Since Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24th February 2022, there has been an outpouring of media coverage and public support throughout the West, with leaders across the world condoning Putin’s actions. Grace Cloughton scrutinises the racial bias inherent in the West’s reaction when examined alongside western attitudes towards war raging elsewhere across the globe.
On the 25th February, Boris Johnson released a video addressing the people of Russia amidst the ongoing invasion of Ukraine in which he condemned the bloodshed occurring on Putin’s orders. Though he was careful to state that it had been a generation or more since we witnessed such bloodshed in Europe, he went on to say that “we hoped we would never have to see such sights again.”
What Johnson fails to mention is we have seen such sights constantly in conflicts such as the clashes between Palestine and Israel, the harrowing deaths of refugees across Europe, and America’s constant intervention in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq. Biden too offered his solidarity with the Ukrainian people stating: “Democracies are rising to the moment and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security.”
The West is not so concerned with bringing democracy as they so adamantly express – they instead only offer support when they can financially and politically reap the rewards
Many argue that, though conflicts in the regions aforesaid mentioned did exist, they have all been exacerbated by Western intervention. This intervention has been justified by America in particular who cite their self-professed ambition to bring democracy to the rest of the world. On the face of it, their ambitions appear well placed, but one must consider that they have continued to exhibit a remarkable indifference to dictatorial rule in places such as Egypt and Ethiopia, and the continuation of Saudi Arabia’s abuse of human rights and constant aggression in Yemen, one of the Arab’s poorest countries. It appears, therefore, that the West is not so concerned with bringing democracy as they so adamantly express – they instead only offer support when they can financially and politically reap the rewards.
There is the argument that the Ukrainian crisis is a problem closer to home, with many European countries offering support to their neighbour. This support is, however, limited and provided at the request of the Ukrainian government – for many eastern and Arab countries this is not the case.
European support is indeed rooted in the fundamental need to defend democracy, however, the Ukrainian crisis offers a semi unique situation to the rest of Europe – that of the continued invasion of the rest of the continent and the collapse of European democracy. For many, Putin’s threats of invasion, though seemingly far off and unlikely, provoke deep set fears from the First and Second World Wars, potentially explaining Western fixation on this crisis.
If it does not affect them or they cannot benefit from it, then to Western powers it is not worth fighting for democracy
The West is thus transparent in their supposed concerns. When a crisis may affect them, they condone leadership action whilst committing limited military involvement so as to not escalate the situation, minimising their personal risk. They must then appear that they are doing something whilst remaining as politically neutral as possible. This is not the case for other, non-Western, conflicts. In fact, they do the opposite. They intervene, enforcing military commitments to countries who have not requested their involvement, or they act ignorant. Ultimately, if it does not affect them or they cannot benefit from it, then to Western powers it is not worth fighting for democracy.
Featured image courtesy of Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.
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