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Taxi Driver Valdimir Putin’s Revenge!

Taxi Driver Valdimir Putin’s Revenge!

Friday, 28 January, 2022 - 10:45
Mamdouh al-Muhainy
Mamdouh al-Muhainy is the General Manager of Al Arabiya and Al Hadath.

Ninety-year-old Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissenger was asked what keeps him up at night. He didn’t hesitate: “I worry about China. I worry that we won’t manage to integrate it into the international order.” The bad news is that it is not just China that wants out of the global liberal world order but Russia as well.

To be more precise, these two powers have been excluded from the very beginning, and they were not consulted on the foundations of this global regime that was designed to suit the US- European alliance. They are taking a somewhat justified revenge for a historical injustice, and President Putin has spoken about this, announcing the death of the liberal order on several occasions. It made a taxi driver out of him, as he recently said, discussing the bitter memories offensive to Russia and his prestige.

This massive clash takes its clearest form in Ukraine. A Financial Times extended essay, Russia and China’s Plans for a New World Order, explains Russia and China’s desire to end the US hegemony that has been suffocating them once and for all. For the first time, we see Putin and Xi Jinping form this kind of alliance, putting all their differences aside to confront the only liberal enemy.

The rulers of Moscow and Beijing agree that the West’s ultimate goal is forcing regime change in their two countries by exploiting principles like human rights and democracy. It is, the way they see it, a dagger that will kill their regimes by a thousand cuts. And although their two countries were supportive of revolutionary movements around the world in the past, they are now putting down the color revolutions, as they did in Ukraine, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and elsewhere.

The two men’s theory: These are revolutions secretly orchestrated by the Americans and Europeans; thus, they must be put down swiftly and denied the chance to reemerge. What happened in Kazakhstan is the latest example of this defensive strategy, as Russia intervened decisively. They also agree that allowing Ukraine to shift westward easily would mean Taiwan is next. The latter two countries are not significant themselves, but losing them would be a disaster. It would mean the expansion of the Western system at their expense, reducing their influence and weakening them. And so, it is not bizarre that Putin decided to deploy 100,000 troops on the border with his neighbor Ukraine, threatening to invade if it joins NATO; the same applies to China’s angry response to Western statements in support of Taiwan.

Now, the conflict resembles walking next to a cliff, but it will shape the world for decades to come. The US rise after the Second World War coincided with the establishment of international institutions, from the World Bank to the World Trade Organization, which aligned with its vision for a new world. President Putin believes the United States’ hegemony was strengthened substantially after the Soviet Union’s collapse. The first glimpses of the US running away with it were seen in the war to liberate Kuwait when the US brought a diverse group of countries together, and no countries opposed it. After that, we saw the US go at it alone in Kosovo, Belgrade, Iraq, and others until it decided to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, which most clearly illustrated the uni-polar world. One power alone shapes the world in its image, using- according to the Russians and Chinese- human rights and freedom as a pretext for intervening militarily when it suits them.

In Washington’s humiliating withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq, its enemies saw the US world order begin to erode. Thus, a new order must be imposed, and the old poles of the world order should be reinstated. They will use sheer force to put down any suspicious movements and build their military capacities, as China is doing in the South China Sea, where it has set up several military bases.

The new system favored by Moscow and Beijing would see the world divided into independent spheres of influence left to each power. Thus, it is important to remove the United States from its single seat at the top, leaving it only in control of its sphere of influence, i.e., rendering it a purely Pacific power.

In all this, one sees not only resorting to political power but ideology as well. Global systems are based on political and cultural ideas that can be promoted and spread. While the West discusses human rights, the discourse of the Russians and Chinese suggests that cultures and civilizations are developing on their own with a variety of frameworks and that foreign agendas must not be imposed, as this would undermine their stability. The question here is: Can the Russians challenge today’s world order and engineer its own? It is questionable whether Russia, which has an economy the size of Italy’s, could establish such a global system, safeguard it and sustain it. However, this project could succeed through an alliance with China, with whom Russia converges on one issue theoretically, politically, and militarily, undermining US influence and making the unipolar global order a thing of the past.

The population of China exceeds 1.4 billion, soon, it will become the world’s biggest economy, and its military power is constantly developing. By contrast, Russia has been responding to harassment from the West and strives to appear like a superpower despite its limited capacities. The opposite is true for China, whose grand strategic plan is to grow slowly and steadily, without sudden, spontaneous military adventurism, as it understands that the march of history will eventually go in its favor. All of these indications suggest that, in the coming years and decades, the world will be thrust into major conflicts between these powers hoping to expand their influence all over the world. As for Kissinger’s wish that one day, China would be integrated into the Western global order, that ship has sailed long ago.

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