Confronted with a declining World Order it can no longer control, does the West want to re-assert its will through a new world war, which this time would be really global?
A terrifying scenario emerges from the ceaseless escalation of pressures and threats against Syria and Iran, pitting, for the first time since the NATO-OECD Empire won the Cold War two decades ago, the Western trio of the UN veto club (U.S., U.K., France) against its non-Western duo (Russia and China).
These two latter superpowers, key players of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) spanning the Eurasian mega continent, have blocked the trio's plans to carry out a Libya-II in Syria, and to choke Iran with an array of sanctions that include cutting off its oil exports -- while keeping the military strike option "on the table."
This is the first time the Russians and Chinese have, together, raised obstacles in the way of the apparently unstoppable march of the victors of the Cold War -- and the destroyers of the former Soviet Empire.
But the march of the NATO-OECD Empire is becoming less and less triumphal. With support from most of the non-Western countries of the Non Aligned Movement and the G77, Russia and China are reasserting the primacy of international law and UN diplomacy in tackling the Syria and Iran issues, hobbling further the Western propensity to drown every "crisis," real or fabricated, under a carpet of bombs, missiles and boots on the ground -- with dire unintended consequences for all!
From euphoria to quagmire, and decline
Still basking in its victory over the ex-Soviet Empire, the NATO-OECD Empire dismembered the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and extended NATO to the European limits of Russia -- which did not react militarily. Moscow reacted only when NATO tried to take hold in the Caucasus, through Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Despite the French "lone wolf" episode in Rwanda, the Empire also reinforced its hegemony over the Great Lakes region of Africa -- as compensation for the fall of Apartheid in the South of the continent. Neither Russia nor China budged. And China coolly swallowed the repeated provocations of the Empire along its borders -- through Tibet, Xinjiang, Burma, Taiwan, North Korea.
But as the 21st century set in, the Empire began to falter. The attacks of September 11, 2001 precipitated implementation of a New World Order according to George W. Bush's PNAC (Project for a New American Century): "You are either with us or against us."
For the first time in its history, NATO invoked Article 5 of its Charter to attack and occupy Afghanistan -- bypassing the UN. Two years later, again without UN approval, the Empire attacked and occupied Iraq.
But very soon it hit a quagmire. By 2012, these wars will have cost $4 trillion, according to the Oakland Institute -- while OECD economies stagnate or decline. Throughout the West, crises won't stop, unemployment is up, debt is ballooning -- while the weight and influence of the "Rest" (China, India, Brazil, Iran, South Africa, et al.) keep growing globally.
The Empire saps the UN and boosts NATO
This shifting balance of power has compelled the old G7 to turn to the G20 to manage the world economy. But the G7 keeps stalling much called-for UN reform and Security Council enlargement, as it clings to its waning political supremacy.
More resolutely, the G7 continues to boost its military superiority: 21 of the 34 States of the OECD are members of NATO, which has pushed the limits of the "North Atlantic" to the Indian Ocean, Central Asia and Africa (with Africom) -- while also targeting Australasia and the Pacific.
As real productivity migrates away from the West, the unsteady economies of the NATO-OECD Empire depend more than ever on the "Military-Industrial Complex" that Dwight Eisenhower warned us against. According to the Swedish SIPRI Institute, NATO countries devoted more than $1 trillion (1,000 billion) last year to military expenditure.
With allies like Saudi Arabia ($42 billion, 11 per cent of GDP, 8th place), Australia ($20 billion, 1.9 per cent, 14th) and Israel ($13 billion, 6.3 per cent, 18th), NATO and its friends accounted for more than two-thirds of a global military expenditure of $1.6 trillion in 2011. With $698 billion (4.8 per cent of GDP, 1st place), the U.S. alone accounted for 43 per cent of world defence spending. Canada ($22.8 billion, 1.5 per cent) came 13th.
In comparison, China spent $120 billion (2.1 per cent of GDP, 2nd place), Russia $58 billion (4 per cent, 5th), India $41 billion (2.7 per cent, 10th), Brazil $30 billion (1.6 per cent, 11th) -- with $7.7 billion for Iran (1.8 per cent, 25th) and $2.2 billion for Syria (4 per cent, 53rd)!
