By Viktor BURBAKI (Russia)
THE DYNAMICS UNRAVELING WITHIN THE WORLD SYSTEM AND DRIVING DEEP TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE EXISTING CENTER – SEMI-PERIPHERY – PERIPHERY LAYOUT IS PRONE WITH A PROLIFERATION OF SERIOUS ARMED CONFLICTS. THE WORLD IS ENTERING A TRANSITION EPOCH DURING WHICH A BIG WAR OVER NATURAL RESOURCES AND SPHERES OF INFLUENCE, ALONG WITH A SERIES OF PRECEDING REGIONAL CONFLICTS, BECOME A VIRTUALLY INESCAPABLE SCENARIO.
THIS BIG WAR IS LOOMING ON THE HORIZON AS THE US IS READYING THE SCENE FOR IT IN THE MIDDLE EAST. FAR TOO MANY FORCES SEEM CONVINCED THAT THE WAR HAS TO BE THE SOLUTION OF CHOICE TO THE LINGERING GLOBAL CRISIS.
IN THE MEANTIME, WATCHERS ARE TRYING TO DISCERN THE OBJECTIVES BEHIND THE BREWING CONFLICT. THE FIRST PART OF THE AGENDA IS NOT DEEPLY HIDDEN – THE WAR SHOULD
• help switch the attention of the Western population from the crisis to the fight against a “global enemy”;
• create conditions for writing off the sky-high sovereign debts;
• stop the US slide towards a new great depression, revitalize the country’s economy and give it a fresh start;
• re-institute the US leadership within the world system;
• perpetuate the existing financial order based on the broadly interpreted Washington consensus and the status of the US Federal Reserve as the global money-printing factory.
The same agenda, however, includes a taboo part – the plan is supposed to guarantee the survival of Israel which retains the occupied Palestinian territories and can only exist in the settings of permanent confrontation with its neighbors, provided that the West unwaveringly supports it and the Israeli military superiority in the region continues into the future. So far, Israel has had a potential to crash practically any coalition of Arab countries, while its regional nuclear-arms monopoly serves Tel Aviv both as a means of containment and a safeguard in case an armed conflict does erupt and takes an unexpected turn. Israel absent the enemies surrounding it – a small state with no natural resources on premises – is a picture impossible to imagine. The reason why these days Israel desperately needs a great war are:
• a military triumph would confirm Israel’s high global status;
• the outbreak of war would make it impossible for the crisis-ridden West, especially for the US, the country accounting for 22% of Israel’s foreign trade and known to pour an extra $3.71b into it in direct aid, to terminate or to considerably reduce support for Israel. It is worth mentioning in the context that Germany paid the last portion of compensations to Israel for World War II crimes in 2011. Under normal conditions, propping up Israel alone may seem too heavy a burden for the US;
• the war would put an end to Iran’s nuclear program and spare Israel any potential regional rivalry in the nuclear arms sphere.
The third and, arguably, the top secret part of the big war agenda is the rebuilding of the global colonial system.
Classic colonialism dominated the world for over five centuries and was partially pushed off the global stage only in the second half of the XX century when the USSR established itself as a world power. At the moment, one gets an impression that, due to the logic of the Western economic development, the brief post-colonial interregnum is nearing the end. Under pressure from competitors, the Western economic system is sustainable only as long as it can draw additional resources from the outside. It’s stability takes the existence of a subordinate periphery supplying the world system core at affordable costs.
The recent developments – from the seizure of Iraq and Afghanistan to the rape of Libya and the spill of the Arab Spring – leave no doubt that the world system periphery faces a new round of colonial conquests. The geopolitical process is likely imminent since a power capable of mounting serious opposition to it is completely missing in today’s world, and the only aspect of the situation that currently remains unclear is whether the revival of colonialism will follow a bipolar pattern, with the US and the EU securing a grip on the rest of the world, or some sort of an alternative colonization model is going to emerge.
