Κυριακή 23 Μαρτίου 2014

Of madmen and idiot(e)s!

By Nicholas A. Biniaris

Many things cause terror and wonder, yet nothing
Is more terrifying and wonderful than man.
Sophocles Antigone

 “The New York Times reported on Monday what Merkel really thinks of the Russian president: The paper wrote that she told Barack Obama via telephone that she is not sure if Putin is "in touch with reality." Berlin did not officially confirm the quote, expressing it in more diplomatic terms -- that Putin and the West have a "very different perception" of the events in Crimea.” (Spiegel 4/3/2014). On March 13 the same Merkel speaking in the parliament “warned of “catastrophe” unless Russia changes course.” (Reuters)
What does it actually mean to be not “in touch with reality”? Whose reality was Merkel referring to? Is there a different reality for her and Obama from that of Putin’s? What does it mean to have a different perception of the events in Crimea? Is this whole drama unfolding about how various leaders perceive an historical event? Perception is a technical philosophical field of inquiry preoccupying the field of epistemology and the theory of mind. Actually the ways we perceive is the way we define our ontology, what kind of objects we believe exist, interacting with us and informing our understanding of the world. Perception is also a field of inquiry for psychology and most importantly of neurophysiology. Is Putin a megalomaniac schizophrenic as a commentator wrote in the Bloomberg News? Is he mad and are all the rest sane? All these questions and many more lead to some disturbing and even gravely dangerous conclusions about the state of mind of Western leaders relatively to the reality they perceive as such. Perhaps, it may also show that Putin and also other leaders in today’s world are indeed out of touch with reality. So a madman is loose and there is a catastrophe looming over our heads. Could this catastrophe have been eschewed by self-restrained realists who knew a bit of history?
The crucial question here is: what is reality? Do we have a single description of reality by Obama, Merkel, the unemployed Hellenes all 28% of them, the 13% of actually unemployed Americans according to the U6 statistics of the US bureau of Statistics and not the 7% reported referring only to the ones who collect unemployment checks? Is this the reality of a Taliban insurgent in Waziristan or in Kabul, the miserable Syrian refugees, Morsi in jail, Snowden as a refugee in Moscow, or an armchair analyst working on an article about the world as it is? Philosophy asks: is there a world independent of us out there that we can investigate and find out how it really is? In short: is there truth or a relativized opinion changing as times flows and humanity changes its social conditions?
Societies consist of self-reflecting individuals and hence with a historical perspective, traditions as memories and interests which vary according to contingency and necessity. Leaders have different perceptions about reality but are they mad if their views differ? Is it just real for Putin to say yes to EU’s plans? Is it real for Putin to say yes to whatever happens in Ukraine? Is it real for Putin to let NATO encircle Russia with anti-missile defense systems and accept all decisions by Berlin, Brussels and Washington? Is Putin mad for having his own views about history politics and Russia’s interests? Was Bin-Laden mad for having an Islamic vision, a Caliphate, for the future of Muslims in rivalry to that of a secular, liberal, and rich ‘West’? Is king Abdullah of Saudi Arabia mad for bankrolling madrassas which are the breeding ground of terrorists and at the same time threatening to blockade Qatar because the latter supports the Muslim Brotherhood?  Is President Xi mad for enacting a EADZ for China? Is Mahmoud Abbas mad for not accepting Israel as a Jewish state?
Tom Engelhart (TomDispatch 2/3/2014) wrote a noteworthy article asking “A New World Order?” He enumerates a number of events since the 50s which if put together make no sense or as he says “we are driving with our head lights off the wind whipping up, and the rain pouring down on a planet that may itself, in climate terms, be heading for uncharted territory.”

