The Munich security conference

RUSSIA

No, Pompeo, the west isn’t winning

By Andrew
Korybko

Not “winning” doesn’t necessarily mean
“losing”

Last
weekend’s Munich Security Conference was marked by such highlights as Russian
Foreign Minister Lavrov warning that “the risks and threats for humankind are
as high as they have never been before during the entire post-war period” and
his Chinese counterpart condemning the West for “its subconscious mentality of
civilization supremacy”, but it was Secretary of State Pompeo’s bold
declaration that “the West is winning” that stole the show and got the whole
world talking.

It seems
counterintuitive to remark that the US and its allies are pulling ahead of
everyone else when considering the many paradigm changes currently taking place
in contemporary International Relations as the world system increasingly
becomes multipolar, as this by default reduces the overall influence of the
West on global processes when compared to its heyday of unipolar dominance
immediately following the end of the Old Cold War.

The West
therefore clearly isn’t “winning”, but it also isn’t “losing” either. Rather,
America’s top diplomat is apparently following the age-old adage that “the best
defense is a good offense”, hence why he issued his provocative proclamation in
an attempt to strengthen intra-Western solidarity against these emerging
systemic challenges to its historic rule.

The “idea” of the “west”

By the
“West”, Pompeo explicitly said that this concept “doesn’t define a space or a
piece of real state. It’s any nation  any
nation that adopts a model of respect for individual freedom, free enterprise,
national sovereignty. They’re part of this idea of the West.” In other words,
it’s an ideology by virtue of its description simply as an “idea”, one which
takes the form of distinct political and economic systems.

According
to him, “sovereignty underpins our greatness collectively”, with the US leading
the way for the rest of the West. As he put it, “We honor the right of every
nation to carry on their affairs as they choose, so long as they don’t try to
interfere with our sovereignty or do harm to our friends. Look, we urge other
nations to protect human dignity, because we believe in unalienable rights. We
support independent nations.

Our
signature  our signature military project
together is a defensive alliance. We respect the rule of law and we honor
intellectual property rights. We don’t interfere in other nations’ elections.”
These defining features supposedly contrast with the non-Western policies
practiced by Russia, China, and Iran, which he later elaborated upon with his
characteristic bravado by portraying those three as the greatest threats to the
international system.

Hypocrisy after hypocrisy

This is
terribly ironic because the US still doesn’t “honor the right of every nation
to carry on their affairs as they choose”, with his subsequent quip about
“urging other nations to protect human dignity” as America understands it being
proof of the hypocrisy behind his words. It’s true that Trump envisages the US’
partners behaving a bit more independently than in times past, but only insofar
as their new approach reinforces America’s continued leadership instead of
undermining it.

For
example, it’s much more cost-effective and less risky for the US to assemble a
“Lead From Behind” coalition of states to advance shared regional interests
instead of the US pursuing its own unilaterally, which entails it bearing the
financial and physical burdens of doing so.

“Burden
sharing”, as the Trump Administration is so fond of talking about, makes
complete sense from his country’s perspective, but going beyond that into the
realm of independently clinching energy deals with Russia or technology ones
with China is absolutely unacceptable for the simple reason that those
independent decisions accelerate the erosion of America’s geopolitical control
over the collective “West”. It’s for this reason that the US is very selective
about the “independent” policies pursued by its partners.

The
“signature military project” that Pompeo is so proud of  NATO 
no longer has any pretense of being a “defensive alliance” like it was
portrayed during the Old Cold War, instead taking on increasingly aggressive
responsibilities related to the expansion of its military might along Russia’s
western frontier. Furthermore, NATO envisages playing a global role in the
Mideast and possibly even the Afro-Pacific (“Indo-Pacific”) in order to
“contain” Iran and China respectively just like it’s attempting to do to
Russia.

His remark
about “respecting the rule of law” is also insincere because the US regularly
threatens its partners with primary or “secondary” sanctions in the event that
they don’t abide by America’s unilateral ones which it has no international
legal right to enforce upon others. Nor, for that matter, does the US “honor
intellectual property rights”.

