Last weekend, the world witnessed absolute barbarity when Hamas terrorists brutally targeted Israeli civilians. The State of Israel responded, as might be expected, with large-scale military operations in the Gaza Strip. The result is growing regional conflict, fueled by historical disputes that go beyond traditional geopolitical considerations. A new world is being born.
An increase in conflicts
If we add to this the ongoing war in Ukrainethe less talked about conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijanthe threat of a resumption of fighting between the Kosovo and Serbiaor even a United States/China war following the invasion of Taiwanthe world witnesses thecollapse of a world orderwhich was based on the phenomenal intervention capacity of the United States.
Generations of intellectuals (also called “progressives”) have helped make us believe that society was in a constant march towards progress. That new ideas necessarily represented an improvement over the wisdom of the ancients.
That democracy should prevail everywhere and bring us happiness.
Return to barbarism
The modern international order based on post-Cold War American hegemony should lead to triumph of liberal democracy. Soviet Union had collapsed and communism no longer appealed to as many people as it had a few decades earlier.
This idea of “end of history” fueled the pride of Washington and its allies. Their belief was that the modern world could be shaped to fit models that were both comfortable and theoretical. That centuries of culture and religion could be transformed by the power of the market economy and cultural liberalism.
However, it is not true that human conditions must always improve, and that a relapse into very uncomfortable lifestyles, in penury and barbarism is impossible.
End of the story ?
It is with this same reasoning that Western elites thought to transform Afghanistan and Iraq thanks to a just the right amount of war. Russian ambitions could be neutralized thanks to a good mix of regional defense treaties and economic relations. China would adopt the Western liberalism with a reduction in customs duties.
THE triumph of the dollar, which financed the growth of the American empire became the foundation of the global economy. As American debt is the most reliable financial asset in the world, America enjoyed the privilege of incredible power in its relations with the great nations, which allowed it to concentrate its military efforts on the non-state terrorist groups and “rogue states”.
The influence of lobbies in America
This belief in a world order supported by American economic and military power, has influenced the way other global players operate.
Foreign lobbies have devoted vast resources to Washington. While the influence of the Israel lobby is most visible, with politicians vocally pledging their allegiance to the Jewish state, since 2016, nations like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, South Korea also invested hundreds of millions of dollars to influence American politics.
The death of the Pax Americana
The assumption of unfailing American support influenced the strategic decisions of nations regarding their own safety. Ukraine gave up Soviet nuclear weapons in exchange for security promises from the Westwhich, for a long time, could constitute a powerful deterrent against a Russian invasion.
THE government of Japan after the Second World War demilitarized in exchange for its own security guarantees from the United States.
Hamas, a creation of Israel?
Decisions made by the State of Israel have also been guided by false assumptions, such as the belief that militant Islamist movements would be easier to delegitimize internationally than other political actors seeking to create a Palestinian state.
As reported by Wall Street Journal few years ago :
“Hamas, to my great regret, is a creation of Israel“says Mr. Cohen, a Jew born in Tunisia who worked in Gaza for more than twenty years. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen saw the Islamist movement take shape, ward off secular Palestinian rivalsthen morphing into what is today Hamas, a militant group sworn to the destruction of Israel.
Instead of trying to rein in Gaza’s Islamists from the start, Mr. Cohen says, Israel has tolerated them for years and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah.
Examining Israel’s decades-long relationship with Palestinian radicals – including some little-known attempts to cooperate with Islamists – reveals a catalog of unintended and often perilous consequences. Time and again, Israel’s efforts to find a compliant Palestinian partner, both credible in the eyes of the Palestinians and willing to renounce violence, have backfired. Potential partners have turned into enemies or lost the support of their people.
Israel’s experience echoes that of the United States, which during the Cold War viewed Islamists as useful allies against communism. Anti-Soviet forces supported by America after Moscow’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 later transformed into Al-Qaeda.
America and Islamism
As Israeli officials have acknowledged, American military supportwhich became a vital part of America’s foreign aid military strategy after the Six-Day War in 1967has influenced Israel’s goals regarding relations with the Palestinians.
Likewise, the belief that non-state Islamic groups are easier to control than functional states has been a permanent and constant blind spot for Washington. The reversal of Saddam Hussein and of Muammar Gaddafi created power vacuums in the Middle East that were filled by the Islamic State and other jihadist groups.
It is important to understand the causes and effects of state actions on innocent people to make decisions that will prevent such disasters in the future.
$34 trillion in debt
The sad reality is that the world order, built on the assumption that American blood and treasure alone can maintain stability and peace is subject to strong tensions. Bad foundations begin to crack.
In September 2001, the American debt reached $3.4 trillion. In 2023, it will amount to more than 34 trillion dollars.
The collapse of the American order also means that we must expect a new behavior on the part of States which adapt to the times.
Israel, for example, ended its previous military campaigns a few years ago against Hamas following international pressure from civilian victims.
Will the October 2023 attack also be subject to similar condemnation? Will Israel care? What are the possibilities for de-escalation?
BRICS and the alternative to the dollar
BRICS nations have recently called for the creation an alternative to the dollar for foreign trade, and even the Bank of England has cited concerns about the power and influence the dollar gives Washington.
Concerns about China and supply chain disruptions due to both covid and the war between Ukraine and Russia have reignited concerns about the dependence on international trade relations, which could have an additional impact on the globalization of the economy.
The imminent US-China war
The war between Israel and Hamas is in part an extension of a larger struggle between great powers, pitting the Russia-Iran-China axis against the United States and its allies. This anti-Western order axis is on the move, enthusiastic about the growth of Chinese economic power and by the internal division of America.
The real cataclysm would be a war between the United States and China over Taiwan.
Xi Jinping keeps repeating that he is preparing China for war. Chinese state media broadcast broadcasts on how an attack on Taiwan would take place. China’s near-constant air and naval exercises around Taiwan look very much like a training. And the country’s economic slowdown is only encourage him more towards military adventure.
We were all surprised by Putin’s desire to invade Ukraine, as well as the ferocity and potential for escalation of the war between Israel and Hamas. Let us not try to repeat this error with a much more ferocious enemy.
History shows that periods of crisis can radically transform the world order. After the Second World War, the West chose the productivist, interventionist, social democratic and inflationist ideology. The multipolar world that is emerging will constitute an opportunity for radical transformation of life.
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