24 March 2013

Unipolar v. Multipolar Paradigms

The Cold War vis-a-vis Eurasian History

While some heralded the end of the Cold War as the victory of Democracy others were more sceptical. In some cases the end of the bipolar world order has created a time of instability and fear. Not a few movies and novels in the 1990’s reflected this.

Some in the United States believed not only had America won, America would now go on to dominate the earth and certainly America’s actions during the latter part of the Clinton era and ever since has been geared toward this end.

However it has proved fatally flawed on at least two points. First, Democracy itself has proven elusive. It is simply not part of the social paradigm in parts of the world. This is not to suggest the people in parts of the Middle East, Asia, and Russia are somehow a lesser people, more given to subjugation, unable to be responsible. Far from it. In fact American Democracy has failed so miserably those attributes could certainly be applied to American society itself. No, the reason it has not taken the same kind of root is the daily cultural concerns of the people in these lands is quite different. Americans do not appreciate the role of history or the uniqueness of the American geography. More on this shortly.

In many cases Democracy has led to cultural forces taking political root that posture these countries in a position of non-cooperation and in some cases hostility to American interests. This has forced the United States to speak out of both sides of its mouth. When Democracy produces the ‘wrong’ result, America has shown little in the way of scruples when it comes to manipulation, assassination, coup d’état, or whatever else is required in order to bring about the desired result. Of course this is rightly perceived as antithetical to the values the United States purports to promote. And in the end much of the world realized the United States is the same as every other imperial power. Just like the Soviet Union, the British, or French Empires it hides behind hypocritical ideology and speech but in the end is about just one thing…power.

Secondly, the Cold War paradigm itself was a false one and created a bipolar world order that was a-historical. The United States believed and believes it to be a new paradigm which the United States won. And yet in reality it was something of an historical anomaly, an interlude. Like it or not, the reason certain countries took the positions they did during history was due to geographical and cultural reasons which have not changed. 1945-1991 created a unique situation that forced nations to act in some cases against historical interests. But though the United States continues to try to coerce and manipulate, the world is reverting to what it once was before.

To be sure it’s never exactly the same, but just as the Balkans tried to revert to pre-World War II paradigms as soon as Communism fell, today we see the post-Ottoman/Cold War Middle Eastern paradigm collapsing, and nations and peoples reverting to historic roles. And the future will prove an ugly one unless new orders and alignments are formed….one’s rooted in historical reality, not a forced order from outside of history… a forced Pax Americana.

The American public is unable to grasp any of this and is completely subject to media spin as we’ve seen time and again over the past couple of years. I sat with astonishment watching the media and Obama just flat lie and deceive when it came to the toppling of Mubarak. Some perceived the initial hesitation as caution or perhaps indecision. In reality the removal of Mubarak was a major strategic defeat for the United States.

There are many foolish people who believe Obama is a secret Muslim and in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood and that he supported this from the beginning. There is absolutely zero evidence for this. Obama did not apologize for American actions in his famous Cairo speech. He was trying to cool down the raging hot fires of the Middle East after eight disastrous years of the Bush administration which did incalculable harm.[i]

The downfall of Mubarak put the whole Camp David accord at risk which had been the platform of Middle Eastern stability for over thirty years. No one in Washington would have wanted to put that at risk. The United States viewed Egypt as a power ally and exerted considerable control over the country through the tight relationship between the Egyptian and American military forces.

Why does the United States sell fighter jets and other arms to countries like Egypt? Even the post-Mubarak Egypt? The sale of F-16’s has caused a near hysteria in some circles.[ii]

Aside from Lockheed Martin doing very well, it gives the US Military a mechanism for strengthening the relationship with the Egyptian military. If the Egyptians don’t do what they’re told, weapons and parts can be withheld. There’s also the issue of debt and financing. The loan can be tweaked if non-compliance is an issue and make life difficult for Egypt in the international banking and finance community.

Also, the sale allows the United States to continue fostering the close relationship with the Egyptian military through advisors, training, Egyptians coming to American schools etc… This can come in rather handy when the time comes to possibly remove Morsi or whomever from power, or perhaps to check his power when the military works against him and countermands his orders.

Again I have to believe even some of the so-called Christian commentators understand something of this…but the truth is rather inconvenient for their audience. Hype and propaganda and always a great deal of fear are much more useful.

