By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
cross posted with http://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko-europe-as-the-main-front-of-the-hybrid-war/
The fact of a global hybrid standoff between Russia and the US hasn’t been denied by anybody for a long time. Allies can change and come over to the other side, but the issue can be definitively resolved only by the defeat of one of these two powers. However, so far politicians and experts, proceeding from personal preferences or specialisation, highlight various private crises (that are, in fact, fronts of a global standoff) as the main one, calculating the options for victory or defeat depending on the succession of events in a concrete direction.
Some crises, like, for example, Middle Eastern ones (which is the most pronounced in the Syrian civil war), are indeed a key to the defeat of one of the parties. A victory for the Americans in Syria would guarantee them control over the Big Middle East and unimpeded penetration into the Caucasus and Central Asia. In turn, it would ensure the blocking of Russia-China transit routes and would nullify the trans-Eurasian political-economic project, which, in fact, is indeed the main competitor to the Anglo-Saxon oceanic one. After this any particular successes in any other directions wouldn’t mean anything.
The victory of Russia and allies – which in the military sphere has already been gained, but it still has to be cemented diplomatically (and this is a no less complex challenge) – guarantees to Russia and China reliable (even superfluous) control over trans-Eurasian trade routes. From this point of view the US has suffered a defeat. Their efforts in the Far East and in Ukraine can change nothing. Even a hot war with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the sinking of Ukraine into fully-fledged Makhnovshchina can’t tear up all transport arteries.
Ukraine is being quietly bypassed in several directions at once. And the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea even more so lies at a distance from the strategic transport routes connecting the West and the East of Eurasia. Nevertheless, the involvement of Washington in the designated crises (the Korean and Ukrainian ones) doesn’t weaken. It only acquires new forms. If Obama’s administration worked for the creation of stable, hostile to Russia structures, then Trump’s administration, on the contrary, destabilises and chaotisizes the situation on the borders of Russia and China.
Such chaotization when the Syrian crisis hadn’t yet been solved could’ve played an essential role in the distraction of the forces of Moscow and Beijing in secondary directions and giving a free hand to the US in a strategically important point — in the Middle East. But, as was said above, in the military-political plan the destiny of the Syrian crisis has already been decided. As for the diplomatic settlement, these crises, even in their worst variant, won’t be able to significantly affect the position of Moscow and Beijing at the negotiating table any more.
Therefore, supporting the processes of chaotization on the Russian and Chinese borders, the US tries to achieve another new (other) objective. This objective is obvious. In both cases of the US hopes that Europe, being integrated into NATO, will have to support America’s actions in one way or another. A new period of deterioration in Russian-European relations and deep cooling between the EU and China will become the consequence of this. Or so it seems to Washington.
What does it give to America?
The entire project of Big Eurasia is based on three components:
- European technologies and market;
- Chinese commodity production;
- Russian transit, resource base, and military-political umbrella.
The US didn’t succeed to tear the Russian-Chinese union apart. Similarly, Washington wasn’t able to block trans-Eurasian trade routes. However, if to force the European link out from the project, then it will sag.
Theoretically, Russia, after a while, will be able to replace Europe as the technological base of the project. However, there is nothing to replace the capacious and solvent half-billion European market. If Chinese goods aren’t purchased in Europe, then there is no need to transport them there. This calls into question the program of the development of transit corridors. Moreover, then the US will remain the main buyer of Chinese goods, which gives them the chance to significantly influence the policy of Beijing and to even try to change it in their own favor.
It is clear that China won’t opt for a confrontation with Russia. But its neutrality and economic dependence on the US is enough to radically change the direction of the flow of goods and to push Russia out to the roadside of global trade. With this move the ambitious modernisation projects of Moscow will be immediately called into question and its global influence will decrease. Controlling the Middle East as the intersection of global trade routes is one thing. But it is another matter if these routes are laid across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and the Middle East remains nothing more than a zone of permanent instability.
In fact, this global conflict is over the EU. And the slogan “We need Berlin!”, which Ura-patriots from the era of the Russian spring in Ukraine like to laugh at, not only didn’t lose its relevance, but on the contrary, after victory in Syria it finally comes to the forefront. Obtaining control over trade routes and, as a result, learning that at the end of these routes no trade partner is to be found, will be more than regrettable.
