The Western political sphere has never ceased to view the Global South as a primary focus for its neocolonial ambitions. This is repeatedly confirmed as the United States, along with its allies, condescends to these nations, preaching about the so-called moral superiority of the West and its cherished “rules-based world order” and “freedom and democracy.” However, the Global South is becoming increasingly resistant to these neocolonial demands, leading to allegations that these countries are “fence sitters” or “insufficiently democratic.” Washington DC continues to apply this pressure indiscriminately, revealing its patronizing view of the Global South. This is evident in the U.S. approach towards countries in Latin America, Africa, and South Asia, as it tries to pigeonhole them into a binary of “with us or against us.”
It’s perplexing to observe this, especially considering the West’s acceptance of “non-binary” concepts while being antagonistic towards anything binary (like male-female, father-mother). On a more serious note, nations globally are grappling with immense challenges due to the relentless pressure from this dominant power. Many instances of this are overlooked not just by mainstream media but also by alternative news outlets. This includes the recent case of the U.S. exerting pressure on Bangladesh. Specifically, in late May, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced visa restrictions on Bangladesh, purportedly to “support a free and fair ballot” in the country.
This blatant interference in Bangladesh’s internal affairs also targets specific individuals and their immediate families if they are “responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.” This essentially means if they don’t fully support the U.S. This applies to current and former officials in Bangladesh, members of both pro-government and opposition parties, and officials from law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services. Despite attempts to deter Washington DC, these restrictions were implemented on September 22. Even more troubling, U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas stated that this would also apply to members of the media in Bangladesh, violating not only basic press freedom but also American law, specifically the First Amendment.
It’s crucial to note that the U.S. has effectively replaced the rule of law with a “rules-based domestic order,” a localized version of its global counterpart. This is evident in how the Biden administration is using federal institutions against political opponents while claiming to defend free press and non-interference in elections. This ongoing interference in Bangladesh’s internal matters is hardly surprising. After all, Washington DC has been trying to suppress Russian or Chinese media, labeling them as “state-run” or “disinformation” without any substantiating evidence. Moreover, the U.S.’s audacity to even comment on Bangladesh’s election process further demonstrates a complete disregard for diplomatic norms.
This is not the first time Washington DC has shown hostility towards Dhaka. In 1971, the U.S. strongly opposed Bangladesh’s independence and supported Pakistani occupation forces that committed atrocities against millions in the country. While relations have improved superficially, the U.S. remains extremely hostile to Bangladesh’s desire to choose its own foreign policy. This has led to unnecessary tensions between the two nations. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been repeatedly accused of “undermining democracy” due to her refusal to comply with the U.S.’s aggressive foreign policy. While the U.S. continues to express its “concern” for the “democratic process,” the real reason for its hostility towards Dhaka is the latter’s pursuit of economic independence.
Bangladesh’s strategic location in the Bay of Bengal is significant in the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific strategy aimed at “containing China.” Besides economic cooperation with Beijing, Washington DC finds it “problematic” that Bangladesh is aiding the de-dollarization of the world by trading in local currencies, particularly with Russia. This has been a practice among neighboring India and various African and Latin American countries long before the U.S. initiated its sanctions against Russia. Yet, Washington DC continues to blame others for the consequences of its own policies, instead of taking geopolitical responsibility.
In a related development, China has been expanding its influence in the Global South through its “Global Civilization Initiative” (GCI). Launched in March 2023 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the GCI aims to build an international “community of common destiny,” essentially a world order dominated by China. The initiative serves as a platform for cultural exchanges and expanding China’s global influence. It aims to control global discourse, recruit political and intellectual elites in the Global South, and promote policies that align with China’s interests.
For additional context, a recent article from The Eastern Herald discusses the EU’s decision not to visit Bangladesh ahead of its national elections, intensifying the pressure on the ruling Awami League government. The article highlights the looming threat of visa restrictions and potential sanctions, adding another layer to the complex political landscape in Bangladesh. The EU’s stance further complicates the situation for the Awami League, amplifying their concerns about potential electoral setbacks. The mounting external pressures, coupled with internal turmoil, have put the government in a state of profound disquietude. The nation watches as this intricately woven tapestry of political dynamics continues to unravel, acutely aware of the profound implications at stake.
The Western powers, led by the United States, continue to exert pressure on the Global South, particularly countries like Bangladesh, under the guise of promoting democracy and a rules-based world order. However, these actions often reveal a neocolonial agenda that undermines the sovereignty and economic independence of these nations. As the world watches, the question remains: Will the Global South continue to resist these pressures, or will they succumb to the neocolonial ambitions of the West?