The United States president Joe Biden has recently visited Poland and made a speech which on one hand was barely coherent, and on the other displayed yet again the incredible American capacity to gloss over its own history of waging almost non-stop war on any country that dares to refuse to abide by United States dictates about how they should behave.
In his speech, Biden demanded president Putin of Russia should go. Who would replace them is uncertain, so long as it is someone that is willing to bow to United States dictates on the unchallenged role of the United States as the world arbiter of right and wrong. It was an extraordinary exercise in self-delusion and complete blindness to the United States’ own multiple failings in endeavouring to shape the world in its own image.
One might have thought that Biden had learned something from his recent encounter (by video) with China’s President Xi. In that meeting Biden attempted to bully the Chinese leader into forsaking his countries support for Russia. It was a fruitless exercise, but the American vanity is such that they are incapable of interpreting correctly what was a very firm Chinese refusal to abide by any of Biden’s threats and blandishments.
Biden’s refusal to see the world as it really is gains support from the Western media. The accounts of the ongoing war in Ukraine are full of stories about the Russian effort bogging down, being unable to complete the capture of cities, huge lists of casualties and other aspects that confirm yet again their ability to see the world as they would wish it to be rather than as it really is.
Washington and the European capitals are well aware that the Russian operation is proceeding on schedule. The Ukrainian army, which is splintered into ever smaller groups, is totally unable to stop the relentless Russian advance. It is the recognition of the military reality that is the reason why NATO’s summit on 24 March confirmed that the last thing the Western allies want or need is a military confrontation with the Russian army.
Rather than commit western troops to the defence of Ukraine, they made the rather extraordinary decision to commit 40,000 NATO troops to be deployed in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. The odd man out was Poland that proposed deploying NATO military units to Ukraine. NATO was not having a bar of this proposal and it was rejected out of hand.
It seems that at least part of the motivation for the Polish suggestion was the fact that they are implicitly planning to take part of Ukraine and making it part of Polish territory. There is some suggestion that Russian ally Belarus is also looking to take control of the Ukrainian regions of Polesie and Volyn.
Regardless of Polish and Belarusian ambitions for parts of Ukrainian territory, it seems certain that the state of Ukraine, is it has existed since World War II, is unlikely to survive in its present form. In this, Biden, who was the United States front men in the 2014 coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Ukraine, must bear a heavy responsibility.
Bidens’ personal interests in Ukraine have received too little attention in the western media. His son Hunter, currently under criminal investigation, has financial and other interests in Ukraine. It is impossible to believe that the actions of the father are not influenced at least in part by the deep stakes his son has in Ukraine.
The Russians have also upped the ante with the recent announcement by Putin that “unfriendly” countries will be charged for their purchases of Russian gas in roubles. This surprise announcement led to a typical intemperate demand from European Union chief Ursula van der Leyen who demanded that Russian oil and gas companies “will not be allowed to demand payment for fuel in roubles”. She seemed to be totally unaware that the European Union has no effective means to pressure Russian companies that supply the oil to do any such thing. Her demand was typical of the arrogance with which the European Union expects that its wishes have any influence in the real world.
Moscow’s demand for payment in roubles contains two messages. First, it is a signal to the world that the value of the rouble would not be a plaything for the West. Secondly, it is part of a wider move, together with its multiple world partners (a factor ignored in the West) to diminish the previously dominant role of the United States dollar.
The Ukraine crisis precisely delineates the extent to which the Western view of the world is losing its influence. A recent meeting of 55 Muslim countries refused to condemn the Russian moves in Ukraine. In this they had been joined by every single African state, and most of Asia and Latin America. The days when Western wishes were interpreted as world opinion have been dramatically illustrated to be very much a feature of the past.
The penny is also starting to drop as the consequences for Europe of shutting off gas from Russia, as threatened by some of the European Union. Europe’s current consumption of gas is currently 500,000,000,000 m³. The most that the United States and Qatar can offer is 15,000,000,000 m³, and Qatar has refuted recent reports that it is willing to cooperate with any scheme to replace Russian gas supplies.
This is the reality that Europe has to face and the rhetorical posturing of van der Leyen and her ilk will not change that reality. Another reality, as mentioned above, is that the bulk of the world’s countries do not share the West’s views of the Russia – Ukraine conflict. A major dissenter from the European/United States view has been India, which among other things is in the process of repairing its relationship with China, fractured over a long standing border dispute.
The Ukraine crisis has highlighted the fact that India and China have common interests. Their relationship is steadily improving, assisted by some typically clumsy United States pressure for India to reduce its very long and close association with Russia. India’s membership of the Quad (with Australia, Japan and the United States) looks like coming to an end.
The consequences of this are huge and as yet little appreciated in the West. It seems that Russia’s loss of patience with Ukrainian dishonesty and double-dealing over the Donbass will have repercussions that have the ability to transform the world as we know it.
James O’Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
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