Telling Russia where to get off is kicking against the BRICS

How many times have you heard that diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip? Or that diplomats are honest people who lie for their country? Or that diplomats are the people who step on your toes without spoiling the shine?
Jokes about diplomacy work best when the consequences are not life or death.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is such an extraordinary and obvious breach of international law, not to mention international civility, that you might hope South African diplomacy would recognise it as such.
The invasion is motivated by imperialistic goals, which the SA government and the ANC purport to despise. And it’s an invasion by a borderline autocratic state against a borderline democratic state. Does the ANC no longer support democracy despite being the beneficiary of it?
Instead, what we have is some . how can one describe it? . very diplomatic language. To put it another way, curious circumlocutions demonstrating wilful misunderstanding posing as high moral values. Put more simply, bullshit.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said SA has opted to “engage in dialogue and mediation” (because they need us so badly for that) as opposed to taking a more “adversarial” position (standing up for what is right) to help contribute to a resolution (not likely).
But SA does suggest that, in principle, countries should refrain from the use of force against territorial and political independence or other states. Well, that’s a relief. In principle, but clearly not always.
What a contrast to the reaction of SA at the decision by the US and UK to invade Iraq in 2003. At that point, everybody who was anybody in the SA power structure – from former president Nelson Mandela to Archbishop Desmond Tutu – went absolutely berserk. Then president Thabo Mbeki said it was an example of “international bullying” and warned that African countries would be next. Mbeki compared the invasion of Iraq to force-feeding a person on a hunger strike, and said that real democracy was the product of evolution, not something to be imposed.
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Oh, well. The days of hoping for consistency in politics are well and truly gone. What intrigues me, though, is what the real reasons are for SA’s boorishness. I think there are three.
First, there is the ANC’s long-standing and somewhat disguised anti-Western underpinning. At the government level, SA ...