“The US has the strongest military in the world and spends more than any other country. But the US always feels unsafe or insecure about other countries. ... I suggest the United States spend more time thinking about how to make other countries feel less worried about the United States.” ~ Cui Tiankai, Chinese vice FM for US affairs
The story I want to open with was shared by Oscar winning actor Ben Kingsley on an American TV show, where the host asked the actor if he had been bothered by attention, when he visited India.
Quite the contrary, Ben Kingsley revealed: People didn't seem to know him, and if they did, they didn't much care. In fact, the closest to an encounter with a star crazed fan was a cab driver who recognized him and asked:
"You are Kings Bentley, no?"
Everybody laughs, but what are we really laughing at, the ignorance of the Delhi cab driver, or our own arrogance, assuming others automatically care about what we care about?
As the readers of this blog will know I only update sporadically, whenever I come across a distinct new pattern on the geopolitical arena. Hence the name, geopolitical dynamics. I have adopted a principle, a criteria for news reading, which I call "hyper-significance", covering an event or a sequence of events that point towards a critically important long trend in world politics.
As those schooled in geopolitics may know the potential for an Arab Renaissance has been discussed for several decades, and the foundation of the Arab Spring of 2011 was outlined by four special UN development reports for the Middle East focusing on, among other things, distribution and penetration of information technology, women's rights, human rights and social disparity as vehicles for change.
Based on these reports I predicted an event like this back in 2005 on a social website now owned by the MSNBC, called Newsvine. Back then the response was universal indifference from Western liberals as well as conservatives, and many contemptuous statements ranging from: "There are no political theory to back your assumptions" to "Arabs will remain a hole in the ground in all foreseable future."
Back then anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments were far more rampant than today, after a series of revolts beginning with the Iranian "Sea of Green" humanized Arabs and Persians to Westerners.
Not surprisingly, I was right. Reading, data crunching and analysis is not magic, but an academic discipline. Having crunched the data and reached the unavoidable conclusion I felt no great surprise, when Arab Spring broke out in late 2010, except for the timing. You cannot beat the system.
Likewise, when it comes to the formation of a new conflict line in the world, one that has been tentatively approached by geopolitical analysts, but so far not really considered a solid replacement for the bipolar balance of power during the Cold War. I was just waiting for the moment when Washington would alienate India, as she recently did over India's refusal to stop buying oil from Iran - but as in the case of Arab Spring, it happened many years before I expected it.
India is a Planet Unto Itself
Traditionally, we think of India as Western leaning. Her formal status is that of a notable ally, particularly in the War On Terror, having similar interests as Europe and America, particularly but not solely over the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan.
In a conflict based news analysis focusing narrowly on micro-events and ephemeral structures the bigger picture is often lost. I have visited India and interviewed top ranking politicans, and from my many conversations with Indians of all classes, castes and walks of life I understood three very important things about India's national character:
First of all, India's wound from the days of British imperialism is not entirely healed. In spite of cricket, English in the schools and the buttoned up shirts in constant fashion, Indians remain deeply offended by the way the British occupied the country, and the long hard battle to gain independence. It is not uncommon to hear other Europeans lauded for their accomplishments, while the British are in a low voice dubbed "common thieves" - particularly but not solely for the way they plundered the temples and holy places in India before their exist, stripping them of gold and jewels.
This leads directly to the second point, the staunch Hindu nationalism also prevalent in semi-modern India. With the emergence of BJP as a powerful political force, TV shows and text books in schools stress the importance of the Hindu religion as a national identifier, for good and for bad. India is a country and a culture of her own, unlike any other culture, and in spite of her universities and IT businesses and thrifty movie industry very much unlike the West and very unlikely to become significantly more stereotypically Western.
This also has to do with the third fact, the anti-Westernism prevalent in India, where the notion of "Westernization" is used with as much fervor and as many negative connotations as in, say, strictly Roman-Catholic or Orthodox countries, or in the Islamic world stretching from Africa to Persia. Most Westerners are not aware of this scepticism of Western liberalism, the deep paleo-conservative dependency on local tradition. Likewise, many do not realize that in Asia, from the Chinese mainland to the sophisticated new ASEAN states, "Westernization" is still very often considered a negative and fiercely opposed, by activism as well as local tradition.
Westerners, on their part, are relatively open to Indians, at worst prone to mocking them for their excessive use of curry and for their broken English, as opposed to for instance Pakistani, who are subjected to the universal mix of racism, xenophobia and Christian or secularist opposition to Islam, again for good and for evil.
The point is that India is in so many ways unlike any other country or region, and in so many ways like a planet of its own, inhabited by a highly intelligent alien species, the West tends to underestimate India's propensity for self-determination. India is still very much considered a funny butler to the Western lord.
How Ethnocentrism Warps the Global Perspective
It is something a Westerner can hardly wrestle himself free from, any more than a horse can fly or a tobacco plant see with the multifacetted eyes of a fly. Ethnocentrism is deeply ingrained in every mind, but only from a non-centric perspective, from approximated objectivity combined with a humanized (and not just sociological or anthropoligical) perspective can you accurately assess geopolitical dynamics over vast distances in time.
This is the perspective of Geopolitical Dynamics, and the reason the blog is read from the "Far East" over Kremlin and Brussels to Capitol Hill. It is a blog that does not pundit, but presents a perspective detached from alliance to a particular national, regional, religious or ideological agenda.
