Endless war

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By DANIEL AFONSO DA SILVA*

The fate of the planet may depend less on resolving the Russian-Ukrainian impasse and more on overcoming American cynicism

The new phase of Russian-Ukrainian tension is gradually being inscribed in contemporary time, space and imagination. Educated Europeans typify it as a war and understand it to be an unprecedented war in Europe since 1945 because, truly, since the ruins of the second great war of the XNUMXth century, regular high-intensity conflicts have not taken place there.

Africans, Eurasians and Middle Easterners, caught up in civil, identity, religious, sentimental, economic, climatic, commercial, emotional, colonial and post-colonial wars since the dawn of time, continue to consider the Russian-Ukrainian situation as a tension, potentially be, at the limit, a proxy war, but never a war with the severity that Europeans and the like propose.

North Americans, notably the Americans, continue to feed the insistent cynicism and the reckless irresponsibility of poking the bear with short sticks to scare away the taciturn panda in order to deny that the real war continues to be for hegemony over the international system. Latin Americans (Brazilians included) do well not to know very well what it is about – whether war or tension – and only the most daring openly say that it is a war, while President Lula da Silva, the most important political and diplomatic leader in the world, region, knows better than anyone that, in these cases of tension, the best thing to do is still nothing to do.

Regardless of the assessment, position or orientation, there is a consensus that the prolongation of this indisposition in quarrels between Moscow and Kiev already represents the greatest turning point of the contemporary international environment. For the first time after 1945 it became evident to the naked eye that the multilateral arrangement that emerged from the Second World War and affirmed after the dissolution of the Soviet bloc in 1989-1991 had lost the essence of its nature and the density of its legitimacy. It was no longer reasonable to respect everything he came to represent.

When President Richard Nixon insisted on pulling out of the Bretton Woods in 1969-1971, an important part of the International Monetary System entered an irrecoverable entropy that would generate the “lost decades” syndrome on all continents from 1979-1982 onwards and reaching its peak in the global financial crisis of 2008, which has not yet been fully resolved. overcome.

When President George W. Bush insisted on disrespecting the French veto in the United Nations Security Council over intervention in Iraq in 2003, the credibility of the most important institution in international architecture suffered irreparable fractures that continue to erode it.

When the self-righteousness by philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy convinced agitated President Nicolas Sarkozy to persuade his counterparts in England and the United States to promote the regime change In Colonel Gaddafi's Libya, the concept of “responsibility to protect” was used, abused and violated on all fronts to justify one of the greatest humanitarian crimes of all time, which represents the anomie in Libya and the transformation of the Mediterranean into the largest cemetery of people flagellated in the open air of the world and history.

Perhaps it is not worth remembering the World Health Organization's struggle during the Covid-19 pandemic in the 2020-2021 biennium, nor the destruction of the World Trade Organization since much earlier. But it should be noted that when the new phase of Russian-Ukrainian tension began in 2022, this was what was needed to turn the page on the world created by Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, De Gaulle and the like and consolidated by Reagan, Gorbachev, Mitterrand and others.

The perversity of Western coercion and constraint on the rest of the world received its indisputable revenge when almost no one allowed themselves to endorse the sanctions against President Vladimir Putin's Russia devised by North Americans, Europeans and the like. This revenge has deep roots that are already distant in time, but, as it was done, it opened a path of no return to something very different from what we know at the moment.

The North Americans and Europeans – Westerners, therefore – were almost killed and it seems to be causing damage like never before. Otherwise, see.

By demoralizing the Bretton Woods In the 1970s, North Americans and other Westerners provoked the fury of oil producers, especially the Middle East. But not only. By deploying ultraliberalism as signs of the times in the United States under President Ronald Reagan and in England under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1979, even with the election of socialist president François Mitterrand in France in 1981, these Westerners all internalized a laissez-faire never imagined. That laissez-faire, magnetized in the famous “happy globalization”, allowed the sneaky emergence of real monsters like China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia and the like. Countries all too big to collapse. Too strong to continue being intimidated. And valuable enough to renew the entirety of the international system that emerged from 1945.

