This article is a translation of "Poetin ‘kan geen kant meer op’—behalve China, India, Iran enz."
The Dutch newspaper of record, NRC-Handelsblad, a few days ago wrote that ‘Putin is cornered with nowhere to turn’. Except of course, China (1.2 billion inhabitants), India (more than a billion), Iran, and so on. The provincialism of the Dutch press is breathtaking indeed. But then, among the European followers of the US position, we are in the front group.
For even within NATO there are countries which no longer let themselves be tied to the American bandwagon. I would not want to call Turkey under its current government as the example to follow in other respects, but it says something about Western power and influence that neither Washington nor Brussels have been able to convince the Turks that they must support the sanctions against Russia. A visit of the new European foreign affairs representative, Federica Mogherini, to Ankara did not help.
In India there isn’t much appetite to follow the Western lead either. For some time I have been following the analyses of M. Bhadrakumar, an Indian former ambassador who looks at the world from the perspective of a country that during the entire Cold War maintained an informal alliance with the Soviet Union against its regional rival, China.
The West has scored a Pyrrhic victory in Ukraine, writes Bhadrakumar, because it may have succeeded in getting rid of Yanukowych after he refused, in the last minute, to sign the association agreement with the EU. But the new team installed in Kiev may have signed the agreement after all but Ukraine has been pushed into chaos and the agreement cannot be put to work. Russia has invested some $33 billion in the Ukrainian economy, but the West was ready to help drive out the elected government, did not follow up with any money because it knows this is a bottomless pit. Just the other day, 10 December, I was invited to explain on BNR radio why Ukraine is about to go bankrupt.
In his ‘State of the Union’ address Putin last week demonstrated that he no longer beats around the bush when it comes to exposing a Western policy to dismember Russia as happened with Yugoslavia. He spoke, without mincing his words, about how Western intelligence agencies have been active in Chechnya and now in Ukraine, whilst warning that Russia will find ways round the American anti-missile defence systems being put up in eastern Europe. (When Russia had not yet been identified as a ‘threat’ these systems were purportedly meant to defend an attack by Iran or North Korea).
Russia, according to Bhadrakumar, on account of its nuclear arsenal, its seat in the UN Security Council and its worldwide prestige as a centre of culture, is the only truly remaining obstacle to an American world hegemony, and the Russians know it. They also know that the US has lost much of the respect that they once enjoyed, and the countries in the Middle East demonstrate that Washington has to count even with small states like Yemen. The Asiatic ‘pivot’ Obama had in mind has turned out a failure and Latin America has largely freed itself from US influence.
The biggest loser in all of this, Bhadrakumar writes, is Europe, which has allowed itself to be turned into a powerless appendage of American strategy. Now that it has subscribed to the sanctions against Moscow without reservation, What is left of the role Europe once played in the world?
Already a revolt has erupted among Central European countries which are finding out today what the sanctions mean for them now that temperatures are falling. What will remain of Ukraine as a country is entirely in the dark, writes the Indian diplomat. Central and Eastern Europe are losing their most obvious trade and raw material partner in the east with every day the sanctions policy is maintained. To this point the view of M. Bhadrakumar.
The demonstrations in the big cities of the United States these days, aimed at the militarise, racist police, may have an inadvertent benefit—however sad the events that led to them. For this might finally prompt the government in Washington to shift its attention from the destabilisation of foreign countries to stabilising the situation in the United States itself.
Kees van der Pijl