Russia and China put the West on notice that Iran is no longer going to be treated as a pariah state
The spatial geography of the world has changed. Its capital has moved from Washington, and last week saw it successfully re-seated - albeit temporarily - at Samarkand. The shrinking western ‘NATO-sphere’ is turning inwards, with a focus on ‘the enemy within’.
The West both seeks to tie its population into lockstep behind tightly messaged, compliance for ‘war’ with Russia and China, whilst blatantly using the internal enemy as ‘pretext’ for ‘battening down the hatches’ ahead of an incoming storm of internal disquiet provoked by economic distress in Europe and the US.
Von der Leyen in her 'State of the Union' speech to the EU Parliament was explicit: “We will not allow any autocracy's Trojan horse [lies] to attack our democracies from within”. It echoes Biden’s own speech on the fight against internal threats in the US.
For Europe, Ukraine visibly has morphed from being a supposed, putative addition to Atlantic Euro-cohesion - to stand as an all-purpose symbol for NATO ‘forward defence’ in confronting Russia. This was the end game all along.
In Samarkand, the world heard a defiant declaration that the countries - which account for over half of the world’s population - are no longer willing to defer to the United States. The attendees included Russia, China, India, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- comprising slightly more than half of humanity, and states that are “developing much faster than others in the world”.
Chinese President Xi Jinping presented China and Russia together as “responsible global powers” bent on securing the emergence of multipolarity, and refusing the arbitrary ‘order’ imposed by the US and its unipolar worldview.
This multipolarity construct reflects Samarkand’s twin-parentage of a SCO who’s 2001 founding charter reflects the ‘Three ‘No’s’: No alliance; no confrontation and no targeting of any ‘third party’ -- melded with the earlier values of the Non-Aligned Movement of respect for sovereignty, autonomy and non-interference in other states’ affairs.
The Global Times (of China) summed it up thus: “China and Russia have united to resist the political virus of the US and the West, whilst opposing hegemonism ... The outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is fundamentally the consequence of the failure of the Western military and political bloc in handling equal relations with a regional power properly.
This latter comment summarises the Chinese stance on Ukraine: 'The latter arose as a contentious issue, because of the western refusal of diplomacy – and is an artificial construct mounted by the US'.
Yes, China and India are opposed and sensitive to secessionism, but both accept that the Ukrainian attack upon the DLRP was contrived. However, the transition as outlined clearly by Putin “to terrorist attacks is a serious matter". Putin warned: "In fact, it is about using terrorist methods. We see this in the killing of officials in the liberated territories, we even see attempts at perpetrating terrorist attacks in the Russian Federation, including – I am not sure if this was made public – attempts to carry out terrorist attacks near our nuclear facilities, nuclear power plants in the Russian Federation. I am not even talking about the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant”.
Both China and India in fact are more concerned about terrorism even, than secession. This ‘turn’ paradoxically, has had the effect of hardening their support for Russia.
Samarkand – contrary to western spin - underlined the emergence of strategic political partnerships between key states, most notably that between Russia and India (Modi called it an unbreakable friendship). What then happened in the bi-lateral between Putin and Xi? Well, “Nothing of paramount importance, as strange as it may sound” in Putin’s own words. “This was actually a routine meeting between us. We have not met in person for a while”.
A clutch of energy and commercial projects, (such as Pakistan asking Moscow for a gas pipeline), were ‘inked’ within the structure of a trading order outside of the dollar sphere, using their own currencies. The defiance of sanctions was a message that rang out, loud and clear.
Russia and China put the West on notice that Iran is no longer going to be treated as a pariah state. Iran is being welcomed emphatically by both Putin and Xi as a member of the SCO. Going forward, this means that Iran will do business with all members of the SCO under the rubric of a new financial order being organized by Russia, China, India and Brazil.
There was, however, a sombre note that was sounded within this upbeat gathering: President Putin warned that the ‘Polar Order’ reaction to these ‘fundamental and irreversible changes’ had turned “ugly”. He suggested that this US reaction was a source of concern amongst participants and would need to be addressed. Notably, the Russian President remarked on the increase of ‘terrorism’ emanating in, and from, Ukraine, (hinting that this, if continued, would meet with a serious riposte). And President Xi added his warning that the West is planning a flurry of colour-revolutions.
Indeed, as the Ukrainian forces continue to flail, terrorist actions - such as the assassination of Russian-appointed civil administrators - evidently are intended to substitute for a lack of success in the military sphere, and to project a sense of ‘Ukraine on the offensive’. To which Putin commented:
“With regard to our restrained response, I would not say it was restrained, even though, after all, a special military operation is not just another warning, but a military operation. In the course of this, we are seeing attempts to perpetrate terrorist attacks and damage our civilian infrastructure. Indeed, we were quite restrained in our response, but that will not last forever. Recently, Russian Armed Forces delivered a couple of sensitive blows to that area. Let’s call them warning shots. If the situation continues like that, our response will be more impactful”.
It is against this deteriorating security background that China’s Global Times makes its ‘what if’ point -- a reflection that might turn out to be a harbinger of changes still to come:
“Imagine if the international community does not have another powerful enough force to really intervene, balance, hedge, and even reverse the situation from the direction of maintaining world peace and stability".
Here, it seems, is Putin’s point: NATO’s reaction in Ukraine has ‘turned ugly’. The escalatory shift toward a NATO war conducted there, for the purpose of preserving its unipolar ‘moment’, risks turning to a wider war – even though it may be one that the West is in no position to fight.
So, we come then to the second order shift in spatial geography that is unrolling in tandem. It too uses Ukraine as pretext: To ‘save Ukraine’ as a symbol for the ‘contemporary’ values for which Europe imagines itself to stand, the European Union has politically subordinated itself to Washington. It has placed its autonomy and security policy in the hands of NATO. Europe effectively now, is an adjunct, a province within the wider American polity.
The Ukraine pretext is also fodder to a squad of clear-eyed European climate zealots who see the energy crisis as an opportunity to mandate the de-fossilising of Europe, via an imposed command economy -- thus placing the European energy policy, too, under the tutelage of Washington.
This latter stance – embracing energy rationing – effectively allows the US opportunity fully to assimilate Europe into the US economy. It is no coincidence that the Euro and the dollar trade at parity today. A Euro, Eurodollar and Sovereign debt crisis are unfolding with the energy and economic crisis; secondly, they are imposing such structural pressures on the Euro system, as may see its’ ultimate fracture
This is not so much about voluntary political decisions by member-states to quit the Euro area (though that might occur), as it is about structural pressures giving no alternative -- in the sense of pointing a ‘gun at the head’. Yes, there might be a smaller, tighter Euro, with the weaker states’ debt syphoned off into a ‘Bad Bank’, whilst the good assets are sold for pennies. Essentially call it the Euro, if you want, but in the future, it will be the dollar in reality.