Western domination is waning — and it’s about time


Western domination is waning — and it’s about time

Freedom-loving democrats should focus more on maintaining the classic ‘Western values' than on the dominance of the club of big Western countries, writes MAX DU PREEZ. These values became universal a long time ago but are now disregarded by some Western states.


THE subtext of Western support for and tolerance towards Israel's genocide of Palestinians is that Israel is one of the cornerstones of the fortress of Western civilisation.

A weakened Israel means a weakened Fort West and a strengthened Islam, China and Russia, thus signalling the beginning of the end of freedom and democracy in the world, this line of thought goes.

And so, the US, Britain and Europe have turned a blind eye and remained silent for more than six months while Israel has reduced Gaza to rubble and killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of them children and women; as Israel has used famine as a weapon of war and destroyed all hospitals in the strip. 

And the West continues to provide Israel with weapons and financial aid and to protect the country in the UN.

How does such a brutal genocide align with Western values"? How does the treatment of Palestinians as untermenschen align with the basic Western value that all lives are equally valuable?

Respect for private property rights and the rule of law is fundamental to Western values. But when even Western television cameras show Israeli settlers on the West Bank forcibly expelling Palestinians from their land and occupying it, and when Israel keeps thousands of Palestinians in prisons without trial, some as young as 12, the West looks the other way — and prepares to send even more weapons and aid to Israel.

Please, look at this monologue by former South African parliamentarian, son of Holocaust survivors and current head of Corruption Watch UK, Andrew Feinstein:

Lees hierdie artikel in Afrikaans:

Respect for international law is inherent to Western values. Israel flagrantly violates several decisions of the UN Security Council with its illegal settlements on Palestinian land.

International law is crystal clear that diplomatic institutions must never be militarily attacked. When Israel bombed the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1, causing loss of life, the West remained silent. When Iran informed the US and Israel three days in advance that it would conduct a symbolic attack on Israel in retaliation so that Israel and its protectors could prepare, the West was furious.

No one died in Iran's attack on Israel; if Iran's plan was to harm Israel, the drones and missiles would have been fired without prior notice and caused significant damage. Dozens of Israeli, US, French and Jordanian fighter jets were in the air awaiting the missiles.

The British Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron, was caught off guard by a simple question from Sky News about this: 

Speaking of international law — in 1998, the US, alongside China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar and Yemen, voted against the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court. South Africa and 122 other countries subject themselves to the jurisdiction of this court, but not the US.

Look, there is no doubt that Iran is a cruel, dangerous theocratic dictatorship that does not recognise Israel as a legitimate state and provides assistance to Palestinian militant groups.

Hamas itself is a militant Islamic movement that has committed terrorist acts and does not tolerate democracy where it rules in Gaza.

But the West, especially America, has, for example, a warm relationship with Saudi Arabia, an Islamic absolute monarchy. The de facto ruler is Mohammed bin Salman, who sanctioned the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

According to Human Rights Watch's 2024 report, the murder by Saudi soldiers of hundreds of Ethiopian asylum seekers at the border was a “crime against humanity". Thousands of dissenters and human rights activists are in prison. Citizens are sentenced to death for posts on social media. According to the male guardianship system, all women remain under strict male control from birth to death.

How different is this from Iran?

For decades, Western countries have arrogated to themselves the right to declare certain dictatorships kosher and to persecute others, even militarily, depending solely on whether or not it is in the economic and geopolitical interests of Western countries. And, until recently, whether or not they had oil resources.

They may invade, bomb or destabilise other countries, but beware those outside the Western club that do the same. (And have we forgotten the “weapons of mass destruction" debacle in Iraq?)

The world has undergone significant changes since the end of the Cold War, and so has public opinion. The belief that “the West is best" has seriously waned, even in the West itself, especially among young people.

America's self-proclaimed title of “leader of the free world" is now disputed by most people, not only by Russia, China and Islamic or dictatorial countries. This meme spread like wildfire on social media this week:


America's dubious foreign policy, which has led to great instability in the countries where it wanted to play policeman, is not all that tarnishes its democracy.

Here's a shortlist: judges are party political appointments; a few billionaires (Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos) are as powerful as the elected president; election results are no longer accepted by a large number of voters; voters have elected a shady narcissist with no iota of democracy in his system to the presidency and are likely to do so again — the same man who instigated the January 6, 2020 assault on the legislature.

The other “leader of the free world", Britain, has a few recent blots on its copybook too: Brexit, clownish prime ministers like Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, and the plan to send unwanted immigrants to Rwanda.

A growing number of voters in leading Western democracies are disillusioned and are increasingly radicalised to the right or left: populism is growing rapidly in the West.

Yes, the aggressive presence of groups of Muslim fundamentalists in western European countries, people who advocate for sharia, is worrisome. It will only get worse if the West's complicity in the violent suppression of Palestinians continues.

The reality is that today more people live in democracies outside what is regarded as the West than in the West: India, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Serbia, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Mauritius and a few others. Until recently, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia were also not considered Western countries.

The Western view that Islam is the great enemy of democracy is at odds with the fact that the largest Muslim country, Indonesia, is a proper democracy and open society. 

Other examples of democracies with a majority Muslim population include Turkey, Tunisia, Senegal and Malaysia.

The typical Western model is no longer the only one for a democracy. The West has long ceased to be the only one to advocate classical democratic principles: regular free elections, personal and speech freedom, accountable government, the rule of law and tolerance.

The romanticisation of the West as the shining example of democracy and freedom that grew out of classical times (Athens, Rome, Jerusalem) is so 1980s.

At best, one can say that Western democracies have shown that a democratic order is good for economic development and the utilisation of human potential.

But the West has also been at the forefront of states that have committed human rights abuses — slavery was just one.

Britain colonised a quarter of the world (including South Africa, where it followed a policy of scorched earth and concentration camps); America killed a large number of indigenous people, stole their land and fought devastating wars in Vietnam, South America and the Middle East; Germany committed genocide against the Herero, Nama and Jews; Belgium was one of the cruellest colonial masters, and the Congo still suffers from the consequences today.

America and western Europe's dominance is waning fast. China, Japan, and India are among the top five strongest economies, with China set to become the most powerful superpower in my lifetime.

If Donald Trump is re-elected as president in November, America's diplomatic role and its “soft power" will also further diminish.

A new, multilateral world order is emerging.

Here at the southern tip of Africa, alongside the rest of our continent and the so-called Global South, we can help build a dispensation that is not overwhelmed by an East-West power struggle. 

But the recipe followed by the ANC government, to jump into bed with the worst dictatorships as a knee-jerk action against the West, is exactly what should not happen.

Multilateral diplomacy, open societies, accountable government systems and human rights, the values ​​that the West sold to us without always following them themselves, should be the foundation of a new world order.

♦ VWB ♦

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