Translating the narrative

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

When I worked as a simultaneous interpreter for over a decade of my life, I used to feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulder, as one word may change the destiny of people or inadvertently inflict injustice without the speaker even having the intent to do so. I remember that many times before conveying the sentence to the other interlocutor, I would ask the president: “do you mean this or that?” in order to be absolutely clear about what he meant and what I try to coin in my sentences. 

Those moments forced themselves on my mind today after thirty years of living them, as I was reading many different reports about NATO and the EU, and the warning they issued to China and the different interpretations and mostly misinterpretations of political moves, statements, announcements and declarations. Any political person who follows CNN, BBC, The Wall Street Journal, Euro News, Sky News, watches their TV screens, and follows their news websites, would think that it is China who is sending money and armaments, rather than NATO, to the war zone in Ukraine. At a time when NATO and EU countries announced that they would not stop supporting Ukraine with money and armaments, Ned Price, the US’ Department of State Spokesperson expressed anxiety regarding the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, to Moscow, because “these two countries share the same vision”.

A wave of speculations started in Western media about China’s next stance toward the war in Ukraine, and whether it is going to support Russia with arms;  a race of expressing fear that China may extend material support to Moscow was let loose. Zelensky expressed his fear that if China were to support Russia, a third World War would erupt. Josep Borrell, the EU foreign political secretary, announced that China offering armaments to Russia was a red line for the EU. 

All of this was being said, announced and published at a time when President Biden was in Kiev announcing that the US and NATO are committed to supporting Ukraine with money and armaments and that they will never waver from doing that, calling it a war of “democracies” against “autocracies”, and calling himself a democratic president fighting against Russian tyranny. “There should be no doubt,” Biden said, “that our support to the Ukraine will not recede and NATO will not get tired. Biden added that “the European Union offered an unprecedented support to Ukraine.” Who gave Biden this divine right to feed the war in Ukraine, and prohibit China from doing so?! NATO and EU are not supporting Ukraine, but leading a war of attrition against Russia in Ukraine, and by and large, against any country that dares challenge Western hegemony.

The hypocrisy of the narrative is shocking indeed. You need to be an authority on what is going on, and to know every single detail of every move in order not to be misled by the concentrated campaign to mislead readers and viewers about what is going on in the world. Who said that China and Russia cannot share the same vision, the same stand, and the same move on any international issue? Who gave the West the right to decide who supports whom, and who should and should not be in alliance with whom. If this is not tyranny, I do not know what tyranny is! Who can tell me what the West means by “Rules-based Order”? which order, and what rules? And who put these rules, and what are these rules? No one explains!!

The Chinese Foreign Minister said in Moscow that the relations between Russia and China are not directed against any country, but they will not be subject to pressure from third parties, adding that “we both support a multi-polar world and democracy in international relations.” This is precisely what the West is desperately trying to prevent; the dawn of a multi-polar world would certainly mean the end of Western hegemony, and democracy in international relations would leave no room for such stupid and misleading items such as “Rules-based Order”. It so happened that Ukraine is the theater of this war, but the war is about the future of the world and the direction this future would take. 

The West, whose systems are based on the military industry, and whose existence depends on igniting wars so that these industries would profit and keep their economy going, cannot afford to agree with Russia and China about a multi-polar world and democracy in international relations, not to mention global security and integrity and sovereignty for all, because these are the very antitheses of Western systems who claim democracy, but work for profit and hegemony through wars which are, and have always been, the only means to keep their arms industry functioning. What badly needs to be changed is not the Russian – Chinese vision, but the very bases of the Western systems. Besides the war going on in Ukraine, the entire world needs a no less necessary war against entire agencies and media outlets whose only mission is to confuse readers and viewers and mislead them to the wrong conclusions. We have to translate their narrative in a way that enables us to see the truth, and more importantly, we have to craft our own narrative that befits the important change we aspire to see on the world stage. 

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