We have a patient in critical condition and he’s bleeding profusely. We have only one intensive care unit which is not functional. This is what makes the war in Ukraine more dangerous than the Vietnam War, the Korean War, the Berlin Crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
The world of the two camps was not reassuring, but it kept at least a safety valve. There was an intensive care unit at the international clinic which was supervised by two surgeons, one Soviet, the other American. It only took a phone call between the White House and the Kremlin and an exchange of some form of concession to get the intensive care unit working properly again. It was enough for the two surgeons to agree to save the patient from death.
Any fire on the planet could be extinguished by an American-Soviet agreement, especially when China was still reeling from the Cultural Revolution and the Gang of Four.
In this world, Washington and Moscow had a strong desire to avoid any direct collision between two armies equipped with a nuclear arsenal. They respected the red lines in several areas of influence under their control
In the summer of 1982, as Ariel Sharon’s forces surrounded Beirut, Yasser Arafat, George Hawi and Mohsen Ibrahim met in an air raid shelter in the capital looking for the last hope. Hawi resorted to the Soviet embassy and asked Ambassador Alexander Soldatov for his country to send a warship to the Mediterranean off Beirut so he could boost the morale of his beleaguered allies. The ambassador said that would be impossible because it would risk escalating into conflict with America, which strongly supported Israel.
Hawi was disappointed and forced to lower his expectations. He offered that Moscow send a ship to transfer the wounded from Beirut, but he also met with the same refusal.
The three officials in Beirut realized that the Soviet Union was showing signs of weakness. Arafat concluded that Washington held the keys. Almost a decade later, the Oslo Accords would be signed at the White House. After four decades, some say America is showing signs of weakness after its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In the post-Soviet world, the intensive care unit seemed able to function when needed. Vladimir Putin needed to rehabilitate the Russian Federation, body and soul. Behind his smiles and his handshakes, he hid a great plan of revenge which consists in endowing the Red Army with the credo of confronting the West, the architect of the color revolutions and the siege of Russia by NATO. Putin was feeding society and the military with the idea of a new siege the West was designing. He restored his country’s missile power and fangs.
Putin never felt he could adopt Qassem Soleimani’s approach of infiltrating the maps and changing the balance of power there without invading them. He does not have the patience of Xi Jinping, who prefers to wait for the fruit to ripen, while betting on a major general named time.
Some believed that Russian forces would not invade Ukraine. They believed that the Russian public would reject a civil war within the Slavic House. Some also believed that Ukraine would soon raise the white flag and that the West in the post-pandemic world and after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan would swallow the bitter pill instead of getting tangled up in Ukraine.
It is no exaggeration to say that the post-Ukrainian world will be different from what it was before. It is as if we were going through a very dangerous job. We are still in the early stages and have more questions than answers. Is it true that the sun of American arrogance was setting? Is it true that Washington’s position would weaken after its proven failure to manage a unipolar world? Is it true that the future management of the world will be in the American-Russian-Chinese triangle? Is it true that the world is engaged in a new arms race? Can the Russian economy do what the Soviet Union failed to do in this regard?
Does the constant dancing on the scorching tin roof further the grand Chinese agenda that advances under the veil of economic growth, the fight against poverty and the dreams of the Belt and Road project?
What about Europe, especially the countries that have become dependent on Russian gas and are now called upon to boycott Russian exports and increase arms funding?
And India, this worried Asian giant who does not like to take risks? What will Israel do if this conflict continues? Where is Iran after the return to the nuclear agreement?
The work will lead to the reorganization of seats in the great power club. Questions were also raised about globalization, the Western economic example, commodity prices, energy, investments, sanctions and the position of the dollar, yuan, ruble and euro. The arrangement of mottos generally signals the arrangement of generals.
The first steps of a long hard work in a broken international clinic. Will the Arabs manage to find a place for themselves in the post-pandemic world? Will they manage to form an influential economic force and political will to keep the channels open with the parties of the new triangle and Europe? Will they manage to form a force capable of dealing with the members of the triangle on the basis of mutual interests and the discussion of concerns and challenges while guaranteeing security and stability?
In managing a difficult international job, you cannot count on waiting.
Arab countries must take the initiative and protect their economies and societies and contain the impact of the war in Ukraine. They must consolidate their borders and civil peace and preserve their network of relations which safeguard their interests.
Libya’s interest demands that it does not wait for the result of the labor because it is torn between two rival governments. Yemen’s interests demand that Yemenis seize the opportunity offered by the Riyadh consultations to turn a new page and announce the renewal of ties between them and their return to living in a state that suits all. The formation of the presidential council, with Saudi support and Arab and international praise, could be the start of this chapter.
The opportunity must also be seized in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. It is not in the interest of the Arabs that their countries remain an open arena for the harsh push and pull in which they would pay the price of great duels within the new triangle.
The scene in Ukraine is terrible. Russia is raining down rockets on European soil and preparing to determine the fate of part of Ukraine. Ukrainian soldiers target Russian tanks and jets with fresh weapons supplied by NATO. Biden’s accusations against Putin confirm that the intensive care unit is out of order. China, which calls for dispelling uncertainty, only makes it worse.