Welcome to shocked and awed 21st century geopolitics, by Pepe Escobar - The Unz Review
It took 18 years after Shock and Awe unleashed on Iraq for the Hegemon to be mercilessly shocked and awed by a virtually simultaneous, diplomatic Russia-China one-two.
How this is a real game-changing moment cannot be emphasized enough; 21st century geopolitics will never be the same again.
Yet it was the Hegemon who first crossed the diplomatic Rubicon. The handlers behind hologram Joe “I’ll do whatever you want me to do, Nance” Biden had whispered in his earpiece to brand Russian President Vladimir Putin as a soulless “killer” in the middle of a softball interview.
Not even at the height of the Cold War the superpowers resorted to ad hominem attacks. The result of such an astonishing blunder was to regiment virtually the whole Russian population behind Putin – because that was perceived as an attack against the Russian state.
Then came Putin’s cool, calm, collected – and quite diplomatic – response, which needs to be carefully pondered. These sharp as a dagger words are arguably the most devastatingly powerful five minutes in the history of post-truth international relations.
In For Leviathan, it’s so cold in Alaska, we forecasted what could take place in the US-China 2+2 summit at a shabby hotel in Anchorage, with cheap bowls of instant noodles thrown in as extra bonus.
China’s millennial diplomatic protocol establishes that discussions start around common ground – which are then extolled as being more important than disagreements between negotiating parties. That’s at the heart of the concept of “no loss of face”. Only afterwards the parties discuss their differences.
Yet it was totally predictable that a bunch of amateurish, tactless and clueless Americans would smash those basic diplomatic rules to show “strength” to their home crowd, distilling the proverbial litany on Taiwan, Hong Kong, South China Sea, “genocide” of Uighurs.
Oh dear. There was not a single State Dept. hack with minimal knowledge of East Asia to warn the amateurs you don’t mess with the formidable head of the Foreign Affairs Commission at the CCP’s Central Committee, Yang Jiechi, with impunity.
Visibly startled, but controlling his exasperation, Yang Jiechi struck back. And the rhetorical shots were heard around the whole Global South.
They had to include a basic lesson in manners: “If you want to deal with us properly, let’s have some mutual respect and do things the right way”. But what stood out was a stinging, concise diagnostic blending history and politics:
The United States is not qualified to talk to China in a condescending manner. The Chinese people will not accept that. It must be based on mutual respect to deal with China, and history will prove that those who seek to strangle China will suffer in the end.
And all that translated in real time by young, attractive and ultra-skilled Zhang Jing – who inevitably became an overnight superstar in China, reaping an astonishing 400 million plus hits on Weibo.
The incompetence of the “diplomatic” arm of the Biden-Harris administration beggars belief. Using a basic Sun Tzu maneuver, Yang Jiechi turned the tables and voiced the predominant sentiment of the overwhelming majority of the planet. Stuff your unilateral “rules-based order”. We, the nations of the world, privilege the UN charter and the primacy of international law.
So this is what the Russia-China one-two achieved almost instantaneously: from now on, the Hegemon should be treated, all across the Global South with, at best, disdain.
An inevitable historical process
Pre-Alaska, the Americans went on a charming offensive in Japan and South Korea for “consultations”. That’s irrelevant. What matters is post-Alaska, and the crucial Sergey Lavrov-Wang Yi meeting of Foreign Ministers in Guilin.
Lavrov, always unflappable, clarified in an interview with Chinese media how the Russia-China strategic partnership sees the current US diplomatic train wreck:
As a matter of fact, they have largely lost the skill of classical diplomacy. Diplomacy is about relations between people, the ability to listen to each other, to hear one another and to strike a balance between competing interests. These are exactly the values that Russia and China are promoting in diplomacy.
The inevitable consequence is that Russia-China must “consolidate our independence: “The United States has declared limiting the advance of technology in Russia and China as its goal. So, we must reduce our exposure to sanctions by strengthening our technological independence and switching to settlements in national and international currencies other than the dollar. We need to move away from using Western-controlled international payment systems.”
