"CrossTalk: Liberal order collapse"
RT.com (March 9, 2022)
The west’s liberal world order has collapsed and the hegemony it sought to maintain and expand. The conflict in Ukraine is a proxy war, the real target is Russia and indirectly China. The law of unintended consequences is in play. In the end, it will be Europe that pays the highest price.
CrossTalking with John Laughland, Patrick Lawrence, and Nebojsa Malic.
Peter Lavelle: "... We are in a situation now due to the machinations, intentional policy decisions, primarily in London and Washington. They've hit a brick wall and their publics are going to pay a very high price for it. We usually don't get these foreign policy decisions. They happen somewhere far away. And the implications are only for the people on the losing end of it. Now we have energy prices, migration, other issues security related, are all piling up on each other. And publics in the West are going to feel it immediately."
John Laughland: "... Shortly before this, the Chinese froeign minister said that the friendship between Russia and China was as solid as a rock. And that's definitely a sign that the main strategic goal of this operation -- and everything that goes with it -- has been achieved. And that strategic goal has indeed has put an end to the Uni-polar world order, the famous program laid out by Vladimir Putin in Munich in 2007."
"And I agree about the extreme dangers which Europe faces, and the world generally, to a lesser extent America, in terms, as you say, of higher energy prices. But not just that. There is a whole range of financial and economic exposures of an absolutely terrifying magnitude, including the exposure of European banks to all kins of futures contracts, for example gas, petrol, wheat, you name it. There is massive exposure on that. There is, of course, the exposure on energy. There are various other things like aircraft and aircraft pieces. So there is Immense danger, yes, to the European economy. I definitely don't think Europeans are ready for this, as you said in your introduction. The Russians are fatalistic and the Europeans are definitely not."
"But on the other hand, I would guard against any [excessive pessimism?] -- It's not over yet. The liberal world order is finished. We are in a battle right now. We are in a war: an economic war being waged against Russia and a military war being waged in Ukraine by Russia. That is a very asymmetrical conflict. It is possible that the West won't come out on top, but it's much too early to say. [We're] a long way from the end of this yet. So I would not agree that the liberal world order has come to an end, yet."
Peter Lavelle: " ... One of the things that I find so disturbing: all I hear from the West is escalation, escalating the conflict. No one in the West is talking about a peace settlement, how to end hostilities there. They want to continue. I mean, Ukraine is already a failed state. What else are they going to do to it. I've said for years when it came to Afghanistan and Iraq. Now it's Ukraine. Haven't they had enough of Western help?"
[4:30] Nebojsa Malic: "For all of the Western politicians talking about helping people like Ukrainians, they don't really care what happens to the Ukrainians. They're openly discussing using Ukraine, dreaming of making Ukraine another Afghanistan for Russia, which would be an absolute disaster for people living there. So for all their ostensible proclamations of wanting well to the people of Ukraine and wanting to save their lives, and so forth, everything they're doing is actually helping those lives end very quickly or in great pain."
If there was any interest in wanting peace and prosperity in Ukraine, they would have backed some some sort of settlement with Russia years ago, and they would have given those security guarantees that Moscow asked for. But no. The plan was always to use Ukraine as a weapon."
[5:23] Peter Lavelle: "There was Minsk I and II. And I really fault the Europeans a lot for that. And I fault Macron, the person I call Sgt Shultz in Germany, I fault them for not standing up. Patrick: You're in the U.S. and I get is emotion. I get no rational reasoning. It's really emotional. It's hysterical. You can't make policy decisions based on hysteria.."
Patrick Lawrence: "It's becoming intolerable as anyone among your listeners who doesn't live here needs to know. I want to edit you a little bit, Peter. We're not talking about a Liberal World Order. We're talking about an illiberal world order. And that has been behind the veil, in my view, all along. It seems to me my larger point here ist that this is a moment of historical magnitude that we all need to understand as such. Not to diminish the importance of the Ukraine crisis and the Russian decision to intervene which I think is regrettable but necessary -- those are my terms for it -- that is a subset of a much, much larger question. President Putin and President Xi made this very clear on February 4th. This is a moment when a new world order -- a tired old phrase, but it is going to have meaning this time -- is beginning to come into being."
"I agree with our colleague in Paris. It's not over, but I think we are looking at the beginning of the end. And these sorts of movements in history, they can come with imagination and creativity, or they can come violently. Typically, it is the latter when an empire is defending itself. And that's what we're getting here, I think. And I think we all need to just accept that if we're going to get through this and find our way to a more stable and peaceful world.The Americans are not going to let it happen well."
" [08:15] Peter Lavelle: "Watching the so-called intensive negotiations and diplomacy and all this, I was exasperated for months because it was all fake: Go to the Kremlin, talk to this person. And they always went empty handed. And I have a feeling they wanted something like this to happen. It justified all of their fever-dream hatred ..."
" [interjection by Patrick Lawrence]: "The other morning I read The Pentagon has not been in touch with anyone in the Russian defense establishment since the Russian intervention began. The Biden administration has no plan for diplomatic contact with the Russian Federation or anybody in it."
" Peter Lavelle: "But they did send Kamala Harris. I'm not sure what to take away from that."
" Patrick Lawrence"Are you trying to depress me, Peter?"
Peter Lavelle:"We can't get any more depressed than we are here, gentlemen.
John Laughland: "I think it's true what Nebojsa says which is that, of course the Americans are dreaming of another Afghanistan. As we know, the generals are always fighting the last war. But I'm not sure I agree that there was a deliberate desire to have a war now on the part of the west. On the contrary, my view is that Russia had to take the decision. I obviously don't know exactly when. But we were bombarded, as you know, with leaks saying that Russia was about to invade. It was denied, of course, on the Russian side, and then it happened. And I actually think that those leaks, for once, were right. I didn't believe them and I got it wrongly. I didn't expect there to be an invasion. But I think that they were right. One of the proofs [?] for that was the dat, because the beginning of the military operation was day for day the anniversary of the Maidan coup. I don't think an operation of this kind is decided at the last minute, even in the last month. On the contrary, it was a long time in the planning. But to say that the West wanted it? No."
[10:34] "That would imply that Putin walked into a trap. I think that the immediate cause, apart from the Maidan, and so on, are the strategic agreements signed between Ukraine and Britain, on the one hand, and the United States, on the other, in July and August, 2021. Strategic military agreements that provided for hundreds of millions of dollars of aid, to the Ukrainian Navy in particular and the armed forces in general. And, of course, military exercises, and so on."
"Throughout the summer of 2021, Ukraine was in the process, as it were, of joining NATO through the back door. Not [officially} joining NATO, of course, but establishing military and strategic partnerships with Britain and America. At that point, I think, Russia probably decided it was game over. And it was then shortly after that, in November that Russia decided to break off diplomatic relations with NATO. And I think that was the point at which the invasion was decided."
Peter Lavelle: "But Russia said that they would respond with military and technical means. They said that openly, publicly. So, was this a game of chicken? Because, as I'm always reminded living in this country, Russians don't bluff. They act.
John Laughland: "The level of the conditions was so high, and is still so high, the Russians were completely prepared to invade. And, as you say, they were not bluffing. They were not taken seriously. But that doesn't mean that the West was trying to trap them."
[12:42] Peter Lavelle: "It is not said straightforwardly, but there is a state of war here. Does the American public actually understand what that means?"
Patrick Lawrence: "No. I don't think so. There is a kind of cinematic quality about the way this is being presented to Americans. You go to a concern of mine. Not to diminish the plight of Ukrainians who are being driven from their homes, and so forth, but I've been extremely concerned at the extent, power, and prevalence of -- We've got a propaganda operation that I and numerous others of my age, if I may say so, think is unprecedented. This is really quite shocking. And the other side of that moon is that it is grotesquely successful. The extent to which people are rolling over and accepting this, these perverse accounts of what's going on. This cannot be good for America to be this blind.
"I have four words that people need to think about. Chronology, Context, Causality, and Responsibility."
Peter Lavelle: "I see none of those words in the coverage of this conflict. Not one."
Patrick Lawrence: "What we're getting over here, Peter, perhaps they're getting the same in France, to an extent, is that "Context" is some kind of awful Russian idea. "Causality." We don't want to talk about "Causality." I think this goes back to 2001 and George W's people saying we don't negotiate with our adversaries. I think it was in 2001 that in their conciousness Americans stopped wanting to hear the perspectives of other people. We turned inward and against all at once. And this is the consequence of that now. We have no interest in knowing how this looks from a Russian perspective, or even a European perspective."
[15:32] Peter Lavelle: "I think I can book-end American foreign policy. On the one hand, 'That was a long time ago, coups and things like that' and 'Something must be done.' That's how you book-end American foreign policy. And then you put a whole lot of emotion in between. I saw an interview with Petro Poroshenko, the former President on Fox News. The presenter didn't push back on one thing he said. And everything he said was untrue. Verifiably untrue. No pushback whatsoever. That tells me the American public is going to be led down the path again. I don't trust the people in power. Kamala Harris [?!] is negotiating now in Europe. And I don't like to talk about Joe and his issues and all that. We're not dealing with the "A" Team here. We're dealing with a lot of low-octane thinkers."
[16:30] Nebojsa Malic: "Well, the worst part is that it's almost like NBC is running a 20-30-year-old script. Because I've compared this situation, repeatedly, to the U.S. policy in the Balkans in the 1990's. They think they're dealing with another Bosnia. And Zelenski is literally doing the Isobagovitch bit of: 'Please help me! Military intervention! Foreign aid! My country is being invaded! I'm dying here!' when he is actually executing instructions from Washington. With predictable results."
"But the problem is, obviously, or they don't understand that they're not dealing with Serbia here, but with Russia, which is vastly, orders of magnitude different. And also that they're trying to do the same thing that they did back in the 1990s to the Europeans. They're trying to basically quash any attempt by the Europeans of any sort of independence, economic, political, anything, and put them back under the American bootheel."
[17:25] "But I'm not really surprised because the people running the institutional policy here -- the Blob that shall not be challenged in Washington -- are basically acolytes of people who ran the store back in the 1990s. They have any original ideas. They just have the old script."
Peter Lavelle: "I agree with Nebojsa absolutely. And it is very reminiscent here. But there are a lot of material interests at stake here. In the Balkan wars, the illegal wars in the Balkans in the 1990s, it is a different magnitude because of energy prices, mass migration, all kinds of things are going to hit Europeans immediately. In the case of the 1990s, the impact wasn't so great. This is something of a different magnitude. And am I disappointed with the leadership coming out of Germany and France."
John Laughland: "Well, I completely agree, certainly, with what Nebojsa has just said. The Europeans have shot themselves not just in the foot, but in the head on the orders of the United States. And they have done it not only at great imminent and long-term economic costs, because as I mentioned in my first answer, Europe is very exposed, not just in energy supplies but in all kinds of ways, including in its financial markets. . ..."
Patrick Lawrence: "John, let me interject here. Macron absolutely astonishes me. How do you account for -- here's a man who argued for European interdependence and Russia's role in Europe and so on and so forth, a real De Gaulle-ist, right? -- How do you account for his behavior?
John Laughland: "No, he is not a De Gaulle-ist. His position on any subject depends on what day of the week it is. On Monday, it will be White. On Tuesdays, it will be black. On Wednesday it will be gray. It's worse than that [opportunism]. He believes that he can incorporate, in his own person, all kinds of contradictions. But what I'm preoccupied with is not only, as I say, the economic exposure, we'll see which, whether the Russians or the Europeans, which of the two are more capable of withstanding the fallout.
[19:51] But also I'm deeply concerned -- you've mentioned, of course the propaganda -- but I'm concerned by the descent into illegality. The way in which RT and Sputnik were banned. It's totally illegal. Firstly, we're not at war with Russia. And secondly, the mechanism by which they were banned is illegal. But it doesn't stop there. All over the place, from London to Monte Carlo they've been seizing property, and in Italy, belonging to so-called oligarchs close to the Russian regime. But these kinds of expropriations, you're asking about the Liberal Order, Peter. The basis of the liberal order for centuries has been property rights. It they can be brushed aside on the say-so of an unelected official in Brussels, or some other official in a national government, then there is no Liberal Order anymore. If they can get someone like Roman Abramovich worth billons, then they can also get people like you and me. And that is what is so frigthening about this."
Nebojsa Malic: " ... The elites in the west don't really care if this collapses their economies at home because they've already factored it into their plans. ..."
Peter Lavelle: "It's bread and circuses, because the neo-liberal order is collapsing: left, right, and center for the average person in the western world. This is not working for them. But now we have a circus to watch on cable tv. But, of course, they explain all these things that are happening in Ukraine, but they don't SHOW anything. That's what I find astounding. Television is about telling stories with pictures. All we get is editorials."
Nebojsa Malic: "That's because there ARE no pictures. Because reality on the ground shows a completely different reality than the ones being shown in the living rooms. But again, they editorialize. They bring in these neocons that have never fought a war in their lives. They bring in people who have lost wars and don't know how to fight them. And the handful of people who have fought wars and know what they are about, they come on and they get shouted down because they don't tell the politically correct story. I've maintained for months that this was a wag-the-dog operation because it was all so fake on the Western end."
Patrick Lawrence: "I wonder whether the French public, the European public is subjected to this kind of wave of perception management and whether they are swooning downward as the American public has been."
[22:47] John Laughland: "Well, it varies from country to country. In Britain, the hysteria is perhaps even greater than in the United States. In France it's pretty high, but much less high. In Germany it's very high, and so on. So it varies from country to country. But there is no doubt that the overwhelming balance, is with, of course, supporting the Ukrainian side.
"I'd just like to say that in a way, and of course I agree with the criticisms that have been made about the American and European political establishments. I particularly think they have behavied ideologically. They seem blinded by ideology. Why shouldn't Ukraine be neutral? Why is that ideologially so important? It seems like quite a good solution. And they are blinded by that ideology. But this conflict will not be resolved by seeing the other guy's point of view or understanding the Russian position. Patrick, I'm responding to your earlier remark. It won't be resolved by seeing the other guy's point of view. It will be resolved, like all great conflicts, by force. That's how it will be resolved. That's how the world works. And what we are seeing now is quite simply force. Economic and military force to try and change the situation ..."
Peter Lavelle: "Are there any winners in this?"
John Laughland: "No. There are no winners. And the only thing I would add that hasn't been mentioned is that Zelenski has said on several occasions, including on the 8th of March that he has been completely abandoned by NATO. So, we'll have to see how long that position can hold from his point of view."
Patrick Lawrence: "I want to interject here. I think that We will all be winners if we understand this properly. We have an aggressive empire [the U.S.] that needs to be stopped. If is stopped, we all win."