As the world remains shocked at the atrocities committed against civilians in the northern Rakhine state, Myanmar government has once again blocked all aid agencies from delivering vital supplies of food, water, and medicine to thousands of civilians trapped in military campaign zone.
The Guardian quoted the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar that “because the security situation and government field-visit restrictions rendered us unable to distribute assistance,” suggesting authorities were not providing permission to operate. Further to this United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and sixteen major non-government aid organisations – including Oxfam and Save the Children – have also complained that the government has restricted access to the conflict area.
It is not the first time that humanitarian actors face the challenge of providing humanitarian aid to the victims. Governments, especially those who fight rebels in their territories, keep humanitarian agencies at bay doubting their independence, impartiality, and neutrality. The states also use control over humanitarian aid access as a strategy to weaken the rebel controlled territories. These restrictive measures may consist of regulation of movement, blockades, penalization, and arrests of relief staff, and various bureaucratic strategies for restricting access, like preventing aid workers from entering the country. Restrictions on access can take any dimension like denials or delays in processing travel permits, limitations on the number of staff, and arbitrary bureaucratic limitations on the passage of relief supplies. In the present case of Myanmar also, its leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s office accused aid workers of helping “terrorists,” a claim that prompted fears for the safety of aid workers. Myanmar authorities have also denied international staff access by holding up visa approvals.
Not only the States, various rebel and militia groups have also been responsible for obstructing relief efforts. Their tactics range from harassing checkpoints to outright denials of access. In some cases, aid organizations themselves have been targeted for killing, attacks on relief convoys, looting of supplies, and even the killing of relief personnel. Irrespective of from where restrictions on access have occurred, it leads to thousands of deaths from malnutrition and disease, and as these numbers increase world over, it is a serious concern for the humanitarian world.
These challenges have increased manifold, as most of the present day conflicts like one in Myanmar are not traditional international armed conflicts, where international law provisions offer access as a matter of right for humanitarian agencies. If international law does not give a cogent answer on the right of access to aid agencies in Rakhine State, is Myanmar Government justified in its action?
Sanctity of Humanitarian Aid under International Law
International humanitarian law (IHL) provides legal sanctity to the work of humanitarian agencies in supporting governments for fulfilling their obligations to protect civilians when states are unable to do it. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 through its articles 55 and 81, and article 70 of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions have given the states a duty to provide humanitarian aid to the civilian population under their control. This includes non-nationals, whether free or detained and the people of occupied territories of the adverse party. Further, if states are unable to do so, they are bound to accept the offer of third parties like impartial aid agencies to provide the required support.
At the same time in cases of internal conflicts (non-international armed conflicts as well as in other internal disturbances, like in the present Myanmar’s case) International law, does not give aid agencies any unfettered rights to reach out to the civilians. Right to access in such situations are subjected to the consent of state parties and scrutiny by them under Article 70 of Additional Protocol I, Article 18 of Additional Protocol II, and Articles 23 & 59 of Geneva Convention IV. Such a liberty of states to control the movements of aid agencies inside their boundaries is primarily because in cases of conflicts of non-international nature States doesn’t want unnecessary international attention unless they decide so.
However, these restriction based upon the sovereign authority of the state is not absolute. As per the ICRC Commentaries to the Geneva Conventions, this consent requirement does not give unfettered discretion to allow or not to allow relief action. According to the Commentaries, if the humanitarian organization is impartial and neutral, then denial of relief action would amount to a violation of the rule prohibiting starvation of civilians as a method of combat. Further states have the primary responsibility to protect and ensure their basic need for survival of the civilians under Articles 55-56 of Geneva Convention IV. States are required to permit and facilitate the free passage of relief supplies and personnel and to guarantee their protection under Articles 23, 30 & 59 of Geneva Convention IV and Articles 70-71 of Additional Protocol I, and Art.18 of Additional Protocol II. There are also other international human rights documents, which provides for the right to freedom for movement for all, including for humanitarian personnel under Article 13 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 12 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Further, individual’s rights to survival and development including the right to food, medical treatment, and shelter are given under Article 25 of UDHR.
Further, if the restrictions on humanitarian access results in the deprivation of basic necessities, the attacks on relief organizations, and the destruction of sources for survival contribute to violations of various international norms especially it may constitute Grave Breaches under IHL and crimes under the International Criminal Law especially the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute. Following are the provisions of IHL and Rome Statute, which penalize the restriction of humanitarian aid.
Grave Breaches Under IHL
Under Articles 50, 51, 130,147 respectively of the four Geneva Conventions provides for willfully causing great suffering torture or inhuman treatment as grave breaches for which the perpetrator can be prosecuted. Denial of aid to a starving civilian population during a conflict situation may amount to same.
Crimes under International Criminal Law
Genocide is an act of ‘killing members of the group with a Intend to destroy in part or as a whole’. It is also committed by causing death by withholding aid. Denial of aid may also cause ‘serious bodily or mental harm.’ The same can also be characterized as deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about death through deprivation of food and medical supplies. [The Rome Statute Art. 6 and the interpretation of Art.6(a) in Elements of Crime]
- b) Crime Against Humanity
- Murder can be interchangeable with caused death due to the deprivation of access to food and medicines as per the interpretation of Elements of Crime. (The Rome Statute Art. 7 and interpretation of Art.7(1)(b) of Elements of Crime]
- Extermination can include ‘mass killing by inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population, both direct and indirect including one caused by the deprivation of access to food and medicines [The Rome Statute Art. 7 and interpretation of Art.7(1)(b) of Elements of Crime]
- Torture- intentional infliction of severe pain and suffering, whether physical or mental, in custody or under the control of the accused. This can be applied in situations where the aid and support are denied to a group who is under the party’s control. [The Rome Statute Art. 7 (2)(e)].
- Persecution – is defined as ‘intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights which includes deprivation of access to food, water, medicine and other elements of survival [The Rome Statute Art. 7 (2)(g) and Art. 23 GC IV, Arts. 5-6 ICCPR]
- Other Inhuman Acts- ‘intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to the mental health. This can be applied in situations where the aid and support is denied to a group who is under the party’s control. [The Rome Statute Art. 7 (1)(k)].
- C) War Crimes-
During international armed conflicts
Intentionally starving of civilians during international armed conflict (IAC) as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including willfully impeding relief supplies. [The Rome Statute Art. 8 (2)(b)(xxv)].
- During IAC Willful killing [The Rome Statute and Elements of Crime Art. 8 (2)(a)(i)] and Torture and inhuman treatment (IAC)- [The Rome Statute and Elements of Crime Art. 8 (2)(a)(ii)-1(i)] and
During non- international armed conflicts
- Violence to life and person – [The Rome Statute and Elements of Crime Art. 8 (2)(c)(i)]
- Intentionally directing attacks – against buildings, materials, medical units and transport, and personnel using the distinctive emblems. [The Rome Statute and Elements of Crime Art. 8 (2)(e)(i)]
- Intentionally directing attacks – against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance or peace keeping missions under UN Charter. [The Rome Statute and Art. 8 (2)(e)(ii)-(iii)]
- Pillaging a town or place – destroying or seizing the property of an adversary unless such destruction or seizure is demanded by military necessity, which includes food sources and supplies. [The Rome Statute and Art. 8 (2)(e)(xii)]
Hence actions including the present Myanmar governments decision to block aid in the conflict affected areas in Myanmar could amount to violations which would attract penal action under the International law. Given the nature of attack and atrocities happening against an ethnic group, the chances of the commission of a crime of genocide weigh more in the present case, with individual counts of murder, extermination, and persecution. It is high time that other major nations to intervene and re-establish humanitarian aid in the affected area and further limit such atrocities being committed.
Factors Influencing the World Order’s Structure
“Study the historian before you begin to study the facts” – Edward H. Carr
International relations are unfolding against the backdrop of a war more than ever before. The collapse of US supremacy and Western efforts to consolidate a liberal order following the Cold War brought on a crisis in the globalized economy and the welfare state, making it hard to rely on the international order’s stabilization. This means identifying factors shaping the future world order. For each of the great powers – in our case Russia – the present-day situation requires a foreign policy adaptable to constantly emerging new challenges.
