Image courtesy of scienceabc.com
If 2017 was bad for my uncle, 2018 has proven to be worse. Under the current set-up, barring the various memes and other 5-second vents of cyber humour, this is not the least encouraging; events are fast headed to a corner that will force uncle’s nastiness through the roof. And that’s gonna affect millions of us in ways that you wouldn’t want to be alive to witness; quoting Mihajlo Doknić here – “the survivors would envy the dead”.
Keep your interest levels high over the weekend; feed as much as you can on Narendra Gandhi and Lotus Nath. Because what you are about to read might stem some of that excitement. Apologies for that.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Syria was the tipping point that disbalanced that symbol of inevitability. Inevitability, as in: “What we say, goes”, like that Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian book. If you are to look around to gauge the profoundest global change that transpired between 2014 and 2018, you would notice that uncle is suddenly not the single most important character anymore. And it all came to light in that September of 2015 when Russia bombed ISIL bunkers in Syria. I don’t know if future historians would tag Syria as some kind of “Reverse Afghan Moment” – but I have a feeling it would be apt, for it is the first watershed event of 21st century.
After his humiliation in Syria, and after realizing that Russian military and strategic might has gone up to a level where open intervention is not on the cards, uncle is now busy Playing Pakistan - push for low intensity conflicts over and above the usual aid to separatists… lend legitimacy to all kind of destabilization – big or small.
Talking about destabilization, initiating the copybook ones are also getting kinda dicey. For example, this age-old ambition of keeping KSA and Iran at each other’s throat has reached a strange corner where these two nations are actually helping each other! You see, uncle had asked OPEC (which virtually is KSA) not to slow down production on the eve of Iran sanctions. And now MBS has had a meeting with Russia and has decided to NOT LISTEN to Uncle. Which means the OPEC has taken a decision to go ahead and reduce production to a) stabilize the market, and b) push the price a little up. [On another note, and about this sudden price drop: those Indians who – going by the Indian MSM headlines – sincerely believe that our PM’s dashing personality had a role to play in the oil prices going down… could be the off-springs of the ones that sincerely believed that Gandhi and Nehru ‘fought and won’ Indian Independence]. So anyway, that sudden drop in the global price was a little tough on the budget balance for the primary oil producers. They had to do something to address it. And now since they are gonna cut down on their production, not only would the price go up again, but Iran would have plenty places to sell following this drop; sanctions notwithstanding. KSA and Iran know that, and both are okay with the arrangements.
With more and more countries dumping the dollar for this or that currency, uncle is staring at an economic crisis over and above a military one. His financial clout is on the wane. Strategic culture has a passage here that delivers the crux of it: (https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/06/03/india-joins-international-group-dumping-us-dollars-oil-trades-bypass-us-sanctions.html). The only hitch in the piece is that the writer thinks it would still be a long time for the dollar dominance to finally get over; dollar after all took nearly a century to displace the pound-sterling. But I have seen Alvin Toffler and his logic of reduction in evolution timespan to be particularly accurate in such societal cases. Note that the trade war against China dropped as quickly as it was initiated. A sign of weakening economic might? So, if this is barely a couple of months after the dumping has begun, what makes one assume that dollar is going to be on top for the next 100 years?
Another major roadblock in this course is the BRI, which is essentially the result of a Chinese vision of bypassing the major sea-routes. When you have a few seconds to spare, just think about the audacity of the project in terms of the areas it impacts in future. You could dislike China personally; yet that is definitely not gonna diminish your amazement.
There are differences building up within Uncle-EU alliance. Ukraine was a nasty shock, to begin with. When they realized that Ukraine, and possibly other bona fide European real-estates like Ukraine (along that North-South axis), were to be utilized through their complete and absolute destruction to form a first-line kind of patch, to satisfy someone’s wet-dream of ‘showing Russia its place’ AND making some money in the process, they immediately also realized that the second-line must then be another North-South axis on the map of Europe that is to the west of Ukraine. They soon started mumbling – among themselves initially… later found some resonance, following which they expressed interest to build their own army or trade in their own currency with the uncle-sanction-hit nations. Not saying that Europeans suddenly have discovered the balls to kick NATO out of their continent, but just that, on the event of a catastrophe, the survivors might shake their heads politely in realization that NATO’s been a ‘mauvais garçon’.
