What Drives the West’s Self-Destructive Belligerence?
That is how the corporate-funded Atlantic Council – NATO’s defacto public relations front and think tank – is describing the current agenda of the “transatlantic community” during their celebration of the “25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 15th anniversary of NATO’s first post-Cold War enlargement, and the 10th anniversary of the “big bang” enlargements of both the European Union and NATO.”
Readers might notice that the EU and NATO’s “big bang” enlargements occurred long after the Cold War ended – in other words, long after NATO’s alleged reason for existing expired. Yet it not only continued to exist, it in fact expanded and continues to expand to this very day. Its presence in Ukraine and Georgia via proxy regimes installed through now admitted US-backed subversion is reminiscent to Nazi Germany’s aggressive pre-war expansion. Russia then, as it does now, realised that with Nazi Germany nearing its borders, buffers against what was an existential threat were necessary.
Buffers vs Empire Building
While Russian leader Joseph Stalin was a brute, and his seizure of Polish territory undoubtedly an act of aggression, it was one of several factors that helped slow the Germans down long enough for the Soviets to turn the tide and eventually win the war.
Today, similarly, Russia seeks buffers. Rather than construct them from seized territory, it has attempted to maintain its neighbours within its sphere of its geopolitical influence rather than within its own territorial borders. Nations like Belarus, Ukraine, and even Georgia all share close historical, economic, and cultural ties with Russia, much more so than with Western Europe. The arrangement Russia has sought has so far avoided the socioeconomic, military, and legal integration of its neighbours as the European Union requires, and unlike the Atlantic Council’s bold intent to “enlarge Europe,” Russia has yet to declare an agenda to “enlarge Russia.”
Yet in the latest row in Ukraine, it has been portrayed as the “aggressor.”
A recent episode of RT’s CrossTalk titled, “Containment 2.0” concluded that NATO’s continued expansion after the Cold War in the 1990's and early 2000's was designed specifically to encircle and contain the rise of any possible future Russian superpower. While CrossTalk’s guests believed this stemmed from a belief across Washington that the US was a benevolent superpower that held the responsibility of policing the world and determining who could and couldn’t wield power, there is a much simpler explanation backed by the summation of human history. The US is engaged in empire building.
Arrogance Drives America’s Self-Destruction
RT’s CrossTalk guests were perplexed over Washington’s decision to pursue containment against Russia after the Cold War. The decision could only have resulted in Russia uniting and rebuilding itself upon the lessons of its failures in the Cold War and returning as a superpower with renewed vigour. In retrospect, this is all but too clear.
In reality, Western policies makers are driven by the same arrogant mentality that drove all empires before it.
They labour under the delusion that they are invincible, particularly after the fall of the Soviet Union, believing that their military prowess, grip on the hearts and minds of the global population, and economic wizardry were such that no power, however determined to rebuild and reassert itself, could ever challenge them. Additionally, just as all empires before it, the American-led “international order” was built on a geopolitical and economic model of perpetual expansion. “Living and letting live” was simply not an option for Washington, Wall Street, and the City of London.
Combined, this arrogance and need for perpetual expansion has resulted in the one and only possible outcome for any pyramid scheme financial or geopolitical – collapse. The Wall Street-London international order is now in irreversible decline. It has lost credibility, war after war, and is now suffering diplomatic and strategic humiliations it will never recover from. The loss of faith across its own population in its invincibility and “right” to rule as global arbiter alone pose an insurmountable problem Western policy makers have so far found no solution to.
What Russia Learned
It appears that Russia has learned much after the fall of the Soviet Union. It realises, just as the West does, that winning and keeping the hearts and minds of people is essential for the legitimacy of any given geopolitical endeavour. What Russia has learned that apparently the West hasn’t, is that actually earning that legitimacy through consistent merit and substance, rather than multimedia smoke and mirrors, ensures a certain degree of longevity that no amount of money or media trickery can make up for.
For now, Russia is winning because it has history on its side. It is standing up against a superpower that has overstayed its welcome, abused the good faith and intentions of a global population led to believe in it, and has literally destroyed one nation after another in its quest for geopolitical and financial hegemony. Russia’s measured reach means it can profit from its international influence, but not to the point where it poisons those it is trying to influence. For it to continue its success, and for any nation trying to grow in the “age of information” where lies are stripped away faster than they can be told, it must continue to occupy the moral high-ground.
Viewers of RT aren’t swayed by the fancy sets its well-dressed anchors occupy – for these are the same fancy sets and well-dressed anchors the West uses. Instead, they are swayed by a message that not only resonates with them on principle, but resonates with them factually.
Should RT stray from this winning formula, it will only find itself in the same sinking boat as the West. For both the West and the East, there is no real choice between a unipolar hegemony and a measured, multipolar coexistence. The world cannot be convinced to accept a unipolar hegemony – a paradigm that is quickly becoming antiquated as technology renders many of the corporate-financier interests that constitute it irrelevant and obsolete. By choosing a unipolar international order, one chooses eventual and irreversible decline and inevitable collapse.
As Russia, and even China, seek to counter Western sanctions, encirclement, and containment, they must resist the temptation to construct their own empires.
Instead, they must look inward toward socio-economic and technological development that renders restrictions placed upon them moot while reinforcing a multipolar world order of independent but collaborating nations rather than a unipolar order that demands centralised interdependence.
For the West, avoiding the pitfalls that await all empires will require purging the arrogance that fills the diplomatic and political circles among its respective centres of power.
This includes eliminating self-destructive policies like “the reconstruction and enlargement of Europe” and the belligerent expansion of unnecessary military alliances like NATO. For those who acquaint themselves with the policy makers and “scholars” that fill the halls of think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, they will know this is unlikely to occur. Thus, the East is given an opportunity – to either choose a new path forward into a multipolar world, or to repeat the blunders of the West.
• Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.