The new global order will not reflect Western countries’ underlying internal order
The emerging international order, in its very structure, shows no sign of a leading power capable of acting jointly as a dominant military and economic force. Great powers like the United States, Russia, China and India, are not cooperating. They never shared the same world order view (let alone their respective domestic ones). So far, the United States and several Western European countries are pursuing a revolutionary policy about the outside world and constitute the biggest challenge to the prospects of international order stability. Such states embarked on a disquieting path of breakthrough changes in fundamental issues that form the social, gender, and consequently political structure of societies. Due to the cultural and mental gap between the West and the Rest, other civilizations consider this path a challenge resulting in rejection.
We cannot claim that other great powers fully share an understanding of the basics of justice at the domestic level. Even if Russia and China seem to agree on principles underlying a “proper” world order, they do not see eye-to-eye on internal arrangements. This also holds true for India and Iran. While their conservative values are at odds with Western ones, they fail to build unity among themselves.
For the first time, the new international order will not reflect the underlying internal order in the leading countries. This is of vital importance since we have no way of knowing how relations between these countries will develop, or how new values will replace traditional ones. If the current unfolding internal order in the West requires expansion in addition to recognition, as was the case in revolutionary France, Bolshevik Russia, or Nazi Germany, the future will be very alarming.
We cannot expect either powerful countries sharing a similar world vision (albeit with conflicts of interest) will emerge, as was the case during the 18th to 19th centuries. Historical analogies are not appropriate here. The new international system will neither resemble the last European balance of power politics, nor the bipolar international order of the Cold War period, and even less so the unipolar liberal world order existing since 1991. This is all the more true given that Western countries have not demonstrated the required flexibility to put up with different ideas about values adopted in other states. Should they show greater signs of acceptance, it could form the basis for relative stability.
The disintegration of international institutions brings new alliance possibilities
The erasure of the West’s power monopoly in international politics will not only cause a change in leadership but a revision of global institutions and rules, with the post-WWII order ceasing to exist. Despite including the Soviet Union and China, the UN system remains a product of Western dominance in global politics based on unique military capabilities. The approaching era will be defined by a new order. Which actors will be a part of it, and to what extent, remains to be seen.
The most optimistic scenario is that there will be several opposing camps on the world stage, each capable of operating autonomously. A Sino-Russian alliance opposing the West is plausible but perhaps unlikely as it goes against the democratization of international politics. However, if this alliance does occur, it will require a long period of redefining borders of influence affecting economic relations, trade, finance, the high-tech industry and global health.
… as well as enhanced nuclear risks
The collapse of the international order’s formal and informal foundations is taking place in an environment where the driving principle between the great powers is not respect for norms, but the possibility of mutually guaranteed destruction (MAD). This supplants every historically known way of maintaining peace. The MAD doctrine is particularly visible between the United State and Russia. Identifying informal rules with the chance that nuclear weapons will be fired will be our era’s most challenging task. The emergence of such a relationship is already perceptible between Russia and the US, and China is likely to join practical efforts in this area. However, it remains to be seen if membership for countries with lower nuclear stockpile levels than Russia or the US should be included in the nuclear club. French or British nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Russia, but can evidently cause significant damage and trigger escalations.
Formalizing the boundaries of the mutual damage inflicted by nuclear superpowers is extremely difficult. The global economic interdependence and the exposure of technology to possible cyber-attacks may be used as a weapon without entering traditional military actions. In the early weeks of the Ukrainian crisis, experts feared Western economic sanctions against Russia would trigger an escalation of the highest magnitude. Another high-risk alternative was the use of cyber weapons on a scale potentially leading to nuclear escalation. Thankfully this has been avoided. Parties are trying to gradually determine a course of action that does not involve threatening mankind’s survival.
Hopes that these rules will stabilize the new international order are far-fetched. It would moreover be wishful thinking to believe that leading states will manage to formally set boundaries. This will greatly reduce the power of diplomacy. It is also worth underlining that Western countries – the most militarily and economically advanced part of the international community – are connected by mutual obligations. Such reliability in times of conflict is subject to interpretation, yet the following question remains unanswered: “Will the US sacrifice Washington for Paris (not to say Warsaw)?” If, for instance, nuclear powers formally agreed that the only reason to strike is because of a direct threat to other’s territory, NATO would lose much of its rationale.
Great powers, inevitably, could potentially be drawn by their junior allies into an escalation as a result. Incidentally, this also applies to bilateral relations between allies. What scale of a military clash between the US and China would prompt Russian intervention? The same question applies to potential conflicts between Russia and America’s European allies, or China and Japan. Not to mention that, over time, Russia and China may also have binding ally obligations. The coming years may show increased regional crises including the great powers on the one hand, and medium-sized powers on the other.
The permissible use of force between nuclear powers and middle-sized states is another complicated matter to consider. US-Iran relations traditionally teetered on the brink of conflict. Fifteen years ago, the United States could defeat Iran militarily, but today, the latter has Russian and Chinese support. Victory with the use of conventional weapons alone is hence very doubtful. Furthermore, the complex relationship between Moscow and Ankara should be considered. Relations so far have been friendly, but should a major military conflict arise, it is unclear whether Moscow can comfortably win without resorting to its unique military capabilities. As the West is becoming less capable of controlling the rest of the world, these conflicts will become more widespread. Especially since Russia or China are not able to offer an alternative in terms of authority and, most importantly, effectiveness comparable to the American one.
The admissible limit of use of force, as the principal condition for a relatively sustainable international order, is quite hard to define, however clear it may be that mutual destruction is both contradictory to human nature and irrational to achieve political objectives. This is the main paradox of international politics with which we will have to deal in the years to come as great powers will have to balance their political ambitions with the possibility of fulfilling them without the risk of mutual destruction. The Russia-NATO clash over Ukraine is one of many including this choice.
The Global South’s interests will be a weighing geopolitical factor in the years to come
In all other aspects, our world’s future looks less daunting than the various concerns so prominent in our time. Most relate to problems of primary importance for the developed Western states but have little effect on the rest of the world when compared to the development objectives of non-Western countries.
First, the continuing democratization of the global political environment inspires optimism. In the future, great powers will need to move beyond the habit of authoritarian governance and its inherent arrogance towards medium and even small countries. The fact that, in the context of the conflict between Russia and the West, the vast majority of developing countries chose to act based on their selfish aspirations is indicative of their confidence in their government’s stability. Participation or non-participation in an ongoing conflict is now determined by countries’ stakes should they choose to weaken one of the opposing sides. For US allies, weakening or defeating Russia is objectively a rational choice. For the rest of the world, the war’s unfolding will mean a shift in the global balance of power rather than a personal bet.
By avoiding conflict with Russia, many countries believe its success will not weaken the West to the point where its actions will become unpredictable and cause direct military clashes between the West and Russia, endangering mankind’s survival. It is unlikely that the West suffers a defeat. However, the fact that the West’s weakening is not a threat for some already indicates internal expectations for such a turn of events and, in some cases, the desirability of such a turn of events.
Restoring Western countries’ ability to partially determine the actions of other states without direct pressure no longer stands. This begs the question of how sufficient the effect of repressive measures can be compared to the goals they pursue.
Second, due to internal and external factors, there has been a reduction in the quantity of the resources available to the West on which it depended to maintain its dominance in the global system. A core reason why most developing countries are showing restraint about Russia’s actions in Ukraine is the West’s inability to respond to these countries’ resource demands for development challenges. The power of resources in the geopolitical competition was notably seen in the success of US relations with China in the 1970s. It was the only country able to offer China economic opportunities giving the green light to Deng Xiaoping’s ambitious economic reforms. Today, in contrast, the West is not able to offer developing countries alternatives. What’s more, in the Indian case, development targets have either been reached or do not pose threats to the survival of the political system.
Are alternatives possible? Which ones?
In the last decade, China began acting as a development player with both the Belt and Road Initiative and the Community of Common Destiny of 2013. The sustainability of these models remains unclear, but proposals are boosting small and medium-sized countries’ level of confidence. As the most populous countries on the planet, China and India reached relatively sustainable growth levels linked to their foreign policy independence. Others now follow that path.
Under a new international order, no single great power will be resourceful enough to use foreign policy as a tool to promote medium and small economies. The ability of countries to engage in development-oriented partnerships and overcome the earlier-mentioned challenges will be the strongest factor in determining their significance on the new global stage. Most likely, Europe will be the only region with clear piding lines and institutional control over medium and small countries. Despite this, however, the future of the European Union can face hurdles, which is now Germany and France’s most important tool of control over their weaker partners. In other world regions, competition will be more democratic and will not predetermine political choices. Western countries, along with China, India and Russia will be on a relatively level playing field, enabling them to maximize their independence from other countries’ ideological positions.
