Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Death and destruction

My analysis of the Ukraine situation has continued to attract criticism. I have been saying for some time that American and NATO strategies are fatally flawed and extremely dangerous. Responding to the latest episode of my podcast, Culture and Value, which was featured recently at The Electric Agora, Daniel Kaufman commented:

"The idea that somehow Ukraine is at fault for the prolonged death and suffering from the war – or those like the US, UK and others who are helping Ukraine – is not only a poor analysis of the situation, it represents what to my mind are really terrible values. Ukraine does not want to surrender. It does not want to hand over part  or all  of its country to Vlad the Impaler and his armies. It does not accept the rape and torture and mass murder that Russia has been inflicting on it. The idea that it should ... in order to satisfy your conception of proper geopolitical order  or that of Russia or any of the other murderocracies and kleptocracies on the planet  is just so out of whack, I don’t even know how to respond to it."

I question some of Dan's assumptions here and naturally reject any suggestion that my values are flawed or my motives tainted. My brief reply to his comment did not deal with Ukraine so much as with what arguably lies at the root of this and certain other international crises (or potential crises): the failure of those currently in power to see and come to terms with a changed geo-strategic environment.

I wrote as follows:

I am not talking about some desired political order. Rather I am noting, as carefully and accurately as I can, current geopolitical and geo-economic realities. I am making the point that the situation has changed over the last thirty years or so and not in ways which favour an overwhelming level of American dominance (such as applied immediately after WW2, and again after the break up of the Soviet Union) in the future.

For example, the US is no longer as economically dominant as it once was. Its share of the global economy has declined from about 40 percent in 1960 to about 24 percent today. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing but it does mean that a broader range of countries will have a say in reshaping the financial system than was the case, say, in the immediate post-WW2 period.

This is important because economic factors underpin military power. And though the USD is strong at the moment, the widely-acknowledged fragility of the current debt- and derivative-based financial system  a system which creates demand for (and so guarantees the value of) the dollar – strongly suggests that the United States will not be able to continue to play, at least to the same degree, the dominant global role which it has played over the last three-quarters of a century.

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