Brzezinski’s Warning to America

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Brzezinski’s Warning to America by Mike Whitney for UNZ Review

The liberal world order, which lasted from the end of World War 2 until today, is rapidly collapsing. The center of gravity is shifting from west to east where China and India are experiencing explosive growth and where a revitalized Russia has restored its former stature as a credible global superpower. These developments, coupled with America’s imperial overreach and chronic economic stagnation, have severely hampered US ability to shape events or to successfully pursue its own strategic objectives. As Washington’s grip on global affairs continues to loosen and more countries reject the western development model, the current order will progressively weaken clearing the way for a multipolar world badly in need of a new security architecture. Western elites, who are unable to accept this new dynamic, continue to issue frenzied statements expressing their fear of a future in which the United States no longer dictates global policy.

At the 2019 Munich Security Conference, Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger, underscored many of these same themes. Here’s an excerpt from his presentation:

“The whole liberal world order appears to be falling apart – nothing is as it once was… Not only do war and violence play a more prominent role again: a new great power confrontation looms at the horizon. In contrast to the early 1990s, liberal democracy and the principle of open markets are no longer uncontested….

In this international environment, the risk of an inter-state war between great and middle powers has clearly increased….What we had been observing in many places around the world was a dramatic increase in brinkmanship, that is, highly risky actions on the abyss – the abyss of war….

No matter where you look, there are countless conflicts and crises…the core pieces of the international order are breaking apart, without it being clear whether anyone can pick them up – or even wants to. (“Who will pick up the pieces?”, Munich Security Conference)

Ischinger is not alone in his desperation nor are his feelings limited to elites and intellectuals. By now, most people are familiar with the demonstrations that have rocked Paris, the political cage-match that is tearing apart England (Brexit), the rise of anti-immigrant right-wing groups that have sprung up across Europe, and the surprising rejection of the front-runner candidate in the 2016 presidential elections in the US. Everywhere the establishment and their neoliberal policies are being rejected by the masses of working people who have only recently begun to wreak havoc on a system that has ignored them for more than 30 years. Trump’s public approval ratings have improved, not because he has “drained the swamp” as he promised, but because he is still seen as a Washington outsider despised by the political class, the foreign policy establishment and the media. His credibility rests on the fact that he is hated by the coalition of elites who working people now regard as their sworn enemy.

The president of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, summed up his views on the “weakening of the liberal world order” in an article that appeared on the CFR’s website. Here’s what he said:

“Attempts to build global frameworks are failing. Protectionism is on the rise; the latest round of global trade talks never came to fruition. ….At the same time, great power rivalry is returning…

There are several reasons why all this is happening, and why now. The rise of populism is in part a response to stagnating incomes and job loss, owing mostly to new technologies but widely attributed to imports and immigrants. Nationalism is a tool increasingly used by leaders to bolster their authority, especially amid difficult economic and political conditions….

But the weakening of the liberal world order is due, more than anything else, to the changed attitude of the U.S. Under President Donald Trump, the US decided against joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. It has threatened to leave the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. It has unilaterally introduced steel and aluminum tariffs, relying on a justification (national security) that others could use, in the process placing the world at risk of a trade war….America First” and the liberal world order seem incompatible.” (“Liberal World Order, R.I.P.”, Richard Haass, CFR)

What Haass is saying is that the cure for globalisation is more globalization, that the greatest threat to the liberal world order is preventing the behemoth corporations from getting more of what they want; more self-aggrandizing trade agreements, more offshoring of businesses, more outsourcing of jobs, more labor arbitrage, and more privatization of public assets and critical resources. Trade liberalization is not liberalization, it does not strengthen democracy or create an environment where human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law are respected. It’s a policy that focuses almost-exclusively on the free movement of capital in order to enrich wealthy shareholders and fatten the bottom line. The sporadic uprisings around the world– Brexit, yellow vests, emergent right wing groups– can all trace their roots back to these one-sided, corporate-friendly trade deals that have precipitated the steady slide in living standards, the shrinking of incomes, and the curtailing of crucial benefits for the great mass of working people across the US and Europe. President Trump is not responsible for the outbreak of populism and social unrest, he is merely an expression of the peoples rage. Trump’s presidential triumph was a clear rejection of the thoroughly-rigged elitist system that continues to transfer the bulk of the nation’s wealth to tiniest layer of people at the top.

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For decades I have spent a couple of hours every morning carefully reading The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and several other major newspapers. But although such a detailed study of the American mainstream media is a necessary condition for remaining informed about our world, it is not sufficient. With the rise of the Internet and the alternative media, every thinking individual has increasingly recognized that there exist enormous lacunae in what our media tells us and disturbing patterns in what is regularly ignored or concealed. In April 2013 I published “Our American Pravda,” a major article highlighting some of the most disturbing omissions of our national media in issues of the greatest national importance. The considerable attention it attracted from The Atlantic, Forbes, and a New York Times economics columnist demonstrated that the mainstream journalists themselves were often all too aware of these problems, but perhaps found them too difficult to address within the confining structure of large media organizations. This reinforced my belief in the reality of the serious condition I had diagnosed.