Conflict in Ukraine: Genesis

Representatives of the Western community are quite comfortable rallying around NATO narratives about the causes of the armed conflict in Ukraine and not placing themselves in the discomfort of doubting and testing the postulates that dominate public opinion.

However, getting out of this intellectual comfort zone—which, in fact, psychologically, is just a zone of fear—is an important exercise for all those who advocate the search for truth, which can often differ significantly from the narratives established by the protagonists of the dominant issues.

In this analysis, I will not go into all of the historical elements of each of the conflicting parties that are clearly important and that have led to the confrontation in which the world finds itself today, but I wish to illuminate the really dominant role, dissimulated from the naked eye, of the key player in this conflict: the United States of America.

History shows us that, despite appearances, no war of the past has ever had a single cause for its outbreak.

At the heart of every major conflict is certainly a blueprint of multiple causes and sub-goals to be achieved in the framework of a major ultimate goal, often far beyond the war itself.

The trigger causes declared by the conflicting parties are merely a reflection of the culmination, the tip of an iceberg of deep disagreements that not only can no longer be resolved diplomatically, but often, on the contrary—whose diplomatic resolution would be an obstacle to the achievement of predetermined and carefully concealed objectives.

Establishing Democracies

Basically, the United States of America and, secondarily, the rest of the Western community, claim that the cause of armed conflicts in the world initiated by the latter is the establishment of regimes of legal states, of individual, collective freedoms and as lights of democracy in regions that are the home of tyranny, dictatorship and barbarism.

However, when we analyze the totality of the more than fifty wars and armed interventions since the end of World War II, directly by the armed fist of the United States and/or indirectly through satellite countries, and then analyze the final outcome of each of the combat encounters, we can make one significant observation:

• Either the United States of America is incredibly bad at achieving its predetermined goals—as the latter are never achieved;
• or, and to be more serious, the true causes of the continuous process of destruction of parts of the world are not quite, or, to be more precise, have nothing to do with the advertised goals.

The objectivity of this observation cannot be doubted, for there are too many precedents of “implementations” whose end results are well known to us. To mention just the biggest ones, we can mention the wars in Korea and China, in Guatemala, in Vietnam and Cambodia, in Iraq, in Bosnia and Serbia, in Afghanistan, in Libya and in Syria.

Not to mention America’s many “secondary” interventions throughout modern history, including direct bombings of civilians, such as in Cuba, Congo, Laos, Grenada, Lebanon, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iran, Panama, Kuwait, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Pakistan.

And even this list is by no means exhaustive, since it does not account for so many confidential operations conducted around the world to establish “democratic values and human rights.”

The statement of the general condition acquired by “liberated” societies, their quality of life before and after the processes of “democratization” passed, can only cause great bewilderment to the observer.

Survival of the United States of America

Without disregarding the fact that the American people are, in themselves, quite sympathetic and friendly—a fact no one who has had experience of intercourse and interpersonal relations with their representatives can deny, including myself, who has had the honor of knowing a number of Americans who are bearers of high human values and for whom I have friendship and deep respect—the fact cannot also however be denied that the freedom of thought of the American people, in its overwhelming majority, is directly controlled by the American “deep state” and its lobbyists,

The noble motives of the United States’ armed interventions in the world presented to the American population differ little from those advertised in the international arena.

Contrary to the narratives displayed by some U.S. antagonists, for the American “deep state” the true reasons for the repeated large-scale massacres—it is difficult to call them modus operandi otherwise—do not have as their fundamental ultimate goal world domination, per se, for domination’s sake.

This qualification is not entirely accurate. The ultimate goal is far more pragmatic: the survival of the United States of America.

Not just survival as a state entity, but the survival of the structures that enable the realization of super-profits for the elites, on the one hand, and, on the other, the survival of the model and standard of living acquired by the country with the end of the Great Depression, which ended with the beginning of World War II and the revival of the American economy through the military industry.

This survival is simply impossible without military-economic, or more precisely, military-financial world domination.

It is no historical coincidence that the military budget, called “defense budget,” of the United States alone exceeds one-third of world defense spending, a crucial element in maintaining financial dominance on a global scale.

The concept of survival at the expense of world domination was clearly articulated at the end of the Cold War by Paul Wolfowitz, the US Under Secretary of Defense, in his so-called Wolfowitz Doctrine, which viewed the United States as the only remaining superpower in the world and whose main goal was to maintain that status: “to prevent the reappearance of a new rival either in the former Soviet Union or elsewhere that would be a threat to the order previously represented by the Soviet Union.”

The Main Underlying Reasons of the Conflict in Ukraine

Leaving aside the lofty narratives appealing to the psychological sensitivity of the Western masses, who must fulfill their prescribed role of approval, let us look at the real causes, the underlying pillars of the new confrontation in the general framework of the survival of the United States of America: the conflict in Ukraine.

These underlying, interdependent pillars are three in number:

• Maintaining the global dominance of the U.S. financial system,
• weakening the economy of the European Union through the maximum destruction of relations between Russia and the EU
• and a significant weakening of Russia’s position in the framework of the future conflict with China.

All other elements of the current conflict in Ukraine, from the American side, such as the lobbying of the American military industry, the conquest of new energy markets, the protection of significant American economic assets on Ukrainian territory, corruption schemes, personal revanchism of Russophobic American elites, those from Eastern European immigration and many others—seem to me only as additions, derivatives and consequences of the three listed main reasons.

The first of the three underlying pillars of the conflict in Ukraine: maintaining the global dominance of the U.S. financial system.

The global dominance of the US financial system is based on a number of elements, chief among them the extraterritoriality of US law, US treasury bonds, and the petrodollar.

It is absolutely impossible to know or understand the true reasons, not only for the events in Ukraine, but also for almost all wars initiated directly by the United States of America, without an accurate vision of the aforementioned elements. So, let us look at them in detail.

The Dollar and the Extraterritoriality of American Law as a Weapon of Economic Warfare

The concept of extraterritoriality of American law is the application of American law outside the borders of the United States, allowing American judges to litigate facts occurring anywhere in the world.

The main element used as a pretext for prosecution is the fact that U.S. national currency is used in transactions.

Thus, the legal mechanisms of the extraterritoriality of U.S. law provide U.S. companies with a serious competitive advantage. Totally illegal from the point of view of international commercial law, but quite legal from the point of view of U.S. law.

How does it work?

Extraterritoriality of U.S. laws requires foreign companies using the U.S. dollar in their operations to comply with U.S. standards and submit to the supervision and control of the U.S. government, which makes it possible for the latter to legitimize economic and industrial espionage and implementation of actions aimed at preventing the development of competitors to American companies.

The incriminated foreign companies will be prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice and must “regularize” their situation by assuming surveillance for several consecutive years under a “compliance program.”

In order to establish their world domination, countless lawsuits are launched without any substantive justification, the real purpose of which is access to competitors’ confidential information and economic interference.

Moreover, by artificially exposing foreign companies, of interest to U.S. groups, to the risk of paying large fines in favor of the United States, U.S. justice puts the victims in a position where the latter are not inclined to show hostility to the idea of being taken over by American companies, in order to avoid serious financial losses.

U.S. Treasury Bonds and Petrodollars

There is such a term in accounting as bad debt.

U.S. Treasury bills are bonds that are bought and redeemed in U.S. dollars and are essentially bad debt. Why?

Today, the U.S. sovereign debt has exceeded $31 trillion and continues to grow by several billion dollars daily. This figure far exceeds the annual GDP of the United States and turns the bulk of the securities issued by the U.S. Treasury into more than questionable values, since the latter are to be repaid in national currency. A currency whose issuance is not, for the most part, backed by any real assets.

The solvency of U.S. Treasury bonds is guaranteed solely by the printing of money and the trust in the U.S. dollar, which is based not on its real value, but on the military world domination of the United States.

What does this have to do with Russia?

Since Vladimir Putin came to power, the Russian Federation has been progressively getting rid of U.S. treasury bonds. Since 2014, the beginning of the conflict provoked by the U.S. in Ukraine through a coup d’état, Russia has gotten rid of almost all U.S. debt. Whereas in 2010. Russia was one of the top 10 holders of U.S. Treasury bonds, with more than $176 billion, in 2015 it held only about $90 billion, meaning that the total mass of these assets has almost halved in 5 years. Today, Russia holds only about two billion U.S. debt, an extremely insignificant amount, comparable to the mathematical error of the global Treasury bond market.

In tandem with the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China is also progressively getting rid of this dangerous debtor. Whereas in 2015 it held more than $1,270 billion in U.S. bonds, today that amount is below $970 billion, a decline of ¼ in 7 years. Today, the amount of U.S. government debt held by China is at its 12-year low.

Along with getting rid of U.S. Treasuries, the Russian Federation has initiated a gradual process of freeing the world from the petrodollar system.

A vicious spiral has been set in motion: the loosening of the petrodollar system will deal a significant blow to the U.S. Treasury bond market. Falling demand for the U.S. dollar in the international arena will automatically cause a devaluation of the currency and, de facto, a fall in demand for Washington treasury bills, which will mechanically increase the interest rate on the latter, making it impossible to finance the U.S. public debt at current levels.

Critics of the postulate that a falling dollar against many currencies would be very damaging to the U.S. economy argue that a weaker dollar would lead to a significant increase in U.S. exports and thus benefit U.S. manufacturers, which would in fact reduce the U.S. trade deficit.

