Ukraine: Latin America defies the West

22 Jul

Mercifully there are those stubborn souls who, in the face of a propaganda blitz as intense as it is fact-defiant on America’s war against Russia (and ordinary Europeans) in Ukraine, insist on prioritising evidence over narrative. They need no help from me to arrive at the conclusion that a much touted “international community” …

… has in recent years been stripped of its internationalist veneer and shown for what it truly is: a core of imperialist nations 1 plus a dwindling periphery of states whose governments the USA, as lead imperialism, can bribe or bully.

I stress the word, dwindling.

Yesterday on the excellent Naked Capitalism website, Barcelona based financial journalist Nick Corbishley wrote under the self explanatory heading, Latin America Again Refuses to Fall In Line With the Collective West on Ukraine … 

These paragraphs in particular struck me:

There are many reasons why most governments in the region are determined to maintain neutrality in the conflict. They include those outlined in an article by Krishen Mehta, 5 Reasons Why Much of the Global South Isn’t Automatically Supporting the West in Ukraine:

    1. The Global South does not believe the West understands or empathises with its problems.
    2. History Matters: Who stood where during colonialism and after independence?  (A major bone of contention at the EU-CELAC 2 summit. For example, the Spanish government has volunteered as a mediator between Europe and Latin America, but for many Latin American countries Spain was their colonial master for hundreds of years, acquiring vast wealth by plundering their resources and exploiting their lands and people. The European slave trade also forcibly transported millions of Africans into slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean. Then, of course, there’s the more recent role of the US, which has sponsored or organised dozens of hard and soft coups and military interventions over the past century or so.)
    3. The war in Ukraine is seen by the Global South as mainly about the future of Europe rather than the future of the entire world. (This is just what Columbia’s President Gustavo Petro said.)
    4. The world economy is no longer US-dominated or Western-led and the Global South does have other options. (This is particularly true of Latin America. Brazi is a founding member of the BRICS group and its former President Dilma Rousseff is the new head of the BRICS Bank. The region’s trade with China has increased more than 26-fold so far this century. In fact, as Reuters reported in June last year, if you take Mexico’s huge trade balance with the US out of the equation, China has already overtaken the US as Latin America’s largest trading partner. And even Mexico is beginning to see a sharp increase in Chinese trade and investment.)
    5. The “rule based international order” lacks credibility and is in decline. (Indeed, the rise of CELAC itself is arguably a symptom of this decline. It was founded on December 3, 2011, in Caracas, by the “Pink Tide” leaders with the implicit goal of deepening Latin American integration while reducing the influence of the US on the politics and economics of the region. Mexico’s AMLO picked up the baton at the 2021 summit, expressing hopes that CELAC would eventually supplant the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) as the main institution for intra-regional relations. A year later, AMLO led a boycott of the OAS’ flagship biennial event, the Summit of the Americas, in response to Washington’s decision to exclude from the guest list the “antidemocratic” governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.)

There are other reasons why Latin America, as a whole, isn’t falling in line with the Collective West on Ukraine.  For instance, Mexico has a long, albeit interrupted, history of neutrality dating all the way back to the early 1930s. Mexico’s constitution even includes a list of foreign policy principles such as a commitment to non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other countries, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and promotion of collective security through active participation in international organisations. And AMLO is determined to honour those principles.

There are also stark economic considerations at play. As previously discussed here, Russia produces many of the fertilisers on which the huge agricultural industries of Brazil, Mexico and Argentina depend. Latin America was already in the grip of a major food crisis before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, largely but not only due to the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting supply chain crisis.

Another consideration is the goodwill Russia was able to cultivate during the pandemic. Moscow’s vaccine diplomacy, like Beijing’s, helped to expand its role and influence in the region, while Pfizer was shaking down governments left, right and centre.

Lastly, fear has also played a part. Two of the region’s countries, Venezuela and Cuba, have already had their economies eviscerated by US sanctions and blockades. Like their counterparts in many other parts of the world, the governments of Latin America were justifiably terrified by the precedent the US and the EU tried to set by attempting to banish Russia, one of the world’s largest commodity producers and exporters, from the entire global financial system. If the ploy had worked, they knew they could be next in line. Thankfully, it didn’t.