The chart

Let us follow our tweeting leaders who play with words and meanings with deadly consequences.
Former Undersecretary Burns stated: “… it was important for the U.S. to make clear that Russia’s military assault on Ukraine strikes at a vital U.S. interest, which is a free and stable Europe. The Obama administration “shouldn’t be cowed” by worries about Russia’s response on other issues, where it could interfere, he said.” (Bloomberg 4/2/2014)
The first signal to follow is that there are vital interests of the USA in Europe, and by implication and factual observation in Panama, Brazil, Egypt the Fiji Islands, the North Pole, and the Galapagos. This means the planet. The implications of such a doctrine which we see unfolding since 1989 has spread in the most inchoate and unstructured trope.  This doctrine which is presumed to increase order, on the contrary increases entropy almost exponentially.
The second signpost to follow is the terms ‘free’ and ‘stable’. Does ‘free’ mean the opposite of slavery as in Russia, China or Iran versus political pluralism and free elections, habeas corpus, the right to choose sex orientation? Probably all the above and many more.  Does ‘stable’ mean that which adheres to the rules and regulations from Brussels?
The third is, as Secretary Kerry stated, the U.N Charter as a signpost for our journey to the future and as Bloomberg editorial (March 11/2014) says: “China ultimately has the same goals in Ukraine as the rest of the world: the sanctity of international borders, avoid bloodshed and restore stability in international markets as quickly as possible.”  This statement affirms the sanctity of the international borders of Yugoslavia, Serbia’s dismemberment, the 1967 Israeli-Palestinian-Syrian borders, the Cyprus borders from an occupying Turkish army, Pakistan’s and Yemen’s sovereignty, the Hutu Tutsi genocide!   All U.N states have indeed piously observed this Charter like China in Tibet, India in Kashmir and as most democratic and humanitarian states in Africa and in the Middle East!
The fourth but actually the major signpost to be followed is free market and free movement of tax evasion funds, tax loopholes; capitalism made in the stock and commodity markets and banks too big to fail: an actual travesty of capitalism. This is a default compass repetitiously evoked by pundits to hammer out the economic imperative: act always as to protect the stability of the market. This is the deontological Kantian imperative of the 21st century. As the above quotation from the Bloomberg editorial stresses China should restore the stability of the markets. This is what Burns was most probably insinuating with his high minded peroration. This signpost, stability of the markets, the economic components of any move or calculation for acting, reacting, speaking out, fighting for, rebelling against, is the globalization as a presumably liberating strait-jacket we are all wearing

Perception, power and pleasure

What all the above try to encapsulate is the desperate attempt we make to shape reality and at the same time understand it. ‘Man is the measure of everything’ as Protagoras enunciated and Plato in the Theaetetus tried to put in the frame of his epistemology Man as the measure of all things means that perceptions about reality are as many as the perceivers. There is no real world but a world we build according to our prejudices, passions, ignorance and individually perceived interests.  Reality is not one and hence the understanding about it is not fixed. So if Putin has his own perception about Ukraine, Netanyahu about Palestinians, Indians about a caste system, China about the Communist Party rule, how do we go reconciling Putin’s with Merkel’s or Obama’s? The chart, given the guidelines above, leads nowhere. It leads nowhere because we have intentionally left out of the equation two vital parameters, power and pleasure. Power and its correlatives are too well-known. Pleasure is nothing but old utilitarianism, a calculus of hedons developed by the mathematics of dead souls.  What hedonism boils down to is economic prosperity which can satisfy our quest for unquenched pleasure.  Calculating pleasure with the ruler ‘time is money’ we have destroyed pleasure as the encapsulation of eternity. We have turned ourselves to dead souls.
 If stability must be preserved we have to avoid war as a risk for our investments. So how we avoid war? By mutual compromise and preventive diplomacy or in the old fashioned way by alliances, as balance of power where the risk of war became too costly to incur? All these methods have failed time and time again. What saved the day in this post-modern world-up to now- was a Deus ex machine, literally speaking, an infernal machine called nuclear bomb. Who could imagine that the Soviet Union would have fallen without a shot if there were no nuclear bombs around?

