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Day of Evil in Selibe-Phikwe and Philosophy of Death

By Teedzani Thapelo

Local novelist, poet and historian, Teedzani Thapelo* who researched part of his PhD thesis on certain aspects of Selibe-Phikwe a few years ago when the township was on the verge of economic collapse, and later dramatized this experience in his polyphonic novel, Seasons of Thunder, returns to the mining town only to encounter a terrifying wave of puzzlement and consternation.

Twenty years ago the question in everyone’s mind was, will the mine close or not? Today, following the abrupt closure of the mine bewildered residents are asking themselves, will the town die or won’t it, and nobody has a satisfactory answer to this nerve-racking existential question; not the BDP government, not the residents, and many are already returning to reclaim their roots in homelands left in the bush donkey years ago-a town founded on seismic fault lines has disappointed them and ruined lives, hopes and dreams of three generations.

The state of worry is a mark of both distinction and distress in chaotic society; distinction because among the ruins of such a society some people still manage to stand out no matter how desperate the situation is, and distress because many simply crumble and die, so that even when they are still standing and talking, walking about, and even laughing a little bit like everybody else, the spirit of life, the very soul of human life, departs, and what we really see are phantoms mingling about, senseless and irresolute in the midst of desperate ruination and despair.


Trouble is most such sorts of living forms are unfortunately usually smothered out of existence altogether through the wicked workings of linguistic register, the phony nature of medical science, and the general wilderness of inefficient words; words that often designate living people as dead, and the dead as living, it’s really a serious problem. The case of Selibe Phikwe clearly demonstrates this dilemma.

Sure, it does involve a very ordinary affair; the unexpected, and haphazard, closure of a mining venture. Words, we all know very well are the greatest enemies of reality. Whatever we don’t want to see we repress, overwhelm and stifle out with words. Whatever we feel uncomfortable with we restrain and conceal in a gigantic ocean of bewildering words. The things we love and desire we exult in words, even when they are out of our possession we still claim such possession with words.


To a student of languages this abuse of words at length becomes fatal to both imagination and learning. But politicians have no problem with this burden of unreality; what they see here is a gold mine. Some BDP politicians, for instance, still refuse to admit the mine was closed; “We are just still looking for another buyer,” they say. Oh, really? Why is it the miners and the people of Selibe-Phikwe were not told this before that day of evil, the day when, unprepared, a bunch of BDP politicians matched arrogantly in their town and told them the game was up, and nothing could be done to save the mine from closure, and their desperate lives from ruin and destruction?

Only one thing can guide us towards reality, force of insight and brilliant reading of difficult human situations; going behind words to explore the philosophy of meaning, and this demands clinical empirical observation. It is the one thing scholars are really good at, and the one thing politicians love to hate. Human beings easily get lost in the world of many words, and in many instances, what really appears to be a respectable man talking in such situations is really no more than a parrot squeaking.


Trouble is the ordinary Motswana is easily overwhelmed by argument and authority, even when such argument and authority are nothing but pure nonsense. The case of Selibe-Phikwe is illustrative. The illogicality of authoritarian attitude, the ardour of its speech, the hypocritical eloquence of their affected whimpering; all these things Batswana, not only hoard in their emotional breasts, but they fervently, even feverishly, gather them up, often cherish them, and they are always ready to pour them out by the hour in pubs, busses, radio stations, I would not be surprised if this things also formed part of post-coitus bliss, “Oh, that was great, honey, now tell me more about that fuss at Selibe-Phikwe”. No wonder we are no longer a romantic society!

Two things are a serious problem in our society; intellectual insufficiency, and imperfect trust in our own convictions. We also seem to be increasingly becoming too fond of inconveniences. Everything bad is allowed to pass. We even accord distinction to things that are simply too unintelligible to us. I have been accused of malicious investigation by some politicians in this country, and my crime? Writing articles for newspapers.


Does that make sense? The real problem with moral corruption, I think, is that the desire for freedom, for the flourishing of human aspirations…the simple love of justice, and even the fidelity of simple minds, are regularly prostituted to the lusts of hate and fear. That we now allow such things to happen in Botswana is something I never anticipated, but I should also admit I saw these things coming. Like most people my first reaction was ambiguous. Now I know better.

