The shooting of this family in Ukraine is all over the front pages. Many Americans bemoan the humanitarian disaster. Russian restaurants are being boycotted in the US (many of the staff and owners are Ukrainian!).
Below is a photo of a starving Yemeni child:
A bit under 100,000 children have starved in Yemen in the last 4 years due to a civil war, fueled in part by tacit American backing of the Saudi regime, which has been exacerbating and intervening in the conflict.
Why do we pay attention in one case and not the other?
- Nuclear war risks
- The Russian invasion of Ukraine violates longheld post-World War 2 norms
- Ukraine is in Europe, and the West cares about the West (or the aspirant West)
This is all fine. I’m very scared of #1 and horrified by the existential risks and economic havoc that Putin’s choice to actually invade has wrought on the world. But I find the arguments of a sui generis or exceptional humanitarian situation in Ukraine implausible. People don’t want to admit that their feelings are shaped by cultural or racial affinity, or that it is pure self-interest in relation to nuclear war or maintenance of world order. So they make this the “next Holocaust.”
A lot of non-Europeans are skeptical of this posturing. At my other blog, I put up a post about why Bangladeshis have a soft spot for Russia, which might explain their reluctance to condemn the invasion of Ukraine. The same obviously applies to India to a great extent.