The current one-dimensional “groupthink” in the Western world, disguised as a well-celebrated “united” strategy against Russia (in the Russia-Ukraine crisis), is in fact anti-Western by being “self-destructive” in creating a “divisive” new world order which not only will accelerate its own decline but also will create more discord among nations and lower well-being in societies around the world.
To understand this, consider the following 3 major aspects of global affairs that the Western alliance has seriously miscalculated (in its extreme reaction to the Russia-Ukraine crisis), while Western mainstream mass media (e.g., CNN, BBC, FRANCE 24, DW, and others) is complicit in its daily coverage (as a disinformation cheerleader).
The first serious Western miscalculation in the Russia-Ukraine crisis is to self-gratifyingly assume that it stands for “freedom” in the world against “autocracy” in the East (like the Russian invasion of Ukraine), which then licenses the Western alliance to drag the rest of the world to its side with this Manichaean narrative of the world. But this Manichaean narrative backfires in 3 major ways and contributes to neither freedom nor world peace.
In the first way, the rest of the world (especially in the Non-West) does not want to be part of this geopolitical rivalry between the U.S.-led world and the Russia-led one for hegemony (as they had already tasted the bitter dose of proxy wars in the first Cold War between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.). Many in the Non-West in Africa, Asia, and Latin America (except those few countries which are part of the Western alliance) resent the relentless pressure (or coercion) by the Western alliance to drag them to its orbit and thus have so far refused to side with it. Indeed, quite a number of them even show sympathy to Russia which has been put in a corner by the ruthless expansion of NATO into its backyard and has therefore threatened its national security; even Pope Francis on May 3, 2022 said that NATO “barking” at Russia’s door “provoked” Putin and “facilitated” the invasion of Ukraine; or differently put, consider how the U.S. would react if Canada and Mexico decided to become new members of the Russian military alliance. Not surprisingly, there is now a re-emergence of the “non-alignment” movement in the Non-West (which was once popular during the first Cold War when these roughly 120 countries refused to exclusively side with the American and Soviet power blocs), as they are now increasingly resentful towards, and tired of, being forced (with soft and hard power) into taking side with the West in the current Russia-Ukraine crisis. For instance, Mexico and Brazil, the 2 largest countries in Latin America, refuse to condemn Russia (in spite of Western pressure); India and China, the 2 largest countries in Asia, refuse to take side with the West (in spite of Western pressure), and OPEC (with many of its wealthy members in the Middle East) has stood firm on its oil deal with Russia and does not yield to Western pressure to punish Russia with more oil production (after sanctions). And many in Africa prefer to be left alone and mind their own business (as they already have plenty to worry about with their problem of underdevelopment at home), but Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni was blunt in his response to Western pressure:
“Don’t threaten me, and I will not threaten you.”
In the second way, the Western Manichaean narrative not only has failed to resolve the Russia-Ukraine crisis peacefully but also, to make things worse, has escalated it into an all-out war between the two sides, with the Western alliance actively sending advanced weapons to, sharing intelligence with, and covertly participating in fighting (with Western fighters) in Ukraine. It increasingly looks likely that Ukraine will remain a source of proxy conflict between the two competing power blocs for years to come.
In the third way, the Western Manichaean narrative has intensified a “hybrid” war to “weaken” Russia, as confirmed by the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on April 26, so the crisis is now transformed into the quest for a higher “strategic” goal (different from its original modest goal to make peace between Ukraine and Russia) to “weaken” Russia at all costs (in the name of “freedom”) in the power competition between East and West. This will further contribute to a prolonged attrition warfare between the two sides.
In these three ways, the Western Manichaean narrative contributes to just the opposite (that is, resentment and war).
The second serious Western miscalculation in the Russia-Ukraine crisis is to naively assume that banning trade with Russia will stop its aggression, so the world will then live in peace and prosperity. But this naïve trade narrative backfires in 2 major ways and contributes to neither peace nor prosperity.
In the first way, banning trade with Russia contributes to a decoupling of international trade and therefore to increasing costs and inefficiency in global trade. This is all the more serious in Europe, since it depends on Russia for natural resources (like oil and gas) with a good reason, as the global supply chains were not created yesterday and have taken decades for the world economic system to evolve into what is like today. So to break them up immediately creates 2 serious problems. First, seeking alternative supply chains will take decades to achieve, not something to be accomplished in a matter of days and weeks. And second, any alternative supply chains will be relatively more costly and inefficient, since the Western world is now desperately searching for alternative supplies in remote places like Africa, which are more costly to produce and transport to Europe, and the U.S. even goes so far as to negotiate (not yet successfully) with its distant foe in Latin America, namely, Venezuela, for an alternative oil supply (whose regime the U.S. has tried for decades to overthrow).