The people of Selibe-Phikwe are beginning to experience abandonment, and that is a fate I really would never wish anyone, not even my worst enemy. Batswana are beginning to pay a heavy price for their mystic acceptance of the principle of autocracy in our political culture, and let’s not forget that despotism is by nature a most unwearied industry.


The extirpation from the land of public conscience, of all the hallmarks of freedom in public institutions, the ruthless persecution of the rising generation…all these things Batswana welcomed with open arms and minds, and now BDP is hell bent on the destruction of the very hope of liberty itself. What do Batswana have to say about these things? We have even allowed these people to defile the temperament of our nation, and execrate its moral personality. Has anyone ever seen a republic that takes so few precautions for its safety?

For now we can expect two things from the people of Selibe-Phikwe; disorder, and political revolt. But our domestic god, the Autocrat of our wretched Universe, perched comfortably at Government Enclave, will not allow this. A strike by miners in that cursed town was in the past met with such violence that I doubt the cruel memory of that other day of evil is already forgotten.


In fact I heard BDP politicians boasting and gloating about that triumph of barbarian politics over poor, and unarmed Batswana workers, at the funeral of Mompati Merafe; it is considered a national heroic deed in BDP history. I wonder what our trade unions, and the suffering people of Selibe-Phikwe think about that.


As I write their appointed fate is already overtaking them, and the BDP never bothered to sound out any warning. Very typical isn’t it, this habit of suddenly striking other citizens dead to the ground, annihilating hope and life, and mercilessly ignoring the yells of horror. It happened to Basarwa before, so many times, I’d advice the people of Selibe-Phikwe to take a leaf from the history book of this arrogant politics from Basarwa. They should not expect any help from the BDP and its lackeys at Government Enclave. They must just accept they are on their own. Oh, they will be fed words, billions of words, signifying nothing.

History is teaching us great lessons in this country. The tragedy is that we are learning these things from harsh realities, from plagues, terrors and tomes covered with thorns and thistles. All the same we are learning, and this, I hope, is a learning curve we shall never forget. Even in the face of our rather infrequent moments of elation we really should never forget the dangers that menace our lives and public institutions.


The experience of Selibe-Phikwe is a stark reminder of the impermanence of human security, comfort and happiness in our country, and we should all remember a political culture that cannot safeguard these minimal standards of civilized life is a system based on falsehood and deceit. No faint apologetic smiles can compensate for such loses; for these facile gestures, too, are revoltingly dishonest and treacherous. The people of Selibe-Phikwe are beginning to learn these things in a bad way, and they are learning very fast.

Meanwhile at Government Enclave people are still receiving medals, and BDP monstrous institutions are still giving rewards and appointments to people who really should never have been in the civil service in the first place…to solve the problems of Selibe-Phikwe; the children and people of that wretched town, the very people painfully aware of the emotional tensions of their time, are just spectators. How amazing! Just how are these victims of pure political malice expected to defer to these strangers and their grand superior airs?


I suppose they will have to take these things in just as much great confusion as the crisis plaguing and blighting their lives…the jeering, and leering, the condescending murmurs, the French perfumes, and the peculiar emphasis on sterile bureaucratic resolutions…could there be anything more annoying, more disgusting?


Just imagine those poor people emerging as they are from those horribly irritating sulphuric fumes from the dead mine, and already being exposed to just as nauseating French perfumes, and meanwhile children are out of school, men and women out of work, businesses are collapsing, and professional artisans who have worked for decent wages all their lives are being told to go and till tomatoes for a living, learn to declare war on exotic worms that seem to have a frighteningly huge appetite for tomatoes…how weird!

Selibe-Phikwe is a town that was built by workers and foreign capital. Government only came on board later. Why now are these workers being excluded from decisions that so intimately involve their lives, their future, and the lives of their children and loved ones? Why are worker organisations being marginalised in these silly talks about redirecting the future of the town? Who knows better what the people really want beside the workers of Selibe-Phikwe themselves?


