Ukraine, Russia and China

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By JOSÉ LUÍS FIORI*

Everything indicates that there is no way to revert, nor is there any way to return the world system to its previous situation, of complete Eurocentric supremacy

“There is no longer a single “ethical criterion”, nor is there any longer a single judge with the power to arbitrate all international conflicts, based on his own “table of values”. And it is no longer possible to expel the “new sinners” from the “paradise” invented by the Europeans, as happened with the legendary Adam and Eve. As this supremacy ended, it may be possible, or even necessary, for the West to learn to respect and peacefully coexist with the “truth” and “values” of other civilizations. (José Luís Fiori. about peace).

Two events shook the world stage at the beginning of 2022: the first was the ultimatum Russian, launched in mid-December 2021 and addressed to the USA, NATO and the member countries of the European Union, demanding the immediate withdrawal of NATO, in Ukraine, and proposing a complete revision of the “military map” of Central Europe, defined by the United States and its Atlantic Alliance allies after victory in the Cold War.

The second was the “joint declaration” of the Russian Federation and the Republic of China, on February 7, 2022, proposing a “refoundation” of the world order established after the Second World War and deepened after the victory of the USA and its allies. in the Gulf War in 1991. Both documents propose a “revision” of the status quo international, but the first contains immediate and localized objectives and requirements, while the second presents a true proposal for the “refoundation” of the interstate system “invented” by the Europeans. Both, however, are currently pointing to a profound reconfiguration of the international system.

In the case of the “Russian ultimatum”, the immediate issue at stake is Ukraine's incorporation into NATO, but the real underlying problem is the Russian demand to review the “losses” imposed on it after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.[1] After 1991, Russia lost 5 million square kilometers and 140 million inhabitants, but now it intends to reduce these losses by expanding its influence in its strategic surroundings and removing the threat to its territory, by NATO and the United States.

They ultimatum it was perfectly predictable and has been announced for a long time, at least since the “Georgia War” in 2008.[2] The big news now is that the Russian revisionist proposal should advance without war, through an extremely complex chess game, in which military and economic threats accumulate, but there should not be a direct confrontation, despite the propaganda and psychological hysteria. provoked by the successive announcements of the “invasion that did not happen”, mainly by the United States and England.

Russia won an immediate victory by getting all the other actors involved around a table to discuss the terms of its proposal. And the most likely thing is that its main claims will be met, without invasion or war. In addition, the discussions highlighted the division between the western powers and the lack of initiative and leadership on the part of the US government, which restricted itself to repeating the same threat as always, that it would impose new economic sanctions on the Russians in the event that the invasion that was repeatedly denied by the Russians themselves, while the diplomatic initiative passed almost entirely into the hands of the Europeans.

The United States did not receive the support it expected from its old allies in the Middle East (not even Israel), Asia (not even India), and even Latin America (not even Brazil). And what is worse, for the Anglo-Saxons, everything indicates that Germany will play a fundamental role in the diplomatic intermediation of the conflict, which would involve a rapprochement between the Germans and the Russians, with the immediate release of the Baltic Gas Pipeline that has always had American opposition. Apart from the fact that an eventual German diplomatic success in this conflict would give Germany a geopolitical centrality within Europe that would accelerate the decline of US influence among its European allies. In this sense, an “intra-European” diplomatic agreement would also be a defeat for the United States, but at the same time it is impossible to imagine that an agreement of this type could succeed without the support of the United States itself and NATO, which is in practice a "American Armed Arm".

In the case of the document presented to the “international community” by Russia and China, on February 7, the specific and local claims of the two countries are well known and are of no greater importance in this context. The importance of the document goes far beyond this, because it is, in fact, a true “charter of principles” proposed for the appreciation of all the peoples of the world, containing some fundamental ideas and concepts for a “refoundation” of the international system created by Europeans a few years ago. four centuries. It is a document that requires careful reading and serious reflection, especially in this moment of dismantling of the “Western bloc” and of division and internal weakening of the United States itself.

The first aspect that draws attention to this apparently unusual document is its defense of some values ​​very dear to the “Westphalian system”, as is the case of its intransigent defense of national sovereignty, and the right of each people to decide their own destiny, provided that the same rights as all other peoples are respected. At the same time, the document also defends some of the most outstanding ideas of contemporary “liberal-internationalism”, such as its defense of an international order based on laws, its enthusiasm for economic globalization and multilateralism, its defense of “climate cause” and sustainable development, and its unrestricted support for international cooperation in the fields of health, infrastructure, scientific and technological development, the peaceful use of space and the fight against terrorism.

