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Is the World Actually United Behind Biden?

Democrats cheering for the White House claim that the world is united behind President Biden in his opposition to Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This would be a nice endorsement of Biden’s foreign policy work, except for the fact that it isn’t true unless we take “the world” to mean North America and Europe. Even that unity, of course, has much more to do with fear of Putin than respect for Biden’s leadership.

Pakistan says no

It should have been immediately apparent that the entire world would not be rallying around the White House when Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, nominally a friend of the United States, visited Putin in Moscow immediately after the invasion began.

Khan more recently expressed his anger at the fact that the United States has been trying to pressure his government into condemning Russia and applying economic sanctions.

Responding to these demands, the prime minister said  “What do you think of us? Are we your slaves… that whatever you say, we will do?” He declared that his country wanted friendship with America and Europe, but that it will not abandon its relationship with Russia in the process.

Imran Khan’s attitude is not at all uncommon in the global south, which has been almost unanimous in refusing to target Russia with sanctions in response to American requests.

Pakistan’s neighbor and eternal rival India shares its attitude towards Russia and is maintaining its historically good relationship with Moscow, making this an extremely rare occasion of India and Pakistan agreeing on something internationally.

That’s a new kind of unity, but it’s the wrong kind for Biden and it has nothing to do with his clumsy diplomatic efforts.

World remains deeply divided

Most of the world was willing to go through the motions of condemning Russia at the United Nations, as everyone knows that any United Nations vote in response to a crisis is utterly meaningless.

Sanctions are another matter entirely. China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Mexico, and Egypt collectively make up an enormous percentage of the global population; all have chosen either token sanctions or no sanctions in response to the invasion.

In response to their desire to stay neutral, the Biden administration has toyed with the idea of threatening or sanctioning several countries that continue to trade with Russia.

This would, obviously, not do anything to improve the widespread perception of the United States as an international bully in these countries.

The kind of pressure being applied by the Biden administration can work to a limited extent, but when countries are asked to abandon their trade relationships with Russia to maintain the White House’s favor, the response will inevitably not be as positive.

And it isn’t just the governments; there is real public support for Russia in China, India, and other countries which are ambivalent about or opposed to American preeminence. The world is far from united.

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