The world subject to a new wave of colonization will see a sweeping re-codification of the international law and a full scale-demise of its former Yalta-Potsdam framework. The transformation will include a definitive departure from the underlying principles of the UN charter, the elimination, on an institutional level, of the permanent UN Security Council membership, and radical adjustments to the notion that sovereign countries should be treated as equal partners in international politics. In a not-so-distant future, occupation and colonization – if perpetrated in the confines of “recognized” spheres of influence – will be legitimized as substitutes for self-determination and sovereign nations’ rights to stay insulated from meddling. The West is already restoring the two-level format of the international relations which allows complete sovereignty exclusively to the countries belonging to the world system core and leaving the periphery with strictly the amount of decision-making freedom transnational corporations can painlessly tolerate.
Z. Brzezinski expressed with utmost clarity the view that the pillars of the new (colonial) order should be the Greater West (the US and the EU) and the Greater East (Japan, India, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia), meaning that no role is awarded to Russia in the future global politics. Even at present, for example, open talk about imposing international control on Siberia is no cause for embarrassment, and it will take little time before the concept surfaces that the contemporary Russia is the successor to the Russian empire which, in 1884, signed the convention which called for the “efficient occupation” of countries evidently unprepared to handle their own assets. It may happen sooner than anyone can expect that the “efficient occupation” gets a line in the adopted international code of conduct and Russia is confronted with the threat of seeing its right to its natural riches revoked.
NATO is an existing and successfully tested instrument of the new colonization. The alliance’s fresh strategic concept sealed in Lisbon in 2010 states in a thinly veiled form that maintaining the structure of the world system comprising the core and the periphery as necessary for the Western world’s well-being must be a part of the NATO mission. The above is the quintessential aspect of the new vision for NATO: the group of Western heavyweights is bracing for new crusades which have always been economically motivated, and the world’s regions supplying commodities will imminently come under military pressure.
At the moment, the West cannot coexist with countries combining ownership of extensive natural resources with geopolitical might. The West may go on pretending to be unaware of the nuclear arsenals of Israel or Pakistan, a country with chronically poor governance that can’t or doesn’t try too hard to throw out the Talibs, but the spotlight sticks to the energy-rich Iran with its claims to regional leadership, even though the country is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. By all means, Iran’s nuclear program is nothing more than a casus belli – even with no trace of interest in nuclear technologies, the country would still be in big trouble. Moscow should, in the meantime, keep in mind that it is destined to be the next target after Tehran as the same Brzezinski said that in the XXI century the US would develop against Russia, at the expense of Russia, and on the ruins of Russia.
Among other objectives, the big war planners obviously hope to prevent the rise of the Eurasian union. It is clear that their global design implies distributing the resources contained in the post-Soviet space among the Great West and the Great East, and the point of the current projects like Europe from the Atlantic Ocean to the Urals is to integrate Russia into the Western world while amputating its Siberian part. Russia will have to endure plenty of arm-twisting at the upcoming G8 forum in Camp David supposed to coerce it into giving up the support for Syria and Iran and the Eurasian initiatives, as well as to make Moscow subject its tactic nuclear weapons stockpile to deep cuts. Russia will be offered some perks in return, but cannot rely on China’s standing by it, since the Russian comeback exposes China to unwelcome competition in Eurasia.
The lesson stemming from the entire history of the relations between Russia and the West is that Moscow’s beliefs in the possibility of a partnership with it eventually prove to be illusions. Similarly, the history of big wars convincingly demonstrates that the benefits are typically ripped by the countries which are the last to step in. The approach clearly guarantees the wise a place in the ranks of winners. B. Borisov was absolutely right when he wrote in 2009 in his Damned World: “The creation of a geopolitical configuration akin to the Eurasian Union that would make it possible – thanks to the aggregation of coalition might to the formation of buffer zones – to delay Russia’s direct entry into the war (which will not necessarily span the metropolitan territory) should be regarded as a priority in Moscow. Essentially, Russia’s dilemma is to choose between putting together a bloc right now, while there’s still some freedom of maneuver, or doing the same under the pressing circumstances of combat. It must be taken into account immediately that the opportunities to reshape the political landscape on the territories and adjacent to the Russian borders – as it was done in the wake of the recent conflict with Georgia – are evaporating day by day”.
