On the war in Ukraine

Power play in Ukraine War

I have no dog in this fight, for the moment, except for the fact that 2 of my friends are stuck in Kyiv. I hope they remain safe. The above article puts most of the responsibility for the war on NATO, EU expansion and US foreign policy. Since I am not a student of Int’l politics or foreign policy, I let those more knowledgeable to comment and share their views.

As for me, I hope the war ends soon with no much further loss of life.

How will war end?

We are back again to this question now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, and for the time being, Abiy’s war in Ethiopia is momentarily forgotten, how will war end?

I accept to be called naive with respect to war but I must ask, what is it about soldiers that makes them religiously obedient? What is it about rapine others who have done them no harm propels them to action? Is the promise of a medal should they die on battle so tempting that all commonsense goes out of their ears?

Now, someone will remind me, as often as they have, that I sleep peacefully at night because of the soldiers. Well, I pay them as a start. Secondly it’s unlikely that my neighbours would want to attack me at the scale possible only with an organised state or non state actor. Which, I think, makes their point a moot one.

I have two friends in Kyiv and for the moment they are safe. And I hope it remains that way for long.

Now is an opportune moment to ask if there’s a just war? I am tempted to say that the Ukrainians have every right to defend themselves against an aggressive neighbour who threatens their existence as a sovereign state, in fact to use whatever is in their power to do so whilst every avenue is sought to bring hostilities to an end.

To peace.

There was never a country

In the past, in this country, we have had a parliament that at least, in perception, had a functioning parliament. Many times they wouldn’t be successful in challenging the government position but they did attempt to. In those days, we had an official opposition party and a back bench. Then Kibaki came, stole elections and that was the end of active check of government in Kenya by parliament.

When Uhuru got elected by 93% and Raila got sworn in as the people’s president and shortly after, was bought by Uhuru, the government has been free to do as it pleases. And recall, most of the sitting MPs are what we call vifaranga vya komputa– computer generated MPs- for those who don’t understand my French. These crop of legislators owe only computers their allegiance and no one else. The country has in the mean time gotten worse as a bandit state.

in the days of yore, people would disappear but mostly at night and be accused of subversion by the Moi government or they would be involved in some gruesome accident with a tractor or some other such contraption. Not anymore. The current government lays siege to your house without shame and no one representative of this poor constituent raises a voice.

Then there are the cases of people who are found in sacks floating around rivers or in forests. And many other such banditry. It’s crazy when you think about it, really. The question one want to ask, is, how sick is this society that we live in? And how callous are the people who do these things?

And these same people want our votes.

at times like this when I can’t brain

I think about some of the paradoxes in life. Recently someone went to court here and the court ruled in his/their (i am not sure if it was one or many persons) favour that it is to ask for too much to expect that the MCA (member county assembly) should have a degree. But then it occurred to me that it is only in politics that we really don’t care whether our representatives are educated or have anything to offer as long as they can convince us to Q in the sun and cast votes in their favour.

Politics also looks to me to be the best job if you want to live long. There is no mandatory retirement age. The only way to not be in office is to be voted out by a guy more charismatic than yourself, or rich ( can get funding), or can rig the elections in their favour if you live in some of the countries I know where Lenin or was it Stalin who said the most important person is not the person who votes but the person who counts the votes.

But maybe in making laws or in determining how resources are shared, we don’t need the best brains, just anyone can do. And this being the case, we should not complain about bad governance. As Carlin used to say and Brian reminds me all the time, we get the politicians we deserve except where the CIA installs stooges or where the army takes charge like in Mali and Sudan recently claiming the civilian government has failed in their mandates.

In another post on this blog, I did write in agreement with an author (I can’t be bothered to check) that Plato’s Republic with the philosopher king is not democratic. It is elitist and based on the whims of the philosopher. There is no way to check the powers of the king. It does not encourage free inquiry, and unlike the land of the free (The Uneducated States of A) has barriers to progress. One is almost always destined to remain in the state they were born.

But maybe I have got all this politics wrong.

Pandora papers and a media that is asleep

The case of Kenya.

Now, unless you are Ark, you probably have heard about the recent leak dubbed by the ICIJ as the Pandora Papers concerning money kept in offshore accounts by some elites from different countries.

Of interest to me in this matter is that the family that has been at the centre of looting this country for a combined duration of more than 50 years has been named as in the leak as having some dosh stashed in an offshore account. This could not by itself be illegal but raises a lot of many questions such as source of funds, was tax paid on them, how much more is the first family and other families hiding in a country impoverished by mismanagement of public goods.

