Crisis of knowledge and thought leadership in global affairs

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By Arthur GO Mutambara

IN the ongoing discourse and analysis about the invasion of Ukraine, it seems there is a minimal grasp of the implications of mutually assured destruction (Mad) and the import of nuclear deterrence (ND) in general.

It is not a tough call for Nato to go to war with Russia. It is something that is not done, period.

There is no call to be made — absolutely no discussion or pontification at all.

Nato members do not want a war with Russia, and vice versa. We have explained this matter before, and Nato leaders have repeatedly said the same.

The Americans will never attack the Russians and vice versa. The British will never attack the Russians and vice versa.

No nuclear power will attack a nuclear power.

Why is a war between Russia and Nato not a feasible option in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine?

A war between Nato and Russia would be a nuclear conflict. None of the countries involved in such a war would survive.

No one wins a nuclear war.

There will be mad.

Again, this is why a no-fly zone is not being provided for Ukraine. Such a facility will lead to Nato planes shooting down Russian planes and vice versa.

By definition, that is a war between Nato and Russia.

It is shocking that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy does not get this elementary and basic postulation.

On March 5 2022, he accused Nato of being “weak” by not providing a no-fly zone for Ukraine airspace.

While we appreciate that his country is under vicious attack, that is not an excuse for him to fail to grasp common sense.

He needs more of it now than ever.

Providing a no-fly zone is tantamount to the beginning of a war between Nato and Russia. This is something Nato does not want, know should not happen, and it has stated so unequivocally and unambiguously.

In fact, US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have been quite animated about the importance of avoiding war between Russia and Nato.

These leaders clearly understand the consequences of Mad.

Mad and ND have even more troubling implications.

How does the world try war criminals from a nuclear power?

We have had pundits and European leaders, such as the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on March 5, 2022, talk of trying the Russians for war crimes after the war.

It is all empty and unintelligent talk.

Which war criminals from a nuclear power have ever been tried before?

After the Iraq invasion, some folks have argued that Tony Blair and George W Bush, together with their top commanders, should be tried for war crimes.

Have they been tried?

How does one even begin to do that to the former leaders of the two nuclear powers — the USA and the UK?

If they are tried (even in absentia) and found guilty, what is going to be done about the verdict?

If the governments of the nuclear powers involved give the world the middle finger, what can possibly be done about that attitude and non-co-operation?

Invade the nuclear power to extract the convicted criminals?

What about Mad?

Don’t get the motive of the critique wrong. One would like all war criminals to be tried — Russian, American, British or any nationality.

What is being dramatised here is that diplomacy within the context of nuclear powers needs a serious rethink. Conventional wisdom and traditional practice will not cut it.

Serious reimagination and innovation of the theory and practice of diplomacy are required.

We are in a crisis characterised by lack of creative framing, knowledge and thought leadership in global affairs.

Leaders, pundits, scholars and journalists must not make remarks and prescriptions that do not show an understanding of the dire implications of Mad and nuclear deterrence in general.

We need new tools and frameworks of analysis in global affairs.

  • Arthur G O Mutambara is the former Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. He writes in his capacity.