- The USA has lost the war against Syria. I chose my words carefully here: what initially had many aspects of a civil war almost immediately turned into a war of aggression by a very large coalition of countries under the leadership of the United State. From the creation of the “Friends of Syria”, to covert support of the various terrorist organizations, to the attempts at isolating the Syrian government, the United States rapidly took control of the “war against Assad” and they now “own” that defeat. Now it is Russia which is in full control of the future of Syria. First, the Russians tried to work with the USA, but it soon became impossible, and the Russians concluded in utter disgust that the US foreign policy was run not from the White House or Foggy Bottom, but from the Pentagon. The Pentagon, however, completely and abjectly failed to achieve anything in Syria and the Russians seem to have come to the amazing conclusion that they can simply ignore the USA from now on. Instead they turned to the Turks and the Iranians to stop the war. This is an absolutely amazing development: for the first time since WWII the USA have become irrelevant to the outcome of a conflict which they greatly contributed to create and perpetuate: having concluded that the Americans are “non-agreement capable” (недоговороспособны) the Russians won’t even try to oppose US efforts, they will simply ignore them. I believe that the case of Syria will be the first and most dramatic but that in the future the same will happen elsewhere, especially in Asia. That is a situation which no American had to face and it is very hard to predict how Trump will adapt to this completely new situation. I am cautiously optimistic that, as a good businessman, Trump will do the right thing and accept reality for what it is a focus his efforts and resources on a few critical issues/regions rather than further pursuing the Neocon’s pipe dream of worldwide “full-spectrum dominance”. But more about that later.
- Europe is in a state of total chaos. As I have written it many times, instead of the Ukraine becoming like Europe, it is Europe which became like the Ukraine: simply unsustainable and doomed to failure. The European crisis is a massive and multi-layered one. It is, of course, an economic crisis, but that crisis is made worse by a political one, which itself is compounded by a profound social crisis and, as a result, the entire EU system and the elites which used to run it are now facing a fundamental crisis of legitimacy. As for the European politicians, they are far more busy denying the existence of the crisis rather than dealing with it. The United States which for decades carefully fostered and nurtured an entire generation of spineless, narrow-minded, neutered and infinitely subservient European “leaders” is now facing the unpleasant outcome that these European politicians are as clueless as blind puppies and that they simply have no policy and no vision whatsoever as to what to do next: they are all locked into a short term survival mode characterized by a quasi total tunnel vision which makes them oblivious to the environment they are operating in. A continent which produced the likes of Thatcher, de Gaulle or Schmidt now produces vapid non-entities like Hollande or Cameron. Trump will thus inherit a de-facto colony completely unable to manage itself. And, just to make things worse, while that colony’s comprador “elites” has no vision and no policy, at the same time it is deeply hostile to Donald Trump and in full support of his Neocon enemies. Again, this is a situation which no American President has ever faced.
- Russia is now the most powerful country on the planet. I know, I know, the Russian economy is relatively small, Russia has plenty of problems and just a year ago Obama dismissed Russia as a “regional power” while McCain referred to her as a “gas station masquerading as a country”. What can I say? – these two imbeciles were simply wrong and there is a good reason, plenty in fact, why Forbes has declared Putin the most powerful man on earth for four consecutive years. And it’s not just because the Russian armed forces are probably the most powerful and capable ones on earth (albeit not the largest ones) or because Russia has successfully defeated the USA in Syria and, really, the rest of the Middle-East. No, Russia is the most powerful country on earth because of two things: Russia openly rejects and denounces the worldwide political, economic and ideological system the USA has imposed upon our planet since WWII and because Vladimir Putin enjoys the rock-solid support of about 80%+ of the Russian population. The biggest strength of Russia in 2017 is a moral and a political one, it is the strength of a civilization which refuses to play by the rules which the West has successfully imposed on the rest of mankind. And now that Russia has successfully “pushed back” others will inevitably follow (again, especially in Asia). This is also a completely new situation for the next American President who will have to operate in a world where defying Uncle Sam is not only not a death sentence any more, but might even be seen as rather trendy.