The accelerated degradation of international institutions will be another marker of the post-Western world, perceivable in the global economic shock following the wide-scale economic sanctions on Russia by the West. As economic impact measures keep expanding, governments and companies will lose faith in the very rules and institutions created to maintain and preserve the liberal world order. As a result, the entire global economic infrastructure will be in a dynamic state.
Western countries are likely to rely on direct pressure and sanctions to influence other states, underscoring how economic wars have become a new reality in the same way conventional wars used to be. A country’s ability to manage economic wars to safeguard national stability will soften these wars’ impact.
A collective solution to our climate crisis looks unlikely. In recent years European measures to limit the man-made impact on climate raised doubts as to how they can serve other economic interests of the West. The climate agenda was already combining measures of coercion and goodwill. Now the political basis for cooperation in this area is vanishing. This does not imply actions will not be taken at the national level but will no longer benefit a “common” agenda for self-serving interests. The most pressing issues likely are addressed through national actions and equal benefits going forward.
Smaller countries (which emerged during the decolonization era and the collapse of the bipolar system in 1991) will be key going forward. Their future relied on a US-led liberal world order and the benefits provided by globalization. But they have now come under pressure.
First, over the past decades, many were unable to create sociopolitical systems resistant to internal challenges. Having reaped liberal world order benefits enabled them to hide problems behind a façade of reform and confidence. But such opportunities are drying up. The developing countries in Asia, where political regimes were less susceptible to the disease of imitating Western institutions, are in a more privileged position. This problem is more acute in Africa, some regions of Latin America and the former Soviet space. Middle Eastern countries will face the problem of continued religious revival, for instance in Afghanistan if the Taliban succeeds in stabilizing the domestic situation.
Second, pressure on small countries will come from outside. Superpower competition will benefit them as a result of maneuvering and receiving resources from multiple sources, but will also create political and military risks. Since nuclear powers will want to avoid confrontation, they will likely operate via the territories of small countries to deal with one another. Finally, small countries will become an object of pressure from medium-sized countries, which will find this necessary due to their survival concerns. Under these circumstances, only a few small countries can expect to survive by piggybacking on their strong ties with the great powers.
The future international order will be the least integral of anything we have ever seen. Its integrity will stem from new factors, the specific content of which we are already beginning to see now and will be studying during the tumultuous years to come.
From our partner RIAC
Do we still live in a multipolar world?
After more than three decades of American efforts to establish and consolidate a unipolar international order, we are witnessing signs of the deterioration of the American-centric international order and the formation of a new international order.
Evidence, facts and developments in global arena confirm that the conflict between the United States and the European Union countries on one hand, and both China and Russia on the other hand, revolves around something that no longer exists, which is the world order that Washington wants to strengthen, and Beijing and Moscow are working to change it. In his speech before the Davos Economic Forum on May 26, 2022 in Switzerland, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz uttered the word “multipolarity” that reveals the West’s recognition of the need for a multipolar world, and when the leader of a European country talks about multipolarity, he takes into account the restructuring of international relations.
Several voices are currently calling for a “multipolar” world instead of a “unipolar” led by the United States, which has dominated the world since the collapse of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991.
These calls come mainly from the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Beijing agrees with Moscow on this proposal, but with great caution as China cares more about fairness in international relations, non-interference in internal affairs, and respect for national sovereignty
On the other hand, western countries, whether members of NATO or the European Union and even in South Korea, Japan and Australia, do not agree with this proposition in light of a clear pledge from President Joe Biden that his country will remain on top of the world as long as he is in the White House.
What are the political, economic and military indicators that Moscow and Beijing rely on when talking about a multipolar world? How can the United States and its allies impede any shift away from the “American century”, as American nationalists like to call it?
According to the testimony of the American elite itself, the United States is regressing in all fields compared to the Chinese rise, especially in the economic field, and the sharp competition with Russia in the military and security field. For example, the average growth in the Chinese economy has reached about 9.3 percent since the United States recognized China in 1979.
Although the current economic figures issued by the World Bank before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019 said that the Chinese national income reached about 13.4 trillion dollars, and the US national income 20.5 trillion dollars, the growth rate in the Chinese economy during the past years was not less than 6.9 percent, while the growth in the US economy during the last three years did not exceed 3.2 percent.
China also surpasses the United States and its Western allies in economic partnership with various regions of the world, as it has become the first trading partner for Africa, Latin America and the Gulf region. Over the past years, Chinese companies have succeeded in obtaining new contracts for oil exploration, extraction and refining in the countries of these regions. It has also launched several major initiatives to protect its interests in the region, as it has integrated the largest number of Middle Eastern countries into the Silk Road Initiative, the Maritime Silk Road Initiative, and the Belt and Road Initiative, all of which are initiatives to invest in the infrastructure and technology of countries with which China has extensive economic and trade relations. China has signed strategic partnership and free trade agreements with several countries in these regions. It was also active in the field of arms exports and military cooperation relations with them.
Moreover, China competes with the United States in the field of nuclear submarines and intercontinental missiles, but even surpasses it in the new “sliding weapons”, and it began to approach the United States in space and aircraft carriers after China made, with purely Chinese hands, the third aircraft carrier “Fujian”.
As for the US-Russian rivalry in the geopolitical and military sphere, it is almost everywhere in the world, from the Indian and Pacific oceans to the “back garden” of the United States, where Russia is present in Cuba, Venezuela and the socialist countries of Latin America.
Despite all that is said about China’s economic power and Russia’s military and nuclear superiority, talking about the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world requires a “deep look” at the other camp led by the United States. The United States is still the primary economy ally of the European Union, and it is the economic powerhouse.
It is also the political and military ally of Japan, which is the third economy in the world, and the military and political partner of Germany, which is the fourth economy in the world, and the United Kingdom, which has become the sixth economy after India, which occupies the fifth economy, and all of them are friends and allies of the United States, that leads NATO, which consists of 32 countries after it annexed Finland and Sweden. The United States eventually formed the “Aukus” alliance which comprises – beside it – the United Kingdom and Australia, and “Quad” alliance which is a strategic security dialogue between the United States, Australia, India, and Japan.
According to 2021 figures, the United States continues to spend twice as much on armaments than China and Russia together, as Washington has spent in the current budget about 770 billion dollars, while Beijing’s military budget is 290 billion dollars, while Moscow has spent only 70 billion dollars.
Every country has the right to compete, and search for a better and better place among nations, but the transformation of competition into a conflict will not be in the interest of any of the parties, regardless of the names, whether it is unipolar or multipolar.
The West Goes West: Greed, Speed and the Fear of Simplicity
I began thinking about what I am now writing about two months ago, and I am now ready to bite the bullet, and to cut the Gordian Knot of dithering around reported facts and events, propaganda, visceral hatreds, atavism, greed and ambition. The final trigger for my getting this article off the block, and waiting no longer, was the—for me surrealistic—murder of a young Russian journalist, daughter of an academic acquaintance of mine, Alexandre Dugin, who chaired a couple of seminars at Moscow State Lomonosov University, at which I spoke . At any rate, his daughter’s murder was not the reason for this article; only that it decided me to get on with the job. The reasoning for the article follows in the next paragraph, and involves the quest for simplicity as an aid to comprehend what is happening, and why decay often comes with the end of empires .
Will we ever admit that truth and simplicity are bedfellows, but that weakness fears both? Let us take the bull by the horns and dive deep into our minds, recalling Giambattista Vico’s words that the world passes from order to disorder and currently appears to be moving into disorder . I intend to argue and explain that the so-called Western world is in political, social and moral decay, currently brought into full relief by the troubles in Ukraine and the fallout of the continuing tensions over COVID and other viruses.
First, I shall touch on the observations of some serious thinkers to stimulate us into some free thinking and reflection. Thus prepared, I shall consider the term ‘West’ and its apparent values; identify the decay; its symptoms; the obsession with Russia; lack of leadership; and finally suggest how to return to common sense, compassion and responsibility.
