The “Chinese miracle” has become a widely used term in development studies, inspiring developing countries to achieve high levels of prosperity, living standards, and stability over the last decade. The popularity of this term can be explained in large part by the fact that China has enjoyed unprecedented economic success in world history (Zakaria, 2011; Gürcan 2021a), despite enormous historical, demographic, geographical, and geopolitical adversities. China was one of the world’s poorest countries before the socialist revolution in 1949. In the early revolutionary era, China struggled much to overcome its crippling semi-colonial legacy characterized by the medieval conditions of an agricultural economy and the weakness of its industrial base. History aside, China is the largest country by population size, which currently accounts for 22% of the world’s population.
Western governments have tried to rally the nations of Africa to join their war on Russia. But the vast majority of the continent has ignored their pressure campaign. For months, Ukraine attempted to organize a video conference between the African Union and Western-backed leader Volodymyr Zelensky. France and Germany put heavy pressure on African governments to attend the Zoom call, which was held on June 20. The conference ended up being a total failure, however. The heads of state of just four of the 55 members of the African Union joined the meeting. In other words, 93% of the leaders of the African continent did not attend the video conference with Zelensky. This was a clear sign of Africa’s overwhelming neutrality in the proxy war between the West and Russia.
US observers are becoming increasingly worried that next month’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles is about to be one of the Biden Administration’s worst-ever foreign policy embarrassments following last August’s chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan. Politico headlined a piece about how “Biden’s Americas summit is drawing jeers and threats of boycott”, which reported that several Latin American leaders are threatening to boycott the event if Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela aren’t invited to attend. While Antigua, Barbuda, and Bolivia might not be a big deal in the grand scheme of US strategy towards the hemisphere, Brazil and Mexico’s abstention would make the event utterly meaningless since they alone count for half of the region’s population as Politico reminded their audience.
The world wants to see an end to the conflict in Ukraine. The NATO countries, however, want to prolong the conflict by increasing arms shipments to Ukraine and by declaring that they want to “weaken Russia.” The United States had already allocated $13.6 billion to arm Ukraine. Biden has just requested $33 billion more. By comparison, it would require $45 billion per year to end world hunger by 2030. Even if negotiations take place and the war ends, an actual peaceful solution will not likely be possible. Nothing leads us to believe that geopolitical tensions will decrease, since behind the conflict around Ukraine is an attempt by the West to halt the development of China, to break its links with Russia, and to end China’s strategic partnerships with the Global South.
While international news headlines remain largely focused on the war in Ukraine, little attention is given to the horrific consequences of the war which are felt in many regions around the world. Even when these repercussions are discussed, disproportionate coverage is allocated to European countries, like Germany and Austria, due to their heavy reliance on Russian energy sources. The horrific scenario, however, awaits countries in the Global South which, unlike Germany, will not be able to eventually substitute Russian raw material from elsewhere. Countries like Tunisia, Sri Lanka and Ghana and numerous others, are facing serious food shortages in the short, medium and long term. The World Bank is warning of a "human catastrophe" as a result of a burgeoning food crisis, itself resulting from the Russia-Ukraine war.
Americans are fervently cheering for Ukraine in a war that many believe is a decisive struggle for human freedom. The intensity of our infatuation makes it easy to assume that everyone in the world shares it. They don’t. The impassioned American reaction is matched only in Europe, Canada, and the handful of U.S. allies in East Asia. For many people in the rest of the world, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is just another pointless Western war in which they have no stake. The two biggest countries in Latin America, Mexico and Brazil, have refused to impose sanctions on Russia or to curtail trade. South Africa, the economic powerhouse of the African continent, has done the same. Asia, though, is where the resistance to joining the pro-Ukraine bloc appears most deliberate and widespread.
The world faces twin debt crises. On the one hand, a well-publicized financial debt crisis looms for countries across the Global South, limiting governments’ ability to take public health action, alleviate poverty, adapt to a warming world, or pursue ambitious low-carbon development. Policy makers in the rich world seldom discuss the other debt crisis: the ecological and economic debts the Global North owes for historical and ongoing plunder, extraction, and climate pollution threatening lives and livelihoods in the Global South—all of which are key components driving the financial debt crisis. These intertwined crises require urgent action beyond the paltry steps taken since the start of the pandemic.
