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jeudi, 06 février 2020

On The Decline In US Strategic Thinking And The Creation Of False Stereotypes


On The Decline In US Strategic Thinking And The Creation Of False Stereotypes

Ex: https://www.geopolitica.ru

In early January 2020, the RAND Corporation published its latest research report on Russia entitled “Russia’s Hostile Measures. Combating Russian Gray Zone Aggression Against NATO in the Contact, Blunt, and Surge Layers of Competition”.

The report is made up of four chapters: 1. Russian hostile measures in every context; 2. The evolution and limits of Russian hostile measures; 3. Gray zone cases and actions during high-order war; and 4. Deterring, preventing, and countering hostile measures. There are also two appendices: 1) An evolutionary history of Russia’s hostile measures; and 2) Detailed case studies of Russia’s use of hostile measures.

By the headings alone, it is possible to gauge the kind of psychological effect that the authors of the monograph wanted it to have. They clearly wanted to say that Russia as a political entity is aggressive – it has been that way throughout history and it will continue to be so in the future – and it is therefore vital to prevent such aggression in a variety of ways.

It is also stated that the report was sponsored by the US Army as part of the project “Russia, European Security, and ‘Measures Short of War’” and that the research and analysis was conducted between 2015 and 2019. The purpose of the project was “to provide recommendations to inform the options that the Army presents to the National Command Authorities to leverage, improve upon, and develop new capabilities and address the threat of Russian aggression in the form of measures short of war.” In addition, the report was reviewed by the US Department of Defense between January and August 2019, and the RAND Corporation conducted seminars in European NATO member countries as part of the project. Notably, one of the first events was held in February 2016 at Cambridge University, which has become a kind of hub for visiting experts from other countries.

From a scientific perspective, the report’s authors adhere to the classical American school – Kremlinologist George Kennan and his concepts are mentioned, as is Jack Snyder, who coined the term “strategic culture” on the basis of nuclear deterrence. The sources referred to in the footnotes are also mostly American, with the exception of a few translated texts by Russian authors (both patriots and liberal pro-Westerners) and official government bodies. But, on the whole, the report is of rather poor scientific value.

Two interrelated topics are discussed in the first chapter that, over the last five years, the West’s military and political communities have steadfastly associated with Russia – the grey zone and hybrid warfare. It is clear that these phrases are being used intentionally, as is the term “measures”, since Western centres are trying to use the terminological baggage of the Soviet past alongside their own modern concepts, especially when it refers to military or security agencies (the term “active measures” was used by the USSR’s KGB from the 1970s onwards). It is noted that NATO officially began to use the term “hybrid warfare” with regard to Russia following the events in Crimea in 2014.

Examples given of active measures during the Cold War include: assassination (the murder of Stepan Bandera); destabilisation (training Central and South American insurgents with Cuba in the 1980s); disinformation (spreading rumours through the German media that the US developed AIDS as a biological weapon; disseminating information about CIA sabotage efforts); proxy wars (Vietnam, Angola); and sabotage (creating panic in Yugoslavia in 1949).

Although America’s involvement in such techniques was more sophisticated and widespread (from establishing death squads in Latin America and supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan by way of Pakistan to the Voice of America radio programmes and governing remotely during riots in Hungary and Czechoslovakia) and certain facts about the work of Soviet intelligence agencies are well known, the examples cited of measures taken by the USSR are not backed up by authoritative sources.


Russia’s hostile measures in Europe

Other methods for influencing the report’s target audience are noticeable, and these have been used before to create a negative image of Russia. These include a comparison with the actions of terrorist organisations: “the shock and awe generated by the blitzkrieg-like success of Russia in Crimea and the Islamic State in Iraq generated considerable analytic excitement. A few early accounts suggested that Russia had invented a new way of war” (p. 6).

According to the authors, the West had already clearly decided what to call Russia’s actions in 2016. With that in mind:

“– Gray zone hostilities are nothing new, particularly for Russia.

– Russia will continue to apply these tactics, but its goals and means are limited.

– Deterring, preventing, or countering so-called gray zone behavior is difficult” (p. 7).

The report also states that many articles on the subject written in 2014 and 2015 contained overly exaggerated value judgements, but, in 2017, analyses of the grey zone and hybrid warfare shifted towards a balanced and objective view of Russian power.

This should also be queried, because a relatively large number of reports and papers on similar topics have been published since 2017. Even the US national defence and security strategies had a blatantly distorted view of both Russia and other countries.

The only thing one can possibly agree with is the coining of the new term “hybrid un-war”, which emerged from debates in recent years. It’s true that Russia is employing certain countermeasures, from modernising its armed forces to imposing counter sanctions, but many of these are in response to provocative actions by the West or are linked to planned reforms. Evidently, the authors understand that it will be difficult to make unfounded accusations, so they are covering themselves in advance by choosing a more suitable word. Against the general backdrop, however, the reference to an “un-war” seems rather vague.

It should be noted that the first appendix contains a list of academic literature on Soviet and Russian foreign policy that supposedly backs up the authors’ opinions on the methods of political warfare being carried out by Russia (and the USSR before it). Among the most important sources are declassified CIA reports and assessments, along with similar files from the US National Security Archive that were posted online by staff at George Washington University. Needless to say, the objectivity of documents like these is rather specific.

The section on the institutionalisation and nature of Russian hostile measures is interesting. The authors point out that Russia has an existential fear of NATO and the West as a whole because it has been threatened by external invasion for centuries. The timeline begins in the 13th century with the Mongol invasion that ended with the destruction of Moscow, and it finishes with Germany’s invasion of the USSR and the deaths of 20 million Russians. Interestingly, the 20th century also includes the North Russia intervention by the US and its allies. Such selectivity is surprising, as if there had been no aggression from the Teutonic Order or other wars prior to the 13th century. The 18th century is excluded from the list entirely, yet it was a pivotal era for the Russian state (the Great Northern War, the wars with the Persian and Ottoman empires, the Russo-Swedish War and so on), when numerous external challenges had to be met.

