When globe-trotting journalist and keen geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar refers to the United States as the “Empire of Chaos,” it may seem like hyperbole. But upon looking deeper at both Escobar’s coverage and the United States’ foreign policy itself, it is perhaps the most accurate title for this political entity and its means of operation, perhaps more apt than the name “The United States” itself.
In the wake of World War II, the US and its allies set out upon the reclamation of the West’s lost colonies, many of which took advantage of Europe’s infighting to either establish independence from their long-standing colonial masters, or begin the conflicts that would inevitably lead toward independence.
Perhaps the most well-known of these conflicts was the Vietnam War. The United States would involve itself in the dissolution of French Indochina at the cost of some 4 million lives in a conflict that would embroil not only Vietnam, but much of Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Covert coups and brutal insurgencies were underwritten by Washington across the planet, from the Middle East to South and Central America. And while this too seems chaotic, the goal always seemed to be the destruction of independent states, and the creation of viable client states.
These client states included the Shah’s Iran, Saudi Arabia, much, if not all of Western Europe and even to varying degrees, some of the enduring autocracies of the Middle East until for one reason or another they fell out of favor with Washington. The idea was to create an international order built upon the concept of globalization.
Globalization was meant to be a system of vast interdependencies governed by international institutions created by and for the United States and more specifically, the special interests that have long since co-opted America’s destiny.
However, the concept of globalization seems to have neglected any anticipation for rapid technological advances in both terms of information technology and manufacturing. There are very few real interdependencies left to stitch this vision of globalization together with many of them being artificially maintained at increasing costs. The idea of using sanctions to ‘starve’ a nation by isolating it from this global order has been exposed as more or less impotent by nations like Iran and North Korea who have sustained themselves for decades despite everything besides air and gravity being denied to them.
Indeed, nations understand the value of self-sufficiency in both terms of politics and the basic necessities which constitute any state’s infrastructure. Russia’s recent encounter with Western sanctions has caused it to look not only eastward, but inward, to secure its interests and to transcend sanctions wholly dependent on the concept of “globalization.”
As this “carrot and stick” method of working the world into Wall Street and Washington’s international order becomes less effective, some of the uglier and less elegant tools of the West’s geopolitical trade have taken a more prominent role on the global stage. It appears that if the West cannot rule this international order built upon the concepts of globalization, it will rule an international order built on chaos.
The Empire of Chaos
The unipolar geopolitical concepts that underpin globalization have eroded greatly. Nations no longer have to pick between an existence of lonely isolation and socioeconomic atrophy or subordination within this international order. Instead, they can pick to associate with the growing community of what the West calls “rogue states.” So large has this list grown that the US may soon find itself and Western Europe the last remaining members of its failed international order.
The real danger for an aspiring global empire is to find a planet that has suddenly begun to move in tandem out from under its shadow and moving on without them in relative peace and prosperity. To prevent this from happening we have seen a concerted effort focused on disrupting and destroying this emerging multi-polar world.
In Europe, the refugee crisis is being used to polarize European society and allow governments to increase their power domestically and further justify wars abroad. Along Western Europe’s borders, facing Russia, a relative stable balancing act maintained by former Soviet territories attempting to benefit from associating with both East and West has been turned into outright war.
Throughout North Africa and the Middle East, any nation that even so much as slightly resembles a sovereign nation state has been undermined and attempts to violently overthrow them pursued. The goal is no longer to create viable client states, but rather to Balkanize and leave them in ruins so as to never contest Western ambitions in the region again. This can be observed clearly in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen where none of the groups backed by the US and its allies could ever realistically run a functioning nation state.
And in Asia, in state after state, those leading political parties marked by Washington for future client status are being removed from power and their leaders, long backed by the US, being either exiled or jailed.
Where these political gambits are crumbling, a steady stream of violence perpetrated by terrorist groups not even indigenous to the region has begun to build in strength.
Divide and Conquer
Divide and conquer is a geopolitical maxim that has served as empire’s bread and butter since the beginning of recorded human civilization. When the British could not subdue a targeted territory just beyond the grasp of its empire, it would divide and destroy them. A ruined nation that can be plundered and trampled may not be as desirable as a loyal client state run by a British viceroy, but it is better than a pocket of national sovereignty serving as an example for others of the merits of resisting “Great Britain.”
Today, it is clear that the idea of creating a client state in the midst of a general public increasingly aware of the features and fixations of modern empire is becoming ever more tenuous. Such client states are less likely to be accepted by a local population who, with minimum effort, can put up significant resistance against even the best funded of foreign proxies.
Globalism required more and more illusions to convince people they needed a global system controlled by far-off special interests to do what can now be done through advances in technology nationally and even locally. Now all that is left is the sowing of chaos to prevent people from leveraging this technology nationally and locally, to keep them divided and distracted for as long as possible, to perpetuate the West’s global hegemony for as long as possible.
Moving Beyond the Chaos
An empire built on chaos is not meant to last. Chaos, like the international order of globalization that preceded it, requires illusions and manipulation to perpetuate itself. Unfortunately, stirring chaos among a population is a lot easier than convincing them of the non-existent interdependencies of globalization.
Nations leading the way out of this chaos include those who have suffered the most because of it. Their leaders have realized the necessity of closing off the vectors through which the West feeds this chaos within their borders, which include socioeconomic disparity, foreign-funded propaganda, foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and of course extremist groups used to carry out the actual terrorism and agitation required to create the worst sort of chaos.
Russia and China in particular have been busy creating alternatives not only for the remnants of the West’s globalization racket, but alternatives for the unipolar world the West was trying to create. They are both looking within and across their borders to create a patchwork of nations ready to move beyond the chaos and toward a more widespread balance of power.
By in turn, placing sanctions on the West, Russia is forcing itself to not only produce raw materials for export, but to become a more capable producer of finished goods. By doing so, Russia has begun a process that turns America’s sanctions game back onto itself. While many believe Washington drives American policy, it is unrealistic to discount Wall Street’s role. By cutting the corporations trading on Wall Street down to size, one cuts down their unwarranted power they wield on the global stage.
Nations choosing to trade rather than being forced to because of an ungainly system of globalization ensures that any given people have more control over not only what they buy and sell, but how and where their natural resources are used.
With the Empire of Chaos in terminal decline and with a new multi-polar order emerging, the only question left to ask is; will chaos spread and destroy faster than this new multi-polar order can be built? It is certainly a close race pushing both sides into acts of increasingly unimaginable confrontation.
Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.