History, post-modernity and Europe

Europe is a post-modern multi-state formation with diverse economies and political traditions which was unable to evolve into a federation with a unified economic structure. It is a meta-modern construct because it tried to supplant the classical model of a nation-state with treaties among sovereign states, legal institutions and supranational decision making bodies without a single government. It is a unique project ousting the grand old narrative of modernity by a piecemeal unfolding of agreements which in a utopian future will lead European states to a complete integration. The project is Marxist oriented; some would call it Abrahamite, not in content but in spirit. A utopian goal of a united and secure Europe redeemed from the old follies and the curse of fratricide wars. It doesn’t bring an end to Marx’s favorite war, class war but it brings an end to war between European states and consolidates their humanistic heritage.  The goal of integration though is as utopian as it can be because some of the members have no intention to participate in such a deal as Great Britain, Sweden, and Denmark and recently Hungary plus a reluctant Hellas dragged from the abyss of its idiosyncratic and disastrous relation with the euro.  Eurozone’s common currency without a lender of last resort and an internal balancing mechanism of surpluses and deficits amongst its members is forcing the economies of several states to bankruptcy. EU’s edifice has thrived only under the US military umbrella. It became a consumer of security being unable to provide security for itself, either driven by economic considerations, supporting a social-democratic utopia or by the USA’s hegemonic plans or both. Thy Europeans are still dependent upon the USA for their security and for actually projecting foreign policy, mostly American inspired, besides trade agreements. As a non-unitary state it is unable to reconcile British, French and German world views and project power cohesively.
As a giant in terms of trade and production the EU aspired to bring to the fold all the former East European states and also an Islamist Turkey recently embroiled in a fratricidal tug-of-war.  The mindset of the EU leaders and the bureaucrats in Brussels is unidirectional and one-dimensional. Their perceptions consist of agreements, compromises and taking decisions with a variable voting system. All these were working in a world which had a rich and easy life that is no more. Amongst an economic crisis which is still visible they offered an association agreement to a corrupt and authoritarian Ukraine knowing too well that Russia was opposed to this plan. The EU offered an agreement to a state which is bankrupt and is mostly relying economically on Russia. There is no doubt that life in the EU is better than in Ukraine or Russia. How the rich liberal European states did approached their neighbors so that they could prompt them to a different mode of life?  Did the EU initiate an open discussion with Russia and Ukraine about a common ground to pull Ukraine out of its dire condition? No. Did they respond to Russia’s proposals to bring about such a discussion? No. Did they consider the historical and security concerns of Russia and its perceptions about how the EU and the USA views Russia? No. So a set of perceptions was set against another and because this is not a philosophical dialectical inquiry the main arbiter for such a dispute is power. Europe after 1989 made a move, the offer to Ukraine, which she had no means to follow except if the big brother, the USA came to the rescue. This meta-modern construct came in direct collision with the world as it is. Now we need to read Thucydides again.
This last recommendation is an anathema for certain historians or philosophers of history. Thucydides held a cyclical model of history. He had no conception of it as a manmade process; a narrative which shapes both reality and man as Giambattista Vico argued and believed that history and action constitute the only criterion of knowledge. Thucydides had no conception of history as man’s march to freedom as old Hegel would continue. The ancient historian wrote that he wanted his ‘history to be a lesson for ever’.  But this means that history repeats itself and we should study it very carefully so that we can learn from our mistakes. In this respect he preceded G. Vico by twenty two centuries. Old Marx had said in the 18th Brumaire of Luis Bonaparte:Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” Hegel was wrong according to his philosophy of history. A progressive view of history cannot believe in recurrence except if Hegel referred to something specific with ‘twice’.  But Marx was also wrong. The second and the third and the nth time they occur they do so as humanity’s drama not a farce. No doubt Marx has his model of history in mind which involves deep social structures as the real historical events which shape history and not individual occurrences of battles or personalities which may be caricatures of previous ones as Napoleon’s nephew in comparison to his uncle. For Marx, Sedan and the fall of Napoleon III was a farce, but for those who died in the battles of the Franco-German war was a drama. So was the creation of a greater Germany which ended up in two world wars. History is very rarely a farce. Only, if someone has an Aristophanean vein and can write a Lysistrata or the Acharnians condemning war by ingenious social satire can give us a sense of history as a farce.  Aristophanean satire though is too meaningful to be considered just a farce.   
Thucydides believed that there is an underlying human nature which when similar conditions from time to time are present tends to act in the same disastrous way over and over again.
Henry Ford the industrialist was quoted saying: “I don't know much about history, and I wouldn't give a nickel for all the history in the world. It means nothing to me. History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we make today.” Under this perception of history we may view human action is a relentless struggle to overcome tradition and create an ever new history, the ever present one. This is perhaps the American world view which now is wrapped up in democracy, human rights, free trade and an incipient multiculturalism. But there is not such an entity as an ever invented history; this is a contradiction in terms. History cannot be a perpetuum mobile. If it not internalized as a living tradition it is not history but disjoint events, motley of colors without shape, and an academic exercise with no real content. The reason we study history, even if we do not get any wiser by it, is to come to self-understanding, to acknowledge that history is us right through our own lives and experiences, to recognize our own limits and perhaps try to overcome them through our creative imagination.   

Part II

By nature man closely resemble each other
In practice they grow wide apart.
Confucius, the Analects.