Thucydides wrote that the simple way of considering matters, so much the example of a noble nature, was seen as an absurd characteristic, and soon died . He went on to observe that love of power, operating through greed and through personal ambition, was the cause of all these evils , meaning the Peloponnesian Wars that devastated the Hellenic world. Echoing him many centuries later, Francesco Guicciardini wrote that greedy men easily believe whatsoever they desire ; that avarice in a prince is incomparably more hateful than in a private man;  and that in his youth he believed that no amount of reflection would enable him to see more than he took in at a glance, and that the longer we reflected, the clearer things grew and the better we understood them . Here we see that power, speed, greed, ambition and self-love have their deadly side, as accentuated by current events.
Four hundred years after Guicciardini, Lin Yutang observed that putting human affairs into exact formulae showed a lack of sense of humour and therefore of wisdom, while man’s love for definitions was a step towards ignorance. The more he defined, aiming at an impossible logical perfection, the more ignorant he became . This connects to Tolstoy’s observation that the Germans’ self-assurance was worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because the German imagined that he knew the truth – science – which he had himself invented, but which was for him the absolute truth . The implication here is that he was unable to control his excess of logic, pursuing it blindly to the death.
Before considering the question of Western decay, I need to explain what I mean by the simple way of looking at things, and why simplicity is often feared: humans tend to avoid it, since it requires mental nudity. As most people have a certain degree of insecurity, or at least feel a need to protect themselves, they feel that nudity will expose them to potential attack. Thus, they wear various mental masks as filters, and lie if necessary, sometimes even to themselves. To put the point more poignantly, consider these words, spoken by the Reverend Arthur Beebe in E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View: ‘It is so difficult – at least I find it difficult – to understand people who speak the truth.’ 
In short, the simple way of looking at things, especially where politics and morals are concerned, is a rare phenomenon, requiring detachment from one’s protective masks. Having now perhaps afforded ourselves some mental space to reflect and read the rest of this article, let us grasp the nettle, and get the ball rolling, becoming increasingly specific.
What is the West?
The ‘West’ means different things to different people. Miguel de Unamuno, that tortured Roman Catholic, wrote of the ‘Graeco-Roman’ or ‘Western civilisation.’  He was, of course, writing this in the 1920s. Since then, we have had the Cold War, when the West simply meant the anti-Communist antithesis of the East, ‘democracy’ against ‘Marxism’, free trade against extreme dirigisme, and pluralism against totalitarianism.
Then we have a purely geographic concept, which does not include, for example, Australia, New Zealand, much of South America, Japan and South Korea, where the ideological view sullies the geographic one.
We also have the blue-jeans and American hamburger ‘cultural’ West—in other words, consumerism and the self, allied to certain styles of rock music and ‘artistic’ fashions. Here, of course, countries such as Turkey, the Iran of the 1970s and Israel can claim membership, although if you scratch beneath the surface, you will find that this ‘western culture’ actually wears rather thin, even with the advance of globalism.
Finally, we have the colonial West, when Europe, and then the U.S., controlled a huge part of the globe. Today, no country would dare admit to pursuing colonial policies, whatever the reality of geopolitical control and stealing weak countries’ resources.
In truth, there cannot be, nor ever has been, a clear and universal—let alone unique—Western civilisation. There have only been historians, or pseudo-historians and the like, such as the political scientist Samuel Huntingdon, who claim that the ‘future of the West depends in large part on the unity of the West.’ Such expedient and simplistic pigeon-holing of ideas, based on simple historical ignorance, is irresponsible, since it is dangerously discriminating, creating a kind of incipient international apartheid, a sort of exaggerated power-block nationalism, where arrogance and suspicion rule the roost. And by stressing NATO as the ‘security organisation of western civilisation’, Huntingdon inadvertently showed that his motive was not to teach history, but rather to cherry-pick it to spread his political ideas. He was not a historian, but more of a political designer.
To further drive home my point that there is no unified West: French Gaullist values of independence from NATO sit hardly comfortably with those of Britain, which is psychologically and economically chained to NATO. On top of this, governments that profess to support NATO are often at loggerheads with their electorates. A prime example is NATO’s 78-day illegal bombing of Belgrade in 1999, when the Greek people as a whole came out against the bombing. Another is the illegal attack on Iraq in 2003, when the French and German governments refused to support Bush and Blair. In this sense, the West comes across as dysfunctional. In November 2019, President Macron referred to NATO’s ‘brain death’, hardly surprising, given the organisation’s history after it was given a new lease of life in 1999 .
As I write this, ‘Ukrainistic’ and anti-Russian hysteria has taken over—whether by design or default is a moot point—and the mainstream media is again promoting the West as the embodiment of civilised values versus Russian barbarity, just as during the Cold War. The same things are returning, albeit in new names and colours. Let us now take a glimpse at Western values, whatever they are.
What are Western Values?
It is difficult to pinpoint ‘western values’, especially since some eastern countries are ‘honorary’ western countries, such as Japan and the Anglo-Saxon Australia. But let me try to obtain at least a modicum of specificity that goes beyond the puerile western bromides of ‘peace’, ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, with which we are incessantly bombarded by the media and politicians.
First, we have the ancient Greek ideal of democracy, symbolised by the Parthenon (visually) and by Cleisthenes and those of his ilk (ideastically). The Pax Romana and later Christianity took over, with many Greek ideas going underground with the excesses of early Christianity, only to reassert themselves after the Dark Ages, epitomised in the Renaissance and by the likes of Gemistos Plython, although Arab scholars had also helped to preserve Greek philosophy.
Second, moral values and economic/business interests began to insinuate themselves into each other, the most obvious example being perhaps the over-enthusiastic interpretation by the rich of Calvin’s ideas, so as to praise the profit ideal and justify wealth. Also, germane here is the warped synergy between the American Revolution/War of Independence and the French Revolution: warped, because much of the ideal behind the former was essentially business-oriented, with the Rights of Man being propounded to make a profit, free from English interference and taxes. In contrast, the French declaration of human rights was more about political rights and freedom of the individual than profit pur et simple, at least presentationally.
When Europe overtly ruled and exploited much of the world territorially and economically, one could safely say that underlying values were by and large based on Christianity and the family, both in the Americas and Europe. Morality, at least in public, was the order of the day. But the French Revolution had already introduced secularism into the social equation, beginning with attacking the Church’s privileges. Although a modus vivendi was reached by the time of Napoleon, the slogan ‘Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité’ was accorded serious meaning, and even used as an example for countries to throw off their colonial masters, to the irritation of the likes of Metternich. And in 1905, a French law separated Church and State. Despite the obvious continuous acceptance of the family and religious freedom as mainstays of Western society, at least after the Thirty Years’ War, whether Anglo-Saxon- or French-influenced, politics and propaganda began to rear their ugly heads, as ‘national interests’ and values were becoming increasingly intertwined, and as splits were developing between the English world and French-influenced Europe. Hence, the first war fought globally, known in Europe as the Seven Years’ War, when England took over Canada and much of India from France. France avenged herself on England by supporting the American rebels, leading to American independence. While the new USA was finding its feet, the second global war, namely the Napoleonic Wars, occurred.
Anglo-American and French mutually antagonistic atavism exists even today, epitomised by the atavistic Gaullist suspicion of the Anglo-Saxons. This French suspicion of Britain and then America was nevertheless allayed by fear of a rumbustious Germany, one of the underlying causes of the First World War, originally known as the ‘Great War’, being in fact the Third World War. Another cause was Anglo-German economic rivalry. Princip’s bullets were merely the excuse that triggered the madness, just as the invasion of Poland was the official reason to declare the next war on Germany, setting off the most destructive war in known history, when political values meant anti-Nazism and anti-Fascism. To these values were added anti-Communism, thus revealing the West’s lack of gratitude for Moscow’s crucial help in saving Western Europe from Nazi domination. At any event, European and American family values were still the mainstay of society.
