Open Letter to Noam Chomsky (and different like-minded intellectuals) on the Russia-Ukraine battle • The Berkeley Weblog


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

Pricey Professor Chomsky,

We’re a gaggle of Ukrainian educational economists who had been grieved by a sequence of your latest interviews and commentaries on the Russian battle 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 house nation.

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

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

Having familiarized ourselves with the physique 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 transient response:

Sample #1: Denying Ukraine’s sovereign integrity

In your interview to Jeremy Scahill at The Intercept from April 14, 2022 you claimed: “The actual fact of the matter is Crimea is off the desk. We might 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, in response to the order of the UN Worldwide Court docket of Justice, it violated the worldwide legislation.

Second, “Crimeans” just isn’t an ethnicity or a cohesive group of individuals – however Crimean Tatars are. These are the indigenous folks of Crimea, who had been deported by Stalin in 1944 (and had been capable of come again house solely after the united states fell aside), and had been compelled to flee once more in 2014 when Russia occupied Crimea. Of those that stayed, dozens have been persecuted, jailed on false costs and lacking, most likely lifeless.

Third, if by ‘liking’ you consult with the end result of the Crimean “referendum” on March 16, 2014, please observe that this “referendum” was held at gunpoint and declared invalid by the Common Meeting of the United Nations. On the similar 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 combating 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 so on. Such an perspective denies the company of Ukraine and is a slap within the face to tens of millions of Ukrainians who’re risking their lives for the need to dwell in a free nation. Merely put, have you ever thought of the likelihood that Ukrainians want to detach from the Russian sphere of affect resulting from a historical past of genocide, cultural oppression, and fixed denial of the precise 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 make sure that NATO would transfer ‘not one inch eastward.’ First, please observe that the historicity of this promise is extremely contested amongst students, though Russia has been lively in selling it. The premise is that NATO’s eastward growth left Putin with no different selection however to assault. However the actuality is totally different. Jap European states joined, and Ukraine and Georgia aspired to affix NATO, as a way to defend themselves from Russian imperialism. They had been proper of their aspirations, on condition 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 primarily based 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 “battle crime,” it seems to us that you simply can’t achieve this with out naming in the identical breath all the previous atrocities dedicated by the U.S. overseas (e.g., in Iraq or Afghanistan) and, in the end, spending most of your time discussing the latter. As economists, we’re not ready to right your historic metaphors and, for sure, we condemn the unjustified killings of civilians by any energy up to now. Nonetheless, not bringing Putin up on battle crime costs on the Worldwide Felony Court docket within the Hague simply because some previous chief didn’t obtain comparable therapy can be the fallacious conclusion to attract from any historic analogy. In distinction, we argue that prosecuting Putin for the battle crimes which might be being intentionally dedicated in Ukraine would set a world precedent for the world leaders making an attempt to do the identical sooner or later.

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

In your interviews, you go to nice lengths to rationalize Putin’s targets of “demilitarization” and “neutralization” of Ukraine. Please observe that, in his TV tackle from February 24, 2022, marking the start of the battle, the verbatim objective declared by Putin for this “army 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 handbook’ printed by the Russian official press company RIA Novosti, a “Nazi” is solely 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 response to this genocide handbook, denazification implies a army 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 objective of destroying Ukraine.

Sample #6. Assuming that Putin is concerned about 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 army quite than diplomatic answer) as an alternative 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 way in which to avert the nuclear battle

Because the Russian invasion, Ukraine lives in a continuing nuclear risk, not simply resulting from being a primary goal for Russian nuclear missiles but in addition as a result of Russian occupation of Ukrainian nuclear energy vegetation.

However what are the alternate options to combating for freedom? Unconditional give up after which elimination of Ukrainians off the face of the Earth (see above)? Have you ever ever questioned why President Zelenskyy, with the overwhelming assist of the Ukrainian folks, is pleading with Western leaders to offer heavy weapons regardless of the potential risk of nuclear escalation? The reply to this query just isn’t “Due to Uncle Sam”, however quite resulting from the truth that Russian battle crimes in Bucha and lots of different Ukrainian cities and villages have proven that residing below Russian occupation is a tangible “hell on earth” taking place proper now, requiring fast motion.

Arguably, any concessions to Russia won’t scale back the likelihood of a nuclear battle however result in escalation. If Ukraine falls, Russia might assault different international locations (Moldova, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Finland or Sweden) and may also use its nuclear blackmail to push the remainder of Europe into submission. And Russia just isn’t the one nuclear energy on this planet. Different international locations, comparable 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 contemplate the info and re-evaluate your conclusions. In the event you really worth Ukrainian lives as you declare to, we want to kindly ask you to chorus from including additional gas to the Russian battle machine by spreading views very a lot akin to Russian propaganda.

Must you want to interact additional on any of the above-mentioned factors, we’re at all times open to dialogue.

Variety regards,

Bohdan Kukharskyy, Metropolis College of New York

Anastassia Fedyk, College of California, Berkeley

Yuriy Gorodnichenko, College of California, Berkeley

Ilona Sologoub, VoxUkraine NGO



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