But the report then mentions NATO’s expansion to the East and America’s use of soft-power methods, including the organisation of colour revolutions in the post-Soviet space, where there were Russian client governments. Although it says in justification that NATO never threatened Russia, it emphasises that NATO’s physical infrastructure and military capabilities forced Moscow to include it on its list of national security threats.

In addition to this, the RAND experts point out Russia’s worry over internal revolt. The report once again provides a selective timeline that includes the Decembrist revolt, colour revolutions in the post-Soviet space, and even the war in Syria, which is described as “a long-standing Russian client state” (p. 15).

It then goes on to paraphrase Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, who said that the Kremlin fears US intervention and the Russian General Staff fears NATO intervention. It therefore follows that “[t]he perception of a threat influences behavior, even if the perceived threat is overblown or nonexistent. Whether or not one believes that worry, or even paranoia, is the primary driver behind current Russian actions in the gray zone and its preparations for high-order war, this essential element of Russian culture demands an objective and thoughtful accounting” (p. 16).

Following this is a description of the security apparatus that carries out hostile measures. A line is drawn between the NKVD, KGB and FSB, and these are also joined by the SVR, for some reason. The armed forces are considered separately, with a focus on the GRU and special forces. And that’s it. There is no mention of the police, the public prosecutor’s office and the investigative committee or even the FSO. It is even a bit strange not to see “Russian hackers” and private military companies, which are a regular feature of such reports. It is also noted that current actions are nothing other than a “continuity of the Brezhnev Doctrine” (p. 21), which only exists in the imaginations of Western experts. The authors themselves acknowledge further on that this is how speeches by Brezhnev and Gromyko, quoted in Pravda in 1968, were interpreted by Western observers.

On the next page, it claims that neo-nationalism is an ideological tool for Russian foreign policy! And there is another rather interesting passage further on, when the authors of the report confuse former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov with former Russian Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov. Although they mention Igor Ivanov’s name in the context of grand strategy, foreign policy and neo-nationalism in Russia, they then refer to “Ivanov’s own 2003 military doctrine and reform plan” (p. 23). And this is given as confirmation of the aggressive neo-nationalist strategy that, according to the authors, is associated with Igor Ivanov! If the authors had been more attentive, they would have discovered that, at that time, Igor Ivanov was serving as the head of the foreign ministry, while the defence minister was Sergey Ivanov. Especially as they make reference to an article by a Western author, who, in 2004, analysed the Russian defence ministry’s reform and uses the right name (Matthew Bouldin, “The Ivanov Doctrine and Military Reform: Reasserting Stability in Russia,” Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Vol. 17, No. 4, 2004). It seems that, when compiling the report, they simply copied an additional footnote to lend extra weight, but it was the wrong one.

It goes without saying that such a large number of errors undermines the entire content of the report. And this raises a logical question: what was the authors’ intention? To earn their money by throwing a bunch of quotes together or to try and understand the issues that exist in relations between Russia and the West?

Judging by the number of mistakes and biased assessments, it was most probably the former. There are also traces of a clear strategic intent, however.

This can be seen in the description of the grey zone where Russia is actively operating, because the case studies provided as examples of Russia’s activities in the grey zone are its bilateral relations with Moldova (1990–2016), Georgia (2003–2012), Estonia (2006–2007), Ukraine (2014–2016), and Turkey (2015–2016). According to the authors, then, the grey zone is independent sovereign states, including NATO members! And virtually all of them, with the exception of Turkey, are former post-Soviet countries that are in the sphere of Russia’s natural interests.

As for the methods that Russia allegedly employs, these are all heaped together in a big pile: economic embargoes, which have been imposed by Moscow for various reasons (the ban on wine imports from Moldova and Georgia, for example), support of certain political parties, compatriot policies, and diplomatic statements and sanctions (in relation to Turkey, for example, when a Russian plane was shot down over Syria).

Eventually, the report states: “Our five cases may not stand alone as empirical evidence, but they are broadly exemplary of historical trends. […] Russia applies hostile measures successfully but typically fails to leverage tactical success for long-term strategic gain” (p. 49).

From this, the report concludes that:

“1. Russia consistently reacts with hostile measures when it perceives threats.

  1. Both opportunism and reactionism drive Russian behavior.
  2. Russian leaders often issue a public warning before employing hostile measures.
  3. Short- and long-term measures are applied in mutually supporting combination.
  4. Diplomatic, information, military, and economic means are used collectively.
  5. Russia emphasizes information, economic, and diplomatic measures, in that order.
  6. All arms of the government are used to apply hostile measures, often in concert.”

In their description of Russia’s actions, the RAND experts even go so far as to include resistance to the Wehrmacht in occupied Soviet territories during the Second World War, including the partisan underground, as an example of “Soviet hostile measures”, when “Soviet agents aggressively undermined the German economic program […] in the western occupied zone”! (p. 53). The report then goes on to say: “By the time the Soviets shifted to the counteroffensive, they had generated a massive, multilayered hostile-measures apparatus tailored to complement conventional military operations” (p. 53) and “[f]ull-scale sabotage, propaganda, and intelligence operations continued apace throughout the war” (p. 54). Immediately after this ludicrous statement is a paragraph on the actions of the KGB and GRU against insurgents in Afghanistan. This is then followed by an attempt to predict what Russia will do in the future.

So, from the report we can draw the following conclusions. First, it is unclear why the “hostile measures” described in the report include fairly standard practices from international experience that are also used in the West as democratic norms. Second, the report contains a number of distorted facts, errors, incorrect assessments and conclusions that undoubtedly undermine its content. Third, such specific content with attempts to manipulate history is clearly intended to further tarnish Russia’s image, since it will be quoted by other researchers and academics in the future, including by way of mutual citation to reinforce credibility. Fourth, if the US command and NATO are going to perceive this mix of speculation, phobias and value judgements as basic knowledge, then it really could lead to a further escalation, although the hostile measures will be employed by the US and NATO. Fifth, the report clearly adheres to the methodology of the liberal interventionist school, which is somewhat strange for a study that claims to be a guide to action for the military, since the US military usually adheres to the school of political realism, in accordance with which the interests of other states must be respected. And since Russia’s sphere of interests is included in the grey zone, this suggests attempts to deny Russia its geopolitical interests.

