Editor’s Note

By The Editor

Chasing the Impossible DreamIt is now clear that Russia has failed to achieve the quick victory President Putin had hoped for when it brazenly invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.  Despite the impressive visual display of Russia’s military power, the invasion turned out to be nothing more than a terrible killing field for both soldiers and civilians on both sides. The ensuing destructive effects on the world economy prompted increasingly stronger demands for a negotiated peaceful settlement of the war. Recognizing the opportunity to elevate their world profiles, many leaders, among whom were Macron of France, Xi Jinping of China, Erdogan of Turkey answered the call. Unfortunately, so far their efforts have all failed to end the war. Not to be outdone, the African Union, represented by seven leaders from Zambia, Senegal, Republic of Congo, Uganda and Egypt, also wants to try its luck at mediating a peaceful end of the war.

While the goal of mediating the end of the war is desirable for peace, one wonders whether the AU mission has any chance of success. To be fair, African leaders have succeeded in ending some wars by peaceful negotiation. The recently negotiated peaceful end of the Tigray-Central government war is an example. However, the AU has also failed spectacularly to mediate peaceful ends of ongoing wars in many African countries including Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, DRC, Burkina Faso, Mali, CAR, and Nigeria. The African situation leads some people to question if the AU delegation has the gravitas, credibility and the leverage to mediate a peaceful end of the war in Ukraine.

This crucial question was already answered by President Zelensky of Ukraine has already rejected the AU proposal to negotiate so long as Russia continues to occupy Ukrainian territory and by Ukrainian political analysts who dismissed the AU rationale in asserting that if not ended peacefully the war will cause serious food insecurity in vulnerable countries. Yet the delegates are traveling in style. Equally dismissive was Russia’s missile attacks on the very city where the delegates were meeting President Zelensky.

In any case, the apathy and failure of most African leaders towards peaceful resolution of conflicts in their own continent makes the AU delegation look like Don Quixote, the character in the popular musical, Man of La Mancha  whose quest was encapsulated in the theme song, The Impossible Dream. To paraphrase some of the poignant lyrics of the song,  will the AU leaders bear the unbearable sorrow, fight the unbeatable foe, right the unrightable wrong, run to where the brave dare not go, and be willing to march into Hell for a heavenly cause in their own countries to gain credibility for their quest. Of course, if the AU delegate succeeds, the world will be better for it. Otherwise, the delegation is just running errands for the USA and Russia while hoping to feast on some crumbs from the peace table in the apparent emerging new cold war.