When right-wing authoritarianism spreads anywhere it spreads everywhere.
Thousands of miles away democracy is under attack in a way reminiscent of the lead-up to World War II. So too is the case in the United States with the political division so deep that google searches for “Civil War 2” are at an all-time high. Now combine that with a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and skyrocketing inflation. With all of these domestic concerns, it’s understandable that despite wall-to-wall coverage on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC; the public is less engaged in this conflict. Perhaps a statement by a Kenyan diplomat will reframe the geopolitical conflict into something relevant for our readers.
At the risk of sounding alarmist, imagine that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a step through a door that will be bringing back some of history's most perilous episodes like the holocaust, slave trade, and Cold War. At least that’s what I heard when Kenyan U.N. Ambassador Martin Kimani warned at a recent security council meeting that “we must complete our recovery from the embers of dead empires in a way that does not plunge us into new forms of oppression.” The argument is solid in the sense that if Russia is allowed to violate the sovereignty of another country other countries will endeavor to do the same. For the working class and other marginalized groups, the return to authoritarian societies would mean a change in the quality of life that many will find difficult to imagine. For example, Russia provides no anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people nor does it prohibit hate crimes against them. Similarly, cannabis possession is a criminal offense. When right-wing authoritarianism spreads anywhere it spreads everywhere.
Still, the jury is out on how resolute Americans will be in the face of the first kinetic (or physical attack) on Democracy since World War 2. How patient will we be with the economic hardships that will be caused by U.S. sanctions placed on Russia? Furthermore, although the Biden Administration claims that boots on the ground are off the table, can you imagine citizens signing up for another war? The most alarming element would be the fact that the most recent republican U.S. President and likely 2024 candidate is sharing his praise for Putin’s expansionist war to whoever will listen.
Even foreign policy expert Jeremy Bash acknowledges that “our own political chaos hampers our ability to show a united front” a point that Putin also made earlier this week in a recorded statement citing U.S. domestic tensions as a reason for labeling America an “empire of lies”. Since Trump has already made his stance clear, it is only a matter of time before conservative outlets find a way to justify a pro-Russian stance. If you are familiar with the popular adage birds of a feather flocking together, you weren’t surprised.
While further coverage is forthcoming, as democracy fades at home and around the globe, working-class people and marginalized communities will be the most exploited. While it is important for local leaders to keep their eyes on the prize in regards to domestic concerns like our public education system, voting right, and income inequality, the fight for fairness and equality is global. Trump knows that. Do you?