Updated: Apr 22
From flailing in the Ukraine war to displaying constant confusion on the China threat, does the West know what it is going on anymore?
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Can the West find the fighting spirit to take on the challenge of China?
Looking at the Euro-American sphere nowadays we find many reasons to believe in that verdict’s validity. The situation of the so-called ‘golden billion’ nations beckons us to diagnose empirically the ills they suffer from and the causes of the latter.
To begin with, we can retrace the course of rapid industrial development that was accelerated by the two world wars and accompanied by the increasing secularization and mechanization of the concerned societies. The multiplication and extension of means of communication and transport resulted in the adoption of the operational theory of globalization and the subsequent weakening of the national state as the dominant source of power and regulation.
The increasing economic and technological efficiency of what some economists called the ‘three whales’ (North America, Western Europe and Japan) brought the Soviet rival to its demise and consecrated the hegemony of the United States and of its ‘fiat’ currency (freed from any tangible backing and reference).
The US, buoyed by its ‘victory’ over the Socialist Bloc and liberated from any countervailing influence, embraced a neo-liberal economy characterized by the supremacy of the increasingly deregulated financial trading sector, to the detriment of the infrastructure building and goods manufacturing industry. The American industry was largely outsourced to China, Mexico and several other ‘developing’ countries while the ruling US and mainly Anglo ‘Judeo-Christian’ (at least in name) elites managed the global flows of capital and incurred gigantic deficits financed by borrowing from abroad.
The Greenback was the obligatory currency for international commerce and investments and that forced all nations to hold large amounts of it, thus enabling the US Treasury and the private Federal Reserve cartel to print ever more promissory notes (i.e. dollars) to service the debt. In parallel the European Union, whose Franco-German founding tandem gradually turned into a new German Reich, also adopted neo-liberal rules and, by imposing competition in all economic sectors, worked to dismantle national institutions, including state monopolies. The EU thereby weakened unions and social welfare systems while systematically reducing the agricultural autonomy of the member-economies and hosting growing numbers of poor, unassimilated immigrants at the expense of its educational and social safety net.
From the 1990s, after its reunification, Germany revived some of her ancestral policies by extending its economic influence in Eastern and Southern Europe while relying more and more on Russian energy supplies and the Russian market for expanding its industry. Successive German governments, eager to get even with France and the allies after the crushing defeat of 1945, worked methodically to weaken the French autonomy in power production and manufacturing by imposing free market rules at the level of the European union and dismantling step by step the French national nuclear electricity production system (and the industrial bases of smaller nations).
Berlin was helped in the execution of that design by the ‘Green’ lobbies which championed an ideal of de-industrialisation and negative growth, in tune with New Left ecological dogmas. However successive German governments were not mindful of the fact that the success of their country as a worldwide exporter and their blossoming business-based romance with Russia were viewed with increasing alarm in New York, Washington and London. BREXIT was an early manifestation of the divorce with the Anglo-Saxon sphere. The rising tensions between NATO and the Kremlin had been engineered by the United States and Britain from the nineties in Yugoslavia and in other areas and came out in the open in 2007-08, during the great financial systemic crisis when Washington DC lobbied hard to add Ukraine and Georgia to NATO while signaling its resolve to recreate a ‘cordon sanitaire’ around Russia in order to force a divorce between the US’s western European vassals and Moscow. The message from the White House and the Capitol was clear: break up with Russia and rally behind us or else…
The ’else’ was the 2014 Maidan coup in Kiev which triggered the Russian takeover of Crimea and the breakaway of the Donbass region. The US neo-conservative policy-makers had acted on their decision to checkmate, encircle and undermine Russia and the Kremlin reacted by reclaiming the Russophone regions of Ukraine and supporting the separatists. What ensued was an 8 years long escalation which led to the ‘Special Operation of February 2022. At that point Germany could no longer maintain its policy of deflecting American pressure while simultaneously pursuing its own ambitions in formerly Soviet-controlled nations to the East, including the Baltic States, Poland, Hungary and Ukraine.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the weak chancellor of a weaker coalition including the pro-American Greens and Free Liberals, could not practice the passive resistance displayed by Angela Merkel and had to heed the US Ultimatum to break up with Russia at the expense of German economic prosperity and political stability. NATO has a cost: to be under its protection, the protection money is to paid in cash and kind: start an all-out economic war against Russia, support Ukraine to the hilt, buy expensive American fracking gas, raise your military budget, purchase US-made weapons and give up the French dream of an autonomous European defence, which the German State never really supported anyway.
All EU states are now obliged to make those commitments, even though they result in a full-scale armed conflict with Russia, since the EU and NATO are revealing themselves as twin straitjackets ensuring American dominance over the continent.
So is the US the great winner again, as in 1990 when the USSR took its last bow and dissolved the Warsaw Pact against the broken promise that NATO would not enroll its members into an anti-Russian league? Not really if you look at the American society and economy which are also falling victims to the political and economic recipes imposed by the ruling oligarchy. A new depression has begun, reminding us that the ‘Great Recession’ of 2008 was only the first act of what seems to be the long drama of American decline and fall which may soon feature the sovereign default of the Federal State in a context of threatening hyperinflation and mass pauperization and violent anarchy. Widespread social turmoil is reflected in the chaotic political scene unfolding since the election of Donald Trump.
Many politicians among his followers are calling for some form of what the most vocal, Marjorie Taylor Green calls ‘a national divorce’. On the other hand the leftist-Liberal Democrats are wedded to an increasingly irrational ideology rooted in cultural neo-Marxism which attacks all forms of traditional morality and wants to impose the virtual supremacy of extremist ethnic and sexual minorities. Identity, real or claimed, replaces ability and beliefs trump qualifications. Under the veneer of nihilistic ‘freedom’, Woke Left-liberalism is in reality submissive to the guiding forces of international capital and imposes a tyrannical form of political correctness, recently expressed in sanitary totalitarianism, allegedly to defeat the COVID-19 virus, and currently in the obligation to oppose Russia and support Ukraine, irrespective of the rational and historical factors that make the current war all but a stark issue of good vs evil.
According to the ruling dogma, the Nazi ingredients of Ukrainian radical nationalism must be ignored or even supported, just as Nazi Germans were given a clean chit and massively taken to the US by the American Government from 1944 onwards if and when they were deemed useful in the fight against Communism and the USSR. The commitment of the west to anti-Russian Ukrainians harks back to the Anglo-American (and German) sympathies for ‘Banderists’ during and after the war. Today’s regime in Kiev sees itself as the heir of the German Protectorate of the nineteen thirties and forties.
From the fruit you will know the tree: the policies of western states in the last three decades have shaken their currencies, hollowed out their economies, tolerated and even encouraged mass immigration of people from very different civilisation, tightened the stranglehold of giant multinationals (in consulting, defence, banking, pharmaceuticals etc.) over governments, increased inequality and social isolation, boosted international terrorism, split the EU apart, turned much of the rest of the world against the west and brought to a situation of conflict with rising powers such as Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and the leading Arab nations.
The arrogant promise made on both sides of the Atlantic to destroy the Russian economy has come back to haunt the faltering Euro-American banking system in a context of inflation, corporate bankruptcies, plant closures and popular protests. History has come back with a vengeance: Germany and Poland are locked once again in a fight with Russia for territorial influence while the United Kingdom plays on continental divisions and the US harnesses European wars to boost its military sales and gain more financial control. We now know that history has no end but its next chapter may be about the final decline of the over-confident West.
(Come Carpentier de Gourdon is currently the Convener of the Editorial Board of the World Affairs Journal.)