Who Would Ally with the West: ‘It’s Boring – The Real Excitement is in Asia’
The stark reality is that even if Ukraine gets this quarterly tranche, ‘the ask’ for the next will almost certainly be even more problematic.
We have experienced ‘Summit deluge’: The NATO summit in July, where President Zelensky was cold-shouldered; then there was the BRICS summit, in which six new members were admitted. This was followed by the G20 in Delhi. President Putin attended the BRICS meeting virtually, but neither he nor President Xi, who had attended the BRICS meeting personally, went to the G20. Nor were either present at the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
President Putin, however, did host the meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum that has been held annually since 2015 to underline absolute priority of Russia’s pivot to its own Far East -- which together with other Far Eastern economies are fast becoming the dynamo for the global economy.
But something important was visible at the UNGA. Did you see any of the addresses by heads of state? It was startling -- on the MSM footage everyone was there in their seats listening to Zelensky, but the reality was different: If you searched around, you will find images from the General Assembly whilst Zelensky was speaking, and it was almost entirely empty, or at best, a third full.
The global majority had walked out. And search further: Prime Minister Netanyahu also addressed the GA, as did Chancellor Scholtz, and again, for each, the UN auditorium contained a bare handful of mainly note-takers, and in PM Netanyahu’s case, “a small group of loyalists – government minister, advisers, aides, and supporters – who provided a soundtrack of applause for Israelis watching the speech at home”. (Of note too, during his General Assembly speech, Netanyahu brandished a map that erased Palestine off the map completely)
It was never like this in the past. What’s going on? Professor Michael Hudson, who noted the same phenomenon, remarked: “So you really have two different worlds, and they don’t seem to be mixing, except for the extent that the United States can try to come in - and slow down the whole process and try to prevent the clock from moving”.
The attempt to freeze the clock’s hands was indeed very evident in President Biden’s address. The message from Biden was that there will be no compromise at all when it comes to Ukraine. He stated:
“But I ask you this: If we abandon the core principles of the UN Charter, to appease an aggressor, can any member state feel confident that they are protected? If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure? The answer is no. We must stand up to this naked aggression today – [in order] to deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow”.
Just to be clear, when Biden says he will “not allow Ukraine to be carved up”, he is affirming that there can be no territorial compromise whatsoever in respect to Ukraine. ‘The answer is no; we must stand up to naked aggression’.
He may be saying this to save his candidacy from a humiliation, yet words have meaning. And the meaning that he has just imputed to them will have implications.
In Moscow, stark conclusions must have been drawn. Sergei Karaganov, one of the founders of the Valdai Club, said bluntly in Vladivostok that the days when Russia looked to ally with the West ‘were over’, and in so saying, put his finger on the sea change for which the GA was iconic: Karaganov said bluntly that Russia will never return to those days, and towards the end of his comments, he added: In any case, ‘Whoever would want to ally with the West? It’s boring. The real excitement is in Asia’.
Well, obviously boring old Europe is out in the cold: Europe’s economies are falling apart, whilst the rest of world, meeting in Vladivostok, is ‘building up’.
One aspect of the non-West increasingly severing – or severely hedging – its ties with the West may be the almost total abandonment of diplomacy in the West. Biden’s General Assembly speech did not even attempt to scratch the surface of geo-strategy or of appropriate diplomatic language. Today, it is all threat -- explicit or implied. It seems that the rest of the world has become just bored with threats – and is busy constructing its’ separate work-arounds.
Well, Biden having said ‘one thing’ at the beginning of the week (no ATACMS for Ukraine), reversed himself at week’s end, and said ‘yes’ -- but ‘only a few’.
Then, he appointed an Inspector General for Ukraine to account for Kiev’s application of US funding. There has been absolutely no accounting of expenditure, until now.
Clearly, Biden hopes by these measures to persuade the Republicans to pass a Bill into which a further $24 billion for Ukraine has been folded – along with other unrelated items, such as disaster relief for Hawaii.
Will this suffice for the Republican rebels who demand to vote on the Ukraine funding on a stand-alone basis? The Republican Caucus, so far, remains steadfast in refusing to approve the funding, as opposition to financing the war in Ukraine grows among the Party grass-roots, when domestic needs are so present.
Likely, it will ultimately pass. The political pressure on the ‘rebels’ is intense. But recall that the $24 billion is earmarked for just the one Quarter (i.e. 1 October - 31 December), after which another $24 billion must be approved. Ukraine’s total yearly federal budget requires around $50 billion just to run the governmental services – this doesn’t even count the military/war expenditures which are anywhere between $60-100 billion. That means Ukraine needs a total of about $100 billion+ or more yearly to run the state and continue prosecuting the war. This is why these $25 billion injections currently being debated in DC are basically ‘quarterly’.
The stark reality is that even if Ukraine gets this quarterly tranche, ‘the ask’ for the next will almost certainly be even more problematic. The cash runs out on 31 December, when the Ukrainian ability to mount any military resistance whatsoever will be in question -- absent an EU rescue. But is an EU rescue feasible as Europe’s living standards collapse?