The two bodies that would be asking questions about this matter are asleep. The main stream media feeds us political gossip. Parliament is useless. I can understand why parliament is unable to function. Half of them or more, if the questions raised during the presidential election petition are computer chicks- vifaranga vya kompyuta- as we say here. They owe allegiance to computer algorithm not the constituency of humans they represent.

The media is owned by these oligarchs and do not want to lose advertising money from the government of the day by appearing to be independent. Or critical. The only recourse is to read what independent journalists write but these do not have a wide reach and so such serious matter dies without raising eyebrows in a country people plagued by poverty,unemployment and unequal access to resources.

Maybe some day we will get to the bottom of the systematic rapine of the country by successive regimes and recover stolen loots even if it takes 100 years to do it. It will have to be done.

Until then, we wait.

who died and made you king

Yes, I know there is a song and even the meeting of the sentence but i just think it is an appropriate heading for what is to come next. Yesterday i was reading this post where I think the suggestions made were way reasonable. That America should focus on peaceful means and all until our resident defender of western values showed up to inform us that is idle talk, dreams of 12 year olds, so to speak. The military industrial complex and the emperor must all be appeased and pursuing peaceful coexistence through trade and cultural exchange and limiting the military to national defence and maybe international peacekeeping missions with other nations.

Maybe I am missing something since I live so far removed from the military or its workings that maybe it is important to have military outposts in every other country, occasionally have your spy agency overthrow democratically elected presidents and have drone assassinations miles away from home where children caught in the crossfire are collateral damage (what were they doing there, playing? Don’t know there are drones overhead?).

Tell me what you all think? William Astore or Tildeb?

Could this be the reason

Trump wanted NATO members to increase their military spending?

As far as most of Nato’s European members who contributed troops to Afghanistan were concerned, this was a theatrical exercise designed to keep the US committed to the defence of Europe. In the case of the Poles and the people of the Baltics, the great spur here was fear of Russia. In the case of the French, it was largely because they can only maintain their sphere of influence in Africa with American help. In the case of others like the Germans, it was because they knew that they were not capable of summoning up the fighting spirit or the military spending to maintain peace in the Balkans and deter Serbian or Turkish aggression there. The memory of Europe’s 1990s failure in Bosnia runs deep. 

This makes for quite interesting reading but it is long-ish.

Writing about history

Karl Marx in the 18th Brumaire of Napoleon said history repeats itself first as farce then as tragedy. Seeing the events of Kabul and of Afghanistan in general one wonders if the end whenever it came would be different. And I am here asking myself whether in another 10 years we will not see the same scenes playing out in semi occupied Iraq?

But in all the madness, there is still room for laughs. It seems everyone who joins the Afghanistan WhatsApp group always left; the soviets lefted, the brits, the French and now the Muricans. Maybe next we will see Afghanistan left the group too. One can hope.

I am no expert in Asia politics; geo or otherwise but one hopes these fellows can determine how their future will be. Seeing people falling off planes trying to flee is sad to say the least.

I don’t think we get the politicians we deserve

But if we do, my fellow citizens really did choose from the bottom of the barrel.

First is the circus that is Nairobi County. The governor was impeached but he is still calling shots from out of office. Before that he made a joke of the constitution by failing to nominate a deputy following the resignation of one Polycarp less than a year(?) into the office.

Still on the same Nairobi County, the electoral body gazetted Waititu who was impeached as governor in a different county for among others abuse of office! This despite the constitution having a chapter dedicated to conduct of public officers.

While still on the constitution, the powers that be who have failed in implementing the constitution we fought so hard for have convinced themselves and are now trying to convince the rest of us that it is the constitution that ought to be changed and not that politicians should change.

And while on politicians. I don’t know who they represent. In April or May last year, the government announced a raft of tax holidays or reliefs to put money into people’s pockets following the disruption occasioned by Covid. These reliefs expired on 31st Dec and then parliament convened in an emergency session and passed legislation to do away with the reliefs and holidays like the economy was now full throttle. I can’t believe Kenyans queue for hours to elect these fellows.

And finally the ministry of education is an example of how incompetent this government is. Schools were closed last year before the end of term one because of covid. One would think because of the requirements for keeping people apart, more classrooms would be built or more teachers employed but lo and behold, we are busy campaigning on whether we should alter the constitution that is not even an adolescent yet.

I am convinced that politicians serve their interests. That the state exist for the benefit of the few. And the rest of us must find ways to get along in the process.