In the second way, banning trade with Russia will contribute to inflationary (and possibly stagflationary) and recessionary consequences. Russia is a major supplier of natural resources and commodities (like oil, gas, coal, minerals, wheat, corn, and so on) to the world, so banning it (with the result of less supplies to the world) will be inflationary (and possibly stagflationary), so consumers and businesses will end up paying much more than they should. In addition, if monetary authorities in the West (and elsewhere) intervene to tame it by higher interest rates, there will likely be economic recessions in due time. Economists generally dislike inflation, stagflation, and recession, as they tend to lower living standards. This is all the more serious, when the Western world since the turbulent era of Trump has already doubled down on decoupling with China, the top trading nation in the world and the “world’s factory.” It is not surprising that, in the current United States under Biden (who continues Trump’s populist policy of decoupling), inflation has already reached a high level unseen in more than 40 years (partly also due to the COVID-19 pandemic), and many economists had predicted a looming recession, as the Fed seeks to tame inflation by hiking interest rates.
Thus, in these two ways, decoupling contributes to just the opposite (that is, conflict and lower living standard).
The third serious Western miscalculation in the Russia-Ukraine crisis is to mistakenly assume that imposing massive sanctions on Russia will cripple its economy (to deter it from further aggression against its neighbors), so the world will then exist with more harmony and higher well-being. But this mistaken financial narrative backfires in 2 major ways and contributes to neither better harmony nor higher well-being.
In the first way, imposing massive sanctions on Russia (like freezing and confiscating Russian assets in Western institutions) will contribute to the further erosion of confidence in the dollar and euro in global finance, due to the disturbing fact that this blatantly violates international law and is “unjust” in political-philosophical discourse, as an extreme form of state-sponsored “theft” and “robbery.” Thus, there is now an acute sense of intense anxiety historically unseen in decades in the Non-West about this Western weaponization of its currencies (like the dollar and euro), as a ruthless form of state-sponsored “theft” and “robbery” of someone else’s money (or assets). With this national urgency in mind, Russia now demands the EU to pay for its gas imports in ruble (not dollar or euro). Russia and China are now discussing the need to accelerate the use of yuan and ruble (not dollar or euro) in bilateral trade, and China and Saudi Arabia are coming close to an agreement to trade with their local currencies (not dollar or euro). In addition, India and Russia start the talk for a rupee-ruble payment scheme to avoid future Western sanctions, and other countries (like Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, etc.) have already tried different mechanisms to fight Western sanctions. In particular, China is ahead in the game by promoting digital currency denominated in yuan (“digital yuan”) and has already run “public trials” of digital yuan in major cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and others, before institutionally implementing it across the board soon.
In the second way, imposing massive sanctions on Russia (like banning it from the use of SWIFT and Visa/Mastercard) will contribute to the further decline of Western-dominated international payment systems in the long run. Again, with this national urgency in mind, both Russia and China now accelerate the use of their own financial transfer systems (like SPFS and CIPS, respectively), just as they also accelerate their switch to UnionPay (China’s Visa and Mastercard alternative), which, by May 2022, has already spread to 180 countries and is accepted by more than 50 million merchants worldwide. And Russia is rushing to implement Mir (Russia’s Visa and Mastercard alternative), right after Western sanctions.
Of course, all these counter-measures will take years and decades to fully implement, but the point here is that, in these two ways, Western sanctions on others contribute to just the opposite (that is, mistrust and isolation), with global finance breaking down into different regional systems, so as to combat Western financial domination and weaponization.
On these three major fronts, the Western world, with its current one-dimensional “groupthink” which does not welcome dissenting voices in a well-celebrated “united” strategy, is self-destructive in striving for a “divisive” new world order since the collapse of the Bretten-Woods system in 1974 and, for the first time since the rise of the modern West, is all the more accelerating its own decline (even though it does not cause it, because the decline has already been ongoing for quite some time).
By “weakening” Russia and thereby forcing it helplessly farther into the Chinese orbit and by being “self-destructive” unto its own further decline (in its extreme response to the Russia-Ukraine crisis), the Western world becomes its own worst enemy in accelerating the rise of China as the dominant power in the years and decades to come (even though it does not cause the Asian rise, which has already been ongoing for decades). In this sense, it is no exaggeration to predict that China may well be the biggest winner when the dusts in the Russia-Ukraine crisis settle down, after both the West and Russia will exhaust themselves in Ukraine as a prolonged proxy war, at times irrationally (e.g., when Biden gets personal with attacks on Putin and his family and friends).
Surely, just as the rise of the modern West was not completed in a few days or weeks, its fall will also take decades at the very least. But this solace is no excuse to the historical reality that the Western world is anti-Western by being self-destructive in front of our very eyes, in its extreme reaction to the Russia-Ukraine crisis (which at times gets too unwisely “personal,” like sanctioning Putin’s daughters and confiscating his friends’ [or Russian oligarchs’] assets). Whether this is good or bad news is relative to the eyes of the beholder, but history will soon have a new chapter about the fall of an once dominant civilization and the rise of an inspiring one to replace it on the world stage.
About the author:
Dr. Peter Baofu is an American visionary and author of 175 scholarly books and numerous articles (as of February 2022) to provide 141 visions (theories) of the human future in relation to the mind, nature, society, and culture -- and had been in more than 118 countries around the world (as of May 2022) for his global research on humanity. He was interviewed on television and radio as well as by newspapers around the world about his original ideas and visions of the human future. He received more than 5 academic degrees, including a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), was a summa cum laude graduate, and was awarded the Delta Sigma Pi Scholarship Key for being at the top of the class in the College of Business Administration, with another student.