The Commanding Heights

Moreover, economic advancement or economic development is something that does not happen drastically or quickly in a society. Economic advancement and economic growth are essentially marginal, unless corruption or theft occurs as in the case of Afghanistan’s “contracting” frenzy or if someone wins the lottery or in those rare cases when oil and natural gas are suddenly discovered in a country, as in the case of Gulf Arab countries in the 20th century.

Plus, each country and each society is sui generis in terms of their economic and social attributes or characteristics. However, the recent price hikes on energy and oil suggest that energy and oil are become more valuable vis-à-vis the dollar, which means that Russia as well as countries such as Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Iran hold the cards when it comes to managing the competition and perhaps even the conflict with the West. The “Commanding Heights” of the international economy — namely, food, energy, and birth rates — lean in favour of the non-western world at the moment. And when energy prices go up for Western countries, so do their food prices. Thus, a global hegemonic policy led to a loosening of the West’s grip on the “Commanding Heights” and the essentials of the international economy to a certain extent.

In turn, Washington’s laissez-faire monetary policy — along with its strategy of disregarding other countries’ interests and its insistence on liberal superiority — are now running into a brick wall, whereas the fortunes of energy-producing countries which are all non-western have changed for the better. As one of my professors once quipped, even if you solve all of the world’s other problems, there is still the issue of energy and oil which will remain outstanding.

Therefore, maintaining economic and military superiority over other countries was not the key priority for major powers like the United States or even Russia up to this point in time. Rather, the key priority was control and domination over other countries as well as the imposition of what Max Horkheimer called a “mass-culture” which in turn kills culture, nature, individuality, and spirituality. To top it all off, the impulse on the part of the major powers to control and dominate smaller countries is undergirded by a zero-sum paradigm which in turn makes major power competition and conflict quite dangerous and risky.

One Afghan militia leader who fought during the historic ‘Soviet-Afghan War’ of the 1980’s said that the Russians were welcome to come back to Afghanistan as long as they no longer sought to control or dominate Afghan culture or to change Afghanistan’s ‘way of life.’ This suggests that peace and stability are political and social by nature. In turn, a strategic foreign policy shift has to come out of Western capitals in order to address certain “long-term trends” which do not bode well for the average Western citizen or consumer. These trends will in turn impose certain costs for the political class in Western societies, and the political capital of the Western political class which has already diminished significantly over the years will diminish even further.

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