North Americans' obsession with the Middle East after September 11, 2001, allowed all these countries to assert themselves on the world stage. China's entry into the World Trade Organization at the end of 2001 promoted immense and irreversible fissures in the entire architecture of its economic scene. Little by little, the historical non-alignment of the G77 countries was modernized into the formats of IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa), BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China – later South Africa) and, finally, the G20 released by the BRICs. At breakneck speed, these once “exotic countries” planned to account for 50% of the world's GDP in a few years. No one in Europe or the United States was satisfied with this feat.

It would be too much trust in conspiracy theories to believe that the chronic crises experienced in all these countries of the future in the 2010s were produced by North Americans and Europeans to destabilize them. But it would be entirely wasteful to completely disbelieve in the concrete dimensions of these considerations.

Back at the beginning of the century, President George W. Bush forged a war on terror under the pretext of saving democracy, the Free World and the West. In 2009, President Barack H. Obama, in his famous Cairo speech, promised a “healthy fresh start” in relations between Western, African and Middle Eastern relations and, in 2013, he himself, Barack H. Obama, established one "red line” to President Bashar al-Assad. All of President Donald J. Trump's desire to recover the adagios America First e Make America Great Again it was to endorse the democracy, the Free World and the West deified by his predecessors. President Joe Biden does the same, but with a disguised tone. And everyone knows.

President George W. Bush's war on terror resulted in the greatest brutalization of relations between civilizations since 1914. President Barack H. Obama's Cairo speech animated nothing less than the Arab Spring, which turned out to be the greatest pantomime of all time, resulting in the fallacious regime change in Colonel Gaddafi's Libya, in the endless jaw-breaking in Egypt, in the unsustainability of the situation in Tunisia, Bahrain and Ivory Coast, all the negative externalities of endless skirmishes experienced in the Sahel – notably, in Mali – and in the true absence free of charge from a conflict-ridden Syria without the splendor of Palmyra.

The same President Barack H. Obama who ordered the elimination of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011 and promised the entire world to crush President Bashar al-Assad, by bringing the presidential role to discredit never before seen in the West, laid the sustainable foundations for the emergence of Trumpism.

When President Donald J. Trump took charge of the situation, he promised not to lie, but he lied more than any of his predecessors, and he promised not to misuse the presidential role, but that's all he did.

But it must be recognized that President Donald J. Trump was less cynical and disingenuous than his predecessors and his successor. The core difference between his stance and that of his counterparts was that he said in a crude and rude way what President Barack H. Obama, President George W. Bush or President Joe Biden said and says it in a polite, serene and pompous way .

No one in Washington continued to value the integrality of the transatlantic relationship after the French said “no” to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. No one in the White House or the Pentagon had any interest in continuing to protect the vital security of Europeans via NATO without the return of loyalty unrestricted bond at the beginning of the interaction. Nobody in the famous think tanks North Americans supported the United Kingdom's presence in the [disunited] European Union.

While President George W. Bush and President Barack H. Obama said it behind closed doors just to embarrass or coerce, the present Donald J. Trump said it in broad daylight and for everyone to hear.

What happened: he, Donald J. Trump, became the most detested American president among the “good souls” of the West in Europe, the United States and the like. To “save” the world and succeed it, President Joe Biden was chosen.

Former senator and vice president of the presidency Barack H. Obama navigates American cynicism with more dexterity than any tenant of the White House this century. Once in power, his role was to return to the central issues of great strategy to maintain hegemony over world affairs. Even if that meant eliminating competitors. As they were unable to immediately dethrone China, they continued to attack China's unruly allies with Russia in first place, as anyone who knows the things that the new times of the world are shaping up for Russia and China are well aware of.

The sad impasse between Kiev and Moscow opened by the Russian counteroffensive on February 24, 2022 allows Americans to breathe, rest and meditate. The “bearable compromise” imagined by the Europeans to put an end to the dispute no longer made sense as soon as it was proposed. Many Ukrainians have been convinced to become Westerners and no Russian is willing to allow such desecration of Slavic culture. In short: endless war.

To be, or not to be, that is the question.

The fate of the planet may depend less on resolving the Russian-Ukrainian impasse and more on overcoming the North American cynicism that corrodes its viscera and the patience of all of us.

*Daniel Afonso da Silva Professor of History at the Federal University of Grande Dourados. author of Far beyond Blue Eyes and other writings on contemporary international relations (APGIQ). [https://amzn.to/3ZJcVdk]


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