Speaking of the reasons why Russia must not slash its tactical nuclear weapons, one can overlook the fact that for the country, which risks to be the weak side in the coming war, those may be an efficient instrument of damping that conflict at its early phase. Lacking the tactic component of the nuclear warfare, Russia will have to either capitulate or opt for an all-out nuclear nightmare.
RUSSIA IS BEING DELIBERATELY AND PERSISTENTLY GUIDED TOWARDS A BIG WAR. BY THE END OF IT, RUSSIA WILL BE IRREVERSIBLY ERASED FROM HISTORY. WHATEVER DECISIONS ARE BEING MADE BY THE RUSSIAN ADMINISTRATION, THE PERTINENT QUESTION SHOULD BE HOW THEY ARE TO HELP THE COUNTRY MAKE IT THROUGH THE COMING BIG WAR AND GAIN A DECENT POSITION IN THE WORLD AFTER IT. ABOVE ALL, RUSSIA SHOULD BE MINDFUL OF THE SIMPLE TRUTH THAT ITS STRATEGIC AND TACTICAL NUCLEAR ARSENALS ARE THE ONLY FORCES IT CAN AWAYS RELY ON.....
At the moment, we find ourselves in the middle of a turbulent phase of the global evolutionary cycle which commenced in the 1980s and is projected to end by the middle of the XXI century. In the process, the US is clearly loosing its hyperpower status…
Estimates offered by experts from the Russian Academy of Science show that the current period of severe instabilities should end roughly in 2017-2019 with a crisis. The crisis will not be as deep as those of 2008-2009 or 2011-2012 and will mark the transition to an economy built on a novel technological basis. The economic revival will, in 2016-2020, likely entail serious shifts in the global power balance and serious military-political conflicts involving both the global heavyweights and the developing countries. The epicenters of the conflicts will supposedly be located in the Middle East and the post-Soviet Central Asia.
The century of the US global military-political dominance and economic primacy appears to be nearing completion. The US failed the unipolarity test and, bled by permanent Middle Eastern conflicts, currently lacks the resources retaining the global leadership would take.
Multipolarity implies a much fairer distribution of wealth across the world and a profound transformation of the international institutions such as the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, etc. At the moment the Washington consensus seems irreversibly dead and the global agenda should be topped by the task of building an economy with much lower uncertainty levels, tighter financial regulations, and greater justice in the allocation of revenues and economic benefits.
The centers of economic development are drifting from the West, which counts the industrial revolution among the main accomplishments on its record, to Asia. China and India should be preparing for an unprecedented economic race in the process against the backdrop of the wider competition between the economies employing the state capitalism and the traditional democracy models. China and India, the world’s two top-populous countries, will define the directions and the pace of development in the future, but the main battle over global primacy is going to be played out between the US and China, with the choice of the XXI century post-industrial socioeconomic model and political system at stake.
The question arising in the context is how the US is going to react to the transition?
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It has to be taken into account that any US strategy proceeds from the assumption that loosing the global primacy is unacceptable to the country. The linkage between global leadership and the XXI century prosperity is an axiom for the US elites regardless of political details.
Mathematical modeling of the global geopolitical dynamics warrants the conclusion that a victorious large-scale war fought with conventional warfare is the US only option to reverse the fast meltdown of its unsurpassed geopolitical status.
