Thursday, May 19, 2022

The World Order Reset

At the Upheaval, "China’s Ukraine Catastrophe, the Rise of Trans-Atlantis, and a New Age of Power":

What did Vladimir Putin tell Xi Jinping when they met in the cold, blustery first days of February in Beijing? In a ceremony afterwards the two leaders signed a joint-statement condemning the geopolitical audacity of the United States and NATO while declaring the China-Russia relationship to have “no limits.” This was also at this moment when, at least according to American intelligence, Putin promised Xi he would refrain from military action against Ukraine until the end of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, which were then about to commence. Whether this is true or not it is impossible to say, though Russia’s tanks did roll across the border into Ukraine just four days after the games concluded. But in either case the question remains: on the eve of war, what did Putin say was actually about to go down?

We will never know the words they exchanged, but it nonetheless seems possible to point what the two leaders probably thought was about to happen. That’s because neither of the two men has ever been particularly shy about saying what they want. And, beyond all of Putin’s personal fixations with pushing back NATO, and “regathering the Russian lands,” and reuniting the wayward Slavs of Ukraine with the motherland, and generally going down in history as the second coming of Peter the Great, these two leaders have been very transparent about long sharing an even broader dream for their countries.

That dream was described explicitly in their February joint statement, much the same as it has been in many similar previous documents: to “advance multipolarity and promote the democratization of international relations”; to put a stop to “Certain states’ attempts to impose their own ‘democratic standards’ on other countries” through “bullying, unilateral sanctions, and extraterritorial application of [domestic law]”; and ultimately to see a “transformation of the global governance architecture and world order.” In other words: to finally free themselves from the hegemonic post-Cold War global dominance of the United States and the “liberal international order” that it has led since 1945.

But February 2022 came at a unique time because it was the moment, as the document put it, at which “a trend has emerged towards redistribution of power in the world.” This was a moment in which, as Xi has described it, “the East is rising, the West declining.” The United States and its dominion appeared be on its last legs.

And it’s not hard to understand why they might have looked at the West and seen it as collectively decadent, weak, and – let’s be honest – often completely deranged. The Western core of the liberal international order was manifestly divided (internally within Europe, between Europe and America, and within Western societies), lazily comfortable with its dependence on Russian energy imports and Chinese export markets, and largely steadfast in its refusal to pay for its own defense amid what Emmanuel Macron had once labeled “the brain death of NATO.” It was easy to assume, in other words, that the West no longer had the will or capacity to fight – a hypothesis that seemed to have been recently put to the test and confirmed in Afghanistan.

The liberal international order therefore appeared to remain propped up only by, as Putin soon put it, an “empire of lies.” The reality of this only had to be demonstrated with a firm push, and the whole façade was liable to come tumbling down, exposing the rotten pillars beneath and perhaps even causing the whole edifice of the liberal international order to collapse. And, if so, then perhaps this was the moment Putin had long prepared for: a chance to break the back of this stifling Western order in one bold stroke.

And what better place to strike than Ukraine? It was, at least as far as Putin could tell, yet another of Washington’s corrupt client regimes, a fake nation with a fake American-trained military that would, like the fake Afghan National Army, immediately throw down its weapons and melt away as soon as Washington’s diplomats had fled the country – alongside their puppet comedian-president, who would speed across the border in a helicopter stuffed full of cash, just like the last guy. After which Russian forces would be welcomed, if not as liberators then at least with general resignation. With Ukraine’s major cities having quickly surrendered once the Spetznaz simply drove in and raised the Russian flag over city hall, with Kiev probably holding out about as long as did Kabul, Putin’s takeover would rapidly become a fait accompli. Their empty rhetoric about deterrence having failed, NATO would have no option but to stand by helplessly...

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