About idiot(e)s

The term idiotes in ancient Hellas referred to those citizens who were privately oriented, those who were engaged in their own affairs not tending or worrying about the affairs of the state; they abstained from politics. Such people were considered as having a reprehensible, antisocial mentality which was of no use for promoting the common good. They were not useful for solving problems in the political arena. By synecdoche the meaning of the word became synonymous to the mentally deficient, a person incapable of solving problems. Individualism perceived today as self-expression and self-realization outside of the public sphere was not understood as the good life, as a human life worth living in ancient Athens. It didn’t promote human eudemonia   
Inward looking, tending only their own business, could be also the trait of a society, and even that of a state. A society of idiot(e)s or a country with a world view of an idiot(e)s is the one which conducts its affairs in a dysfunctional way by avoiding acknowledging the ‘other’s’ point of view or interests.  Such groups are unable to co-operate constructively to achieve the common good of humanity. Intractable differences of all types can hinder co-operation about security and material well-being or perceived pride or humiliation, personal fame or accountability to the past.  History for many may be more real than the present is for others. Putin, King Abdullah, General Sisi and the new government of Ukraine bestow different value upon history than the industrialist Ford. The West through its power and its holier than thou attitude behaves as an idiot(e)s who sees others in the market place as wasting their time, as profligates and misfits. It has become incapable of assessing the risks of its self-perception as a unique individual, as an exceptionalism which the Americans still believe in. Historically the phenomenon isn’t new at all. All empires behaved in a similar way and all declined as long as they perceived the world, the ‘other’ as ‘mad’. In this way they made monumental mistakes as idiots who cannot solve problems swamped in their idiocy turned ideology.    

The chasm between utopia and reality.

Since WWII the West has created the UN, after the failure of the League of Nations. It has founded numerous international institutions and non-governmental organizations about human rights, environmental protection, and the spread of democracy, international courts and committees for the advancement of co-operation among races, creeds and dialogue among civilizations. An array of such ideas, all a stream of Western social and political development, became part and parcel of the West’s paradigm versus authoritarian and inhuman regimes and ideologies. Irrespectively of the criticisms against the West no other civilizational paradigm advanced such beliefs and practices.  These were and still are stepping stones for more humane and tolerant co-habitation of social groups and states but just stepping stones and not as yet internalized ethos.
The stark reality is that this whole edifice of normative injunctions became a basis for criticisms from all sides if and when the West transgressed its own high minded standards.   What has been a divide between deontological injunctions and the all-pervasive objective for power and pleasure has been ignored, if vital interests prevailed, by the ‘West’ itself.
These high minded principles have created the belief that any deviation from these norms is hypocritical. Numerous excuses can be called upon to counter innumerable crimes and inhuman actions from various diverse groups and states. But beyond excuses the world is not yet a single village as some wish it to be. The world is big, diverse, and in many ways apart in terms of what constitutes its view as a coherent and explicable whole. The chasm between reality and a crusade for human rights, democracy and rule of law is the cause of the West’s failure to lead effectively. It is a schism in the ‘West’s’ psyche between the reality of the id’s thirst for power and pleasure and the ego’s high-minded admonition and good manners. When things turn rough force is used avidly but always for ‘a good cause’. It seems utterly hypocritical but it is much worse, it is self-delusion. Morality and justice in politics, a deadly game of power, is a measure of expediency. What the ‘West’ has tried to propagate is the discourse of liberation from all evil, a catholic gospel of salvation with ever changing demands emerging from its own social becoming, for redemption: freedom, economic prosperity, democracy and identity politics. For the last seventy years with some few ups and downs all went well for the West. It was the pacesetter and the absolute ruler of the planet. It still is, notwithstanding its vociferous critics and multiple enemies. But this is an illusion, based upon hubris, for the West is the worst enemy of itself.  

