“Darkness has called to darkness… where our money talks and multiplies the darkness of a land…” — Robert Lowell
The recent shock to the world of seeing the United States not only assassinating top General Qassem Soleimani of Iran, but also President Donald Trump threatening to bomb 52 locations — including, per his tweet, places of “very high level and important to the Iranian culture” considered world heritage sites — has awakened to many the deep shifts that have now entered the geopolitical power game. Or perhaps some have just belatedly realized the aggressiveness with which the US will pursue its interests, with an entirely different standard of appropriateness and proportionality from the rest of the world.
Preemptive strikes for the US is not just a considered option when in “imminent danger,” but a part of everyday options. This has been experienced also in different recent occasions with Syria and Iran, where the US or its citizens don’t have to be in danger, or on the defensive to launch missile strikes. Note also that the US has declared that nuclear weapons may also be considered for such occasions, while China and most nations have declared they will not be the first to use such. Several nations have also learned to use drones effectively for attacks at low risk to their people… robots, digital and space will be the new arms of armed forces.
Diplomacy and negotiations with some countries are also reformatting to be hardline all the time, with little mutuality, consistency, or reliability in consideration. Complete submission is the goal of some, with frequent gratuitous backtracking. The initial terms: that you may not defend yourself, or retaliate, you must become a complete dependent first.
Note that a truce on the trade war between the US and China fell through once despite an agreement reached with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. Later, despite substantive terms agreement reached, because of the requirement that “US will impose punitive tariffs on Chinese products any time it feels that China does not fully implement the agreement, while China should not retaliate.” Similarly, North Korea was expected to do unilateral denuclearization before the US begins to lift sanctions. Iran had already met the terms of the 2015 denuclearization agreement, as confirmed by the United Kingdom, France, Germany and even US Defense Secretary James Mattis, and then Trump decided to cancel the agreement, even increasing sanctions.
What happened to those who accepted such terms in agreements with the US? In just the last 2 decades, after Iraq stopped its weapons program, it was accused falsely of having Weapons of Mass Destruction, invaded, and its President Saddam Hussein was hanged, plunging Iraq into political and economic chaos, suffering over nearly a million casualties.
Libya also cut back its weapons development, was invaded, and President Gaddafi (who helped the Philippines through difficult years) was given to rebels to torture and kill. Both in no way represented a threat to the US militarily, and were former allies.
Most people are unaware of the agreement with Gorbachev’s USSR, dissolving the Soviet Union and liberating the different nations in the Soviet Bloc, on the agreement by the US that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would not try to recruit, will “not move one inch” into the Eastern Bloc. But NATO/US ended up recruiting every country right up to the doorstep of Russia… Ukraine.
Weapons pointing at you, and bases right up to your doorstep… Today Gorbachev has his peace awards from the West, but is criticized by much of his own homeland, for being taken for a ride, so completely.
This inconsistency by the US will likely push many countries to a more independent stance, and the militarily aggressive actions are likely to make those countries who are already heavily armed spend more, and prefer to diversify their sourcing. It even convinces some that their best insurance is to attain nuclear capability.
Politics has entered nearly everything, as before, but on a much more intense level. If you dont have power or economics on your side, fairness, mutuality and even survival itself may be hard to achieve. Venezuela’s embassies and accounts have been taken over, even its pharmaceutical imports have been controlled, and a new “president” Guaido has been declared by the US and other countries. Germany and other European Union countries are threatened with US sanctions if they build and buy alternative gas sources from Russia through Nordstrom2, which is much more economical than the gas the US sells as “molecules of freedom”.
Despite EU countries wanting to buy Huawei tekecommunications equipment, which they point out are far advanced and much more economical than US equipment, they are threatened with sanctions and intelligence blackouts. Countries are not allowed to buy Iranian or Venezuelan oil without US approval. Turkey is threatened with sanctions for buying Russian S400 missiles, which cost less than half or a quarter of the US Patriot/Thaad missiles, are easier to manage, have longer ranges and faster speeds, and can be independently operated; but Turkey hinted that it may close two major US nuclear bases if sanctioned, so there is still no resoluton to this. Politics of bans and exclusions has also entered education, research, the use of social software apps, sports.
Another characteristic of the geopolitics of the US in the last few years has been the constantly shifting goals, making a final agreement hard to arrive at. Hegemonic extraterritoriality of their application, i.e. US laws and expectations are expected by the US to be followed by the rest of the world, including police powers in arresting and extraditing people. The US $ based financial system, and reporting, now requires everyone to report, where it is doable, using US rules. China’s efforts to internationalize their currency for more uses, even while it declares the RMB as not being meant to replace the dollar but just to achieve more volume, is seen as a challenge to rather than a supplement to US currency hegemony.
WE ARE IN A NEW DARK Age. Despite unprecedented global prosperity, access to the corners of the world, technological progress, and education… society and values are at a “reset” and are confused.
A significant number of leaders and countries are gripped by an adversarial rather than a harmonizing approach, are emotional rather than logical. We are being polarized by self-selection algorithms feeding us more of what we want, rather than what is complementary, different.
For a better world. Do we need a new spirituality, new forms of formation and leadership… do we try to search and develop them, or will algorithmic and natural flows define us?