The Financial Express

Shifting global mood and foreign policy 

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Why Dhaka refrained from siding with either of the two blocs trading words and ammunitions over the Ukraine-Russia war and how prudent this decision was, would be analysed by foreign policy pundits in the coming years. However, the current situation may lead to a new global order. 

Russia and its allies and satellites and the US-led NATO and the nations within its spheres of influence have split into two camps, but the crisis hasn't recalled a Cold War-era polarisation that sharply divided the world. 

Now countries like Bangladesh have found less relevance to becoming party to the Russian action or its vehement opposition. So, Dhaka had gone for the third option by abstaining from voting for the March 2, 2022 UN General Assembly resolution deploring Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

The countries outside the realm of hostilities suffer from policy dilemma as reflected in social media debates on great power policies and rivalries. The policymakers still have to act, notwithstanding neutrality. 

This fluid situation has reinforced an old imperative for Bangladesh to prepare and pursue country-specific foreign policy keeping aside Kautilyan kutniti (diplomacy) of making friendship with 'my enemy's enemy'. 

The war that has drawn enormous media attention has failed to draw the majority of the earth's population into the fold of blindly supporting or opposing the belligerents despite its painful impacts on global commodity and financial markets. It's unlike the Vietnam war against the Americans, or the Afghan war against the Soviets. 

The world has proved to be unsympathetic to Yemen war, and civil wars in Syria and Libya. People would obviously equate one injustice, say, in Palestine by the Israelis with another here, pointing to the double standards of the global powers. 

Still, there are 'unknowns' in the Russia-Ukraine encounter. We don't know in detail why Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the special military operation rupturing sovereignty of Ukraine recognised during the dismemberment of the Soviet Union in 1991. US President Joe Biden's policy on this crisis and target of anti-Russia rhetoric are not yet clear either. 

Further unknown to the world is the consequence of the West's sanctions on Russia, its oligarchs and institutions. Mr Putin may have assumed that profiteering Western companies would be tired of their own losses at one stage! America and its allies might have wanted to cripple Putin's Russia once and for all! 

However, the United Nations' failure to serve properly weaker member states has made them disillusioned about the dominance of big five at the Security Council. 

The ramifications of this war would most likely prompt each nation to look more inwardly to redefine and maintain relations with any power. Revival of nationalism of the 19th and 20th centuries' pattern is unlikely in the age of immigration and economic interdependence but states may undergo massive social and policy changes. 

The Ukraine war may also provoke the Asian nations to assert their “Century of the Asians”. In this context, Bangladesh can market its policy of moderation that suits most countries promoting peace. 

China has already said it stands on the right side of history over the Ukraine crisis. Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan have maintained a surprisingly similar line of policy on the West-Russia stand-off. 

The crisis began with the Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky's aspiration to join NATO military alliance. Ukraine wants to become a member of the European Union bloc and the European leaders too sympathise with the Ukrainians based on their race. 

The countries that sided with or remained silent about the Russian adventure - the obvious enemies of the West - can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Also the American allies that have been blacklisted by Mr Putin are not many. 

That indicates most countries have virtually distanced themselves from the crisis and this development is going to shape both domestic and foreign policies in sovereign countries. 

Therefore, it's time for Bangladesh to read the changing global mood and upcoming trends to prepare policy packages for maximising interests of the generations to come. 

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