It will be attractive to the Global South, writes Tony Kevin. It will cause consternation in the Western war party camp.
By Tony Kevin
Special to Consortium News
The tragic year-long war in Ukraine has already transformed the world’s geopolitical landscape.
Historic global power shifts towards the Eurasian heartland, centred on China, are accelerating. China and Russia have drawn together in a strong “no limits” partnership, that is attracting other major states in the Global South, especially India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa.
The common link is on building stronger trading, infrastructure and diplomatic ties, consistent with the U.N.-based international security system. More and more, the Western camp led by the U.S. seems peripheral, a powerless spectator to these global changes.
The Ukraine crisis is a catalyst, accelerating changes that might have otherwise taken decades to work through.
Mediocre Western leaders like U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Sholtz, French President Emmanuel Macron and a conga line of weak British prime ministers, allied with the improbable former comedian heading a nationalist regime in Kiev united only by its fanatical hatred of all things Russian, have led the West into disastrous anti-Russian policies, causing self-inflicted wounds especially in Europe.
The root cause of the West’s current woes is the Washington elite’s refusal to come to grips with its own disasters at home: in a country increasingly weakened by stark ideological and economic contradictions.
Obsessed by the great power competition with Russia and China, the Washington elite at the same time repeatedly under-estimates Russian and Chinese diplomatic skills and will to survive. A bipartisan war party drains Washington’s budgets as America’s key infrastructure frays.
Hundreds of billions go to prop up NATO’s unwinnable proxy war against Russia in Ukraine: a war which actually began in February 2014, not 2022. Influential Americans saw Ukraine as a weapon to destabilise Russian President Vladimir Putin, by turning the two most populous ex-Soviet nation-states against each other. They connived with Ukrainian Banderite extreme nationalists to militarise and indoctrinate Ukraine against Russia.
For the U.S. whichever side won the U.S. arms industry prospered. Russian diplomatic efforts in 2014-21 to maintain peace with a sovereign Kiev through the Minsk process were negated by Western duplicity.
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Meanwhile the Ukrainian army was expanded and hardened by NATO weapons and training. A long-running artillery war waged by Kiev against its pro-Russian dissident eastern provinces Donetsk and Lugansk, ignored by Western media, left up to 14,000 dead and over 100,000 homeless.
Testing Putin’s Resolve
By December 2021, Washington and Kiev judged themselves strong enough to test Putin’s resolve. He was faced with lose-lose. If he allowed Kiev a genocidal victory over the Donbass rebel provinces, his credibility as Russian leader would slump.
He could only defend Donbass by invading sovereign Ukraine, possibly to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine. He chose this lesser evil, seeing the Donbass crisis as having become an existential threat to Russia.
After an inconclusive first seven months, the war has turned in favour of a determined-to-win Russia. This is certainly how China and the global South see it, unconvinced by increasingly improbable claims by Ukrain’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and NATO that Kiev can still win this war.
The China – Russia partnership is built on their mutual adherence to the U.N. Security Council rules-based order, and on their support for the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which was drafted by Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai in 1953 and adopted by the 1995 Non-Aligned Conference in Bandung.
In recent years an opportunistic U.S. and its Western allies have pressed for another kind of international order – a “rules-based order” in which the West sets the rules and decides when and how to enforce them on others.
Since the Soviet collapse in 1991, the dogma of eternal Sino-Soviet geopolitical rivalry has been holy writ in the West. It took the brilliantly inept Trump and Biden administrations to make enemies of both great powers simultaneously, pushing them together: while the Global South looked on appalled as Washington used its own “rules- based order” to bully weaker states.
The Ukraine war has magically clarified this imbroglio. The Global South now respects Russia and China as major status quo powers, and as united defenders of the U.N. Security Council-based global security order. The U.S. has been exposed as a reckless global bully and rules-breaker.
The East-West information war which in February 2022 seemed securely in Western hands has escaped from their control.
Western-supported terrorist actions in and around the Ukraine war – in the terrorist trifecta in September 2022 of the U.K.-Ukrainian sabotage attack on the Kerch Bridge, the U.S.-Norwegian sabotage of the Russian-German Baltic pipelines and the brutal murder near Moscow of Maria Dugina — sullied the West’s good name.
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Large majorities in the Global South now trust Russia and China more than they trust the West. Notwithstanding some recent U.N. General Assembly votes – the result of heavy U.S. arm-twisting of vulnerable smaller states — the reality is there to be seen in shifting trade statistics and in the diplomatic dance.
Western Power Elites
In the G20, the Global South is no longer listening to the West. At Davos, Western power elites now speak only to themselves. After the Ukraine crisis, the Global South sees that China and Russia now offer more attractive global trading and reserve currency alternatives or supplements to the American-dominated dollar system, which Western sanctions have shown to be insecure. They are quietly spreading their risks, politically and economically.
With the discreet help of China, India, Iran and the Middle East entrepot city-states, Russia has sailed with ease through Western trade and banking sanctions. These have boomeranged to harm the U.S.-led bloc, especially through increasing energy costs and declining European trade competitiveness from blocking cheap Russian gas imports.
Once proud European states Germany and France have reverted to full lackey status, dependent on U.S. energy and weaponry.
Since 2014, Chinese-Russian diplomatic, trade and infrastructure links have grown robustly. Their equal-partner military cooperation is now entrenched.
China exports many dual-use high technology products to Russia. China does not need to supply Russia with weapons: but if it ever thought it needed to, it would. Because China knows that if Russia collapsed under Western sanctions, it would be next.