However, we see from the above how ‘national interests’ (i.e. profit) were becoming increasingly intertwined with moral values, to the extent that the ‘superior’ West exported these values to allegedly less civilised (or less industrially developed) parts of the world. In fact, it can be argued that the West was simply grabbing resources under the guise of allegedly superior moral values. For example, Sir Francis Younghusband (famous for having led the invasion of Tibet in 1904) wrote: ‘Our superiority over them [Indians] is not due to mere sharpness of intellect, but to the higher moral nature to which we have attained in the development of the human race.’  This form of Darwinian thinking, so beloved by the Nazis, was to culminate in the term ‘geopolitics’, a veritable excuse for grabbing other countries’ resources. It involved the creation of unnatural business borders, leading to strife generations later. One has only to look at a map of Africa and the Middle east to see this. The Sykes-Picot agreements are a fine example. Whether we are talking about Mackinder’s obsessions with keeping Germany and Russia apart, and maintaining British imperialism, or Haushofer’s justifying Germany’s eastward expansion, geopolitics became the fashion (even if Mackinder referred to it as ‘political geography’, to differentiate himself from his German homologue Haushofer). Geopolitics became an imperial doctrine. In the words of one critic, the random way in which frontiers are superimposed on the world means that states vary enormously in size, mineral wealth, access to the sea, vulnerability and cohesiveness .
If you are slightly confused by now, and not much nearer to identifying ‘western values’, this is not surprising, given the above history. And if we mention family values, that is not a western sine qua non, but a world one. As for accusations that Soviet Communism undermined the family, it was more a case of bringing the idea of the family closer to Marxist theory, than undermining the family per se, which was considered a purely private affair between individuals.
Today, we have new colours and names for western ‘values’. ‘Freedom’ and ‘democracy’ are vital bromides to feed to the masses when justifying attacks on various countries, usually illegal into the bargain. Business and economic interests will rarely be mentioned, even though they are surely fundamental to the American-influenced Western values. The American-influenced West is, to a considerable extent, the epitome of freedom to make money. A prime example of American influence lies in Ayn Rand’s ‘objectivism’, showcased in her novel Atlas Shrugged, the theme of which she described as the role of the mind in man’s existence, a new moral philosophy, rational self-interest, that rejected faith and religion’ . She influenced a host of young, and not so young, Americans, just as McCarthyist hysteria was reaching its zenith. In essence, she epitomized the selfish aspects of the American dream, which we are witnessing today. As such, ‘Western values’ center on the American-inspired cult of the self and attack anything that smacks of socialism. Thus, modern ‘western values’ have their origin in America and a missionary character. As early as 1947, the British Embassy in Washington wrote: ‘The missionary strain in the character of Americans leads many of them to feel that they have now received a call to extend to other countries the blessings with which the Almighty has endowed their own.’  The anti-Soviet Truman Doctrine lives on today, in the form of Russophobia.
With the current Western-contrived Russophobia and demonisation, the attacks on Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria tend to be played down or ignored wherever possible. The hypocrisy is manifest. We are constantly bombarded with western ‘values’. The words ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’ and ‘inclusion’ are bandied about, as if they are a panacea. In 2003, at New York College in Athens, during the run-up to the illegal invasion of Iraq (on a false pretext), the British ambassador to Greece referred before an audience of students to ‘we, the forces of good. ’ Such supercilious words were simple propaganda.
For those who still have the space and the inclination to reflect, incomprehension can set in: they wonder what this freedom and democracy exported by the West actually is. In fact, it seems that this Western ‘freedom’ can be a euphemism for destruction and mass killing of civilians. Its origins lie in the United States, the self-proclaimed leader of the West. The truth is presented by Western/NATO governments as controversial or even conspiratorial. Yet, the facts speak for themselves, if we consider the U.S. bombing list and democratic world tour: Korea 1950-1953, Guatemala 1957, Indonesia 1958, Cuba 1959-1961, Guatemala 1960, the Congo 1964, Laos 1964-1973, Vietnam 1961-1973, Cambodia 1969-1970, Guatemala 1967-1969, Grenada 1983, the Lebanon 1983-1984, Libya 1986; El Salvador 1980, Nicaragua 1980, Iran 1987, Panama 1989, Iraq 1981 (Persian Gulf war), Kuwait 1991, Somalia 1993, Bosnia 1994-1995, Sudan 1998, Afghanistan 1998, Yugoslavia 1999; Yemen 2002, Iraq 199-2003, Iraq 2003-2015, Afghanistan 2001-2015, Pakistan 2007-2015, Somalia 2007-2008 and 2011, Yemen 2009 and 2011, Libya 2011 and 2015, and Syria 2014-2015. This litany of American interference makes Russia’s occasional bouts of self-defense look like a Girl Guides’ tea-party on a Sunday afternoon.
I hope that I have at least managed to make the reader reflect seriously and deeply on what Western values are in the political sphere, if they indeed exist as tangible and comprehensible. As for “Eastern values”, we rarely see reference to them, other than as the antithesis of those of the West. Let us now identify examples of Western decay and its causes. First, a thought-provoker: ‘Today’s reigning morality is the work of slaves, a conspiracy organized by the weak against the strong, the flock against the shepherd. With cunning self-interest the slaves have turned values upside down; the strong person becomes bad, the sickly and weak good.’  Or could it also be that gigantic financial interests have manipulated the weak to feel strong? The debate is eternal.
Identifying the Decay
I shall simply provide a few examples of what I consider to be decay in the socio-political and moral spheres. While humanity has always displayed hypocrisy, greed and inhumanity, it seems that—with the business passion for, and obsession with, globalism—we are currently witnessing a dangerous surfeit of decay that borders on illogicality, immorality, incipient chaos and decadence.
Institutional rot: Queen Elisabeth II made the former British Prime Minister Anthony Blair a Knight of the Garter. Members of the order are chosen in recognition for their public service and are personally selected by the Queen. We see here one of the most prestigious state awards given to one of the chief architects of the illegal attack on Iraq in 2003, a proven liar responsible for the vicarious killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. I was flummoxed when I read the news.
Anglo-Saxon undermining of traditional family values: this has been going on since at least the ‘Swinging Sixties’, leading to even the British Prime Minister, Cameron, referring in Parliament to Britain’s ‘broken society’, when in 2011 he also criticized parents for lack of control over their children. This connects to political correctness/wokism.
Political correctness/wokism: the American exported obsession with ‘inclusiveness’, ‘diversity’, positive discrimination, identity, gender and the cult of the self is undermining common sense. This obsession has confused many young minds, not helped by lazy parents. Just a few years ago, one could never have imagined that schoolchildren would be asked to identify themselves as male or female, and that on official forms, ‘mother’ and ‘father’, would be replaced with ‘parent 1 and parent 2’, or that ‘partners’ would replace husbands and wives. One could never have imagined that ‘LGBQT’ would be explained to young pupils as part of the curriculum. There have of course been reactions to this, and some debate, but the machine—allegedly ‘liberal’, but disguising authoritarianism—grinds on. This was preceded by so-called ‘positive discrimination’, which was actually insulting to minority groups, and brought down the standards of recruitment, with a white often overlooked for a position in favour of a non-white. A comment by a concerned diplomat explains the disease better than I can: ‘I have viewed with dismay the spread of “Political Correctness” in recent years. Intellectual honesty is the foundation of our Service; Political Correctness its antithesis. “Diversity” is the latest of several rather fatuous fashions. The truth is that diversity is irrelevant to diplomacy. No foreigner I have ever met cares whether the Service has fifty per cent women, ten per cent homosexuals and five per cent ethnics. His (or her) only interest is whether a diplomat has something useful to contribute. Furthermore, “targets” are but a thinly disguised form of positive discrimination; this undermines the fundamental principle of public service that promotion should be based on ability alone. The risk is that “minorities” will be promoted because they are (just) credible, not because they are the best; if so, they will become symbols, not of inclusion but of incompetence. The Service should cease to be invertebrate in the face of this politically motivated interference.’ 
Despite such thoughtful common-sense comments, the irrational multi-gender machine grinds on, with its meaningless semantic baggage of ‘empowerment’, ‘inclusiveness’, ‘shoulder to shoulder’, and ‘going forward’. Hardly a day goes by without yet another gender category added to university and school curricula. Various categories have even begun to irritate each other, as, for example, when men claiming to be women compete in female sports events, or when a ‘woman’ uses a female public lavatory. With their rights to individual identity unquestioned, the politicization of and public promotion of their behavior is leading to the undermining of common sense and social stability. This connects to the so-called transhumanist agenda.
