Arguably, two more “big picture” issues need to be taken into consideration, and these two issues are perhaps more consequential and impactful on the big picture of international affairs than anything else, although there is another very consequential and impactful issue which I will mention at the end. For one, there is Washington’s short-term and myopic approach towards international affairs on one hand, and China’s long-term and far-sighted approach towards international affairs on the other hand. And second, there is the issue of a populist resurgence and a populist takeover of American government and society which in turn would throw the entire Western organization and Western system into a state of collapse and degeneration in the coming years.
Only impudence and toxicity would enable Washington to highlight “the youth of Iran” or Xinjiang and Hong Kong and Taiwan when Iraq, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, for instance, are suffering as a result of Washington’s attempts to stonewall China. But the fraying and splintering of Western organization can to a certain extent be tracked by what is going on in Europe at the moment. For one, there is no broad-based European consensus in regard to what a wholly European approach towards Russia should look like. France, Italy, and Hungary, for instance, are not necessarily in lockstep with the attitude and rhetoric emanating out of Brussels. England’s current policy towards Russia which has the appearance of solidary with Brussels is then undergirded by actions such as “Brexit” which contradict appearances. Poland could now suffer from a “weaponization of winter” to borrow from one journalist. And Germany is now sandwiched between the two competing exigencies of energy and physical security.
Also, there is the issue of how European and Russian tensions over Ukraine will turn out if there is a change of administration in Washington in a couple of years. Whereas Western organization is in chaos and disarray at the moment, a populist resurgence and takeover of Washington in a couple of years’ time would probably induce a shift from the current chaos and disarray towards sheer collapse and degeneration of the whole organization in a matter of time. And in a broader sense, the suggestion by a European politician decades ago that the East would destabilize the West if the West does not stabilize the East rings true at the current moment. Russia not only banks on a degeneration and failure of Western organization, but Russia has also induced the degeneration and failure to a certain extent as a result of its actions in Ukraine and its “weaponization of winter” vis-à-vis Poland. But arguably, the root cause of these Russian actions at the moment is the Western-backed coup in Kiev a little more than eight years ago.
One level above European and Russian tensions over Ukraine is the inability of the United States and Russia to see eye-to-eye on international issues. As one scholar argued, whereas the United States dubs itself as the “Empire of Liberty,” Russia dubs itself as the “Empire of Justice.” And at the heart of China’s sharp rhetoric is perhaps the “National Humiliation” which it suffered from in the past as a result of Anglo-American colonialism.
In turn, American claims of “liberty” make no sense to Eastern countries like Russia and China, whereas Eastern claims of “justice” make no sense to Washington. Thus, the inability of the three major powers – namely, America, Russia, and China – to see eye-to-eye on the core and most central principle of each of their respective approaches towards foreign policy and foreign relations is arguably at the center of all the chaos and disarray on a global scale and scope.