Yes, business can play a part in these belated efforts but not if disillusioned workers start gathering up their families and returning to their villages to start eking out some miserable existences there. What incentives have been put in place to keep these people in Selibe-Phikwe? None. 5000 workers translates to families comprising altogether more than 30 000 people, a whole political constituency…and these people are scattering to their villages in huge numbers even as I write now.


BDP does not care…they are still talking to the business community…what silliness! The economies of scale is disappearing, purchasing power is dying, and they are still talking to business…just who told them these disappointed people are going to stay in that wretched mess?


Who told them those who have already fled are coming back? What foolishness! Why does BDP despise workers so much? Can anything ever succeed in that town without the determined commitment of the people, of the communities, who built that town in the first place? Where is this madness coming from?

BDP will succeed only in one thing; further weakening of the businesses operating in that town; banks, retail shops, small businesses, transport operators, learning institutions and manufacturing plants. So far they have already succeeded in cutting the number of political constituencies from two to one, and by the time we get to the elections in 2019 that town will be just one of the small wards in that vast region…just imagine that? You think it won’t happen?


It will happen…mark my words, unless this madness stops and BDP reigns in this irritating appetite by imperial bureau to always appear like the only competent arbiter of social ills and tensions in public life. These people are so incompetent they can hardly manage their own departments. What really can they accomplish in Selibe-Phikwe?

I might be wrong about all this. But I have seen these things happening before. Other people may think…but this is Botswana. Everything is possible here…a typical languid African habit of dealing with serious national crisis. Buffoonery of all sorts is allowed to flourish.  I doubt though if these queer ideas of industry are agreeable and encouraging to those suffering people. To begin with they are too horribly startling. Second they are ridiculous to the extreme.


The most discerning, and therefore most utterly confounded amongst the people are already leaving. But they are not done with the BDP. Oh, no. Their judgement of this horrendous situation is much more philosophical, and tactical. Their response more political, and strategic.


I am thinking of moving to Selibe-Phikwe, permanently. As I said, the drama unfolding here is most instructive, and I love learning, from real life situations-every writer does. I even discern certain first principles dear to the merciless minds of youths cropping up here and there. The cries of astonishment and dismay are slowly dying, giving way to harsh, brittle laughter, and ferocious anger.

BDP and Government Enclave, as usual, have no heart to hear the sounds of weeping, and the gnashing of teeth. They are calmly talking voodoo economics…in curt, self-confident voices. Tender roots are being uprooted from the hearts and minds of a desperate people, whole lives are being wasted, thousands of brains are seething with arguments, and even the most ordinary town resident is sick with indignation…the spirit of progress and truth is being destroyed, for far too many people, and BDP functionaries sit in their offices, drinking coffee, and munching scones…talking voodoo economics.


They don’t want to hear unguarded expressions; they have no time for useless gatherings, and street corner murmurings. All is quiet on the Western front. They see not the broken lives, ruined, and robbed of hope. The miserable existences in some filthy hole of a room, the sordid bed of an understaffed  hospital, the misleading peace of bitter calmness, the horrible discord, the minds morphing into abject things, the fears of permanent endangerment…under their noises, these are anomalies. Collected-cool as cucumber, BDP functionaries eat toast with butter, talking about corrections…oh, boy, just where do these people get their souls? Is it possible people like these leave behind posterity? It’s just amazing how they take pride in their futile purpose.

When, really, will they start dealing with the consequences? For how long do they intend to continue refusing to confront reality? And this burden of unreality, just how long can it survive the God of Justice that is enshrined in the hearts and souls of all suffering human beings? Are they waiting for history to put fate to the test? Is that what they really want? No nation wants to endure the crisis of its fate. It’s weary work. All rational people work hard to avoid this, to strike a less costly bargain with fate.


This is the basis of political philosophy; the cornerstone of all rational political activity. Just what is BDP up to? I am not saying they should stop eating caviar. By all means gorge yourselves while you still have time. But national problems, we all know, cannot be solved simply by way of mental extravagance and arbitrary proceedings bothering on recklessness…what BDP calls mananeo.