From this non-centric perspective some daunting facts about future political conflict, near and far, emerges with clarity: It is not a year ago I declared the American empire dead, and the remainder of the process the crumbling of the tower, and there is no need to stack evidence of the claim by now. The list is endless.
The question for pundits who try to make a living analyzing events has now become: What replaces the brief spat of mono-polar "world order" - for as much as it can be called order - what the last 20 plus years has presented us with? To many the answer is BRIC, but even more importantly, this raises the question whether BRIC is peace, or BRIC is war?
To the religious fanatics of the Judeo-Christian school China is Gog and Moscow Magog, but if we try not to be confused by ancient mysticism and phonetic similarity of names, what reality is there behind the dread of a budding world conflict?
Right now people have observed how China declared Pakistan under her protection, equivalent to the nation-state of Israel to USA. We have seen how Iran has propped up Syria with arms and battle-ships to prevent NATO from further continuing the old grand area strategy of USA, outlined by Wesley Clark in his now famous and infamous "seven nation" statement that includes Syria and Iran - a strategy that essentially ends in Moscow and Beijing, imposing the full package of Pax Americana, once and for all.
Capitalism is not enough, and democracy is not enough. It is no wonder that Moscow, Beijing and Tehran, as well as proponents of Cuban and Venezuelan socialism, are uncertain if even compliance will be enough to satisfy what is perceived as the infinite greed of the West.
After what may have been a tactical betrayal, rather than a gross blunder costing Russia and China valuable oil concession in Libya, a cork has been put into the use of Serbian styled insurrections and humanitarian interventions as pretext for neo-colonial warfare, by the very same powers, the Sino-Russian alliance formalized in SCO and holding Iran in a waiting position as a prospective member.
What most Western observers will never understand or admit, even to themselves, except for the most hard boiled cynics, is that these countries may very well be fighting for their lives. That changes the stakes on the table drastically when compared to the naive assumption of most Western media pundits, even the "benign" ones, and hence also the public: It can no longer be perceived as a conflict about "values" or about "human rights."
This is emphasized by the fact that the West now runs a grandiose torture industry with an estimated 50,000 people renditioned since the beginning of GWOT and more than 5,000 killed in drone strikes and over 1000 assassinated since January 20005. It is underlined by the Patriot Acts, and most recently by the presidential signature on the NDAA, dubbing USA a battlefield and extending rendition and summary execution to American citizens, and the preparations for the upcoming collapse of the dollar with the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order, granting the federal government ability to seize all assets in case of a national emergency, including an economic cataclysm.
On top of that, drones have been purchased and deployed for use in the American homeland.
All this shows, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the NATO involvement in world affairs is about turf and tribe. We are already down to brass tactics.
As the West Crumbles, BRICS Solidifies
It is also a dangerous method, a double-edged sword, because you can view the Western alliance through the same lens. If we do, we see a Coalition of the Willing that has not only failed, but crumbled during the failure. We see the "old world" and the "new world" locked in a constant strife, particularly financially, with the dollar and the Euro rising and falling interdependently.
We also see the Transatlantic Alliance threatened, as USA demands more armament and more involvement in the neo-liberal or neo-conservative project, depending on what party has the paper power, while Europe is reluctantant, having become dependent on public spending to avoid revolutionary upheaval. It is social stability or martial excellence, as much as in the case of USA, where the opposite excess, military spending, has sent the country spiralling downwards in a seemingly neverending cycle of cultural, infrastructural and social depletion.
Of course, much has to do with the logic of the market forces that drive national corporations to become conglomerates, and conglomerates to go multicultural, and to place their production in the relatively stable areas with low cost work forces, such as China and India.
The bankruptcy of Greece, the threat to Spain, Italy, the Eurozone in general, forms the backdrop of the current financial-military stand-off with Iran over Israel, jittery about Iranian sabre rattling, involving the among others the Atomic Energy Commission, the Hormuz Strait oil transpo and the upcoming end to the dollar as reserve currency, indicative of a financial collapse ten times more severe than 2008.
It also forms the backdrop for the rise of BRIC and increasing manifestations of power in or around supranational institutions. India is constantly pushing for a reform of the UN Security Council to gain permanent membership, and for the Western dominance over the Bretton Woods institutions to be relaxed.
BRIC was originally coined as a term by financial analysts in the now thoroughly scandalized Goldman-Sachs. Nevertheless the concept grew in traction, not only gaining acknowledgement outside investments circles, but getting interest from geopolitical and strategic observers and commenters.
Not surprisingly the concept and the projection of BRIC to become the four dominant economies by 2050 triggered increasing diplomacy between the said powers and some signs of budding formalization of partnership.
That, in itself, is a huge big deal, so big that it covers the entire horizon and can be difficult to assess or even notice for those not schooled in international politics or those who simply suffer from normalcy bias.
Now, in practically the same temporal zone, India pushes for a new BRICS development bank (the S stands for South Africa, not surprisingly eager to stand with the new "rebels"). OECD analysis shows that the fastest growing economies in the world are those that have self-managed their economies, independently of the generous but calculating World Bank and his relentlessly diligent undertaker twin, IMF. They are on to something: Global financial stability means stability for the Western market. The premise is set and, again, accurately identified as Western ethnocentrism.
It should not come as a surprise that others do not perceive it as in their best interest to be under such a system, but it does, and it will. Just like every region has its myths, its folklore, its superstitions, the West is steeped in an esoteric belief in "benign empire", a concept that comes under many names, from the largely discredited White Man's Burden to the marginally used Manifest Destiny. It is also embedded as a viral meme in Francis Fukuyama's disastrous The End of History and the Last Man and another pseudo-academic publication, Samuel Huntington's notorious Clash of Civilizations.
