21st Century Wire
It’s now official: our political leaders are still drunk on 20th century booze.
Egged on by a clique of hereditary banking families, politicos always seem keen to push us into the latest war, only they are not altogether sure why they are actually doing it now. The plans they inherited are based on an old and aging set of principles which may, or may no longer apply to the 21st century world. This disconnect is a real problem, and it’s becoming visible as we speak.
All signs currently point towards the transition towards their plan for a One World Order, but expect a bumpy road ahead…
Certainly by the closing decades of the 19th century, geopolitical theory was splitting into two camps: Global Seaborne Hegemon theory of US admiral Albert Thayer Mahan, and Pan-Asian Landward Hegemon theory championed by British academic and director of the London School of Economics, Sir Halford Mackinder. In both cases however, whether the coming single global superpower attained that status by sea wars, land wars, military or political – economic conflict was certain, as the power blocs collided and the seats of global power shifted. In both cases, throughout land areas and seas regions – pivot or shatterbelt zones, blue water seas or oceans – all would remain disputed.
Two large examples of their influence are the fact that Mackinder’s theories were adopted during Nazi Germany’s disastrous attempt to invade and conquer the Russian heartland, while Thayer Mahan’s enduring theories have a present and current major influence on China’s expanding military naval strategy as it moves to secure sea lanes for global commodities and energy supplies, along with its modern aircraft carriers and anti-ship missile arsenals.
The New Inquiry (TNI), a non-profit group of academics, writers and historians in the US pursues a standing program of publications that analyze and comment the underlying theses of geopoliticians – of chaos and change.
One key critical example was the 1930′s era of the Great Depression and ‘the failure of capitalism’, overlain by a veneer of only-apparent stability. Historians published by TNI, and political economists exploring the causes and optimal conditions for World War II, say the 1930′s were the harbinger of the post-World War I ‘Old Order’ shifting to a ‘New Order’. Orthodox history accepts that further global conflict was effectively terminate with the first (and only one to date) use of atomic weapons in 1945.
Groups like TNI bolster the thesis that the current global situation, and the domestic political-economic situations in the former global hegemons, including the G7 countries and Russia, are now inherently unstable. No stability will be possible until there is the emergence of some kind of New Order. In that perspective, the gathering global crisis is symbolized and made concrete by the following: the Ukraine crisis, the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the growing and real threats to (and by) the continuing existence of NATO and the European Union, the post-2008 global finance, banking and economic crisis and other harbingers such as rapidly-growing instability of the pan-Islamic world. All are vastly significant.
This is because they fundamentally and firstly underline the collapse of 20th century ideology as a defacto driving force in geopolitics. Previous mega-change on the global geopolitical chessboard has always featured, usually at an intense level, a ‘clash of ideologies’. One major example in the current political world is Samuel Huntington’s supposed (but easily contested) “Clash of Civilizations” paradigm. In this paradigm, Islam, like some other major world religions, faces a potent set of life-sapping threats. The Vatican and its Catholic church is fighting to remain relevant as the dominant spiritual influencer in a globalised and spiritually fragmented digital society, while the appeal of “hardcore Islam” ideologies such as Hanbalism, dating from 850 AD, or Wahabism dating from the mid-18th century, can be seen as an ideological attempt at clutching straws in the wind, with survival dependent on rigid command and control socioeconomic structures designed to stave off social development. On the flip side, Judeo-Christian and Zionist-Christian centric ideologies are projected in order to confront and stave off the spread of Islamic social reforms.
VLAD’S NEIGHBORHOOD: NATO and the EU moving eastward to surround Russia (photo Global Clarity).
In the 21st century, this key role of ideology is not the game-changer though. The decline of orthodox ideologies underlines the critical role of chaos in the process of change. Neither Huntington, nor any serious historian would signal the presence of ideological dictatorships in today’s world. Yes, aspects of this Old World paradigm still exist, but on the whole, there is a much more sombre and threatening mass confusion of the elites, rank political incompetence, and constant prevarication – playing for time when time is all but counted and nearly up – ironically, pushing the geopolitical clock back to the power-politics of World War I.