Utopias, contradictions, theoria and praxis

The fact that the first steam engine was built in England is sufficient to explain why the world is speaking to a large extend English, and the fact that the Hellenic language was the language of the literate elites in the Roman Empire explains that the New Testament was written in that language. If the Chinese or for that matter the Arabs had pursued their technological drive sometime between the 10th and the 11th century creating their own scientific revolution, then the world would have a different narrative.
What distinguished the West from all other previous and concurrent civilizations was the pursuit of science and technology which gave them the power over the others to dictate their terms and conditions about commerce, governance and ways of life. This created a sense of omnipotence which was used and abused in the most cruel and predatory way, since this power was administered with the purpose of aggrandizement and enrichment.
Plato in his long life work dealt with the problem of power trying to argue against power without virtue. Was Plato an enemy of the open society? Actually he was a critic of what he experienced through the decline of Athenian democracy and its follies. He actually never offered an argument which could be plausibly entertained by the proponents of power and injustice. In the Philebus he took up the issue of pleasure which he defined as infinite and hence for the ancient mind unfathomable, irrational and destructive. Still the question of power and pleasure, in the case of states as their safety and economic well-being, is unresolved and open-ended. What the West has done with its power and its economic well-being was no different than others through history. Still it has, even by default, spread its most precious achievement, science and technology as modernization and a humanistic set of rules and political liberalism as westernization. These two core aspects of the western social imaginary constitute a utopia of sorts for the rest of humanity. The planet has embraced modernization. But westernization is still a debatable proposition.  Utopia, the subject of religions, philosophical inquiry, and scientific and technological progress from Plato to St Augustine, Thomas a Beckett, plus “scientific socialism” and Rorty’s rich liberal Western societies are still unfinished projects under various mantles and interpretations.
‘Scientific socialism’ is a term from a Marxian vocabulary. It is a project which collapsed in 1989 and it is still part of a utopian future for some and a nightmare for others. Marx studied capitalism and came to the conclusion that it was riddled with contradictions as between forces of production and social forces or as between production and demand. For him the forces of production or class struggle or both define social forces and thus history. Hence, history is based on contradictions. But the world isn’t a logical contradiction as A and not A.  What does a contradiction mean for us: to search for peace and cause war, to ask for profit and end up bankrupt, to love and be hated? An underlying contradiction is the emergence of the mind out the material of the universe through evolution. This material, the stuff of our experience, brought about the mind which is a self-reflexive, conscious and intentional stuff. It is what orders and thus perceives the word. Contingency evolved into the intentional. It is this mind which is incongruent, contradictory to its progenitor, nature. It is this mind which has set the conditions for the public vs the private, tyranny vs anarchy good vs evil. It is utopian views which try to explain and hence to smooth out contradictions for a better human living. The Utopia of the West has shifted from the onto-theological to the liberal, to the scientific. These utopias constitute contradictions in themselves, with no visible compromise, without a visible resolution of their internal incommensurabilities.  The praxis, as yet, using Alexander’s sword cuts the Gordian Knot and conquers living behind the epigones to fight for the utopia of power, the Empire.  For our purposes, utopian views work as premises for theories and practices for international relations and prompt different reactions to questions of security or human well-being. What the irreconcilability of all these utopias failed to do is to capture the infinitely rich fabric of human reality and thus up to now have proven unable to prevent war and human degradation. These utopias have colored our perceptions and as theories have become writs of faith. The West isn’t the only paradigmatic victim of history’s contradiction. The worst is that this post-modern Gordian Knot can be cut only, up to now, by Alexander’s sword turned to a nuclear bomb. The advent of power which is not an argument but praxis is the mind’s ultimate self-delusion. Praxis becomes the nemesis of theoria.    