Source: OrientalReview

Trending to a Multipolar World: Opportunities & Challenges


Trending to a Multipolar World: Opportunities & Challenges

Ex: https://www.newdawnmagazine.com 
This article was published in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 13 No 3 (June 2019)

At the conclusion of the Second World War, the United States was the overwhelmingly dominant military and economic power. The other major colonial powers, in particular France and the United Kingdom, had been financially exhausted by the war. Germany was shattered, its industry in ruins. The United States had a monopoly on nuclear weapons, and there were serious plans to use those weapons on the Soviet Union (Operation Unthinkable).1

The Soviet Union had borne the vast brunt of the fighting against the Germans, losing at least 28 million soldiers and civilians, a sacrifice of people and treasure that has never received the acknowledgement in the West that it is due. Generations of Australians and New Zealanders, among others, were raised on the mythology of “plucky Britain” standing alone against the Nazi hoards.

In fact, as many Russians died during the siege of Leningrad (September 1941– January 1944) as total US and UK casualties combined for the whole war. Nearly half a million Russians were killed in the battle of Stalingrad (July 1942–February 1943), which is more than total US losses for the whole war.

Had Churchill’s plan for a surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union after the defeat of the Germans in May 1945 eventuated, additional casualties would have been incalculable. It is the memory of those horrendous losses during the war, and the treachery of the British and the Americans after the defeat of Germany, that is essential to an understanding of the reaction of Soviet, then Russian, leaders ever since to the actions of the Western powers. 

Any thoughts of a military confrontation between the West and the USSR was resolved in 1949 when the Soviet Union successfully exploded its own nuclear bombs. Instead of a ‘hot’ war, the two sides engaged in what is generally referred to as a Cold War. That term is somewhat of a misnomer as war was indeed waged on a number of fronts: ideological, propaganda, economic and via a series of proxy actions in third countries.

The other great shock to American sensibilities in 1949 was the defeat of the Chiang Kai Shek nationalist forces in the Chinese civil war. In what was to be a precedent for the following decades, the United States refused to accept Mao’s Government as the legitimate rulers of China and fought to retain the nationalists as China’s representative on the United Nations Security Council. US Navy ships patrolled the narrow straight between Formosa (known later as Taiwan) and the Chinese mainland. The fiction of Taiwan as representative of China in the United Nations persisted until 1971.

In an echo of Operation Unthinkable, the United States military command in the Korean War (1950–53) urged US President Truman to allow the use of nuclear weapons against China,2 after China entered the war on the side of the North Koreans. US and Allied forces defied the clear intention of United Nations Security Council Resolution 82 and invaded North Korea, continuing to the Yalu River which marked the border between North Korea and the People’s Republic of China.


The Allied forces were quickly driven back to the North/South border, itself a unilateral creation by the Americans in 1945 without reference to the citizens of either the North or the South.3 From then until the armistice of 27 July 1953, the United States and Allied troops waged a relentless war against the North. The entire country was devastated with civilian infrastructure almost completely destroyed. That, together with the use of chemical and biological weapons, amount to a sustained war crime against North Korea.4 As is the case with all atrocities committed by the United States and its allies in the almost continuous warfare waged since 1945 against mostly poor and relatively defenceless nations, the issue of accountability for war crimes is a non-issue as far as the Western powers are concerned.

In the American case, not only do they not subscribe to the International Criminal Court, they have threatened sanctions and worse5 should that body ever have the temerity to investigate the actions of its military personnel or those of its allies, much less prosecute them.

As a result of that war, North Korea lost an estimated 8 to 9 million people or about one-third of its total population at that time. By comparison, the United Kingdom lost 0.94% of its population during World War II, which lasted twice as long as the Korean War.

An understanding of that war, as well as the history of United States intervention in Korean affairs, which dates back to the 1880s,6 is essential to understanding the contemporary geopolitical situation on the Korean peninsula.

Exceptional Interventionism

The post-World War II military and economic dominance of the United States and its imperviousness to international law had a number of other consequences. In particular, it bred an attitude best expressed in their own self-description of being the “exceptional nation.” The ordinary definition of the word exceptional implies being atypical, extraordinary, or out of the common or usual mode.

In the American case, however, it came to be equated with much more, in particular a profound belief in all levels of society that their way was the only way. Deviations from their defined path were not to be tolerated, and recalcitrant nations or individuals were subject to “regime change” operations, economic and financial sanctions, and in extreme cases invasion and occupation.7

These actions always justified in terms of “bringing democracy” or “upholding the rules-based international order” or some other patently self-serving justification.

It is difficult to reconcile these high-minded concepts with the actual behaviour of the United States and its allies. Operation Boot (UK name) Ajax (US title) on behalf of the Anglo Persian Oil Company overthrew the democratically elected Iranian government in 1953. That coup was reversed with the Islamic Revolution in 1979, an outcome that still dominates United States attitudes and behaviour towards Iran.

That was followed in 1954 by Operation PBSuccess, the overthrow of the Guatemala government, to the great benefit of the United Fruit Company. Operation Condor from 1968 to 1989 involved the assassination or disappearance of tens of thousands of Latin American civilians, and the installation of a series of brutal dictatorships, all supported by and paying obeisance to the United States.

The “Whitlam problem”

From an Australian perspective, there is a common thread running through many of the CIA coups of the post-war era. There was a coup in South Korea in 1961; in Indonesia in 1965 (where more than 500,000 were killed at the instigation of the CIA); Chile in 1973 and Australia in 1975. The common denominator to all four was US State Department diplomat Marshall Green, named in CIA and State Department circles as the “coupmaster.”

