Geo-political Separation or Purge? Beyond the “old trumpet from the last century”
It seems that Russia and China have come to the conclusion that if a global order is being orchestrated by those who think they somehow ‘know better’ than half of their own electorate, they want none of it.
Yuri Ushakov, a top Kremlin advisor, had revealed in advance of the Putin-Xi Beijing Declaration that its release would mark an inflection point in international relations. It would be a new era, with Russia and China in synch “on the most important world problems – and with a particular focus on security issues."
It is only just dawning on the globe just how much of an inflection point this statement represented. The declaration itself was broad-brush – a rehearsal of broad principles. What is ever more clear today is that Moscow and Beijing had already decided to break with the West - in a very fundamental way.
What is afoot today now is the manifestation of this earlier decision. It is the practical unfolding of that break with the West (never absolute, of course), and the concomitant separation of the globe into two distinct spheres: with those states following the Russia-China vision hueing to their own distinct civilizational and political processes. China and Russia committed themselves to an integrated, coherent, (separate sphere) Asian heartland - stretching from Europe to East Asia (including portions of the Arctic, too).
Less diplomatically put: Russia and China have concluded that sharing a global society with an America set on enforcing a hegemonic global order crafted to ‘resemble Arizona’ - is no longer possible.
Matt Taibbi has written, “The problem is we’re heading into our third decade of Western leaders embracing not thinking, as a core national security concept. It’s like these people went to anti-governing school."
Taibbi points the finger for the starting point of this trend to the 2004 ‘Bernard Lewis Doctrine’. The argument was simplicity itself: The good professor believed there was no point in asking, Why do they hate us?; because the answer was so obviously rooted in a problem we couldn’t fix: Islam’s civilizational failure:
“In a sense, they’ve been hating us for centuries … You can’t be rich, strong, successful, and loved, particularly by those who are not rich, not strong and not successful. So the hatred is something almost axiomatic. The question which we should be asking is, why do they neither fear nor respect us?”
(Taibbi again): “After Karl Rove summoned Lewis to brief the Bush White House, our leaders began talking about how dialogue with the Middle East was impossible. As theirs was a failed culture; and ours a successful one - they would always hate us."
“Therefore, listening to why they hate us was unnecessary, since from a practical standpoint, the only way to end the ‘axiomatic’ hatred, was to make their societies less failure-ridden, ie. more like us. From there, they embarked upon a conscious strategy of not taking into consideration what other peoples or countries might think, as they launched their ingenious plan to turn Mesopotamia into Arizona by force”.
Well, it seems that Russia and China have come to the conclusion that if a global order is being orchestrated by those who think they somehow ‘know better’ than half of their own electorate (ie. the US’ own electorate), and those living in civilizational failures, they want none of it.
They want separation. If this is to come about through dialogue, (which is unlikely, since the core principle of today’s geopolitics is defined by the deliberate non-comprehending of ‘otherness’), then it must be achieved by a contest of escalating pain – until one side, or the other, buckles. Of course, Washington does not believe Xi and Putin possibly can mean what they say – and they think that, anyway, they (the West) have escalatory dominance in the field of imposing pain.
Strikingly, the decision to break with the US is politicizing China. And this shift is huge in its ramifications: Take this one example: The authoritative Global Times in an editorial, Furthest from the Ukraine Frontline, Washington is most eager for War, warns that the US is instigating war in Ukraine precisely in a bid to tighten bloc discipline – to corral the European States back into the US-led fold.
China sees that Ukraine uniquely offers the perfect emotion-tugging pivot for shepherding Europe toward America’s subsequent geo-strategic needs: The US is pushing Ukraine into the firing line, but it itself has jumped aside to avoid being implicated. The editorial notes:
“Washington's vision is clearly too low to see the real landscape of today's world. It is now more like a "class representative" of old thinking, proudly flaunting its lies with an old trumpet from the last century. They believe they are smarter than everyone else, but they are giving themselves too much credit."
This western polarization into an ‘elect’ who know better and a disdained underclass of misinformed, bigoted citizens who ‘occupy space’ (in Trudeau’s formulation) in the domestic sphere is leading to a parallel dilemma at the global plane: ‘separation or purge’.
It seems that the zeal for ‘knowing better’ and disdain for any other point of view has just jumped to the global plane. And its consequences will be profound.
Largely overlooked here in the frenzy about Ukraine is the geopolitical import of China coming ‘off the neutrality fence’. China, for the first time (since the Mongols), is directly intervening (taking a very clear and powerful stance) on a matter central to European affairs. In the longer term, this suggests that China will be taking a more politically-orientated approach to its relations with European and other countries.
In play, therefore, are key decisions that will define the future Europe. But so too, this shift will define the future of the Middle East: No more ‘fence-sitting’ with this newly emerging China: Are you on the side of the ‘old-thinkers’, imagining themselves smarter than anyone else on the planet, blowing their “old trumpet from the last century?" Or are you going with the alternative vision of an integrated Asia heartland based on individual sovereignty and political distinctiveness? Time to make up geopolitical minds.