However, the actions of the US in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ukraine, and the Middle East – where they provoked another episode in the Muslim-Israeli conflict, and not Arab-Israeli conflict, (the main operators of which become the not at all Arabian Turkey and Iran), are rather transparent. Meanwhile Europe resists these actions by calling on the US to act more moderately in the dispute with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, condemning the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and having practically stopped its active participation in the Ukrainian crisis. Theoretically Washington can put more pressure on the EU, but there is no guarantee that its resistance will be broken. It’s possible that Europe may not involve itself in a confrontation against Russia and China, having kept its neutrality, which is formally favorable for the US, but in practice disrupts the scheme of Washington.
I think that the US surely understands the unsteadiness of placing a stake on the voluntary involvement of the EU in a crisis that isn’t just unprofitable for it, but is also economically deadly. Brussels, Berlin, and Paris already showed that they are able to politically support and thus bureaucratically sink the most elaborated American projects (for example, the Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), which didn’t happen because of the EU’s sabotage). Since the battle for transit routes was lost by the US, the only option that doesn’t allow the creation of Big Eurasia is to yank Europe out of the scheme at any cost, as the weakest link of the developing chain.
If Europe doesn’t desire to voluntary close its doors to the Russian-Chinese project, and it is also impossible to force it to do so, then all that remains is the option for the disappearance of Europe. Of course, not the physical disappearance of European States from the political map, but of peoples from history. Just the disappearance of Europe as an economic partner. For this purpose ensuring the chaotization of Europe is enough.
The task becomes simpler by the fact that Europe is far from being united, and the EU is experiencing serious economic difficulties. The problem of diluting the European identity via the liberal-globalist ideology of permanent tolerance and rejecting traditional values is superimposed on top of this. Besides this, the EU is the traditional economic partner and military-political ally of the US, and it is a younger partner and younger ally too. I.e., Washington has considerable-enough freedom of hands to influence the development of both the policies of certain European states and general European policies. Finally, the liberal elites that are still in power feel the breath on their necks of conservative nationalists, which are scoring more and more points both in national and in general European elections. Without having the possibility to prevent their political opponents from coming to power in the near future at the expense of an internal resource, the liberal elites are obliged to lean on the US, sacrificing the interests of their States and the European Union in general in favor of personal and party interests.
Thus, it is possible to expect that if the declared policy of the EU aimed at gradually exiting the sanctions regime and normalising relations with Russia doesn’t change, then the US – leaning on strong positions inside the European Union – will start active work for the disintegration and chaotization of Europe. In the soft option this must destroy the united economic structure and plunge EU countries into a deep economic crisis that will depreciate them as economic partners. In the hard option there can be talk of a series of political and military conflicts on the European continent. The result will be the same, but the economy will be destroyed more reliably, and the purchasing power of the population will collapse no less than Ukraine’s did.
The US has two directions for active actions:
- Following the line of contradictions between the rich North and the poor South: the PIGS group countries, which are up to their ears in debt, and the countries adjoining them, which for a long time haven’t been enthusiastic about the German policy of austerity and control over the deficiencies of national budgets. However, in order to throw them against Germany, they need to offer to them the equivalent financing. I will remind that Alexis Tsipras, since becoming the Prime Minister of Greece using slogans of resistance to the German dictatorship, immediately went to Russia to ask for money. As soon as it became clear that Russia doesn’t plan to finance the Greek deficiency, Tsipras gave up and accepted all of Germany’s demands documented as the requirements of the EU. It is unlikely that Washington, feeling a need for available funds, will want to finance a very expensive mutiny of the European South against the North.
- Following the line of contradictions between the West and the East (or Old Europe and New Europe). Eastern European countries entered the EU as clients of Washington and repeatedly entered into conflicts with the leaders of the EU, supporting the position of the US. And now their elites, who built their political career on the back of Russophobia, categorically oppose normalising relations with Russia. Rare exceptions (like the president of the Czech Republic and the Prime Ministers of Slovakia and Hungary, who are also situational allies and not completely free in their actions) don’t play a role.