The Empire and the Israel-Oil-Emirates-Turkey axis
This is the backdrop to the incessant roll of NATO-OECD drums of war over Syria and Iran. The twin crises are inseparably linked: through Syria, its key Arab ally, and its bridge to the (Shiite) Lebanese Hezbollah and the (Sunni) Palestinian Hamas, it's Iran which is the target, Iran which broke free of the Empire more than 30 years ago.
1. The Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas-Iran axis holds Israel in check;
2. The Shiite awakening, Arab and Persian, and unambiguously republican, threatens the feudal Sunni monarchies of the Gulf, beginning with Saudi Arabia and its puritan wahhabi brand of Islamic fundamentalism;
3. After destroying Saddam Hussein's secular and anti-monarchist Baath regime (and Iraq along with it), the Empire, backed by the Oil Emirates, Israel and Turkey, is frantically trying to steer, even hijack, the Arab Spring;
4. Turkey, a member of both NATO and the OECD, sees itself as a Sunni republican rival of Iran -- drawing on its new "moderate" Islamist regime and on its Ottoman past as ruler of the Arabs for nearly 700 years;
5. Syria has its own secular Baath regime, which has been pressured by the Arab Spring and by its allies to open up to pluralism and hold general elections on May 7 -- but the Empire keeps battering it ruthlessly, because what it wants is "regime change";
6. Meanwhile the Empire is doing all it can to maintain the status quo in Yemen, and in Bahrain, home of the U.S. 5th Fleet in the Gulf, where a Sunni royal family rules over a Shiite majority;
7. The Sunni oil emirate of Qatar continues the propaganda war for the Empire via Al Jazeera TV, even though key journalists are leaving and accusing the network of fabricating false video reports on Libya and Syria. Qatar shares with the atoll of Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean, the HQ of the U.S. Central Command (Centcom).
A military victory for a New World Order?
The campaign in the U.S. leading to the November presidential and Congressional elections, now pitting Mitt Romney against Barack Obama, is an additional factor that heightens the threat of a new world war, in the context of the inexorable decline of the NATO-OECD Empire.
Romney and his Republican rivals have publicly called for "doing everything, covertly and deniably, to isolate, choke and destabilize Iran, to kill its nuclear scientists, to destroy its facilities, and to bring down the regime." Short of declaring war on Iran, Obama the Democrat is doing all that, but Romney believes, with Israel and the hawkish camp in Washington, that only war will work.
Some hawks are Evangelical Zionists who pontificate on U.S. TV about biblical prophecies, and call for U.S. support for the "King of the North" (Israel) in the necessary Armageddon against the "King of the South" (Iran) -- although my reading of the map points to Saudi Arabia as "King of the South"! For them, this war is absolutely essential to the Second Coming of Christ.
These hawks think that a victorious war against the Iran-Syria axis will provide the West with the opportunity to impose a (divinely sanctioned) New World Order tailored to the interests of the NATO-OECD Empire.
The opposite camp fears another costly quagmire, like in Afghanistan-Iraq-Pakistan, and further decline of Empire. But the U.S., Britain and France also find the war option tempting, as they recall how they imposed their own global dispensation after World Wars I and II. They won the Cold War, but they do not have the means other than a "Hot War" to establish a Diktat which is universally scorned.
After demonstrating its military superiority and getting a real stranglehold over Arab and Persian oil, the Empire would force countries like China, India, Japan, Indonesia, and South Africa, among others, to depend on its benevolence for stable and secure supplies for their crucial energy needs. The UN could then be reformed and the Security Council enlarged, but in a way that would allow the Empire to keep its decisive political power within the architecture of the world system.
As it continues moving away from a uni-polar to a multi-polar world, the "Rest" obviously sees things differently. The Empire "just doesn't get it" and keeps reaching for the caveman's club, says the Rest. But the West keeps doing all it can to provoke a larger, global showdown, which the Rest has no appetite for and is determined to avoid.