In spite of every detail that may be factually accurate in these broad stroke fabulations, their conclusions are essentially betrayed by the ethnocentric bias in the authors. However distinguished they may be to Western academia, to the rest of the world they are merely scribblers. That can be very difficult to understand for an establishment that has "ruled the waves" for as long as history is remotely accurate enough to be distorted by multiple spins.
It is the same ethnocentric bias that may prevent the West from understanding the complex structure of the upcoming conflict, its amorphic axis and the daunting implications. It is also what may be the ultimate obstacles to securing a peace, the very trigger by which a new astounding global conflict is launched, anticipated by many already as a "ressource war."
The Significance of Vedic Scriptures
Another interesting bias associated with Western ethnocentrism is the cultural inability to comprehend any metaphysic developed outside the Abrahamic tradition. Westerners are increasingly eager to study the Quran. They buy a lot of books about Islam, particilarly books that are staunchly Western ethnocentric and unreasonably critical to Islam, published by a veritable industry of celebrity Islam-bashers. It has become a livelihood, a default ticket to prominence and membership of Western think tanks, to take an easy stab at Islam as being violent, superstitious, misogynist and so forth.
In another development, which probably surprises many Westerners, people in Europe, America and Australia, are turning to Islam in the millions. Since 2001 about 1,5 million Westerners have converted to Islam, a collective expression of the profound distrust in the political management of the West and disillusion in the core values, whether they be secular liberty or Christian doctrine.
Even so, Islam is an Abrahamic religion and as such fairly easy for people rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition to wrap their mind around. It is easier to deal with than Buddhism, Taoism and even the bureaucratic Confucianism of the East, and far more tangible than traditional African religion and new hybrid versions incorporating American Evangelism. From this, there is another gigantic leap to the Hindu traditions with is billions of deities and complex conceptual system, so different from Western thoughts that interpretations invariably comes forth as the awkward mechanical text translations by software like Google or Babylon.
But Hinduism has had a profound effect on the West, first as a result of Robert Oppenheimer immortalizing a line from the Bhagavad-Gita:
"I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."The rogue and somewhat squirelly nuclear physicist uttered the words shortly after the Trinity nuclear testing in 1945, stating that it was the first thought that came to his mind.
Since then millions around the world have felt the literal and empirical impact of these words, as NATO in the name of some abstract greater good has sown mass deaths around the world, of course in sharp competition with various Communist forces.
Hinduism has also penetrated the West in an even more mysterious form, somehow influencing the psychedelic rock and pop culture of the 1960s, namely through the Beatles and their fascination with the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
The youth rebellion and the hippie movement, to most Westerners, stand out as a complete mystery, the introduction of a cultural current both liberating and enriching, and potentially toxic. It is only possible to understand what took place in the West in this era through the lens of Eastern spiritualism. From this perspective what occurred is not much a mystery, but a rather predictable reaction, as the conformity and rigid linear or left brain thinking was challenged by intuitive perception common to Oriental philosophies.
From that arose much madness, but also many impressing new forms of comprehension and expression, grafted into Western culture, appropriated if you will... as yoga and meditation, as spiritual thirst, and yes, even as sexual emancipation.
Robert Oppenheimer was involved in translating Mahabharata, the world's largest epic and to some scholars the origin of Western fragments like Iliad and Odysee. It was from this work he recollected so well the passage in which Lord Krishna reveals himself to the reluctant and discouraged warlord Arjuna, encouraging him to take up arms against his cousins and uncles and former mentors, who are forced by duty to side with the Kaurava clan.
Oppenheimer's words are tragic, but the pathos in Mahabharata (Bhagavad-Gita is merely a small portion of Mahabharata, about the center of the tale) is quite different: Krishna reveals himself in his divine form, showing that he is also the lord of death, to agitate Arjuna to follow his dharma as a warrior (kshatriya) and pursue justice alongside his brothers, for the wrongful treatment at the hands of the deceptive King Duryodhana.
It would be too extensive to go into detail about how the greedy Duryodhana tricked the Pandava brothers, the legal technicalities of their claim against him, and the way the strategic positioning takes place in the final chapters of Mahabharata (each named after the hero poised to fall into his death).
It is sufficient to just simply explain that when I refer to the "Pandava/Kaurava conflict line" or "Kurukshetra style conflict", it is the remote possibility that five major powers of the developing world (Pandava) are going to be forced into a conflict with an opposing and essentially "friendly" or "related" alliance of existing superpowers (Kaurava).
Total Annihilation of the West is a Possibility
The parallels are surprising, even if it does not constitute evidence any more than Biblical prophesies about the marvellous resurrection of Israel in a modern day nation-state:
Duryodhana prevented the five Pandava brothers from gaining even a small heritage, and for this reason Krishna explained to them it was their duty (dharma) to wage war against the Kaurava, which they only did reluctantly due to the family ties, and with great respect for the opposing warriors who could only be defeated with guile.
In my analysis this "wild card" may produce some staggering geopolitical events, namely a resurge of international socialism in a softer form (national socialism is already emerging as the end product of the breakdown of financial institutions and national economies). It may heal the rift between Pakistan and India, as unlikely as it sounds, and ally the BRIC powers with a daunting Pan-Arabian union.
