Death of chavez
The year began with an event that caused euphoria in Washington: Venezuelan Comandante Hugo Chavez, the main critic of the “hypocritical gringo empire”, died. The most extravagant of the modern world leaders, one of the main instigators of the integration processes in Latin America - for the USA it was an eternal thorn in the eye. He managed to captivate and rally around himself regional leaders in opposition to Washington, create the so-called Bolivarian alternative, stressed that Latin America is not a “miscarriage of Europe”, that it is an independent civilization, developing according to its own laws, история which began not with the "great geographical discoveries."
Chavez largely contributed to the fact that the idea of the United States to create a free trade zone in the Western Hemisphere failed. He sought to unite all countries that oppose American one-sided policy, established excellent relations with Iran, Belarus, China, but pinned his main hopes with Russia. “The United States does not want a revival of this power,” he said in 2008, “but Russia is reborn, and the world needs a strong Russia.”
It is quite natural that in America no one wept about Chavez. As the head of the international committee of the House of Representatives Republican Ed Royce said, “his death is a blow to the anti-American alliance of leftist leaders. Well, good riddance! ”However, as it turned out later, nothing really changed with the departure of the charismatic Venezuelan commandant. It is simply that Venezuela, a country dependent on energy exports, has become the leader of integration in Latin America — but an economic giant like Brazil.
Coup in Egypt: the collapse of political Islam
Another change of power in Egypt has become a big disappointment for the American political elite. In Washington, they were confident that President Mohammed Mursi was firmly seated in his chair. He was called "the ruler, faithful to the ideals of the February date revolution." However, the Egyptians judged differently.
It is curious that even in 2011, an American political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski, a man with a wealth of life experience, answered the question of how the situation will develop in Egypt, said: “In this country, the army has always controlled and will continue to rule. Let's wait". He was immediately accused of thinking in the old categories. And when, after becoming president, Mursi dismissed the leaders of the military junta, and they took the visor and left, many proclaimed that the Egyptian generals were weakened and broken psychologically. But in reality, it seems, the military did not flatter themselves about the leadership qualities of the Muslim Brotherhood and were confident that the people would even turn to them for help.
As during the date revolution, the crowd in Tahrir Square, despite its telegenicity, turned out to be a minor player in the Egyptian drama. The goals of the military and the demonstrators coincided again. Both those and others dreamed of getting rid of Mursi. And the army actually took advantage of popular protests to retain the power that had belonged to it in Egypt ever since Colonel Gamal Abdel Naser carried out a military coup in 1952. Nasser built a state in the image and likeness of Kemalist Turkey, making the military its main support.
After the overthrow of Mursi, political analysts started talking about the fact that the large-scale transformation that the Middle East region is undergoing is far from complete. And if last year it seemed that Arab countries were slowly but surely moving towards the creation of a caliphate, now it turns out that the “Islamic awakening” caused a backlash from supporters of secular values and representatives of the so-called “deep state”. Barack Obama’s bet on radical Islamists does not seem to justify itself.
But in order to reach out to them, the American president, without a twinge of conscience, surrendered such loyal US allies as Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia, did not object to the government in Libya coming to power, consisting of half the members Al-Qaeda, and recognized the former terrorists as "moderate secular politicians." According to Gallup, during Obama's rule, attitudes toward America in the Middle East became even worse than in the era of the late Bush. And this despite the Cairo speech, flirting with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Libyan and Syrian epic.
It is worth noting that the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad welcomed the military coup in Egypt and declared that the idea of political Islam had "collapsed." “Before the events in Cairo,” the British newspaper Independent noted, “Assad was considered the last Arab nationalist leader who opposes the Islamists and defends secular values.” But this summer, the pendulum swung in the other direction.
Of course, the official position of Washington was that in Egypt we watched the revenge of the “military”, which overthrew the country's first democratically elected president. However, the Americans understood that sooner or later they would have to adapt to the situation and re-make bets in the Middle Eastern game.
Syria: Obama vs Putin
The turning point, of course, was Syria. Obama almost got involved in another Middle Eastern adventure on the side of radical Islamists, fighting with the secular state in the face of Assad. And it was only at the very last moment that he grabbed Putin’s proposal for the elimination of stocks of the Syrian chemical weapons. “Brilliant improvisation, which shows that Moscow is regaining influence on the world stage and again can conduct a dialogue with the United States on an equal footing”, - this is how the Russian initiative was commented in the world media.
And if at the beginning of August, Obama snicked out that at the last meetings of world leaders, Vladimir Putin “had the bored look of a bad student in the back row”, after a month he had to bite his tongue and even say thanks to the Russian president. Touchy, narcissistic leader of the United States, who hates when someone puts his weak-willed weak-willed, obviously will not forget this moment. And those two years that he has yet to spend in the White House, will devote to settling accounts with Putin, who so easily and naturally managed to beat him, temporarily taking the place of the main character on the world stage. For star-suffering Obama, this is a real blow.