* * *

  1. As ever, imperialism is defined as the north-south export of monopoly finance capital, and south-north repatriation of super-profits, over and above those possible within the global north. As with the direct rule of the colonial era, imperialism is underpinned by armed might. That last is a vital truth, given America’s endless wars of this century, given NATO’s offensive role against a Russia which poses no threat to ordinary Europeans – as distinct from the super rich whose ability to loot the planet is threatened by Eurasia Rising – and given plans to expand NATO to the Pacific Rim. It is the reality of sunset on 500 years of western supremacy which now draws the world closer to nuclear war than at any point since WW2.
  2. CELAC = Community of Latin American & Caribbean States.

5 Replies to “Ukraine: Latin America defies the West

  1. Good article Phil.
    As always, I have been following events and was particularly hopeful when Dilma Rousseff took the reins of the BRICS bank. She will undoubtedly be involved in setting up frameworks for ameliorating the decline of social programs due to interference by the muggers of the west and with BRICS now expanding(alarmingly for the west)could see ever more de-dollarisation and preferring to take loans out not with the IMF & “World Bank” since many countries in the Global South & East, consider them no better than opportunistic debtors of ill repute – like loan sharks without the fins.
    We can of course rule out India’s Modi and Turkeys Erdogan since both change policies and betray their people for self profit as often as they change their knickers.
    Had totally forgotten about ALO’s boycott of the OAS, thanks for reminding me.
    Not sure how I feel about Lula after being so blatantly obsequious with his new US master(the same ones who put him in jail only to release him to get rid of strongman Bolsonaro, have to wonder what he is willing to concede in exchange for his freedom)and Obrador is doing his best with his fight back against the US to ban GMO’s and Glyphosate in order to save his own countries farming.
    It’s all happening, but no-one in the west seems to know about how the ROTW is not only defying it but confronting it head on in some cases and it is quite important but by the time they find out how it will impact us they’ll be unable to do anything to reverse it.. With the demise of the US empire, the western Imperialist and colonialist muggers will be reaping what they have sown. Payback is a bitch, revenge is a dish best served cold and the west does not “do” eating crow very well, hence the might is right response.
    Thanks also for the link to Krishen Mehta, not sure If I have come across it.

    Hope all is well with you,


    • Hi Susan. I’m well thanks, though for now posting less frequently than usual. Steel City Scribblings is returning to its spiritual home of Sheffield, so amongst other things I’m distracted by the always daunting process of moving house.

      I hope you’re well too.

  2. Mohandeer
    “With the demise of the US empire, the western Imperialist and colonialist muggers will be reaping what they have sown.”
    The general population of the West will reap while those who have sown will continue to live well in an isolated and diminished hegemony consisting of the ‘international community’ as shown on the map. No doubt a lot of joint enterprises conducted in secret will be required to safeguard class interests.

    • The question arises in this context as to what exactly will the different classes reap?

      Whilst in a general sense Johnny is spot on the devil, as always, is in the detail. The sense conveyed that the oligarch class will emerge completely unscathed may not be a cast iron certainty.

      First up are some of the points made in this four day old piece from former Colin Powell CoS Col Lawrence Wilkerson on RT’s ‘Going Underground’:

      Who notes, in the context of the amount of money being made by the US arms manufacturers with no (at least Official) US blood spilled in this proxy war, that:

      (a) the only thing the out of control Western Oligarchy believe in is power, money and power.

      (b) despite the unsustainable level of public and private debt underpinned by dollar hegemony as the reserve currency and the Ukraine going belly up the Western oligarchy sincerely believe they can hold onto that money and power and project it indefinitely. Much like their counterparts from the former Roman Republic who thought the same thing – as detailed in Michael Hudson’s recent tome.

      Which brings us to the point of concern made in this eleven minute video:

      “”Speaking on the YouTube channel for the show Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu, Gawdat pointed out that technologists, policymakers and society at large often focus too tightly* on philosophical questions that big business interests will not.

      ‘We get lost in those conversations of ‘Are they alive? Are they sentient?” Gawdat said. ‘Doesn’t matter: If my brain believes they are, they are.’

      ‘Just think about all of the illusions that we’re now unable to decipher,’ he noted.

      ‘Does it really matter if the Morgan Freeman talking to you on the screen is actually Morgan Freeman or an AI generated avatar, if you’re convinced that it is Morgan Freeman?’

