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The End of the Rules-Based International Order

Niall McCrae
21st Century Wire 

In an edgy sketch of Sasha Baron Cohen’s comedy series Borat (a parody of a backward Kazakh, Jew-hating goat herdsman), the protagonist attends an art class where the activity is to paint whatever you are feeling. Borat produces a scene of blood and guts spewing from bodies lying on the ground. The liberally-minded tutor asks him what he has drawn. ‘This is massacre of Uzbek village’. That must be so traumatic for you, the tutor sympathises. ‘No, no, this is beautiful scene – Uzkeks very bad people’.

The Western model of geopolitics is promoted as ‘the rules-based international order’. But as Furqan Farah argued in an article for Al Jazeera, this concept has been exposed as a fraud by the current conflict in Gaza.

Rather than rules or principles, the West (meaning the administrations of Washington, Whitehall and Brussels, in collaboration with Tel Aviv) is stamping a heavy boot of power. Like Borat’s Uzbek enemies, the carnage in Gaza is apparently what the poor Palestinian people deserve.

Farah, writing in response to the British government’s opposition to a massive march for Gaza in London (using the excuse of Armistice Day), believes that the UK is mired in moral crisis. Opposition to Armistice Day march for Gaza is a sign of UK’s moral crisis | Israel-Palestine conflict | Al Jazeera The effort to ban a peaceful protest, as urged by politicians and pundits, revealed the abandonment of Enlightenment values. A new dark age looms, with deadening censorship and control.

That demonstrating for peace on Armistice Day was deemed offensive shows how far British society has fallen from its respected status as a civic democracy, built on logic and liberty. The cause for concern is obvious: the sickening slaughter of innocent men, women and children. Israel refuses a ceasefire, while systematically bombing hospitals, mosques, churches, schools, UN-run facilities and other civilian infrastructure across the besieged Gaza Strip in direct violation of international humanitarian law.

The United States and United Kingdom are unequivocally supporting this bombardment not only with words but weapons too. The death toll of eleven thousand, half of the victims in childhood, rises relentlessly with the help of missiles and munitions supplied by the Western military-industrial complex. Israel’s supporters assert the right to defence, but this concept does not give licence to attack unarmed citizens within its own borders. Collective punishment for the action of some Hamas terrorists would be like the British government responding to the IRA terrors in the 1980s (including the attempted assassination of Margaret Thatcher at the Grand Hotel in Brighton) by carpet-bombing West Belfast and Derry. Of course, that would have caused international outcry, but Israel is somehow immune.

Farah remarked: 

Leading Western governments’ indifference to the immense suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and vocal support for Israel’s blatant violations of international law have exposed a deep moral crisis they are all suffering from – a crisis that raises important questions about the viability of the Western-led, rules-based world order. Today, this consequential moral failing is perhaps more visible in the UK than anywhere else.’

In the week before the latest march for Palestine, which have occurred weekly since the blitz of Gaza began on 7th October, prime minister Rishi Sunak declared that ‘Saturday’s planned protest is not just disrespectful but offends our heartfelt gratitude to the memory of those who gave so much so that we may live in freedom and peace today’. Home secretary Suella Braverman went further, smearing the coming protest as a ‘hate march’. Commentators in mainstream media such as Allison Pearson, Douglas Murray and Julia Hartley Brewer demanded that the police stop the march from going ahead, because it would violate the sacred commemoration at the Cenotaph. The organisers assured that they would steer clear of Westminster and Whitehall, but critics ignored this inconvenient fact. .

The next government in Britain is likely to be Labour, led by Sir Keir Starmer. Bu this man, a human rights lawyer, does not see a human rights disaster before his eyes. Instead, he obsesses on anti-Semitism, emphasising how his party has progressed from its period under pro-Palestinian Jeremy Corbyn and Chris Williamson. Starmer is a globalist who told a BBC interviewer that he prefers Davos (the conference run by the World Economic Forum) to the House of Commons. A few hundred babies dying in the concrete rubble does not keep Sir Keir awake at night.

According to Farah, this departure from core British values, including freedom of speech and assembly, ‘also underlines the disconnect between the country’s rulers and people’ A recent YouGov opinion poll showed that 76 per-cent of British adults want a ceasefire. Farah exclaimed:

The UK’s leaders, like many of their Western allies, appear to have lost their moral compass and forgotten all the lessons learned from the devastating world wars of the last century.  Their failure to speak against Israel’s war crimes, and support an immediate ceasefire in line with the British public’s wishes, is a moral failing that will have catastrophic consequences for us all.’

I was at the march on Saturday, and found myself immersed in a river of people of all backgrounds.

They came from up and down the country, all committed to a view of humanity that is sadly not shared by their leaders.

Niall McCrae is a researcher and educator, and author of ‘The Moon and Madness’ (Imprint Academic, 2011), and ‘Moralitis: a Cultural Virus’ (Bruges Group, 2018). See his 21WIRE archive here

LISTEN TO HIS INTERVIEW HERE: Niall McCrae – The ‘Rules Based Order’ Died in Gaza




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