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Evolving Asia, US Policy and the Bishkek Summit


The recent Bishkek Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has illustrated the rapid changes taking place in Asia and Eurasia (from Beijing to Kaliningrad) and their potential to influence the global scenario. The clear and persistent reference on the part of Russia and China to the need for a new international trading system not centered on the US dollar, but instead on a basket including the Yuan, the Ruble and the Euro was not opposed by any of the participating leaders who feel the pressure from Trump’s Washington to fall in line with American views and projects for reframing the global system in the interest of the US ruling class. 

China’s Belt and Road Initiative which is being combined with the financial and administrative structures of the Eurasian Economic Community was front and centre at the summit and Prime Minister Modi did not voice the reservations that India has expressed since the start of that ambitious sino-hegemonic infrastructural plan. He avoided mentioning it but by the same token signalled that India had no interest in furthering the US agenda in the Indo-Pacific, primarily directed against China. The budding synergy between Russia, China, India (the informal RIC Trio which is scheduled to convene again on the sidelines of the upcoming Osaka G-20 summit) provided momentum for the meeting and the presence of the Iranian head of government rang another dissonant note with regard to American positions and diktats.

It is widely acknowledged at official levels that Trump’s capricious, contradictory and unpredictable decisions have alienated a considerable number of countries as much as they have deepened the confusion, divisions and mutual resentments among American citizens. The last two years have seen many wake up calls going from Washington, New York and from the Californian headquarters of the Internet giant companies to the rest of the world, making people aware that the US is no longer interested in looking like the benevolent and reluctant, albeit admittedly often bungling hegemon that it claimed to be in previous decades. By ostensibly weaponising its economic and diplomatic influence to further its military might the US has, a recent article in the Economist pointed out, paradoxically exposed and lost much of its capacity for deterrence by scaring both designated enemies and official friends who can no longer remain under the reassuring impression that as the chief architect of the post-war world order and the anointed heir and partner of the British Empire the American superpower is committed to the preservation of the global structures established in the course of the last seventy years under its patronage.

Everyone feels potentially under threat and no one is safe from American overt or covert attacks, despite or rather because of Trump’s visible ambition to revive Winston Churchill’s vision for a global union of Anglo-Saxon white nations. 

From being the rule-setter and chief beneficiary of the international system the US has now transformed, at least in the eyes of the factions represented by the Trump administration, into an angry dupe and victim of the rest of the world, claiming that many countries, such as China, European and Middle Eastern states, Japan, Russia, Latin American nations and even Canada have abused the generosity and trust of the American people either by stealing its assets and technology, selling it more goods and services than they bought, practising unfair discrimination against US exports, flooding the territory with refugees and migrants or conducting stealth warfare against American interests by interfering in its elections. As a result of this self-serving assessment, Washington claims the right and invokes its compulsion to retaliate through sanctions and tariffs, seek punitive damages, curb other national economies and force foreign states to purchase its military and civilian products under threat of coercive measures. 

This new tale of victimhood serves the dual purpose of justifying, at least in its own view, the unilateral, arbitrary and sometimes extortionary methods applied by the Trump regime while pandering to a domestic electorate keenly aware of the degradation of its socio-economic conditions beneath the tides of financial, digital and cyber-robotic globalization. The US military-industrial establishment thus avoids facing its own role in impoverishing the country by diverting a considerable part of all its resources into runaway, unaudited and unaccountable ‘defence and national security’ budgets since the strong arm tactics of the current administration requires even more and ever more money for ‘the world’s greatest military’ tasked with the job of keeping mankind in line with American objectives.

The objections to the ‘Trumpian’ allegations are well known; most of America’s woes are self-made and derive from conscious decisions made in its ruling business and monetary circles. The project of making America into the world’s banker by creating an endless supply of fiat currency to purchase goods from all over the world instead of producing them at home (in order for the US and British financial elites to save money on salaries and social costs) is the main cause of China’s stupendous enrichment in the last forty years. As a result the US is a debt-based consumer economy which evades inflation by exporting its IOUs (dollars) abroad without ever having to honour them since the greenback is the inevitable instrument for commerce and investment which gives the Federal Reserve, its member banks and the US Treasury a virtual stranglehold on any and all significant transactions carried out on the planet.

However, this complex system requires functional multilateral integration at a quasi-global scale and the current administration is now jettisoning that framework so as to gain the freedom to operate as it wishes day-by-day without being bound by any commitments. Although the White House says it prefers bilateral agreements to multi-lateral ones as the former enable the US to use all its leverage against much weaker counterparts to force unequal treaties on them, it has already shown that it won’t respect even such ad hoc deals if it finds it in its interest to break or bypass them.

The unilateralist attitude of the US Government finds parallels in the policies increasingly adopted by the giant digital corporations that are now the spearhead of American influence worldwide such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, despite the fact that they make no secret of their antipathy for the Trump administration. They are also flexing their muscle to reshape, condition and control in many different ways, economically, culturally, ideologically their billions of customers to create the ‘centre-left liberal consumeristic’ global society in the mould of what we might define as the Californian way of life, pictured emblematically by the Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Las Vegas.

It was naïve to expect the so-called GAFA corporations to accumulate so much power, with the full support of the US government’s intelligence and military arms, without being called to use it at a given time in the interest of their owners and of the American state against any and all rivals and tributaries.

The rest of humanity is now in essence hammered by two seemingly contradictory US-promoted trends, the Judeo-evangelical conservative capitalist ‘New Cold War’ Gospel promoted by the Trump cohorts and the techno-consumeristic, pleasure-seeking materialism of the digital economy whose patrons claim not to like wars and to be committed to individual liberty but are quite willing to supply the high-tech war industry and to service state surveillance and mind control mechanisms because of the vast profits they draw from their synergy with the national security state.

It is in that alarming context that the strategic integration of Eurasia is taking shape. In the west and south through the joint Russian-Chinese plan to push US assets out of the Middle and Near East, with the support of Iran, Syria and even Turkey in certain respects; in the north through the build-up and development of the ‘Arctic Corridor and Silk Road’ and in the east through the ongoing rapprochement between the two Koreas concurrently with the Russian initiative to make Vladivostok a hub for economic cooperation between far-eastern Pacific nations and Eurasia. In Europe the Chinese 16+1 strategy and the Sino-Italian pact dovetail with the Russo-German joint energy-supply projects such as Northstream II.

The pro-NATO forces in the European Union are divided and unable to agree on the new leadership of the Commission, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Central Bank amidst a growing economic war between Germany and the United States and a renascent rivalry between France and Germany while Italy plays spoilsport. In the Gulf, Afghanistan and the Korea peninsula the US is stumped and its major allies Saudi Arabia and Israel are facing major domestic problems and unsolvable foreign policy crises. Indeed Saudi Arabia and its regional allies may not be in a position to sustain a long-standing state of acute hostility and hybrid warfare with Iran given the fragile state of their societies.

Eurasian powers are playing winning hands and India is in the right position to take advantage of the situation by working along with the other Euro-Asian leading nations who are set to benefit from the overall decline in American and western strength and resolve.

Source: Indian Defence Industries