By Howard Green
On December 16th, the UN General Assembly passed a proposal entitled ‘Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance’. 130 out of 193 UN members voted in favour of it, and only two against: the United States and Ukraine. Similarly alarmingly, all EU member states and the UK abstained from the vote. Why are the nations who take so much pride in having defeated Nazism 75 years ago now refusing to vote in favour of combating it?
Some of the world’s most right-wing and fascist-resembling governments voted in favour of the item, including Narendra Modi’s India and King Salman’s Saudi Arabia. Why are these countries voting in favour of demolishing Nazism while the EU is not? Of course the right-wingers and fascists in these countries do not identify with Nazism, which is an exclusively white-supremacist ideology. But it is telling when the ‘liberal’ west are shown up in terms of their ethical stance on Nazism by governments we consider despotic.
As this resolution has been proposed before, the United States already has an excuse for why they voted against it. In typical American foreign policy style, they brand it as an attempt by Russia to expand its influence. This is why Ukraine also voted against the bill. According to the US mission last year, this resolution and its predecessors are “thinly veiled attempts to legitimize longstanding Russian disinformation narratives smearing neighboring nations under the cynical guise of halting Nazi glorification.” This refers, of course, to the ongoing hostility between Ukraine and Russia. This is a long and complex conflict, but it is true that there are fascists and neo-Nazis operating in Ukraine’s sovereignty movements. This resolution is an attempt, supported by Russia, to prevent the reemergence of Nazism. However, Ukraine and the US are choosing to portray it as something different.
In Kyiv far-right the National Corps throws free “Young Flame” Festival cast as celebrating “Ukrainian traditions”, and “our [Azov] movement”. Apparently both, per organizers, include “hass”(hate), “Übermensch“, „ultraviolence” other neonazi/white nationalist parlance. Watch: pic.twitter.com/Ddj2xA8NBX
— Oleksiy Kuzmenko (@kooleksiy) September 1, 2019
But what about the EU and UK choice to abstain? This is deeply confusing, as many EU countries and the UK continue to be so proud of their victory over Nazism in 1945. It hasn’t been made explicitly clear why EU member states unilaterally abstained, but we can understand it as a continuation of the diplomatic predicament Europe and the EU has been left in since the Cold War. The EU will avoid provoking either Russia or the US at all costs. As the resolution was proposed by Russia, its rejection or acceptance is fraught with possible diplomatic consequences. However, these consequences are far less detrimental than publicly choosing not to stand in solidarity with the majority of the nations on earth against the resurgence of Nazism. In the unlikely worst case, the US might’ve expelled a few European diplomats; overall the risks were minimal, and the resolution should have been unequivocally accepted by the EU.
The message sent by the US, meanwhile, is a simple one: it is willing to maintain fascism to further its global interests. Realistically, the US will appease any initiative that maintains their global dominance, outrightly fascist or not. By rejecting the resolution, the US continues to fog up the political atmosphere, to its benefit. We live in an era of deep ideological confusion. The lines between where nationalism ends and fascism begins are thoroughly blurred. This confusion helps maintain right-wing causes in the US domestically, where even as the bigot-in-chief leaves office, those who preach intolerance are tolerated by many. In a similar vein, many are kept uninformed about the ideology that underpins the nations that the US is opposed to. The US maintains that Russia remains socialist, and will continue to allow and abet the resurgence of facist movements to counter the much deadlier threat socialism poses to the American establishment.
It’s unlikely that US foreign policy will change without drastic changes in the country’s political priorities – and no, an incoming Democrat president does not count as real change on this front. The best way for nation states to be made accountable for the mutual support of fascism is through reform of the UN. Failing that, we must continue taking to the streets, real and virtual, to hold our governments’ feet to the fire when they use opportunities to destroy neo-Nazism as another arena to play their diplomatic games.
Featured image credit: Basil D Soufi
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