Incidentally, from an academic and Western point of view, this “Russian-Chinese document” often resembles the internationalist idealism of a Woodrow Wilson, as much as it recalls, at other times, the nationalist idealism of a Charles de Gaulle. But the surprising originality of this document is further enhanced by its universal and unrestricted defense of values ​​such as freedom, equality, justice, human rights and democracy. Especially when it assumes the defense of democracy as a universal value, and not as a privilege of any particular people or joint responsibility of the entire international community, with the simultaneous recognition that there is not only one form of democracy, nor any “chosen people” who can or should impose some superior model of democracy on others, as if it were a “truth revealed” by God.

It is at this point that the truly revolutionary proposal of this document is made explicit: to accept once and for all that, at least since the end of the XNUMXth century, the interstate system is no longer a monopoly of Europeans and some of their former colonies. , since it is now formed by various cultures and civilizations, and none of them is superior to the others, much less has a monopoly on truth and morality.[3] That is, this Eurasian proposal of a new world order rejects any kind of “expansive universalism” or “catechetical”, but at the same time accepts the existence of universal values.[4]

There would be nothing original in all of this if such ideas were part of an academic text or a postmodern philosophical reflection, for example. What makes this document different is not its multiculturalism; it is the fact that this multiculturalism appears here as a claim and a universal proposal presented and supported by the second largest atomic power in the world, and by the second largest market economy in the world. Even more, that it be a proposal supported by a power that is part of the genealogical tree of Western civilization and, at the same time, by a power and a civilization that does not belong to this same matrix, nor has it ever had any kind of catechetical vocation.

Yes, because China got rid of its millennial Empire and only became a national state at the beginning of the XNUMXth century; and it was only at the end of the XNUMXth century that it became fully integrated into the interstate system, incorporating itself into the world capitalist economy with extraordinary speed and success. Since then, the Chinese national state has behaved like all other European states, but China has never had any kind of official religion, and has never set out to be a universal economic, political or ethical model – and therefore has never set out to catechize the rest of the world.

On the contrary, China seems to make a point of relating to all the peoples of the world regardless of political regimes, religions or ideologies, even when it is absolutely inflexible with regard to the national defense of its traditional values ​​and interests of its ancient civilization. Therefore, if it is the case to speculate about the future of this “new era” that is being born, it is necessary to be clear that China is not proposing to replace the United States as the articulating center of some kind of new “universal ethical project”. .

Everything indicates that the advance of this new “multi-civilizational era” can no longer be reversed, nor is there any way to return the world system to its previous situation, of complete Eurocentric supremacy. “And even if the axis of the world system has not yet moved entirely to Asia, what is certain is that a new “balance of power” has already been established that has displaced the previous hegemony, the universal project and the “catechetical expansionism” of the tradition Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian.[5]

* Jose Luis Fiori Professor at the Graduate Program in International Political Economy at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of Global power and the new geopolitics of nations (Boitempo).

 

Notes


[1] The Abbot of Saint Pierre (1658-1743), French philosopher and diplomat of the early 2003th century, was the first to formulate the thesis that was later taken up by several other authors, that one of the main causes of new wars is the desire for reparation. or “revenge” of the defeated in previous wars, in his work Project to make peace in Europe perpetual (Brasília: Ed. UnB, XNUMX).

[2] Fiori, JL War and peace. Newspaper Valor Econômico, São Paulo, 28 Aug. 2008.

[3] “Some actors representing but the minority on the international scale continue to advocate unilateral approaches to addressing international issues and resort to force, they interfere in the internal affairs of their states, infringing their legitimate rights and interests…” (Joint Statement of the Russian Federation. And the People's Republic of China”, en.kremlin.ru/supplement /5770, p. 1).

[4] “The sides call on all States to pursue well-being for all and with these ends, to build dialogue and mutual trust , strengthen mutual understanding champion such universal human values ​​as peace, development, equality, justice, democracy and freedom, respect the rights of peoples to independently determine the development paths of their countries and the sovereignty and the security and development interests of States, to protect the United Nations-driven international architecture and the international law-based world order, seek genuine multipolarity with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role, promote more democratic international relations and ensure peace, stability and sustainable development across the world”

( "Joint Statement of the Russian Federation. And the People's Republic of China”, en.kremlin.ru/supplement /5770, p. 2).

[5] Fiori, JL “The Pax Romana: conquest, empire and universal project”. In: ______. (Org.) about peace. Petrópolis: Editora Vozes, 2021, p. 131.

 

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