- China is now locked into a strategic alliance with Russia which is something unique in world history. Unlike past alliances which could be broken or withdrawn from, what Putin and Xi did is to turn their countries into symbionts: Russia basically depends on China for many goods and services while China depends on Russia for energy, defense, aerospace and high-tech (for those interested in this topic I would recommend the excellent White Paper Larchmonter445 wrote for the Saker blog on this topic: The Russia-China Double Helix). As a result, Russia and China today are like a type of “Siamese twins” which have separate heads (political independence and their own governments) but which share a number of organs vital for both heads. This means that even if Russia/China wanted to “dump China/Russia” in exchange for a rapprochement with the USA she could not do that. To my knowledge nothing similar has ever happened before. Never have two (ex-) Empires decided to remain separate but fully integrated into each other. No grand charter, no big alliance, no solemn treaty was ever signed to make this happens, only huge number of (comparatively) small(er) contracts and agreements. And yet they have quietly achieved something absolutely unique in history. What this means for the USA is that they cannot count on their favorite divide et impera strategy to try to rule the planet because that strategy simply cannot work any longer: even if the Russian and Chinese leaders got themselves into a heated dispute they could not undo what has now been done. The integrationist momentum between China and Russia could probably only be stopped by a war, and that is simply not happening. Right now Trump is making a lot of provocative gestures towards China, possibly in the hope that if the USA normalizes relations with Russia China would find itself isolated. But isolating China is just as impossible as isolating Russia, and provoking China is simply a non-starter. For the first time since WWII the next American President will have to come to terms that in the Russia-China-USA triangle it is the USA which is the weakest and most vulnerable party.
- Iran is too powerful to be bullied or submitted. It is true that Iran is far weaker than Russia or China and that Iran is not a major international player. However, I would argue that Iran is a formidable regional superpower which can probably single-handedly take on any combination of regional countries and prevail against them, even if at a great cost. Just like Russia, Iran is protected by a perfect combination of geography and advanced armed forces. Oh sure, Iranian capabilities are not quite on par with US or Russian ones, but they powerful enough to make Iran an extremely tough and dangerous target to attack. Many years ago, in distant 2007, I wrote an article entitled “Iran’s asymmetrical response options” which is now clearly dated but primarily in the sense that since 2007 Iran has become even more dangerous to attack, be it by the USA, Israel or a combo of both. Would Russia and/or China go to war with the USA in case of a US/Israeli attack on Iran? No. But there would be very severe political consequences to pay for the USA: a guaranteed veto in the UNSC (even if US forces are targeted in the KSA or in the Strait of Hormuz), political, economic and possibly military support for Iran, intelligence support for Iranian operations not only in Iran, but also in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, an upgrade of the currently semi-official relations with Hezbollah and support for the Lebanese Resistance. But the main “weapon” used against the USA would be informational – any attack will be vehemently opposed by the Russian media and the western blogosphere sympathetic to Russia: this is exactly the scenario which the US and NATO fear so much: lead by RT and Sputnik, a US-bashing campaign in the social media. This is a new reality for 2017: we are not used to the notion that Russia also has any type of “soft power”, in this case political soft power, but the fact is that these Russian capabilities are both real and formidable and this is why the Neocons blame both the Brexit and the victory of Trump in the USA on the “Kremlin propaganda machine”. While there is no such “machine”, there is an active blogosphere and non-US media space out there on the Internet which seems to be powerful enough to at least encourage a type of “rebellion of the serfs” of the Neocon leaders of the Empire. The bottom line is this: the USA has lost its informational monopoly on the planet and the next US President will have to compete, really compete, to convince and rally to his views and agenda.
This has not often been noticed, by Latin American is the one realm of US foreign policy where Obama has been rather successful, at least if you support the subjugation of Latin American by the USA: Castro is gone, Chavez is gone, possibly murdered, Christina Kirchner is gone, President Dilma Rousseff has been overthrown in a parliamentary coup and it appears that the same fate will now befall Nicholas Maduro. Very significantly, Cuba has agreed to a deal which will give the USA a great deal more leverage over the future of the island-state. True, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa and Daniel Ortega are still in power, but the undeniable fact that the Latin American political heavyweights have fallen. Will Trump change the US policy towards Latin America? I very much doubt that, if only because “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it”. And from an US imperialist point of view, the current policy ain’t broke at all, it is rather a success. I simply see no reason why Trump would decide to allow Latin American to be free and sovereign thereby reversing the almost 200 year old Monroe Doctrine. Freedom for Latin America will come at the end of a long struggle no matter who is in the White House.
So no, life in 2017 will be a far cry from life in a perfect world, but there is a better than average chance that 2017 might see some very significant and much needed improvement over the frankly disastrous past years. There is still hope that Trump might deliver and if he does, he might become on of the best US Presidents in many, many years. Whether Trump delivers or not, the world will further move away from unipolarity to multipolarity and that is an immensely desirable