| Rising Nationalism and Western-Skepticism in The Rising Powers of Asia
|Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tarık OGUZLU, ORSAM Middle East Advisor, Antalya International University
| It is now very common to observe that rising powers of Asia view international developments increasingly from a nationalistic and western-skeptic perspective. I have got this feeling during a conference in New Delhi on the Arab Spring and its regional and global ramifications. I observed that the participants from the major countries of Asia, namely India, China and Iran, had highly skeptical attitudes towards the recent developments in the Middle East and pointed out their fingers at the United States and Israel as the main culprits of the ongoing tension and chaos across the region. From the perspective of those participants, the so-called Arab Spring would only serve the long-term strategic interests of the United States and Israel by paving the way for weakening, if not necessarily dismemberment, of the leading Arabic countries by contributing to sectarian and ethnic cleavages, so that none of these countries would be in a position to challenge the primacy of Israel and the United States in the region.
To those participants, the US has been criticized by putting oil and its strategic primacy at the forefront of its approach towards the Arab Spring. Given that it is the United States’ allies in Europe and strategic rivals in East Asia, rather than the US itself, that are heavily dependent on the oil resources of the region, the Americans have been assumed to have calculated that their long-term strategic primacy across the globe would only be ensured if they had full control on the access of other global players to the oil of the region.
The US and its regional ally in the region, Israel, have been accused of adopting a highly selective attitude towards the so-called ‘people uprisings’ across the region. Controlling the oil resources, limiting the access of other global players to the region, containing Iran’s influence and ensuring the survival of Israel are assumed to have shaped the American attitude towards the recent regional developments. To those participants from the rising powers of Asia, the Americans and its close allies had nothing to do with the promotion of liberal-democratic governance in the region. The Americans have supported democratic movements to the extent they contributed to the fall of anti-American regimes and helped ensure their regional primacy.
The idea that the international community would and should have the right to get involved in internal affairs of countries if the rulers of those countries did not meet the fundamental needs of their people has also been criticized by those participants from Asia. To them the principle of ‘responsibility to protect’ would only act as a tool to help legitimize the outside/western interference with the internal matters of the countries that might potentially cause a challenge to the long-term western interests. The multicultural and multiethnic countries of rising Asia, particularly Russia, India and China, view this principle as a western tool to help weaken the rising Asian countries, rather than a strong, sincere and unequivocal western commitment to democracy and well governance across the globe.
I have also observed that the more powerful these countries become in terms of their economic and military capabilities, the more they challenge the existing rules and principles of international politics shaped by the western powers. It would not be an exaggeration to argue that the ‘realist’ and ‘Realpolitik’ explanations of international developments would gain more salience to the extent the rising powers of East Asia demand an increasing ‘say’ in international politics concomitant with their growing power capabilities.