By Global Times
US President Joe Biden. Photo: VCG
US President Joe Biden on Tuesday evening delivered his first State of the Union address since he assumed office. From the start of his speech, he addressed US lawmakers about the Ukraine crisis using sensational words and defined the regional conflict which has a complex historical context as a “battle between democracy and autocracy.”
Biden condemned Russia in strong terms and underscored the comprehensive sanctions the West has imposed on Russia and the unity of the West against Russia. Many media outlets noted that during the more-than-one-hour-long speech, this was the only point where Biden received applause from both parties.
In his speech, Biden described the Ukrainian people as “a wall of strength” against Russia. This easily reminds people of the famous Berlin Wall during the Cold War era. We have to wonder: Does Washington want Ukraine to become that high wall? Biden’s narrative sounded contagious and suited to the taste of his US and Western audiences, especially when he was addressing members of US Congress. But it doesn’t bear scrutiny and is of no help to resolve the current crisis. Instead, it’s quite dangerous, and deserves high vigilance that such a narrative will drag the world into another cold war or even a large-scale hot war.
It also clearly shows Washington’s perspective on the Ukraine crisis: The pluralistic world is simplified to confrontation between different ideologies. The more Washington displays its determination to win, the more detrimental it will be to solve the problem. Because it very likely means that as long as Washington “isn’t satisfied,” no matter how much effort the UN and other parties make, it will be difficult for the conflict to reach a soft landing. However, it is inconceivable and impossible for the US to turn Russia, a country of more than 17 million square kilometers and with 140 million people, into a “lonely island of the world.” If Washington insists on trying to achieve such a result, it will substantially deepen the divisions and antagonism in the world.
US presidents originally report their work achievements and policy plans to Congress in their State of the Union addresses. In order to gain support of the congressmen, such a speech is highly performative, which makes it more likely to aggravate conflicts in special historical periods. For instance, the “Monroe Doctrine” was generated in a very inflammatory State of the Union speech while former president Ronald Reagan also expounded his policies against the “evil Soviet empire” in his State of the Union address. With the Ukraine crisis having affected the global landscape, it is still quite uncertain whether it will become another watershed of transformating the international pattern. But the State of the Union address on Tuesday has released quite a disturbing message.
Some believe that after the Ukraine crisis, the gap between major powers could become a “high-risk area” for local conflicts. The world will not be peaceful if every friction between major powers turns into a complete ideological confrontation, with the expectation to “defeat the other” or even “a life-or-death struggle.” If Washington’s claim to “stand with the Ukrainian people” is sincere, please stop trying to turn the Russia-Ukraine conflict into a life-and-death battle between “freedom” and “autocracy.” Do not turn a regional conflict into the ultimate game between “us” and “them” by adding fuel to the fire, let alone turning Ukraine into a wall dividing the East and West. Ukraine should have been a bridge across Eurasia, and its people should not have been the victims of Washington’s ideology and military expansionism.
Nonetheless, topics concerning the economy and people’s livelihood, such as the pandemic and inflation, accounted for the largest part of the Biden speech. In this regard, people from all over the world have common pursuits. Although the current world is far from being peaceful and mankind is still facing many severe challenges, peace and development are the themes of the times. We hope all countries, especially big and strong powers, can take a responsible attitude toward the world, and meet each other halfway over peace and development instead of moving in opposite directions.