If you query Google you will get a detailed list of significant world events that took place on a 21st of August. In no particular order, in 1996 the first Rwandan refugees returned from exile after a brutal genocide, in 1938 the US pledged to protect Canada in the coming World War. Four years later on that date, the British army carried out a disastrous landing in Dieppe (the successful one, led by the US, happened on June 6th, 1944…). On August 21, 1953, Japan told the US it wouldn’t have to trade with its neighbor, China, if the US would offer it more favorable terms; and on August 21, 1950, Hawaii became the fiftieth US state.
However significant at the time, none of these events came close to the one that occured today at a Mediterranean military bastion built six centuries before Christ: a meeting between the French and Russian presidents. Vladimir Putin came carrying a large white bouquet for Brigitte Macron, similar to the one he offered last year to the Austrian foreign minister before dancing with her at her wedding. He also thanked the host for placing the Russian delegation on the shady part of the 90+ degree terrace, while French officials roasted. (Among other things, Macron is leading the charge against global warming, while as everyone knows, the American President continues to deny that it’s caused by human activity, oil and coal companies leading the way.)
One of many between the Russian and French presidents, the meeting just prior to the G7 Summit which Macron was about to chair, confirmed his position as Deus Machina of the Russian-American standoff. During questions, a journalist asked Vladimir Putin whether he would rejoin the G7, from which he had been unceremoniously ejected after accepting Crimea’s referendum to rejoin Russia, (where it had been since Catherine the Great won it from Turkey, until an over-confident Khruschev gave it to Ukraine). Putin’s I can take it or leave it response came just as President Trump was declaring from Washington that he wanted it to happen. This crucial agreement between the three presidents guarantees Trump’s evil consiglieri, Bolton and Pompeo, will not be able to prevent the forum from once again becoming the G8.
This particular August 21st will be recorded by historians as the moment when Europe turned from the Atlantic, and the civilization it shaped, toward the vast continent of Eurasia. In contrast to most meetings between foreign heads of state, the image of Macron and his guest in relaxed conversation in the sun suggests that those involving the hegemon, heavy on security services and protocol, are being replaced by personalized conversations among those responsible for the planet’s survival, which is what the ‘multi-polar world’ is about.
Backing up, during the 1980’s, when Europe was still divided between east and west, non-governmental organizations worked tirelessly to overcome the division between the capitalist and communist systems, as President Reagan installed Pershing missiles facing east. In 1989, he reached an agreement with Gorbachev’s dying Soviet Union that Germany would be reunited, while NATO would not expand one inch beyond its eastern border. That agreement temporarily removed the threat to Europe caused by the Pershings, but as soon as the Berlin Wall came down, without the slightest justification, NATO began to move its tanks steadily across the continent, all the way up to Russia’s western borders. And as the countries of Eastern Europe were accepted one by one into the European Union, NATO folded them into its ranks.
Although since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia has done nothing to threaten Europe, as Washington claims, its National Security Doctrine, drafted in the late nineties by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and never superseded, dictates that America continue its belligerence toward Moscow as a first step toward retaining its world hegemony, before taking on China. Accordingly, Washington fomented regime change in Russia’s ‘ear abroad’, Georgia and Ukraine, and when the latter’s eastern, Russian-speaking population refused to recognize the neo-fascist government we installed in Kiev, President Putin had no choice but to support two new autonomous republics, Donetsk and Lugansk. Predictably, Washington labelled that solidarity as an invasion, also claiming that Russia’s acceptance of a Crimea referendum to rejoin Russia ‘illegally’ modified the post-war borders of Europe, history be damned. Never mentioning the fact that Russia had always had troops stationed at its naval base in Crimea — or that had it actually invaded Ukraine, it would have taken Kiev within hours, it imposed heavy economic sanctions as yet another step toward taking that rival down.
Although never mentioned publicly, as the United States continued to look down on the world that lies beneath its city on a hill, Russia and China were creating new international institutions such as the BRICS (joining Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) backstopping projects such as the New Silk Road linking Europe to Asia. And just as President Trump was increasing the price of his European ‘protection’, Italy became the first European country to join that project. Mere months later, at a fifteenth century fort built by tribes vying for patches of the Eurasian peninsula, the meeting between Macron and Putin, signaled the peninsula’s decision to turn away from the Atlantic and toward the Pacific, making this August 21st more significant than any other.
Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.