Bretton Woods, look out... BRIC is formalizing, and they're setting up a development bank of their own. They are already deeply involved in extending foreign aid in a time, where other budgets are practically frozen. In fact, China is forcing the World Bank to rethink the lending system, because China offers more affordable interest rates to developing economies. The BRICS development bank play comes right after Washington threatened sanctions against India, their traditional ally, for buying oil from Iran.
The Kurava/Pandava conflict lines are forming. BRICS has already made moves to replace the US dollar as reserve currency. Nations and regions that do not naturally - or at least not by any necessity - act like a bloc, are forming alliances outside the Washington consensus, united by a structural pressure from the outside. If the West continually responds to this in a knee-jerk fashion, which is the most likely, considering the universal hegemony exercised by Europe and America for hundreds of years, it could spell total disaster.
The reason is that the West may not be as tight an alliance as it is on surface, not when the money is circling the drain. Loyalty bought is also loyalty lost, when you cannot pay your debts. Gibbons, another prominent author modern day pop scholars hardly bother to study these days, names the use of mercenaries as one of the eminent causes for the decline and fall of the Roman empire.
In fact, if you look at all the main causes, such as the lack of will to fight wars of conquest, the influence of Christianity on politics, the cruelty of the Praetorian Guards, the loss of great generals signifying the collapse of a martial culture, it is all reflected in current USA and even more so in war weary but also ethnically anxious Europe. It spells doom, sudden or protracted.
Oppositely, the forces that are aligning themselves in the developing world, do so out of both necessity and of a shared cultural heritage. This is not apparent to the eye and can best be understood, if you have read my summary of the global riots of 2011, describing it as a conflict between capitalism and "phantom socialism." The point of the article was to point out that "socialism" is a generic trait in human culture and a political imperative, a structural necessity for cohesiveness, at least to some extent.
Whether Brazil, Russia, India, China or South Africa, and potentially a Pan-Arabian Union, have a long experience of being oppressed. This may be as much a product of chance as it is of actual ill will. In Mahabharata the first part of the book describes poverty and exile imposed on the noble Pandavas, because the otherwise unblemished Yudishtira, the spiritual leader of the band of brothers, had an addiction to gambling and lost a game of dye to Duryodhana. It was partly self-inflicted affliction.
The pattern is eerily similar to the way Western colonialism and imperialism has been allowed to shape the course of history for literally every nation, culture and ethnic tribe on planet Earth. It is impossible to deny the craftiness of Western civilization, even if that could be simply a product of simply lucking out in the race for ressources and faculties.
It is also undeniable that other cultures have participated actively in their own enslavement and structural oppression, if by no other means then by what you may call relative predatorial incompetence - incapability to form a focused and coherent resistance to imperialist forces until a certain point.
This is sort of the thread that the West hangs by, as the tide is turning. It is the humane assumption of universal equality, involving also the unspoken concept or lingering suspicion that in a parallel universe any culture or ethnic group could have stooped to the same lows in their effort to climb to the same heights. Resentment, vindictiveness, is for that reason limited. The words of Kipling may be rejected on principle, but in the back of everyone's mind The White Man's Burden as a concept still haunts the conscience:
Not everything the white man produced was absolutely evil. We can count significant advantages, in spite of the enormous destructive effects of Western industrialism and corporatism. And, regardless of the numerous crimes, the massive size of the plunder and genocide of the Western imperialists, people are, more than anything else, determined to look ahead for the future and maintain some level of dignity and generosity and integrity.
"For centuries, Europeans dominated the African continent. The white man arrogated to himself the right to rule and to be obeyed by the non-white; his mission, he claimed, was to "civilize" Africa. Under this cloak, the Europeans robbed the continent of vast riches and inflicted unimaginable suffering on the African people", said Kwame Nkurumah, a former leader of Ghana, but he continued:
"All this makes a sad story, but now we must be prepared to bury the past with its unpleasant memories and look to the future. All we ask of the former colonial powers is their goodwill and co-operation to remedy past mistakes and injustices and stop their imperialist encroachment in Africa…. It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world."
Furthermore, I don't think the majority of Westerners actually prefer or enjoy the role as arch-villain in a new global conflict. Activist movements, civil rights movements, throughout the entire 20th century, has enjoyed the attention, aid and participation of white members.
In a unified identity developed beyond the crude ethno-tribal attitudes governing socities today lies the hope, but it is also the only hope. To think that the world can solve its problems or even continue existing without overcoming this obstacle is illusory. It takes a deliberate step, actions that may actually diminish our own comfort, power and privilges, and not just platitudes. And therein lies the rub, because it is easy to help somebody, if it is for free or relatively cheap - equality will not be for those who currently harvest the benefits of the huge inequality characterizing the planet.
The Inspiring Leaders Come From the Aspiring Classes
This, again, has eerie similarities to the perception of "Westernization" in what may become oppositional cultures. The West is perceived as not only greedy - which is factual, counting assets against charities, and measuring them by social justice - but also as notorious for disrespect for women. Westerners like to perceive themselves as the emancipators of women, but what the world sees is boundless depravity, sexual perversion, pornography as the standard for conduct between the genders.
The world perceives the West far more along the lines of Francis Fukuyama's sociological "masterpiece", "The Great Disruption", with its paleo-conservative and critical perspective, than the neo-liberal or neo-conservative "End of History". To most of the world, and to the degree their cultures do resist American pop culture as normative, the West is a viral infection in their cultural software, designed to knock out all basic social functions, first of all the nuclear family as an institution.