If they are absolutely right about the beneficial effects of dollar devaluation on U.S. exports, they are radically wrong about the inevitably destructive ultimate impact of the process on the American economy, because their position ignores a fundamental element: the United States is a country that has been on a deindustrialization path for decades, and the positive impact on exports will be relatively minor in the face of a giant trade deficit. A deficit that has already reached record levels in U.S. history in 2021 and with the devaluation of the dollar, and hence higher import costs at all levels, will have an absolutely disruptive effect.

Thus, “settling scores” with the two culprits of the current situation—Russia and China—is a key element of the survival strategy of the United States.

Petrodollars

With the collapse in 1971 of the Bretton Woods agreements in force since 1944, the global dependence on the U.S. dollar began a very dangerous decline for the U.S. economy, and the latter had to look for an alternative way to increase global demand for its national currency.

The way was found. In 1979, the “petrodollar” was born in the framework of the U.S.-Saudi agreement on economic cooperation: “oil for dollars.” Under this agreement, Saudi Arabia committed itself to selling its oil to the rest of the world only in U.S. dollars, and to reinvesting its excess U.S. currency reserves in U.S. Treasury bonds and in U.S. companies.

In return, the U.S. made commitments and guarantees of military security to Saudi Arabia.

Subsequently, the “oil for dollars” agreement was extended to other OPEC countries, without any compensation from the Americans, and led to an exponential dollar issue. Progressively, the dollar became the main trading currency and other raw materials, giving the latter a place as the world’s reserve currency and giving the United States unparalleled superiority and enormous privileges.

Today we are witnessing a strategic rupture in relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which is due to several major factors, among which are a very significant reduction in America’s imports of crude oil, of which Arabia was the largest supplier; the end of American support for Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen; and the intention of US President Joe Biden to save the nuclear agreement with the Shia mullahs of Iran, the sworn enemies of the Sunni Saudis.

This triple “betrayal” by the Americans was taken extremely hard by the Saudi Kingdom, which is particularly sensitive to issues of honor in bilateral relations. The strategic differences between the two countries reached a climax with the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, when the Saudi authorities were faced with an existential choice: to continue moving in the footsteps of the United States, or to join the camp of the main adversaries of the USA, which are China and Russia. The second option was chosen.

Unlike America, which has neglected the Saudis’ strategic interests, China has, on the contrary, increased its cooperation with Saudi Arabia. And this bilateral relationship is not limited to the fossil fuel sector, but is expanding significantly in infrastructure, trade and investment. Not only is major Chinese investment in Arabia steadily increasing and China is now buying up nearly a quarter of the Kingdom’s global oil exports, but the Kingdom’s Sovereign Wealth Fund is also planning to begin significant investments in Chinese companies in strategic sectors.

In parallel, in August 2021, a military cooperation agreement was signed between the Saudi Kingdom and the Russian Federation.

Like Russia, Saudi Arabia has taken the path of de-dollarization of trade, and investment with China.

The joint and synchronized actions of Russia, China and OPEC countries on the path of progressive de-dollarization gained momentum with the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, which tore the masks off, and will have an almost inevitable avalanche effect against the global dominance of the U.S. financial system in the future, as central banks in many countries are invited to rethink the logic of reserve accumulation as well as the merits of investing in U.S. treasury bonds.

A Declaration of War on the U.S. Dollar

The military action in Ukraine against Russia and the impending war in the Asia-Pacific region against China are nothing but part of the U.S. reaction, viewing the actions of Russia and China against the global dominance of the U.S. currency as a real declaration of war.

And the United States is quite right to take this declaration more than seriously, for the massive separation from U.S. Treasuries, coupled with the progressive shifting of the petrodollar system by powers like Russia and China, is nothing short of the beginning of the end of the American economy as we have known it since the end of World War II—and the beginning of the end of the United States as we know it today.

The nations that have in the past dared to threaten the global dominance of the U.S. monetary system have paid dearly for their audacity.

The difficulty is that the Russian Federation, like the People’s Republic of China, are military powers that cannot be attacked directly under any circumstances-which would be tantamount to suicide. Only “proxy” and hybrid wars can take place against these two countries.

Today we are in the “Russian phase.” Tomorrow we will be in the “Chinese phase” of the confrontation.

It is important to note that the events in Ukraine are by no means the first, but the third great American Dollar War, not to mention the two “Cold” Dollar Wars.

What were these wars other than the one we know today?

They were the war in Iraq and the war in Libya. And the two “Cold” Dollar Wars were the wars against Iran and against Venezuela.

The First Great Dollar War

Speaking of the First Dollar War, that is, the war in Iraq, one must put aside the famous vial of imaginary anthrax that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell shook at the UN on February 5, 2003, to destroy the country and massacre the Iraqi people—and instead recall the facts. Facts far removed from American imagination.

In October 2000, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein made a statement that he was no longer willing to sell his oil for U.S. dollars, and that further sales of the country’s energy supplies would be made only in euros.

Such a statement was tantamount to signing the president’s death warrant.

According to an extensive study by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Foundation for American Journalistic Independence, between 2001 and 2003 the U.S. government made 935 false statements about Iraq, 260 of which were made directly to George W. Bush. And of the 260 knowingly false statements made by the U.S. president, 232 related to the presence of non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Colin Powell’s vial, after the latter’s 254 false statements on the same subject, was only the culmination of a long and painstaking preparation of national and international public opinion for the imminent extermination of the Iraqi threat posed to American currency.

And when in February 2003, Saddam Hussein carried out his “threat” by selling more than 3 billion barrels of crude oil worth 26 billion euros—a month later, the U.S. invasion and total destruction of Iraq, the tragic consequences of which, with the destruction of all infrastructure of the country and the enormous number of civilians killed, are well known. To this day, U.S. authorities strongly argue that the war had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq’s desire to free itself from the petrodollar system.

Given the total judicial impunity for crimes against humanity committed by successive United States governments, the latter have not even bothered to cover them up with stories that deserve the slightest credibility in the eyes of the international community.

The facts are well known, and we could have stopped there. But to make the process of “protecting” American interests even clearer, including the current events in Ukraine, let us also talk about the penultimate—the Second Great Dollar War—the war in Libya.

The Second Great Dollar War

Six years after the Iraqi threat was eliminated, a new existential threat to the U.S. dollar emerged in the person of someone who refused to learn the lesson of Saddam Hussein’s tragic fate: Muammar Gaddafi.

In 2009, as president of the African Union, Muammar Gaddafi proposed to the states of the African continent a real monetary revolution that had every chance of changing the fate of the continent and was therefore met with great enthusiasm—to escape the domination of the U.S. dollar by creating an African currency union in which oil and other African natural resources exports would be paid for mainly in gold dinar, a new currency to be created that would be based on gold reserves and financial assets.

Following the example of OPEC Arab countries, which have their own sovereign oil funds, African oil-producing countries, starting with oil and gas giants Angola and Nigeria, launched processes to create their own national funds from oil export revenues. A total of 28 African oil and gas producing countries took part in the project.

Gaddafi, however, made a strategic miscalculation that not only “buried” the gold dinar, but also cost him his life.

He underestimated the fact that, on the one hand, for the American state, and on the other hand, for the “deep state” of Wall Street and the City of London, it was completely out of the question that this project could be realized.

Because not only would it put the U.S. currency in existential peril, but, moreover, it would deprive the banks of New York and the City of London of their habitual rolling of trillions of dollars coming from the African continent’s commodity exports. The United Kingdom was thus in complete symbiosis with the United States in its desire to destroy the power that threatened its well-being.

Once the “allies” decided to neutralize the new threat, they did not care much about the strange temporal coincidence in the eyes of observers—more than 40 years of inaction against Gaddafi, who came to power in 1969 and as soon as he presented to the African Union the project of financial revolution, a new civil war broke out in Libya.

With the criminal invasion and destruction of Iraq based on the crude and deliberate lies spread at the UN in 2003 by the American state through Colin Powell about the so-called weapons of mass destruction allegedly possessed by Saddam Hussein, the United States was not willing to repeat the same pattern and had to diversify the invasion so as not to expose itself as a war criminal in too obvious a perspective.

At the moment when the new “Arab Spring” in Libya reached the brink of its complete suppression by the forces of the Libyan state, the Americans, remaining in the shadows, used the satellites and vassals—France, Britain and Lebanon—to wrest from oblivion the UN Security Council resolution against Libya of 1973—over 35 years old—to attack and destroy the country.

And this project itself was carried out in violation of even the UN’s own, newly adopted resolution—instead of the no-fly zone stipulated by the resolution, there were direct bombings of military ground targets over Libya. These attacks were totally illegal and in total violation of international law—those who voted in favor of adapting the resolution did so in the firm belief of the authors that the purpose of the action was solely to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians, not to defeat Gaddafi and/or destroy his army.

This means—The U.S., in the guise of its satellite countries, had once again lied to the UN in order to obtain legal grounds for initiating hostilities and following a pre-planned strategy to destroy a new threat to the American dollar.

The fact that the true initiators of the destruction of Libya in 2011 were the U.S. and no one else was a well-kept secret.

And since the April 2, 2011 Wikileaks publication of the correspondence of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her adviser Sid Blumenthal on the subject, the “secret” came out of the shadows—Clinton was a key element in the Western plot against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and, specifically, against the new Pan African currency—a direct threat to the US dollar.

Blumenthal wrote to Clinton: “According to confidential information obtained from this source, the Qaddafi government owns 143 tons of gold, as well as comparable financial assets… This gold was accumulated before the uprising began and was intended to create a pan-African currency based on the Libyan gold dinar.”