After 1991 NATO struggled to find a raison d’être, a reason for existence. The threat of Russian tanks storming across the Northern European plain now seemed a distant and inconceivable threat, if it ever was one to begin with.

And so NATO in order to continue functioning as a mechanism for the American Empire had to be re-cast. And it was in the Balkans where this occurred. The Serbs were non-compliant with the American claim on Eastern Europe and due to their historical associations with the Russians the only time to act was when Russia was down. Like Bismarck who moved when Russia was re-aligning in the post-Crimean period, the United States decided to move while Moscow languished under the weak transitional rule of Yeltsin. Serbia was slapped down and brought into compliance and NATO’s role shifted to that of a joint European-American power projection. Many in Europe were and still are uncomfortable with this while the new regimes in the post Warsaw Pact scrambled to join. Being within NATO means security and for the many countries caught in geographical and historical middle, security means a lot more than freedom.

It’s interesting though that once again Germany finds itself stuck in the awkward middle. The European Union was formed in the post-War era in order to create a stable order that would keep the nations of Europe from going to war against one another. For some Europeans they resented the new bi-polar order which for most of them meant domination by the United States. While some (particularly in Germany and Britain) really and truly believed in the necessity of the United States in the post-War structure, others in places like Italy and France were less than sure.

Stability, mutual interests, respect, these various mechanisms were to prevent Europe from ever getting caught in another 1914 situation. The unification of Germany under Bismarck had destabilized the post-Metternich European order and a formation like the European Union would help to avert crisis causing disparities.

However in the 21st century we find a strange situation. German culture and leadership has put Germany in a situation where they are virtually atop the European economic and thus almost the political arrangement. The economic experiment has largely failed. Disparity still exists and while the poorer countries thought the Union to be real and that they too would be able to participate in an equal standard of living and to join a European partnership, they’re finding that when they were extended too much credit and their fiscal houses were mismanaged… their northern colleagues are reticent to help.

And yet Germany still bears a great deal of guilt leftover from the events of the Second World War and has proved willing to try and help countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, and now Cyprus. However for the citizens of these countries the German imposed austerity ‘feels’ more like subjugation which leaves them asking the very ironic question…..what happened to 1945? Wasn’t Germany defeated? Why then are they essentially running Europe?


[i] I’m hardly the only one to say it. History will not be kind to George W. Bush. His presidency was an absolute disaster on so many fronts and from a Christian perspective further tainted by the fact that so many Evangelicals were within the administration and exerting influence on its domestic and foreign policy. While I’m not a great advocate of international courts or institutions, the man should be tried for war crimes and should be sitting in a jail cell. And if not in The Hague then certainly in Fr. Leavenworth. In terms of the laws of this land and whatever is left of the US Constitution, that wicked man decimated them. His successors will prove no better.


I am often stumped when asked who I think the greatest American president was. I can’t think of a single one that I think of as a good person or someone worthy of regard. I think it’s a list of wicked and wretched men for the most part, some worse than others, but none worthy of some kind of accolade. In the 20th century John Kennedy alone deserves some credit for his actions. He was a wretched immoral man but at least attempted to put a stop to the madness of the Cold War and I believe he was killed for it.


[ii] I’m thinking of Mr. Sekulow and the ACLJ. For them it’s a platform to fan the flames of the Obama/Muslim conspiracy. The recent noise concerning the Ben-ghazi debacle is along the same lines. I think Sekulow probably knows better with regard to the weapon sales. Do I think he’s just being plain deceitful? I have no doubt whatsoever. Christian political power players are some of the worst liars out there. He could be simply ignorant. Many are also very guilty of this, but I believe he has enough influential friends that someone would whisper the truth into his ear. But that’s just it. Truth has nothing to do with it.


Cal said...

This was a good concise summary you put together!

On the issue of Democracy, it's actually a rather funny idea. Now a days we talk and talk about Democracy but the American founders had little room. Conservatives spit this barb out every once and awhile, "We were founded as a Republic". Funny thing is when they whinge about "activist judges" over writing the will of the people. Something about eating cake and keeping it too?

I'm not an anti-democrat, but democracy has produced everything but democracy. Especially here where we go in droves to vote in corporate interests. However the worst is the shining paragon of Athens. The only time of stability was under Pericles, who pretty much ran a 1 man show until he died. He was charismatic and a temperate moderate who negotiated between the extremes of an angry and demanding landed aristocracy, a marauding mob of poor day laborers and a profit thirsty merchant class. Once he died, the whole thing collapsed into endless bloodshed.

