By Gilbert Mercier
Source: New Junkie Post
The birth of a bipolar world order?
Since 2014, which marked the first Russian intervention in Ukraine, a new global geopolitical dynamic has amplified under conflicting impulses. The areas of direct, or more often proxy conflicts, have been in many senses contained with some sort of cynical pressure-cooker mechanism. If empires always seek hegemony, sane geopolitics imply balance to avoid slipping into World War scenarios. We have presently reached a Cold War-like balance between two blocks: the West and their satellites on one side, against BRICS nations and their affiliates on the other side. In the best case scenario, this new cold war could give birth to a lasting bipolar world order: curiously enough, following pretty closely Orwell’s cartography of Oceania & Eurasia.
The West is defined by the US empire and its vassals
The two axes of powers must be explained more precisely. On one side “the West” includes US, UK, EU, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Australia. The command headquarters of this imperial structure are of course located in the United States of America. The empire’s military muscle is NATO. As for the junior members such as the UK, European Union and Japan, they are, despite some claims of the contrary the vassals of big Uncle Sam.
One factor could be viewed as a miscalculation by Vladimir Putin. In many ways his decision last year to start a military operation in Ukraine had a paradoxical effect. The intervention was an attempt by Russia to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO & the EU, but this has failed as Western military gears as well as direct assistance have poured in. Just like in Afghanistan in the 1980’s Russia was effectively sucked into a West proxy war. Meanwhile, NATO has found a new raison d’etre with Finland now officially a member and Sweden soon also to become one. The general paranoia used in Western media to depict Putin as the ultimate bogeyman has worked wonders on Europe’s public opinion.
BRICS & affiliates
On the other side it is more complex as China’s dominance is more subdued than that of the US. Besides the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China & South-Africa, other nations are gravitating into the same geopolitical orbit: notably Iran, Venezuela and African countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso. While China is clearly the biggest power within BRICS, the other two major players, which are Russia and India, also are heavyweights on an overall geopolitical and economic scale.
Russia holds vast reserves of energy products, such as gas and oil, and since the European sanctions has quickly worked on redirecting its energy production both towards China and India. India, which has become the most populous country on Earth, has just like China a considerable manufacturing power as well as a huge internal market for products and services. In other words, neither China nor India have to rely mainly on exports to sustain their respective economic growth.
Non-alignment is dead
The concept of non-alignment in a multipolar world, dear to the likes of Tito and de Gaulle, has unfortunately become a geopolitical faux pas at best, or a risky behavior for a small state wanting to stay independent at worst. Because of a lack of political will and leadership, the European Union has basically capitulated from asserting itself as a third block to become a provincial entity of the US empire. The notion of true non-alignment might have run its course in this new bipolar order.
As matter of fact, one of the Ukraine war’s major side effects has been to speed up the process of obedient realignment of the EU to the US. European leaders with their respective media propaganda divisions (either state or corporate controlled) have managed to convince the bulk of their public opinion that the ogre Vladimir Putin and Russia had to be defeated in Ukraine as if the hordes from a memory of the Red Army were about to invade Europe. The Ukraine war has been sold in Europe as a war of necessity to counter an existential threat that was never really there. Public opinion largely bought it, and the financial rewards are pouring into the coffers of the military-industrial complex, as well as US and Qatari energy businesses of natural gas liquefaction, to replace the well-organized Russian gas supply Europe used to get before the sanctions against Russia.
Ukraine war cannot be won on the battle fields
Despite what most people are lead to believe in the West, a military victory by Ukrainian forces, even with full logistic support from NATO in equipment and training is quasi impossible. After all, a lesson should be learned from Afghanistan where the Taliban managed to defeat the mighty alliance. If the EU and the United States cared for the welfare of Ukrainians, they would come to the realization that only a diplomatic solution can resolve the crisis. A sine qua non condition of diplomacy is that it requires concessions on all sides.
For example, let’s take the case of Crimea. It has a complex history. During the 15th century Crimea was under control of the Ottoman Empire. In 1783, the Russian Empire of Tsarina Catherine the Great annexed Crimea after a conflict with Turkey. Lastly, under the authority of Nikita Khrushchev, the USSR gave Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. Therefore, Crimea was Russian for 171 years while it was Ukrainian for only 60 years. The weight of history, in this case, should tilt the balance in favor of Russia.
