Sino-Russian Entente Versus Western Democracy
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 08 Apr , 2023

Treaty of Westphalia

After sabre rattling for thirty years the major European powers desiring rest produced the Treaty of Westphalia (1648).“It also ended the Eighty Years’ War (1568 – 1648) between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally acknowledging the independence of the Dutch Republic. It was negotiated from the Westphalian towns of Münster and Osnabrück. In the international politics, this treaty was the first, modern diplomatic congress to use international law to influence relations between independent states and for the creation of the concept of reign, non-intervention in interior affairs of another nation, territorial unity, and legal equality between the independent nations. It heralded a foundation for the modern European state system known as the balance of power, which was one of the contributing causes for numerous future wars including both World Wars. It was also the first pan-European effort to achieve a fair resolution for numerous conflicts and a lasting peace, rather than merely penalizing the defeated side.”(History plex).

Emergence of Adolf Hitler

Europe had been more or less a settled area till the Emergence of Adolf Hitler and his unbridled ambition to unify German speaking people in a single unit. The major European powers at the time including British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston who misread Adolf Hitler’s hunger for power led to the catastrophe of the Second World War.

Miscalculation of Lord Palmerston

Palmerston believed that something like the British system of responsible government would be good for all European states and that it would become the norm (as by the first decade of the 20th century it had). was better than tacit acquiescence in wrong and that opinions were mightier than armies. Palmerston believed that no country had no permanent allies, only permanent interests. This is true even today as the policy of non-alignment heralded by Tito of Yugoslavia, Churchill of Britain, Nkrumah of Ghana, Sukarno of Indonesia Gamal Abdul Naser of United Arab Republicand Pandit Nehru of India proved its efficacy in international relations.

Hitler’s Gravest Mistake

Hitler’s gravest mistake was his invasion of then Soviet Union which was many times bigger than Germany and Hitler’s army was bogged down in severe winter disrupting supply lines for his beleaguered troops. Added was the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan which forced the US to openly declare war and join the allies. Without adding to the hundreds of books and articles written on German-Japan’s defeat and the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffice it would be to say that the Yalta Conference decided that Germany would be divided into occupied zones administered by U.S., British, French, and Soviet forces. The conferees accepted the principle that the Allies had no duty toward the Germans except to provide minimum subsistence, declared that the German military industry would be abolished or confiscated, and agreed that major war criminals would be tried before an international court, which subsequently presided at Nuremberg.Nuremberg Trial refused to accept the plea that the accused were performing their duties assigned to them. Those who were sentenced to death were Goering, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm von Keitel, Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Fritz Sauckel, Alfred Jodl, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, and Martin Bormann, in absentia.Rudolf Hess, Walther Funk, and Eric Raeder were sentenced to life in prison. Hitler escaped punishment by committing suicide.As mentioned earlier the principles of non-alignment which survives today has given the opportunity to several countries to abstain in voting the US resolution on Russian invasion of Ukraine. The countries which abstained took the stand that a political solution should be sought instead of accusing Russia of invasion. One has to remember that Vladimir Putin has ben urging the Western countries to ensure that Ukraine should not join either NATO or any other Western alliances nor should Ukraine be a part of Russian alliance. Unfortunately, the Western powers paid no heed to Russian proposals. Instead the West encouraged President Zelinsky of Ukraine to continue his crusade against Russia. Despite US,NATO, European Union and others’ encouragement to Zelinsky that  it is not possible for Ukraine to defeat Russia or to recover the lost territory. US public may not mind the dispatch of money and materials to Ukraine but they under no circumstances would support American troops to fight the Russians on Ukranian territory. It is understood that the US has already assured Russia that American troops would not be sent to Ukraine. Despite all these Russia has not abandoned the nuclear option. It is possible that the “nuclear option” is a ruse used by Russia to encourage Ukraine by the Western powers to find a political solution.

Sino-Russian Entente and Further Complication

The Ukrainian problem has been further complicated by total support extended by China to Russia as a front, to display to the poor and the needy countries in South Asia and Africa, that Western description of “ illiberal autocracy” of Sino-Russian entente is far more efficient to feed the poor and the needy than the Western countries. The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative is a case in point. The Initiative is to demonstrate to the poor and the needy of Chinese readiness to help these countries to build infra-structure which they cannot afford to do.

China’s Debt Trap

Critics have warned the poor countries citing the Sri Lankan example of a “debt trap” by China publicly warned by Vice President Mike Pence of Donald Trump administration. It remains to be seen how far love for democracy will win over the need of the poor. If one looks at the voting pattern of the UNGA resolution on Russian invasion of Ukraine one gets a clear picture of many countries including India who abstained in the UNGA vote. Such abstention indicated that many countries were not ready to charge Russia of the invasion but would rather want a political solution of the issue. The world is s not yet prepared to bring the curtain down on mankind and would prefer, however much wounded, to continue its existence. 

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Kazi Anwarul Masud

former Ambassador and Secretary in the Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh.

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