As I mentioned earlier, no war has a single reason for being waged. In the case of the war against Gaddafi, it was the same—one additional key reason was Hillary Rodham Clinton’s personal interest in playing the role of “iron lady” in the American political environment, in view of the coming presidential elections. This war was tantamount to her political party saying, “Look: I was able to crush an entire country. So don’t doubt that I am quite capable of leading the electoral struggle.” In April 2015, Clinton ran for president and, in July 2016, was officially nominated as the Democratic Party’s nominee.

In the Second Great Dollar War, not only the future of Libya, but the future of the entire African continent was sacrificed on the altar of the well-being of the American economy.

All those who try to jeopardize the American monetary system must disappear, if they are not strong enough to lead the confrontation.

However, if it is a power that cannot be crushed directly—as happened with Iraq and with Libya—indirect, multimodal, large-scale attacks are designed and carried out, always remaining in the shadows, making the subject the aggressor, in order to economically weaken the enemy to the point where the latter must abandon its plans to fight the domination of the dollar and be forced to concentrate on solving the newly emerged problems.

The second of the three underlying pillars of the conflict in Ukraine: weakening the economy of the European Union through the maximum destruction of relations between Russia and the EU.

Coups d’état in Ukraine

Maximum and long-term degradation of relations between Russia and Europe, especially Germany, which is the center of gravity of European economic power, is a strategic goal of the United States to achieve the weakening of the main direct competitor of Americans in world markets—the European Union.

I would like to emphasize that I am in no way claiming that the geographical areas targeted by American “interests” do not lack democracy and individual freedoms, especially in the Western format.

My contention is that the presence or absence of these noble concepts is in no way part of the reason for American aggressions, and is no more than a flimsy pretext.

There are a number of vivid examples of really bloody dictatorships, carriers of medieval legislation, in no way disturbed by the collective West revolving around the United States, and even actively supported by the latter for the simple reason of their subordination to American foreign policy.

Having organized and carried out coups d’état under the guise of “color revolutions” in Yugoslavia in 2000 and in Georgia in 2003, the “orange” revolution was organized by the USA in Ukraine, in 2004, with the aim of overthrowing the power of mostly pro-Russian moderate rightist forces and creating an “anti-Russia,” establishing a new power of extreme rightist Russophobe movements, allowing them to conduct policies that met American strategic interests.

The coming to power in Ukraine in 2010 of Viktor Yanukovych, with his globally pro-Russian policies, created the need for a new “revolution.” Taking advantage of the social mass protests of 2014, the United States once again organized a coup d’état and restored a fundamentally Russophobic, ultra-nationalist government.

Speaking of a coup d’état organized by the U.S., this is not speculation, but proven fact. Not only have a number of statements been made by high-ranking U.S. officials since the war we are experiencing today, but going back to 2014, we find direct evidence of this. The evidence, which is a recording of a telephone conversation intercepted and distributed by the Russian secret services: a conversation between Victoria Nuland, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, and Jeffrey Ross Pyatt, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine in 2014. The recording shows Nuland and Pyatt allocating positions in the new Ukrainian government and directly incriminates U.S. power in the coup d’etat.

Russia’s opponents want to question the authenticity of the recording, but this is impossible because Victoria Nuland made a serious mistake—instead of firmly denying the veracity of the recording, in which the latter, by the way, insults the European Union, Nuland formally apologized for the insults she made to the EU and thus confirmed the authenticity of the recorded conversation.

Furthermore, on the non-governmental side, the much-maligned George Soros said in an interview with CNN in late May 2014 that his foundation’s office in Ukraine “played an important role in the events currently taking place in Ukraine.”

The coups d’état and the establishment of an “anti-Russia” in Ukraine by the United States could not but provoke strategic countermeasures from the Russian Federation—countermeasures known to us since 2014 and which reached their climax in February 2022.

Sabotaging the Spectacle of the Minsk Agreements

Compliance with the Minsk agreements, which would have established a lasting peace in Ukraine, would have been a real geopolitical disaster for the United States, with far-reaching detrimental economic consequences stemming from the latter. The failure of the arrangements undertaken was, therefore, a vital element for the American, officially absent, side.

From 2015 to 2022, in the frame of the Normandy format, neither Paris nor Berlin succeeded in pressuring Kiev to grant Donbass autonomy and amnesty. And this for a simple reason: The new president of Ukraine, oligarch Petro Poroshenko, who came to power as a result of the 2014 coup d’etat, was represented at the talks by the deep-seated interests of the United States—interests that fit well with those of the new Ukrainian elite.

However, as we will see later, such pressure was not at all part of the West’s plan.

It was clear that the Ukrainian ultranationalist and neo-Nazi movements—the “armed fist” of the American coup d’etat in Victoria Nuland—were to be neutralized immediately, if the Minsk agreements were to be respected. Whereas Dmitry Yarosh, leader of the ultra-nationalist paramilitary organization Right Sector, explicitly stated that he rejected the Minsk agreements, which he considered a violation of Ukraine’s constitution, and intended to continue the armed struggle.

This position of the exponentially growing ultranationalist forces suited President Poroshenko, the U.S., and their Western partners.

There is a very recent video, dated November 2022, in which former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko talks about the 2015 Minsk agreements. He bluntly admits:

“I believe that the Minsk agreements were a skillfully written document. I needed the Minsk agreements in order to get at least four and a half years to form the Ukrainian armed forces, build the Ukrainian economy, and train the Ukrainian military together with NATO to create the best armed forces in eastern Europe that would be trained according to NATO standards.”

According to this statement by a key figure in the Minsk agreements, the true goals of the negotiations had nothing to do with what was advertised—a search for a modus vivendi—but were solely to gain the time needed to prepare for full-scale war.

And the much-talked-about recent interview given to Die Zeit by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel is just an echo of the truth announced by Poroshenko and a further confirmation of what the Western public has turned a blind eye to and, indeed, continues to turn a blind eye to. And it would be extremely short-sighted to separate these revelations from Merkel’s “guarantees” given to President Yanukovych in 2014, which were one of the fundamental factors in the implementation of the coup d’état in Ukraine.

The Minsk agreements were, in fact, only a show, a stage-performance, and were de facto sabotaged even before they were initiated.

Sabotage of the Nord Streams

Rumors circulated in the Western community about the mastermind behind the explosions on Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic Sea. Even disregarding the ill-considered statements of recent months by various American officials, which significantly incriminate the latter, we have to go back years to state—the sabotage of supplies to the European Union by Russia is by no means part of hasty operations “in the heat of battle” of the current war, but is quite within the framework of calculated, strategic long-term goals of American geopolitics.

Back in a 2014 television interview, Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state (2005-2009), acknowledged the strategic importance of redirecting gas and oil supplies to Europe from Russia to America by neutralizing Russian pipelines: “…in the long term we just want to change the structure of [the EU’s] energy dependence. Make it more dependent on the North American energy platform, on the excellent abundance of oil and gas found in North America.”

With the explosion of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, the goal has finally been achieved.

I will leave it to you to decide whether it is a coincidence or not that this statement by the head of the US foreign policy department took place in the year of the US-organized coup in Ukraine—the year of Washington’s takeover of Ukrainian power, which led to a total reorientation of Ukrainian policy, the consequences of which we are now witnessing.

It is quite obvious that, on the one hand, such destruction of the energy infrastructure was impossible in peacetime, when no propaganda could allow the slightest doubt in the identification of the sole culprit and beneficiary of such an unprecedented event. On the other hand, that the decommissioning of the Russian pipelines immediately changes the structure of European energy dependence and redirects it directly toward the North American energy platform, given the existing saturation of Gulf energy demand.

American corporate power finally has access to the large European energy market and, at the same time, the possibility to regulate the production costs of the old continent’s competitive industrial sectors.

A Shot in the Foot

The facts of economic reality are stubborn. For decades, one of the foundations of European industrial companies’ competitiveness in the global market against their direct competitors was energy supplied by Russia at low prices and secured by long-term contracts.

The voluntary refusal by today’s European leaders of access to this cheap energy makes the meaning of the expression “shoot yourself in the foot” quite appropriate for the situation in which EU industry finds itself in the short and medium term, as well as in the long term, unless the relevant policy undergoes a radical change in its vector.

One of the “side effects” of the United States’ energy hunger for Europe will be the partial deindustrialization of the EU, which will directly contribute to the new American dream of reindustrializing a country that has been in decline since the 1970s, to which energy-intensive European companies, which can no longer sustain their activities at their usual level while staying in Europe, will contribute by seeking new ways to develop on the American continent, which will keep energy access prices at a relatively moderate level.

By September 2022, the cost of production of industrial goods in Germany jumped by 45.8%, a record high since 1949, the year the German Federal Statistical Office began its statistical studies. And this trend will only inevitably continue.

Moreover, the German government’s persistent brakes in recent years on virtually all agreements on military-industrial cooperation between France and Germany, which could have led to a significant development of an autonomous European defense industry, testify beyond any doubt to the political dominance of the United States over Germany. And Berlin’s statement at the beginning of the war in Ukraine about an unprecedented order for American armaments only further confirms the above.

Even before the outbreak of the armed confrontation in Ukraine, this dominance had led to several additional major American successes, which include a significant weakening of European competitiveness in armaments, an expansion of the market for American military industry and, above all, the neutralization of the danger of creating a truly autonomous European defense block outside NATO, previously discussed at EU level.

However, despite undeniable successes in the process of weakening the economy of a European competitor, the American Democratic Party, historically a supporter of achieving goals through armed conflict, made a strategic mistake by refusing to follow the recommendations of Donald Trump for the need to level relations and make peace with a traditional adversary, which is Russia, in order to ensure that the latter does not become a significant (energy and food) pillar in relation to the main enemy of the United States—China—at a time when a big clash with the latter will take place.

