Compulsory Commerce

At the beginning of the 21st century, there was no limit to what Wesley Clark and others wanted to achieve in the Middle East. Wesley Clark and others envisioned toppling one Middle Eastern government and state after another, until all of them were toppled. Thus, the talk on the part of those in American mainstream media about Vladimir Putin’s “ambitions” and so forth towards Europe is self-projection to a large extent. As mentioned before, virtually every government and state other than the United States balances aspirations with capabilities, unlike Wesley Clark and others who saw no bounds as to what they could accomplish in the Middle East until reality struck. As Mike Tyson said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. Plus, Vladimir Putin has the luxury of patience, strategic calculation, and strategic thinking, whereas Washington amounts to a neurotic mess.

Also, Vladimir Putin’s historical interpretation – given that history is a matter of interpretation and Putin’s interpretation of history was put on full display before an international audience yesterday – comes from a position of power. No leader would stress their view and poise themselves for an insistence on such a peculiar interpretation of history unless they could do so from a position of power. In turn, the position of power arguably stems from the very basic nature of East-West relations. On my trip to France in September, I noticed that many restaurants were virtually empty by late afternoon and early evening. A large sum of fruits, meat imports, and food products in London come from places like Turkey, in addition to the large quantities of energy and gas which go to Europe from Russia.

Thus, when it comes to the very basics of economics and economic stability, the West is very much dependent on Eastern countries, whereas Eastern countries are self-sufficient and can survive on the very basics of life if the glitz, glamour, extravagance, and luxury of the West are foregone and ignored. In the midst of its weapons peddling and warmongering, Washington overlooks the basics which are pertinent to European economic stability. As a result, Russia’s leverage over the West stems from the very basic nature of East-West relations. The veneer of exchange or trade between the East and the West comes from what the 20th century Iranian philosopher and scholar Jalal Ale Ahmad called “compulsory commerce.” As a result, the West maintains commercial and trade relations with the East at gunpoint. If the gun were taken out of the picture, and if “gunboat diplomacy” and “compulsory commerce” were not the basic reality of international relations, the underlying rift and schism between the Western world and the Eastern world would become much more evident and manifest.

Basic discourse – with discourse amounting to actions and words stemming from a basic thought – and basic ontology, with ontology being the scope of one’s metaphysical view, are at the core of the underlying rift and schism between the Eastern world and the Western world, and the rift and schism is artificially bridged by the phenomena of “gunboat diplomacy” and “compulsory commerce” which I have mentioned before. And the concern is that this basic rift and schism in basic discourse and basic ontology could be the deciding factor in whether there is a decoupling of East from West. Ukraine could be the impetus for such a decoupling, but nothing is quite certain right now.

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