Transhumanism and the Great Reset
Although Julian Huxley first used the term in 1957, it was only in the Eighties, in America, that the whole idea of eugenics and using technology to eliminate the weak and strengthen the strong, and creating super beings, took hold in a big way. Its proponents are essentially playing with Nature; some would say that they are playing God. In this connexion, we turn to Klaus Schwab’s the so-called ‘Great Reset’, and his so-called ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, with its clear attachment to transhumanism and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Those who criticise its implications tend to be labelled as ‘conspiracy theorists’. Their critique runs something like this: ‘Imagine a world controlled by a small group of people with the extreme power to control the flow of goods, services and other resources around the world. They have the ability to dictate to governments around the world to impose certain health mandates. They have the power to require passes for travel, and to have people confined to their homes. They have the power to tell retailers to refuse cash. This small group of people control the networks of commerce. One has only to consider the power of Amazon and Google (to name but a few) to realise the danger to individual freedom posed by these concentrated financial interests.’
Yet much of the above has already happened, and is continuing. Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, even used Prince Charles as his useful PR idiot, with the latter actually calling on the private sector to lead the world out of the approaching catastrophe .
The question must be posed as to how seriously the Schwabs of this world – and their followers – should be taken. That financial power is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of less people is hardly open to dispute. But it does not necessarily mean, as Schwab claims, that somehow governments will agree, and act on, a ‘Great Reset’, or the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. In some ways, he and those of his ilk have jumped onto a bandwagon, praising, for example, the increasing tendency away from cash payments, and forcing people to buy Smartphones to pay for certain things, which depend on various ‘apps’. These developments were with us well before Schwab’s ‘Great Reset’ was announced.
Some serious people have criticised the ideas contained in the ‘Great Reset’, even some in the much criticised ‘mainstream media’. For example, Sky News Australia presenter Rowan Dean stated: ‘It is a global commitment they have made to use the panic and fear generated by the corona virus as a means to reshape all our economies and laws and move to a new form of capitalism that focusses on net zero emissions, to use all the tools of COVID to tackle climate change. If implemented successfully, the Great Reset will undeniably and deliberately have extreme and possibly dire repercussions. “You’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy” is just one of their marketing slogans. The plan involves replacing shareholders of big companies with stakeholders, who happen to be left-wing bureaucrats and climate change zealots. Replacing Mum and Dad’s small businesses and private enterprises with big tech and big business. Remember, it’s not only a great reset, it’s a great deception .’
Even Fox News has weighed in, through its presenter and journalist Carlson Tucker, who wrote: ‘The most intimate details of our lives are being completely controlled by our leadership class. The people who used to scream at politicians, “Keep your hands off my body!” aren’t saying a thing about this. In fact, they’re encouraging it. So the question is, what exactly is this about? It’s not about science. If masks and lockdowns prevented spikes in coronavirus infections, we wouldn’t be seeing spikes in coronavirus infections after nine months. But we are seeing them, so clearly, the geniuses got it wrong once again. This time, they’re not even bothering to point to legitimate scientific studies to support continuing their policies because there aren’t any studies that support that. So what is going on?’ 
Given the above, it seems perfectly legitimate for thinking people to ask whether the power-mongers messages of happiness for all, and of individual ‘empowerment’, is utterly hypocritical, since it is merely the semantic seduction of individuality, leading to slavery, and control by the few. The more uniform the customers, the simpler and cheaper the production, promotion and selling of goods, thus leading to a lack of quality and creativity. Information, or rather the control of it, is power. And somewhere, behind all this, lurks the idea that the military-industrial-congressional complex is pulling the strings. All very paranoid, you might think, but remember that plotters do their utmost to dismiss critics as conspiracy theorists. Although the idea of a single group of plotters controlling the world agenda may indeed be an absurd ‘conspiracy theory’, there are nevertheless business groups (shareholders) that try to set their agenda, exporting their alleged western values.
Exporting ‘values’: many American values have automatically transmogrified into British ones, particularly on questions of sexual preference. Some years ago, the Polish civil rights ombudsman protested about British ambassador Todd’s exceeding his authority in promoting a ‘UK Guide to LGBT and their Rights’. Far from apologizing for this form of one-sided (what about heterosexual rights?) irrelevance, the then Foreign and Commonwealth Office pompously replied that it ‘has a policy of promoting LGBT rights abroad.’ These, then are the new British values to be promoted, some would say on America’s behalf. In 2008, the ambassador in Warsaw even hoisted a ‘rainbow flag’ next to the British one . If one accepts that part of British social decay (Cameron’s ‘broken Britain’) is connected to the exaggerated attention given to minority questions and sex, it seems curious to rational minds as to why America and Britain wish to export these ‘values’. Given the huge amount of publicity, one would not be blamed for thinking that the majority of society is the LGBQT brigade.
Irresponsibility: English Prime Minister Liz Truss recently stated that she is ‘ready’ to launch nuclear war, ‘even if it meant global annihilation’ . This kind of attention-grabbing political rhetoric is simply dangerous, and encourages extremism.
Stupidity: the Globe Theatre in London is producing Shakespeare’s Joan of Arc (Henry VI, part 1), depicting her as ‘non-binary’, using the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’ to replace ‘she’ . This one of many examples, inevitably imported from America, which distort history and language beyond recognition. The distortion of history means that the same mistakes will continue to be made. Another example of stupidity is the German Foreign Minister Baerbock’s recent statement that no matter what her voters thought, she wanted to ‘deliver’ to the people of Ukraine. She also came across as illogical, since she is a member of the Greens, once a party claiming to be democratic and peace-loving .
Dying Educational Standards: although the dumbing down of university-level education is fairly well known, little has been done to prevent the slide into stupidity. The explosion in student numbers led to the so-called ‘dumbing-down of education’ In Britain, for example, before 1992, there were fifty-four universities. In 1992, thirty-eight were added, and by 2011, the total had climbed to one hundred and twenty-seven. Most of the newcomers were not actually new but, to be able to call themselves universities, simply expanded from being colleges of higher education – often changing their name – to meet various quantitative criteria. Students now became customers, buyers of knowledge. The manic expansion led to considerable organisational problems, a drop in standards, and a lack of transparency and accountability, even leading to some closures and mergers in recent years. A plethora of new subjects was introduced. ‘Relevance’ was the catchword; relevance to the modern world, with the laudable aim of ensuring that young graduates were ready for the job market. Degrees in new subjects were introduced, such as in nursing. Thus, nurses now had a Bachelor of Science, leading to many no longer wishing to clean bedpans, since this was considered too demeaning for university graduates. Degrees in public relations were introduced, as well as in catch-all communications studies, which could sometimes include media studies. Specialisation increased: along with ‘niche’ marketing came ‘niche degrees’. ‘Bums on seats’ was the name of the game. Students were now customers, paying thousands of pounds a year in tuition fees, into the bargain. However, not too much serious attention was paid to the job market.
It was somewhat naÏvely – or more likely, ingeniously ingenuously – claimed that natural market forces would solve any potential problems. This was the age of the surge in MBAs. Inexorably they found their way on to the European continent. The humanities were to some extent considered passées and not relevant in the brave new world of customers and clients. Mistakes were made, and still are. For example, in Britain, in 1997, only about half the public relations consultancies took on PR graduates . This was because graduates in, for example, cognate disciplines such as English literature, history and philosophy tended to be better at research, analysis, evaluation, and communicating ideas clearly and cogently.
Many employers complain today that some graduates cannot write properly, despite our brave new world. There is a sneaking feeling in some quarters that the flashy language that now characterises, and claims to improve, standards, in fact reflects a lack of substance, and is a mere marketing ploy that has adversely affected the traditional subjects of the humanities. ‘Knowledge management’, ‘total quality management’, ‘benchmarking’, ‘management by objectives’ and ‘key performance indicators’ are the order of the day, along, of course, with ‘the global world’. While such language is that of competitive business, it sits rather uncomfortably in the strictly academic world, which is being adversely affected by the bureaucratisation of scholarship, a word strangely absent from much of the new ‘global’ terminology. Today, many universities have transmogrified from places of research, thinking and learning into professional training centres. There is nothing wrong with professional training, of course; indeed, it is vital. But the flip side comes with the ‘Steppenwolf effect’: side-by-side with the new training-oriented degrees are traditional disciplines such as history and literature. Those of you who have had the time to read this far may have noticed that simple stupidity is in the ascendant.
Interference: the highly respected Imran Khan, recent Prime Minister of Pakistan, has been charged with terrorist offences. He has provided evidence that the US is behind the move, essentially because he wishes to improve trade relations with Russia. The CIA’s well-known and proven history of regime change et al lends much weight to the statesman’s assertions.
