The world today resembles a giant mothership in the middle of the ocean with an incapacitated engine and a broken rudder. Will this ship founder? Is rescue still possible before it sinks into the depths?
It is a peculiar quality of political stupidity that presidents, prime ministers and monarchs all over the world failed to realize the global challenge that was inherent in the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the last decade of the 20th century. The fact that from the ashes of a military dictatorship with a failed ideology the phoenix bird of old Russia re-appeared, strangely enough did not lead to the correct political conclusion. In the United States and in Europe, with the exception of Russia, politicians either subscribed to Horace’s ode of triumph over the death of Cleopatra and declared that “Now it is time for drinking,” or admitted, as George H. W. Bush did, that the event was “Greek to him.” Thus, as with post-Mao’s China, the West remained woefully clueless and allowed hope to triumph over centuries of disappointing experiences.
Meanwhile, in the subsequent quarter century, the honeymoon of the so-called Cold War era has come to an inglorious end. First, Russia under Yeltsin was passing through an extremely deep crisis. Russia’s dilemma was as simple as profound: It could not return to the pre-1990s, yet it was both institutionally and mentally incapable to transform itself into a democracy, which the West wanted to forcefully confer upon a basically backward and authoritarian society. Consequently, under the long reign of Putin’s, autocracy has enjoyed a speedy comeback. A farce of representative government has been maintained, in which both houses of the Duma have functioned as robotic legislatures, providing unanimous and unquestioning consent to every act of the autocrat. Unbalanced internally, Putin’s Russia has reverted to aggressive militarism in its foreign policy.
Europe too has been put in a dangerous situation. Lacking the stability of basic political institutions, and hovering between the reality of an illusional confederation and the desire to form an enduring union, the European Union and the states bordering on Russia have been passing through a deep existential crisis. Presently, Putin is in the process of splitting up the European status quo and simultaneously destroying the political, economic and social fabric of his country. Tragically, the promise of the so-called ‘peace dividend” might turn into the disaster of the 21st century, if these two adversaries could not figure out how to cooperate and live together in peace.
To wit, the 21st century, as its predecessors, has not been kind to the greater Middle East, North Africa and South-East Asia. Attempts at the secularization of the Muslim world in the guist of pan-Arabism ended in repeated failures. The aggressive resuscitation of Islamic fundamentalism has resulted in civil and interstate wars, giving birth to chaos and anarchy. The so-called “Arab Spring” turned out to be a hoax, only contributing to arbitrary and violent despotisms. Presently, neither pan-Arabism nor the fundamentalist revival have produced meaningful reforms in any Muslim country.
In Asia, Xi Jinping, the new Chinese dictator, has been busy in reconstructing Mao’s autocracy. Through his politically motivated and relentless anti-corruption campaign, he has been wrecking the economy and destroying the political institutions both on the central and local levels. As a result, China will certainly face a catastrophic collapse, because of the inherent contradiction between the illegitimacy of Xi’s megalomania and the desire of the people to legitimize state power through fair and free elections. Thus, not unlike Putin in Russia, Xi has embarked on a foreign policy gamble in the South China Sea and beyond, which predictably will end in a disaster for his country too.
Clearly, the world is facing a violent and bloody future. The cause is twofold: The global leadership vacuum created by the utterly incompetent and idiotic policies of the Obama Administration and the equally irresponsible policies of the other major powers throughout the world. What do all these incompetent and irresponsible policies mean? Where have they originated from? Where are they heading? The answers of all these questions is a political one. First, euphoria is not the best sentiment upon which to formulate sound domestic and foreign policies. Second, the misinterpretation and, therefore the maligning of American exceptionalism by an arrogant President Obama, have led to an equally nonsensical reaction by the rest of the world, rejecting the principles of democracy and free market economy. Thirdly, as Albert Camus stated: “Whoever calls a thing by false names, contributes to the misfortune of the world.” Thus, President Obama has existed, throughout his presidency, in the La-La Land of his illusionary ideology. Gradually weakened by President Obama’s false rhetoric and unwarranted apologies, peoples throughout the world are finding themselves without firm and guiding principles. Global peace and stability can only be provided by global American leadership. The difficult task awaiting the new American president, therefore, is to define that leadership within the framework of a new strategy with a universal political, economic, legal and cultural horizon.