      Gawdat unpacked for Bilyeu and his listeners the biochemistry of how sex registers inside the human brain, suggesting that the physical side of human sexual intimacy would be easy to simulate with today’s technology.

      Some people might only need Apple’s Vision Pro or Meta’s Quest 3 virtual reality headset to experience satisfying sex.

      ‘If we can convince you that this sex robot is alive, or that sex experience in a virtual reality headset or an augmented reality headset is alive,’ Gawdat argued, ‘it’s real. Then, there you go.’ ”

      * Sidebar and health warning: the above quote it taken from a report on the podcast in the Daily Mail which, in that first quoted paragraph, gives a completely misleading impression of the context of where the individual making the statement is coming from. The form and sequence of words projecting an impression that the speaker is making an argument in favour of this when any perusal of the podcast reveals the very opposite.

      However, the point being made [to paraphrase] that if my brain believes its real (with help from big business and media propaganda) then it is real is about as pithy and succinct a statement of Karl Rove’s post-modernist based ’empire creating its own reality’ which now represents the Western Oligarchic and wider social Zeitgeist all the way from “we are winning and will prevail in Ukraine” to “men are women and can get pregnant” to “we can can continue the free lunch indefinitely’ projected 24/7 via The Official Narrative (TON)

      Even though those for whom an infinite amount of power over others, along with the money, will never ever be enough don’t believe in reality when it catches up – which it will – there will be no hiding place for anyone. Having invested so much in a subjective fantasy there will be a lot of psychological damage from the hubris for that class. Along with the resulting loss of value of what they have in terms not only of money but also power when the current everything bubble bursts and covers them and the rest of us with the systemic excrement they have sown.

      • Hosea 8:7 – KJV. For they have sown the wind and shall reap the whirlwind …

        Or not. When I started this blog I worried about terms like “imperialism” and “ruling class”, and aimed to keep their use to a minimum as they’d be a turn off for liberal readers I wanted to reach. I knew I couldn’t avoid such terms entirely but sought alternatives to vary the mix. One I hit upon very early as substitute for “ruling class” was “the criminally insane”. It still features on my “about” page.

        These days I worry far less about offending liberal sensibilities – most liberals abandoned me long ago – but have stuck with that term. I see now that, more by accident than design, I’d found an uncannily accurate form of words.

        Those who rule from behind a chimera of democracy are both criminal and insane. Dave is right. Johnny is right.

        What’s more, from a certain PoV they’re not even a ruling class. Here’s something I wrote on the 500th anniversary of the day legend has it that Luther kicked off the Reformation by posting his ‘grievances’ to a chapel door at Wittenberg Cathedral, October 31st 1517. Forgive my quoting myself at some length. That’s to provide context.

        I start as Luther pace Wycliffe did, with injustice rationalised by cant. The idea of a soul sped to heaven by cash payment to a priesthood now unites believer and non believer alike in aghast incredulity. Twas ever thus. The crimes and absurdities of times gone by are crystal clear to our so clever, end-of-history gaze – “what wolves and sheep they were; what rogues and fools!” – but should humanity survive, a time will come when belief in the superiority of market anarchy over wealth creation planned by and for humankind will evoke a similar response. Ditto the fact of fewer than a dozen men owning half the world, while scores of millions die in destitution and arms profits in and of themselves drive industrialised carnage. Cry Godwin’s Law if you will, but why would these things not seem as monstrous to our grandchildren’s grandchildren’s age as the nazi holocaust to ours?

        There is an answer to that but it’s not good news. Not only is every generation desensitised to greater or lesser degree to the horrors of its day. And not only are we in the West sheltered from those endured by peoples at best not psychologically real to us, and at worst out of sight and out of mind. The horrors I speak of flow from laws of motion few understand (least of all economists, their salaries dependent on their not understanding) and which leave us with clear beneficiaries, yes, but not identifiable agents in the sense of individuals who by making other choices could reverse those laws of motion. On the contrary, by making different choices those agents would see their ‘power’ evaporate in an instant. I call them a ruling class, and with good reason, but ultimately that’s no more than a useful fiction when they too are enslaved. In our day the Henry Tudors and Heinrich Himmlers, ogres whose humanity we must deny to reaffirm our own, are thin on the ground but their elusiveness is that of a world amok: an Isaac Asimov dystopia without the robots.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *