Countercurrents.org | May 19, 2017
The costs to be calculated
The most important part of these intervention-costs lacking in most of these calculations are the cost and price the intervened countries, the societies and the people in these countries had to pay/are paying. In any of the countries going through intervention process, there’s no scope of pursuing productive, democratic, and educational-cultural-intellectual activities in usual, normal way. “Libya War: The Unknown Costs and the Indemnified Interventionists” (Farooque Chowdhury, Countercurrents.org, June 30, 2015) discusses the costs in context of Libya.
Neta C Crawford writes: “[T]he disruption caused by war to Iraq’s health care and economic infrastructure has led to continued adverse health effects and a continuing economic burden for the people of Iraq and the region. Much the same can be said of the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are millions of refugees for whom the burden of care has fallen to international humanitarian organizations and host countries.” (op. cit.)
The costs intervened economies have already incurred, are incurring and are to be incurred, most possibly, can never be calculated sanguinely. Intervened-times are lost times in intervened economies. Ultimately, these are the losses the world humanity is incurring, a price imperialism demands.
An interventionist environment
Concerning intervention, the present world situation is hot. Simon Tisdall writes in The Guardian:
“An uncomfortable phenomenon underlies the numerous existential dilemmas facing world leaders gathered at [the] Munich security conference. […]
“What has changed is that the US is becoming a problem too. Donald Trump’s America First nationalism and his iconoclastic, isolationist inclination to undercut status quo organisations such as the UN and NATO is deeply destabilizing. […]
“For modern Europe, […] it’s a nightmare that was never supposed to happen. […] Rarely have the guardians of global security felt so insecure. […]
“[Trump’s] potential for serious, lasting disruption is evident. […]
“Donald Tusk, the European Council president, says Europe is under threat from all sides, including the US.” (“Munich conference: three dangerous superpowers – and we’re stuck in the middle”, February 19, 2017)
On the issue, Leonid Bershidsky writes in Bloomberg:
“Last year, the global security establishment was mildly worried about a growing US disengagement overseas. This year, the worry has given way to a realization that the ‘liberal world order’ – another name for Pax Americana – may be finished, and that new security arrangements are needed.
“That’s the conclusion that can be drawn from this year’s edition of the Munich Security Report. […]
“In 2017, all bets are off on what the US will ultimately do: Donald Trump and […] his team have made so many conflicting statements on foreign policy […] that nothing is clear except that they intend to keep their cards close to the chest as they ‘put America first.’ The report says:
“‘The consequences for the international order could be tremendous: if the US does retreat, vacuums will be filled by other actors. Key institutions will be weakened, spoilers will be emboldened. And some US allies may see no alternative than to start hedging by seeking out new partners. […]’
“US ineffectiveness as a pillar of security, however, doesn’t just stem from Trump’s unpredictability. There is no way for it to assert itself in some of the most important global crises. The US doesn’t just feel compelled to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia, as it has obviously done in Ukraine and Syria […]
“In other words, economic sanctions, the weapon that’s easiest for the US to wield, can lead to military escalation for which the US has no stomach. The ‘strategic community,’ as the Munich Conference organizers describe the attendees, is apparently beginning to see US might as something of an untenable bluff. […]
“In 2017, the US is no longer the whale on whose back the world rests but a source of uncertainty and tension. […]
“[T]he Munich report […] discusses the EU as a potential new superpower. […]
“For these reasons, Europe’s path toward superpower status seems long and thorny today. […] Europe may have no choice if US dominance in the world continues to erode. (“Why Europe Is Warning of Pax Americana’s End”, February 13, 2017)
“The international security environment is arguably more volatile today”, writes Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, “than at any point since World War II. Some of the most fundamental pillars of the West and of the liberal international order are weakening.” (“Foreword”, Post-Truth, Post-West, Post-Order? Munich Security Report 2017, henceforth MSR2017)
The MSR says:
“The world is facing an illiberal moment. Across the West and beyond, illiberal forces are gaining ground. From within, Western societies are troubled by the emergence of populist movements that oppose critical elements of the liberal-democratic status quo. From outside, Western societies are challenged by illiberal regimes trying to cast doubt on liberal democracy and weaken the international order. And Western states themselves seem both unwilling and unable to effectively tackle the biggest security crises – with Syria as the prime example.”
The report by organizers of, as claimed, the world’s most prestigious geopolitical gathering and the world’s ‘Best Think Tank Conference’ identifies the reality being faced by the world imperialist system, and as a way out, suggests, sublimely, the main actors to be aggressive.
An analysis in the report shows the defense industry in Europe has consolidated over recent decades.
This consolidation of the defense industry in Europe is significant, both for the capital involved, and for the labor and the tax payers.
The 90-page report cites the top 10 political risk stories for the year identified by Eurasia Group. “In 2017”, as they put it, “‘we enter a period of geopolitical recession, the most volatile political risk environment in the postwar period.’ These are the trends Eurasia Group believes will define it.”
The number 1 political risk says:
“Independent America: Donald Trump will use US power overwhelmingly to advance US interests, with little concern for the broader impact. Trump is no isolationist. He’s a unilateralist. Expect a more hawkish – and a much less predictable – US foreign policy. […] US-led institutions will lose more of their international clout.”
As number 6 political risk, it is said:
“Central banks get political: Western central banks are increasingly vulnerable to the same sort of crude political pressures that distort economies in developing countries. […]” (MSR2017, this list is shortened version of Ian Bremmer and Cliff Kupchan, “The Geopolitical Recession,” Eurasia Group, January 3, 2017, https://www.eurasiagroup.net/issues/top-risks-2017) [Fundamental issues related to “Independent America”, “Central banks get political” as in nos. 1 and 6 respectively, and the rest eight political risks identified by the Eurasia Group are there, which require further discussion from a dialectical point of view.]
With this background – geopolitical recession, etc., as mentioned in the report – the world situation appears charged. Stagnation in the leading capitalist economies, and increased competition among parts of world capital are making the world actors aggressive. Particularly, condition of the US is making it reckless/near-reckless or pushing it to resort to brinkmanship, which is not the choice or personal trait of any particular leader. Rather, it’s the trait/condition of an establishment, which doesn’t crop up automatically or from the blue, but originates from certain conditions the establishment is grounded in. With increasing decadence within the Empire, it is, on the one hand, feeling the urge to be more aggressive as a way out of problems it’s encountering, and, on the other, it’s experiencing reckless leadership and manipulation of the system, which is, sometimes, taking it to the level of immaturity in the areas of political acts and announcements. It’s much more risky situation as an immature act is dangerous.
Prevailing state of democratic movement/mobilization, of people’s organization, of mass political awareness about imperialist design and democracy, and of decisive role of a class capable of furthering class struggle in a conscious way makes imperialist intervention easier. The voice the IPU raised in its Dhaka session does not echo within a reality isolated from these aspects related to intervention. The IPU and all forces opposed to intervention, like it or not, can’t ignore this compulsion of reality, which means: imperialist interventions can effectively be aborted by mobilizing politically aware masses of people having their organization(s) in an environment of democracy of people, not of any rich group/class, which is an absolute minority. And, the capacity the absolute minority classes harbor is to easily succumb to imperialist pressure/intervention. With certain developments/conditions, the classes can behave in a different way for a different span of time. Today, a time rife with interventionist tendency in the world system, considering these facts helps oppose/resist intervention.
The article was originally composed in mid-April, 2017.
Farooque Chowdhury, writing from Dhaka, has not authored/edited any book in English other than Micro Credit, Myth Manufactured (ed.), The Age of Crisis and What Next, The Great Financial Crisis (ed.).