At the end of the conflict in Ukraine, the third great war of the American dollar, there will inevitably be a fourth, with China, the exact nature of which we have yet to discover.

Fourth Great Dollar War

But despite China’s maintenance of the status quo with regard to Russian actions in Ukraine, due to direct threats of serious sanctions coming from the collective West led by the United States, and the latter making a bitter statement of fact—the Sino-Russian alliance has remained unshaken.

As in the case of the confrontation in Ukraine and the previously mentioned wars, it is important to note the facts that, on the one hand, the United States’ war against China is inevitable, and, on the other hand—the real reasons for the future war are again and in many ways the desire of China to evade the petrodollar system—which is “classic” and absolute casus belli from Washington’s point of view.

There are a number of facts that put the Americans in need to act tough, of which we can name the main ones:

China initiated crude oil purchases from Iran in 2012, paying in yuan. From Iran, whose oil contracts have already been denominated in euros since 2016, with a rejection of the U.S. dollar.

In 2015, China launched futures—oil futures contracts at the Shanghai Futures Exchange—whose main purpose is to carry out transactions through RMB swaps between Russia and China and between Iran and China—which is a new strategic element of Chinese geopolitics.

In 2017, China, with its 8.4 million barrels per day of crude oil imports, became the world’s largest importer of crude oil and, at the same time, signed an agreement with the Russian Central Bank aimed at buying Russian oil in Chinese currency.

In 2022, as we saw earlier, the PRC is entering into an agreement with Saudi Arabia to buy oil also in renminbi.

And these processes, let me remind you, are taking place in parallel with the slow but progressive getting rid of U.S. Treasury bonds, the number of which in China has fallen by ¼ over the past 7 years.

An analysis of the initiatives taken by the Celestial Empire in foreign economic policy over the last decade clearly demonstrates the exponentially increasing threat to the viability of the current U.S. economic model. Only radical measures taken by the United States authorities against the Chinese adversary can stop, or at least try to slow down, the process of undermining the foundations of the world economy built by America since the end of World War II.

In this logic, a Chinese armed attack on Taiwan is an absolutely necessary precedent for the United States. Everything will be done to ensure that this Chinese initiative takes place.

Nevertheless, let us be realistic—the American state is aware that in the short term, in the coming years, China does not pose a great danger to their economy, because, on the one hand, the internationalization of the Chinese currency is very slow—its weight in world payments is less than 4%, which is negligible, given the weight of Chinese GDP. The same applies to the share of the renminbi in global official reserves, which remains very low, less than 3%, with negligible progression.

On the other hand, given the gigantic amounts of U.S. Treasuries accumulated by China’s central bank, getting rid of them will take a considerable amount of time. Not to mention that in the short to medium term, the markets offer no reliable alternative to U.S. Treasuries in terms of liquidity.

An Existential Threat

At the same time, the Americans are well aware that the developing changes pose a real, existential threat in the long run and, considering the experience of the last decades, it is inconceivable that the US would not take preventive strike measures against the originator of the new threat.

America’s long-standing work in Ukraine to establish there a Russophobic ultranationalist political regime and to develop all the elements necessary to place Russia in a situation of non-combatability is the same provocative work carried out by the United States in Southeast Asia against Taiwan, sabotaging the hopes of peaceful reunification under Beijing’s “One China” policy. An armed Chinese attack on Taiwan would itself be a strategic strike by the United States.

The scenario is broadly similar to that of sabotaging the Minsk-II agreements, which was a key element that provoked the so-called “unjustified Russian aggression.”

Using Taiwan as a tool, the provocation of “unjustified aggression” by China will have as its main goal the launching of massive sanctions by the collective West, in order to collapse the economy of the main American competitor. Just as it did with Ukraine as a tool that has already shaken the economy of the second largest U.S. competitor, the European Union, by depriving its industry of Russian energy supplies.

One of the key elements of the planned sanctions will clearly not be a synchronized full-scale “counterattack” by the transatlantic coalition, given the growing weakening of the old Europe, too exhausted by the Ukraine conflict and extremely dependent on Sino-European economic ties, but more likely will be an energy blockade of China, led directly by the United States, by cutting off the Malacca Straits, on which China depends for 2/3 of its oil and LNG imports.

Through the conflict in Ukraine, the West’s collective sanctions against Russia were to play a key role in the projected collapse of the Russian economy, and consequently the latter’s inability to afford significant support for its Asian strategic partner in the coming conflict, by supplying China with energy by land under threat of new anti-Russian sanctions, which an economy on its knees cannot withstand.

The initial plan, which was supposed to work against Russia in a few months, failed completely because of a number of factors demonstrated by the first months of the armed conflict in Ukraine. As a consequence, U.S. actions have been fundamentally revised and shifted to a strategy of long-term depletion.

U.S. War against China Coming Soon?

Being now in the active phase of the confrontation against China’s energy, military, and food “rear base,” that is Russia, key actions against China must be initiated in the short to medium term—before the Russians recover from the expected weakening caused by the Special Military Operation.

However, even disregarding the unforeseen element of maintaining Russian economic resilience to sanctions shock and despite Washington’s bellicose rhetoric about concentrating efforts to fight simultaneously on two fronts—against Russia and China—an analysis of U.S. defense planning demonstrates the practical impossibility of the latter for structural reasons.

In 2015, the Pentagon revised its doctrine of being able to fight two major wars simultaneously, which had dominated the Cold War years and up to the year in question, in favor of concentrating resources to ensure its victory in one major conflict.

Moreover, since the beginning of the armed clash in Ukraine, the U.S. has invested more than $20 billion to maintain this war and has sent 20,000 soldiers to Europe in addition to the contingent already present on the old continent. Whereas, for supporting Taiwan against China, U.S. senators are only discussing aid of up to $10 billion over the next 5 years. That is, aid is half the amount that Ukraine received during the first 8 months of the war.

For these reasons, it is highly unlikely that an armed conflict in the Asia-Pacific region on the U.S. side will begin before the war in Ukraine is completely over. Unless China takes the initiative, aware of the punctual military weakening of its rival.

Meanwhile, given the Sino-Russian synergy reflected in the Chinese formula “partnership with Russia has no borders,” the desire to “neutralize” Russia before a war with China is part and parcel of the new doctrine dominating the U.S. armed forces in recent years.

Only an extremely aggressive U.S. foreign policy, backed by world military and monetary domination, allows the United States to occupy its current position.

Any other state which had committed even a fraction of the crimes listed would be classified by the “international community” gathered around the United States as a criminal, pariah state, and would be subject to a “legal” embargo more serious than that of North Korea, Iran and Cuba combined.

Ukraine as a Throwaway Commodity

One of the main reasons that the course of events was not oriented toward the initiation of Russian-Ukrainian hostilities years earlier, back under Barack Obama’s presidency, between 2014 and 2017, lies in the White House’s orientation line during this period, which was based on the postulate—domination of Ukraine against Russia is not an existential element for the United States.

Since Obama’s time, U.S. policy has undergone changes; but despite various declarations, its orientation toward Ukraine has not changed at all.

Ukraine is used only as a throwaway commodity to weaken Russian power, as a NATO mercenary country, at least for the period of future confrontation with China; and, at the same time, to minimize economic relations between Russia and Europe.

When the moment arrives at which the U.S. government deems that the “return on investment” in the conflict in Ukraine is already sufficient, or when it realizes that the probability of reaching the threshold of investment satisfaction is too low, the Kiev regime will be abandoned—abandoned in the same way that the Ghani regime in Afghanistan was abandoned, and the Kurds in Iraq and Syria were abandoned after partially fulfilling the missions entrusted to them by America, contrary to the promise of a Kurdish state—a promise that obligated only those who listened to it.

For these reasons, and given the fact that despite the pressure of unprecedented Western sanctions, Russia continues to maintain both healthy state finances, an insignificant public debt, a trade surplus, and no budget deficit—the confrontation in Ukraine cannot but be won by Russia, in one form or another.

That said, victory for the Russian Federation is an existential element; for the United States, as already mentioned, it is not.

Postscript

The actions of the United States in recent decades, and those inevitably to come, are an expression of capitalism in its pure and therefore inevitably malignant state, the consequence of which is to provoke dangerous tectonic shifts, fundamental failures and an existential threat to a world market economy whose primary goal is to find equilibrium; an expression of capitalism extremely distant from the liberal tenets of Adam Smith and his somewhat naive ideas about the regulation of the capitalist system by the market.

Successive American governments, armed with the fist of the “deep state,” corporate power, have not only justified the claims of Karl Marx, their much-hated enemy, but also entirely those of Fernand Braudel, for whom capitalism is a quest to get rid of the limitations of competition, to limit transparency and to establish monopolies, which can only be achieved with the direct complicity of the state.

Not being a supporter of either socialist or communist theories, but observing the current American economic model, however, it is hard for me not to credit their approach to capitalism for being correct.

The confrontation in Ukraine is only a demonstration of an intermediate stage of the struggle of the United States for its survival in its present state, inconceivable without the preservation and expansion of monopolies and unipolar world domination.

At this stage of the confrontation several main statements can be made.

The maximum deterioration of relations between Russia and the European Union and, as a consequence, the considerable economic weakening of the direct competitor, which the latter is, is a great achievement of the United States.

However, U.S. strategy has been completely shaken by two interrelated fundamental unforeseen factors that are irreversibly changing the face of the world: First, the Russian Federation has unexpectedly shown itself incomparably more resilient than expected to economic pressures from the collective West and has by no means experienced the highly significant and hastily announced economic downturn planned by its officials.

