Ukraine, Munich, Stephen Walt discussed on Between The Lines

Between The Lines


That together and you end up with a very toxic mix of politics, even without throwing in social media Fox News and all that other stuff. I think those big forces are behind much of the dysfunction that you now see in the American political system. And unfortunately, nobody has a sort of quick, easy push the button and it's all solved type solution for it. My guest is Harvard professor Stephen Walt, one of America's leading foreign policy realists. Steve, let's turn to Ukraine. Now, you were at the Munich security conference recently and you found a mismatch between what government officials were saying in public and then what they were saying in private. First, tell us about the divide between the west and the rest with respect to Ukraine. This was really striking at Munich and there's actually some interesting public opinion data that's been produced that supports this. If you were a member of the transatlantic community, Europe or America, you know, Ukraine is the most important issue overwhelming focus there at the conference. It's seen as the fulcrum of the 21st century of the fate of humanity is going to be determined by the outcome in Ukraine. And absolutely the Ukrainians must win because everything is hinging upon this. That was kind of the rhetoric you heard from most people in the sort of NATO bubble, if you call it that. For the rest of the world, you know, again, to oversimplify the global south. And nobody was defending Putin or Russia, but Ukraine is not seen as the most important issue, not the only issue. Certainly not the one that's going to determine the 21st century. They just don't believe that the fate of humanity is going to be determined by whether Ukraine or Russia ultimately controls the Donbass. And there itself interest, right? India, Saudi Arabia, Israel, do not want to sever all their ties with Russia for a combination of economic and political reasons. The global south thinks that the west is being deeply hypocritical that, you know, they welcome Ukrainian refugees, but they wouldn't welcome refugees from Syria or from sub Saharan Africa or from Afghanistan as well. The west sort of dribbled out aid for COVID vaccines, but was willing to pour a $150 billion into Ukraine. So when people from the west from the transatlantic community start talking about how important Ukraine is and how everyone around the world has to get on board, the rest of the world shakes their head and says, you guys just don't get it, do you? I can just imagine many people asking for understandable reasons that with Russia's invasion of a sovereign independent state, surely the rules by liberal international order is at stake and all nations west all the rest have an interest in upholding those rules. People might agree with that intellectually, but the immediate response you get from outside the transatlantic bubble is that this is rank hypocrisy. But first of all, these rules of the rules based order were written by powerful Western countries for the most part, not by India and not by states in Africa elsewhere.

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