War is an ugly part of the human experience. Everything about it is hideous. War is most obviously the act of invasion and the brutality that goes along with its operations. No war is precise; every war hurts civilians. Each act of bombardment sends a neurological shudder through a society. World War II demonstrated this ugliness in the Holocaust and in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From Hiroshima and the Holocaust rose two mighty movements, one for peace and against the perils of further nuclear attacks, and the other for an end to the divisions of humanity and for a nonalignment from these divisions. The Stockholm Appeal of 1950, signed by 300 million people, called for an absolute ban on nuclear weapons.
As the U.S. and NATO work to advance their war against Russia now breaking out in Ukraine, many countries who have experienced imperialist aggression — by the U.S., France, Britain and other NATO members — are speaking out. They are denouncing the impact of U.S. sanctions as acts of war and calling NATO the threat to global peace. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America — ALBA — is an intergovernmental organization of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, based on social, political and economic integration. Many member states have been targets of U.S. intervention and economic sanctions intended to derail popularly elected, progressive governments. Collectively they are speaking out against the U.S./NATO aggression against Russia.
As the Biden administration falls woefully behind on its pledges to donate Covid vaccines to the world, on Wednesday, the U.S. House slashed $5 billion for the global pandemic response from an omnibus spending bill. The cut to Covid funds underscores the capriciousness of the U.S. government’s promises, and lends credence to public health activists who argue that countries in the Global South cannot rely on the pledges of wealthy nations, and should be given the information they need to manufacture vaccines themselves.
The constant morality play that the U.S. public has been exposed to has resulted in mass support for war. Of course, ordinary people will pay the price, the ruling class will get over once again and Biden achieved his bipartisanship the old fashion way - through war! The U.S. corporate media frames the Ukraine conflict as a premeditated, unprovoked attack by the maniacal government of the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. But from the very beginning of Biden’s administration, it seemed like his agenda was to create the conditions in Ukraine that would evoke a conflict with the Russian Federation. It has turned out to be one of the few objectives of his administration that was met.
As the world’s eyes are on Ukraine on this International Women’s Day, March 8, 2022, we are reminded of the disproportionate impact that war and militarism have on women. This is a reality that the women of the global South are acutely aware of because of the steady assaults on the humanity of peoples in the South executed by the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination. The militarized terror of the Axis of Domination in the service of their economic elites have been even more intensely felt by the women of Africa and the African Diaspora. The socialist groundings of the day were expressed in its early unfolding. Indeed, the earliest militants for International Working Women’s Day, lifted up the violence of capitalism as labor exploitation.
Leaders of small island nations met on Tuesday to discuss suing countries in the Global North for the damage caused by emissions. This week’s discussion, convened by the Commonwealth Foundation, was the first major meeting of the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law, a body formed to help small island developing states (SIDS) bring legal action against major carbon-emitting countries. The commission, announced last year at COP26 by Antigua and Barbuda with Tuvalu, has now called for as many countries as possible to join. Kausea Natano, the prime minister of Tuvalu, said it was “a platform for small island states to channel their grievances on the impact of climate change to legal bodies”.
As the failure of COP26 sinks in, it is increasingly clear that our leaders have neither the courage nor the will to respond effectively to ecological breakdown. This is not surprising. The ecological crisis is being driven by capitalist growth, which is tearing through the living world at a staggering pace, with the rich states and corporations of the global North responsible for the vast majority of the damage. Responding to this crisis will require deep changes to the structure and logic of the world economy, and existing incumbents are clearly unable to take the necessary steps. This leaves us with a series of haunting questions: What will the 21st century look like? How will the story unfold? What will happen in the future and how might we shape it?
The 26th Conference of the Parties, COP26, climate summit ended with its president fighting back tears. Alok Sharma came to Glasgow, Scotland hoping for an agreement to end the extraction of coal. Instead he said this, “I apologize for the way this process has unfolded. I am deeply sorry.” The international climate conferences are a perennial disappointment to anyone who understands the depth of the world wide catastrophe. Every year the rich capitalist nations find a way to undermine the process and consign millions of people to misery and devastation. Activists from all over the world gather in an effort to have an impact on the process, but they are literally outnumbered by fossil fuel lobbyists who always get what they want.