“Despite the fact that many are now talking about a successful resolution of the Syrian crisis, in reality the situation has only become complicated,” writes The American Thinker, “and the main problem here is not even in the geopolitical confrontation of the“ great powers ”, but in the psychology of the leaders. Obama is used to acting as the ruler of New Rome and will not tolerate competition. He has a narcissistic personality type. Recall his pursed lips, crossed arms, offended naughty facial expression. American presidents have never looked like this - it looks more like stubborn youths and newly minted provincial teachers. And most likely, we will see how he will scold the careless student of Putin, who dared to challenge him. ”
Big Deal with Iran
After Putin’s Syrian triumph, Obama also wanted to try on the laurels of a peacemaker, and he began to prepare a “big deal” with Iran. At the talks in Geneva in exchange for the obligation of the IRI to freeze work at nuclear facilities for half a year, Western countries suspended the effect of international sanctions.
Political scientists have talked about the fact that the United States is preparing the ground for the revival of an alliance with Tehran. Indeed, as the experience of the war on terrorism has shown, the strategic interests of the two countries coincide in many respects. The US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq were useful to the Iranians, because as a result, their main rivals in the region, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, were destroyed. Thanks to the American soldiers, for the first time since the formation of the Iraqi state, the Shiite majority, which has fallen to the former metropolis, has come to power in Baghdad. It was after this that the version emerged that the United States secretly plans to replace its Sunni allies with Shiite partners. As former CIA agent in the Middle East, Robert Baer, noted, “America should not interfere with Iran in its quest for domination of Islam. Two states are ripe for an alliance modeled on what Nixon and Mao created at the time. ”
According to some, the Obama administration expects to “turn the page in a dragged out drama,” recognizing Iran as a regional superpower and shifting responsibility for the fate of the Middle East to it. It is no secret that this has long been an idea of a fix for the American president. After all, the United States, experiencing a shale revolution, will soon overcome its dependence on Middle Eastern oil, and it would be highly unwise to maintain the former system of alliances in Washington, which requires incredible efforts and large financial investments in the region. However, it should be understood that it is not so easy to get off Obama. He has yet to fight with influential oil and military corporations, as well as lobbying structures interested in maintaining the status quo.
And most importantly, the new American policy is perceived as hostile in two states that have traditionally been considered the key Middle Eastern allies of the United States: in Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both countries oppose the reformatting of American policy in the region, which implies the rejection of a military solution to the Syrian problem and dialogue with Tehran. The existing system, they assure, is well-adjusted, has a high ability to adapt, and a strong Iran that has escaped isolation, does not fit into it. Politicians in Jerusalem and Riyadh in a harsh tone reprimand Washington: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu talks about "Obama's historical mistake," and Saudi Prince Bandar, the very Bandar president Bush called his son, talks about "a sharp turn" in the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia and the gap with the United States.
It is possible, of course, that, as a result, the West will once again return to traditional anti-Iranian policy, especially if in Tehran (and this is very likely) the Geneva agreements will be perceived only as an opportunity to “pull time”. But we must understand that in the event of the breakdown of the “big deal”, Obama can finally forget about his ambitions in the international arena.
Russia is returning
After all, the main foreign policy project of his first term, the “reset” in relations with Russia, seems to be completely buried. This became apparent in the summer, when the incident of Edvardd Snowden, which in the American media was called "a heavy slap in the face to Washington." “In the United States, it seems, they finally understood,” political analyst Dmitry Simes argued, “that Russia is not a bobby who stands at attention and sticks out the tongue at the command of the American chief.”
It has also become obvious that the current leaders of Russia and the United States are unlikely to be able to find a common language, because they have practically no points of contact. Putin lives in the real world, Obama - in the idealistic. Putin upholds conservative, in fact, values; Obama has long been an icon of postmodern. Putin for Obama is too harsh and straightforward, Obama for Putin is too lightweight, naive and focused on minor issues that appear to the Russian president as political tinsel.
After Putin returned to the presidency, Russia made it clear that it does not consider that the development option offered by the West is an axiom and intends to focus on its own value ideas. A new identity has emerged: diplomats and political scientists are increasingly appealing to the experience of nineteenth-century Russia, a country of great culture that has achieved high rates of economic growth. It is curious that this image is also being returned in the West. The sharp ideological opposition of the second half of the 20th century - in the past, modern Russia, like the Romanov empire, is considered a reactionary neighbor, which, alas, has to be dealt with. As in the 19th century, the cult of personal freedom prevailing in the West is opposed to Russian traditions, according to which state interests prevail over private ones.
After beating the United States in the Middle East, literally two months later, Putin was celebrating a victory in Ukraine. The EU-proposed association, in the opinion of most experts, would lead the country to default and economic collapse. Moscow, without furnishing it with any political conditions, was able to provide much-needed assistance to Kiev. Even the head of the German Foreign Ministry, Frank Walter Steinmeier, was forced to admit that "the EU offered such a package of financial and economic assistance, which was completely insufficient to permanently tie Ukraine to Europe."