This is the root of Anti-Americanism. It is a reaction to vulgarity, plain and simple. The American conservative, unfortunately, is quite right for blaming liberals, but also hipocritical for lauding Western values over the values of non-Western cultures for which he has even less regard than his own liberal cousins.
There's another unifying factor, the perception of Westerners as deceitful. Whether true or not - the view of the West as being more oppressive or disrespectful to women is highly arguable - it goes all the way back to the way the Native Americans were short-changed. This is factual. None of the promises made by the changing US governments were honored, about 100 million died, so when comes to cost of industrialization USA can rack up at least as impressive a score as Stalin's Russia.
This, again, is not easily understood by the Westerner, because it is not very easy to see yourself through the eyes of a stranger, particularly not when the view is that unfavorable. "The white man speaks with clefted tongue" is the sort of Disney-like racial stereotype we are used to hearing about other races, but we don't hear it about white people, because they have basically wiped out everyone who would dare to even think it.
Africans may be steeped in primitive superstitions, and Arabs may be prone to explode, and Chinese may eat dogs and treat their workers horrifically, and Hispanics may too busy with their swagger, generally speaking. There could be some truth to all these racial stereotypes so commonly distributed by white people, but as for Caucasians, sadly, there can be no doubt that as much as they excel in science and philosophy, they also hold the dubious championship in genocide.
Another reason Westerners do not know that they are often perceived as deceitful and murderous, another reason than fear or dependency on their charity and good will, is that in contrast to what many etnically anxious Westerners fear, others do not actually think of them as such. There is an amazing level of forgiveness in all the former colonies, including South Africa or Zimbabwe, often highlighted as the really bad post-colonial nations for white people.
I am not saying that anti-white crimes are trivialities, but considering the enormous impact Western imperialism has had, there are surprisingly little murmoring about killing white people. The infamous battle song about "killing the boer" in South Africa is ritualistic by nature, comparable to the cries to Muhammed Ali during the Rumble in the Jungle, to "kill" George Foreman. At some point, to serve reconciliation, the ANC might want to replace that song with something less aggravating, of course.
But that all depends on reconciliation, and reconciliation depends on three things: Money, trust and respect, not necessarily in that order. There are sporadic calls for reimbursements for historical crimes during colonialism and imperialism, but again, these are surprisingly few and relatively muted on the geopoltical arena. The battle is not about compensation, but about a fair share, and a place at the table. It is equivalent to Yudishtira's demand to Duryodhana to respect their agreement and end their exile.
In Mahabharata Duryodhana responds in a despicable fashion, denying the brothers any form of sustenance according to their rank, a deed that infuriates many of the Indian kings and makes it easy for the brothers to gather a considerable war party. Duryodhana has to pound on the sacred dharma, on sworn loyalty among his best generals, to keep his army together, and while the warlords siding with the Kaurava clan do fight to the best of their ability, their morale is low from the beginning, because they fight for a leader they cannot respect.
Oppositely, the leaders rising out of the actual "new world", from Chile's Allende, toppled by an American coup, over Iran's Mossadeq, toppled by an American coup, to Che Guevara, assassinated by CIA, and Fídel Castro, placed under lifelong embargo for liberating his country from being a whorehouse and casino to gangsters in power suits, to such figures as Hugo Chavez and Russia's Vladimir Putin, call out enormous loyalty from their supporters.
These figures are neither unblemished nor unchallenged from the inside, far from it, but if you stretch the canvas to include the most inspirational names from the political scene in the 20th century, you will find that they were all revolutionaries from another etnic background than European:
Mohandas Gandhi, scorned by Winston Churchill as "a fakir in a loin cloth", Martin Luther King, an African-American preacher and leader of the civil rights movement, and Nelson Mandela, imprisoned for 29 years for opposing the racist oppressive Apartheid regime, are the three most respected political figures, no contest. They all fought against injustice, willing to pay the highest possible price, whether loneliness, torture or death.
A World Without USA Entirely Is Becoming a Possibility
Right below these ultra-charismatic characters you find African-Americans of an Islamic persuasion, like aforementioned Muhammed Ali, and Malcolm X, both universally respected for their proud defiance of racism and imperialist warfare. Numerous white people have supported the same causes, inspired millions, held speeches, marched, rallied crowds, sacrificed, and their efforts aren't inferior, but it is noteworthy how naturally the most passionate are also those who are kept at the lowest by the current apex of power.
Now, as the power balance shifts, most notably with the rise of China as the second-largest economy next to USA, it is still the West that holds most of the aces. The dollar is still reserve currence and a magic wand for the American economy. Large parts of production may be lost, but Europe and America can still compete on innovation.
When it comes to military, USA alone accounts for nearly half of the global military spending, and her forces are so technologically superior it is still considered impossible for a conventional force to fight US forces on level ground. Combined with the traditional support from Europe and Australia, forming even a reluctant alliance around the old ethno-tribal axis, a well-motivated imperial force would be nearly invincible.
The question remains why USA has begun losing her wars in spite of vast superiority and deployment of hideous weapons of mass destruction. That has to do with politics, the rationale behind a war, and the lack of understanding of geopolitics, a form of ignorance I have accounted for in the former paragraphs.
