The “financial war” of Russia and China against the West
Today, Russia and China offer the countries of the South, Africa and Asia freedom from Western “rules”.
In the USA national interest magazine (a conservative-leaning newspaper), and, in an unusual burst of frankness, Ramon Marks has an article titled: No matter who wins Ukraine, America has already lost.
In it, Marks observes that “Whoever wins the Ukraine war, the United States will be the strategic loser. Russia will establish closer relations with China and other countries on the Eurasian continent, including India, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. It will irrevocably turn away from European democracies and Washington. Just as Presidents Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger played the “China card” to isolate the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will play their cards to try to contain American global leadership.”
Well, aside from the “it doesn’t matter who wins” nod to the obligatory Western narrative – suggesting that this remains an open question – most of the national interest article is “on the spot”, though completely misinterpreting the context.
Russia and China are certainly engaged in an attempt to change the “rules-based order” of the United States. Not to substitute one hegemony for another, but rather to create the pressure – apart from war – which forces an existential transformation in the Western air. A pressure that leaves the West little choice but to end its expansionist reach into other societies, forcing compliance with its “rules” (otherwise known as neo-colonialism).
Yes, Russia and China are now playing their geostrategic “cards”. And in a way, they are very familiar “cards”. These are the principles of self-determination and respect for sovereignty that emerged from that Bandung meeting of 1955, which came to underpin the Non-Aligned Movement of the time. They reflected the dissatisfaction of the conference sponsors with the reluctance of Westerners to listen and, instead, to impose their uniqueness of view on Asian states.
So just as the United States fully exploited its military-backed dollar dominance in the years following the implosion of the Soviet Union to lock much of the world into its rules-based sphere, today he Russia and China are offering the countries of the South, Africa and Asia freedom from Western “rules”. They encourage the “Rest of the World” to assert its autonomy and independence, à la Bandung.
Russia, in partnership with China, builds these widespread political relationships on control of global fossil fuel supplies and much of the world’s food and raw materials. To further increase Russia’s influence over the energy sources on which Western belligerents depend, Russia is forming a gas “OPEC” with Iran and Qatar, and has also made welcome overtures to the Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to unite to take greater control of all key energy commodities.
Moreover, these big producers are joining the big buyers in wresting the precious metals and commodities markets from the hands of London and America – in an effort to end Western manipulation of commodity prices through paper derivatives markets.
The argument made by Russian officials to other states is both extremely appealing and simple: the West has turned its back on fossil fuels and plans to phase them out altogether – in about ten years.
They chose this path under intense pressure from the United States – a path that, in the case of Europe, will impose misery on their peoples for years to come.
However, unpleasant as it may be for some, the fact is that global economic growth still requires the production of fossil fuels. Without further investment and exploration, it is unlikely that supply will be sufficient in the medium term to meet likely demand. What is not available anywhere is a quick way to increase the physical supply of energy.
Russia’s message to its partners is that there is no need to join this masochistic “politics of sacrifice”. You can have oil and natural gas at a lower price than Europe has to pay. The “Golden Billion” enjoyed the benefits of modernity, and now they want you to give up everything and expose your voters to extreme hardship too.
Russia simply says, “It doesn’t have to be like that.” Yes, climate is a consideration, but fossil fuels are experiencing an acute lack of investment for ideological reasons, rather than depleting themselves.
The point here is that Bandung’s original starting point was that the West simply doesn’t “listen” – it directs and imposes. Western Green ideology, however, cannot simply be mandated for the Rest of the Word — against its will. This argument represents the way for Russia and China to tilt much of the world in their camp.
Russia – tightening the energy screw to give teeth to its argument – is serving a blunt warning to the EU that Western European politicians can either save their skins, by returning to cheap Russian gas, or stay aligned with Washington on Ukraine. The latter course, however, would force him to throw his constituents into misery. And to risk its leaders in the face of the “inconvenience” of a lantern revolt. But the EU cannot do both.
What matters above all is the nature of the European metamorphosis. Is this a tactic or a real “Damascene conversion”? Will we find, in the wake of the Russian energy crisis, an EU sanitized enough to embrace a non-ideological negotiation of the security and civilizational aspirations of others, as well as an exchange based on the means to protect the planet against further depredations? ?