By Rostislav Ishchenko
The Russian people are living in fear. The fear of war is greater than during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And this fear has not passed over.
We were afraid of war in the most acute period of the Ukrainian crisis. Then it faded into the background, only for grounds for fear to be created by periodic escalations in Syria (Turkey knocks down a plane here, the US won’t shoot there, and so on). A few weeks ago, the expectations of war increased due to the US-Korea conflict. It is safe to say that they will not cease even after the discussions between Pyongyang and Washington (for the umpteenth time) pass over into a routine phase.
But fear of a global conflict involving nuclear powers is not the sole prerogative of Russian society. The fear of war is growing all over the world. And in Europe it is even more so than in Russia or the US, and Eastern Europe has been struck more than the West.
Perhaps it is precisely this European phenomenon that might explain the origins and meaning of this fear, which at first glance seems irrational, but which is engulfing the planet like an influenza pandemic.
A characteristic feature of today’s Europe is disappointment with its main project. The European Union is no longer the object of envy and lust. Crowds wishing to join the “civilized world” are not knocking on its door. On the contrary, Britain has launched the opposite process.
London’s still incomplete exit from the EU has led to the emergence of several intractable problems. Scotland does not want to leave the European Union, and plans to hold a referendum on independence again. Regardless of whether supporters of independence win or lose in Scotland itself, the votes will be divided about 50-50, with only a minor advantage in someone’s favor, so half of the population will be dissatisfied with the decision anyway.
How will Britain’s nuclear weapons be divided up? They do not belong to England, but to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. And by the way, the submarine base holding the nuclear missiles is located in Scotland.
And there is the problem of Gibraltar. Gibraltar wants to stay in the EU. Spain wants to recover Gibraltar. Gibraltar doesn’t want to go to Spain. Britain is not going to give anyone their rights to this strategic rock that controls the entry and exit way from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic.
Eurosceptics are gaining momentum in Western Europe. In Italy and France, the globalists are still in power, but they have already been forced to resort to outright political scams. And the popularity of nationalists continues to grow. Even in Germany (which, as the EU’s most powerful economy, and for some time its political hegemon, has received the most dividends from the EU’s enlargement), the wider public is beginning to conclude that the “white man’s burden” that Western Europe has taken upon itself in relation to the East has become unnecessarily costly.
Moreover, while whatever benefits there may be go to big business and politics, the costs are borne by ordinary citizens. In Western Europe, there is a growing demand for the “nationalization” of politics. And Britain’s decision to withdraw, which will immediately shrink the EU’s consolidated budget by about 13%, only encourages the rest of Western Europeans to think faster.
Western Europe is no longer able to finance its policy of “potential-building”, in which support to the tune of hundreds of billions of euros has been provided to Eastern Europeans. But it is on this policy that the unity of the European Union has been based.
Without the redistribution of EU funds by the Brussels bureaucracy, it becomes a useless and costly enterprise, and not only for Eastern Europeans. If the ballast is released, there is no guarantee that Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal will not become just as (or even more) burdensome to the new Europe as Poland or Estonia.
Internal European controversies between the bankers, globalists and Industrialists, nationalists, and between the rich (for now rich!) North and the poor South, between donors from Western Europe and recipients from the East, between the Brussels supranational bureaucracy and national governments, are breaking the European Union apart.
It is impossible to reconcile these contradictions, it is only possible to slow down the disintegration.But even braking this disintegration requires concerted action. Yet the example of Britain shows that relatively successful countries might try to jump off the sinking ship first.
All the while, internal European contradictions, such as territorial ones, have been mixed up with open borders, freedom of movement and the European Union’s gradual drift towards forming a single Federal or Confederate state.
Now there is a growing tendency towards disintegration, and in spite of European politicians’ awareness of the dangers of this process, they can do nothing to oppose it insofar as the EU’s resource base which has ensured its unity is exhausted.
Today’s Europe is not even able to bring order to Ukraine, where it is thanks to the EU’s very own efforts that a pro-Western government came to power. The stabilization of Ukraine would be relatively cheap. 10-15 billion euros per year would be enough for Kiev, and is simply incomparable to the money spent on Greece, Spain, Italy. As the crisis grows, the EU will need more and more money to solve the problems of its leading members.
But Eastern Europe needs more money now too. Starting in 2020, the EU is clearly going to stop financially supporting the states of the region. At the same time, the issue of a sharp reduction in funding programs is being debated already in 2018. Eastern European countries are confidently on the path of Ukraine, which has broken economic ties with Russia and failed to adapt to the EU’s demands.