Hatred and Hysteria: as I write, the European Union, under pressure from Poland and the Baltic statelets, is trying to suspend the visa facilitation agreement of 2007 between Russia and the EU, and may go further, by banning even tourist visas. Poked also by a jingoistic Britain, with its new-found ‘Falklands spirit’, we are witnessing a major anti-Russia propaganda campaign to target the Russian people as a whole. This smacks of the anti-German propaganda of the Great War. It gets worse: Estonian banks are refusing to accept utility bill payments from Russian property owners in Estonia, citing the sanctions, meaning that they could then dispossess the owners. This is theft; and racism. Matters are becoming surrealistic.
I have listed above just a few factors that strike me as irrational, propaganda-laden and the result of socio-political decay in the West. There are many more, but it would take a book to list them. The digitally imposed speed of living today means that such factors have been allowed to run rife, with many not knowing and understanding what has been happening for years, as people have become increasingly selfish, rationalising themselves into their comfort zones. Let us now try to identify the causes and symptoms of the decay.
Addiction: the United States makes up 4.4% of the world’s population, but consumes over 80% of the world’s opioids. 22 million people suffer from active substance use disorders, while 45 million people (14% of Americans) are directly impacted by addiction . While this is a worldwide, but essentially western, phenomenon, it is most extreme in the Britain, which is the highest per capita consumer of opioids globally . This surely explains some of the causes of the irrationality that we are witnessing today.
Twitterisation: this important part of the social media has had a big effect on public policy-formulation. According to the late Umberto Eco: ‘Social media gives legions of idiots the right to speak when they once only spoke at a bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community … but now they have the same right to speak as a Nobel Prize winner. It’s the invasion of the idiots’. This American-inspired social medium has now taken over from traditional diplomacy in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO). A senior official wrote proudly some years ago that six ministers and eighty ambassadors were on Twitter, almost as if this was the be-all and end-all of successful diplomacy and communication . Yet it is well known how controversial Twitter can be, and that it can lead to all kind of spats, not to mention being open to attack from virtually any quarter. Twitter is essentially a private game, for people to bloat their egos. Those who use it to promote their official views or careers open themselves to unwarranted attacks from cranks and enemies. To imply that it is a useful part of diplomacy is off-beam. It can actually lead to a dissipation of seriousness, and is but a cheap substitute for serious analysis and evaluation, so vital to the formulation of policy. For even if there is still some traditional formulation of policy, it is surely being eroded subliminally in the minds of those responsible for British interests. More American business language has now invaded a once traditional bastion of Britishness: ‘Drawing a line under things’, ‘going forward’, ‘shoulder to shoulder’, ‘fit for purpose’, ‘performance targets’, ‘cutting edge’, ‘stakeholder management’, ‘hot desking’ and the like. According to a recently retired ambassador, the collective memory has gone, and most work is done on the hoof. This is hardly surprising, since departmental registries no longer exist. In short, the misuse of social media is trivialising the serious business of policy formulation, not just in British official life, but all over the West. The speed and greed engendered by the obsession with digitalisation and irresponsible use of technology means that communication is destroying communication, ironically in the very name of communication . The space to reflect, so crucial to decision-making, is no longer there.
Apathy and Hypocrisy: these symptoms of decay are manifesting themselves exponentially. We have only to consider the lukewarm response of once responsible governments to outrages like the treatment of the journalist Julian Assange, a political prisoner if there ever was one, rotting in a British prison at America’s behest, while his supporters try to prevent his extradition to America. His ‘crime’ was to expose American crimes. The general apathy surrounding this case is astounding, especially when juxtaposed with Blair’s crimes against humanity, with the former Prime Minister being rewarded by Queen Elisabeth. As for the anti-Russia sanctions, it is telling that Turkey’s illegal occupation of one third of an EU member, Cyprus, its invasion of Syria, and Israel’s occupation of much of Palestine and killing of civilians, have not met with sanctions.
Greed/Avarice: probably born of a feeling of insecurity, it has of course always been a symptom of decadence, but is now far more visible than hitherto. In the words of William Burroughs, ‘the old miser fingering his gold coins with idiot delight has given way to the deadly disembodied avarice of vast multinational conglomerates, with no more responsibility or consideration for the welfare of the planet than the computers that orient their manoeuvers, programmed for maximum profit, humming and purring and sucking up rainforests and spewing out dividends .’ This whole question of corporate greed connects to the West’s (ie the EU’s and NATO’s) expansion, examples of a combination of thoughtless ambition bordering on gluttony. In 1999, the north Atlantic Treaty was due to expire. Instead, although the Warsaw Pact was long gone, it chose to expand eastwards and engage in a 78-day illegal bombing campaign of a sovereign state. In the words of one expert, ‘this was a classic example of image taking precedence over substance, which is not uncommon in today’s political world. It is often associated with a rhetorical style that is more concerned with effect than with accuracy .’ NATO in fact, found the bombing a good way to promote its 50th anniversary, when it was already beyond its shelf life. Greed had led to gluttony. Russia looked on bemused, but also worried, since she had received reassurances from various western politicians that NATO would not expand towards Russia’s borders. But NATO gluttony has no reverse gear, at least not in the case of NATO and the West, which are now virtually synonymous, operating under an American umbrella. Russia understandably became increasingly worried as the West destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Syria was the final straw, and Moscow had little choice but to react militarily. As for the EU, it expanded too rapidly in 2004, leading to a certain measure of administrative confusion, pleasing America and Britain, since the expansion weakened the Franco-German axis to the benefit of anti-Russian Poland and the Baltic statelets: indeed, only one year after France and Germany had publicly opposed the invasion of Iraq, the expansion put paid to their sudden streak of independence vis-à-vis America, and they are now back in Washington’s anti-Russian camp. NATO seems to thrive on war. We shall turn to its current war in our conclusions.
Identity Obsession: this is a recent symptom, spurred, fed and nurtured by digital illiberalism, and part and parcel of the whole ‘inclusion’, LGBQT phenomenon that is rampaging through the western world, trying to insinuate its allegedly liberal ideas into stable societies like Russia’s. Many a young mind has been confused by adults experimenting on young minds. Some traditional child psychologists must be tearing their hair out when they consider the explosive growth of tattooing among young people, asking themselves why they need to identify with empty- headed celebrities, especially footballers. Once, tattooing in the West was mainly the preserve of sailors and the lower socio-economic groups, mainly among males, and not covering whole arms, legs and bodies. Let us now elaborate on all that I have observed in our conclusions.
NATO: Bismarck said that the most significant event of the twentieth century would be the fact that the North Americans spoke English. But no one has yet said that the most significant event of the twenty first-century is the fact that the English speak North American. This has entailed a political West that is controlled by the Anglo-Saxons, who have decided against an independent Europe, while transmogrifying NATO into a world policeman: the EU must be kept away from serious co-operation with Russia, whose attempts to work with NATO have been rebuffed. To this must be added the Anglo-Saxon obsession with Russia, dating at least to 1791, when English Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger lambasted Russia for wishing to carve up the Ottoman Empire . The Cold War is well over two hundred years old, and Mackinder’s (see above) obsession with keeping Germany and Europe away from Russia lives on with a vengeance, to the point of idiocy and the stultification of the many, who are led by a compliant media machine that only rarely sticks its neck out for factuality and criticism. The Assange case speaks volumes. Even though the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a statement saying that the potential extradition and prosecution of Assange raises concerns relating to media freedom and a possible chilling effect on investigative journalism and on the activities of whistle-blowers, there is a deafening silence from the governments of the allegedly democratic West.
Stultification: leadership in the West seems to have taken leave of its senses: how else to explain the fact that the sanctions against Russia are rebounding onto the peoples of the EU, and that Brussels is committing slow economic suicide, on Washington’s instructions, while the continuing supply of billions of Dollars’ and Euros’ worth of lethal equipment to Kiev and its oligarchs – paid for by western taxpayers – is leading to an unnecessary continuing slaughter of thousands of soldiers and civilians, with the shareholders of the military-industrial-congressional complex laughing all the way to the bank, while America also promotes its Liquefied Natural Gas?  It seems that NATO’s very existence depends on war, and that it has taken over the political West. The EU clearly lacks decent and strong leadership, many of these leaders themselves being victims of the lack of moral gumption, the irreligious cult of the ego and identity politics. To speak of spiritual strength is now frowned upon. The lemming syndrome is in the ascendant, while headless politicians rush around in circles, helping one of the most corrupt countries in the world to continue an otiose yet deadly war. Liberal and digital totalitarianism seem to be the new norm. Kiev now labels anyone who agrees with Moscow an ‘information terrorist’.
