Di Michele Geraci, professor of economics and former undersecretary at the Ministry of Economic Development in the Conte I government
In a few hours, the West has not only lost Afghanistan, which it had never owned, but has thrown away years, decades, centuries of moral standing, defender of the rights of the weak, of human rights, of women’s rights. , as a promoter of democracy. But the betrayal that the West perpetrated yesterday against Afghan citizens, who are the ones who will pay the price for our political choices, also cracks, indeed, destroys the last ethical bulwark that the West has boasted about: that of being champions of international justice and protector of the oppressed of the world.
It matters little who is to blame and those who know me know that I never point the finger at the actions of individual governments of sovereign foreign countries free to choose their policies as they see fit. But in the eyes of the world, the West, NATO, the Atlantic alliance, the United States, Europe and we, Italy, are perceived as an indistinguishable whole that shares both the successes and the merits as well as the mistakes and defeats, like today. After all, our media, experts and some of our politicians have been competing for several months to claim our Atlantic values and international alliances. Today comes the account of these unspecified values which I hope are not the shameful scenes of today at Kabul airport.
The real winner of our disaster is China which has won its easiest game, doing nothing, as always. A wise strategy based on two pillars: 1) no military intervention abroad, and 2) economic cooperation for development. In other words, China prefers the Silk Road approach to that of the tank route. An approach that favors the development of infrastructures, transport and investments over that of war. And it is an approach that was the basis of the MoU Silk Road that Italy itself signed in 2019, during the Conte I government, so that ‘we too could participate in the development of countries with investments and provide prosperity to peoples, rather than betray them and send our soldiers to their deaths. China is smart and will not fall into the trap of military intervention, the pious hope of the West, but will enter into trade agreements with the new Afghan government, thus adding another transit point towards the Indian Ocean and the ports of Pakistan, also exploiting the Pashtun presence on both sides of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan which was already economically firmly integrated with China. India is already far away and too busy with serious internal problems to have a big say. Indeed, fortunately for itself, it will be kept out and then, when the time is ripe, it will also unearth the hatchet with China, when it has understood that it will not be able to count on any economic contribution from the West.
But not only India, the disaster we have wrought has other ramifications. With this debacle without extenuating circumstances, the West has managed to stake the trust of all those Asian countries which, until yesterday, saw in us an ally they can count on in any diatribes with China. It is evident that the old doubt, always present in Asia since 60 years, of being mere pawns that can be spent for Western interests has since yesterday become more and more real risk, if not certainty. The concept of leveraging their fears to carry out China’s containment strategy is very weakened and soon vanished. Perhaps good news for Taiwan that it will be careful not to fall into the trap of being used as a pawn and continue, as it has done for decades, to manage a balanced relationship with mainland China. My old economics teacher, Rudy Dornbusch always told me to study geography to understand economics. So soon Korea and Japan will also open a geographical map and understand who their neighbors are and who they will agree to stay with, if they ever have to choose.
Betrayals are not forgotten, especially in Asia. We have lost everything. Indeed more.