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     May 2, '14

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Why the West falls into civil war

Such a move would have upgraded Russia into being a decision maker in EU's affairs, which was a crucial political issue for a non-existent common foreign policy. Did the heads of states endorse this plan as a diplomatic initiative against Russia or as an experiment in enlargement?

In any case, they must take the full responsibility for what is happening today in Europe. For better or for worse, the huge Russia is one of them as well as tiny Malta. No doubt a vast and militarily strong Russia seems as a distinct entity from the EU. Can we build a European house without Russia?

For historical, economic and cultural reasons, this is impossible.

This undiplomatic and inconsiderate proposal brought about a new dilemma. "Either the EU is with the the US or with Russia." But things could be more complicated. Do we have three "Wests" so to speak: the security consumer EU, the leader and security provider the US, and a recalcitrant and dysfunctional Russia?

What is actually passing between the partners of the traditional West? Is this a return to 1914? Karl Marx said during the 18th Brumaire said that history repeats itself the second time as farce.

This is not true and particularly at this point in time. History repeats itself over and over again as a tragedy, war.

Is this a scenario written in Washington and enacted by a subservient and idiotic Europe? America has saved Europe twice from its worst self.

In what seems a curious turn of history: it is becoming more likely that Europe is going to suffer for a very long time: economically, politically and as a humanitarian project.

Europe and the US have created new narratives out of their political traditions. One of these narratives was an EU based on a functionalistic theory, a state without borders, army and foreign policy, a common currency but without a lender of last resort and without a common fiscal policy.

America, as a superpower with 700 or so bases watching all activities on the planet, and with interests from the North to the South Pole, is trying to spread the gospel of democracy and free market in any possible way. It tries to achieve this through regime change, color revolutions, economic and trade sanctions, and aid to friendly states but regrettably also through war. American policy has a globalized perspective of "partners" and "evil enemies".

There was never a new congress of Vienna in 1991 to delineate the commercial and security concerns of the new great powers. It seems that we operate under the maxim: "winner takes all". This never worked in history. On the contrary it lead to disaster. This is a historical failure which may be the real "end of history".

Now the world is confronted with a grand folly of the West. The latter has discovered a convenient adversary to cover-up its ineptitude to manage an insurgent Islam, an impeding environmental catastrophe and a world divided by extreme poverty and riches. Even worse, the entire West has a dysfunctional economy, with its social model in shambles and diminishing social cohesion.

Rough ride
There is no appropriate couch to psychoanalyze the West upon, nor a psychologist available to bring the trauma of previous civil wars out in the open. The only critical reviewer is history. World War I and World War II were fought among Western powers. China was at that time a prey never subjugated.

Now the world is much more complex and dangerous than ever, given the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Are there some criminal minds who even advocate the use of these weapons as the instrumental "final solution" of the West's quest for total world hegemony? Does the "West" deep down have reached a point of preferring annihilation rather than a diminished role in the world?

Our perceptions of punishment may not work as deterrence for further aggression but on the contrary as reinforcement for more inimical behavior. If the world cannot transform mutual perceptions from threatening to conciliatory, it is in for a rough ride. Russia can destabilize other parts or the world and it can rekindle conflicts.

Ukraine's history and social make-up point to a civil war already exploding and further break-up of the country - if the Russophobes keep the upper hand in the Ukrainian streets and the Russians in that country call for its dismembering.

China on the other hand is staying calm and on the fence, assessing losses and profits for its long-term plan to become an economic power-house: "Beijing will also join Washington in handling bilateral ties based on such principles as non-confrontational actions, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation, said President Xi Jinping," reported Xinhua.

China is asking the acknowledgement of a multipolar world: a new type of major-country relations. Putin, a follower of Thucydides, Machiavelli and Hobbes, after the annexation of Crimea is also staying calm. As realists we know that the West still has a formidable array of weapons in its quiver: economic predominance and an imposing military power. For how long can Russia and China stay calm if the military built-up around Russia and the "Asia Pivot" continues unabated?

"Just as Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, warned, it would be Washington's biggest strategic mistake to antagonize two major powers simultaneously when the United States is in the worst confrontation with Russia since the Cold War over Ukraine", wrote Xinhua on April 28 concerning America's "pivot to Asia".

"Imposing sanctions [on Russia] is not helpful in terms of solving the problem. It will only exacerbate the tension. We call for all parties to continue dialogue and negotiation, and promote a political solution. Imposing sanctions goes against the interests of all parties," said Qin Gang, Spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

"Whoever can understand must understand well" as the ancient Hellenic saying goes.

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online's regular contributors.

Nicholas A Biniaris has taught philosophy and political theory at NYC in Athens. His historical novel The Call of the Desert was published in Hellas and is forthcoming in English. He is a columnist and an economic and foreign policy analyst.

(Copyright 2014 Nicholas A Biniaris)

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