Essai réalisé par Caroline Galactéros pour MCC Brussels.
In this next essay in a series of ‘Perspectives on Geopolitics’ – a number of provocative reflections from participants of MCC Brussels’ landmark conference « The return of Geopolitics ? Europe a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine » – Dr Caroline Galactéros examines how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended assumptions across the world.
The era where globalization could be repeated as a magic mantra – solving world peace, prosperity and political development – is obviously over. Reality is making a great return: the new world is multipolar, poly-aligned and American hegemony is clearly at stake. American exceptionalism has taken a battering, and it will never be the same again. This is a revolution for the United States, this is the end of “the end of History”. The peoples of other nations, regions and cultures too deserve a history and a destiny.
Notwithstanding this, American hegemony is not essentially threatened by its military peer competitor, China, but by its own hubristic behaviour. Worse still, most of the world has lost trust in America: for their security, for their development, and for their future. Why?
The simple answer is this: for nearly 30 years now, the USA lied and disappointed their allies everywhere in the world. They gave the world global insecurity instead of the global security they proclaimed. Time and again, they managed only a purely egoistic assessment of their national interest, at the expenses of their allies. They pushed their unilateralism (another word for imperialism) so openly and profoundly that the narrative about human rights and liberal democracy is no longer universally believed. Everybody can see the double standards of their policy, the disaster of the sanctions they have advocated, and their trend of abandoning their allies: first the Afghanis, next the Kurds, and tomorrow, perhaps, the Ukrainians…
The current conflict between NATO and Russia – at the expense of the Ukrainian people – is a perfect demonstration of this ‘return of Reality’ in geopolitics. The growing influence of Moscow, especially in Africa and the Middle East, is not because anybody loves Vladimir V. Putin, but because they increasingly see him as a leader capable of standing up and successfully challenging Washington. The Russian head of state is, day after day, becoming the speaker for the Global South, representing them all. Paraphrased, he appeals to them as he says: “Not an inch further. We also have red lines, and we won’t accept any more US meddling in our internal affairs or any attack against our national sovereignty and security.«
This, then, is the main long-range victory of Putin. The problem is not to decide whether it’s good or bad, moral or immoral. It simply is a fact, and we Europeans shouldn’t ignore it. The risk of being pushed into a suicidal war against Russia, which would deeply jeopardize Europe’s economic and security future, is growing.
Another big paradox: The war in Ukraine, staged by NATO and Washington for at least two decades to contain and bleed Russia, to speed regime change and eventually destroy Russian influence in Eurasia, is having the exact opposite effect. Contrary to the Western narrative in the mainstream media, the Ukrainian conflict has suddenly speeded the upheaval of the balance of power between the Collective West and the Collective South. The arrival of what I call “the world’s tipping point” (la bascule du monde) has been accelerated by this war in Europe. European countries are the ultimate collateral victims – if not the real targets – of this bloody adventure.
Will the Europeans, who believe that America is their trustful ally and are pushed to fight for America as the second line of proxies to destroy once and for all any link between Europe and Russia, realize their own interests are in fact different? Germany is certainly the best example of this brutal management of an American ally. Washington has shifted its focus in Europe from Berlin to Warsaw (some speculate about Polish soldiers fighting in Ukrainian uniform against Russia) and put Germany and Europe under its close, energetic, and economic control with the sabotage of Nord Stream 1 and 2 and the replacement of the cheap Russian gas by expensive American LNG.
We are also witnessing a deep shift in political and social values. European peoples are coming to realize that their cultural sovereignty – their traditional values, the protection of the family, the defence against the woke wave – is a key precondition for democracy and freedom. Europeans will defend this sovereignty against all forms of external destabilisation.
But still, Europe is deeply fracturing and must invent a way of surviving in this new world between USA and Eurasia. To my mind, the solution is to push the idea of a “Europe of Nations states” – contrary to the federalist trend which is weakening Europe, dissolving it, and pleasing Washington.
In the future, we will likely see the aggregation of a “Global South” around China and Russia but also around regional powers like Iran or Turkey. This will point towards an alternative world built on national resilience and State capitalism. Of course, the USA will resist this huge challenge to their hegemony. The ultimate threat for them is the de-dollarization of the world economy, a step that is clearly coming. Washington will consequently increase efforts to destabilize countries defying its will: demonizing China and keeping its European allies under close control and command.
So, very dangerous times are coming even if this strategy of an endless fight against a major part of the world is doomed to fail. Europe must regain some capacity to resist this stupid path to strategic fiasco, accept multipolarity as an opportunity and build its sustainable future both in cooperation and competition with the emerging new diverse group around the China-Russia tandem and some regional and sub-regional powers. For Europe, decoupling from the US’s aggressive foreign policy and adopting a smart attitude is a matter of life or death.
We’ve never needed dialogue and “third track diplomacy” more than now – and not just for the Ukrainian conflict. Big responsibilities are in front of us. Respect and consideration must be promoted; bullying, ideology, and dogmatism put aside. Realism is the core of the solution – and realism is the contrary of both dogmatism and cynicism. The United Nations system is imperfect, but it remains the only existing base of an international order and a possible place for dialogue. The same can be said of arms control agreements. We must commit ourselves to – and repair – these protective patterns to enhance the level of world security. It is the only way.
Caroline Galactéros. The World’s tipping point (La Bascule du Monde) pour MCC Brussels (03/04/23).