Old Order Somnambulism
Taking only the Ukraine crisis as an example, this can be instantly analyzed as a Mackinder-type geopolitical and hegemonic attempt by western Europe (EU and NATO) to push eastward, and with Russia pushing back westward – resulting in armed conflict after the economic sanctions “warm-up” or interlude.
Most astonishingly however, is that today’s version of this ‘geopolitical instinct’, which in its current “eastern Europe pivot country” context dates back to the 15th century – 500 years ago – and has no really evident or clear logic involved in it. It is the purely instinctive action of political sleepwalkers who find themselves in power in the 21st century. Today’s political leaders lost – because now the ideological crutches are gone. Still, think tanks who appeared like mushrooms in Washington during the post-WWII scene continue to churn out reams of papers and foreign policy fantasy, taking stabs at the past, and future. Politicians, who a general empty vessels when it comes to academic concepts and philosophical maxims, remain lost and at the mercy of whatever last week’s idea was.
The West’s nudging of the situation in the Ukraine is a prime example of this. Provocation has been heaped on escalation. What were the leaders of the Western powers thinking? Certainly, they are not thinking that the European Union is a neo-Christian empire with a God-willed mission to march eastward, except on paper and in theory. Why the EU stubbornly refuses to accept and admit Muslim majority Turkey to the Union, is an unanswered question. Doesn’t the EU want to extend its footprint into the Middle East and Asia? Is the EU a Christian Union, like Charlemagne’s empire? There are sound reasons for and against this, but we still wonder why.
The Political Disconnect
There is a disconnect which has taken place in North America and in Europe, between the words and ideas of the political classes and the general public. With the ideological rallying points gone from the scene, politicians have no hook to catch public support. An attempt to frame ‘humanitarian intervention’ as a type of trendy, social media-esque replacement ideology was abused early by politicians and thus, has worn thin quickly. How, or why the Ukraine crisis has any meaning at all to average Americans, outside of Washington, is another question – but with no answer at all.
To be sure and certain, Russia has little in the way of concrete economic gains on offer from extending westward into Ukraine, but logic has a very small role in the high-level process of geopolitical change, in this current case. Russia’s chessboard moves were forced ones, just as America’s hand would be forced should the same scenario take place somewhere in North America – action, reaction. Again, we are forced to shift back to the 1914-era to find applicable models. Historians still debating the causes of World War I, not II, mostly agree that this war started through a constant and confused, cacaphonic interplay among political deciders and heads of state unable to understand what was happening. This was a permanent disconnect with the real world – one that could only end in tragedy.
This is where we are today. Some think tanks, like the Project for a New American Century, or the Foreign Policy Initiative, believe that the west can still ‘manage the chaos’, and are egging on political leaders to give it a try. The results are not always favourable, and lessons are rarely learned.
From a historical perspective, today’s political elite – especially in Europe – looks back on 1914 heads of state with disdain. They go on to imagine that the 1914 war ended “nearly a century of relative stability and peace in Europe”, terminated by hapless, out of touch, and stupid leaders. World War I, to be sure and certain was firstly triggered in the Balkans – where the current action still is, but secondly, had much less meaning or reason than World War II, which had a huge ideological component to it.
Since the 1990′s, and accelerating, the political elites of today have on one hand, accepted or welcomed the collapse of ideologies, but on the other hand have multiplied, not reduced, the geographical focus regions and the political-economic motives for conflict.
The US rampage in Muslim majority countries since 2001 is one baleful example. This was an unmotivated, supposedly pre-emptive geopolitical lunge. Islam was demonized, and became diabolic. This was the foundation for the neoconservative, short-term Hunnington-style, ‘clash of civilizations’.
Betraying what can be called “a lurking sense of shame and fear of revenge”, the western cult of ‘national security’ was then ramped up to giddy heights in North American and European countries, as an animated pseudo-ideology, or neo-doctrine, but in no way – despite how much US and British government inflate its purpose, does it hide the real and complete absence of ideology.
