Soon after the Russian onslaught against Ukraine, most observers agreed that the conflict would gradually become a protracted war. In other words, the fighting would lose intensity, and perhaps ceasefires would be declared, only to be followed by allegations of their violation. As NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg said, it is absolutely possible that this war will drag on for months and years.
Yesterday, following an extraordinary meeting in Cairo, the Arab League re-admitted Syria to its ranks after an 11-year absence. According to CNN, “Syria, from tonight, is a full member of the Arab League, and starting tomorrow they have the right to participate in any meeting. When the host nation, in this case, Saudi Arabia, sends the invitation, (Assad) can attend if he wishes to,” Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit told journalists. Moreover, the Arab League supports the “territorial integrity of Syria,” and the “withdrawal of all foreign forces” from the country said the Arab League statement.
On November 4, 2022, Chancellor Scholz paid an eleven-hour visit to Beijing with a group of top German business executives. He was the first Western leader visit to China since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and the first major political leader to meet Xi Jinping after the Chinese Communist Party Congress.[i] At the end of March 2023, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón visited China. He was followed by President Macron and the President of the European Commission von der Leyen last week.
On June 14, 2021, Mr. Biden arrived in Brussels on his first trip to Europe as President. The Brussels Summit Communiqué issued by the NATO Heads of State and Government on that day broke new ground by mentioning China in a NATO public statement for the first time. It said, “China’s stated ambitions and assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and areas relevant to Alliance security.”
On February 23, 2023, the UN General Assembly through its Resolution A/ES-11/L.7, once again called for ending the war in Ukraine and demanded Russia’s immediate withdrawal from the country in line with the UN Charter. The voting was very similar to last year’s Resolution ES‑11/4. And the message of the majority was the same: “End the war.”
Last Monday in an article titled, “Biden’s Surreal and Secretive Journey into a War Zone”by Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear, the New York Times shared some details of President Biden’s visit to Ukraine with the reader.[i] It said the president played his part in the ruse which included a dinner at the Red Hen restaurant with the First Lady where they enjoyed the rigatoni before going back to the White House, hours before his departure for Europe. And that was just the beginning.
Two years ago, on February 19, 2021, at the 2021 Virtual Munich Security Conference, President Biden addressed the global community for the first time. He defined the partnership between Europe and the US as the cornerstone of all that the West hopes to accomplish in the 21st century, just as it did in the 20th century. He said, “I know — I know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship, but the United States is determined — determined to reengage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trusted leadership.”
On January 20, the US-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group met at Ramstein Air Base in Germany under the chairmanship of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The meeting, attended by more than fifty nations and NATO’s Secretary General Stoltenberg, was the eighth in a series of meetings initiated in April 2022, to discuss efforts to provide military support to Ukraine.
Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited France, Italy, Britain, Canada, and the US. In the background was the war in Ukraine, China’s growing military might, North Korea’s becoming a de facto nuclear power, and Japan’s “National Security Strategy”, made public on December 16, 2022.
Last week President Macron paid a state visit to Washington, the first of the Biden administration.
In widely reported remarks, “France has jumped to the head of the queue,” said Professor Charles Kupchan, who was a senior adviser on European issues in the Obama White House. “The state visit is symbolically significant as the return of the trans-Atlantic relationship to the center of American strategy in the world, and it’s notable that the country getting the first nod is France, not Germany or Britain.”