As a result, Russia was not neutralized in the framework of the coming US conflict with China, a major setback that led to a second cardinal contingency: The United States proved unable to unite the non-Western world around itself in its anti-Russian project, despite exercising unprecedented pressure.

The events after February 24, 2022 had the opposite effect—they accelerated the destruction of the unipolar world model of recent history by Russia’s success in confronting the collective West, leading to great differentiations and the adoption of positions, explicit or implicit, by the largest non-Western players in the world economy, except Japan and South Korea, the traditional satellites of American policy—differentiations and positions that cement the foundations of a new multipolar world.

This second major defeat poses an existential threat to the United States, because in the long term it puts in immediate danger the preservation of world domination by the American monetary system. The irreversibility of the process makes it inadvisable to substantially revise U.S. strategy toward Ukraine, which could be reflected in an additional significant increase in quantitative and qualitative military and financial support, especially since such an initiative proportionally increases the risks of nuclear strikes on U.S. territory.

The near future will tell us what Washington’s counterstrike will be.


Oleg Nesterenko is President of the Centre de commerce et de l’industrie européen (European Trade and Industry Center), Paris. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.


Featured: The Perpetual War Bond, by Stephen Barnwell; created in 2013.

Iran: The Achievements of the “Resistance Economy”

Many media outlets write about the effectiveness of Iranian drones on the front lines. The official agenda also increasingly speaks of visits by official delegations or interest in interaction in one industry or another. In mid-December, I made a fairly long trip to Iran, where I was able to see the latest achievements of this country, through meetings and in-depth interviews to assess bilateral cooperation and the prospects for further interaction between Russia and Iran.

I will begin with subjective impressions. The last time I was in Iran was in May 2017. In the intervening time, there have been certain changes that are striking. First, the procedure for entering the country has become much easier. It took me ten minutes to get a visa at the airport and pay the fee. It was given on a small piece of paper that was presented at the control window together with my passport. No stamps were put in the passport. Many premium buildings have sprung up in Tehran. High-rise buildings were being built everywhere, especially in the northern district. The subway has been expanded. In fact, a branch line to Imam Khomeini International Airport has been completed, which will make logistics much easier. There is a lot of traffic at peak hours, which is due to the infrastructure of the capital, which was expanded rather chaotically.

As for the protests, about which the Western media write so much and constantly—they simply do not exist. The so-called “hijab crisis,” which occurred after the death of a Kurdish girl, is just another attempt by the West to bring about a color revolution. Indeed, there were attempts at riots in a number of cities, and even protests took place in Tehran. But now everything is quite calm. As for the hijab: In Tehran, you regularly see girls and women with uncovered heads in all kinds of places—in the streets, in cafes, museums and parks, in bazaars and in stores. Of course, no one is allowed into a mosque without a headscarf. But in other public places women walk quite freely and look happy. No one stops them or represses them. I should add that I have seen women not only with blond hair, but also with blue, with Botox-infused lips, tattoos on the palms and necks, and even with face piercings. So, there is nothing wrong with rights and freedoms in Iran.

More sanctions by the West against a number of Iranian officials is a standard political procedure, where the death of a Kurdish girl was just a pretext for intervention. And how many people suffered from police actions in cities in Germany, France, the USA and other Western countries? Who counted the victims of the arbitrary actions of the authorities in the EU? How many people have been innocently convicted by the U.S. judicial system? And yet no one imposes sanctions against these countries because the concept of sovereignty implies non-interference in the affairs of other states. However, Washington and Brussels believe that they are allowed to do so. In general, the West’s strategy towards Iran is aimed at completely changing its political system, and for this purpose any available mechanisms are used to hit the Islamic Republic of Iran with pin-point strikes.

In the context of current events on December 15, 2022 Iran was expelled from the Commission on the Status of Women by the UN Economic and Social Council (28 votes in favor, 8 against, among them—Russia, which questioned the legitimacy of such a decision, 16—abstained). Iranian officials called the procedure nothing short of clownish, noting human rights violations within the United States, especially against the black population. And the EU sanctions against Iran, which Brussels recently imposed “for human rights violations and drone deliveries to Russia,” were assessed as a blatant act of Iranophobia. The Iranian Foreign Ministry protested, adding that the West is following a double standard by turning a blind eye to what is happening in Palestine, and that the EU will face consequences if it continues to hype Iranophobia.

Incidentally, Iran has also imposed retaliatory sanctions against officials and organizations from Britain, the US and the EU, including the media, NGOs and various companies. We can assume that in the future the West will use any pretext for new sanctions. For example, at the beginning of December in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan, the Sunni Imam Moulavi Abdulhaved Rigi was kidnapped and killed by unknown persons. Some Western media are already trying to present this case to show some kind of guilt of the country’s authorities, since the deceased was a Sunni. But everybody suffers from activities of bandits and terrorists (most of which are deliberately created by Western special services for destabilization of the situation in the country), irrespective of religion and social identity. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps recently claimed to have prevented the attempted assassination of Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolkhoda.

Now for the achievements of Iran. According to the Deputy Minister of Road and Urban Development Mohammad Muhammadi, Iran’s civilian aircraft fleet has increased by 77 aircrafts and now consists of 175 airliners.

Iran is also among the top ten steel producing countries. In 2022, the country produced 2.9 million tons in the first ten months. From March to October, the country exported 5.9 million tons, a 30% increase over the same period the previous year.

The capacity of oil terminals is expanding. The Hark oil storage facility, for example, plans to increase volumes to 4.2 million barrels. Exports of minerals and other mining resources from March to November this year reached more than 30 million tons worth $7.8 billion. Exports of petrochemical products increased by 30% and reached 90 million tons. By the way, one of the Iranian catalysts for the petrochemical industry is also supplied to Russia. Iran produces 60 of all 87 necessary types of catalysts.

China alone accounted for 30% of Iran’s foreign trade in 2022. In addition to petrochemical products, China actively buys steel, liquefied gases (propane, butane), methanol, polyethylene, bitumen, alloys, nuts, saffron and leather products. Trade figures with Africa increased by 39%. Even with the U.S., trade is up nearly 15% over 2021, although the overall numbers are lower than they were in 2019. Meanwhile, medicines from the U.S. go to Iran through third countries, particularly the UAE. And from Iran to the U.S., all exports are limited to what passengers buy and bring in. Tehran does not seem to care much about the U.S. market, which is being replaced by other countries.

It should be added that Iran itself follows the principle of economy mokavemati (resistance), the doctrine of which the Supreme Leader of Iran previously presented as a response to pressure from the West. It is based on the principle where the basis of the economy is the social unit; then comes the local level, then the regional and then the national level. The processes of the global economy are the very last concern. This approach allows Iran to rely on its own strength and not be dependent on foreign markets. Judging by the economic boom in the country, this model has turned out to be effective and efficient. Moreover, its goals are the eradication of poverty and the provision of assistance to the poor.

But Iran has made great strides beyond the export of raw materials. In the engineering and maintenance sector, exports rose by 41% to $260 million. In knowledge-intensive products, Iran ranks 15th in the world and leads the region. The country has a total of 8,735 companies in this field and 51 science and technology parks. The budget for research and development is about $80 million. The indicators related to foreign investments in Iran are interesting. For example, this year half of all investments in Iran came from the citizens of Afghanistan. For example, in Khorasan Razavi province the share of Afghan capital is about one billion dollars. This phenomenon is partly connected with the Taliban coming to power in Afghanistan, which forced many businessmen to leave the country. At the same time, a dialogue is now being established with the Taliban government, where bilateral trade and the use of Iran as a transit is an important point in the negotiation process. Earlier, Afghanistan said it was interested in exporting its coal to Iran.

Domestic consumption is also growing. In particular, domestic and commercial gas consumption is expected to grow from 600 million cubic meters per day to 650. This means that the domestic economy is developing, despite external sanctions and pressure. This is confirmed by the abundance of advertising on Iran’s central and regional TV channels—and all the advertised products, with a few exceptions, from household chemicals to motorcycles and cars are locally produced.

Relations with Russia are also actively developing. If five years ago only international relations specialists and experts knew about the EAEU and Eurasian integration, now ordinary newspapers regularly provide information about it. In particular, the Iranian media write that the terms of accession to the free trade zone with the Eurasian Economic Union have been agreed upon. The contract is 150 pages long and includes more than 7500 types of goods and services. Russia is Iran’s main partner in the EAEU with a turnover of more than $1.4 billion. In 2021 Iran’s trade with the EAEU increased by 73% compared with 2020. The creation of an additional railway branch of the North-South transport corridor is being discussed. Although there is also talk of creating a canal that would connect the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf.

In addition to official data, information is leaking out about the intensification of cooperation on other fronts as well. Thus, the U.S. media, citing Israeli intelligence, reported that Iran and Russia are negotiating the training of Iranian sailors and the production of warships in Russia. Previously, Iran had asked China for help with shipbuilding, but Beijing hesitated. The current relationship between Moscow and Tehran is conducive to the widest cooperation, so the chances of this project being realized are great. Incidentally, Admiral Tangsiri, commander of the IRGC naval forces, recently stated that “the United States cannot even imagine what kind of missiles Iran already has.” He added that Iran is the only one with small boats no more than 8 meters long equipped with missiles. This is a reflection of the “swarm strategy” adopted by Iran some fifteen years ago to use small and mobile vessels as well as drones against bulky and large enemy ships. Potential targets for Iran are U.S. aircraft carriers and destroyers in the Persian Gulf.