Declassified CIA and State Department documents show that Green was sent to Canberra as US ambassador in 1973 with a specific brief to deal with the “Whitlam problem.”8

Gough-Whitlam-nma.img-ex20072238-024-vi-vs1.jpgWhitlam was threatening to close Pine Gap spy station; the United States lease was due to expire in December 1975. The Governor General sacked him in November 1975, the day before he was to make an announcement in the Australian Parliament about Pine Gap.

Again, to return to the earlier point, it is impossible to understand the stance taken by Australia viz a viz the Americans and their illegal wars without understanding the effect that the coup had on successive Australian governments.

Historian Jenny Hocking makes worthy efforts to uncover the role of the British, and in particular the correspondence between Governor-General Kerr and Buckingham Palace, but in this writer’s view she misses the main point.9 By 1975 the British had become of peripheral relevance to Australia’s geopolitical perspective. Then, as now, Australia was an appendage to US foreign policy, “joined at the hip” in former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s infamous phrase.

Australia joined illegal wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to support the Americans when any vital Australian interest is vanishingly small. 

Hubris & Containment

American hubris reached its pinnacle following the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991. Boris Yeltsin became president and the following decade was catastrophic for the Russians. Life expectancy plummeted. State assets were sold off at fire-sale prices to Western corporations and Russian oligarchs. Yeltsin, an incompetent drunk, would in all probability have lost the 1996 presidential election were it not for blatant and large-scale US interference to his benefit.10

That they had “their” man in office only added to the sense of US triumphalism. This history is bitterly ironic given the hysterical and wholly fake allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

From an American perspective, the demise of the Soviet Union and the election of a pliable puppet in the form of Yeltsin meant they had won the Cold War. In what was a common and disturbing pattern, the undertaking given by George HW Bush to Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO “would not advance one inch to the east” was almost immediately broken. Successive US presidents have overseen the expansion of NATO and US military bases right up to Russia’s borders.

This was a pattern repeated in the east with a steady increase in US military bases on China’s borders. They made no secret of the fact that the policy was to “contain” China.11

Despite the frequent invocation of phrases such as “Chinese assertiveness” or “a threat to America’s allies” in the Asian region, there was never any evidence to support such claims.

What the US sought to “contain” in fact was the rise of an economic and military powerhouse that threatened US hegemony of the world. On the basis of parity purchasing power, China is now the world’s largest economy, and the gap is destined to widen for the foreseeable future. The US reaction to this has been an increase in economic warfare through sanctions, tariffs, and an unrelenting propaganda barrage to paint each and every positive development emanating from China in negative terms.

Managing the News

This is not a new phenomenon. Victor Marchetti told the United States Congress decades ago that the CIA provided $250 million annually (in modern value) to the Asia Foundation for anti-communist academics to disseminate a negative view of China, and paid journalists and publishers elsewhere in the world to do the same.

Operation Mockingbird was a large-scale CIA program that began in the 1950s to infiltrate student organisations, newspapers and magazines, and other forms of media outlets to “manage” the news in such a way as to favour US interests.12 Any resemblance to the truth was coincidental. The only thing that changed since the 1950s is the scale and the sophistication of the penetration of news outlets.


The German journalist Udo Ulfkotte’s book Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists, 2014) which exposed how German mainstream journalists had been compromised, had its English rights bought by a Canadian company but was never published. Amazon does not stock it, although it can be purchased (in German) on Book Depository.

What is a unipolar world?

When Vladimir Putin replaced Yeltsin as President of Russia, he initially sought to cooperate with the United States. He has been criticised within Russia for persisting in seeking détente in the face of constant rebuffs and unilateral moves such as the United States withdrawal from the antiballistic missile treaty in 2002, and the aforementioned constant expansion of NATO.

Putin’s change of heart became most clearly evident when he addressed the Munich Security Conference on 10 February 2007. His speech included the following remarks that are worth quoting:

“What is a unipolar world?…. It refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making. It is a world in which there is one master, one sovereign. At the end of the day, this is pernicious not only for all those within the system but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.

“I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but impossible in today’s world. Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts…. we are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. One State, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way.”

If the unipolar world is not only unacceptable but “impossible in today’s world,” what then is the alternative?

The pattern of voting in the United Nation’s General Assembly over the past few decades, in particular, reveals that the overwhelming majority of the world’s nations want a better alternative than the unipolar model dominated by the United States.

Rise of China

Those nations see, for example, the transformation of China in the 40 years since the “reform and opening up” of the Chinese economy and society that officially began under Deng Xiaoping. Those reforms have seen more than 600 million Chinese (more than the whole of Europe’s population) lifted into the middle class since the turn of the century.

China outspends the United States on basic science and technology research by a ratio of 4:1. It leads the world in patent applications with more than twice the number of the United States (1.38 million versus 606.9 thousand in 2017) which in turn represented more than a third of all the world’s patent applications in that year.

Significantly, Chinese patent applications to the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva grew by 14.2% over the previous year, while United States applications grew by 0.2% (so much for allegations of intellectual property theft).

The fundamental difference between the rise of China to a dominant position compared to that of the United States is that China does not seek either to dominate the world or to impose its system on others.

The philosophy underlying China’s international posture was clearly set out by President Xi Jinping in his speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2017. Again, it is worth quoting some key passages from Xi’s speech:

“The global economic landscape has changed profoundly in the past few decades. However, the global governance system has not embraced these new changes and is therefore adequate in terms of representation and inclusiveness.

“(Red Cross founder) Henry Dunant once said ‘our real enemy is not the neighbouring country: it is hunger, poverty, ignorance, superstition and prejudice’.


“We should pursue a well-coordinated and connected approach to develop a model of open and win-win cooperation. There is a growing call from the international community for reforming the global economic governance system, which is a pressing task for us.

“We should adhere to multilateralism to uphold the authority and efficacy of multilateral institutions. We should honour promises and abide by rules. One should not select or bend rules as he sees fit. No country should view its own development path as the only viable one, still less should it impose its own development path on others.”

