By F. WILLIAM ENGDAHL
In a famous speech to the US Congress in March 1991, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the US Gulf War victory over Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a triumphant US President George H.W. Bush proclaimed the dawn of a “New World Order.”1 The term, with its ominous freemasonic connotations, raised many an eyebrow and Bush never again publicly used the term. However, what he meant became starkly clear to the world in the two decades following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Now that very US globalisation strategy is in a shambles and the outlines of possible alternative orders are slowly emerging.
The US financial crisis that exploded on the world with a vengeance in March 2007 was the beginning of the end of the Old New World Order as Bush had envisioned in 1991, even though US elites were in denial of that reality. The sole superpower after the end of the Cold War had embarked on a quest of global empire disguised under the rubric of “globalisation.” The Clinton presidency from 1992-2000 marked an era of financial deregulation unprecedented since the 1930s. Big banks were set free from virtually all restraints and became “Too Big to Fail” as a result. The Wall Street Gods of Money knew they could literally “get away with murder” after their follies in the 1997-98 Asia financial crisis, the 1998 Russian sovereign debt default and the subsequent bank bailouts by the IMF and various governments.
When Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan made it clear to Wall Street in 2002 after the collapse of the dot.com stock bubble that the Fed would provide bank liquidity in unprecedented volumes and encourage what Greenspan termed a “revolution in finance,” the Big Wall Street banks responded like piranha devouring a bleeding body.
They created an entirely new concept called Asset-Backed Securitisation in what soon became trillions of dollars of dodgy new financial assets called MBOs (Mortgage-Backed Securities). The only real collateral behind the new MBS bonds sold by Wall Street was a financial house of cards built by the Big Three credit rating agencies – Moodys, Standard & Poors and Fitch – together with a small group of specialised Wall Street asset insurers who ultimately became insolvent.
The ensuing financial crisis is well-known. The decision of former Wall Street mogul Henry Paulsen to deliberately let a major Wall Street investment bank, Lehman Brothers, go bankrupt triggered a global systemic panic that almost brought the world down with it. Since that day in September 2008, the Fed and the European Central Bank have been adding liquidity to financial markets via the big banks to keep the banks solvent, at taxpayer expense.
The consequence of the Wall Street banks’ crisis and the Washington pro-Wall Street response, has been the greatest rate of US federal debt growth in history. Since the US sub-prime real estate crisis emerged in 2007, US federal debt has increased by US$7.2 trillion or almost 80% in just five years. Since Bush’s New World Order speech and the end of the Cold War, US federal debt has risen by an incredible US$13 trillion to an alarming Third World debt-to-GDP level of 104% today. Government debt is growing at a rate of well over $1 trillion annually, and the recent fiscal “chicken game” with federal debt default in October 2013 and Congress’ unwillingness to grant a rise in the debt ceiling, have shattered confidence of governments and private investors around the world. As debt burdens force Washington to cut its budget, the footprint of Washington in global politics is also dramatically lessening. Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum and others are moving to fill the US global political vacuum.
Paradoxically, the post-1991 US pursuit of a de facto global empire, ‘The American Century’, as Time-Life publisher Henry Luce named it in a famous 1941 editorial in Life magazine,2 has created precisely what it intended to eliminate. It has spawned the seeds of a multi-polar world, united in opposition to a new tyranny posing as “American democracy.” Nowhere is this better seen than in the alignment of both sides over Syria since March 2011 when Washington and NATO launched a full-scale regime change effort to topple Bashar al-Assad.
Obama chose to act in the “Arab Spring” through proxies, mindful of avoiding a new Iraq or Afghanistan debacle. That meant relying on the Islamist regime of NATO member Turkey and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP party. It meant relying on Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, whose ambitions to dominate the natural gas market to the EU pitted him against Syria. It meant relying on Saudi Arabia, home to the ultra-feudal fundamentalist Wahhabite Islamic Royal House. All were Sunni Muslim and, until very recently, it seemed that all backed the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood that took power in Egypt in the so-called Arab Spring.
Here a new fault-line in global geopolitics began to emerge, a fascinating one. Defending the minority Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad, a bitter foe of the Muslim Brotherhood, were Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China, both UN Security Council veto members who blocked any US attempt to get a Security Council sanction for military intervention into Syria.
Russia’s stake is enormous. Her only Mediterranean naval base, Tarsus, is in Syria, an old Cold War ally. Russia’s entire natural gas geopolitics depends on blocking the Qatar gas domination. Qatar and Iran “share” the same giant gas field in the Persian Gulf. In March 2011, the month the Qataris, Turkey and others launched a full assault inside Syria, Assad had just signed an agreement with Shi’ite Iran and Shi’ite-dominated Iraq to build a gas pipeline from Iran’s Persian Gulf gas field ultimately to the Mediterranean, a direct rival to Qatar. Russia had interest in backing the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline.
At that point Qatar, Saudi Arabia and to a degree Erdoğan’s Turkey, launched a dirty war to topple the pro-Iran Assad regime. They financed various fanatical Islamic Jihadists who began invading the country from Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan and even Germany, to die in the name of Holy War. They were for the most part paid mercenaries and ruthless in spreading terror and atrocities, blaming it on Assad’s army.