As for the assessment of a special military operation in Ukraine, Iranians differ in their opinions. And this is due to the lack of awareness of the background of the events that unfolded in Ukraine after the coup d’etat in 2014—although there is a common understanding of the aggressive role of the United States and NATO.

I had a discussion with representatives of scientific, intellectual, and ideological circles in Iran about the Ukrainian conflict. I tried to explain to them the background of the war in Ukraine with a historical and metaphysical context. And when there was a follow-up question as to why this war is not only just for the Russians, but also holy, since Russia does not defend itself as it did in 1812 and 1941, I had to make an additional excursus, for which my interlocutors expressed their gratitude.

The fact is that holy war is translated as jihad, and in this context, for Muslims, their own understanding immediately emerges. First, there are differences between Shiite and Sunni fiqh (religious law). Second, there are also differences between classical and modern Shiite fiqh. But there are also common grounds, for example, in Shi’a and Sunni jihad is also a religious obligation (along with prayer, fasting, hajj, and charity). However, the Shiites have an important caveat that the imam must be of good moral character; without this, jihad would be illegitimate. Both Sunni and Shiite jihad is both defensive and offensive in nature. However, modern Shiite theologians such as Ayatollah Mortada Motahhari and Ayatollah Salehi Najafabadi interpret the ayats to mean that jihad can only be defensive in nature, since we are now in the era of the hidden Imam. But there are reservations here as well. For example, Ayatollah Khomeini pointed out that in addition to the prerogative of the Vilayati Fatih (guardian-type sovereignty held by the supreme leader of Iran for the duration of the hidden Imam), other theologians can also give the right to conduct offensive jihad. But Ayatollah Golpaigani of Qom Seminary argued that offensive jihad is the exclusive prerogative of the impeccable Imam and his authorized representative.

While contemporary Shi’a interpretations of offensive jihad differ, the opinion on defensive jihad is unanimous. Here the permission of the irreproachable Imam is not needed, and it represents a response to an enemy attack against Muslims with the intention of seizing their property and subjugating their lives. In such a case, the obligation to wage defensive jihad falls on all who can fight, regardless of gender or age. This is the context in which the Iranians interpret the special military operation in Ukraine.

With these aspects in mind, we need to have a carefully constructed system of arguments to polemicize with those forces in the Muslim world who promote the thesis that “Russia is not waging a defensive war” and question the justice of its actions. Therefore, we need more explanatory work in this direction—as well as strengthening cooperation in information exchange and jointly countering disinformation and hybrid operations of the West against our countries. And, of course, the Iranian experience of economic development under harsh sanctions will also be useful.


Leonid Savin, is Editor-in-Chief of the Geopolitika.ru Analytical Center, General Director of the Cultural and Territorial Spaces Monitoring and Forecasting Foundation and Head of the International Eurasia Movement Administration. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitika.

Armenia, A Historical Betrayal

This history should never be forgotten. Its roots go back to myths, in it we find Noah, the universal flood, the beginnings of civilization and human culture, Urartu. Many pages of the Bible refer to all of this. Indeed, the southern mountains of the Western Caucasus were the ancestral home of the Armenian people, and very specifically the valleys and mountains where the so-called Artsakh or Upper Karabakh is located today. It is no coincidence that the Shusha Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Ghazanchetsots, was erected by Simon Ter Hakobyan on the remains of an ancient Armenian chapel. Artsakh is not just any region, it is the place where the founding father of the Armenian people, Hayk, decided that his people should settle forever. The mountains of Artsakh are the symbol of the faith of a people who believe in their destiny.

But let us descend from myths and legends to the harsh reality that the Armenian people are experiencing as they see how their precious cradle is being manipulated in a clear attempt to annihilate historical reality. How could it happen that an essential part of Armenia ended up in the hands of Azerbaijan? What were the motivations and circumstances that, after the Bolshevik revolution, led an ancestral Armenian territory to become an integral part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, and to remain part of that country today? Why did a territory that was Christian to the core, an area where Christianity was established from time immemorial—more than three centuries before the appearance of Islam—come to be dominated by Shiite Muslims? What strange events allowed such a thing to happen? Let us analyze the process.

Nagorno-Karabakh (Credit: The Economist).

From the beginning of the Bolshevik revolution, the relationship of the Supreme Soviet with the Islamic peoples of what had been Tsarist Greater Russia was uneasy, difficult to manage, since the Bolshevik propaganda, Marxist and atheist, seemed to produce any results; not even the creation of the new republics seemed to satisfy the national claims of the various Muslim peoples and their particularities. Communism and Islam have never gotten along, Marxism and Koran are antithetical. Atheism is a declared enemy of Islam, because it denies its own existence. But it was not only the profound differences between the Bolshevik government and the different Muslim peoples of the new USSR. For example, some of the Tatar minorities were Shiites, others were not; while the Chechens were radical Sunnis, the Muslims of the upper Volga were not, and therefore their claims were very different.

But let us analyze the process: in 1918 a committee for the Muslim nationalities existing in Soviet Russia was created, a committee that naturally depended on the Narkomnats, and by a series of circumstances Stalin accepted that the majority of that committee would be in the hands of the Tatars, which would mark his future. Obsessed with securing his power, and as was asserting his will, Stalin tried to manipulate the sub-commissioners, not wanting the internal problem of both sides allying against him.

On the other hand, in those very days, the Armenians had just survived the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Turks, so they were very weakened from all points of view, including politically, since even within Lenin’s own circle, it was believed that Armenians would be incapable of carrying on the existence of their own Armenian homeland. It should be pointed out that the recently re-founded Armenian state was economically ruined, defenseless, without an army to defend it, unable to feed its own people, abandoned by the advanced nations, and for all these reasons it was an easy prey for Turkey which sought to put an end to “the Armenian problem” once and for all. It should also be made clear that Kemal Atatürk did not modify Ottoman policy one iota, and although he assured Europe that he wanted a modern and secular Turkey, he also wanted it to be free of Christians and above all of Armenians.

The Democratic Republic of Armenia, independent from the Ottoman Empire since 1918, was by force of circumstances transformed on November 29, 1920 into the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, and from that very moment it did not have the slightest autonomous capacity to carry out a process of regulation of its borders based on its historical reality, but became -as all the other Soviet socialist republics- a bargaining chip for the selfish interests of the Soviet protagonists of the revolution, Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky and the other general secretaries, who, as mentioned above, were carrying out their particular strategy for power, while the socialist utopia remained in the background. Lenin asserted that without power, socialist reality could not be built, which was obvious. Stalin, who at that time was a parvenu without a curriculum vitae, was ready to take the plunge. It is more than demonstrated that he used the Commissariat for the Nationalities as a mere lever to achieve his political ends, and that there was not the least coherence in his decision making, although it was the circumstances that finally made him General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, unbelievably against the resounding will of Lenin, of course also of Trotsky and of the majority of the remaining leaders who at a given moment were coerced and had no alternative but to submit to Stalin, and for that reason almost all of them ended up paying for their indecision or their cowardice with their lives.

Let us see what Trotsky has to say about this, it in his biography of Stalin:

“On November 27, 1919, the 11th Congress of Muslim Communist Organizations of All-Russia and the Peoples of the East was held in Moscow. The Congress was opened by Stalin on behalf of the Central Committee of the Party. Four honorary members were elected: Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev and Stalin. The chairman of the Congress, Sultan-Galiev, proposed that the Congress salute Stalin as “one of those fighters who burn with a flame of hatred against international imperialism.” But it is very characteristic for the gradation of the leaders at that time, that even at this Congress the Sultan-Galiev Report on political revolution in general ended with the salutation: “Long live the Russian Communist Party! Long live its leaders, comrades Lenin and Trotsky!” Even this Congress of the Peoples of the East, held under the immediate leadership of Stalin, did not think it necessary to include Stalin among the leaders of the Party. Stalin was People’s Commissariat of Nationalities from the time of the Revolution until the dissolution of the Commissariat in 1923, when the Soviet Union and the Council of Nationalities of the Central Executive Committee of the U.S.S.S.R. were created. It can be considered firmly established that, at least until May 1919, Stalin did not have much to do with the affairs of the Commissariat. At first, Stalin did not write the editorials of The Life of the Nationalities [Zhizn Natsionalnostei, a weekly newspaper and then a magazine, published from 1918 to 1924]. Then, when the paper began to be published in magazine format, Stalin’s editorials began to appear one issue after another. But Stalin’s literary productivity was not great, and it decreased from year to year. In 1920-1921 we find only two or three articles by him. In 1922, not a single one. By then Stalin had gone over entirely to machine politics.”

In other words, Stalin used the post as Commissar of Nationalities to guarantee his future within the politburo, knowing that until Lenin disappeared nothing was assured. Trotsky dissects in detail Stalin’s personality in that exciting and dramatic stage.

On August 10, 1920, the Treaty of Sèvres was signed in Sèvres, France, in the presence of the Turkish representatives. It was the logical consequence of the Treaty of Versailles, in which the Ottoman Empire, still ruled by Sultan Mehmed VI, accepted the de facto situation, and lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Arabia, Iraq, while Asia Minor was cut up according to the demanding criteria of the victors. Armenia, in that treaty, put together as Wilsonian Armenia, became a viable state again with the eastern part of Turkey, recomposing in part—and only in part—the historical Armenia. Naturally Atatürk assured his generals that the treaty would not be carried out, and that they would have to fight to the death to change things. He was a pragmatic man and referred exclusively to Asia Minor, to Turkey itself, knowing that its own existence as a country was at stake.

