By Azril Mohd Amin, Chief Executive Officer, Institut Masa Depan Malaysia
MALAYSIA has taken the correct diplomatic and political position regarding the war in Ukraine and the American-led campaign for the isolation of Russia where it has called for an end to hostilities and restoration of peaceful relations.
However, it must seriously consider the consequences of the crisis in totality as well as political and economic ramifications of the path being taken by Europe and the United States.
The Western media claims that the world is united behind Ukraine and shares Western anger against Russia, but that isn’t factually the truth.
Those that either voted against the United Nations resolution to condemn Russia, abstained, or did not vote at all, represent roughly 4.4 billion people, around 55 per cent of everyone on the planet.
Throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East and across the Global South, there’s considerable reticence, if not outright scepticism, about the West’s moral outrage over Russia’s action.
This outrage is conspicuously selective with no comparable indignance expressed by the same nations over invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan; wars of regime change in Libya and Syria and other military interventions by the US and its allies throughout Latin America and Africa over the years.
And, of course, the glaring double standards with regard to the issue of Palestine.
From a cold, geopolitical standpoint, Ukrainian independence and sovereignty is irrelevant to Europe. Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union for 70 years without negatively impacting the continent.
Europe’s only vital interests with regard to Ukraine are that oil, gas, grain and raw materials continue to move from and through the country. The Russian invasion did not need to interrupt that.
Europe is not threatened by the invasion. However, Europe is profoundly threatened by the aggressive isolation of Russia being pushed by the US.
Furthermore, the extreme economic blockade of Russia will cause cascading failures across the global economic system, clearly a case in which the cure is more damaging than the ailment. We can only responsibly assume, despite it being counter-intuitive, that this is the desired outcome.
For this to make sense, we must recognise that the world has been in a gradual process of de-globalisation for many years now.
The consensus among economists and planners is that the post-World War 2 global order, established and directed by the US, is being dismantled.
The Cold War has been over for more than 30 years, which means the organising principle of the global economic and political system since 1948 no longer exists.
In addition, Europe is undergoing a rapid demographic collapse where its workforce and consumer pool are evaporating, contributing to the US deprioritising the preservation of European stability and prosperity, providing an impetus for the long-discussed pivot to Asia.
Within this context, the war in Ukraine and the attempt to remove Russia from the world economy constitutes an acceleration of the de-globalisation process, the demotion of Europe and the shift of the US’ attention towards emerging economies of the Global South where the demographic situation is vastly more favourable for economic growth.
We are living through a historic moment of paradigmatic change with countries of Asia, Africa the Middle East as well as Latin America moving into the foreground of the world stage.
As the US turns towards the developing world, it can be expected that they do not want our countries to have viable economic alternatives to American alignment, not Russia, not China and not even Europe.
The escalating crisis over Ukraine has already dealt a severe blow to the global economy.
Economists predict major food shortages, potential famines, disruption to energy, increased unemployment, supply chain collapses and skyrocketing inflation with developing countries likely being the hardest hit.
This will make us vulnerable to predatory lending of institutions like the International Monetary Fund, potentially rendering us so desperate for foreign direct investment that we sacrifice protections for local enterprises and for workers due to extreme instability and the absence of options.
Obviously, such a scenario would be enormously detrimental to human rights, dignity and sovereignty of our people. It remains essential for us to safeguard our right and our ability to remain non-aligned, neutral and independent.
We need to urgently strengthen and expand our political and economic relations with emerging nations of the Global South to ensure we rise together and play a united front in defining the terms of a new global economic system.