Is this the end of US triumphalism and return of realpolitik? Op ed

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about his infrastructure plan during an event to tout the plan at Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., March 31, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Yusuf Bangura: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 March 2022:

I have been following debates on the economic dimensions of the Ukraine crisis on France 24 since the Russian invasion of that country. France 24 does a good job of bringing a variety of experts on their panels. Today’s issue is the impact of an oil embargo on Western economies.

Biden has announced that the US, which is dependent on Russian oil for 5% and gas 3% of its imports, will ban oil and gas imports from Russia. The UK and EU, which have higher levels of dependency on Russian oil and gas, agreed to phase out or drastically reduce their imports by the end of the year.

Taking Russian oil and gas out of European and US markets will obviously further raise the price of the two commodities beyond their current high levels. It has been predicted that the price of oil could rise to USD200 or even USD300 a barrel.

Turning Russia’s oil tap off requires a quick search for alternatives if US and European consumers are to be protected from the shock.

And this is what I find interesting. The US has decided to open talks with……guess who? 1) The US bogeyman, Nicholas Maduro, who the US wanted to topple not long ago for turning Venezuela into an authoritarian state, and which is under US sanctions. And 2) the mullahs of Iran who are also under stiff sanctions over disagreements on nuclear weapons development.

US officials have already met with Maduro and his government and Maduro, in a press conference, is making a meal of it, describing the realignment of US-Venezuela interests as a ‘beautiful unity’.

And Biden’s press secretary, Jennifer Psaki, confirmed a day ago that the US is in discussion with Iran on its nuclear programme and oil supplies.

The US must have calculated that it cannot have too many enemies if it is fighting Russia—that in the grand scheme of things, Russia is a bigger threat to US interests than Venezuela and Iran.

Venezuelan ‘pro-democracy’ advocates who have placed their trust in the US to get rid of Maduro will be left high and dry. This underscores the point that it is always dangerous to put one’s eggs in a super power’s/big power’s basket.

The Ukraine crisis signals the end of US/Western triumphalism and belief that they can bully any country they dislike following the collapse of the Soviet Union and emergence of a unipolar world. We are back to ‘realpolitik’, with the US having to choose global enemies strategically and throwing its pretentious mission of promoting democracy on the world stage out the window.

These developments confirm one of the first things I learned 50 years ago in my undergraduate strategic studies class at the LSE on power and interests: countries only have permanent interests, not permanent friends, and ideology counts for little in international politics.

If only African leaders can also think strategically and leave emotions and personal gain out of policy making.


  1. After the fall of the U.S.S.R, the United States had 30 years to structure the world under the Pax Americana, however, their attempt to ram democracy down the throats of other nations, ceaseless warmongering, and relentless expansion of N.A.T.O has awoken the Russian bear.
    As Napoleon and Hitler can vouch, Mother Russia has been the graveyard of many imperialistic ambitions.

  2. If only African leaders can think strategically and leave emotions and personal gain out of policy making. And that is the ziest of the argument. Apart from Nelson Mandela, there are few African leaders both past and present that can claim that mantle of working for the common good rather their own private or political interest. To me the map of the African continent is like a gaint question mark and Madagascar acting like the dot. No one seems to have a clear answer to the WHY? with all our God given human and natural resources, our continent seems to be caught in a time trapped wrap, like some parts of the continent still trapped in the stone ages. Take the DRC one of the richest minerals rich country in Africa, that has been at war with itself since the 1960s has never known peace never mind development. No paved roads, no electricity, no hospitals, and no political and economic certainty.

    And smaller countries like Sierra-leone, with all its minerals, should with good political leadership,be the Singapore of west Africa. Our country is rich on paper but trapped in abject porverty because some of our fellow countrymen and women thinks is there God given right to fleece our country’s resources for their own selfish use. As for the rest of the population we can walk to the Atlantic ocean from Lumley beach and our corrupt politicians will be giving us a standing ovation and encouraging us to drown ourselves in more porverty.

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