By Mohamad Hasan Sweidan – Nov 20, 2023
With every passing day that Israel hammers the Gaza Strip, the global majority will move further away from the west’s rules-based order and closer toward its Great Power adversaries.
On 15 November, The Guardian caused a social media stir by removing a letter from its website written by the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, titled “A Letter to America.” The missive, which had remained on the media outlet’s site for over two decades, delved into the reasons behind the fateful 9/11 attacks on the US, which it said was a response to US injustices in Afghanistan, Palestine, and other parts of the Islamic world.
Bin Laden’s letter went viral, and was heavily shared among American youth on social media platforms, with many agreeing with his message about malign US foreign policies in West Asian and prompting a reevaluation of the western narratives that have supported endless ‘wars on terror.’
This unusual incident might not have occurred had Israel not been bombing the occupied Gaza Strip mercilessly for the past six weeks. The Palestinian resistance’s 7 October Al-Aqsa Flood operation in southern Israel – and Israel’s disproportionate response to it – has thoroughly shifted global sentiment against Israel and its American benefactor, destroying decades of carefully laid western narratives and redirecting global ire at the US for its instigation of conflict, destruction, and terrorism in West Asia and beyond.
The battle for the Global South
The battleground for influence in the Global South has become a western priority, according to an article earlier this year in the Financial Times, which observed that “the fate of the democratic world will largely be decided in the so-called Global South.”
This sentiment was echoed by US Vice President Kamala Harris at this year’s Munich Security Conference (MSC), emphasizing the need for persuasion and partnership with Global South countries, especially those “on the fence.” Other western leaders, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, have openly acknowledged the west’s failure to address double standards, urging a new deal to win back the Global South.
Writings and statements throughout the year emphasized the urgency of developing a western strategy that respects Global South nations, addresses their concerns, and demonstrates a genuine commitment to collaboration. It is particularly daunting to address the global majority’s prevailing belief that the west practices double standards through its much-ballyhooed ‘rules-based order.’
Roland Freudenstein, vice president of the European GLOBSEC Study Center, argues that “respectful communication must go hand in hand with concrete efforts to address the material issues and dependencies of the Global South.”
Bloomberg published an article titled “The west must offer the Global South a new deal,” where the author stresses that winning the battle against China and Russia requires the west to win over countries of the Global South by focusing on issues that matter to them. And Politico maintains that “to punish Putin, the west must talk to the Global South as partners.”
This may be nigh near impossible. Intelligence firm GIS Reports contends that “the west still misunderstands the Global South,” a fact made crystal clear when the collective west threw considerable weight behind Israel’s destruction of Gaza.
The events of 7 October illustrated the elements the west sought to downplay: double standards, hypocrisy, and a self-centered approach.
Global South’s diplomatic pushback
To counter Russia and confront China, the west has adopted the narrative of “defending the rules-based world order,” a rallying cry employed by EU and the US during the Ukrainian war. However, the west’s simultaneous support for Israel’s genocidal actions against Palestinians has exposed a selective application of international norms driven by geopolitical interests.
A Foreign Policy article warns that “the longer the Israel-Hamas war goes on, the greater the risk to western credibility in the global south becomes.”
The global majority’s response to the war transcends the Palestinian issue, particularly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Viewing the conflict through the lens of their own struggle against colonialism and imperialism, their anger has only consolidated and intensified with each passing week of the war. The inconsistency of the west, defending “blond-haired and blue-eyed” Ukrainians while arming the massacre of “brown” Palestinians in Gaza, has singlehandedly destroyed the efficacy of every single western narrative since World War 2.
To put this into perspective, the number of Palestinians killed in only one month has already exceeded the 9,806 civilian deaths in two years of war in Ukraine.
This disparity in human valuation is being strongly registered in the Global South. The question is whether it will seize this opportunity to seek retribution for decades of western-inflicted injustices, including this one in Palestine.
Indeed, public opinion in the Global South has prompted several heads of state to take action against the occupation state. Bolivia was the first to sever ties with Tel Aviv, while Belize suspended theirs. Elsewhere, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Bahrain, Jordan, Turkiye, Chad, and South Africa withdrew their ambassadors.
Although the Global South has not yet spoken definitively, the aftermath of this conflict is poised to shape its perception of, and potentially, its relations with the west. Unconditional support for Israeli actions could trigger an irreversible backlash against Washington’s critical interests in its strategic competition with Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran.
US soft power erosion
Perspectives from academic researchers offer a deeper understanding of some potential consequences. Brazilian scholar Lucas Goalberto do Nascimento, of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, explains to The Cradle that:
“Most public opinion in the Global South will have a negative attitude toward the United States and its allies in support of the ongoing Israeli invasion. As a result, the Global South will view other powers that respect Palestinian statehood in a positive way, as they counterbalance the unilateral attempts to impose their will.”
Dr Mario Antonio Padilla Torres from Cuba asserts that:
“The United States has always supported Israeli Zionism and is therefore also guilty of genocide against Palestinians. I believe that the United States will lose credibility in the world because of this war, and that China, Russia and other emerging powers will be more credible.”
According to Dr Monogit Das, an Indian geopolitical researcher:
“A negative view of the United States in the Global South could create opportunities for other powers such as Russia and China to strengthen their influence, especially if they position themselves as advocates of a more balanced and principled approach to conflicts in West Asia.”
Armenian researcher Ashkhin Givorjian also anticipates a negative view of the US in the Global South, potentially influencing government attitudes, while Maria Aniyukhovskaya, a researcher at Belarusian State University, advocates for world powers like Russia and China to intervene and become a lifeline for those impacted by unwanted Atlanticist intervention in regional conflicts.
Palestinian power and the Global South
Importantly, Israel’s ethnic cleansing campaign in Gaza has also dealt a severe blow to the west’s longstanding efforts of cultivating soft power via the younger generation, whose embrace of the “western model’s aesthetic” has been critical to manufacture consensus for a US-led global order.
What’s certain is that the Global South, already deeply motivated to helm its own rudder in a multipolar world, is in a much stronger position to collectively reject the double standards, pressures, and diktats of Washington and its allies. The brutal mass murder of Palestinian civilians has not only refocused international attention on the Palestinian cause, but is also serving as a stern reminder that the collusion of just a few western states can pose an existential threat to the international community.
At a time when western leaders are seeking optimal strategies to regain influence in the Global South – after losing out to Russia during the Ukrainian conflict – today, Israel’s actions have firmly thwarted all Atlanticist initiatives aimed at rehabilitating the west’s “benevolent” image.
Essentially, the Palestinian resistance has dealt a severe blow to the collective western endeavor of securing influence in the Global South. If anything, as Israel’s brutality continues unabated, the global majority is likely to more openly and stridently resist the rules-based paradigm, undermining the west’s strategic objectives against rival powers.
The crucial question is whether Washington’s competitors will seize this opportunity to further their own interests.
- Orinoco Tribune 2https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/February 23, 2024
- Orinoco Tribune 2https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/
- Orinoco Tribune 2https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/
- Orinoco Tribune 2https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/February 22, 2024