There is, however, one major area where the West tends to overestimate her muscle, and that is nuclear weapons. Americans frequently state, quite naively, that they could bomb the world to smithereens, turn it into the "glass parking lot" of a saying that has become eerily common in the USA. Technically, Russia and China combined out-nukes USA, and no doubt the threat of MAD is what has kept USA from using nuclear weapons to avoid losing wars since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
That means, essentially, that a wide variety of conventional wars can take place under the nuclear curtain that covers all the world. It also means something else: The West can lose, and defeat can be abject and total, even without a nuclear holocaust. It all depends on the ferocity of the conventional forces. But like in Mahabharata the decks are not evenly stacked: One side has all the major war heroes of legend, the other side has noble and powerful fighters, but they are up against mythological beings.
Again, the parallel does not fail to amaze, because in this world, in this reality we live in, the forces we operate - perhaps not the individuals - are of mythological proportions. The very thought of challenging NATO in a conventional conflict is highly discouraging, particularly for a band of world powers that aren't very interested in fighting a war, find themselves at least ten years behind the curve when comes to war technology, and really have much more in common with the West than they would like to admit, even in a good spirited diplomatic session.
There is only one way the current scenario can turn into a Kurukshetra style conflict, and that is by betrayal. If Western ethnocentrism is prounounced enough, and the West at a crucial juncture of negotiation fails to grasp the urgency of the situation, falling back into power and ressource grabbing, and grossly neglecting the interest of the other half, conflict is unavoidable. The insults required to trigger actual resentment are just a formality.
The grievance over past transgressions that the rising nations are willingly suspending for the sake of perceived privileges and advantages in the future will then flame up in what Western supremacists like to call "reverse racism", and it will be hotter than white racism, because anger is more fierce in the recently wounded than in the one who fears a wound. Even under such circumstances the West cannot be defeated in a head-on confrontation.
Like in Mahabharata it will take an incremental process, a relentless destruction of her main power catalogue and talent base. However, this has been done before on smaller scale, most notably by the Vietnamese General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan, applying the Eastern military doctrine outlined by Sun Tzu to defeat the vastly superior American forces.
The technology and the intellectual faculties to do it exist in raw form, whether it is the Chinese superiority on cyber espionage and warfare, or it is the much dreaded EMP that temporarily steals all modern advantages from the battlefield and introduces pre-WW1 conditions, or it is the spiritual lessons of the Vedic tradition that, however peaceloving and reluctant to warfare, contains a systematic deconstruction of the concepts of life and death, preparing the Hindu for the inevitability of death, on a level of tranquil acceptance that cannot be compared to similar passages in the Torah, the Gospel or the Quran.
If Indians ever engage in a large scale war, be prepared to go total, because at the heart of Indian tradition lies a stubbornness and detachment so profound, it can best be described as serene like a well oiled machine. Add to that the possibility of the Kashmir conflict to grow into a dwindling trifle, bonds mended with Pakistan and in turn with the other Islamic brother nations, the influence of stern Russia and of cool calculating China, and possibly the majority of the Latin American continent, along with half of Africa.
This would not be the fabled "clash of civilizations", but a war of attrition better described as the gradual and inevitable collapse of Western civilization. And that is the core of Samuel Huntington's message, the real fear of the Western conservative: Everyone against the West, with nothing to turn to but nuclear weapons, but Russia sitting tight with the finger on the retaliation button, making sure the battle runs along the pre-ordained lines.
Tragically, and with all the irony of fate, the Clash of Civilizations may be a self-fulfilling prophesy. Many have already commented on that. The core doctrine of US foreign policy can be summed up as: "If you want peace, you must be prepared for war." However, that line of thinking may not adequately fit the current sitution, but be exactly what triggers the total collapse of the West.
I have, in previous articles, rather accurately described and to some extent predicted the trajectory we are currently following. When I declared the end of American empire, I was cautious not to declare the end of USA as a nation-state or even as a superpower. It was a time where few bloggers dared to admit it, and where no established media outlet had more than flirted with the thought. A few months later the concept was current, and by now it is more or less gospel, even if the empire optimists still put up a desperate fight.
As I put forth this analysis, it is my assessment that in one possible future, depending on the attitudes and moves of the Western powers, we may see a situation, where USA cannot even manifest herself as a superpower, curbed even further than Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Further down the road, and not too far from that point, we may be able to envision a situation, where USA does not exist as a nation-state, at least not in the current form. Balkanization can occur, even in the "land of the free." Poverty has the "miraculous" ability to change all game plans.
Pan-Arabian, Pan-Hispanic and Pan-Asian Identity
Whether that is a good or a bad thing is not something I will elaborate too much on. This is not punditry, but analysis. For what it is worth I do not personally believe it would be a good thing to see North America politically castrated and spiralling into separatism, if not for any more noble or humanitarian reason then at least for the sake global stability. Not that USA is a guarantee for peace or any level of stability, in my view, but I am a firm believer in the careful stacking of checks and balances to any hegemonic power. That's where I come from, and enough about that.
Extrapolating from the current trajectories, needs and agendas as they are revealed to the scrupulous eye, we are headed for a cross-road that demands a series of responses to what I call political imperatives. Political imperatives are challenges posed by structural demands that no politician, regardless of ideology, can afford to ignore or neglect. The deadline, according to recent CIA reports, is 2030, but I doubt we have that much time to pause.
As a general observation in this day and age earth-shattering geopolitical events tend to occur at a much more rapid pace than the professional projections suggest, even as the conservative estimates are being second-guessed, cross-examined and negated as wildly paranoid and fearmongering. The reality behind the political curtain of so-called parliamentarian democray is so grim it can only be expressed in understatement.