But that's not democracy. Put a crown on Pericles' head and nothing would've changed. I suppose the only restraint that if he decided to abandon moderation, he had no royal authority to fall back to.

But I do remember when I was dazzled by neo-con democrats who would praise a man like Themistocles. Brazenly, he lied to the assembly to get his warships to fight a Persian invasion. Ends justify means? Too bad they don't tell the rest of his sordid history of betrayal, theft and personal glory. Yet that's the democracy we have (they say, and perhaps truer) and the democracy we need to export by the bomb.

As for weapons sales: it's funny because of the nature of weaponry today. Even a hundred years ago, you sell enough colts and rifles to a potential enemy. They may turn around and stab you in the back and all you can do is bleed. Now a day, the technology advances so quickly and with all the secret weapons R&D that a majority of my tax dollars probably go to, any country being sold to may reap some material benefit and scare off neighbors, but it has just sold itself into slavery. Of course to Imperium, if it's not Guy A then it will be Guy B who runs the region. Get in line or be crushed. It becomes pigs fighting over the places at the trough.

I like my native land, I accept the culture I was born into, but I hope that the Lord be merciful and let this plastic Pax Americana fall quickly. The longer this country's boot is on the neck of so many, the greater the backlash. Either way, the Kingdom comes and is built day by day. I just know that we will all suffer for the fatness, cruelty and ignorance of Imperial bliss.

As for Germany: it's funny that both Germany and France who've both tried to conquer Europe now have relative dominance through the EU. It's almost revealing of what could've happened in WW2. What if Hitler submitted himself to an American business cabal in the interests of expansion. What if Hitler had not declared war on Russia and instead toned down his rabidity to schmooze with Washington elites. I can see Senators standing up and saying, "Chancellor Adolph Hitler is helping stabilize Europe and reverse the mistakes of the past. He is an ally against the Communists who seek to upend all peace and destroy our way of life" all to the applause of the Congress and the smiling of the American people.

That's my 2 cents,

Protoprotestant said...

That tension between Republic and Democracy is something that was never really resolved...nor can be.

At some point something has to give, either the democratic impulses have to be squashed in order to maintain the principles of the Republic or vice versa.

I'm not suggesting which is right or wrong but I will say this. The Amendment process in and of itself demonstrates the Founders wanted democracy to be somewhat restrained and perhaps slowed down but ultimately to be the deciding factor.

If you can change the Constitution and allow it to be interpreted contextually...which there's also fairly abundant evidence to suggest they believed this when drafting it....then the democratic impulse wins.

This is unacceptable to American Conservatives but the concept of Originalism is actually something quite new...invented in the wake of the Supreme Court decisions ratifying the Civil Rights era.

According to some Conservatives we have unconstitutional amendments which is highly problematic. The amendments ARE the constitution.

These issues have never been resolved and played a pretty big part in the events leading up to the Civil War. For years few Conservatives were willing to go that far back in their critique and it's still a bit touchy and potentially political suicide...but that's the real issue. Their problem is with the Amendments after the war that fundamentally changed the nature of the government.

Right or wrong I am convinced the original 1776 project failed and was essentially dead as of 1865.

And that country no longer exists either.

Protoprotestant said...

And you're also right in pointing out that democracy doesn't really work.

ESPECIALLY in our system. The way we've equated money with speech and institutionalized bribery and all forms of corruption. Ours is especially a sham.

Not that I by any means praise everything French, but they actually have more of democracy than we do...and they know it.

A stupid public will always fall prey to demagogues...there will always be a Pericles to step in.

I should make my son read your comment. Recently I was reviewing/quizzing him on Greek history and he bungled Pericles so he had to go back and redo the section.

And yes...using blatant lies to get your nation into war is nothing new. The United States has a pretty stunning pedigree when it comes to that. Iraq was nothing new.

And finally you're absolutely right about Hitler. During the early days of his regime he was praised and many American business interests were more than happy to do business with him. Some had an inkling that he wasn't a nice guy but that didn't become official until the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 and even then...well we certainly had Jim Crow didn't we?

People only started to wake up in November 1938...Kristallnacht.