Immediately the Turkish army attacked the territories under French, Italian and Greek influence, as well as those assigned to Armenia. France did not wish to lose more men or invest more resources in a distant war. Italy could not continue either, and Greece even less. The Turks focused on expelling the Armenians from their cities, until the situation became impossible for the Armenian government, with no funds, no credit, hardly any soldiers, no weapons, although it is true that the British gave some military aid.

Atatürk, who was a good strategist, had made a pact with the SSR of Azerbaijan, which he considered Turkish, and for that reason in June 1920 the Democratic Republic of Armenia was forced to declare a costly truce with the Azeris, since the Turkish army was besieging them and driving them to exhaustion, becoming at that time the SSR of Armenia. It was the overwhelming situation which forced the Armenian government to sign peace with the Azeris, having to cede Zangezur and Nagorno-Karabakh to them, besides recognizing their dominion in Nakhchivan.

But Atatürk’s Turks kept up the war pressure on a practically exhausted Armenia, unarmed, without ammunition, without resources, without a real army that could defend its borders. It simply had no one to turn to. There were no resources, much less financial; no provisions, not for the weak Armenian army, not even for the starving and impoverished civilians. Armenian children continued to die of starvation, without hospitals, without medicine. That is why the Turks took advantage of the situation, the extreme state of the Armenian state, and entered Alexandroupolis, forcing peace.

Let us analyze the circumstances. A few days later, in fact four days later, on December 2, 1920, the Treaty of Alexandropol was signed between the recently created Armenian SSR and Turkey and what is today Gyumri, the beautiful city that during Tsarist Russia had been christened as Alexandropol. Supposedly this treaty was an agreement to end the Turkish-Armenian war, and it dismantled the Treaty of Sèvres, since Turkey demanded Armenia’s renunciation of all the territory that before the Great War had belonged to the Ottoman Empire, besides forcing it to recognize the independence of Nakhchivan.

A few months later, in mid-March 1921, within the framework of the Treaty of Moscow, Lenin decided to reach an agreement with the Great National Assembly of Turkey, whose undisputed leader was now Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the victor of Gallipoli, the only Turkish leader who could face the victors of the Great War on equal terms. It must be emphasized that neither the USSR nor the Republic of Turkey yet existed. The “Turkey” of that time was that of the National Pact, according to the resolution adopted by the Ottoman parliament on January 28, 1920. It should be noted that the northeastern borders of Turkey and those of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan were defined without the participation of Armenian and Georgian representatives, while the interests of Azerbaijan were well represented by Turkey, which considered the Azeris as Turkish allies in Atatürk’s Pan-Turkist policy. Therefore, in the Treaty of Moscow it was unilaterally decided that the Kars Oblast would be assigned to Turkey, and at the request of the Turkish leader the autonomous region of Nakhichevan was also created under the protection of Azerbaijan. In compensation, at the demand of Russia, supposedly at the will and discretion of Lenin, Turkey ceded Batumi and the adjacent area to Georgia, and in such a way that the Armenians lost an essential part of their territory, and above all they were deprived of the vital possibility of having an exit to the Black Sea, that is to say, a limited and dependent Armenia was left for strategic purposes, while the Turks guaranteed their relationship based on stability with the future USSR.

At the same time, the 10th Congress of the Communist Party was taking place, where decisions of great importance were taken:

“Every group, fraction or tendency within the Party was suppressed, tendencies that arose as a consequence of the post-war crisis. Everyone had to accept the official orthodoxy under penalty of being expelled. The aim was to achieve loyalty and uniformity. Authority was concentrated in the central organs of the Party. The idea was Lenin’s and was supported by the entire Bolshevik leadership.

“In order to achieve strict discipline within the Party and in all Soviet activity and to attain the highest degree of unity possible with the suppression of all factionalism, the Congress grants the Central Committee full powers in the case or cases of any breach produced in discipline by resurgence or toleration of factionalism, to apply all measures of Party sanction, including expulsion.”

Galiev and Stalin openly confronted each other during the congress. The false, impossible friendship between the two leaders was over, and both were well aware of it. Stalin branded as reactionary the proposal that the Islamic autonomous territories should be incorporated into the Soviet Union as independent republics—in fact the claim of the Muslims not to be linked to the USSR, since Galiev was in fact very suspicious about what the future would hold for the Soviet republics, and feared that Islam would be diluted in the Marxist atheism of the Bolsheviks. Time proved him right.

Recent history has not been consistent with historical reality. Barely three months later, on July 5, 1921, Stalin’s boundless ambition prevailed. It should be remembered that it was Stalin who, without any grounds or historical basis, unilaterally, capriciously, dictatorially, decided to create the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) and transfer it to the newly created Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic without any justification for his decision. Why did he carry out such an incoherent act? He was well aware of what could happen with that capricious and absurd decision.

It should be emphasized that at that time Stalin held the post of People’s Commissariat for Nationalities, (Narodny Komissariat po delam natsionálnostei, or Narkomnats). Researcher Stephen Blank maintains that this commissariat was created by the Bolsheviks to control the participation of those non-Russian ethnic groups, supposedly to give voice to the minorities, which were politically grouped in sub-commissariats for each of them: Jewish, Georgian, Armenian, Azeri or Tatar, Latvian, Polish, Buryat, Lithuanian, Estonian, and many others. In reality, what mattered to Stalin was how he could use his strategic position to climb politically and establish himself in power. For Levon Chorbajian, “the creation of Nagorno-Karabakh” was a challenge to history. Stalin, who knew very well the bitterness between Turks and Azeris on the one hand, and Armenians on the other, bet on the former “for political convenience,” that is to say within the context of Soviet-Turkish cooperation, trying to keep the influence of the Bolsheviks in the Caucasus.

Both Stalin and Kemal Atatürk were urged to resolve the burning issue of the South Caucasus, an open ulcer that bothered and harmed both sides, and which generated continuous frictions. For Stalin it was not an unknown or very distant issue; on the contrary, it was something close to him, something he had known well since his youth. No one had to explain to him about the Caucasus and its peculiarities, nor about what had just happened with the Armenians for whom he had never felt sympathy. In Georgia the Armenians had a reputation for being pragmatic people, ambitious, businessmen and good merchants; they were not empathetic with their hosts the Georgians. In Azerbaijan the same thing happened to them. In Baku they ran the main oil companies, import and export warehouses, financial institutions. They did not bother about being nice.

On the other hand, Atatürk had too many open fronts, including the very future of Turkey as a country; and Stalin was also playing for his political prestige—in short to be or not to be. It was evident to the unstable Bolshevik government that Lenin’s distrust of Stalin had already begun. Even so, Lenin allowed Stalin and Atatürk to reach an agreement and take the decision to modify and adjust the Treaty of Moscow in a new agreement to be concluded in one of the towns with the largest Armenian population eliminated during the genocide: the Treaty of Kars, to be signed on October 13, 1921, an agreement that would tie up and finalize all pending issues, especially the borders of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Not even three months had passed since the unexpected cession of Upper Karabakh to Azerbaijan, which the Armenian government hoped to reverse and return to the previous situation.

In the new Treaty of Kars, the Georgians were content with the port of Batumi, not because of political sense, nor because of the Bolsheviks’ responsibility towards Georgia, but because Stalin had his own commitments. To the Azeris, Stalin—it had been a personal decision because the commissar of nationalities did not agree on anything—had granted Upper Karabakh, and also Nakhichevan, so the Azeris had nothing to object to, and besides, it was the Turks who were pressing to sign such an agreement.

On the other hand, everyone was well aware that at that very moment razzias and pogroms were being carried out in Baku and all the eastern part of Azerbaijan to eliminate the Armenians and their strong interests in the oil market with Europe. It was not something concealed—that the Turks wanted to annihilate not only the Armenian population in Turkey itself, but also in those nearby countries where Turkish influence was decisive, as was the case of Azerbaijan. The relationship between Istanbul and Baku was already akin to colonialism. But at that time the British, who had troops stationed in the Caucasus, looked the other way, among other things because the Bolsheviks, led by Stalin, allowed all this. There were too many economic and political interests involved.

The situation needs to be told in detail. From the very moment Stalin awarded Upper Karabakh to the Azeris—to their surprise since they were not expecting the present size—the latter decided to carry out an ethnic and cultural cleansing of the oblast. The Armenians protested the decision as incoherent, unjust and sectarian. It was futile. At that time the strong relationship of common interests between the Tatar leader Mirza Sultan-Galiev and Joseph Stalin prevented the incomprehensible decision from being carried out. Both of them needed each other politically; their relationship was based on a false friendship. In reality they were two strong personalities who aspired to achieve their goals at any cost.

However, the pogroms against the Armenian population of Upper Karabakh, the destruction of churches, monasteries, khachkars, of any Armenian vestige existing in the ancestral settlement, were on-going. In spite of this, the stubborn reality of the facts could not be dismissed, since near ninety percent of the population settled in the valleys and mountains of the Upper Karabakh was of Armenian origin, all of them with deep roots that came from many centuries and millennia, in which the Armenians had modeled the hard landscape of what for them was their precious Artsakh. A harsh and difficult land; unkind, yet for them it signified the roots of their ancestral homeland, the place from which Hayk’s descendants came.

On the other hand, the Azerbaijani authorities found it unfeasible to move the Azerbaijani population there and force them to settle, although in certain places of Artsakh there were occasional Azeri settlements representing about 15 percent of the population. Among other reasons, the Azeris moved there considered it a punishment, because a deep knowledge based on hundreds of generations was necessary to survive and prosper in those harsh mountains of the southern Western Caucasus.