It is not difficult to identify which country Xi had in mind. The Chinese model of development is seen for example in the following organisations.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the best known of these modern vehicles for multilateral development, but it is far from the only one. Others include the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which has as a primary aim the establishment of an equitable, democratic and multipolar world. Dating from 2001, BRICS developed its own bank and other forms of financial cooperation. It is not a coincidence that both Brazil and India are targets of United States’ foreign policy aimed at undermining their growing relationship with China.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) also began in 2001 with six original members (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan). Pakistan and India both joined at the same time in 2017. In addition, there are four observer States (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia) and six dialogue partners (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey).

Countries as diverse as Egypt, Israel and Ukraine among others have applied for observer or dialogue partner status and others in the Middle East such as Iraq, Bahrain and Qatar have expressed interest.

The North South Transportation Corridor (NSTC) grew out of the Ashgabat Agreement in 2011 and a rail link from Mumbai to Moscow via Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan is now up and running. Again, a range of countries in proximity to the original route have expressed an interest in becoming part of this transformative transport project. As with the major rail projects that are an integral component of the BRI, these developments have the potential to slash both transport times and costs for goods traversing Eurasia.

Eurasian Economic Union. This organisation was formalized in 2015 and incorporates Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, with Iran signing a free trade agreement in 2018.

There is a notable overlap of membership of these organisations. They increasingly trade in their own currencies, part of a rapidly increasing move toward the elimination of the United States dollar as the principal medium of international trade. The demise of the dollar from its central role will remove one of the United States’ most powerful tools for imposing its policy preferences upon sovereign nations.

The reserve status of the dollar has enabled the United States to defy economic logic, running huge internal and balance of payments deficits without the consequences that would ordinarily flow. That day of reckoning is rapidly approaching.

The United States has for decades neglected its own vital infrastructure and educational standards as more than half of each federal dollar is spent on its military industrial intelligence complex. It has not been value for money, as both Russian and Chinese military technology is significantly superior, as even the Americans now acknowledge.13

War or Peaceful Development?

There is little evidence, however, that the United States recognises the cause and effect between its preference for military expenditure over civilian needs; the political, economic and reputational costs of endless wars for and on behalf of vested interests; and its steady decline in the world both in absolute and relative terms.

The United States will undoubtedly continue waging its wars, whether they are hybrid wars using terrorist proxies which it has done since at least Operation Cyclone in the 1970s, or overt invasions and destruction of sovereign states as in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, to name but a few.

There is a remarkable correlation between victim countries of the past two decades and the “seven countries in five years” identified by US General Wesley Clark.14 

The world tires of this endless aggression and the chaos which ensues. For an increasing number, the win-win philosophy expanded by President Xi is the most attractive option. This is why more than 128 nations have now signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the BRI, in Africa, Latin America, Island States in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the Middle East and throughout the Eurasian continent. They clearly view the multipolar world as the preferable alternative. The question is whether they will be able to continue to develop along their preferred path or will the frankly insane US political class make one final attempt at regaining world hegemony, and in the process destroy us all. 

This article was published in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 13 No 3.
If you appreciate this article, please consider a contribution to help maintain this website.


1. J. Walker, Operation Unthinkable: the Third World War, The History Press 2013

2. C. Posey, ‘How the Korean War almost Went Nuclear’, www.airandspacemag.com, July 2015

3. B. Cumings, The Korean War: A History, Modern Library 2011

4. J. Kaye, ‘Revealed: The Long Suppressed Official Report of US Biowarfare on North Korea’, www.medium.com, 20 February 2018

5. S. Vasaliev, ‘Not Just another Crisis’, www.ejiltalk.com, 19 April 2019 (Part 1); 20 April 2019 (Part 2)

6. M. Pembroke, Korea: Where the American Century Began, One World Publications 2018

7. W. Blum, America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy, Zed Books 2013

8. J. Jiggens, ‘11 November Coup? What Coup?’ www.greenleft.org, 20 November 2010

9. J. Hocking, The Dismissal Dossier, Melbourne University Press 2015

10. S. Shane, ‘Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections: we do it too’, www.nytimes.org, 17 February 2018; S. Cohen, Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post Communist Russia, Norton & Co (updated edition) 2001

11. J. Reed, ‘Surrounded: How the US is Encircling China with Military Bases’, www.foreignpolicy.com, 20 August 2013

12. C. Bernstein, ‘CIA & The Media’ www.rollingstone.com, 20 October 1977; J. Tracy, ‘The CIA and the Media’, www.globalresearch.ca, 30 January 2018

13. A. Martyanov, Losing Military Supremacy, Clarity Press 2018; The Saker, ‘Newly Revealed Russian Weapons Systems’, www.southfront.org, 9 March 2018; R. Ridenour, ‘Has the US Lost its Military Supremacy over Russia’, www.counterpunch.org, 4 April 2019

14. J. Conason, ‘Seven Countries in Five Years’, www.salon.com, 12 October 2007

© New Dawn Magazine and the respective author.
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Julien Freund : La fin des conflits ?

Julien Freund.png

Julien Freund : La fin des conflits ?

par Chantal Delsol

Ex: https://www.chantaldelsol.fr

Communication prononcée au colloque Julien Freund, Strasbourg, 2010

On sait que Julien Freund ne croit pas à la fin possible des conflits dans le monde humain. C’est bien d’ailleurs ce postulat, fondamental dans sa philosophie, qui l’avait opposé à son premier directeur de thèse, Jean Hyppolite, l’avait conduit à chercher un autre directeur de thèse qu’il avait trouvé en la personne de Raymond Aron, et avait occasionné un débat pathétique et drolatique avec Hyppolite lors de la soutenance de thèse.

L’accusation d’utopisme porté par Freund aux pacifistes ne l’englue pas dans un empirisme cynique, mais laisse la porte ouverte à une espérance qui est d’une autre sorte. Je voudrais montrer que cet idéal, outre qu’il marque l’empreinte religieuse dans l’esprit de notre auteur, signe la marque de son temps : il n’a pas pu voir quel genre de « fin des conflits » est attendue aujourd’hui, tout autre que celle des utopies présentes à son époque. Ce qui montre l’inscription de sa pensée dans une époque, en même temps que sa pérennité.

