The decline of US influence in key regions around the world, such as the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, North Africa and Europe, directly results from the so-called phenomenon of imperial over-stretch.
The most tangible consequences are Washington’s reduced ability to predict and react in focal areas of the world. The constant need to subdue and control each aspect of life has ended up alienating the involvement and importance of the US role in these regions. For the moment, it is important to focus on where Washington continues to demonstrate considerable influence and strategic skills, it is still able to influence the course of events.
Contrary to what happens in the rest of the world, Southeast Asia and South America find themselves increasingly drawn into the sphere of American influence. Attributing these developments to an attitude or a precise Washington tactic would be a mistake. One of the major defects expressed by US foreign policy can be traced back to a lack of strategic planning. More likely we are looking at different phenomena depending on the location, be it Asia or South America. The rise of China as a major Asian superpower has completely different effects than the more dramatic collapse of the weak South American economies of Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina. Yet both regions suffer from the so-called effects of modern hybrid wars.
The 21st century’s conflicts do not necessarily require the use of firearms or armed assaults on a legitimate government. Hybrid warfare is a theme of frightening actuality today. It is a new way for the US to impose its specific weight without a constant need to be nurtured and supported as a military operation. It is the ideal tactic to stretch their financial and cultural tentacles where military force would be ineffective or unenforceable. The most striking example is the combination of the dollar in trade with the international sanctions and the general slowdown in emerging economies. Many economists have correlated a slowdown in growth of emerging countries with factors such as interest rates decided by the FED, collapse of oil prices and the more general consequences of the economic crisis of 2008.
The only antidote functioning seems to be the relatively new strategy of de-dollarizing economies to reduce the effects of western financial aggression. It is not just a matter of diversification but rather of having strategic monetary reserves not limited to dollars.
A matter of survival.
A country that operates solely in dollars, in an international system dominated by financial institutions loyal to Washington, is a country exposed to a considerable number of vulnerabilities. It is no surprise that in a certain context this interwoven relationship can become a flaw to be exploited for the benefit of Washington, as we have seen recently in Argentina and Venezuela with the victory of Macri and the bourgeois right.
In Asia, the situation is very different given such combination of factors as the growing Chinese influence in the region (Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road) and the decline in emerging economies. In recent times, this has required a rebalancing of power in the region. Translated, this means that if up to a decade ago, many Asian countries were seeking an exclusive cooperation with Beijing, today they also turn towards Washington to develop a balance in their relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the typical geopolitical dance based on ambiguity. Washington dreams of a strategic realignment of many Asian countries at Beijing’s expense, while smaller regional players utilize Washington and the TPP as a bargaining chip against the PRC in order to obtain better conditions. All these events are intrinsic to the very concept of a multipolar world. Countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have reached unexplored levels of integration and dependence on the Chinese locomotive.
Although Beijing has an attitude anything but imperialist, it remains in a position of strength derived from being the dominant regional player in Asia. Balancing the power in the region means forcibly engaging the only global actor able to compete with China, the United States. The most striking case is India, decisive core of a future multipolar world. New Delhi has instinctively increased cooperation and development with Washington, reinvigorating old criticisms that have always seen it as a US trojan horse for BRICS and then the SCO. Leaving excessive alarmism aside, we must take note that modern methods of hybrid warfare (financial) have devastating effects on multipolar development, and that much has to be done to neutralize this threat.
Multipolar approach to currency.
The need for a genuine transition from the current unipolar currency (US dollar), too easily manipulated by Western financial institutions, is becoming increasingly manifest and pressing. To further substantiate these claims, we can see the actions pursued by the three leaders in the multipolar arena: Tehran, Moscow and Beijing. Diversifying into gold rather than US government securities has two concrete and immediate effects. First, one is avoiding the enormous public debt financing, which allows Washington to spend for wars and chaos in the world. Second, one is creating an alternative to the dollar as world currency (gold-backed Yuan). The moves of the Chinese-Russian-Iranian triad are an effective countermove to the hybrid financial-cultural war the West is waging.
The eurasian powers cannot fight conventional or nuclear wars but have all the unconventional means to halt growing US influence. De-dollarization, diversifying into gold, gradually abandoning US Treasuries, increasing trade in alternative currencies, expanding the basket of currencies in the IMF, encouraging the creation of new international bodies (ASEAN, BRICS, etc) – all are armed carriers directed against American hegemony. It is mainly thanks to these strategies designed around a table and planned by mutual agreement that other crucial locations of the globe slowly start to flow from a unipolar to a multipolar vision of cooperation.
Historical allies of Washington
We can not unite the evolution of the situation in Europe with the drift that has taken the Middle East, North Africa and even the Persian Gulf. Yet as they may seem diametrically opposed situations, they remain in truth united by a common factor, namely the diminishing role of the United States. Some Washington-centered analysts continue to consider these events as a conscious strategic choice of the United States: the pivot to Asia rather than ensuring the European Atlantic security framework; American energy independence thanks to shale gas rather than being involved in the Middle East and needing to defend and assist regional allies (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey). But the reality is totally different and much less favorable to the United States. The pivot to Asia is a fictitious doctrine invented by the Obama administration to justify the continued loss of influence of Washington in Europe and the Middle East.