Military-industrial complex Uber Alles
Wars have always been capitalism‘s best friend. Ultimately they are seldom about the lofty notions of patriotism but systematically about profits. Ukraine’s Western proxy adventure is no exception. As matter of fact, it has been a gargantuan bonanza for the global military-industrial complex and its stockholder war profiteers. Case in point: since Russia started its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022, the United States has spent $30 billion in military equipment which was shipped to Ukraine. This is according to the US Department of Defense.
For its part the European Union is planning a 74 billion Euros increase in military spending within three years. This trend of huge increase in military spending affects all the EU 27 members, as they are allocating bigger shares of their respective GDPs to this weapons race. In December 2022, the European Defense Agency proudly announced that EU defense spending had surpassed 200 billion Euros for the first time in the union’s history. What an accomplishment!
Needless to say, military-industrial consortium and their unscrupulous stockholders have collected huge dividends from the death and destruction business. Stocks in the so-called aerospace & defense area of the market have been incredibly profitable for investors and are therefore in high demand. On average, most defense-company stocks have seen their values increase by 25 to 30 percent since February 2022.
Naturally, in terms of military spending, the United States represents the lions’ share with a whopping 38 percent of the global military spending. It is an astronomical $800 billion a year or 3.1 percent of the US GDP. Unfortunately other major powers are catching up. In second place comes China with $293 billion or 1.7 percent of its GDP; then India with $76.6 billion; the UK with 68.4 billion; Russia with $65.9 billion or 3.1 percent of GDP; France and Germany with $56 billion each; and Japan with $54 billion. In France, despite a very concerning debt, the Macron administration has announced that 413 billion Euros will be spent on the military between 2024 and 2030.
Taiwan: the Ukraine of the far-east?
With Russia sucked into what can be called a military quagmire in Ukraine, one has to wonder if the Oceania empire, with its Washington nevralgic center, would not indeed want to take advantage or even provoke a Chinese move to take over Taiwan, in accordance to the One-China precept. This could create a Ukrainian-like situation for China in Taiwan. Instead of having the obedient EU to absorb part of the cost in the West, in the Pacific it could be US vassals such as Japan, South-Korea and Australia that could get involved into a proxy war with China, and therefore increase their military spending in US equipment. Trillion of dollars would be wasted in resources to allow the chess masters of geopolitics to keep playing their mindless criminal games. Everywhere, the brutal Russian roulette folly of capitalism, either state or corporate, would thrive while all populations suffer.
This is a good article. Lenin succinctly described the first world war as one over the redivision of areas of exploitation. Then the enemy were baby-eating Germans, now its baby-eating Russians – can you believe people are sucked in by this tripe and are even prepared to lose their limbs and lives for it? WW2 finished unresolved issues from that war – in the process ‘finishing’ millions more lives. The comparison with Orwell’s global division is interesting but I think China will come out on top – just as the US had in its rise, China now has too much going for it. And as I have posted before – this will force the US and the rest of the West to adopt forms of socialism in order to continue competing (in any sense) with China.
One could argue the West already has socialism… for the wealthy. But yes, it’s difficult to imagine any nation being competitive that has our current level of economic inequality and corruption.
I agree, but in my view, that simply reflects the ‘ethics’ of capitalism – inequality and corruption are its ‘heart’ and engine. I was thinking more of the power of the state to organise and direct. At the time of the Russian revolution, Russia was absolutely impoverished yet, with the directing power of the state, brought about an enormous jump in productivity in key areas over a couple of decades. Trotsky gave examples of this in Revolution Betrayed. Again, China, at the time of Deng Xiaoping, learnt from the fall of the socialist experiment in Russia and was the first nation to combine state power with non- dogmatic and real reward for individual initiative, not simply the granting of badges for ‘heroes of labour’. And the Chinese continue to carefully experiment with the interplay of these two elements. The result? A tremendous leap in productivity and national wealth such that China has so far saved the world from the full ravages of the GFC and global collapse. As China continues to develop, the West will fall further behind – and the people will want answers. Reality determines consciousness, not the other way round.