The Wall Street Journal, one of the remaining few American mainstream print media sources with any credibility at all,( at least as long as Trump is not the subject) had on 24 February, a very informative collection of news articles on the current state of the Ukrainian war. One article ”Invasion has Reshaped the world,” was mostly upbeat opining that the United States has regained its world leadership role, our industry base rejuvenated, that NATO has been revived, and has put China in the drivers seat in the Chinese-Russian relationship, as well as reducing Russian share of the world energy market. About the only drawback, according to the article, was world wide inflation, which of course the Biden administration denies exists. In fact the polls in the United States seem the reflect broad American public approval of the way the war is going. As Winston Churchill once said, during the period when he was desperately trying to get the US into the war, “Americans are good at lauding the valor of others,” He was referring to the fact that the British were fighting the Nazi juggernaut alone with the Americans cheering from the sidelines. Now we have Americans cheering from the sidelines as the Ukrainians fight the Russian Goliath alone.
Except for the fact that the Ukrainian casualties are exceeding the the level of America’s Iraq’s and Afghanistan casualties, and the Ukrainians do not have the population base to support reconstituting these losses in a possibly interminable war, it would seem the war is a fortuitous event.
But being counter-cultural and living long enough to know that trends are often quite unexpectedly reversed, and that the American media has become infected with the Arab media syndrome of being primarily a “bought and sold “ institution, I see the darkening clouds not being touched upon by the Western “Quality” media. It is now difficult to know if one is being gaslighted or if we are living in a Disney fantasy world.
To cut to the chase, the primary trend I see is not included in the WSJ article, is the deepening chasm between East and West. As I wrote in a previous blog posting, increasingly the so called “third world, “ the “South” of the North- South term once used to identify the “underdeveloped” world has generally been much more “understanding” of the Russian story. The divide , in many respects coincides with Samuel Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations.”
The Middle Eastern states, with the possible exception of Jordan and Morocco, have given only the most tepid support to the Western “Bucharest Nine” and have not supported any meaningful measures, militarily, economically, or politically to undercut Russia. The best they can offer is encouragement to “end the war,” a placebo to pacify the Western politicians, most recently offered by President Erdogan, a chameleon par excellence.
The Biden speech in Europe during his trip to Ukraine exemplifies the problem. Well received generally in the West, he spoke of sovereignty, freedom, democracy, unity of the West…etc. These terms do not resonate with the East. Most have no real idea what they mean. They have never experienced them. He went on to speak of money and weapons, certainly subjects well understood by the Easterners, but with a very different connotation than understood by Western audiences.To the Easterners money and weapons are simply tools of oppression used by the Westerners and their own despotic and corrupt rulers.
On the other hand, Putin played the East-West card very well dwelling on the moral disintegration of the western societies, their oppression of countries than stand against them, putting Russia of the right side of the imperialist/colonialist- – “Wretched of the Earth.” He adroitly talked of Western child abuse, the destruction of the family, gender confusion, anti- spiritualism, all fitting very nicely into the common Easterner view of the West . These may bring smirks from our intellectual elite and ruling class who laughingly denigrate such notions as taking religion seriously but not from the Easterners who have been saying this for decades. All this before a rapt audience who appeared to be as attentive as those listening to Stalin. This surfaces a major advantage of a dictatorship versus a democracy, and one not be easily dismissed. As Churchill knew a democracy in wartime has to be protected by a “bodyguard of lies.”
One wonders what the coming year will bring. Is there a plan “B” as the influx of weaponry from the West does not stop the Russians. What next? A foreign legion of Western “Volunteers, “ Western Air Force overhead protection? Perhaps a diversionary attack on a Russian satrapy in Asia or the Balkans? Perhaps Iran? The latter is probably too imaginative and requires far too much courage for the current Western leaders.