Παρασκευή 8 Αυγούστου 2014

An old fashioned or a new World disorder?

by Nicholas A. Biniaris
The late P. Kondylis, a Hellenic philosopher, had remarked about Gorbachev after 1989 that he was either naïve or an idiot to acquiesce to the dissolution of the Soviet Union without a comprehensive Treaty with NATO and the USA about East Europe and Russian national interests. He would have gotten it and the world would have been a safer place.
Instead, today we are in a situation among three protagonists in a drama which has all the qualities of the absurd: the EU, the USA and Russia. But these are just the protagonists. China, India, and Islam are watching closely and getting the vital message of this conundrum: the West has gone bonkers. Newsweek and Time  amply and gruesomely expressed the beliefs and perceptions about Putin and his actions in Ukraine. On the other hand the Guardian shows that these kinds of perceptions about Russia have an opposite effect on Russians who were not Putin’s supporters but now are forced to side with him. The branding of Russians as murderers and Putin as the cause of Ukraine’s civil war and the shooting down of MH17 has developed into a hysteria which is driving the two sides apart fast and inexorably to a protracted conflict.
But no serious historian and IR professional will be satisfied until some questions are answered in a meaningful way.  Why the EU did initiate a policy for a treaty with Ukraine, a take-it-or-leave-it one without engaging Ukraine’s biggest economic partner, Russia in these negotiations? Why Angela Merkel, David Cameron and President Hollande did give the go ahead in this major political mistep by the EU?  Did they believe that this move was an innocuous economic treaty about which Russia would acquiesce without protesting? Were Russia’s interests, commercial, financial, and strategic safeguarded by that treaty?
As events proved this wasn’t the case at all. So the question about provocation and the culprit of criminal acts, war and destruction of the Ukrainian state is not answered by a propaganda machine which any rational analyst would consider totally irrelevant to the facts of history and the acts of the EU and the USA. If Putin is old fashioned and even mad to adhere to such nonsense as spheres of influence and geostrategic considerations he should have been at least consulted about the economic and commercial consequences of this treaty over Russian respective interests. 
It was argued that Putin is working to build a new empire. The EU move tried to thwart his outdated plans. If this was the real reason behind the EU move, then the perpetrators of this policy should have been ready to face some serious reactions and even war. None behaved in such a manner but the issue was decided upon a “democratic revolution” of the people against Russia and in favor of the EU. This scenario of a new world order: commercial interests, “democracy” as defined by the Western social construct and an inconspicuous economic warfare: like printing 4.5 trillion dollars to keep America afloat, didn’t have, at least publically a premise about sanctions, civil war and a reeling Europe.   
On May 28th 2014 President Obama, in his speech at West Point, made explicit the doctrine that there are American interests worldwide and military power could be applied , if necessary to secure them.  So the argument goes that there American interests but not Russian, Chinese or Indian. Perhaps, the new world order implies that the interests of these states and many more should coincide with those of the USA and its allies. This notion of an overall categorical imperative: “should” is the core problem of this perception of the world which may present Russia or China or for that matter, Iran, Kenya or Nigeria as misfits and enemies.  This is the hidden-not as a political agenda- but as ideology behind a totally paranoiac reading of the world. Fukuyama believes that the enemy of the West is Russia and China and not a sectarian war in the Middle East. The Wolfowitz Doctrine in 1992 and Kagan’s arguments against an American decline plus Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard where Ukraine figured prominently as a pivot for the domination of Eurasia, give us an insight about the ideology behind the policies and acts of flagrant interference against the interests and aspirations of other states.
What all these point to in nothing but a perpetual and unhindered conflict with no end in sight. The reason for this is that all these views, messianic and millennial in the core of their philosophy go against the grain of history and conflict theory. It is impossible to thwart or hold back huge parts of the world as the Moslems, the Chinese, the Indians by proclaiming your worldwide interests or attempting to stop them participating in the world as equal partners and with legitimate demands and even spheres of influence and projection of power. The famous theory of “soft power” stands upon a hidden premise: hard power as the West rightfully projects overtly or covertly anytime it wants to safeguard its interests.  
After the fall of the Soviet Union it seemed fairly easy to pretend that the USA was the sole super-power. The majority of nations and societies were persuaded even by rumor or awe that the USA was the one and only superpower. Twenty five years later this is just a myth debunked by facts of history. This isn’t a consequence of the decline of the USA but a matter of rising of others. What globalization brought about was an incredible intertwined nexus of commercial and economic interests which definitely shaped a different world order. That though wasn’t enough to establish a volunteered admission by all that the USA can decide and act upon any matter on earth. Far from it, the practices of the USA were in direct conflict with other societies and civilizational paradigms which didn’t have any intention to follow American decisions and practices. Identity politics, a dominant theme for Western social agenda, is not and cannot be part of the priorities of other civilizational paradigms.
The new world order which in some way the world had implicitly accepted up to 9/11 ended up with a bang. Since then this new world order isn’t just more difficult but impossible to maintain.  What has happened and happening in the Middle East and in Ukraine as well as in the China Sea are too conspicuous to be covered or misinterpreted. The ideology and policy expressed and defended by pundits and Presidents alike is simply drowned in the historical process which confronts bypasses or mocks the established world order as it is conceived in a static and emotionally presumptuous way.
The new world order is  no more and no less the old world disorder and it won’t take long to evolve to a probability of a general conflagration if we do not attempt to have a new Congress of Vienna, not of the European Powers, but of the World. This Congress should not be just about establishing a world balance of power but about saving the world from environmental collapse and from a nuclear war.