Part III

The follies of the West

Man was created weak
The Koran

. The post-modern ‘West’, and globalization as a de facto post-modern construct, has left behind all previous grand narratives of politics, statehood and culture. And what they firstly abrogated was the notion and practice of the citizen. The paramount element for a democracy the demos (democracy means the citizens’ rule) is the members of the set that decides about their lives in an open and fairly debated manner.  Who are the citizens of the states, most of them nation-states which comprise the ‘West’? Citizenship is extended to persons who move in and out of these states with dual citizenships, dual allegiances and diverse interests, lobbying for other states, media expressing views of suspect origins or organized corporate interests. How many of the citizens of Western countries participate in elections? In some cases less than 50%. Voting is voluntary. In ancient Athens it was obligatory. How can we advertise democracy if the demos is not well defined and it doesn’t even participate in public life?
Instead, we have indulged in self-expression and self-realization advancing an individualistic paranoia. Man is a social animal Aristotle said. He used the term ‘political’ which for him was equivalent to our notion of the social. By creating, as Castoriadis analyzed in his The Imaginary Institution of Society, social imaginary significations, each society creates itself. What kind of social imaginary significations can be crated from an undefined demos not engaged in the public sphere? The post-modern West as we have described it above is no more than an institution of the banality of self-fulfillment without any recognizable limits for man. Democracy is a self-imposed, autonomy, individuality of man in his/hers social expression. 
The second self-destructive practice which the ‘West’ has embarked upon is the demise of education. Universities abound, degrees are earned by the millions, interdisciplinary studies multiply, but effective citizen’s education is going out of fashion. The foundations of history, art, philosophy, rhetoric, are terra incognita. For to dabble in this or that subject, or to read blogs and social media messages is not education. Brilliant and well educated men do exist amongst us, most of them technocrats, but the demos knows only the here and now of the media and the tenets of the profession they make a living from, no more. Public education has lost its meaning for the creation of a responsible citizen, a social individual able to question its leaders and him/herself. Education has erased a large part of the ‘West’s’ past, perhaps some of its worst part, but has also thrown the baby away with the waste water.
Historically for the ‘West’ the Cold War was the most misconceived conflict in its history. It still is and this has created one of the biggest confusion about the world we live in. The ‘West’s’ civil war of 1914 transformed a Tsarist Asiatic Imperial Russia to a Marxist-Leninist Imperial Russia aka Soviet Union. What actually happened was that Russia modernized in a radical way by a heresy of the mainstream capitalist bourgeois called “scientific socialism”. This heresy was a continuation of the civil war of 1914 which offered the opportunity for European nihilism to plunge in unhindered efforts of how to institute crime as ideology by both ‘socialism’ and Nazism. Today terrorism, a view of instituting crime as an act of resistance or projection of power from another civilizational paradigm comes to coincide with the crime of executions by drones in one of the most regressive phenomena of human civilization. Even the institution of war, a criminal activity no doubt, but mythologized as an act of heroism and sacrifice for the social, has turned to an act of pure criminal activity.  
For the European intellectuals nihilism, not a belief in nothing but a psychic void expressing the disbelief in any foundations, was a topic of intense study and for some to the view that the Enlightenment project failed thus leading to ideologized and state organized crime. Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud all ended up in Sade’s castle of absolute pain as pleasure and self-annihilation as Camus argued in the Rebel.  For complex historical reasons the civil war of 1914 is still going on today. Huntington had classified Russia as an Orthodox civilization, not a Western one. This is at least a half truth but fairly convenient to keep a popular mindset focused on an imaginary non-western enemy associated with the evil empire of the Soviet Union. Hellenic-Roman tradition, the Judeo-Christian tradition and the Enlightenment are the common cultural and political heritage of the West. Russia has this tradition plus some others. Still Russia is the Eastern West of the West. Today we have created a new tradition, a post-modern one, which the rest of the world is very reluctant to participate as yet. Actually they are just tolerating it with disdain.  
Russia after 1989 remained as a patriarchal-hierarchical society it always was, but fully modernized. It is a difficult place to live and feel secure, but so is ¾ of the planet. How do we go about changing its social imaginary to a more compliant, human and tolerant one? We don’t threaten and humiliate, downbeat it and castigate it as a boorish poor relative who must turn to a sophisticated liberal New Yorker. For this boorish relative is 7 feet tall and has a few thousand nuclear warheads. It is also the case that we may be wrong about some of our progressive ideas and we may have to be more cautious about our new found moral high ground.  
