A new world
April-May 2014 | Global
The world order that formed after World War II no longer exists. It is simply a fait accompli, and whatever one′s attitude to the events of the last two months, it must be admitted: The world is on the verge of great change, both political and economic.
The West accuses Russia of violating the main unspoken principle of the postwar world order – the ban on the redistribution of territory between “civilized” countries. However, this rule has been repeatedly violated in recent decades (for example, witness the emergence of the state of Kosovo on the world political map), when Western countries, acting in the name of the world community, decided that such redistribution is in their interests. The Kosovo precedent, of course, would not justify the actions of Russia in the Crimea, if it were not for one fundamental difference: The peninsula was transferred from one legal jurisdiction to another with practically no bloodshed and no conflict. After all, Crimeans have really always considered themselves to be Russians. The West refuses to officially recognize that the residents of Crimea have a right to self-determination, even though such a right has been declared by all international institutions. It refuses not only because of its reluctance to approve of Russia’s policy, but also it is obvious that Europe, which is experiencing serious economic problems, is itself experiencing this principle in action: After all, it will have to accept the results of the already announced referenda in Scotland and Catalonia. Even the Venetians, judging by the latest news, are not against restoring their republic.
Just like in the children′s game of King of the Mountain, the world′s leading powers have jumped up from their chairs and are trying to sit down in the most advantageous positions before the whistle sounds and the new world order begins to set in. A key goal of the U.S. is to force the signing of an agreement to boost transatlantic trade and investment partnership with the EU. Such an agreement could prove to be quite costly for the Old World, but President Obama used an emotional argument instead of an economic one during his recent tour of the Continent: The agreement will preserve the rules of the game that unpredictable Russia is trying to upset. Yes, American predictability is not cheap, but it agrees quite nicely with the concept of Realpolitik that has been well understood by Europeans since the times of Bismarck. In fact, Obama made an offer that one cannot refuse, but you can be sure that some of the European countries are trying to. It is possible that the EU will not survive this test of its strength as a political institution.
The United Nations has also faced one of the greatest challenges in its history. The results of the first ballot of the General Assembly on the Crimean issue showed that the world is split into at least two camps. None of the BRICS bloc of countries supported the U.S. and its allies in their attempt to pass a resolution condemning Russia. In addition, the Russians were not the only ones to exercise their veto power on the Security Council. China consistently abstained from voting, which in this situation can be translated from the language of diplomacy as a sign of support for Russia. Indeed, the transatlantic trade pact will impact not only Russian economic interests, but it will also inevitably push China into a much closer alliance with its neighbor. And this alliance will have a center of gravity that is no less powerful, at least for countries with developing economies.
In the thick of all the arguments, many have forgotten that Crimea′s annexation by Russia solves many problems for Ukraine, which at first glance appears to be the victim. The economic interests and specializations of the western and eastern parts of the country vary too much – and to the agrarian western part of the country, which gravitates towards an association with Europe, the heavy trade with Russia of the industrial eastern part is even a greater hindrance, to say nothing of Crimea. Therefore, the first task for international institutions, which they must sooner or later address, is to realize that territorial gains and losses in today′s world are no reason for global conflicts. Rather, they present an opportunity to deal more effectively with the economic difficulties of different regions.
In the meantime, the U.S. has demonstrated a readiness for serious conflict. Not military conflict, of course: It is not necessary to shoot in order to inflict damage against your opponent in today′s world. Economic warfare is far more effective. However, as in war with traditional weapons, losses are inevitable on both sides. Therefore, the list of economic sanctions that has been actually imposed by America (and which is supported by some of the Western countries) against Russia is markedly different from the sanctions that it threatens to impose on an almost daily basis. Common sense, obviously, must prevail, and a new world war – even an economic one – will not happen.
Text: Robert Gubernatoron