If de-populating and de-industrializing Poland is still flailing with labor migration from Ukraine (up to 1.5 million labor migrants) and European funding, then in the Baltic States, Romania, and Bulgaria, problems are critical, systemic and unsolvable.
Eastern Europeans have tried to solve the issue in the traditional manner. Increasing the intensity of Russophobia, they have turned to the US and NATO for military assistance. They have received the American military on their territories, and relations with Russia have worsened. The sense of danger only intensified, while Eastern Europeans have not seen the expected money and bases. On the contrary, they now have to pay for affording the allied troops’ comfortable stay.
Thus, against the backdrop of disintegration processes that cannot be stopped within the current political and economic system, Western Europe is afraid of war in the form of an internal European conflict arising from the aggravation of ethnic contradictions in the disintegrating EU.
At the same time, Eastern Europe is more afraid of conflict with Russia, which it is provoking itself by trying to put Russophobia on sale instead of other export goods.
Moreover, Eastern Europe is trying to use the conflict with Russia to strengthen European unity. Eastern European elites do not have any vision for a life beyond the EU. The exhaustion of the resource base of the European Union is tearing out the rug of European financial support from under them. Their national economies have long since been steadily destroyed in line with the demands and recommendations of the EU.
It is only by creating a sense of common danger in Europe and positioning itself as the pioneers of the frontier that it is possible for Eastern Europe to justify its claims for external financing. However, Ukraine has already made such an attempt, and it did not help.
European problems were not born out of nowhere. They emerged as part of the systemic crisis of the American global world created after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The United States has also encountered similar problems. A struggle between globalists and isolationists is also taking place there, and secessionist movements in some rich states are growing in popularity.
The main contradiction facing the American system is the limited markets on the planet, whereas they can only achieve constant, outstripping growth through the mastering of new markets.
Once all available markets have been mastered, the system will have to either give way to another system (through break-up or reform) or find new, accessible markets. Markets could just be taken away. The largest segments of the world market after the US are controlled by Russia, China and the EU.
Because Europe was a US ally, and China was the workshop of the West, the original bet was made on controlling Russia, which would provide for control over virtually inexhaustible natural resources and continental transit routes. That would have been enough to control the rest of the world.
However, a series of “color coups”, a decade and a half of rampaging around Russia’s borders, as well as attempts to destabilize the situation inside Russia have led to the consolidation of Russian society and the strengthening of the state.
As a result, already during the Ukrainian crisis, the US was forced to use the EU resource base to its advantage, which led to the rapid collapse of the European project having lost its profitability.
However, all the efforts of American and European globalists could not significantly change the situation. Then came the “Trump idea” of switching main efforts onto the Chinese front.
Here we are dealing not so much with an attempt to destroy China, which would be unprofitable for the United States itself, but about depriving Russia of a strategic ally, a reliable rear, and destroying the Greater Eurasia integration project, which is impossible without China as much as without Europe.
Thus, the tactics have changed. The US is now attempting to take Russia by siege, not storm.
This is why people all over the world intuitively feel the danger of war.
If the welfare of the largest nuclear power (the US) is built on an obsolete system, and if the time to reform this system is irretrievably passed, then any attempt to prolong the agony of that system requires an influx of external resources that can only be captured by force. Alternatively, the uncontrolled disintegration of this system creates chaos, affecting the administrative and power structures of the superpower.
Who knows what’s more dangerous.
The US’ attempt to avoid its own chaos has inevitably entailed the export of chaos beyond its own territory. Hence why we saw the US inflict chaos upon its secondary allies in the Middle East, and then begin exporting chaos to Western Europe.
The problems happening in the EU now are nothing but the beginning of the system devouring itself.
This system’s most important part, the United States, being incapable of supporting the whole system any longer, is trying to keep itself afloat at the expense of the resources of its weaker link, the EU. In turn, the EU, in order to save its scarce resources, has left Ukraine to its fate and is preparing to cut off Eastern Europe.
However, cannibalizing ones own allies can only work for a relatively short time.
Insofar as Russia and China have not given in to pressure, but moreover, have started to create an alternative system of international relations, the US won’t be able “solve” its problem.
Therefore, at the next round of the spiral, the American leadership will again be faced with a choice: to abandon their ambitions or attempt to maintain global superiority with the use of force – if, of course, by that time the US and collective West aren’t already too weak to realize hopelessness of aggression.
In the meantime, the danger of war remains extremely high.
*Rostislav Ishchenko, translated by Jafe Arnold from Derzhava*