Much of the world is ambivalent about the Ukraine war, and should be.
There has been a mostly muted response to the war in Ukraine across much of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East; and there’s a lot going on in the silence.
Fifty-two nations either abstained or simply didn’t vote in the UN resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and their silence should be best interpreted, not as condonement of the invasion, nor as hostility to the West, but as ambivalence about the emerging new international order implied by the vote.
In the Arab world, it is safe to say that the collective outrage in the West over the invasion of a weaker country by a stronger country is seen as conspicuously inconsistent. The US travelled 6,000 miles to invade Iraq over a non-existent threat, after all, while Russia has invaded a neighbouring country that is well-stocked with weapons, and was seeking to join what they perceive to be as a hostile military alliance. The irony is not lost on the Arab public.
Furthermore, the impact of economic sanctions against Russia are expected to reverberate across the developing world in predictably devastating ways, but American President Joe Biden has indicated that his main concern is only to ensure that Americans will be cushioned from the negative consequences – primarily at the gas pump. Roughly 30% of the global wheat supply may vanish from the market, causing prices for essential food items to surge to dangerously high levels. The last time bread prices rose this much, the Arab Spring broke out. Russia and Ukraine together are largely responsible for feeding the Middle East, so no one in the region is ea