For many years, Putin was exposed in the West as a “persecutor” of such “freedom fighters” like Mikhail Khodorkovsky (at one time a former oligarch who planned to sell most of his company's assets to an American oil giant, managed to create an influential lobby in Europe and the USA) and participants so-called "Pussy Rayot Group". Now all these prisoners of conscience released from the dungeon. And although it would be beneficial to present it as a result of pressure from other great powers, or as Putin’s forced move on the eve of the 2014 Olympiad, Western political media saw in the political amnesty, rather, an indicator of the strength of the Russian president, his self-confidence. “This year, Vladimir Putin, both in domestic and in international politics, feels at the top of his power. And that’s why he decided to get rid of the old political problems now, ”says the head of the Russian edition of Deutsche Welle Ingo Mannteufel. - From the point of view of Putin, Snowden, Syria and Ukraine are his main successes in the outgoing year. Proclaiming Russia a stronghold of traditional values, he launched a counter-offensive on the ideological front. For the first time after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he managed to form a Russian political ideology that finds supporters both inside the country and abroad. ” “Russia is returning,” the refrain sounds in the world's leading media.
Chinese Monroe Doctrine
What is curious: in almost all matters of international politics, Moscow is now supported by Beijing. And in the West one can more and more often hear that the latent confrontation between the USA and the PRC is gradually moving towards an open confrontation. In Europe and America, of course, the myth of the hegemonic ambitions of the PRC is unwound, but this is a propaganda trick just like the speculations about the “Russian threat”. In fact, Russia and China are two regional superpowers that are striving to establish their leadership: one in Eurasia, and the second in Southeast Asia.
As you know, back in 2011, the United States announced that at any price they would maintain their military and political superiority in the Asia-Pacific region, which means that it seems that they cannot avoid a clash with China. And in this sense, the year ends with a symbolic event: in the East China Sea, the Chinese Navy ship from the escort group of the aircraft carrier Liaolin almost rammed the American cruiser Cowpens, which the Chinese suspected of spying. (As a result, the cruiser was forced to turn out of its way in order to avoid a collision with a Chinese vessel).
Beijing is feeling more confident. And the reason for this is not only a gradual weakening of the United States, but also an increase in the power of the PRC. In terms of purchasing power parity, China’s GDP already stands at three-quarters of the US: it reached 12 with a half trillion dollars against 15 and a half with the United States. At the same time, Americans are in debt, like silk, - the US national debt exceeds GDP and is 17 with a half trillion dollars, and China has huge foreign exchange reserves - 3 with more than trillion dollars, that is, the first place in the world.
At the end of November, Beijing introduced an air defense zone over the East China Sea and demanded that foreign aircraft report in advance on their targets and route when entering this zone. The PRC is having several territorial disputes with its neighbors, and experts are increasingly wondering how strong the Chinese are militarily. “If three or four years ago,” says Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, “any Chinese delegation - humanitarian or military - during a visit to European countries raised the issue of lifting the arms embargo on China, now - how it cut off. Experts explain this by saying that the technologies that were needed by the People's Republic of China have already been either stolen or obtained independently. ”
Not so long ago, in the Gobi Desert, successful tests of a DF-21D ballistic missile capable of hitting aircraft carriers passed. This rocket breaks the entire American strategy of local wars, because the US has long been accustomed to bombing opponents from its invulnerable aircraft carriers (recall that in Taiwan’s 1996 during the elections in Taiwan, Beijing gave a demonstration of power, but when the Americans sent two aircraft carriers to the conflict area, the Chinese were forced retreat. And in the PRC it was perceived as a painful blow).
Yes, at the official level in China, they talk about a “strategic dialogue” with America, but the media unleash the theme of national humiliation to which the Western powers, including the United States, subjected China to the era of “opium wars”. At the same time, the policy of realizing the “Chinese dream” - the Great State, the great nation - is being proclaimed. The Chinese Institute of Marxism has released a must-see film “Think about the dangers in peacetime: the historical lessons of the fall of the CPSU”, designed even for an illiterate peasant.
It is curious that recently Chinese political scientists are actively studying the experience of Russia during the 2008 war with Georgia. “Look,” they say, “Georgia was an ally of the United States, but the Americans could not do anything to protect it. And when the other ally of Washington, the Philippines, challenges us, why can't we deal with them, just like the Russians did with Georgia? ”
An interview with a professor at the University of Chicago, John Mirshaymer, was recently published in the newspaper “Huangqiu Shibao”. To the question "Can China come to greatness peacefully?" he replied in the negative. “China has its own Monroe Doctrine,” he said. “And this country is not interested in allowing America into its“ patrimony ”.” The Monroe Doctrine, as is known, for two centuries allowed the United States to feel the master in the Western Hemisphere, China is now seeking to dominate Southeast Asia. And many experts are convinced that sooner or later this will lead to a clash with the United States. At least, influential American political analysts have recently identified the 12 causes of a possible conflict between the two powers. And the US-Chinese conflict is much more serious than the Middle Eastern wars. This is actually the beginning of the third world.