East-West storm collides with North-South system to create a ‘Perfect Storm’
Two storm systems — one centred on the war in Ukraine and the other on the war in Gaza — were already threatening to damage the democracies, and they have just gotten worse. The storm’s intensity accelerated with Joe Biden’s removal of nearly every restriction on Israel for its access to a little-known US weapons stockpile. The stockpile in Israel was to be used to help meet Ukraine’s dire need for artillery shells in the war with Russia…and then came Gaza.
This move shows how two wars that are drawing from one pool of resources operate at cross-purposes with each other; they drag in different directions.
They are like two weather systems that are colliding to intensify the rage of the wind.
The West’s help to Israel is like a storm front coming on a North-South axis. It is a struggle for influence of the Global South that supports Palestine — the kinds of nations represented in BRIC like Brazil and India — against what they perceive as a colonizing power in the North. This is a great over-simplification, of course, as there are aspirational factors at play as well for both Israel and Palestine, but in general the South is seeing this as a matter of colonialism: the rich North represented by Israel against the disadvantaged South personified by Palestine. As only 3% of Israel’s population was Jewish in 1947, the South views its Jewish growth since then — which largely came from Europe — as the off-loading of Western guilt about a Western crime (the Holocaust) onto the uninvolved natives of Palestine.
Western support for Ukraine on the other hand is seen as an East-West conflict, in which autocracy is trying to bury democracy.
Where the two directional arrows meet is right where Israel and Ukraine are located.
It is causing confusion and anxiety for all parties.
Zelensky clearly wants to align Ukraine with the United States’ position of support for Israel, but at the same time he wants to avoid alienating key players in the North-South Arab world, like Saudi Arabia, which in August hosted peace talks to support Zelensky’s proposed 10-point plan. It’s an almost impossible act: “I support you but I also…