The West: A Minority Club
Why not hold the West as well as the Rest accountable for their actions?
August 13, 2014
The governments of the West are all connected by their European heritage and culture. They are an exclusive club of the minority who used to rule the world and now continue to seek to perpetuate that order with the leader of the pack being the United States.
For the Europeans, this is also convenient in many ways. First and foremost, it allows them to continue to enjoy all the privileges of dominance without having to spend heavily on a military.
Meanwhile, not least owing to overstretched public budgets and having learned bitter lessons from the Second World War, they maintain a veneer of pacifism.
This is true — except perhaps for the British. Having been victorious in the Second World War, but then losing all their colonies, they still hang on to some notion of retaining military might, not least by clinging to the coattails of the mighty U.S. military that much harder.
But ultimately, the “glory” of sharing in the West’s global leadership has come at a price for the Europeans — that of subservience to the United States. Even if there has been the occasional ruckus within the ranks of the Western tribe — for example, concerning the illegal invasion of Iraq — the tribe so far has always reassembled and stuck together.
This has been painfully evident in the West’s positions in the events that have led to the unfolding disasters in Syria, Libya and Egypt (not to mention Afghanistan) — all of which it is conveniently washing its hands now.
Europeans may have had an idea that much of the American rhetoric was just hollow, self-serving and ultimately futile. The fact remains that they did not take the logical step — of denying the United States followership into a series of impending disasters.
Not just Europe fell for it
This narrative of the West’s inherent moral superiority that was carefully crafted to conceal a centuries-old appetite for global dominance has been so well spread through sophisticated propaganda in the post-colonial era that even the formerly oppressed have bought into it, mainly its elites.
Even so, now that the emperor’s clothes are slowly but surely being stripped away, the Rest wakes up to the lies.
For non-westerners, it is clear that the glue that so obviously creates the notion of the West is not its much trumpeted values (after all, all societies have different values), but its ties through race, religion, ethnicity and a shared history.
The other key element that holds the tribe together is its shared military might, as represented by NATO. There is no other group of nations or regions that even vaguely resembles this type of organization — an unmatched ability to unleash organized violence against all deemed to be non-compliant or a threat.
And if other nations do try to set up similar military alliances, they will be challenged with military threats disguised as moral arguments about the need to protect global peace. This is often done in the grand old tradition of imperialism — divide and rule.
The West’s group think and loyalty to each other, at the expense of everyone else, is a trap of the West’s own making and its Achilles heel.
This is unfortunate, as the West has a great deal to offer the world in the 21st century. But it seems wedded to its insecurity, rooted in centuries of dominance, privilege and entitlement. That ultimately is what does not allow it to come to terms with sharing power with its former subjects.
The western alliance coming apart?
The events of the past few weeks and months have put into sharp focus the shallowness of western group think, the nature of its tribal mentality and how oblivious it is to global opinion.
The events have made it clear once more that the West intends to carve a geopolitical position that pits it against the Rest to maintain its dominance and it is being led by the United States.
This is an especially acute issue for Europe. Many citizens and an increasing number of leading politicians there have a growing sense of unease about the strategic direction and acumen of the U.S. government. This applies regardless of its respective political stripes. Democrats and Republicans evidently don’t differ much on foreign policy.
In this context, consider the disastrous events that appear to be leading to the breakup of the Middle East as we know it. The West, led by the United States, is trying hard to wash its hands of the sad breakup of the state in Iraq, Libya and Syria — as if it had nothing to do with it.
And yet, the evidence is clear for all to see. All one has to do is to surf the internet and search for pronouncements by Western leaders going back a couple of years — and one will see how engaged they were in de-stabilizing these countries.
All we have now is silence or lectures about how Arab governments are incompetent (which is true), how Arab unity is essential for peace (sadly a too-hard-to-deny indictment of the Arab world) and that Arabs should learn to live with each other and resolve their differences.
Alas, many of these differences have also been exacerbated by decades of Western — especially U.S. and UK, but also French — interference.
Western interference is not new
This is not a new phenomenon. From Iran to Iraq to Egypt and for well over 100 years, Western nations have used sectarian differences to interfere in the right to self-determination of these nations, with the last half century being the worst period, given the pursuit of energy.
There are other painfully short-sighted double standards in play. The West, both openly and covertly, supplied arms to all and sundry regimes in the Middle East, including corrupt and ruthless governments. These arms exports resulted in the deaths of thousands.
The shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine resulted in outrage in the West and the tightening of sanctions against Russia, which was deemed to be responsible. There was no similar outrage in 1988 when the United States shot down an Iranian passenger plane resulting in the deaths of over 250 Iranians.