The importance of the Ukraine crisis has been to crystallize Chinese leadership perceptions of the U.S. as an untrustworthy partner, and the existential enemy of both China and Russia.
China’s proposal on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. pic.twitter.com/pFVi9D8q8g
— Yu Dunhai (@YDunhai) February 25, 2023
Even under President Donald Trump, the U.S. tried to provoke destabilization and regime change in China: around Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan and in the South China Sea. In trying so clumsily to portray China as an aggressor, the U.S. finally convinced China’s leadership that the U.S. has at least since 2014 pursued aggressive strategies towards Russia and China.
In the past month, the pace of Chinese global diplomacy has quickened. The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was received last week by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; Nikolai
Patrushev, head of national security, and Putin himself, when he visited Moscow as a precursor to a March-April visit by Chairman Xi Jinping which will announce far-reaching new economic cooperation.
China has recently launched an activist peace diplomacy, setting out its “Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis.” This impressive general document, based on the U.N. Charter and the Five Principles, indicates China’s support for an immediate ceasefire without preconditions; no more Western arms supplies; and offering massive reconstruction aid to a post-settlement new government in Ukraine.
It will be attractive to the Global South. It will cause consternation in the Western war party camp. Russia has welcomed it. We will see the Chinese peace plan talked about in coming weeks. It may offer the breakthrough for peace for which many Ukrainians pray.
Tony Kevin is a former Australian senior diplomat, having served as ambassador to Cambodia and Poland, as well as being posted to Australia’s embassy in Moscow. He is the author of six published books on public policy and international relations.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
Tony Kevin’s analysis makes a lot of sense to me. One has to ask why the U.S. has taken the world to this sorry pass when the country is so full of admirable and decent people. I recall the late and lamented Robert Fisk saying only half jokingly (to a Carleton University, Canada, audience) about how problems with Iraq, before it was laid waste by George W. Bush’s ill-fated war and occupation, could be peacefully resolved by granting U.S. citizenship to all Iraqis who wanted it. As he saw things, Iraqis admired the U.S. and its culture, but that storehouse of good will was destroyed by post-invasion behavior.
The basic problem is that the PNAC people (Google it) seem still to be in charge. What keeps them in power appears to be the unshakable belief among most American people that their country has a destiny to inspire the world to good and right behavior, and it can make honest mistakes but will never intentionally engage in evil. Revelations by the Frank Church committee in the mid-1970s showed differently, but credentialed apologists could still write to the press to contradict, falsely, the evidence the committee provided.
Those who try to tell the truth about such things become marginalized or worse; sometimes quickly, sometimes over time. Ask Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden, and more recently Seymour Hersh. My mind goes back to Upton Sinclair and how the Los Angele Times and Hollywood worked to destroy him.
Extremely well said. Chinese now receives twice as many patents as do US outfits. Our leaders have led us down the sewer of history.
During the WW1, the French lost so many men of fighting that they became known as the Lost Generation. The ongoing war in Ukraine is producing the same result for that country: it’s young men dying combat with no means of replacing them except by calling up older generations to die as well. No matter show that war ends, Ukraine will be the loser.
We are told that America must support Ukraine because it is a democracy. Putting aside that issue, why are we supplying weapons to Ukraine? The answer is that US/NATO is using the death and destruction of Ukraine to “degrade” Russia, both militarily and economically. But it is false goal because even a degraded Russian will provide China with a friendly neighbor on it’s western border, freeing China to look eastward to the Pacific.
It is as if the West is opposing peace. Of course, with so much profit from arms’ sales…war is much more preferred. For shame…West, for shame.
Classic ‘ from the hip’ view.Wont get you a gig in Canberra.Good to see the old Aussie Spirit is still alive.Makes you a hunted species.Someone who can think for themselves and not afraid to Express it.Has a Wilfred Burchett quality. Ed
Mediocre western leaders…Totally agree with that,hell Joe Biden,the President of the US,is not even there,the poor guy is delusional,a dottard,God bless America.
The question remains: how will the U.S./NATO respond to an unconditional surrender by Ukraine which is becoming increasing likely? At this point a reasonable person would accept that fact and learn to live with it. Admittedly, we are not dealing with reasonable people. From all reports, the Russians have out-gunned their adversaries and those in the West who have supported them. This is repeatedly becoming what Mr. Putin termed, “the theater of the absurd.”
If Zelensky has any brains (doubtful), he’ll accept China’s plan. If he doesn’t, he only proves he’s in it for himself and doesn’t give a sh*t about the people of Ukraine.
The US will NEVER go along with a Chinese-brokered peace deal for Ukraine. Especially one with which Russia agrees.
Well, Tim N, maybe the US is just making itself irrelevant—-and the decision to do so is coming from the US. If America fails—– it is America’s failure. As I read and see what havoc is happening to the Earth—-unless all nations can grow together to make a positive future for the planet—-I don’t see Earth having much of a future at all.
I worry about bombs imploding over waterways. I worry about trains crashing and oil companies poisoning both waterways and people; I worry about people dying for nothing; I worry about the climate crisis creating a food crisis which could happen to all nations around the world. But mostly I worry and fear the insanity gene that seems to being clung to by the people running governments who just aren’t skilled enough to actually do the job.
Casey G. Millions and Millions of people around the World agree with your concern.We all need to learn to live together or we will all die together.The never ending story of these Civil Wars with brother killing brother for ideas of National Flags,Anthems & Duty is pure Lunacy.
You’re right, but it’s our species that will have no future, the Earth will survive and be here long after we’re gone…
That “last Ukrainian” is getting off the bus later today. The USA won’t decide the peace.