Do better: visionaries scrutinise US response to Russia-Ukraine conflict

Published by The Vibes

The sanctions it favours could have ‘downstream implications’, says one expert

KUALA LUMPUR – The Russia-Ukraine conflict was the focal point of a webinar during the Horasis USA Meeting 2022 on Friday, where panellists agreed that the United States’s response to the crisis will determine its global posturing as the vanguard of democracy and an economic powerhouse.

Panellist and Axilor Ventures chairman Kris Gopalakrishnan said for the US to retain any level of moral authority or an aspirational position, it could have done more to promote secular peace in countries or cultures that may not be entirely ready for a democratic system.

“Many democratic countries are having difficult times right now, where the brute majority wins. Democracy remains a work in progress that is made more challenging by the widespread use of social media and technology.

“The US has to lead in terms of taking proactive measures (to safeguard democracy).

“Other less developed nations are having issues making democracy work for them, especially when social media is at everyone’s fingertips,” he said, adding that propaganda and fake news are something social media companies can take action against. 

“Looking at the crisis now, there may not be a perfect solution but incremental steps towards a resolution.”

Kris was among the four panellists at Horasis USA Meeting 2022, where he spoke in a webinar titled Envisioning the Global Role of the USA that was moderated by Reuters editor-at-large Axel Threlfall.

Sanctions could become ‘double-edged sword’ in conflicts

As for governance firm Diligent Corporation president and CEO Lisa Edwards, she said in an ever interconnected economy, moves such as sanctions can be a double-edged sword for others.

“Sanctions have the tendency to become a boomerang and impact your own economy, with your own people raising questions and, later, the rest of the world – all wondering if it is the right solution.

“It also has unintended consequences. I do not fully agree with the economic sanctions that the US tends to turn to. It could have downstream implications notwithstanding the volatility of the global markets, especially during a pandemic.

“The pendulum tends to go back and forth.”

She added that the US had its missteps, especially after withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, saying it was “unbecoming of a global leader”.

Is the US the world’s sheriff?

The US sanctions on Russia may be an economic pressure move, but it does not resolve the current humanitarian crisis that came about from the conflict, said panellist and luxury real estate developer Michael Shvo.

“It is interesting to note that the actions taken so far by the US are canonical. Is America the ‘sheriff’ of the world? Also, what bullets does the ‘sheriff’ carry? 

“One man’s opinion is that (US President) Biden is trying to hit the Russians economically, by taking down its supporters and hurting the wealthiest of them.

“But the issue we’re contending with is whether the US will drag us into another world war the moment it takes military action. 

“However, it is right for the US to step in to address humanitarian issues, because it is the right thing to do.”

For now, Russia has issued a ceasefire to allow residents of two besieged cities – Mariupol and Volnovakha – to evacuate. 

PETRA Group chairman and chief executive Datuk (Dr) Vinod Sekhar says that the current conflict will impact the rest of the world, including global trade and logistics. – The Vibes file pic, March 6, 2022

PETRA Group chairman and chief executive Datuk (Dr) Vinod Sekhar says that the current conflict will impact the rest of the world, including global trade and logistics. – The Vibes file pic, March 6, 2022

Global spillover effect?

One panellist felt that the US had eroded global confidence when it withdrew from Afghanistan, as it ran contrary to the expectations of the world.

PETRA Group chairman and chief executive Datuk (Dr) Vinod Sekhar told the audience that the current conflict will impact the rest of the world, including global trade and logistics.

“There has been a tremendous loss of confidence in the US, especially from an Asian perspective, as the superpower promised to lead, but its actions say otherwise.

“They (US) promised to be leaders, but we did not see any such efforts then, and we are not seeing it now,” said the entrepreneur and philanthropist.

“While the US may be the world’s biggest aid provider, it is oftentimes marred by internal politics, making its aid programmes unsustainable.”

He said the perception that the US is singular is not untrue, as ideals and aspirations differ state to state and often along political lines, warning that China and India are waiting to take over as world leaders, especially when the two nations make up nearly half the global population.

“At what stage does the US realise other countries are taking over? Fill stomachs and minds. The message of democracy will go down easier.

“You cannot take what you believe is right and simply translate it to third world countries with citizens that are living hand-to-mouth, but you can maintain a presence while providing incentives for them to evolve and improve.” 

The webinar is part of the global virtual conference hosted by Frank-Jürgen Richter, who is the chairman of Horasis and founder of the Horasis Global Meeting, as well as a former director of the World Economic Forum. – The Vibes, March 6, 2022


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