Source Responsible Statecraft
WASHINGTON, U.S.--Americans are fervently cheering for Ukraine in a war that many believe is a decisive struggle for human freedom. The intensity of our infatuation makes it easy to assume that everyone in the world shares it. They don’t.
The impassioned American reaction is matched only in Europe, Canada, and the handful of U.S. allies in East Asia. For many people in the rest of the world, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is just another pointless Western war in which they have no stake.
The two biggest countries in Latin America, Mexico and Brazil, have refused to impose sanctions on Russia or to curtail trade. South Africa, the economic powerhouse of the African continent, has done the same.
China and India, where more than one-third of the world’s people live, are the most potent dissenters. Both abstained from the recent United Nations vote condemning Russia, and both reject U.S.-backed sanctions.
Pakistan, a nuclear power with 200 million people, did more than simply abstain from the UN vote. When the United States asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to join the anti-Russia coalition, he scoffed, “Are we your slaves…that whatever you say, we will do?”
Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu told a Congressional hearing that his people spoke to Sri Lankan and Pakistani officials on the phone to press them to vote for the resolution.
Pakistan’s pro-American military had let members of Parliament know that it favored a no-confidence vote. Khan had other problems, including a poor economic record. He has announced that he will seek to return to power in next year’s election, campaigning against an “arrogant and threatening” United States.
Washington is also in near-panic over a new security pact that the Solomon Islands (population 650,000) has signed with China. The White House said it would “have significant concerns and respond accordingly” if the pact gives China too much military influence in the Solomons.
Other Asian countries are joining the drift away from America’s sphere of influence. Vietnam abstained from the UN vote condemning Russia and then announced a series of joint maneuvers with the Russian military.
At the other end of the continent, Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia reportedly refused to speak to President Biden about increasing oil production, but had a long call with Putin (according to the Kremlin), and has invited China’s President Xi Jinping to visit Riyadh soon.
Few world leaders have endorsed Russia’s invasion. Some, however, might be forgiven for wondering how the United States, which bombed Serbia, invaded Iraq, occupied Afghanistan and attacked Libya, can claim that it opposes aggression.
President Biden’s demand that Putin stand trial for war crimes might be justified by reported atrocities, but could be seen as hypocritical from a country that has refused to join the International Criminal Court in the Hague and even threatened to invade Holland if the court investigates American war crimes.
Forces in Asia, not Europe, will shape the coming century. Many Asian nations see their interests aligning with those of the continent’s giants, Russia and China. They are not as easily intimidated as they once were.