From Shanghai Daily, March 14, 2022, p. A10. Complete text:
Although some countries, led by the US and some of its European allies, have announced round after round of sanctions on Russia for the Ukraine conflict, a closer scrutiny would reveal that countries with explicit sanctions, numbering less than 20, are still a small fraction of the total of about 190 countries.
The majority of countries, like China, plead for cool-headed dialogue and tolerance, and such manifestations of sobriety could be better appreciated against some country’s dexterity in shaping the public discourse in favor of its pride and prejudice.
It’s tragic while some country refrains from sending its troops to Ukraine, it has been busy waging a war on another front, by disseminating misinformation and disinformation.
We should be reminded we are witnessing a conflict with severe casualties on both parties, not the kind of smart war where damages were often “collateral,” fires often “friendly,” and casualties almost certainly unilaterally sustained.
It’s not the kind of war that could be conveniently started by holding a test tube of detergents, and whose ravages, misery and devastation could be explained away by an easy “victory.” It is a blood-spilling conflict over serious issues of contention.
Unfortunately, rather than addressing those issues of vital differences, core grievances, and fatal consequences, specifically the legitimate security concerns brought about by NATO’s aggressive expansion, some of those self-imposed mediators are adding fuel to the fire.
By clamoring for punishment for one party, while diligently supplying arms to the other, these self-claimed arbitrators are aggravating the situation.
If they could spare some time for self-reflection, it would not elude them how their past misdemeanors have fomented the current confrontation.
Their recent history did not lack examples suggesting how towering hubris, emboldened by ignorance, and urged on by greed and folly, had plunged the world into abyss of devastation and misery.
Thus, it is no longer much of a secret that some view the conflict more as a proxy war.
This absence of the ability to view things in proportion is itself cause for alarm.
At a time of life and death, some privileged individuals are giving pronouncements about the SWIFT code, drawing up blacklists, banning cats, all the while pretending ignorance of the security concerns that have been festering for decades.
China is one of the few countries vociferous in articulating its distrust of sanctions.
As Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin declared at a press conference on March 2: “China firmly opposes all illegal unilateral sanctions, and believes that sanctions are never fundamentally effective means to solve problems.”
He explained further that “They will only create serious difficulties to the economy and livelihood of relevant countries and further intensify division and confrontation.”
If anything, the statement that “China and Russia will continue to conduct normal trade cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit” is a powerful statement about the futility of sanctions.
Instead of ratcheting up the cold war rhetoric, the US and its allies would find it rewarding to revisit the assessment of Jack Matlock, former US diplomat to the USSR, who spoke of the crisis as “willfully precipitated, but easily resolved by the application of common sense.”