Western double standards are especially glaring when we compare Western attitudes towards Ukraine and the Palestinian cause, as many have observed since day one of the crisis. But the double standards phenomenon is far more extensive. It is deeply ingrained and it governs Western policy around the world.
Several days ago, China signed a mutual defence pact with the Solomon Islands, triggering an outcry in Australia which insists that Honiara must withdraw from the agreement because it poses a threat to Australian national security. Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton went so far as to allege that China was corrupt and bribed Honiara to sign. The US duly dispatched its Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, and its Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, to the Solomon Islands to pressure it into cancelling the agreement.
Was it only two or three months ago that Washington and its allies were defending the freedom of sovereign nations to join the military alliances of their choice? Did they not stress that countries neighbouring those sovereign nations had no right to object to that choice regardless of their security concerns? But apparently this “fixed” universal principle applies only to Ukraine, which wants to join NATO whose primary raison d’être is its adversity to Russia, which is located directly next to Ukraine, whereas the Solomon Islands are 1,800 kilometres away from Australia to the northeast.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his country would not allow a Chinese military base on the Solomon Islands. This would be a “red line” for Australia and the US, he said. Beijing responded that the pact was a security cooperation agreement and that it did not provide for the establishment of a base on the islands. But that detail is of little importance, because what is really happening is a battle to sustain US global influence, which has begun to recede in favour of other world powers, heralding the end of the age of the mono-polar world.
Evidently, in this battle, the old regime is willing to sweep aside its vaunted principles whenever it serves its self-perpetuation.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 12 May, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.