It is an open secret that occasionally non-military methods of pushing rivals off the stage – as in the case of the collapse of the Soviet Union – also work, and the corresponding technologies are being permanently polished in the US. On the other hand, up to date countries like China or Iran evidently prove immune to external manipulation. If the current geopolitical dynamics persists, the global leadership change can be expected by 2025, and the only way the US can derail the process being to ignite a major war…
The country facing an imminent leadership loss has no option but to strike first, and this is what Washington has been doing over the past 15 years. The US specific tactic is to pick as a target not an alternative candidate for geopolitical primacy but countries engaging which appears affordable at the moment. Attacking Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the US sought to handle purely economic or relatively minor regional problems, but a bigger game would clearly require a more significant target. Military analysts hold that Iran plus Syria and the non-Arab Shia groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah face the greatest chances of getting hit in the name of a new global redistribution.
The redistribution is in fact underway. The Arab Spring spun off and managed by Washington created the appropriate conditions for a merger of the Muslim world within a single caliphate. The US plan is that this new formation will help the waning hyperpower maintain its grip on the world’s key energy resources and safeguard its interests vis-a-vis Asia and Africa. No doubt, the challenge prompting the US to compose this new type of arrangement is the swelling might of China.
Getting rid of Iran and Syria which stand in the way of the US global dominance would be Washington’s natural next step. Attempts to topple the Iranian regime by means of inciting civilian unrest in the country failed fabulously, and military analysts suspect that an intervention scenario akin to those implemented in dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan eventually awaits Iran. The plan has serious chances to materialize even though as of today even the withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan presents the US with considerable problems.
The implementation of the Greater Middle East project – along with appreciable damage to the standing of Russia and China – would be the key prizes the US hopes to win by fighting a major war… The design became widely known in the US following the publication in the Armed Forces Journal of the notorious Peters map. The motivation which loomed behind the artifact was to muscle Russia and China out of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, to cut Russia off the South Caucasus and Central Asia, and to disconnect China from its most important energy suppliers.
The materialization of the Greater Middle East plan would ruin Russia’s prospects for a peaceful and steady development as the unstable US-controlled South Caucasus would be sending shock waves across the North Caucasus. Since, obviously, the unrest would be detonated by the forces of Muslim fundamentalism, Russia’s predominantly Muslim regions are sure to be affected.
The US is unable to sustain the Washington consensus any longer relying on economic and political instruments. China’s Jemin Jibao painted the picture with utmost clarity when it wrote that the US grew into a global parasite which prints unlimited quantities of dollars, exports them to pay for its imports, and thus buys Americans lavish living standards by robbing the rest of the world. Russia’s premier expressed a similar view during his November 17, 2011 China tour.
At the moment China is pressing hard to limit the sphere of the US dollar circulation. The share of the US currency in China’s reserves is shrinking, and in April, 2011 the Chinese Central Bank announced a plan to completely opt out of the US dollar in international clearances. The blow to the US currency domination will not remain unanswered, obviously. Iran is similarly trying to reduce the dollar share in its transactions: an Iranian oil exchange opened in July, 2011, where only Euro and Iran’s own currency are accepted. Iran and China are negotiating over the supply of Chinese products in return for Iran’s oil, which, among other things, would make it possible to route trade around the sanctions imposed on Iran. The Iranian leader said his country’s trade volume with China should reach $100b, and that would render the US plans to isolate Iran meaningless.
The US efforts to undermine stability in the Middle East may in part be attributable to the reckoning that the reconstruction of the region’s devastated infrastructures would necessitate massive dollar infusions, the result being the revitalization of the US economy. In 2011, the US strategy aimed at preserving its global leadership started to translate into power-based policies as Washington considers depreciating the dollar holdings among the possible solutions to the crisis problem. A major war can actually serve the purpose. In its wake, the winner would be able to impose its own terms on the rest of the world as it did when the Bretton-Woods system came into being in 1944. For Washington, running the world takes being ready to fight a major war.
Can Iran, given the necessary backing, put an end to the US universal expansion? The question will be addressed in the next article.....