25 March, 2014

The New Cold War: A Figment of the neo-con imagination


According to the Financial Times:
Motivated by fierce nationalism and a deep sense of historic injustice, for which he blames the west, Russian president Vladimir Putin has been lashing out with little apparent regard for the consequences. If cornered, he will be tempted to use all the levers at his disposal to retaliate against western sanctions.

Where has Putin been lashing out? Maybe I missed the news. Mostly it appears to be the Americans lashing out to Putin.

Then there’s a lovely op-ed today, reprinted in the Kathmandu Post from “Project Syndicate,” about “The Post Russian World Order” by one Giles Merritt, who predicts a funeral for Russia, as well as a BRIC bloc without Russia. He also says:

“Russia is also set to sideline itself from the global economy, and by doing so it will usher in a new era in international relations. “

(A bit of Blah blah here…)

And then he says:
“…so the Russian economy will progressively be cut off from international trade and investment and consigned to a future of slow or no growth.”

He also condemns Russia’s “defiance of international law.”

Seriously, this takes the cake. First the Americans set off political disturbances in Ukraine, with the aim of getting Russia in trouble. Then when their actions backfire and a piece of Crimea falls back into Russia, they claim Russia is at fault. Then they slap on sanctions. Then they claim the Russians will sell radioactive weapons to Iran,and proclaim a new Cold War has started (you can see the saliva flowing at the thought of all those trillions they will get to fight this “war”). Then they get pissed off and claim BRIC will dissolve.

Well, nothing like an attack from outsiders to make a tepid arrangement like BRIC become suddenly a band of brothers. Have you noticed how people don’t really care about groups—until the group gets attacked, and then everyone sort of comes to their defense?

Also of course the Americans seem to miss the fact that the world is larger now than just America and Russia. There’s a lot more players on the world stage who are watching this unfold. And while this would have been a great strategy in the 50s to push America on to the global hegemonic stage, today the playing field is a bit more different.

First of all, Russia is seriously not a threat to anyone, least of all to America. That much is obvious.

Secondly, people like the Russians. There are long historic, economic and other ties that have developed between Russia and 150 plus countries that will be hard to erase with bombastic attacks by neo-cons in the USA.

Thirdly, the USA is seriously in need of a reality check about the state of the global economy. Which is much more complex than it was in the 50s, with a lot more players. This is not a bilateral world with two superpowers anymore. This is a world with hundreds of small players, and the US has to realize that diplomacy with these small players is as important as with the Supers. China being a prime example of a superpower. Where recently Michelle Obama was seen with her two beautiful daughters—admittedly, I like that kind of personal diplomacy, and I personally have a fondness for Michelle and her two girls, but the USA has acted with such impunity recently that I doubt even that visit is going to make any difference in China’s recent economic policies which has taken a step back from investing in the American dollar.

This is a new era in international relations, definitely. But whether Russia will be sidelined is moot. What is clear is that those who repeatedly attack other countries are not in a good position to buy and sell things, to maintain friendly trade relations, and to expect big shiploads of almost free goodies from Papa China. I guess the new era in international relations is also asking this question:

What’s the exchange value of the dollar and the euro?

And: And are the Asians really getting a fair deal for their goods? They are sending over shiploads of clothing, jewelry, leather boots, household items, tea strainers, machinery, computers and completely useless tchotzches in exchange for…Facebook? Not to mention the two stellar currencies, the euro and the dollar.

Now as to the “Post-Russian World Order”-what is that, anyways? A world without Russia? A world in which Russia doesn’t dominate? (but wait a minute, it never did dominate, anyways, despite it s best efforts.)

Anyways, clearly there’s going to be a post moment of some sorts. But its more likely going to be a massive disarmament moment for USA , Russia, and China, followed by the acknowledgement that in order to survive in this present moment, the acknowledgement of a world more complex than a Two Superpower model is necessary. And in order to do that, foreign policy may have to take a much different form than 1950s style neo-con war cries.


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