As the coalition of Russia, Iran and, to a limited degree a more cautious China, dug their heels in, Saudi Intelligence head Prince Bandar, an intimate of the Bush family, was put in charge of toppling the pro-Iran Assad regime. In August 2013 an increasingly desperate Bandar, according to Jordanian journalists inside Syria at the time, provided chemical weapons to the Saudi-financed terrorists in Ghouta, Syria to create a false flag pretext. It was designed to force Obama into a “red line” military intervention in Syria to break the deadlock.3
As we now know, the world was within a hair’s breadth of a potential World War by early September 2013, pitting Iran, Russia, China, Iraq and Syria against a US-led coalition. The rabid pro-war neo-cons in Washington, urged on by the anti-Iran Netanyahu regime in Tel Aviv, backed a bungling Obama into a dangerous corner where America’s very credibility as a Superpower appeared on the line. The last thing Obama wanted was another hapless US war in the Middle East.
At the last moment, as Deus-ex-machina, Russia’s Putin, who only days earlier had been diplomatically shunned by Obama ostensibly over the Snowden NSA affair, came forward with an OpEd in the New York Times. Putin offered to broker a diplomatic solution by removing Syria’s stocks of chemical weapons. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov openly called US Secretary of State John Kerry a liar on Syria.
Surprising many, Obama grabbed the offer as a life preserver. War was off the agenda. Saudi Arabia and Israel’s Netanyahu were furious, with the Saudis threatening a new direction away from US satrapy to an as-yet-undefined new alliance.
The Putin initiative, backed by Iran and accepted by Assad, opened the way for Obama to move to the fore open negotiations after 34 years with the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Those talks, to further Israeli and Saudi anger, resulted in a breakthrough on 24 November 2013 in Geneva: The USA pushed through a Six-Power agreement with Iran to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, leading to lifting of economic sanctions.
France and Britain were arm-twisted into joining the US, China, Russia and Germany in the historic deal that, ironically, boosts the emerging pole of Eurasian power in what I have often referred to as a new “Iran Triangle” of mutual interests between Russia, China and Iran.
As Washington tries under Obama to reign in US military engagements in the Middle East and to an extent Afghanistan, a new power locus around the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan is emerging. Created in 2001 it is defining a new Eurasian economic space. Rail links are being built or expanded creating links from Beijing to Turkey, to Germany and beyond, enabling overland freight transport, creating new growth zones.
Barring World War, which is not to be ruled out, this Eurasian nexus will define the centre-of-gravity of the world economic growth for perhaps the next century or more. The new markets will become a magnet attracting EU economies led by the export-hungry Germany.
The political class of the EU in this context is in an existential dilemma of the first order. Its institutions are a relic of the Cold War and US domination. With the US economic power in shambles and its political leadership in question, the EU faces a Scylla and Charybdis challenge. If it hangs on to the post-1945 Atlantic Bridge, she risks economic disaster as the Eurozone depression deepens and Eurasian chances pass them by. If she “goes east” not West, she opens huge new potential markets in the world’s most populous region, Eurasia, but risks alienating the American Superpower.
The next several years in my view will witness epochal change as the world order begun with England’s Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s and spreading to North America gives way to new alignments in Eurasia and to an extent in the South led by Brazil in South America.
This new reality in a degree is reflected in the regular dialogue between the so-called BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – since 2010. Notable is their mutual efforts to shape their economic destinies independent of the former colonial masters in Europe or of the USA. Ultimately the emergence of independent regional groupings of nations bent on peaceful economic growth and cooperation offers the chance for a more peaceful and prosperous world. Naturally, not everyone is overjoyed at this prospect, least of all the trillion-dollar NATO arms industry which faces economic collapse if genuine peace were to “break out.”
Over the twenty years since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, I was privileged to have been invited to Russia, China, Iran and many parts of the former Warsaw Pact, as well as Turkey, Indonesia, Sudan. I met many responsible academics, military and political elites of those countries. It has become clear to me that the last thing Russia or China or Iran want at this point is a new world war.
We have a golden chance to move mankind a significant step closer to a world not ruled by the dogma “might makes right,” but by peace and attempts at mutual cooperation. It would be a refreshing change if we did not squander it as the world did in 1991 when Washington decided not to end the Cold War but try to control the entire world as a sole Superpower, what I call in my book, Full Spectrum Dominance – Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. We have a genuine chance today to build a “New New World Order” based on social justice and peaceful development of our planet.
F. William Engdahl has contributed an article on the recent major Middle East geopolitical developments to New Dawn Special Issue Vol 7 No 6.
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1. George H. W. Bush, ‘Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the End of the Gulf War’ (March 6, 1991), accessed in http://millercenter.org/president/speeches/detail/3430.
2. Henry R. Luce, ‘The American Century’, LIFE magazine, 17 February 1941, accessed in www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6139.htm.
3. Phil Greaves, ‘The Syria Chemical Weapons Attack and the Role of Saudi Intelligence. The Mint News Report. New MintPress Statement Reveals Saudi Pressure on Reporter’, GlobalResearch, November 23, 2013, accessed in www.globalresearch.ca/the-syria-chemical-weapons-attack-and-the-role-of-saudi-intelligence-the-mint-news-report/52359154.
F. WILLIAM ENGDAHL is an award-winning geopolitical analyst, strategic risk consultant, author, professor and lecturer. He has been researching and writing about the world political scene for more than thirty years. His various books on geopolitics – the interaction between international power politics, economics and geography – have been translated into 14 foreign languages from Chinese to French, from German to Japanese. F. William Engdahl contributes regularly to a number of international publications on economics and political affairs including Asia Times, RT.com, RT TV, GlobalResearch.com, Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun and Foresight magazine. He has been interviewed on numerous international TV and radio programs including USA Coast-to-Coast with George Noory, Al Jazeera, Channel 1 Russian TV. Websites: www.williamengdahl.com & www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.
The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 142 (January-February 2014)
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