Friday, June 21, 2019

What I Really Wanted To Talk About Today...

Until I understood that I have to provide my blurb on this whole Drone shooting affair, even though I am in the same position as most of readers of this blog--I read news. I also prefer the situation to play out because I am not in the business of predictions of events, I forecast frameworks. That is different than trying to score some points while getting lucky in predicting next market crush or nominations for Oscars. Speaking of which, a notable piece from prominent Indian diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar, whose thoughts are always interesting and incisive and not on India's affairs only. In his one of the latest he writes about US-India discord and notes:
Major historical shifts are taking place in the global power balance and the Western domination of the international system is drawing to a close. Countries such as China and India are steadily reviving, shaking off the stagnation of the colonial era. This is prompting an overall rethink in the US’ attitudes. What is unfolding has parallels in modern history. (See the essay titled A Manufacturing War Between the UK and Germany in the 19th Century Set the Stage For Today’s Trade Crisis.) Thus, in the case of China, more hardline approaches are already quite visible. We should note carefully the controversial remark made recently by Kiron Skinner, the director of policy planning at the US State Department (and a Harvard-educated foreign affairs specialist), that Pompeo’s team is developing a strategy for China based on the idea of “a fight with a really different civilisation” for the first time in American history. “This is a fight with a really different civilisation and a different ideology and the United States hasn’t had that before. The Soviet Union and that competition, in a way it was a fight within the Western family,” Skinner said, noting Karl Marx’s indebtedness to Western political ideas. “It’s the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian,” he said.
I wrote on this not for once. There is an anecdotal evidence of at least part of American elite  exercising views such as highlighted in yellow during Cold War 1.0. At one of the diplomatic receptions during Detente of 1970s one of the American generals, after having few bourbons with cigar was overheard stating that Russians, of course, are sons of bitches, but they are our sons bitches--like us, they like good suits and good whiskey. Chinese, in general's opinion, were different--that is "not our" SOBs. I am in no position to vow for the veracity of this event BUT such point of view definitely existed in the West. In the end, late Oriana Fallaci, in the wake of 9/11 wrote about both WWI and WWII being European Civil Wars. She had a point. But today things are different. 

There is no ambivalence or ambiguity when I state (as did, btw, Edik Limonov) that Russia is a Western country, despite being a Eurasian Empire, Russia IS, it is the combined West which stopped being West. Russia today, despite all her by far not simple problems, as was culturally evident in Soviet times, has more classic Western traits from rationality of thought, to, education, to pardon me, class, than most allegedly Western countries, especially in Western Europe have today. So, in this sense Russia is a Western culture, with a twist, of course. Well, in the end, Russian achievements from science, art, culture to industry are always counted for Western Civilization. But what's left of that Western Civilization today? But even larger question arises: if Mr. Skinner of State Department thinks that US State Department got the Soviet Union right in the first run--I don't think he and his policy "planning" will do much better in case with China. Considering WHO and WHAT was used as the foundation of the anti-Soviet policies on US side during Cold War 1.0 one has to be really clear that what killed the USSR had very little to do with US "policies" but primarily with internal dynamics of the Russia/Soviet Empire whose development and national policies bore the seeds of its own destruction. After all, Esteemed Ambassador Jack Matlock, late George F Kennan and even David Glantz and Jonathan House would agree with me. Especially, as Glantz and House correctly stated that USSR "became the hostage of its own success" after WW II. 

US got lucky first time around and that luck, as I also write in my book, was largely rooted in Soviets own misconceptions about the United States and its intentions. In general, declaring the "victory" in the Cold War was akin to attributing the death of the opponent to getting him a cold while he was dying from the self-inflicted wound of the stomach from a 12-gauge Mossberg. Now, we all know today all those "sources" and tools used by the West during the Cold War--from dissidents such as Solzhenitsyn who, literally, solzhenitsified Russia's history to a class of Soviet Zapadniki who developed a naive and cooperative idea about the West. In other words, even in highly restricted for information exchange days of the Soviet Union, the West had a rather caricature impression about USSR--a fact perfectly illustrated with West's inability to see things right when Russia today has more freedoms than most of the nations in Western Europe and political discussion in Russia makes Western "democracies" look like an Orwell's vision come alive. Now, one wants to convince me that US State Department which became a euphemism for incompetence is capable to develop anything sensible about such massive, ancient and complex culture as China? Really? Do they even have cadres for that? 

No doubt, there are many Chinese who are as pro-Western as are marginal narrow strata of Russia's so called liberal fanatics, but the problem today for the United States is in the fact that it can not sustain anymore the image of shining first world democratic paradise--US is long ago not that, thus it lost greatly in attractiveness. Good ol' material symbols of the West--skyscrapers, highways, shopping malls and fast food, among few others, are widely available in China, and in Russia. Moscow with her skyline can give a run for their money to any American, let alone European city, while having cultural treasures no US city simply has. Same goes for Shanghai which looks 22nd Century. China's economy is simply larger (most likely much larger) than American one. So, will US promote "democracy" among Chinese? Good luck doing that, plus, Russians will share their knowledge of Western-style "democracy" whose modern values today are revolving primarily around sexual perversion, political correctness and economic model which is unsustainable. Oh boy, so much to strive for those Chinese. But let's put it in a plain simple language--it is much harder to BS today than it was in the times of Cold War 1.0.  Behold, both Chinese and Russians today have the ability to see in person or on Youtube what Skid Row is, or what a joy it is to live in the hood while attending Pride Parades. I am sure policies based on that (and that is what, in the end, it all comes down to) will win the day. I kid, I kid. Considering last 25+ years of catastrophic triumphs of American geopolitical thought and diplomatic activity around the globe, I would say that Chinese should concentrate on what they do, while observing how, yet another, shallow and useless "policy" will come out of the deep recesses of the American doctrine and policy-mongering machine. Russians can tell a lot about effectiveness of those.   

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