upa-admin 25 Mart 2024 670 Okunma 0

9 years ago, when one of the few Russian allies and countries in the “Russkiy mir“, Ukraine was heading towards Western integration, I wrote a piece entitled “Events in Ukraine Symbolize the Ultimate Victory of the West” to underline the Russian failure to keep its allies in power both in Syria and Ukraine as the regime of President Assad of Syria was about to collapse due to popular mass rebellions and the President Yanukovych of Ukraine had to flee to Russia after EuroMaidan protests. I think the article was timely for this period since it seemed like Russia was losing ground in international politics and the collective West was winning the arm wrestling thanks to its undisputed soft power hegemony and immense economic tools.

However, in this relatively long (9-year) period, Russia showed its determination and consolidated its power despite its economic difficulties. Moreover, it showed the whole world, especially authoritarian-leaning leaders that its friendship is more trustworthy compared to the Western alliance. Accordingly, President Putin of Russia intervened in Syria militarily in late 2015 and saved President Assad’s collapsing regime. Moreover, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine to show its huge disappointment with the Kyiv administration and began to support pro-Russian separatist groups in the Donbas (Donbass) region. Moscow hoped to make a deal with Ukraine after taking Crimea and forced this country to return to its civilizational roots, the Orthodox Slavic world. Ukraine on the other hand hoped to take Western economic and military aid and to get access to NATO and the European Union (EU) to counterbalance Russian power and prevent a potential Russian military attack. But when Ukraine’s accession to Western institutions was not materialized, this country turned into an easy target for Russia. Accordingly, when diplomatic talks failed upon American and British pressure, in February 2022, Moscow initiated a special military operation into Ukraine to prevent this neighboring country from further slipping into the Western camp. Despite Ukrainians’ heroic resistance and Western military and economic aids, the Ukrainian counteroffensive in 2023 failed and it seems like Russia is winning the war.

Moreover, in this same period, Americans left Afghanistan and left a terrible legacy there by handing the country to Taliban extremists and leaving it in a hurry. In addition, the Arab Spring did not lead to the flourishing of pro-Western democratic regimes, and once hailed as the champion of democracy and a model for “Muslim democracy“, President Erdoğan of Türkiye decided to fix its relations recently with authoritarian/totalitarian regimes in the region such as Egypt and probably soon with Syria. In the meantime, Iraq administration wants Americans to leave their country as soon as possible and all regional actors expect the victory of isolationist Donald Trump in the 2024 United States (U.S.) presidential election. To make the picture even further problematic, it seems like, after the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA (Iranian nuclear) deal during the first Trump presidency, the Islamic Republic of Iran now is about the make its first nuclear bombs. For sure, this will create further existential security problems for American allies in the region, especially for Israel. In that sense, it seems like the Western failures will continue in the coming years and the U.S. will be less powerful in the Middle East after leaving Iraq and Syria and Iran’s turning into a nuclear power. French demographer and philosopher Emmanuel Todd -who correctly foresaw the collapse of the USSR- also shares the same conclusion and warns of a great failure coming in Ukraine for the collective West.

So, how could be possible that a country (the U.S.) having the best universities and think tanks as well as best indexed academic journals could have failures over failures in foreign policy? Or maybe the failures in the sense we comprehend are not failures for Americans?.. As I read more about American foreign policy and U.S. Politics, I get the impression that the political life in the U.S. is made for powerful lobbies, not for ordinary people, a fact that is described as “plutocracy” by Turkish Professor Hasan Köni. In that sense, the U.S., as a hegemonic global power, produces wars every 10 years if we look at history. Starting with the Korean War (1950-1953), the U.S. political system and foreign policy caused the Vietnam War (1965-1975), the invasion of Grenada (1983), the invasion of Panama (1989-1990), the Gulf War (1990-1991), the Kosovo War (1998-1999), Afghanistan War (2001-2021), the Iraqi War (2003-2011), etc. In the Iraqi War, the U.S. not only started a war, but also ruined the international system by not asking for a United Nations Security Council decision/resolution, a fact that made Russia and China more popular and trustworthy actors in the coming years for the non-Western world. In that sense, the U.S. violated the international system it built after the Second World War and prepared perfect storm conditions for a multipolar world system in progress. It is not surprising that the Russian rise started in 2007 -following the Iraq War- with President Putin’s famous Munich Security Conference speech. Again, not surprisingly, Türkiye began to follow a multi-dimensional foreign policy after unacceptable U.S. actions in Iraq such as the hood event or the hood incident.

For all these reasons, it would not be wrong to conclude that the collective West failed in recent years in many issues, but of course, with their democratic superiorities and immense economic power, there is still a chance for the U.S. and the EU to gain confidence of its allies and create a better future. In that sense, the collective West should first show more efforts to stop the war in Ukraine and to find a peaceful solution to the great humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, Palestine. Only by taking these steps, the U.S. and the collective West could regain legitimacy in the region. Secondly, the West should focus on building new trade routes and organizing aid projects similar to the Marshall Aid of the past century. It is interesting to see that it is China, a so-called totalitarian state according to Westerners, spends more efforts to accelerate trade between different nations with the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) project, not the U.S., a so-called democratic state. We all know that increasing trade ties helps nations establish friendly relations and makes war and military conflicts, a less likely scenario. So, in that sense, why it is China, but not the U.S. or the EU who shows great efforts for establishing new trade routes, we should discuss. Moreover, Western democratic institutions rarely produce concrete results as in the case of Cyprus settlement talks between pro-Western democratic actors (Greece, the United Kingdom, Türkiye, North Cyprus, and the Cyprus Republic) which fail each time or similarly, countries working with the World Bank and IMF to get rid of their economic problems but fail each time, such as Argentina etc. Thirdly, the U.S. political system should be made more democratic and the power of the lobbies should be curbed. From my perspective, especially the control over the defense industry and arm companies should be raised by empowering democratic legislative and legal judiciary institutions in the U.S. in terms of the supervision of arm companies and powerful lobbies. Otherwise, these powerful companies and lobbies could always design and initiate new wars and could buy the politicians with their financial power. Fourthly, we should work on reforming the United Nations (UN) to make it better and more functional. Binding decisions should be binding for everyone and the Security Council should be rearranged by taking Muslim representatives (Türkiye, Iran) and representatives from other important global powers (India, Brazil, etc.) as well. More severe sanctions and punishments should be decided and implemented collectively towards aggressor states in case the international system will continue to exist. Of course, the U.S. itself should respect international law first and should not engage in wars like the Iraq War in 2003 once again, an exemplary case that encouraged other actors (Russia) to do the same in the coming years (Georgia, Ukraine).

Lastly, as Türkiye, we still hope to find diplomatic solutions to all political problems based on a reasonable and realistic understanding of power relations. In that sense, we defend Ukrainian territorial integrity, but we do understand and respect Russia’s concerns for the NATO enlargement. Moreover, we judge American foreign policy towards Ukraine (supporting them to fight, but not getting them into NATO) as a great irresponsibility that caused great human suffering and destruction for this country. In addition, the American reluctance for Gaza also shows this country’s biased and segregationist approach towards Muslims. That is why, we conclude that the international system needs a new and more responsible hegemon unless the U.S. will act in that manner.

Assoc. Prof. Ozan ÖRMECİ

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