What is today, rather vaguely, called "ressource war", will likely play out along very predictable lines. You can easily translate the American slogans and buzz-words of 2011 from the Occupy movemenent - the 1% and the 99% - to the geopolitical scene. In this broader context the West is the 1% and rest the 99 with a grievance. If things follow the trajectory of 2011, for instance, the West will respond like the top managers of mismanaged banks and corporations, pulling together all ressources to try to impose an ultimately self-defeating and self-destructive totalitarian control mechanism to avoid what is in the corporate lingo called "issue management."
The issue management of the West has been terrible so far. When comes to the financial crisis, all responsibility has been ducked, no investigations launched, no comprehensive reforms of the financial system and institutions undertaken, save for some law suits and the much hailed austerity policies.
As for foreign policy, USA and her allies have overreacted to a disaster of mere 3000 lives lost on September 11. Mass death in this scale is significant enough, and tragic to those affected, but in the geopolitical context it is commonplace to many other countries, and people rather frequently snap out of collective psychosis after destruction on a far larger scale than this. It has not yet occurred to the Western powers, in spite of the fact that war fatigue has finally set in with the population.
In other words, from a cynical perspective, the West responds like a virgin princess whose feet have never touched the ground. It is almost a decade ago I suggested the Christian parable of the unfaithful steward as a recipe for issue management and damage control for the West, urging the hyper-industrialized countries to pay out dividend in the form of real and genuine investment in development projects, using the "unrightous Mammon" as a method to gain friends and loyalty among the afflicted, seeing that the end of Western hegemony had been announced, almost as if by a trumpet in the sky.
This was not something I did out of charity or any other religious vision, but a good parable is a good parable, and nowhere did it seem more apt than in this case. However, China took the initivative with her now famous oil-for-development program, practically setting up a global network of trade and exchange of goods and services, which was possible for two reasons: China may not have an impressive past record on human rights, or even decent standards for worker's rights, but she has not invaded, colonized, exploited and plundered Africa, India or Latin America.
Even with the smaller East Asian countries tensions are far less than the Western press would like to imagine. Tibet is much less an issue than the Western press makes it by tooting Dalai Lama, in order to try to cut off control of the water supply for the Chinese irrigation project. Dalai Lama is essentially a celebrity cleric elevated to stardom, because he controls, to some extent, an important geopoltical pressure point against China. Again, this about finding fault lines and exploiting them.
Likewise with Taiwan. The issue is on ice, relations stable. Australia has, to a large degree, chosen the future, and in doing so aligned herself closely to Chinese interests, with significant objections to the expansion of American military presence in the Asia Pacific. To ASEAN countries as well as to China President Barack Obama's recent statement that the foreign political focus would change from the Middle East to Asia Pacific - in line with what I had already taken for granted in series of "cold war" articles about Sino-American relations - is taken as a rather ominous sign.
The predicted Pan-Asian Identity as an effect of it is still waiting to emerge, but signs are showing, not least the ferocious protests against the American-Korean trade agreement following Barack Obama's visit to South Korea and brief tangle with a prominent Chinese reporter, who commented: "We are all Asians here", sending a clear signal of intent, and without being interrupted by the South Korean hosts.
Likewise, 2011 gave an impressive example of budding Pan-Arab Identity. The African Union will naturally try to assert itself, inside or outside the US Africom as it is convenient, and the many unscrupulous and largely failed state engineering projects by CIA in Latin America has effectively paved the way for Hugo Chavez's quasi-totalitarian, but ultimately more parliamentarian socialism, also in other countries, with the vast majority of the continent today being "pinkish."
If America is Predictable, so is Europe
The ability of the somewhat superficial multicultural project to penetrate these new ethnocentric blocks is largely dependent on the allure of Western values, and the allure of Western values rest, again, on interest, sincerity and diplomacy. If, as it would seem these days, the West draws into ethnocentric isolation, the formation of rivalling blocks will occur accordingly, possibly with near-perfect symmetry.
Here's the second big paradox of American politics, because the very liberalism that people outside fear, dependent as they are to a larger degree on a staunch paleo-conservative social structure, is also what many of the younger generations are helplessly gravitating towards. Well used liberalism is the best weapon of the American neo-conservative, and in a way America's most amiable trait.
The problem, once again, boils down to issue management. The election of Obama was, from this perspective, mostly a charade, a cheap parlor trick without the intended geopolitical effect. This too was predicted by many sources, who are knowledgeable politics in Africa and the Middle East. Obama's origin simply did not matter to people outside as much as the factual foreign political stance and initiatives to end the wars and shut down the torture chambers.
The scandals of sexual abuse and random murder of civilians and other obscenities are, by the Western command, mostly perceived as a cosmetic error, however potentially fatal. That is the essential problem with spin, professional information management, known to any good business consultant: It does not matter if you start communicating in a different way, if your actual management remains the same. That's where issue management comes in, and that is where the West has flunked the last three major tests.
So, we are dealing with a fairly intransigent quantum, which makes it easier to make predictions. The West, unfortunately, is predictable on all the wrong counts. In the field of global investment predictability is one of key parameters by which a nation is measured. But naturally, it has to be predictability about "good" things, such as free market reform, low risk of revolutions and possible nationalization, seizure or destruction of assets.
As for the West it is in a financial turmoil that makes investments risky, while the predictability when comes to using the military instrument to solve problems is near absolute. In spite of skyrocketing debts and austerity cuts on all other areas, the military budget continues to be burgeoning, following an ancient and outdated defense doctrine coined right after WW2.