Based completely on fear and coersion, the neo-doctrine of the national security cult, needs a constant fresh new enemies and repackaging of old ones, in order to remain inflated and appear relevant. Following the Ukraine crisis, Russian cyber-criminals “undermining the West” could be added to Islamic computer programmer devils threatening the Western economy and its security, and Chinese industrial spies but to be sure, all this is only a playact. It can only be an interlude before the real affirmative action comes – which is usually a military one.
World War ‘Reset‘
Historians also seem to agree that World War I was not only overdue and inevitable when it broke out, but vastly accelerated global geopolitical changes that had become certain, and were awaiting their trigger moment. The Middle East of today, we can note, is essentially a Treaty of Versailles map-making exercise, with a post-World War I date stamp of the 1920s.
Massive changes in the region, and the world since World War I only serve to intensify the unreality of what we face today in this region, symbolized and made concrete by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Almost endless proof has been given, and continues to be given that heads of state toying with a “just and lasting solution” to this conflict are disconnected with reality. They can be called hapless, or stupid but still no progress is ever made. The endless ballad of US and European officials to Jerusalem and Arab capitals has in global geopolitical terms, been downsized to its real significance… of almost nothing.
For the new global economic powers of Asia, including China and India, as well as Japan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has no meaning, and the east has no genuine interest. It is a relic feature of the Old World Order. It is an old Western ritual of previous, but now lost, geopolitical reach and power. Israelis and their Zionist American sponsors have a few desperate plays to try and make the Israeli-Palestinian relevant to the east – like attacking Iran. The logic behind it is insane and it would require some deception to pull off for sure, but it’s a loser in the end because it’s based on relic thinking. Gradually, the world at large is realising what was obvious to some all along – that Israel has never intended to let go of any land it has absorbed and has only increased its land holdings throughout the farcical “peace process”. Israel had adopted an old US ideology called “manifest destiny” and has used it consistently since 1947. But it’s a very outdated ideology and does not compute with the globalised geopolitical chessboard of the 21st century. When the world eventually realises the scale of Israel’s folly, we might see a window of opportunity open for reform there.
On a global scale, the dangers of this strange and possibly unique global context of instinctive geopolitical urgings, devoid of all ideology but if necessary ending in war, with no external logic or rationale such as potential economic gains, are hard to exaggerate.
Ideological Vacuum – Geopolitical Impasse
The current context thrusts us back to a 1914-era framework and process of geopolitical change, dominated by ‘power politics’ but with the massive difference being that today we have tail-end ideologies counting down and out, unlike the 1914-era with its rising, up-and-coming ideological conflicts. For some historians, including the most-quoted historian of Italian fascism, Renzo de Felice, World War I was the scene-setter for the later ideology-based war of 1939-1945. More important on this analytic basis, World War I was ultimately groundless, but it did help to create the ideological bases necessary for the “real war of civilizations”, World War II.
Today’s greatest danger is probably this: we are dealing with post-ideological and post-rational political mindsets dominated by shortsighted radical pragmatists, who seem able to reset and respond to semi-instinctive geopolitical groping of the types described by Mahan and Mackinder. The difference is that, today, the political elites do not have, or need a rational base or logical explanation, nor definition of what they want to achieve, nor can they articulate their motivations and aspirations.
There is however, an emerging paradigm which seems to excite western controllers which may be a clue to a coming ideology – and that is the rise of the post-modern ‘technocrat’ – who is backed by an accelerating technological and automated industrial and social grid. One visit to the Davos Summit and you’ll see it, packaged as ‘the cutting edge of everything’. The backbone of the post-modern technocracy is definitely a multinational corporate one, a duller, microchip-driven, post-modern continuation of 20th century fascist success nightmares. The technocracy hasn’t fully matured yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Much as the exact causes of World War I are still disputed and debated today – 100 years later. The current geopolitical process of change from Old Order to New Order is likely to become a future debating ground for historians and political scientists too. What we can conclude at present is that among the convergent drivers of change, we have the “Death of Ideologies” thrusting political leaders and heads of state into permanent confusion. By default, this enables instinctive age-old gropings in order to make their final decisions.
We therefore have a “stochastic model” for global change, where pure chance can easily play a major role – and we will all have to live with the results.
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