By Fabio Reis Vianna for the Saker Blog
Perhaps the maxim of the Brazilian thinker José Luís Fiori that “expansionism and war are two essential parts of the machine that produces power and wealth in the interstate system” has never been so pertinent and seems to be confirmed at the exact historical moment we are witnessing.
The extraordinary events that resulted from the Russian intervention in Ukraine, which began on February 24, leave indelible marks and confirm some of the perceptions that have already been mentioned in other articles by us.
The western-led international order is clearly being questioned in its hierarchy of power, and the war in Ukraine is a clear symptom of this questioning.
What really causes astonishment, however, is the perception that this war aims at something much bigger than it might seem at first sight, because it would not be a regional war, but a war of global proportions: a hegemonic war.
The paradigm shift represented by the Russian intervention in Ukraine consolidates, therefore, the path of a new international system, more fragmented, and where Western power is weakened. In this scenario, the tectonic plates of the international system are slowly moving in the face of the new, and unprecedented, world that is unfolding.
Therefore, like it or not, the elites of countries like Brazil, so subservient to the security strategy of the United States, are being pushed towards a consensual solution in the direction of the Eurasian experience through the BRICS. In this way, the brazilian military, so reactionary and obedient to Washington, is facing a new world, apparently already understood by the diplomatic tradition of “Itamaraty”, and even by the powerful Brazilian agrobusiness lobby.
In the opposite direction, the blindness of the European elites causes astonishment by feeding a game that plunges Europe back into what it has always been: the great stage of military interstate competition of the last 500 years.
Therefore, taking this terrible premise into consideration, the armistice that made possible the creation of the European Union, as well as the common currency, would have been a mere interregnum of peace, until the next war.
Retaking its tragic place in the classical international system, Europe is once again the scene of the old theater of death, and the maxim that “peace is almost always a truce which lasts for the time imposed by the expansive compulsion of the winners, and the need for revenge of the losers,” has never been more apposite.
In this context, the german humiliation represented by the American veto of the Nord Stream II gas pipeline is paradigmatic. On February 7, in the middle of the White House, and even before the Russian intervention in Ukraine, Joe Biden publicly disavows the newly appointed german chancellor Olaf Scholz, stating categorically that the Nord Stream II pipeline would be stopped.
This attitude could be considered the trigger for Russian intervention and the opening of Pandora’s Box for the new world that is opening. Besides representing, in symbolic terms, the humiliation of Germany as a sovereign country, it consolidates the definitive “Coup d’Etat” in the European integration project.
With Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky being a kind of spokesman of a script written in Washington – or, who knows, Hollywood – the repeated attacks on European leaders who have worked so hard for the normalization of Russian-European Union relations, as is the case of the recent attack on former chancellor Angela Merkel, indicate that the instruments of fourth generation war, already used by the United States in other regions of the planet, are intensifying in the heart of the western alliance.
Not only the maintenance, but the deepening of the continuous and unlimited reproduction and expansion of the American military empire is a reality that became even clearer after the first Russian tank entered Ukrainian territory, even if this meant destabilizing, or even destroying, old and loyal allies.
In this sense, the old premise carried by many scholars of the “realist” school of International Relations, as well as by great thinkers of the World System, that the concentration of global power in a single state would be an essential condition for lasting world peace, falls to the ground.
The “Hyperpower Paradox” is confirmed as a slap in the face of the enormous theoretical consensus developed since the mid-1970s of the last century.
In other words, since the first minute of the US bombing of Iraq in 1991, which followed the 48 military interventions of the 1990s, and the 24 interventions in the first two decades of the 21st century – which in turn culminated in 100,000 bombings around the globe – the International System is immersed in a somber process of permanent, or infinite, war, which contradicts the Kantian utopia of perpetual peace reflected in the idea of hegemonic stability.
Thus, it was a mistake to consider that the unipolar global power that emerged with the victory in the cold war could exercise its hegemony in the name of peace and global stability, assuming, therefore, a responsible leadership and in the name of a great global governance.
On the contrary, what we have witnessed over the last 30 years is the escalation of interstate competition, with the reaction of other states to the insane and inconsequential process of power expansion carried out by the American military empire.
As a result, we find ourselves before a world that seemed to belong only to the history books; where the national interests of the great powers return with the force that, as it turns out, they never stopped having, but were only dormant.
This new (old) geopolitics of nations, therefore, leaves its clearest mark with what Russia imposes in its intervention in Ukraine: contesting the primacy that only westerners have the legitimacy to impose their will through war.
This is the novelty that shakes the structures of the International System.
In the face of this imminent war of global proportions, resulting from the Russian challenge and the intensification of the arms race – with the alarming return of Germany and Japan to the game – we are inexorably heading for a deepening of the interstate systemic chaos, as well as the escalation of systemic social conflict, particularly in Europe.
As in other moments in the history of the World System, Europe is once again the nerve center of the global power struggle. And as in other tragic moments in history, the behavior of European leaders is once again irrational; in the midst of a negative-sum game. The Europeans lose.
Fabio Reis Vianna, lives in Rio de Janeiro, is a bachelor of laws (LL.B), MA student in International Relations at the University of Évora (Portugal), writer and geopolitical analyst. He currently maintains a column on international politics at the centennial Brazilian newspaper Monitor Mercantil.
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