The Russian invasion of Ukraine has set off radical changes in international relationships. The US and other (not all) European nations have imposed severe sanctions on Russia designed to destroy its economy. The precedents set are not all positive. First Ukraine has defined corruption for years. The Biden family and even Mitt Romney’s family got positions on a Ukrainian gas company’s Board for lots of money and no work except influence. The “Maiden Revolution” in 2014 was engineered by the Obama CIA. It expelled a pro-Russian president duly elected in an election probably more honest than the US 2020 election. Not all agree that it was an honest process.
As Ukraine’s political crisis deepened, [Victoria] Nuland and her subordinates became more brazen in favoring the anti-Yanukovych demonstrators. Nuland noted in a speech to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation on December 13, 2013, that she had traveled to Ukraine three times in the weeks following the start of the demonstrations. Visiting the Maidan on December 5, she handed out cookies to demonstrators and expressed support for their cause.
The extent of the Obama administration’s meddling in Ukraine’s politics was breathtaking. Russian intelligence intercepted and leaked to the international media a Nuland telephone call in which she and U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffey Pyatt discussed in detail their preferences for specific personnel in a post-Yanukovych government.
Ukraine has remained an economic basket case in spite of the change to a pro-western government.
The furious reaction to the invasion by US officials has alarmed some nations that have remained neutral. Some of them have been our allies, or at least friendly.
In a development that suggests trouble ahead, China’s basic approach—not endorsing Moscow’s aggression but resisting Western efforts to punish Russia—has garnered global support. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa blamed the war on NATO. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, refused to condemn Russia. India and Vietnam, essential partners for any American strategy in the Indo-Pacific, are closer to China than the U.S. in their approach to the war.
Western arm-twisting and the powerful effect of bank sanctions ensure a certain degree of sanctions compliance and support for symbolic U.N. resolutions condemning Russian aggression. But the lack of non-Western enthusiasm for America’s approach to Mr. Putin’s war is a phenomenon that U.S. policy makers ignore at their peril.
The dominant role played by the “Woke” left and the Green New Deal enthusiasts in the Democrat Party has concerned many of them. Right now, Democrats hold all three branches of government, although narrowly.
Opposition to Russia looked like a global slam dunk to many in the West. World opinion would so robustly oppose Moscow’s attack that countries like China would pay a high political price for failing to jump onto the anti-Russia bandwagon.
That is not how it is working. Some countries, like America’s disheartened and alienated Middle East allies, worry about backing a withdrawing Washington against an ascendant Russia.
Biden’s rhetoric about Saudia Arabia has resulted in the refusal to accept his phone calls begging for more oil production.
While enthusiastic Western liberals hail the imposition of sanctions on Russia, the increased willingness of the Western powers to weaponize the global economic system horrifies leaders in many countries who think the West is too powerful already. Many Brazilians have long feared that Western environmentalists intend to block the development of the Amazon basin. They worry that climate activists might force the Federal Reserve and other Western banks to “save the planet” by imposing sanctions on Brazil. Policy makers in India and elsewhere share many of these fears as they see environmental campaigners using global economic institutions to impose their agenda on countries with different priorities.
Much of the Democrat Party’s social agenda is anathema to other countries with traditional beliefs.
Mr. Putin’s claim that an overpowerful West seeks to use its economic and institutional leverage to impose a radical worldview on the rest of the planet strikes Western liberals as self-serving propaganda, but his arguments resonate more widely than most liberals understand. The Trump administration’s unilateral imposition of tough sanctions against Iran heightened international awareness of how much power the global economic system gives the U.S. But woke Democrats using economic sanctions to impose their views on climate, gender and other issues are even less welcome in many countries than Trumpian populists.
The use of powerful economic weapons risks the possibility that they could be turned against us or that “unanticipated results,” so common to the economically illiterate Democrat Party, will punish us in turn. The skyrocketing gas prices are only one simple example.