The West has a window of opportunity to come to grips with the Ukrainian mega-crisis by the end of August. The Ukrainian “government” resigned on July 24th and a new ball game started in that tormented country. Western media covered the resignation with elliptical and outright propagandistic analyses without offering to their readers the true causes of the resignation: the economic doldrums of Ukraine. The Udar and Svoboda parties denied their vote for new economic measures to adhere to IMF’s demands for structural reforms. They did what most governments in the EU did after the austerity programs were implemented by Germany. They want to contest an election upon lies, promises and bravado. They also want to exclude the Communist Party from the coming elections and intimidate their opponents making a mockery of democracy.The stark reality of Ukraine is that the country is bankrupt and the hard question is: who is going to pick up the tab, most certainly the EU. General winter is coming and gas prices are up 57%. The most probable scenario is that individual EU countries will contribute security forces and it is even possible tor NATO to reach an agreement to support the government against the Russian “aggression”. The crisis promulgated and advanced by incompetent bureaucrats in Brussels is attaining its own dynamic and the horrendous Malaysian Airlines incident has exacerbated perceptions and interventionist policies. These are correspondingly perceived by the Russian government as aggressive and naked threats against Russia.
The pressure may have two consequences: the fall of Putin or a Cuba crisis. The first case is possible in the long run. However the heirs of Putin will be most probably not utopian Russian loves of the West but this time around some somber generals.  This will lead to a Cuban crisis. If on the other hand Putin stays in power, the policy planners of the West are betting upon Putin’s rationality to avert a real hot Cuban crisis where threats of a nuclear war will no doubt smear Russia as a threat to world peace and human survival. At the same time though such a crisis will ruin the Wests’ reputation as a responsible power which actually underpins and guarantees world peace.
In either case the outlook is grim and involves a probability of a Cuban crisis or even a limited use of tactical nuclear weapons. The gambit in Ukraine is still under control but inimical perceptions are hardening from both sides. The Mass Media of the West are doing an excellent job in portraying an economic debacle to an existential threat against liberal democracy and its values.
The Middle East
The efforts to sway Iran to a nuclear deal are a real achievement of the Obama administration. However, technically the deal is not very probable due to the advanced stage of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran is willing to sign a compromise but the requirements are too demanding. At the same time the terrain is rapidly changing and Iran is facing more threats than it initially calculated. The ISIS question is posing a serious dilemma to the Ayatollahs; they either have to fight them at some point or they have to side with the West to avert a war of all against all. The Regime in Teheran isn’t working upon a short term plan. They cannot gamble their existence upon an onslaught of the Sunnis while they aren’t ready for it. Actually they are the only reliable regime in the area which can behave in a more or less rational way. Even if their agenda is anti-Western and theocratic their ultimate purpose is survival and this can be accomplished only with the tolerance of the West or if they acquire a nuclear arsenal
The Sunni front is collapsing and at the same time it is restructuring itself. The old order is no more. The only serious players in the area are Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The first supports the second because this is the only way the Saudi Kingdom can survive. The other way is to surrender to the Turks, their old satraps. Egypt on the other hand is a state under economic collapse. It tries to stave off a Muslim Brotherhood resistance and a jihadist activity in the Sinai. President Sisi is playing the role of all the previous military rulers professing to be both secular and an Islamist. This ploy cannot last for too long because radical are closing in from all sides, Sinai, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Iraq. The balance in the area is hanging by a thread and depends upon the advances of the IS and its capacity to organize a rudimentary administration in the territories it holds. Presently all seem to avoid attacking the “Caliphate”. Perhaps its rapid advance was a real shock to all. It is not easy to stop a victorious army where there is no army in the area which has a clear and worthwhile reason to fight.
Israel on the other hand is experiencing a turning point in its existence as a state. After the last ruinous war with Hezbollah in Lebanon the Israelis are fighting a war with a desperate Hamas. The fight is as usual lopsided but Israeli losses are heavy. Hamas is resisting in ways that may inspire Arab masses which up to now are either indifferent or have problems of their own. However, the unpredictability of history may work here in ways which will press both Saudi’s and Egypt’s antipathy for Hamas to the point of an internal explosion. The longer the Israeli incursion is Gaza lasts the probability of an explosion gets higher. There are some signs that point to this. Both a Pakistani and a Saudi journalist are bringing the point of apathy and failure of the Arabs and the Moslems to the open and forcefully suggest that if the Palestinians decide to fight to the death the outcome of their struggle most probably won’t be the same as in previous occasions.  
The routine military preponderance of Israel is still there. However the weak or failed states in the area aren’t a sign of its strength but or its weakness. Any state can be an enemy but also a part of a deal. Barbaric chaos is actually the end of the area. Who can trust a long term investment in an area where people blow themselves up and behead their enemies? To be an oasis in the desert doesn’t cancel out the effect of the desert; it rather makes it starker and more ominous. Israel cannot survive among ruins and desolation. And the same holds for Turkey. A permanent state of war and insurgency will sap the social and political fabric of these societies turning them to failed states themselves. No man is an island but no state is an island either in this globalized world. Geography is history and destiny.
The world is in its usual disorder. There is no new world order around. What are more and obviously demanding are the depth and the scope of this disorder. Was it a  a creation of a historical evolution or a premeditated intervention for some grandiose aggressive plans for world domination or perhaps defensive ones hiding economic and social dysfunctions which need “enemies” to become scapegoats for eventualities yet unknown to the indifferent and malleable public opinion of the USA and Europe? There is even another rather humiliating and unworthy reason for this new world disorder: the  effort of boosting the legacy of an American President who was elected with rising expectations and is departing with the horrendous failures of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Ukraine.
Nicholas A. Biniaris Hellas July 30 2014