pay for the fuel we did not consume during the lock down.
    10.So there is no middle ground in this war?no attempts of serious mediation have been made;no superpower seems to own the war?This s the most confused war ever fought on earth.
    11.The sovereignty of all the nations in Eastern Europe seems to be at the mercy of Russia;look at the Crimea war,the Massacres in Cezch and Yugoslavia.
    12.USA should also be a little shy when it comes to meddling in the affairs of other nations,For example her immediate neighbors like Jamaica and Haiti are in a mess.

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