[Talking about Ukraine: the Ukrainians that thought uncle would make them BMW-driving rich are worse than the Indians that believed that PM Modi would deposit 1.5 million in each bank account. Modi is a bona fide election winner; uncle is a bona fide regime-changer, with some good BMWs (Bomb Me Wild) delivered not so far away in Yugoslavia not so long ago. The more I think, the more I am convinced that Ukrainians in general, are probably better learning-retardant materials than Indians. Perhaps someday when I get to sample a few Ukrainians other than the dancing extras from Bollywood, I will do a comparative analysis.]
Then, consider this unilateral decision of scrapping the INF treaty. The result of this kind of inept and third-rated call is that Europe suddenly finds itself under the Russian mid-range missile reach. And though Putin is nowhere like your usual uncle-planner with balls for brains to one day have an itch that he can’t scratch (See, balls itch. Period. And if your balls are lodged within your skull, you tend to have an itch that you can’t scratch) and would want to nuke Europe for that; the very idea that uncle is ready to use and chuck anyone – even his trusted partner for years – leaves EU in an interesting jam. This is sure to impact opinion and behaviour.
Make no mistake; the few hairline fractures along Uncle-EU ‘friendship’ are definitely going to grow thicker and thicker. You can take that to the bank.
There are numerous other things happening – impossible for someone who is not into full time tracking of global events to list and write about. But broadly, the behavioural trends here are: KSA choosing not to listen to directives… China choosing to dump the dollar… Pakistan choosing to lay conditions even while begging… Putin choosing to intervene in Syria… India choosing to go ahead and buy S400… EU choosing to do business with Iran/Russia… The mess is spreading; it is spreading fast. The reaction to this would be drastic
The concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD for short) lent a kind of a balance under the sense of self-preservation – a balance that was the hallmark of the Cold War era. Pretty soon, it occurred to some asshat that since USSR was essentially ‘evil’, allowing an evil empire as a counterbalance to American godliness was a sacrilege. Thus began the argument over the morality of MAD balance. And as it normally happens with these lines of self-righteousness, there soon was a rush to find a way to WIN a nuclear war.
Began the era of Nuclear Primacy. In came Kissinger (Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy) and Kahn (On Thermonuclear War); a new term known as ‘Acceptable Loss’ was coined, and… yes, a number was fixed! 40 million dead Americans, in case of a nuclear skirmish. Acceptable Loss. “Chills ran down my spine while reading the sober explanations of Kissinger and Kahn about the different scenarios of nuclear war and the tables, listing the numbers of the immediate dead, the mid-term dead, the dead from long-term sufferings, the injured, the contaminated, the survivors, the radiation effects and other devastating consequences of a nuclear war, are still engraved in my memory. The suggestion by Kahn to feed the elderly with contaminated food, for their life expectancy would not exceed the time it would take them to die as a consequence of contaminated food, took my notion of cynicism to a new level.” (http://the-levant.com/america-nuclear-against/) Why even this concept of loss that could be termed acceptable? Because America had began exploring avenues for a first-strike.
That was much before today. Today since we have shields like S500, an agile Russian fleet and mobile (often hidden) nuke launching stations… we have a kind of a guaranteed deliverance of a subtle message from Russia that living under the shadow of MAD was much, much better. But subtlety, thy name is not uncle.
Uncle doesn’t practise subtlety. Uncle doesn’t understand subtlety. So while I could dismiss this uncle billionaires and centi-millionaires buying or building deep underground shelters as another demonstration of paradise-syndrome, it is a little difficult to dismiss the uncle-plan to deploy B61-12 in Italy, Belgium etc. These are special bombs: capable of deep destruction of underground central command bunkers etc. And under that same light, it becomes more difficult to dismiss the junking of INF. Apparently a few guys somewhere deep inside the establishments are still time-trapped in the 80s and believe in Kissinger and Kahn and Nuclear Primacy. If that’s true, then I am a little at loss to think what’d the new stats for Acceptable Loss be. The population then was 200 million uncle-children. Now it is 327 million. The 40 million could well be 60 million now. And think… if uncle doesn’t mind butchering 40-60 million of his sons and daughter, then would he give a flying fuck about the rest of the world?
[If you can think of any other reasons behind uncle’s walking out of the INF, do scribble your comment]
Is this collective humiliation meted out by the up and coming regional aspirants soon getting my uncle to a stage where he felt ‘forced’ to deal with his hand? Earlier on I used to think that I and my contemporaries would be dead and gone before this came to pass. Not anymore. Can only hope that Xi, or Putin, or someone else motivates some sanity in Old Uncle before he blows the whole house up. Saker has some disturbing updates put up here: http://thesaker.is/the-u-s-governments-plan-is-to-conquer-russia-by-a-surprise-invasion/
The coming of the end of an Empire. It has to be ugly. Really ugly.