Unlike full-blown crisis, in times of pending crisis people tend not to make changes. Petrification sets in. If USA is predictably "muscular" as it euphemistically called, then Europe is predictable too. The Transatlantic Alliance is not easily broken, because it rests on mutual fear and mutual interest. Prisoner's Dilemma requires a threat of sanction, a negative incitement, and the outlines of this are just slowly emerging: The prospect of being just like everybody else, dragging the tail through muddy water.
But disruption will set in, depending on the grade and rate of impoverization, and when it does, the "blood in the water" principle will set in. Rivals will be emboldened.
In the light of America's youth and past history, and her boisterous over-confidence, I find it highly unlikely she will adopt a more genuinely benevolent attitude to developing nations. And as America goes, so goes Europe, for as long as she is dependent on the American arm for her safety. All this just to form a framework around my previous predictions, not because they actually need it, but because the presentation may need it, to be convincing.
Activists in the West have protested the agendas on WTO and G8 meetings for decades, calling for debt cancellation for the Third World. Ironically, it is now the first world in dire need of debt cancellation. Ominously, Greece, the so-called cradle of modern civilization and first Western democracy, has been taken over by a non-democratic, "technocratic" government, which may very well point to the future of the Western project: Democracy is so important you cannot leave it up to people and elections.
All down the road, with the elegance and poise of a well-dressed idiot, the West has ignored every critical warning, including the warnings about the derivative market and its tendency to automatically create increasingly devastating bubbles and combustions - a warning given by none other than Warren Buffet, regularly the world's wealthiest man according to Forbes. There's about a year's interval between that.
I have no illusion that the element of warning in this article will be heeded in time. When these predictions are irrelevant, everybody will feel they thought the exact same thing all the time, and lament that nobody did anything in time to prevent what may be called a quite foreseeable disaster. It was not painful for me to announce the end of American empire - I will be that open and admit that. It is, however, both saddening and unnerving to announce the possible breakdown of the entire Western system of governance.
There was never anything wrong with the ideals the Western powers peddled through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, after World War 2, or the US Constitution for that matter. On paper it is all good. When compared, however, to the actual compliance by the West, it is not at this point significant enough to justify any action by NATO on behalf of those who suffer from the remaining 30 percent of "native" oppression, abuse and genocide.
And so it ends, not with a bang, and not with a whimper, but with a series of predictable implosions, starting with the destruction of the dollar as reserve economy, when the long powder fuse of the current financial crisis has run to its unavoidable destination. We're past the point of no return already, but it is never too late to encourage compassion and brotherhood, particularly not since the table is about to turn, and too many are still convinced the West is, as they say, "too big to fail."
In Summary: Nations are Players, Not Ballistic Objects
Even Mohandas Gandhi, affectionately known as Mahatma, was for all his pacificism a man who despised a coward and quite preferred someone who stood and fought - if unable to practice ahimsa - than someone who ran. The Indian battle for independence was an actually battle, and Gandhi for all his virtues and noble characteristics was nothing like Richard Attenborough's movie. He was not "a naked fakir in a loin cloth", but a shrewd politico who very well understood the nature and composition of the British empire, and what state it was in at that point in history.
Our problems in life usually begins, when we start believing something that simply isn't true. The West has become accustomed to a hoard of assumptions and meaningless clichés about the world, but Russia is not actually a bear, and China is not the Ming dynasty in a Mao shirt. India is not a land full of pacifists chanting in the lotus position by the Ganges, as the Western backpackers soon learn, as they land. In India robbery may be rare, but you can be stripped down to your shirt in a thousand different elaborate confidence scams. Likewise, Brazil is an actual nation and not a music video or a tourist brochure.
And nations have wills. As Plato said, a nation is like an individual writ large, except more easily quantifiable. There are things to be known about the world, even in times of peace. If, as they say, war is God's way of teaching Americans geography, the current zero-sum approach to the global development is likely to give USA a thorough lesson in said discipline. The question already is if America will be able to remember her own name after that - as it is, the failed invasions of the Middle East and Africa has profoundly changed the face of America to an extent, where her status as the world's leading democracy is very much in doubt.
At this juncture it seems like more than accidental how supra-national rhymes with supernatural. The embarassing spats at the last couple of COP conferences have highlighted how toxic Western arrogance and desperate clinging to power is for progress, perhaps more so than more egregious and more aggravating factors that are habitually overlooked in a world, where imperialism is the fundamental basis for all geopolitical speculation. Even among those who designate themselves anti-imperialists, the temptation to wield the sword of the blue star of the Atlantic is overwhelming, as we can see in the curent case of Syria.
The fact that Syria is another stepping stone to Iran and a more or less publicly announced part of the agenda for world Western domination does not stop human rights naivists from temporary suspension of pacificism in the vain hope that, just this time, unlike all the past imperial wars, the use of brute force will accomplish something good. NATO relies on this empire optimism and can continue to harvest appreciation points by utilizing whatever side in whatever conflict may be ready to give up self-determination for the sake of a immediate victory over, for instance, a de facto dictator like Assad.
However, this dynamic cannot continue, pressured as it is from the inside by an ever more strenous financial position and from the outside by powers that increasingly manifest themselves as what they are, aggregated will power, rather than microquanta in a macroquantum under the US Stratcom system, mechanically responsive to crude ballistic manipulations.