Since the demise of that evil empire, the USA has treated the Russian Federation with utter disdain, downgrading it to the periphery which has to be rehabilitated and chastised. It has foregone the oral guarantees of Secretary Baker and Chancellor Kohl about the non-expansion of NATO into east Europe, incorporating seven of these states into the alliance plus three former Soviet states, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The Clinton administration, the worst administration for the last hundred years, bombed Serbia without taking under consideration Russia’s historical sensitivities about that country. The USA keeps harping against Putin as an authoritarian leader, who does not condones protests, suppresses his political opponents, is against identity politics and views the world in a different way from that of Washington. These characteristics also fit the description of Erdogan, King Abdullah, President Xi, General Sisi, PM Netanyahu, the Indian PM and many other world leaders. However, Russia is a part of the West, a slowly adjusting member but a member all the same. And it is a very important part of the West in more than one ways. It is the only western member of Asia, the powerhouse and the probable center of a nuclear conflict of the 21st century. The traditional West can do very little to steer Asia to a path of westernization. Moreover, what is happening right now with the Ukrainian crisis proves to the rest of the world the incapacity of the West to come to terms with itself and its perennial fratricidal clash for power. This clash as WWI and WWII proved is a world-wide concern.
 The ‘West’ is again split between perceptions of each other and continues to churn up divisions instead of building understanding and respect. News Agency Xinhua reports of the Presidents Obama and Xi discussion: “China was ready to work with the United States to build the new model of the major-country relationship, respect and accommodate each other's core interests and major concerns, and enhance dialogue, mutual trust and cooperation, in a bid to achieve a sustainable and healthy development of the China-U.S. relations, Xi said.” Read carefully: “major-country relationship respect and accommodation…” Is this the relationship between Russia and the USA?
 What is the objective of this tug of war with Russia? Is this ‘West’ fighting an enemy or is trying to assess its control over this huge and lucrative territory? Is the West seeing this as a serious threat of its security keeping military exercises anti-ballistic shields and military assets poised against Russia? What is the purpose of all these military posturing of NATO? Do we have a defensive alliance against Russia? Does the EU and the USA expect an attack from Moscow? Is it the perennial war for oil and oil routes from Central Asia? Is it again Pepe Escobar’s ‘Pipelineistan’ on the rampage again? The fact is that Russia is too big a player. It should march in step with us or it must be persuaded to do so. Presto the use of the retribution of history. All former Soviet member states which suffered under Stalin and the subsequent abject tyranny are Russophobes. Ukrainians after they installed their new government abrogated the use of Russian as a second language and declared their anti-Russian and anti-communist feelings loud and clear. They have the right to feel as they like, but Ukraine is a county with a large Russian minority, it relies on Russian trade, and its economy is bankrupt. The Ukrainian toppling of its government because it didn’t sign an agreement with the EU is a demand for change and most clearly to distance themselves from Russia. This is legitimate as a desire and an aspiration but a difficult project to implement peacefully without the consent of Russia which has huge strategic interests in this country and also a Russian population which is afraid of a government which starts off with statements not of democratic reconciliation but vengeance for its former oppressors. Ukraine is in the midst of a battle of giants used as a provocation to settle scores and open new frontiers of conflict. The legitimate aspiration and grievances of Ukraine were used as the Epidamneans’ is ancient Hellas to provoke the great civil war between the Athenians and the Spartans. (Thucydides Book I).
The worst folly of all is centered in the EU. Its post-modern project has become a reality which in just twenty years has transformed the perception of politicians from a pre-1991 mindset of caution and circumspection to a Davos-type of economic and managerial fantasy. When John Kerry accused Putin "You just don't, in the 21st century, behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretexts," he was expressing his exasperation for Putin’s backwardness and refusal to adjust to these post-modern rules of conduct. So said Chancellor Merkel and then went to discuss the Italian and the Hellenic and the Portuguese sovereign debt and the new plan for the Eurozone’s banking union, which Germany is reluctant to endorse. 
Ignorance and self-deception is bliss; hypocrisy is lack of an argument.  When perceptions of a world as already a realized project of breaking from modernity advances the view that the axiomatic prerogative of any state to be the guardian of its internal and external security is abrogated, then we come to meet our idiot(e)s as spokesmen of a fantastical world.
The last but not the least folly of the EU is its acceptance of a government takeover by ultra- nationalistic forces. For the EU nationalism is a specter to be exorcised from Europe. There is an election for the European Parliament coming up in May 25. Various nationalistic and anti-European parties are poised to win a substantial number of seats. What does the acceptance of Ukrainian revanchists signal for the Eurosceptics? Are Ukrainian nationalists also pro-European or they measure their European love-affair with the yardstick of their hatred for Russia? Historically this is banal but for a European project as it unfolds it is a travesty between means and ends.  The follies of the EU extend to the effect that they condoned and abetted an uprising by people with legitimate grievances but who had the option to go to the polls and even form a unity government. This is nothing else than a provocation, an act of defiance promulgated by idiot(e)s sojourning in Brussels whose perception of a crisis and a civil war is beyond their mindset. It is also an act orchestrated by Washington in total disregard of the bloody history of the area as Patrick Cockburn writes “to see what Ukraine’s future may be, look at Lviv’s shameful past” (Independent 9/3/2014)