Appartenant à cette minuscule espèce des intellectuels non-marxisants de son temps, Freund use une bonne partie de son énergie à argumenter contre les utopies de la paix universelle. Il aime partir de l’argument kantien : si les rois européens ont réussi à éteindre les conflits privés sur leurs terres afin de constituer des Etats souverains nantis du monopole de la violence légitime, pourquoi un Etat universel ne pourrait-il un jour éradiquer les conflits inter-étatiques ? L’idée est belle, elle appelle l’instauration du souverain bien, si l’on veut apercevoir que le bien, inverse du diabolos, est lien, sumbolos – donc paix et fraternité. Mais l’instauration du souverain bien, déclinée comme un programme politique international, est simplement « l’un des rêves du socialisme ». La paix sous cet aspect universel et abstrait est une valeur non médiatisée, donc impraticable, car dès qu’il faudra en donner la définition, les conflits se développeront à ce sujet (« rien n’est plus ‘polémogène’ que les idées divergentes sur la perfection », Politique et Impolitique, Sirey, 1987, p.207). Pour Freund, les conflits existent simplement parce que les hommes nourrissent des croyances et des attachements, au nom desquels ils se querellent, et vouloir annihiler les conflits serait vouloir priver les hommes de pensée. Si l’on reprend un slogan actuel qui marque la misanthropie de notre contemporain : « les animaux, eux, au moins, ne se battent que pour manger », on pourrait dire que pour anéantir les conflits humains il faudrait tous nous décerveler, nous ramener à l’état animal… Cela signifie que l’Etat mondial ne sera pas soustrait, parce qu’unique, aux querelles et combats internes, d’autant qu’il pourra aisément, parce qu’unique, se retourner contre ses peuples (qui jugera le juge ultime ?). Freund se saisit lui aussi de la conclusion du dernier Kant : un Etat mondial serait despotique.

Il reste que la notion de « nature humaine », expression que Freund utilise souvent -je préfèrerais « condition humaine », qui est moins statique et moins fondée dans une dogmatique-, est plurivoque.

La « nature humaine » sous entend des caractères humains immuables et enracinés dans des spécificités : essentiellement, ici, quand il s’agit de la pérennité des conflits, la liberté humaine devant l’impossibilité d’atteindre la Vérité, et donc le débat infini entre les croyances ; et en même temps, l’enracinement de l’homme dans une culture particulière qu’il ne pourra que défendre face aux autres et contre les autres.

Mais aussi, la « nature humaine » comprise dans la dimension de l’espérance, sous entend que l’homme partout et toujours vise le bien parfait, entendu universellement comme un lien.

jfdec.jpgAinsi, la paix est un idéal, et en tant que telle, comme l’espérance d’Epiméthée, elle mérite nos efforts plus que nos ricanements. Il est juste que nous fassions tout pour faire advenir une paix lucide, sachant bien qu’elle ne parviendra jamais à réalisation. En ce sens, l’aspiration à la société cosmopolite est une aspiration morale naturelle à l’humanité, et vouloir récuser cette aspiration au nom de la permanence des conflits serait vouloir retirer à l’homme la moitié de sa condition. En revanche, prétendre atteindre la société cosmopolite comme un programme, à travers la politique, serait susciter un mélange préjudiciable de la morale et de la politique. Parce que nous sommes des créatures politiques, nous devons savoir que la paix universelle n’est qu’un idéal et non une possibilité de réalisation. Parce que nous sommes des créatures morales, nous ne pouvons nous contenter benoîtement des conflits sans espérer jamais les réduire au maximum. Le « règne des fins » ne doit pas aller jusqu’à constituer une eschatologie politique (qui existe aussi bien dans le libéralisme que dans le marxisme, et que l’on trouve au XIX° siècle jusque chez Proudhon), parce qu’alors il suscite une sorte de crase dommageable et irréaliste entre la politique et la morale. Mais l’espérance du bien ne constitue pas seulement une sorte d’exutoire pour un homme malheureux parce qu’englué dans les exigences triviales d’un monde conflictuel : elle engage l’humanité à avancer sans cesse vers son idéal, et par là à améliorer son monde dans le sens qui lui paraît le meilleur, même si elle ne parvient jamais à réalisation complète.

Or sur quoi repose cette notion d’idéal, et l’espérance qui la fonde ? Sur une vision du temps fléché, vision apparue avec les judéo-chrétiens et poursuivie à partir de la saison des Lumières grâce à la croyance au Progrès. Julien Freund se situe dans le temps fléché.

Dans la conclusion de Politique et Impolitique, Freund évoque la désaffection du politique, désaffection en plein développement. Il la lie au désir de destruction qui caractérise les courants extrêmes de son époque, et il évoque la complexité croissante des problèmes et l’identification de la politique et de la technique. Mais Freund n’a pas connu le développement tout récent d’un âge vraiment technocratique, notamment à partir du « gouvernement » européen depuis le début des années 90. Il s’agit là d’une gestion plutôt que d’un gouvernement, d’une administration au sens où Platon prétendait qu’ « il n’y a pas de différence de nature entre une grande oikos et une petite polis » (aussitôt critiqué à ce sujet par Aristote dans La Politique). Freund n’a pas connu le déploiement récent de l’idée de « gouvernance », et la fascination qu’exerce sur nous l’idée de consensus.