Talks, freeze, sanctions and terrorist wars
Such are the dark schemes hovering on the Iran-Syria crisis. Iran just met with the P5+1 (the five UN Security Council "permanents," plus Germany) in Istanbul to explain and defend its nuclear program, once again. Iran was quick to reassert its peaceful nuclear rights under the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and countered its inquisitors by calling for global nuclear disarmament. The P3 trio deemed the meeting "positive." Discussions will resume in Baghdad in May.
But on the ground inside Iran, where the eight-year war waged by Saddam Hussein on behalf of the Empire ended in 1988, terrorists groups linked to the West continue to operate relentlessly. They are, in the main, the MeK (Moujahidine-e-khalq), the Kurdish Komoleh and PJAK, and the Sunni Jundallah, based in Pakistan. Nuclear scientists are being assassinated. Neighbouring Azerbaijan also has an eye on the territory of 16 million Azeris living in Iran.
Iran's assets and accounts are frozen and the West refuses to sell it all kinds of goods, including spare parts critical to the safety of its civilian airlines. A campaign is now on to obtain a worldwide boycott of its oil exports. Iran has preemptively cut off oil supplies to some European countries, triggering a rise in prices and in unemployment.
But India and China continue to purchase Iranian oil. They refuse to bow to what they call "internal U.S. rules," and argue that Iranian oil is essential for their development. The Empire is playing India against China by giving New Delhi access to its nuclear technology -- and squeezing Pakistan, which seems to value its friendship with China more than its old dependence on the West. India, looking out for its own interest, has signed a deal with Iran to settle their bilateral trade in riyals and rupees. However, India may not resist the siren song of the West if the NATO-OECD Empire were to take over or disable Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in the fog of war.
War preparations, from Syria to the Caucasus
India and Iran, together with Pakistan and Afghanistan, enjoy observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is prepared to upgrade them to full membership. And the SCO is lined up solidly behind Iran, together with Latin America, where Uncle Sam is in retreat, and with many African and other Asian countries. The entry of both India and Pakistan, together with Iran, as full-fledged members of the SCO, an emerging powerhouse of neighbourly co-operation, trade and security under the joint leadership of Russia and China, is too much of a nightmare for the declining NATO-OECD Empire to contemplate.
Russian troop movements have been reported in the Caucasus along the Georgia and Azerbaijan borders. Georgian opposition members say new hospitals built in the country with U.S. help are part of war contingencies. Azerbaijan has purchased arms worth $1.6 billion from Israel, which imports one-third of its oil needs from Baku. The risks of a generalized conflagration are high, and will only rise with the approach of the U.S. elections -- as most eyes will be on the U.S. "withdrawal" from Afghanistan.
On Syria, the Empire says it supports the mediation efforts of Kofi Annan as Special Envoy for the UN, and the Arab League, which is itself in deep transition. But the Empire has declared in the same breath that it is financing and arming the forces that are carrying out war operations inside Syria from nearby Lebanon and Turkey. The Empire is feeding a civil war in Syria and shows it will countenance no compromise.
Propaganda and police state measures
The option of an outright military strike against Iran and Syria has been frenziedly promoted by Israel, itself a nuclear power, though undeclared, which refuses to sign the NPT and submit its nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection. The U.S. repeats that the military option against Iran "remains on the table" -- hanging as a Damocles sword over the Middle East, and the world.
With Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyya, the Western media keeps on demonizing Iran and Syria for a coming overt war led by NATO and its allies -- "this sounds just like the propaganda we heard before the attack on Iraq," said Ron Paul, the black sheep of the Republican hopefuls.
These same media meanwhile are silent on the growing trend within the Empire towards measures typical of police states -- the assaults on rights and freedoms, and on citizen privacy, the militarization of police as seen in the brutal repression of the 99 per cent, the authority to arrest, torture, detain, and even kill, citizens on "suspicion of terrorism" -- all in the name of "national security."
German writer and Nobel laureate Günther Grass was hit by widespread censorship in the West for his poem What Must Be Said, which criticizes nuclear Israel for clamouring for war against Iran "where the existence/Of a single atomic bomb is unproven," and for endangering "the already fragile world peace." Israel quickly declared him persona non grata. As the Rest refuses to rise to the bait of the West over Iran, we may yet avoid war. But if the new, dreaded war does come to pass, those who will oppose it within the very NATO-OECD Empire know what treatment to expect.