by Pepe Escobar
A fascinating consensus in discussions among Chinese scholars – including those part of the Asian and American diasporas – is that not only Germany/EU lost Russia, perhaps irretrievably, but China gained Russia, with an economy highly complementary to China’s own and with solid ties with the Global South/Global Majority that can benefit and aid Beijing.
Meanwhile, a smatter of Atlanticist foreign policy analysts are now busy trying to change the narrative on NATO vs. Russia, applying the rudiments of realpolitik.
The new spin is that it’s “strategic insanity” for Washington to expect to defeat Moscow, and that NATO is experiencing “donor fatigue” as the sweatshirt warmonger in Kiev “loses credibility”.
Translation: it’s NATO as a whole that is completely losing credibility, as its humiliation in the Ukraine battlefield is now painfully graphic for all the Global Majority to see.
Additionally, “donor fatigue” means losing a major war, badly. As military analyst Andrei Martyanov has relentlessly stressed, “NATO ‘planning’ is a joke. And they are envious, painfully envious and jealous.”
A credible path ahead is that Moscow will not negotiate with NATO – a mere Pentagon add-on – but offer individual European nations a security pact with Russia that would make their need to belong to NATO redundant. That would assure security for any participating nation and relieve pressure on it from Washington.
Bets could be made that the most relevant European powers might accept it, but certainly not Poland – the hyena of Europe – and the Baltic chihuahuas.
In parallel, China could offer peace treaties to Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, and subsequently a significant part of the US Empire of Bases might vanish.
The problem, once again, is that vassal states don’t have the authority or power to comply with any agreement ensuring peace. German businessmen, off the record, are sure that sooner or later Berlin may defy Washington and do business with the Russia-China strategic partnership because it benefits Germany.
Yet the golden rule still has not been met: if a vassal state wants to be treated as a sovereign state, the first thing to do is to shut down key branches of the Empire of Bases and expel US troops.
Iraq is trying to do it for years now, with no success. One third of Syria remains US-occupied – even as the US lost its proxy war against Damascus due to Russian intervention.
The Ukraine Project as an existential conflict
Russia has been forced to fight against a neighbor and kin that it simply can’t afford to lose; and as a nuclear and hypersonic power, it won’t.
Even if Moscow will be somewhat strategically weakened, whatever the outcome, it’s the US – in the view of Chinese scholars – that may have committed its greatest strategic blunder since the establishment of the Empire: turning the Ukraine Project into an existential conflict, and committing the entire Empire and all its vassals to a Total War against Russia.
That’s why we have no peace negotiations, and the refusal even of a cease fire; the only possible outcome devised by the Straussian neocon psychos who run US foreign policy is unconditional Russian surrender.
In the recent past, Washington could afford to lose its wars of choice against Vietnam and Afghanistan. But it simply can’t afford to lose the war on Russia. When that happens, and it’s already on the horizon, the Revolt of the Vassals will be far reaching.
It’s quite clear that from now on China and BRICS+ – with expansion starting at the summit in South Africa next month – will turbo-charge the undermining of the US dollar. With or without India.
There will be no imminent BRICS currency – as noted by some excellent points in this discussion. The scope is huge, sherpas are only in the initial debating stages, and the broad outlines have not been defined yet.
The BRICS+ approach will evolve from improved cross border settlement mechanisms – something everyone from Putin to Central Bank head Elvira Nabiullina have stressed – to eventually a new currency way further down the road.
This would probably be a trade instrument rather than a sovereign currency like the euro. It will be designed to compete against the US dollar in trade, initially among BRICS+ nations, and capable of circumventing the hegemonic US dollar ecosystem.
The key question is how long the Empire’s fake economy – clinically deconstructed by Michael Hudson – can hold out in this wide spectrum geoeconomic war.