Le consensus, « mot-hourrah », représente une aspiration permanente depuis la fin du XX° siècle, et traduit la méfiance vis à vis du vote majoritaire en vigueur en Europe depuis le XIII° siècle (et même depuis le VII° siècle dans les monastères). Le consensus était le système de décision qui prévalait dans toutes les assemblées populaires anciennes, depuis le purhum mésopotamien jusqu’au fokonolona merina malgache, en passant par les diverses assemblées populaires de la plupart des peuples avant l’apparition des régimes autocratiques. Le regain du consensus se développe d’abord aujourd’hui dans les sociétés scandinaves, mais il se déploie dans les organisations internationales (ce qui est logique, puisque chaque pays y représente une souveraineté : il faut s’y soumettre dans la plupart des cas à une sorte de liberum veto). Le consensus est à la mode dans les instances dites de gouvernance, assemblées horizontales censées se substituer à la souveraineté et à la contrainte gouvernementale, ou au moins s’y surajouter. La gouvernance, type de gouvernement sans gouvernement, voudrait remplacer le débat entre les visions du monde par la négociation des intérêts. Dans un monde dénué désormais de croyances et d’idéologies communes, et marqué par le matérialisme, la querelle entre les finalités (ou guerre des dieux) est censée être remplacée par un compromis entre les intérêts matériels (on peut négocier les intérêts, mais on ne peut négocier les croyances).

L’appel au consensus s’accompagne de la récusation de la démocratie, récusation présente depuis peu d’années (alors que la démocratie se trouvait encore en pleine gloire après la chute du Mur). Les perversions démocratiques (corruptions des gouvernants), la lassitude des citoyens marginalisés (absentéisme électoral massif), l’accusation d’incompétence des citoyens devant des décisions de plus en plus complexes, et en outre, le soupçon devant un peuple conservateur voire sauvage (vote sur les minarets en Suisse), apportent de l’eau au moulin des antidémocrates et suscite l’avènement d’une ère technocratique, du gouvernement des experts – dans son Livre Blanc de la Gouvernance, la Commission européenne parle d’expertise et non de gouvernement. C’est, en termes grecs, le remplacement de la polis par l’oikos.

Ces évolutions extrêmement rapides traduisent une nouvelle manière de voir la société, en terme de fin attendue des conflits. Elles sous entendent :

– la recherche de la paix comme unique horizon : répondant à la fatigue du fanatisme partout présent au XX° siècle, fanatisme suscité par la multiplicité des croyances. On pouvait dire : fiat justitia pereat mundus, on pouvait dire : que le monde périsse, pourvu qu’il nous reste la classe pure ou la race pure, au moins on ne peut plus dire : que le monde périsse, pourvu qu’il nous reste la paix, ce serait contradictoire dans les termes.

– des sociétés marquées par le soin exclusif de la vie quotidienne, qui se négocie toujours, et probablement la gouvernance indique-t-elle des sociétés corporatistes ou « organiques », communautaires selon les adeptes de la philosophie pragmatiste qui se trouve à la pointe de ces changements de mentalité.

– la fin des idéologies, certes, mais plus encore : la fin des visions du monde pluralistes au sens de la fin des croyances en des « vérités » plurielles.

Le consensus, qui remplace l’attente d’un monde meilleur par la recherche permanente de la paix, enferme le monde social en lui-même et par là nous sort de la flèche du temps. La vie morale sans recherche de vérité nous replace dans le monde de la sagesse qui avait cours avant les monothéismes et qui a cours dans toutes les civilisations hors la nôtre. C’est là un changement de monde tel que Freund n’a pu le prévoir. Cela ne remet pas en cause sa pensée, selon laquelle le monde politique s’enracine dans le conflit, et selon laquelle le conflit demeure essentiel à l’humain, parce que les tragiques questions humaines sont médiatisées par de multiples cultures. Car même dans les sociétés structurées par des sagesses, les conflits surviennent pour des raisons de territoires ou de puissance, hors les conflits religieux ou idéologiques inexistants. C’est dire que dans l’avenir, les combats idéologiques ont toute chance d’être remplacés, non par la paix consensuelle qui est encore une utopie, mais par des conflits d’identités : la fin des « vérités » de représentation (liberté, justice, droits de l’homme), engendrera le retour des « vérités » d’être (patries, tribus).

Il n’en reste pas moins que cette tentative nouvelle pour biffer les conflits était difficile à prévoir dans la seconde moitié du XX° siècle, même si les appels étaient fréquents dès après-guerre à la féminisation du monde (Giono, Camus, Gary) qui en est un signe avant-coureur. Freund se situe dans un monde dominé par les idéologies, qu’il récuse, et dans la vision du temps fléché, qui lui inspire l’idéal d’une paix toute kantienne (s’agissant du dernier Kant). La rupture dans laquelle nous sommes se produit juste après lui. Nous aimerions qu’il soit encore là pour analyser cet aspect du post-moderne qu’il n’a pas pu voir.

Le droit naturel de Michel Villey


Le droit naturel de Michel Villey

Ex: https://invirtuteverborum.wordpress.com

Historien et Philosophe du droit, Michel Villey fut sans aucun doute le premier contributeur du renouveau de la philosophie du droit française. Philosophe du droit naturel, Villey part du constat simple et manifeste de l’insuffisance de la doctrine des droits de l’homme pour la protection effective de ces derniers et cherche ainsi à expliquer et résoudre ce décalage entre l’idéal et la réalité. Il développe pour ce faire une pensée inspirée de deux axes principaux de réflexion : la critique de la légitimité et de l’utilité du discours juridique contemporain par le biais de la philosophie d’une part, la mise en question de l’incontournabilité de ce discours par le biais de l’histoire d’autre part. De cette pensée vaste et séduisante, nous retiendrons la conclusion suivante : le droit, avant tout considéré comme le produit d’une ontologie, n’est autre que le juste partage des choses.

