While standing up to Putin the West must leave the hypocrisy behind

Rami Rayess
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Now that the war in Ukraine has become a reality, it is worthwhile to revisit the reasons that have led the world to reach again an unimaginable situation where it stands on the brink of a Third World War. Primarily led by Washington, the West has been quite hypocritical when dealing with the crisis right from the beginning.

The US administration has been doing all to push Moscow to initiate the first strike. Not only did Washington and its allies celebrate the downfall of the Soviet Union and its security organization The Warsaw Pact, it has also extended the influence of NATO eastwards, reaching the frontiers of Russia.

The West has argued that it has the full right to support Ukraine’s sovereignty against any potential Russian aggression and this is not under dispute.

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In parallel, Moscow has the reciprocal right of sending troops and missiles to other parts of the world, such as Cuba if Havana requests it.

Russian and Cuban relations are warming, highlighted by the Kremlin’s Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov visiting Havana last week. Cuba has also called upon the US and NATO to address Russia’s security concerns on its borders.

In international relations, what applies to the West must equally apply to the East, and this includes what’s unfolding in Ukraine with Russia the aggressor. As it continues to rest its eyes on Taiwan, China’s aggression will no doubt follow Russia’s tactics eventually.

Powerful states can impose their political will on weaker nations. Colonial approaches still control much of Western policies that address pressing global issues. Despite raising the slogans of democracy, human rights, and the historically famous right of self-determination, the West does not hesitate to overlook these principles when its interests are at stake.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is reprehensible, and could become the undoing of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the perpetual view that the countries of the West are the good guys is deeply flawed. (File photo: AFP)
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is reprehensible, and could become the undoing of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the perpetual view that the countries of the West are the good guys is deeply flawed. (File photo: AFP)

Take the example of British policies towards the long-forgotten Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Despite the efforts of Mauritius, which is located off the eastern coast of Africa, to claim its sovereignty on the group of islands based on undisputed legal and historical facts, the conflict continues. London has uninterruptedly refused to recognize the Mauritian claim. However, the latter gained the support of the United Nations General Assembly, the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the UN’s Tribunal for Settling Maritime Disputes.

This also reminds me of the Falklands War led by Margaret Thatcher back in 1982 when the “Iron Lady” refused to surrender when Argentina invaded the islands off of its coast. The ten-week conflict reflected how colonial policies are entrenched in the minds of the Western decision-makers. In spite of the setbacks for long lost empires suffered from conflicts of liberation and the rise of sovereign nation-states the West remains convinced it knows best.

Suppose the West is reversing the trend of “decolonization” to blow the multi-polar world that has advanced after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In that case, it must expect a strong retaliation.

Russia in 2022 is not the same Russia of 1991. Moscow has reclaimed much of its global power that had faded in the last decade of the 20th century. It has succeeded in regaining much of its role on the worldwide stage. Syria, Libya, and other regions around the globe set a clear example of this ascending role.

The rise of China and its close ties with Russia vis-à-vis the West is also a factor that we cannot disregard. Though the Chinese are haunted by the economy and consider it the primary gate to consolidate their global power, they have cemented their bi-lateral relations with Russia and developed a strategic partnership against Washington.

They brought several West antagonists, such as Turkey and Iran into their fold.

The short-sighted Western policies have hindered all the efforts of arms control and have led, in one way or another, to a significant deterioration in this regard. It has always been the case where the West would ignite conflicts around the world to perpetuate the wellbeing of the arms industry.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is reprehensible, and could become the undoing of Vladimir Putin, but the perpetual view that the countries of the West are the good guys is deeply flawed.

If the West does adhere to everything it claims it stands for, that includes the principles of promoting democracy, human rights, and non-interference in the affairs of other states, it’ll need to change its ways and leave the hypocrisy behind.

Read more:

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‘This is total war’: France says Putin wants to remove Ukraine ‘off map of nations’

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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