End of Politics: in the words of an expert, ‘politics is anything but permanency. Whenever one tries to catch the political spirit of the time by the tail, it shirks away’ . The ideas of Left- and Right-wing have now lost any real meaning. They are simply terms exploited rhetorically by self-seeking politicians, where expressions such as ‘far right’ and ‘far left’ are bromides to feed to the stultified gender-obsessed masses. Gone are the likes of Charles de Gaulle, Willi Brandt, John Kennedy and Edward Heath, and even Margaret Thatcher, people with a solid identity. There are still some sensible politicians such as Dominique de Villepin in France, Dennis Skinner and Jeremy Corbyn in England and, surely, several others around Europe, but they have been sidelined by the media. In the EU, only Victor Orban seems to have the courage of his convictions, daring to agree in public with Moscow’s socio-economic policies, in the face of EU anti-Russian hysteria.
Solution to Idiocy: first, the West needs to reassert the importance of the family as the basis of social stability, and put gender-identity politics back in its place. The simple and obvious message is that our identity comes from our parents, and in the case of orphans, from those who bring us up, even if such a truth is anathema to the more extreme ‘inclusionists’, as it pulls the carpet from under their feet. This needs to be connected to the truth that there are two genders, male and female. And even in the case of hermaphrodites (extremely rare), they are still a mix of the two genders.
Second, the oxymoronic relationship between globalism and sovereignty needs to be re-balanced, since the western obsession with globalism is leading to the enslavement of states, in the hypocritical name of freedom. World leaders need to be re-educated into seeing that NATO currently controls the West, has no reverse gear, and is leading the world to destruction. European leaders, in particular, need to reassert their freedom of action, as Orban has done.
Third, and connected to the above, comes education. At school level, this entails protecting children from excessive and mind-destroying gender-identity politics. It means educating their parents, many of whom seem to have become passive and apathetic. At post school level, it needs to be emphasised that the current disorder in the world reflects the disorder in understanding world politics, and of the ever-increasing speed of profit-driven technology, where managers, as well as agenda-driven academics and journalists have little time to reflect on their deadline-driven actions. Lucidity and simplicity need to be re-established. The Bellum Americanum could then become the Pax Americana. The alternative is NATO’s globalism, which evokes the following: it is easier to confuse in order to control, than to control in order to confuse: power without responsibility is easier than responsibility without power.
Fourth, the media needs to re-establish its independence, and not avoid embarrassing facts. For example, on 2 March 2022, 141 UN members (73%) voted to condemn Russia, while by 25 August, the number had shrunk to 58 (30%). This significant news was hardly reported in the so-called mainstream media.
Back to Common Sense: I began this article by asking whether this could be done and whether I could focus your attention for a few minutes. If you have got this far, then I must congratulate you, whatever your reaction. Has it been done? I again quote Thucydides: ‘The simple way of considering matters, so much the example of a noble nature, was seen as an absurd characteristic, and soon died.’ Let us end with Guicciardini: ‘In my youth I believed that no amount of reflection would enable me to see more than I took in at a glance. But experience has shown me this opinion to be utterly false; and you may laugh at anyone who maintains the contrary. The longer we reflect, the clearer things grow and the better we understand them’.
from our partner RIAC
1. I thank Zoran Ristic and Charalambos Tsitsopoulos for some fruitful discussions and suggestions.
2. Our private conversation was brief but telling, and he gave me a synopsis of his ideas on geopolitics. His deep and vast knowledge of the world, as well as of his own country, impressed me. He needed no label, whether ‘right-’or ‘left-’ wing. He is a thinker whose impressive works on the primitive (for me) theory of geopolitics caught the attention of both the Kremlin and the White House. He is the antithesis of an extremist, always logical and calm in his ideas. Individualism, the class struggle and nation appear to seem less relevant to him today, than simple existence, which appears as one of his mental mainstays.
3. See Fouskas, Vassilis K., Zones of Conflict, Pluto Press, 2003, for a thoughtful and still valid analysis of American foreign policy.
4. Vico, Giambattista, New Science: Principles of the New Science concerning the Common Nature of Nations, Penguin Books, London, 2001. First published in 1725 in Naples.
5. Quoted in Mallinson, William, Guicciardini, Geopolitics and Geohistory: Understanding Inter-State Relations, Palgrave Macmillan/Springer Nature, 2021, p.1.
6. Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, translated by Rex Warner, introduction and notes by M. I. Finlay, Penguin Books, London etc., 1972., p.243.
7. Guicciardini, Francesco, Counsels and Reflections, translated from the Italian (Ricordi Politici e Civili) by Ninian Hill Thomson, M.A., Kegan Paul, Trench Trübner & Co., Ltd., London, 1890, 35, p.48.
8. Ibid., p.133.
9. Ibid., p. 137.
10. Yutang, Lin, The Importance of Living, William Heinemann Ltd., London, 1938, p. 5.
11. Tolstoy, Leo, War and Peace, Wordsworth Editions, Ware, Herts, 2001, p.505. First published in 1865.
12. Quoted in Forster, E. M., A Passage to India, in Appendix 2 (Peter Burra’s Introduction to the Everyman Edition), Penguin Books, 1989, p.329. First published by Edward Arnold, 1924.
13. I’m sorry, hut I forget in which of his writings I found this.
14. In April 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty was due to expire. Instead, it was renewed, then expanded, and bombed Belgrade. It now claims to be a worldwide organisation.
15. Huttenback, Robert A., Racism and Empire, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, p. 15.
16. Hill, Christopher, The Changing Politics of Foreign Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2003, p. 169, in Mallinson, William, Guicciardini, Geopolitics and Geohistory: Understanding Inter-State Relations, Palgrave Macmillan/Springer Nature, p. 62. Hill is particularly damning in his critique of geopolitics.
17. Rand, Ayn, Atlas Shrugged, Random House, 1957.
18. Telegram from the British Embassy in Washington, commenting on the Truman Doctrine, 14 March 1947, printed in Documents on British Policy Overseas, Series 1, Volume XI, No. 62.
19. Mallinson, William, Cyprus, Diplomatic History and the Clash of Theory in International Relations, Bloomsbury, 2010, p. 54.
20. Kazantzakis, Nikos, Report to Greco, translated by P.A. Bien, Faber and Faber,1973, p. 322. First published (in Greek) in 1961.
21. Parris, Mathew and Bryson, Andrew, Parting Shots, Penguin, 2011.
22. Davos, 22 January 2020.
23. Sky News Australia, 15 November 2021.
24. Carlson Tucker, Fox News, 16 November 2020.
25. Daily Mail, 11 June 2009.
26. The Independent, 24 August 2022. Truss was not yet Prime Minister.
27. Daily Mail, 11 August 2022.
28. Forum 2000, Conference, Prague, 31 August 2022.
29. Mallinson, William, ‘Whither PR Graduates?’, Journal of Communication Management, vol. 3, no. 1, London, August 1998.
30. HHS.gov.opioids, 27 August, 2021.
31. LSE News, 3 December 2021.
32. The March 2014 edition of the FCO Association’s Password Magazine.
33. See Chapter Three of Mallinson, William, Behind the Words, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2024 and 2016.
34. William S. Burroughs, The Seven Deadly Sins, Lococo-Mulder, New York City, September 1991.
35. McCgwire, Michael, ‘Why Did We Bomb Belgrade’, International Affairs, vol. 76, no. 2, Chatham House, London, April 1999.
36. Wallbank, T. Walter et al. (eds.), Civilisation, Past and Present, volume II, Harper Collins, 1996, p. 721.
37. See Tucker Carlson on Fox News, 30 August 2022, for a thoughtful critique of the current stupidity.
38. See Pavel Kanevskiy’s foreword to Mallinson, William, Guicciardini, Geopolitics and Geohistory: Understanding Inter-State Relations, Palgrave Macmillan/Springer, 2021.
39. Op.cit., Guicciardini, 297, p. 126.
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