1. Le droit comme produit d’une ontologie

Pour Villey l’ontologie et la pensée juridique sont intrinsèquement liées. Les différences entre les conceptions moderne et ancienne du droit trouvent leur source dans la différence entre les conceptions moderne et ancienne du monde, de la société et de l’homme. Il nous faut dès lors dépeindre à gros traits, à la suite de Norbert Campagna1, ces différences fondamentales opposant le monde des « Anciens » au monde des « Modernes ». C’est qu’en effet, le droit des « Anciens » est le résultat d’une vision du monde à la fois particulière et radicalement opposée à celle des « Modernes ».

villey.jpgAu centre de ce monde, se trouvent les rapports. Ces rapports sont directement constitutifs de la nature des êtres, ils priment sur l’individu et lui confère une identité spécifique, sans laquelle il n’en aurait aucune. L’humanité se constitue uniquement dans le cadre de ces rapports naturels avec les autres hommes, du reste parfaitement indépendants de la volonté humaine en ce qu’ils découlent directement de la nature. Ce monde est également un monde d’inégalités. Les « Anciens » ne connaissent pas l’homme un et unique, toujours et partout égal à lui-même, mais partent de l’idée qu’il y a des hommes entre lesquels existent des inégalités aussi naturelles que les rapports dans lesquels elles s’inscrivent et qui les sous-tendent. Ce monde est enfin un monde finalisé, un monde dont toutes les parties sont ordonnées vers des fins, des buts, des états qui constituent la pleine réalisation de toutes leurs potentialités. Chaque être inachevé n’est pas clos sur lui-même mais tend sans cesse vers son achèvement en ce qu’il est toujours ce qu’il est par rapport à d’autres êtres différents de lui et avec lesquels il constitue un univers.

Ce monde de rapports, ce monde inégalitaire et finalisé, s’oppose ainsi brutalement au monde des « Modernes », monde d’individus égaux et sans finalité. Le monde des « Modernes » est en effet caractérisé par l’existence unique des individus dont les rapports entre eux n’ont aucune espèce de réalité en dehors de la volonté humaine. Ce sont les individus qui donnent leur identité aux rapports et non les rapports qui constituent l’identité des individus. Ces individus sont par ailleurs, parfaitement égaux. Il existe en effet chez les « Modernes », selon Norbert Campagna, une « démocratie ontologique » : tous les individus sont égaux entre eux. Ce monde est enfin caractérisé par son absence de finalité, les choses ne pointent plus vers un au-delà d’elles-mêmes qui serait en quelque sorte leur vérité et dont la connaissance serait un préalable nécéssaire à leur compréhension.

C’est de cette opposition fondamentale que résultent selon Michel Villey, les différences entre les conceptions moderne et ancienne du droit. Or, sans souhaiter le retour des solutions des jurisconsultes romains, Villey observe que seule la conception ancienne du Droit offre une manière efficace de résoudre les litiges et de ramener l’ordre dans la société, en ce qu’elle seule retient une définition aristotélicienne du Droit : le rapport juste à chacun.

2. Le droit comme rapport juste

En effet, de ce monde ancien dont nous avons exposé les principales caractéristiques, résulte une définition particulière du droit, celle du droit comme rapport juste. Dire le droit, c’est dire ce que l’on pense être le contenu du rapport juste entre deux êtres et une chose qu’ils conçoivent tous les deux. Ce rapport, comme tous les autres chez les « Anciens », n’est pas le résultat d’une quelconque volonté mais découle directement de la nature. Le juge ne réalise ainsi sa tâche que s’il permet aux rapports humains de se rapprocher du Droit, du rapport juste tel que déduit par les fins objectives des choses, « les seules à mériter ce nom parce que réelles, extramentales, seules à constituer des valeurs authentiquement objectives »2.

Cette conception du droit renvoie clairement à la définition de la justice particulière, opposée à la justice générale et proposée par Aristote dans le chapitre V de son ouvrage l’Ethique à Nicomaque. Cette définition propose en effet de qualifier d’homme juste, celui qui observe l’égalité, c’est à dire ce qui est dû à chacun. Partant, ni comportements, ni lois n’entrent ici en compte, le droit n’ordonne ni ne commande, le juge est celui qui connait et non celui qui exige. Selon Villey, seule cette définition du droit permet d’assurer un moyen efficace de résolution des conflits, en ce qu’à l’inverse de la définition de la justice générale imposant de faire tout ce que la loi morale prescrit dans l’intérêt de la préservation de l’ordre et reprise par les Modernes, seule cette définition permet de distinguer le droit de la morale et d’en faire un objet objectif, réellement extérieur à l’homme.

Se dessine ainsi le désir profond de Villey, à savoir le retour de la définition antique du droit s’opposant au remplacement d’une loi s’imposant du dehors des hommes par une loi que les hommes se donnent eux-mêmes et permettant partant, le passage d’un droit objectif aux droits subjectifs auxquels Villey est nettement opposé. Une telle conception du droit cantonnerait en effet celui-ci, dans un monde d’individus égaux et sans finalité, à un simple « effort pour instituer une égalité utopique », à un droit cherchant à imposer un idéal à la réalité naturelle, à savoir l’inégalité des hommes. Ce souhait ne doit toutefois pas être assimilé à un abandon de la lutte contre les inégalités, au contraire, Villey constate l’inefficacité du discours des droits de l’homme et fait brillamment remarquer que le meilleur moyen d’assurer l’égalité entre les hommes et de reconnaitre leur inégalité fondamentale et de compenser cette dernière par une inégalité de droit, résultat d’une juste proportion attribuée à chacun. « Pour être pleinement équitable tout droit devrait être proportionné aux particularités de chacun, même minimes et occasionnelles. Il arrive qu’un juge attribue un délai à un débiteur parce qu’il est malade ou qu’il vient de perdre sa femme… »3.

C’est ainsi que Michel Villey estime que l’on trouverait « un grand avantage à restaurer l’ancienne notion juridique de droit naturel, généralement incomprise parce que déformée, falsifiée, depuis le début des temps modernes par les moralistes et les sociologues. L’immense mérite de l’ancien droit naturel classique fut de déterminer la part qui revient à la loi (au droit « positif ») et celle qui revient pour l’invention des solutions du droit à l’observation de la nature, de la réalité sociale. »4

Comment lui donner tort ?

1 Norbert Campagna, Michel Villey : Le droit ou les droits ?, Michalon

2 Michel Villey, Philosophie du droit, Dalloz, page 194

3 Michel Villey, Le droit et les droits de l’homme, puf, page 98

4 Michel Villey, Philosophie du droit, Dalloz, page 221