At the same time, the West — led by the United States — has been the main supplier of arms and much more to Israel. The same week that Shaymah died, the U.S. Senate agreed to resupply weapons to Israel and approved further funds for its Iron Dome project to the tune of $250 million.
In case anybody wonders, these are the same weapons that killed little Shaymah and 1,000 other Palestinian civilians. There has not been a single European government that has called for war crimes proceedings — as has been the case with Russia. Why?
To call for war crimes against Israel is to break the sacred code that holds the Western tribe together. It would be a case of supporting the argument for a member of the tribe and the tribal leader, the United States, to be potentially taken to the ICC (even if it is not a signatory).
To do this is to betray the pack leader and would be seen as ungrateful to the United States, not least for its help in rebuilding Europe.
And lastly, the Europeans — especially the Germans, who have far greater reservations about militarist attitudes than most other large European nations — dare not risk taking any such step for fear of being accused as being anti-Semitic.
Meanwhile, the silence in the Chief Prosecutor’s Office at the ICC in The Hague is deafening.
To the Chief Prosecutor the message has to be clear: “Mr. Prosecutor, in the interest of the international community, not just the West, please proceed to take action immediately to bring a case against all parties implicated in war crimes in Gaza — even if they are not signatories.”
Holding all sides accountable
This would send a strong message to all countries, especially western powers. Taking this step would free the court from the longstanding claim that it is mostly a convenient Western tool to deal with war crimes in Africa.
From the perspective of the Rest, not the West, it is really quite easy. Ensure the case is built to hold all sides accountable (IDF and Hamas) as well as those responsible for supplying the weapons of war.
This continuing silence on the part of the West has sent a chilling reminder to the Rest that the West is duplicitous, despite all its pious preaching.
The present state of affairs only reinforces a growing belief that the same sense of impunity and arrogance that led the West to dominate so many countries around the globe for so long continues to have a firm foothold in its psyche.
With one big difference: That superiority now mostly exists just in moral narratives which it continues to relentlessly spread through its control of key global media platforms, backed by military might.
But to the Rest of the world, the West’s silence on the war crimes being committed in Gaza is deafening.
The Rest also realizes that this is not just about the Middle East or Africa. Many nations in Asia are still recovering from similar interventions, for example, Pakistan, India (Kashmir), Myanmar and Vietnam.
No doubt, all the Arab states need to have a reality check of their own and come to their senses. They must stop fuelling sectarian conflicts, which will eventually engulf too many.
The United States’ foreign policy choices
But the rest of the world should no longer sit back and be horrified spectators to what is going on. In fact, they need to stop being passive and take action.
This is necessary despite the reluctance of the West to accept other intermediaries for fear of losing its self-serving global influence and self-appointed global role as moral guardians.
The fastest path to stop the bloodbath in Gaza is for the United States to come to its senses. It should realize that what is going on is yet another massive wave of radicalization of a people as a result of a U.S. foreign policy choice.
Usually, the choice the United States makes is to intervene, often for ill-considered, short-term purposes that prove disastrous soon after. In Israel’s case, the choice is not to intervene, likely with the same result.
This puts the Europeans into quite a bind. They have seen the disastrous consequences of America’s “strategic” thinking and the immense failures of its vast intelligence machinery all too often. Continued silence — or standing by their “man” (aka the U.S.A.) — will not just cost the people in affected countries dearly, it will also cost the Europeans and ultimately the Americans as well.
Breaking news: Palestinian mother gives birth to quadruplets in a hospital treating the wounded bringing a little bit of joy to Gaza. Babies and mother are fine and it is to be hoped the hospital will not be bombed.
It is also hoped all four will be brought up in world where they can claim their right to freedom.
But if they choose to resist the oppression of an occupying army, they would be following in the tradition of some of the greatest leaders of the Rest. This includes Nelson Mandela who supported the armed struggle — and therefore for many years was branded a terrorist by the West before being embraced as its darling.
All of us have a choice to make: We can remain silent and act as compliant bystanders — or we can seek to create a better-balanced world that is not rooted in the presumption of the superiority of one culture.
Europe used to rule the world and now seeks to perpetuate that order with the leader of the pack – the US.
The glory of sharing in the West’s global leadership has a price for Europe – subservience to the US.
An element that holds the West together is its shared military might represented by NATO.
The West seems wedded to its insecurity, rooted in centuries of dominance, privilege and entitlement.
Founder and chief executive, Global Institute for Tomorrow Chandran Nair is the founder of the Global Institute For Tomorrow (GIFT), an organization based in Asia that is focused on the relationship of Asian society and values with those of the rest of the world. Chandran was chairman of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) in the Asia […]