Everything is a ‘national security threat’
On the electronic technology front, the Empire has gone no holds barred to impose global economic dependency, monopolizing intellectual property rights and as Michael Hudson notes, “extracting economic rent from charging high prices for high-technology computer chips, communications, and arms production.”
In practice, not much is happening other than the prohibition for Taiwan to supply valuable chips to China, and asking TSMC to build, as soon as possible, a chip manufacturing complex in Arizona.
However, TSMC chairman Mark Liu has remarked that the plant faced a shortage of workers with the “specialized expertise required for equipment installation in a semiconductor-grade facility.” So the much lauded TSMC chip plant in Arizona won’t start production before 2025.
The top Empire/vassal NATO demand is that Germany and the EU must impose a Trade Iron Curtain against the Russia-China strategic partnership and their allies, thus ensuring “de-risk” trade.
Predictably, US Think Tankland has gone bonkers, with American Enterprise Institute hacks rabidly stating that even economic de-risking is not enough: what the US needs is a hard break with China.
In fact that dovetails with Washington smashing international free trade rules and international law, and treating any form of trade and SWIFT and financial exchanges as “national security threats” to US economic and military control.
So the pattern ahead is not China imposing trade sanctions on the EU – which remains a top trade partner for Beijing; it’s Washington imposing a tsunami of sanctions on nations daring to break the US-led trade boycott.
Russia-DPRK meets Russia-Africa
Only this week, the chessboard went through two game-changing moves: the high-profile visit by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to the DPRK, and the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg.
Shoigu was received in Pyongyang as a rock star. He had a personal meeting with Kim Jong-Un. The mutual goodwill leads to the strong possibility of North Korea eventually joining one of the multilateral organizations carving the path towards multipolarity.
That would be, arguably, an extended Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). It could start with an EAEU-DPRK free trade agreement, such as the ones struck with Vietnam and Cuba.
Russia is the top power in the EAEU and it can ignore sanctions on the DPRK, while BRICS+, SCO or ASEAN have too many second thoughts. A key priority for Moscow is the development of the Far East, more integration with both Koreas, and the Northern Sea Route, or Arctic Silk Road. The DPRK is then a natural partner.
Getting the DPRK into the EAEU will do wonders for BRI investment: a sort of cover which Beijing does not enjoy for the moment when it invests in the DPRK. That could become a classic case of deeper BRI-EAEU integration.
Russian diplomacy at the highest levels is going all out to relieve the pressure over the DPRK. Strategically, that’s a real game-changer; imagine the huge and quite sophisticated North Korean industrial-military complex added to the Russia-China strategic partnership and turning the whole Asia-Pacific paradigm upside down.
The Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg, in itself, was another game-changer that left collective West mainstream media apoplectic. That was nothing less than Russia publicly announcing, in words and deeds, a comprehensive strategic partnership with the whole of Africa even as a hostile collective West wages Hybrid War – and otherwise – against Afro-Eurasia.
Putin showed how Russia holds a 20% share of the global wheat market. In the first 6 months of 2023, it had already exported 10 million tons of grain to Africa. Now Russia will be providing Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Somalia and Eritrea with 25-50 thousand tons of grain each in the next 3-4 months, for free.
Putin detailed everything from approximately 30 energy projects across Africa to the expansion of oil and gas exports and “unique non-energy applications of nuclear technology, including in medicine”; the launching of a Russian industrial zone near the Suez Canal with products to be exported throughout Africa; and the development of Africa’s financial infrastructure, including connection to the Russian payment system.
Crucially, he also extolled closer ties between the EAEU and Africa. A forum panel, “EAEU-Africa: Horizons of Cooperation”, examined the possibilities, which include closer continental connection with both the BRICS and Asia. A torrent of free trade agreements may be in the pipeline.
The scope of the forum was quite impressive. There were “de-neocolonialization” panels, such as “Achieving Technological Sovereignty Through Industrial Cooperation” or “New World Order: from the Legacy of Colonialism to Sovereignty and Development.”