Russia-China have clearly identified, as Lavrov pointed out, how the “Western partners” are “promoting their ideology-driven agenda aimed at preserving their dominance by holding back progress in other countries. Their policies run counter to the objective international developments and, as they used to say at some point, are on the wrong side of history. The historical process will come into its own, no matter what happens.”
As a stark presentation of an inevitable “historical process”, it doesn’t get more crystal clear than that. And predictably, it didn’t take time for the “Western partners” to fall back into – what else – their same old sanction bag of tricks.
Here we go again: a US, UK, EU, Canada “alliance” sanctioning selected Chinese officials because, in Blinken’s words, “the PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.”
The EU, UK, and Canada didn’t have the guts to sanction a key player: Xinjiang party chief Chen Quanguo, who’s a Politburo member. The Chinese response would have been – economically – devastating.
Still, Beijing counterpunched with its own sanctions – targeting, crucially, the German far-right evangelical nut posing as “scholar” who produced the bulk of the completely debunked “proof” of a million Uighurs held in concentration camps.
Once again, the “Western partners” are impermeable to logic. Adding to the already appalling state of EU-Russia relations, Brussels chooses to also antagonize China based on a single fake dossier, playing right into the Hegemon’s not exactly secret Divide and Rule agenda.
Mission (nearly) accomplished: Brussels diplomats tell me the EU Parliament is all but set to refuse to ratify the China-EU trade deal painstakingly negotiated by Merkel and Macron. The consequences will be immense.
So Blinken will have reasons to be cheerful when he meets assorted eurocrats and NATO bureaucrats this week, ahead of the NATO summit.
One has to applaud the gall of the “Western partners”. It’s 18 years since Shock and Awe – the start of the bombing, invasion and destruction of Iraq. It’s 10 years since the start of the total destruction of Libya by NATO and its GCC minions, with Obama-Biden “leading from behind”. It’s 10 years since the start of the savage destruction of Syria by proxy – complete with jihadis disguised as “moderate rebels”.
Yet now the “Western partners” are so mortified by the plight of Muslims in Western China.
At least there are some cracks within the EU illusionist circus. Last week, the French Armed Forces Joint Reflection Circle (CRI) – in fact an independent think tank of former high officers – wrote a startling open letter to cardboard NATO secretary-general Stoltenberg de facto accusing him of behaving as an American stooge with the implementation of NATO 2030 plan. The French officers drew the correct conclusion: the US/NATO combo is the main cause of appalling relations with Russia.
These Ides of March
Meanwhile, sanctions hysteria advance like a runaway train. Biden-Harris has already threatened to impose extra sanctions on Chinese oil imports from Iran. And there’s more in the pipeline – on manufacturing, technology, 5G, supply chains, semiconductors.
And yet nobody is trembling in their boots. Right on cue with Russia-China, Iran has stepped up the game, with Ayatollah Khamenei issuing the guidelines for Tehran’s return to the JCPOA.
The US regime is in no position to make new demands or changes regarding the nuclear deal.
The US is weaker today than when the JCPOA was signed.
Iran is in a stronger position now. If anyone can impose new demands it’s Iran and not the US.
And with that we have a Russia-China-Iran triple bitch slap on the Hegemon.
In our latest conversation/interview, to be released soon in a video + transcript package, Michael Hudson – arguably the world’s top economist – hit the heart of the matter:
The fight against China, the fear of China is that you can’t do to China, what you did to Russia. America would love for there to be a Yeltsin figure in China to say, let’s just give all of the railroads that you’ve built, the high-speed rail, let’s give the wealth, let’s give all the factories to individuals and let the individuals run everything and, then we’ll lend them the money, or we’ll buy them out and then we can control them financially. And China’s not letting that happen. And Russia stopped that from happening. And the fury in the West is that somehow, the American financial system is unable to take over foreign resources, foreign agriculture. It is left only with military means of grabbing them as we are seeing in the near East. And you’re seeing in the Ukraine right now.
To be continued. As it stands, we should all make sure that the Ides of March – the 2021 version – have already configured a brand new geopolitical chessboard. The Russia-China Double Helix on high-speed rail has left the station – and there’s no turning back.