The
Washington Post recently revealed that the CIA was secretly in control of the
“Crypto” encryption company for decades, during which time over 120 countries
had their secret operations compromised through what the outlet described as
“the intelligence coup of the century“. Since many technological breakthroughs
usually occur in the military sphere before the private one, it can only be
imagined how much the US stole from the world.

is remark
about “respecting the rule of law” is also insincere because the US regularly
threatens its partners with primary or “secondary” sanctions in the event that
they don’t abide by America’s unilateral ones which it has no international
legal right to enforce upon others. Nor, for that matter, does the US “honor
intellectual property rights”.

The
Washington Post recently revealed that the CIA was secretly in control of the
“Crypto” encryption company for decades, during which time over 120 countries
had their secret operations compromised through what the outlet described as
“the intelligence coup of the century“. Since many technological breakthroughs
usually occur in the military sphere before the private one, it can only be
imagined how much the US stole from the world.

As for the
claim that the US “doesn’t interfere in other nations’ elections”, a quick
review of the CIA’s own public archives reveals that this has been America’s
preferred modus operandi for decades. Manipulating the electoral process of
other states in order to ensure that leaders amenable to American interests
“democratically” obtained or maintained power is a hallmark of that
intelligence agency’s activities.

It takes a
certain type of chutzpah to have formerly served as the Director of the CIA in
charge of these ongoing operations yet still keep a straight face while
literally lying to the rest of the world in such an unbelievable way by
behaving as if the US has never done such a thing in history despite its own
declassified documents clearly contradicting this.

It can only
be out of despair and desperation that anyone would ever undertake such an approach,
further confirming the author’s initial observation that it’s reacting
defensively by going on the information warfare offensive against its
geopolitical rivals. The days of uni-polarity are over, but the US still has
more power to shape the evolving international system than any other, though
not necessarily against the joint (but not always coordinated) efforts of
Russia and China.

Circling the wagons

Faced with
this unprecedented strategic challenge, Pompeo believes that it’s best for the
US to rally its partners around the “idea” of the “West” by fearmongering about
those states which practice completely different political and/or economic
policies while misportraying their foreign policies in such a way as to accuse
them of the exact same things that the US is guilty of.

The purpose
in pointing this out isn’t to distract the reader with “whataboutism”, but just
to get them to think about Pompeo’s motives for deceiving his audience while
making the case that “the West is winning”. It’s not “losing” since the US is
still stronger than all of its rivals, but it certainly isn’t “winning” because
it wouldn’t have to resort to such desperate infowar measures if it was truly
confident that it would indefinitely retain its international position.

The best
description of the current state of affairs is that the world is indeed in the
midst of myriad paradigm changes that are profoundly reshaping the global
system, but the US still believes that it can emerge from this indefinite
transition as the world’s continued leader.

To do that,
however, it must absolutely ensure that its “Western” partners aren’t “wooed”
by Russia and China to the point where they undertaken decisions that are
detrimental to the US’ strategic goals.

The new cold war

The best
way to prevent that from happening is to resort to the Old Cold War-like
division of the world into the “West” and the non-West, relying on ideological
means to differentiate the American-led system from the more inclusive
multipolar one that its rivals are jointly striving to build.

This policy
is primarily pursued for defensive purposes and speaks to just how uncertain
the US is about the future of its global leadership, hence why it’s going on
the infowar offensive. Just like during the Old Cold War, the nascent New Cold
War is increasingly focusing on the importance of perception management
techniques for promoting geopolitical objectives.

The
intended targets are decision makers and regular folks alike, with the former
being tasked to reorient their countries towards the US and away from its
rivals while the latter are intended to put pressure upon them “from below”
(through externally provoked Color Revolutions) if they don’t.

For as much
as many pundits proclaimed the “end of ideology” after the Old Cold War, they
couldn’t have been more wrong since ideology is back with a vengeance in the
New Cold War. Its form and substance have changed since then, but nobody should
be mistaken into thinking that ideology no longer matters when it clearly does
more than ever now.

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