April 10th, 2014
11:13 PM ET

The tension between global norms and national interests

By Fareed Zakaria

Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has unified Western democracies, at least in their robust condemnation of the action. But farther afield, one sees a variety of responses that foreshadow the great emerging tension in 21st-century international life: between global norms and national interests.

Consider the response of India, the world’s most populous democracy. New Delhi was mostly silent through the events of February and early March; it refused to support any sanctions against Russia, and its national security adviser declared that Russia had “legitimate” interests in Ukraine — all of which led Vladimir Putin to place a thank-you phone call to India’s prime minister.

India’s reaction can be explained by its deep ties with Russia.

Read the Washington Post column

Post by:
Topics: India • Russia • Ukraine

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. ✠RZ✠

    Farheed, news coverage provided on the Ukraine fiasco by most all sources has included everything from some historical data, to the events leading up to the protests, and then pretty much everything under the sun thereafter. But what I am most interested in is focusing on the fundamentals of why or how this situation has come to be in the first place. And for some reason all media seems to be staying clear of this topic. If one were to cite government corruption as an underlying cause then shouldn't it follow that other countries with equal or worse corruption could have met with the same fate? But we have yet to see the likes of Iraq, Greece, Egypt, Libya, nor any other of a list of countries with similar failures and protests meet the same demise. And if debt and a weakened economic is the instigator of all this, then once again, why is that Ukraine has not been permitted to remain intact like all the other countries? Furthermore, if corruption and hard economic times are in fact the underlying causes, then why aren't they being addressed and blamed accordingly? It seems that we are always focusing our attention and efforts on reacting to the symptoms rather than addressing the real disease and administering the proper cure.

    April 11, 2014 at 12:25 am | Reply
    • rupert

      Putting is ambitious. Plain and simple. That is why it is happening.

      April 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Reply
      • ✠ RZ ✠

        C'mon Rupert. Have you even considered all the countries around the world in one form of turmoil or another? And we're to believe this is the result of the ambitions of Putin?

        April 11, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
  2. Michael

    Farheed, the protests in the East and South of Ukraine have nothing or little to do with Russia. People in the East and South of Ukraine are very different from people in the West part of Ukraine. They are not pro-Russian, but they do speak different language, have different traditions and history. They love Ukraine and they do not want to be forced to speak different language and forget their history just because the new radical government wants them to. They do not like the nationalistic ideas of the new government, and they do not want to recognize Bandera who was committing atrocities with Hitler's troops during World War II. The West of Ukraine installed a monument to Bandera. The nationalistic groups existed in the West part of Ukraine for many years, they are also in the new government. This is what the people of East and South of Ukraine are protesting against. They want to be more independent from the West. They are not separatists. Have you heard how some officials in the new government suggest to shoot the protesting people? Did you see the video of the government officials forcing the official with the different opinion to leave the building (actually beating him up)?. All he said that the protesters are not "pro-Russian", they are people of Ukraine who need to be heard. The coverage of the events in Ukraine by the main steam media has been very strange to say the least.

    April 11, 2014 at 12:53 am | Reply
  3. trueteller1

    Mr. Fareed Zakaria and the people who support conflict with Russia are clear example of why young Americans are getting their news from Jon Steward, a comedian. First we station NATO troops in several countries bordering Russia and almost surround Russia in the process. Then we support anti-government protest in Ukraine to overthrow the elected president. To show that we are serious, we sent Sen. John McCain and 7 senators to visit and cheer on the protesters in Kiev. The State Department then dispatched its Assist. Secretary Victoria Nuland to Kiev to pick and choose the new leaders for Ukraine. Who can forget her "F..k the EU" statement? Get this...All this is happening on Russia's border. Here are my questions: What would be the reaction in the US if Russian troops were stationed in Mexico and Canada? What will be our reaction if Russia supported say an anti-government protest in Mexico that resulted in overthrowing the elected president?

    April 11, 2014 at 7:00 am | Reply
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    April 11, 2014 at 10:19 am | Reply
    • bobcat2u

      Nice change up, Solution.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:18 am | Reply
  5. Tubby Eyes

    Talk about Ukraine, we have absolutely no national interests nor any business there. I'm sick and tired of all these Western leaders who keep on vomiting out their phony outrage over what's going on there. This is strictly between Russia and Ukraine!

    April 11, 2014 at 11:49 am | Reply
  6. BOOFBABY

    Yes Tubby Eyes. Just like the 3rd grade bully in grammar school who was all over one of your friends, half his size. That is between your friend and the school bully.

    April 11, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Reply
    • trueteller1

      Here is a question for you, Boofbaby. Would you call the US a bully for invading Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama, Grenada, Congo, Afghanistan and Iraq?

      April 11, 2014 at 7:03 pm | Reply
  7. j. von hettlingen

    "The tension between global norms and national interests" is in the eye of the beholder. While supporters of political idealism see global norms being eroded with the annexation of Crimea, for political realists their national interests prevail – realpolitik.
    China and India, being members of BRICS turn a blind eye to Putin's violation of global order and focus on squeezing more oil and gas for a lower price from Russia, which sees itself isolated in the international community. India also wants to play a role in Central Asia and may need Russia's help in countering Pakistan's influence in Afghanistan. Although Russia had been excluded out of G8, it will still play a crucial role in BRICS and remain in the Club of G20.
    Israel's relations with Russia is good, not least thanks to the large population of Russian Jews, who build a strong conservative lobby in Israel, also to Putin's olive branch extended to the Jews in Russia. His accusation that the leadership in Kiev is fascist aims to defame Ukraine in Israel.
    At the same time Israel still has a hard time to swallow the bitter pill – Washington's rapprochement with Iran. So the Ukraine crisis between Russian and the US offers Israel a chance to ruffle America's feathers.

    April 11, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Reply
    • ✠RZ✠

      Easy there jvh, we certainly wouldn't want you to become a victim of "analysis paralysis". But joking aside, you might want to carefully analyze the differences and similarities between the Great Depression and the one we're in now. Especially the results thus far of whatever actions/inactions taken then, and now. Good luck.

      April 11, 2014 at 7:59 pm | Reply
    • trueteller1

      Where was "global norms and national interests" when the US invaded Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Afghanistan and Iraq? Where was Mr. Fareed Zakaria? This blatant hypocrisy is exactly what has gotten us into so many troubles over the years.

      April 13, 2014 at 10:26 am | Reply
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    April 11, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Reply
  9. chrissy

    Maybe we should ask the Dutch what their secret is. Todays Quirkey News: Dutch prisons are suffering from an "undercrowding crisis." Guess thefts of tullips and wooden clogs just aren't what they used to be.

    April 13, 2014 at 7:21 pm | Reply

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