In 1987 Allan Bloom wrote a very significant book, The Closing of the American Mind, which criticized the excesses of relativism in US education – a theory which eliminated the necessary critical “viewpoint” and hence destroyed the inevitable differences existing among the various cultures.
If all “cultures” are the same, it is not even possible to analyze and hierarchizing them in a sequence of values.
Something similar has happened in foreign policy. The United States reacted to the 9/11 attack by attacking Afghanistan – Al Qaeda’s safe haven – but they fought the visible and not the invisible. They saw terrorism, which certainly existed, but not the start of the global jihad, triggered off by Al Qaeda, which then took root in the geopolitical Islamic contrast Shiites and Sunnis, between hegemonic States expanding in the Persian Gulf, operated by Iran, and the oil and military power projection of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.
Henry Kissinger has recently written interesting considerations on the issue, together with George Schultz. In fact, he maintains that nuclear proliferation is now widespread throughout the Middle East and, apart from the recent agreement between the P5+1 and Iran, this implies a different way of looking at deterrence and the notion of stability, which he does not see properly applied to the Middle East region, at least by the United States.
It is true that agreements are not reached on the basis of contracting parties’ good will, but envisage an objective balance between the parties, regardless of the governments’ stances – which change – and the geo-strategic interests, which remain the same.
Another case of closing of the American mind, we might say.
In fact, the United States led by Barack Obama seem to leave the choke points, which control the Arab-Islamic territory and the European maritime region in East Mediterranean, in favour of a power projection onto Central Asia, with a view to reaching the following aims: containment of the Russian Federation and maintenance of the status quo with China.
Russia does not want to lose the belt of “friendly” countries towards the Eurasian peninsula it needs to complete the Eurasia Project by which its geopolitical experts particularly close to President Putin set great store.
A new cold war would be useless and harmful to everybody, including the United States, which are also well aware of the fact that if China sells its assets of US government debt – which are currently worth 49.2 billion dollars – it can cause very severe damage to the US economy, while the repurchase of US bonds by Japan does not equalize the Chinese potential yet.
Furthermore, today data is not even fully reliable, considering the variety of financial spots in which securities are held and their maturities.
Hence a weak US threat towards China and tension along the European borders towards Russia, which may respond – as it has already done – with its policy towards the Arctic and its operations in Ukraine, at first, and now in Syria.
Putin has been clear and brutal with reference to the war against Daesh/Isis: “who breaks pays”, thus reminding Americans and their European allies of the fact that if you decide to destabilize a region, you must know who and what will replace the regimes overthrown and how.
A necessary power – the United States – moving away from Europe, splits it into two parts along the Russian borders and seals the space to Putin’s Russia which, on the contrary, could be an asset in the fight against the global jihad.
A traditional Atlantic project which breaks up to favour a circular and universal US power projection which, however, implies a low level of deterrence in all the world points where US military forces can be found. New allies for the United States in the countries of the former Warsaw Pact and scarce interest in the stability of the Mediterranean region, left to the NATO Southern Flank and to the regional allies, which are ever weaker and increasingly floundering in economic crisis, as well as ever less suitable to counter a complex doctrine such as permanent jihad.
What about Europe? Its situation is even worse. The European Union was born with the European Coal and Steel Community, founded in 1951, following the Rome agreements which put together, under the same umbrella, the two materials which, since the Thirty Years War, had triggered off the long-standing confrontation between the nations of the Old Continent and which had finally destroyed it with two world wars which basically were “wars for European hegemony.”
And we must recall that they had led to Bolsheviks’ victory in Russia – no longer a European bulwark to the East – and caused the destruction of the Ottoman Empire – a rampart of the Mediterranean region towards the Islamic world, which Istanbul’ Sublime Porte controlled fairly well.
From then on, the EEC – and subsequently the EU – has progressively anesthetized its geostrategic component to become a great economic alliance between competitors, which then materialized with the entry into force of the single currency.
According to the vision of French President Mitterand and British Prime Minister Thatcher, the euro was the German mark that Germany gave as a pledge to its allies-competitors in exchange for the possibility of reuniting with former East Germany under Soviet tutelage.
From the strategic viewpoint, there was no other vision developing and operating in Europe.
Not a single doctrine of economic war can be found in the EU, while even Daesh/Isis is waging an economic war against the dollar, through its recently-coined “gold dinar”, but only the repetition ad nauseam of the need to “open up global markets”. This is something which can be done by using force and which can be imposed with a universal currency – which is not the euro case.
The European single currency has been an obvious nuisance for the United States, which have seen it as a competitor in global transactions, without it even having the ability of really frightening the dollar.
Furthermore every European country carries out its aggressive actions on international markets on its own, by competing on the market of investment and sales of public debt to the highest bidder, but everything is inevitably denominated in euro.
In Europe the migration crisis has been seen as a simple humanitarian problem, not as an epochal geopolitical and cultural transformation, while Germany takes the best immigrants from Syria and the other countries are left with the low-educated and low-skilled migrants from Africa.
Not a single idea has been developed on the future political effects of this demographic transformation, which will imply a different configuration of democratic representation, institutions, welfare, Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies.
Once again a closing of the European mind.
In the current Chinese doctrine, China, Russia – Japan, to some extents – India and developing powers, such as Brazil and South Africa, are one of the most important multilateral platforms – according to the definition of the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.
China wants to turn the old world duopoly into a multipolar balance in which China – as in Mao’s intentions – is the reference point of the former “Third World”.
In this multipolar framework, where the United States have not yet really decided what to do, the Russian Federation wants to emerge as the Eurasian pivot, by restoring its hegemony over Central Asia, jointly with China, and conquering the space left void by the United States in Western Europe.
India wants to control the Asian seas and be the broker of the peace-making and democratization process of the problematic points in Central Asia, such as the Bengal region and Afghanistan – in competition with Pakistan, which is now increasingly linked to the Chinese chariot.
Briefly, our former poles of attraction such as NATO, the EU, and all the other international agreements which followed the Second World War, are undergoing a phase of decline unless these agreements are rewritten by adapting them to the new reality.
And if we do not do so, others will set in, with all the options of unconventional warfare: mass immigration, currency war, terrorism, local wars, trade blocs, replacement economies. Let us think about it before it is too late.
Giancarlo Elia Valori (@GEliaValori)
Honorable of the Académie des Sciences of the Institut de France.