Western ideology needs a rethink
Countries must graduate from following a bully that wants to police the world to embrace change for the better
Everyone knows of a high school bully who gets whatever he wants using brute force or social influence. He is glorified for leading the pack and strong-arming the weak-even as he extracts rent from his lackeys.
As we graduate into society, the rules change and the playing field is once again leveled. The bully no longer gains an upper hand with what he is used to doing. He thrashes around with frustration and swears to bring down the then beaten-up kid who has now overtaken him in life. Locked in his high school mentality, he attempts to rally his former gang, only to find out that they, too, have turned a new leaf in pursuit of mature aspirations.
Such is the sorry state of the United States-a country which used to dominate the world since World War II and is now uneasy as other countries are becoming stronger. While these countries are busy utilizing their economic strength for the betterment of their citizens, the US sees it as a threat that upends the global dominance it has long enjoyed.
Take China for instance. People in the country have improved their lives dramatically over the last four decades. Poverty has fallen precipitously. Skyscrapers have come up in large cities. Straw hut latrines have made way for glistening ceramic toilets. And China has been able to rebuild its military might to protect its own territories.
Long seen as the world leader, the US is displeased. To reassert its dominance, the US is invoking the fault lines of the Cold War by rallying former allies of the West against China-the bully of the class is feeling desperate.
Some countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia are too loyal to the US to see it fall from grace. They see the "big brother" as their ultimate protection against any conceivable threat. These disciples are also swift to carry out their big brother's orders as a display of steadfastness and submission, even at the expense of their financial wellbeing. For "big brother" evangelizes how sacrifice for the greater good is worthwhile. The pretext that the ideology of freedom trumps the facile material comforts becomes their subconscious modus operandi.
In some Western countries, inertia to fanatically worship the US ideology has become the stiffest opposition to common sense. Through their refractive lens, they judge anything that runs against their fundamental beliefs to be wrong.
The notion of freedom has been hijacked by the West to mean self-interest above public good. In many Western countries, public health measures to protect the elderly and the weak were viewed as obstructing people's freedom to socialize without a mask. In the United States, any attempts to get gun laws introduced so as to reduce the number of homicide cases is robbing people of their right to bear arms. For the US and its gang, one-party rule equals tyranny.
It was such toxic ideology that paved the way for former US president George W. Bush to invade Afghanistan with the support of Europe and the UK. However, even after its people were forcibly fed Western ideology for 20 years, local Afghans crisply rejected it. That the US people would claim "mission accomplished" despite refugees being tossed off their military planes is not surprising.
What worries most countries is the nature of how the US pulled out of Afghanistan even in the face of the criticism from its allies whose soldiers died for a US cause. That is not all. In hopes to erect an iron curtain to contain China, the US has courted Australia. The US will help arm Australia with nuclear submarines, in effect taking Australia one step closer from being a non-nuclear state to a nuclear state. All this when the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was signed half a century ago to prevent the world's destruction from nuclear wars.
Besides stirring up tensions among Asia-Pacific countries, Washington is bent on further destabilizing the region for its self-serving cause to contain China, lest China overtake it first on the regional, then the global stage.
Situated on the other side of the globe, the US would most likely be spared the most lethal radiation doses should a nuclear war break out. Sharing the US ideology and sitting at another end of the world, the UK complicitly seals the deal. Australia's volte-face from the submarine deal with France was shocking. Sidelined by the Anglosphere, France now wakes up to the reality that however valiant its sacrifices in Afghanistan, the US does not deem it worthy enough.
In fact, after decades of drama, the world should understand that Washington wryly uses other countries to protect its own values. Through the US lens, the dispensable pawns agreed to a two-party contract willingly. It is because of but not despite such perspectives that the world has grown used to inequality.
Some may relish the days when a self-serving bully leads a pack to police the world. But most other countries can choose to graduate from the shadow of the historical frames and embrace change for the better.
The author is a licensed physician in Hong Kong. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.