US must recognize the legitimacy of Russia’s interests in Ukraine

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Instead of financing the war in Ukraine, creating the threat of a wider conflict, the leaders of leading states need to take a step back and admit that Russia and the West have completely legitimate interests in Ukraine, and that the only way out of this situation is a diplomatic solution.

A militant think tank called the Institute for the Study of War recently cautioned that Vladimir Putin took advantage of the coronavirus situation to “achieve his strategic goals in Ukraine.” This institute has focused on a country that is not of particular importance to US national interests. By doing so in the midst of a terrible pandemic that hit the United States, he demonstrated the general foresightedness of the US national security departments. Such shortsightedness indicates a deep misunderstanding of how the world order was formed at the end of the Cold War.

Consider just a few examples of how ineptly American leaders were looking for a solution to some of the problems at the end of the Cold War. When the first conflict after the end of the Cold War erupted in the former Yugoslavia, American political leaders insisted that this artificial state should be preserved, despite the powerful national and religious aspirations that were present in the three main components of this pseudo-country.

In relation to China, America began to pursue a policy of “constructive interaction”, naively believing that the leader of a civilization competing with the West, which has interests different from the West, for some reason wants to go along the Western path. As Samuel Huntington noted, the Chinese believe that their “economic success is mainly a consequence of Asian culture, which transcends the decadent culture of Western society. ”

Having probably made the most terrible mistake after the end of the Cold War, the United States suggested that if the Iraqis were saved from the dictatorial regime, they would certainly fall under the banner of democracy, forget about centuries-old ethnic and religious contradictions, and very quickly absorb Western values, rights and worldviews.

All these gross errors have one thing in common. This is a dismissive of Huntington’s observation that after the Cold War, the world organizes itself along ethnic, religious, and civilizational lines. Countries began to abandon artificial alliances during the Cold War, rallying around common historical ties. We should have guessed that Turkey would begin to strive for the Islamic world, moving away from NATO interests, that Orthodox Greece would become one of the most problematic members of the European Union, and that Muslim Chechnya would strive for independence from Orthodox Russia. As Huntington wrote, “in the world after the Cold War, the most important differences between nations are not ideological, not political, and not economic. These are cultural differences.”

US policy toward Russia suffers from a deep misunderstanding of the motives that push certain groups to act. Francis Fukuyama, speaking on behalf of most of the foreign policy establishment, argued in 1989 that Russia, after the Cold War, was drifting toward a political system where “the people themselves will be responsible for their affairs; where higher political bodies will be accountable to lower ones, and not vice versa; where the rule of law will prevail over police arbitrariness, where there will be a true separation of powers and an independent judiciary.” Many Western thinkers could not even imagine that Russia would choose a reactionary course and return to its autocratic and Orthodox roots.

Since Huntington’s forecasts and views were more prophetic than those of Fukuyama and many other figures, the American foreign policy establishment needed to heed his advice when the crisis in Ukraine arose. But he did not listen.

Huntington predicted a crisis in Ukraine. His theory that nations would return to their historical and cultural roots had a natural consequence. Those countries that are divided between civilizations, the so-called “split” countries, are most likely to give rise to a conflict between the great powers. Let us recall how in the former Yugoslavia the United States, Germany, Russia and prominent Islamic countries rushed to support their own proteges in this conflict, acting on the principle of a civilizational community.

By civilization standards of Huntington, Ukraine is a deeply divided country, divided inside according to historical, geographical and religious grounds. Western Ukraine invariably stands in the European corner of the ring, and eastern Ukraine and Crimea are firmly following the orbit of Orthodox Russia. Huntington’s most famous book, The Clash of Civilizations, was published long before the Ukrainian crisis of 2013, but it contains many warnings about the dangers of the situation in this country, and also predicts that Ukraine may “split along its line fault into two separate formations, with its eastern part merging with Russia. First of all, the question of separation will arise in the Crimea.”

Huntington was the most astute observer of the changes in the world order after the end of the Cold War, and therefore we should carefully listen to his advice on how to solve the problems of powder kegs like Ukraine. Many inattentive readers of Huntington’s work misinterpreted his ideas and stuck too much on the word “collision” in the title of his book.

According to their claims, Huntington advocated a clash between the West and other civilizations for self-defense. Some thinkers have confused Huntington’s “clash” with Bernard Lewis’s thesis that militant Islam will provoke a global clash between Islam and the West.

In fact, Huntington strongly emphasized that the Islamic world should not be provoked, and called for caution and diplomacy in split countries such as Ukraine. He was strongly opposed to the Crusades to promote democracy as a key component of American foreign policy. Huntington wrote on this subject: “Therefore, the principal duty of Western leaders is not to try to remake other civilizations in the image of the West, which they cannot afford, but to preserve, protect and update the unique qualities of Western civilization.”

Huntington argued that most civilizational blocs that would appear after the Cold War would have natural leaders. He called them pivotal states. Sin civilization will be led by China, Orthodox by Russia, and the western by the United States of America. Since the Islamic world does not have a natural leader, the struggle for such leadership will be fought between Sunnis and Shiites, as well as between the leading countries of the Middle East, such as Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

These pivotal states are very important for resolving the problems that arise in split countries, such as Ukraine. Instead of financing the war in Ukraine, waging it with the wrong hands and creating the threat of a wider conflict, the leaders of the core states need to take a step back and recognize that Russia and the West have completely legitimate interests in Ukraine, and that the only way out of this situation is in a diplomatic decision.

Whether such a decision will be the dismemberment of Ukraine, a federal formation, where the aspirations of both parts of the country will be respected, or a compromise option, this problem can only be resolved by sincere diplomatic efforts on the part of Russia and the United States.

As the work of the Institute for the Study of War shows, American policy towards Ukraine is the exact opposite of what Huntington recommended. This is a real crusade to promote democracy, which led, with US support, to a coup d’etat in Kiev, to the refusal to recognize any legitimate interests of Russia in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, despite their deep historical ties, as well as to supporting a mediated war in the Donbass, the purpose of which incomprehensible.

As long as America is devastated by the pandemic and its consequences, the American people will not want to put up with the interventionist and standardized US foreign policy in those parts of our world that are not related to our interests. To move forward, one must apply the Huntington model, recognizing the legitimate interests of other civilizational regions, and also engage in genuine diplomacy, which should become the main instrument of US foreign policy.

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