There is no rebalancing of American forces in Asia but rather local actors that, in a multipolar dimension, prefer to have good relations with China together with the United States, thereby not precluding possible alternatives. Washington insists on painting this scenario as a geopolitical shift of the Asian region to the east. The reality is quite different, and the enormous problems in reaching an agreement on the TPP is a clear demonstration of this. In contrast, the consequences of this fictitious strategic reorganization of Washington’s foreign policy have resulted in a more than real earthquake in the important foreign relations between Washington and decades-old allies. From Egypt to Saudi Arabia, through to Turkey and the European Union – all have suffered the consequences of ineffective American foreign policy. Analysts in the Eurasian sphere make the same mistake of their American colleagues in saying that one often has the impression that the United States has deliberately decided to lessen commitment in these regions, resulting in a rapid deterioration of relations with allies. Such an argument would not differ much from those in the West suggesting that there is a rebalancing of power eastwards.
They are both wrong and based on a fundamental mistake, namely the presumption that the United States consciously dictates its own agenda. Nothing could be more wrong. Once again, it is the multipolar integration between people and nations that removes Washington as the unipolar fulcrum, thereby reducing its influence. It is cooperation between Iran, Russia and China (who drag with them dozens of other nations) that creates the right antibodies to resist hybrid financial wars and also discourage attempts of direct military aggression.
Discouraging does not always prevent aggression.
The initial aggression against Ukraine and Syria could be the last concrete attempts to influence the regions of the Middle East, North Africa and Europe with hybrid warfare techniques (color revolutions, Arab spring) to keep Washington’s influence active. The European situation, for example, is the perfect representation of the crock pot between two iron pots (USA and Russia). In the long run, this obvious existential vulnerability, which began with the Georgian war and culminated with the events in Kiev, opened a breach in the intellectual thinking of the old continent, causing unexpected victories of political movements with anti-systemic agendas. It is the first sign of a larger awakening that will inevitably lead to the reevaluation and reprioritization of their own interests compared to a normal, self-defeating and complete devotion to the US cause.
Witty analysts in 2014 predicted with prescience that in the medium term, the crisis caused by the coup in Kiev would resonate in the minds of the European oligarchy as an alarm bell: no one is indispensable. In North Africa, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, the situation has been even more dramatic, with the complete failure of the hybrid war called Arab Spring color revolution. The different synergies achieved by the combined Moscow-Beijing-Tehran axis has allowed assaulted nations like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt to look back and take refuge in the newborn multipolar world, countering the aggression of Washington in a more or less effective way. Other than pivoting towards Asia and becoming energy-independent, the United States has ended its unipolar moment and begin to suffer the consequences of a relentless multipolar world increasingly willing to integrate. Thus the reaction of US allies such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and Turkey, who are aware of the true strategy of Washington (chaos at all costs, in the absence of the strategic planning that’s missing) should not come as a surprise.
These countries try to advance their own interests at any cost, regardless of the consequences and the opinion of Washington. It remains to be emphasized that the deadlock in the Middle East especially is a direct consequence of the action of multipolar forces that neutralized any direct intervention of regional actors in the context of Iraq, Syria or Yemen. The consequent and recent nervousness in Ankara, Riyadh, Doha and Tel Aviv is a reaction to a total inability to change events in the region, to deeply influence the political framework and to achieve a greater involvement of the United States. The cards to play are no longer there, and what remains is a situation that inevitably tends towards the worst for Washington’s former allies. Just as Europe is experiencing an existential threat as a result of the disasters arising in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe, Turkey, Israel, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are faced with the need to rebalance their geopolitical structure, adapting to a new multipolar world.
Change to survive.
The challenge for Doha, Tel Aviv, Ankara and Riyadh is to change and adapt without drowning in American machinations of color revolutions and Arab Springs. Let us remember the paradox that these four nations face: they are at the most and the most vulnerable to an economic attack, basically being totally locked into the Western financial system. Even more importantly, they are also the last tool that Washington has to condition and influence events in the region. With this in mind, it is easier to understand why from Turkey to Saudi Arabia there are alarming situations, fully suited for the usual pattern of Washington’s hybrid warfare. Turkish generals want closer cooperation with Iran; the Saudis would like to start to trade in Yuan with China; Doha would like to cooperate with Tehran in the gas industry; and Israel is coordinating in many ways with Moscow. These aspects are suppressed, hidden, concealed and denied by the same actors, but they are nonetheless real, tangible and often a source of tension with Washington. Yet again humanity is placed in a precarious position as the world transitions and proceeds inexorably towards the new multipolar world.