When the West was left all alone

A Neokohn főmunkatársa, Izraelben élő biztonságpolitikai szakértő.

Nearly 150 neutral states in the world condemn Russian aggression, yet they are doing their utmost to sabotage the West’s sanctions regime. Why? Commentary by Robert C. Castel.

How could the West have been left on its own?

  • It is well known that the world has united behind NATO against Russia.
  • It is well known that world public opinion is unanimous in its condemnation of Russian aggression.
  • It is common knowledge that Putin’s adventurist policy has been broken by the wall-to-wall international sanctions.
  • It is well known that the world’s nearly 200 states want nothing more than to return to the security of a rules-based international system.

All this is common knowledge, but it is not true.

Let’s take a closer look at who are the people supporting Russia in this war?

Belarus, China, Pakistan, Syria, North Korea, Cuba and some ex-Soviet „…Stans”.

Who are the ones supporting Ukraine and NATO?

Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.

This list is highly subjective, you could easily add two or three more committed or less committed allies on each side.

However, this does not change the fact that, despite what is „common knowledge,”

there are barely three dozen countries that are fully opposed to Russian aggression and barely a dozen that support it.

It is time to ask the question that most analysts, political scientists and journalists in the world have tried so hard to avoid:

What about the remaining, circa 150 states? How do they see this conflict and why have they not closed ranks behind what is „common knowledge”? Is it just about the oil concerns that have been mentioned ad nauseam?

The first unpleasant truth we are forced to admit is that

when we talk about “global public opinion,” we are usually talking about these less than three dozen states.

In fact, perhaps even fewer than that, because like it or not, let’s say it:

  • The opinion of most small and medium-sized nations does not carry much weight.
  • World public opinion is primarily that of Anglo-Saxon countries. Their voices are disproportionately amplified by the possession of an international language.
  • The second important component of world public opinion: the European continental powers, which rely on their population and economic strength.
  • The third important component is the narrow, globalized elite, whose representatives are everywhere.

That’s it.

If a global state were ever to be realized and, by some design flaw, was democratically organized, „global public opinion” would be defeated in every single vote.

Among others, this is one of the reasons why the great dreamers never dream of more democracy, but only of a more efficient administration.

The second inconvenient truth is that the rules-based international system does not enjoy undivided popularity, even among the privileged „Club of Three Dozen.” This system is not based on the spontaneous triumph of higher moral ideals, but on American hegemony in a unipolar world.

All the political and economic advantages of a rules-based international system, the reduction of wars and poverty worldwide, the spread of democracy and human rights, have not made it universally popular. Why? Because even those who have benefited most economically and politically from it cannot forgive the fact that it is a world order imposed from outside and whose ideals and principles are applied very selectively.

And the third inconvenient truth is that the world’s 150 or so neutral states are as terrified of Western vehemence as they are of Russian aggression.

Many of these countries have been reliable allies of the US and the West for many decades. They are terrified of Russian predation and expansionism and would like nothing more than to see Russia’s power weakened before aggression reaches their shores.

For decades Russia has played the troll role of “spoiler” in the international system. Russian efforts have sought to undermine U.S. influence, but the whip has usually cracked not on the U.S. but on its regional allies.

If all this is true, why do neutrals not support the West’s crusade against Russian aggression?

It is because the manic depressive visceral reactions of the West are as terrifying and frightening to them as coldly calculated Russian aggression. In the eyes of these countries

the West is not acting as a rational player against the continental predator, but as an unpredictable and vehement force that cannot even control itself.

The mood swings of Western public opinion, fuelled by the climate crisis and BLM, are driving irrational waves of hatred, which have victimized long-dead Russian composers as much as fundamentally liberal Russian artists and sportsmen who reject war.

The Russophobia that has become fashionable has created a new and virulent form of the very racism that the progressive West regards as the ultimate original sin, provided it is committed by someone else.

The leaders of neutral states look on in dismay at Western politicians who, instead of leading, twitch like puppets of an infantile public unable to think rationally about war.

The hourly changes in German policy on arms transfers to Ukraine are just one example of many. American and European companies, which should be looking after the interests of their shareholders first and foremost, have become political players and are waging a private war against the Evil Empire. The West’s sanctions policy also seems more like blind butchery than a well-thought-out exercise in economic warfare. The rational calculus has completely disappeared, replaced by a fierce desire to harm. And goals made against itself have long since ceased to be counted.

In the face of all this, what can the leaders of 150 neutral countries say to themselves?

That if this is what the restoration of a rules-based world order looks like, thank you very much, but we’d rather not have it.

Our problem is not with the West’s goals, but with the way it seeks to achieve them. After all, what guarantee is there that we will not be the next targets of the Western crusade?

If the Orwellian “two minutes hate” proves to be an effective weapon against Russia, the West may conclude that it has found the means to reshape the world in its own image.

In the future, failure to ratify a climate agreement could be a casus belli. Or alleged or real atrocities against a group of victims suddenly dug up and dusted off from somewhere. Perhaps a heretical energy policy, favoring one type of energy over another…

These are the fears that will make the 150 neutral countries do their utmost to thwart the West’s policy of political, economic and cultural sanctions against Russia. Even those who are willing to militarily help contain Russian aggression will do their utmost to sabotage other forms of the Western crusade.

In 2022, the West is on its own.

This fact has been concealed by our own internal propaganda as effectively as Russian internal propaganda concealed the true nature of the war in Ukraine. It is time to finally face reality and reflect on what we should be doing for the 150 neutral countries to catch up with the West.

  • First: Return to the ground of rationality and self-restraint. The West must send a message to neutral countries that the reins are in responsible and sober hands.
  • Second: Redefine the objectives of the new Cold War and move towards a de-escalation path vis-à-vis Russia.
  • Third: Cool the war rhetoric and try to speak to the Russian people, driving a wedge between them and Russian political leadership.
  • Fourth: Consult with neutral countries and make requests to them, instead of threats and dictates.
  • Fifth: Play a much more modest role. The vast majority of the world’s countries thank you very much but do not ask for the culture wars, radical social ideologies and world-transforming ideas that are engulfing the West.

The West must focus on the few ideas that are the basis of its own civilization. It must pave the way for these with patience and restraint.

If this turnaround does not take place, and the West fails to pull itself out of the quagmire it has created by its own hair, the long war against the dictatorships of the 21st century will be a lonely one.

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