The fact that Washington chose precisely the Eastern option and placed a stake on Eastern European limitrophes, strengthening America’s military presence in these States, testifies to this. Moreover, a considerable part of these troops (except the division that was additionally transferred from America) simply change their location, leaving garrisons in Western Europe and moving to Eastern ones.
Stories about this being done in the name of defending the small, but proud Eastern Europeans from a Russia that dreams of occupying them don’t invoke trust. Not only because Russia has no reason to attack NATO if it seeks to set an economic partnership with the EU in motion, but also because NATO Generals themselves don’t hide the fact that even if the created groups are increased threefold in size, they won’t be able to prevent an almost instant occupation at least of the Baltics (and then all of Eastern Europe) by Russia if the latter suddenly has the desire to attack. Moreover, in both the US and in Old Europe politicians almost openly say that they won’t risk a global nuclear conflict because of Riga, Warsaw, or Bucharest.
Thus, the American troops don’t increase the stability of the Eastern European regimes in relation to Russia. On the contrary, they create a nervous situation inside the country, reducing the support of voters for Russophobic parties. The population is simply afraid that some badly though over provocation can indeed result in a military conflict.
But the American garrisons sharply increase the stability of Eastern Europe in discussion with Western Europe. Limitrophes act as priority allies of the US in the defence of the “free world”, and they demand the preservation of and even an increase in financial support from general European funds, because they supposedly are “frontline States”.
At the same time, Germany seriously intends to completely stop giving this support by 2020. France supports Germany in this, and even the “poor South” isn’t at all against believing that it will be able to lay claim to for the saved money or, at worst, to avoid the sequestration of the general European payments in its advantage.
Meanwhile, many rounds of negotiations and consultations showed that the parties aren’t inclined to a compromise, taking hard lines instead. Paris and Berlin are already ready to switch from talking about “a Europe of different speeds” to the implementation of the project “of two Europes”. It assumes that rich EU countries with stable economies will unite around Paris and Berlin into a certain federal European State, and the others, having formally remained members of the EU, but dropping out of the circle of further integration, in essence will turn for Old Europe into a colonial periphery approximately under the same conditions that the EU imposed on the countries of the Eastern Partnership in agreements on association.
And what’s more, Eastern Europe can resist such a succession of events only by leaning on the US and destroying the EU. Moreover, not discussing, like Britain did, the Brexit points of order, but solving problems on the spur of the moment. The American military-political umbrella will allow them to ignore the European rules and the discontent of partners.
But the chaotic destruction of the European Union will inevitably entail the destruction of an economy that wasn’t re-constructed in time (usually reforms in the EU last for years) and the crash of the Euro system. At worst there will be separatist movements (when a country votes for an exit from the EU, but some regions are against it), and also border conflicts. These conflicts can easily develop into military ones, and American bases won’t be able to prevent them (even if Washington wants to, the US won’t want to).
If the fragile structure of the EU starts to crumble – it is already experiencing considerable strain – and it isn’t known what new hair will break the camel’s back, then it will be almost impossible to stabilise the situation and to reverse the already begun process. It will mean an economic and political disaster for Europe.
In such a succession of events, the US practically wins nothing, destroying its last serious ally and losing its European bridgehead. But they don’t allow Russia to win either. Should Europe drop out, the project of Big Eurasia with a high share of probability will break up into two projects. China will start recreating the “sphere of co-prosperity”that was left unfinished by the Japanese in the first half of the 20th century in Southeast Asia and in the Asia-Pacific region. Russia will try to rally Central Asia and the Middle East around itself, and also to manoeuvre in the shattered Europe. The interests of these two systems will meet in Africa and India. But the Americans will try to return to the doctrine of “America for Americans” and force out China and Russia from the bridgeheads occupied by them in Latin America.
In general, the world will become multipolar, but more confrontational, and Washington will have the possibility to play on the contradictions between the former allies in the Eurasian project.
The battle for Europe promises to become the heaviest and unpredictable battle of the 4th world hybrid war (the 3rd one being a cold war). Thus, Russia and China need only a victory, but for the US a draw will be enough. A draw will also give them a neutral result in the geopolitical standoff, as well as the opportunity to be reconstructed and start everything anew.