Russia will never relinquish Crimea in some form or another. Yanukovych’s flight was most probably nothing more than an acknowledgement of his inability to manage the oligarchs and the economy. Ukraine’s economy will play a crucial role for the future of this country since it is a big divide between eastern and western parts of the country, with the east having over $5,000per capita income and the west only $1,800.  The annexation of Crimea will set a diplomatic precedent which may lead other states to do the same. Some analysts believe that Putin is just pre-empting a revolution of the Ukrainian kind in Russia. Yulia Timoschenko predicts Kaddafi’s fate for Putin. For the Ukrainian people this is a painful and confusing period. They may see their society and their lives disintegrating in a multi-layer ethnic, religious and economic conflict.  This ‘West’ vs Russia dispute may reach a point of antagonism in other theaters of conflict or grievances. Ambassador Bhadrakumar has clearly adumbrated this case for the steppes of Central Asia. (ATol, March 11 2014).  We already have an announcement from Russia building to nuclear reactors in Iran. Another outcome is that Russia may suffer itself from internal political instability. The outcome of this would be negative for the ‘West’. If Russia becomes ungovernable the world is becoming an alarmingly dangerous place. If it disintegrates what will happen to its huge arsenal of nuclear weapons? If Russia turns to China what will be the new balance of power in Asia? All probable options are negative for the ‘West’. Moreover, the West is currently facing a fractured and highly conflictual Moslem world which will see with glee the fall of Russia which is considered one of its arch enemies. The West is actually sowing the seeds for a more violent conflict with Islam. Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia must be celebrating in Riyadh. Perhaps the announced possible blockade of Qatar if it doesn’t close down Al-Jazeera and keep supporting the Muslim Brotherhood is an outcome of the marginalization of Russia. At the same time Pakistan is in chaos with the government discussing with the Pakistani Taliban issues which will end up with their demand to turn Pakistan to a Sariah-law state. 
For most of Russians it has become plainly obvious that the ‘West’ is antagonizing them. Their perceptions about a hostile brother are becoming realities. Fear ensues from these set of perceptions and this feeds the fire of distrust, suspicion and resentment. We are in the midst of history repeating itself, the ‘West’ against the West, not as a farce but as a new tragedy. If the West as a whole cannot redefine its inter-relations with respect and mutual acknowledgement of its differences, then how is it possible for it to come to terms with the deep divide between itself and a resurgent Islam and/or the Chinese paradigm? The idiot(e)s in Brussels, Berlin and Washington whose perceptions of the world result in categorizing some portions of it as madmen, is time to wake up from their self-deception and fantastical contradictory globalized paradigm.
Europe is facing another self-destructive scenario: a split between Europe or parts of it and the USA. It is not easy to keep all states in line enforcing an embargo on Russia. Hellas, Bulgaria, Serbia, a recalcitrant Hungary, and even France are for many historical reasons on more intimate terms with Russia than Britain of Germany, even if the last has substantial economic interests with Russia. The Kiev uprising opened the Pandora’s Box which may include a three way split of the ‘West’  
We are confronted with the monumental folly of a dysfunctional EU with Germany as a make-believe leader traditionally inept in foreign policy, and traditional heavyweights as British and French leaderships completely discredited in Iraq and Libya. These actors have caused a huge crisis in Europe. Secretary Kerry in his statement after meeting with FM Lavrov on March 14th acknowledged: “Russia has legitimate rights in Crimea, historical, security concerns, and the right to protect its people in Ukraine. He proposed greater autonomy for Crimea and peaceful resolution of the conflict through direct talks. What was important for the USA was the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the right to make their own choices. There is no threat for Russia or any other consideration geostrategic or otherwise by the West.” FM Lavrov told him that President Putin will make a decision after the referendum in Crimea. He also proposed a federal Crimea which is the only sensible way to structure this historically fragmented country with innumerable historical splits and divides. Now Crimea is annexed and the ‘West’ has imposed sanctions on persons close to President Putin. There are military exercises by NATO in East Europe and Russian forces at the borders with Ukraine. What is most probable is that Ukraine will be split between an eastern and a western part as history and culture necessitates. The east will ask help from Russia and this may be resisted by Ukraine. This will be a real escalation or the conflict with further the alienation of the two parts, Russia and the ‘West’. International security will then be on the line as a number of other hotspots are active in the Far East, Central Asia and the Middle East.
The ‘West’ has failed once more to realign itself with itself acknowledging its vital interests to keep itself intact and place its house in order. If this is accomplished at some future time, then the world may turn to a more secure and peaceful place. 

Nicholas A. Biniaris 20/3/2014