BDP has reduced all poor people of Botswana to the disreputable position of being treated by the Office of the President and underling ministries as nothing short of beggars off duty. Is this what they want for the population of Selibe-Phikwe? A town this big, this literate, this politically active, cannot, and will not, be degraded to the lowest social depths of the hopeless and destitution, not without serious political consequences.


Selibe-Phikwe is going down, and its death throes reverberate resoundingly throughout the entire central district and beyond. This is one political failure BDP cannot, and will not, manage, to live down. Its death, if death it really turns out to be, cannot but presage the political death of BDP itself. Is this what the party really wants?

It might be time has come for real work to be done at both Government Enclave and Tsholetsa House. Digging their own grave is all right so far as vanity goes, but in pure political terms, it is, irreverently, a most foolish thing to do. Teedzani Thapelo* is winner of the Institute of International Education Fellowship Award, runner up winner of the 2016 Share Botswana Tourism Fiction Award, and former Distinguished Africa Guest Researcher at Nordic Africa Institute, Research Associate at the Centre for Economic Policy in Southern Africa, Economic History Lecturer at the University of Botswana, and author of Philosophy of Death and the Ruin of Selibe-Phikwe: andonment and revolt, forthcoming in 2018.    

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Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: “If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.”

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties — ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswana’s democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogae’s assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.  This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in the Bulela Ditswe dispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswe was an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties – ruling and opposition — have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

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The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumer’s piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswana’s, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they don’t imagine that their one download will do anything to the production house’s pocket or make a dent in the actors’ net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musician’s music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that “illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth”.

As Botswana’s creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africa’s respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswana’s economy are being diverted.

“Why can’t our local creative industry grow?” “Why don’t we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana?” are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswana’s local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the country’s economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, it’s imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economy’s growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artist’s music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

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Our Strength is our Unity

18th March 2022

Putin Chose War.  We Remain United with Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Craig L. Cloud

This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world.  By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy.  But the people of Ukraine are resilient.

They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world.  The United States, together with our Allies and partners across the globe, will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country.  By choosing to pay for a war instead of investing in the needs of Russians, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a strategic failure for the Kremlin and ravage the future of the Russian people.

When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left the West more unified and Russia exponentially weaker.

United in Our Response

This will not end well for Vladimir Putin.  Together, the United States and our Allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable.  As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.

President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology.  After Putin began his invasion, the ruble hit its weakest point in history, and the Russian stock market plunged.

Along with the United Kingdom and European Union, the United States imposed sanctions on the architects of this war, including Putin himself.

By moving in close coordination with a powerful coalition of Allies and partners representing more than half of the global economy, we have magnified the impact of our actions to impose maximum costs on Putin and his regime.  In response to Putin’s war of choice, we will limit Russia’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars.

We will stunt Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military.  We will impair Russia’s ability to compete in the global economy.  And we are prepared to do more.

In addition to economic penalties, this week President Biden authorized an additional $1 billion over the $350 million of security assistance he recently approved, and a $650 million in 2021, to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to $2 billion.

We also stand ready to defend our NATO Allies.  President Biden has coordinated with Allied governments to position thousands of additional forces in Germany and Poland as part of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense.

He authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks:  Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.  Our Allies have also added their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense.  There should be no doubt about the readiness of the greatest military Alliance in the history of the world:  NATO is more united than ever.

The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies.  We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.

Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War

This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time.  He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border.  He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.

He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our Allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.

Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do.  We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas.  We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine.  We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.

Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there.  We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.

And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law.  Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine.  Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.

We have been transparent with the world.  We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up.  Putin is the aggressor.  Putin chose this war.  And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.

Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever

Putin’s goal of dividing the West has failed.  In the face of one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our Allies and partners have joined together in solidarity.  We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provided assistance to Ukraine, developed a broad response, and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO.

Putin has failed to divide us.  Putin has failed to undermine our shared belief in the fundamental right of sovereign nations to choose their destiny and their allies.  And Putin will fail to erase the proud nation of Ukraine.

The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine.  Putin has unleashed great suffering on them.  But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.

The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.

Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically.  The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.

Liberty, democracy, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression.  In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake:  Freedom will prevail.

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