By Alex LO
A recent op-ed from Bloomberg suggests a new "axis of evil" is emerging. It was behind a paywall and I wasn't about to pay to read it. But instead of the old axis of Iran, Iraq and North Korea, the new ones are Russia, Iran, North Korea and China.
We all know how US foreign policy turned out last time under George W. Bush when its formulation was based on such an axis: an illegal war in Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands, uprooted millions and destroyed a whole society; the spurring of Iran to become a big regional player in the Middle East and the nuclearisation of North Korea that makes it virtually uninvadable.
It looks like the Joe Biden White House now wants a repeat. Whether or not it uses the same wording, we are already seeing similar results.
Remember Albert Einstein's famous definition of insanity as repeatedly doing the same thing while expecting a different result?
The hypocrisy of the completely different Western responses, especially Washington's, to the conflicts involving Ukrainians and Palestinians, has fundamentally squandered the diplomatic capital of the West in the eyes of the Global South.
China's position on both conflicts accord with the rest of the world while "Western unity" is breaking on both fronts.
China may not have been terribly successful in convincing the rest of the world that it offers a better model of governance and development, but it's increasingly looking "not too bad" compared to the US-led world order.
Biden has tried to tie American support for Ukraine and Israel together as democracies fighting enemies determined to "annihilate" them.
Most other countries see the former as little more than a regional conflict that doesn't concern them except for its global economic fallouts, and the latter as nothing short of genocide and ethnic cleansing by Israel fully enabled and armed by the US.
We are way beyond mere hypocrisy. The utter disgust shown by the rest of the world is crystallised by South Africa's filing of a case of genocide, with full backing from Malaysia and Turkey, against Israel at the International Court of Justice, a key judicial organ of the United Nations.
The Russians have killed fewer civilians in Ukraine in almost two years than Israel has done in three months.
And yet, the International Criminal Court - to be distinguished from the ICJ - has issued a global arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin while it is doing nothing with Israeli leaders who have openly called for the destruction of Gaza and ethnic cleansing of its population.
Some US pundits, such as the one at Bloomberg, still fret about Washington's global leadership in rallying support to isolate and punish Russia for invading Ukraine. That ship has sailed already. While Moscow didn't win that on its own, Washington has convinced the world that its defence of human rights and democracy are selective and transactional; worse, it undermines them whenever it likes without a second thought.
Don't blame China for presenting itself as a peace broker while taking aim at the West, but especially the US; it's a no-brainer. Biden has practically handed the diplomatic opportunity to Beijing on a platter. Opportunism or not, what's wrong with Beijing calling for a Gaza ceasefire and a two-state solution - now openly rejected by the Israeli leadership - and drawing closer to the major Arab states? It has built on the restored relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia that it helped mediate. But not just in the Middle East; Beijing has shown itself in accord with the shared world views of the Global South.
That may be perceived as a threat to the US-led global order, but Washington has no one else to blame but itself. When you overextend by committing to a war that can't be won and another that amounts to genocide, the outcomes are predictable. I am reminded of another recent op-ed in The New York Times titled, "What if we're the bad guys here?" Hmm, that's an excellent question.
Original article: scmp.com