Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Well, as Alex Callinicos writes, the fallout from Georgia has revealed the weakness of the Bush clique. Russia has cashed in by recognising the independent states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which will - whether they are formally subsumed or not - now be effective Russian territory. America blusters: it will block this 'irresponsible' move at the United Nations Security Council. But they aren't in a position to do much unless they really are prepared to escalate the conflict to dangerous levels, and it seems that stronger elements in the state are resisting such a strategy. The warships were sent to Georgia after all, but the latest shipment has been cancelled. Miliband is calling for a European coalition of the willing against "Russian aggression" - but he knows full well that European states are deeply divided on this issue. Even the hallowed Sarkozy is showing signs of being a surrender monkey.
This division runs deep throughout NATO. As Callinicos writes: "The US's weakness is more tellingly exposed when it comes to how it will fulfil its repeated threats to punish Russia. Nato foreign ministers met last week to denounce Russia and champion Georgia – but decided on nothing concrete. The Russian ambassador to Nato jeered that 'the mountain gave birth to a mouse'." When the Russian government freezes its military cooperation with NATO, it drives a large crowbard into that divide. Russia is now also taunting the US on its Afghanistan turf, just as it has been gloating that, yes, you talk big, but you need our help with Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. As Edward Pearce writes, despite the sprightly efforts by Anglo-American pundits to raise the spectre of 'the West', the whole affair calls into question the purported unity and cohesion of such an entity.
America is racking up losses. Aside from Georgia, one of America's big foreign policy successes in the region was assisting the Orange revolutionaries to victory in Ukraine, and >it now looks as if the pro-US incumbent is going to be turfed out in the upcoming elections. As for US hegemony in the Middle East, apparently Iran and Syria - the two remaining hold-outs against the American ascendancy - like what they see in this newly assertive Russia and have been extending a bit more warmth to Moscow. Syria hopes to negotiate a new arms deal to protect itself against Israel.
Once again, the demands of perspective call for some qualification to all this. Russia remains a much smaller competitor to the US, with regional rather than global hegemonic aims. This is hardly the rebirth of the Tsarist empire. On the other hand, the mere fact of pronounced inter-imperial competition having re-emerged in a decisive way is of world-changing import. It signifies the failure of America's 1990s bid to incorporate Russia as a subjugated junior partner, the costliness of overstretch in the 'war on terror', and the immense danger involved in the American policy of re-militarisation and nuclear weapons development, initiated under Clinton and continued under Bush. The kaleidoscope, as Blair once said in his vexatious way, has been shaken up. The sickening thud of dread that the world experienced then should be magnified several times over now. Wall Street wisdom says that when there is blood in the streets, buy property. No one is going to go broke from owning shares in armaments and private armies in the coming epoch.
ps: BHL is bearing witness again. Come to my arms, my beamish boy! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Thou hast gone right up to within 100 miles of the Jabberwock and bravely thou didst stay at the Marriot!