But the Armenians resisted pogroms and threats, political coercion, attempts at physical elimination, the destruction of their cultural references. If a hermitage or a monastery was demolished, the inhabitants raised it again, showing a strong will to remain. When the Azerbaijanis decided to destroy even the stones of the resulting ruins, the Armenians returned to the old quarries to carve the necessary stones. The elders remembered even the smallest ornamental and symbolic details of their monasteries and churches, and the skilled stonemasons patiently rebuilt what had been demolished and turned to dust, in an attempt to destroy and change the true history.

It should be remembered that the policy agreed to between Galiev and Stalin was one of selective application of anti-religious propaganda. For Galiev, in those days apparently a very close and loyal friend and protégé of Stalin, who cunningly used him in his service, the religion professed by the Armenians was only a demonstration against the interests of the Bolshevik party, while the Islam of the Tartars—their Islam—was nothing other than the expression of the will of Almighty God.

In the background, Galiev’s political ambition in those days was the creation of a great Tatar-Baskir republic in which Christian Armenia had no place. His secret, unspoken will was to finish what the Ottoman Turks had attempted: the definitive elimination, the disappearance, the expulsion of every last Armenian from the Armenia that had been allotted to them—in the end barely twenty percent of Wilsonian Armenia, of which neither Galiev, nor the administration of the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, nor Stalin himself wanted to know anything about.

We say here that the Wilsonian Armenia contained in the Treaty of Sèvres remains intact—intact, complete, no matter how much people try to throw dirt on it, no matter how much they try to erase it from memory, no matter how many intermediate treaties have been signed—for the simple reason that that process was closed falsely. The political representatives of the Armenian people did not sign the Treaty of Lausanne in which an attempt was made to hastily modify the previous Treaty of Sèvres, without the necessary valid agreements, which did include precisely everything agreed upon and signed, including by the authorized representatives of the State of Turkey.

As for the Armenian participation in the Treaty of Moscow, it was null and void; and in the Treaty of Kars, the Armenian representatives were coerced and forced to sign it. However, two years later, in 1923, Galiev was tried and convicted for nationalist deviationism, and although Stalin carried out a series of purges against the Bashkir and Tatar followers of Galiev, he did not want to change his decision to award Upper Karabakh to the Azeris. In 1940 Galiev’s drama ended when he was shot in Moscow on Stalin’s orders, like the vast majority of those who opposed him for whatever reason. However, an essential matter, such as the allocation of an essential part of the historical Armenian territory, such as the Upper Karabakh to Azerbaijan, was not annulled, in spite of energetic Armenian protests.

Many years later—an eternity for the great majority of the peoples subjugated under the USSR—in 1991, the USSR was dissolved and, like all the other republics that made it up, the Soviet Muslim republics of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were transformed into independent republics, as had been Galiev’s intention seventy years earlier. Within the current Russian Federation itself, we still find the Muslim republics of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachai-Cherkessia, which had no other choice, or which for their own reasons preferred to remain linked to Russia. In spite of everything, Galiev was not wrong. However, against common sense and logic, producing terrible damage to two peoples who should bury their quarrels forever, Stalin’s spurious decision is still remains, defying historical justice, like a festering ulcer that will only heal definitively with determination and intelligence.


G.H. Guarch is one of the leading writers of historical novels in Spanish. He received the 1997 Blasco Ibáñez Narrative Award for his novel, Las puertas del paraíso [The Gates of Paradise], and in 2007, he received the prestigious AGBU Garbis Papazian Award, for his trilogy of novels about the Armenian genocide: El árbol armenio [The Armenian Tree], The Armenian Testament, and La montaña blanca [The White Mountain]. He has recently been awarded the Movses Khorenatsi Medal, the highest cultural distinction in Armenia. [This article appears through the kind courtesy of El Manifesto].


Featured: Church of Varazgom.

What Ukraine Tells Us about the Coming War

At the end of 2021, Bernard Wicht published Vers l’autodéfense : le défi des guerres internes (Towards Self-Defense: The Challenge of Internal Wars). His reflections remain highly topical, despite the recent return—apparently—of “inter-state” conflicts. We asked him a few questions in order to better understand the new front lines.

In his review of this book, the philosopher Eric Werner stressed the most worrying aspect of war in the 21st century—its irruption into the internal space of societies, its transformation into a war of “all against all,” without limits and without rules. As a historian and strategist, Wicht “does not content himself with describing the transformations in question, but links them to the overall evolution of our societies, showing that they are the consequence of more profound upheavals.”

We are now direct witnesses of these deep-seated upheavals, on a daily basis. Since the publication of his book, events of tectonic proportions have occurred. We thought it would be useful to take stock of the spirit and modalities of self-defense at a time when “conventional” warfare between armed forces is returning. [This interview is conducted by Laurent Schang, who runs the publishing house Éditions Polémarque, in Nancy, France, and Swiss-based Slobodan Despot, who publishes the magazine Antipresse.

A huge thank-you to Arnaud Imatz and Jean-Cyrille Godefroy, who made it all possible.

In the current scientific literature on post-9/11 armed conflicts in general, and on the war against the Islamic State in particular, it is customary to draw a more or less explicit line between the protagonists involved. This principle of distinction is based on the presupposition that contemporary conflicts are between two sides, one of which is good and the other bad by default. This moralization of the study of conflicts, which is original on the scale of the history of war, or more precisely on the scale of the ways in which so-called “Western” nations think about war, nevertheless poses a number of theoretical problems. This tendency is detrimental to the study of war on the one hand, and to the development of an appropriate response on the other (Olivier Entraygues, Regards sur la guerre: L’école de la défaite—Views on the war: The School of Defeat).

Laurent Schang and Slobodan Despot (LS-SD): First, a necessary preliminary question. In a context of almost complete disinformation, on both sides, is it possible to think of deciphering the military operations in progress?

Bernard Wicht (BW): If one day we manage to arrive at the difference, the war in Ukraine will undoubtedly be taught first as the greatest maneuver of disinformation ever carried out in the history of the art of war. Let’s recall in this regard that since the First Iraq War (1990-1991), disinformation has been an integral part of the strategy implemented by the United States and its Western allies.

Bernard Wicht.

On that occasion, it was the case of the incubators of the maternity hospital in Kuwait City, which was given to the media. These incubators were allegedly disconnected by Iraqi soldiers when they invaded Kuwait, causing the death of the newborns who were in them. It was the post-conflict investigation of a team of Danish journalists that exposed the lie—the hospital in Kuwait City does not have a maternity ward and women do not go to give birth there. In addition, the young woman who denounced this apparent war crime before the UN authorities in New York turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington, a student for several years at an American university. For Washington strategists, the aim of the maneuver was then to provoke an “emotional shock” within the international community, making it unavoidable to give a UN mandate for the military liberation of Kuwait.

Then, in 2002, before the outbreak of the Second Iraq War, the famous “proof” of the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein possessed was brandished before the same UN bodies, in the form of a small vial, by the American Secretary of State at the time, the former Chief of Staff of the American army, General Colin Powell. Again, the aim was to convince the world of the grave danger posed by Iraq to international stability. Up to now, these weapons of mass destruction have not yet been discovered.

This strategy of disinformation is currently being pursued on a global scale, mainly by the European and American media and a handful of experts close to NATO circles. This maneuver has so far succeeded in preventing any coherent analysis of the Ukraine conflict. The Ukrainians keep issuing victory communiqués, while the Russians are very discreet. In other words, in the words of the famous detective (created by Agatha Christie) Hercule Poirot, “in this case everyone is lying,” forcing our man to reconstruct events according to his experience of crime, common sense and basic questions (cui bono, motive, opportunity and means).

In this particular war, we find ourselves in a very similar situation to Poirot, and we are forced to try to reconstruct the course of operations according to some bits of reality and using knowledge of the art of war and military history. This is why we must ask ourselves, beyond the successive narratives that the United States and NATO have sought to impose since the beginning of the conflict (victorious resistance by Ukrainian forces; then Russian war crimes; and, more recently, a vast Ukrainian counter-offensive and retreat by the Russian army), what can be said with a minimum of certainty at this stage:

  • At the end of 2021, on the eve of the outbreak of war, the Ukrainian army was in a state of decay (See insert: “Ukraine, A Failed State?”).
  • In June 2022, senior Ukrainian officials acknowledged that their troops were suffering appalling losses in the face of the firepower of the Russian army, with around 100 dead and 500 wounded per day.
  • On the ground, since the end of the summer, we see a Russian army that does not seem to be in any hurry to end things, taking its time by advancing in some places and retreating in others. Although largely mechanized and with complete control of the sky, it does not launch the great decisive offensive aimed at the capitulation of the Zelensky government. On the contrary, it has allowed the Ukrainians to retake some towns and villages.

Should we therefore accept the official Western narrative of a decisive counter-offensive, thanks to the miracle weapons delivered by NATO (including the mercenaries to serve them) and the general withdrawal of Russian forces unable to react?

This version of the facts could be acceptable if we were facing the Russian army of the 1990s, the one that got bogged down in Chechnya and whose decay was then equivalent to that of the Ukrainian army on the eve of February 24, 2022. It took Vladimir Putin more than a decade to restore an effective and competent military whose qualities were seen during the intervention in Syria alongside Bashar al-Assad, starting in September 2015.

Ukraine, A Failed State?

In his 2017 study, Emmanuel Todd gave a pessimistic diagnosis of Ukraine. He considers it a nation “which has not been able to build itself in a state since its separation from Russia.” He adds that the country is dangerously empty of its population: “above a certain threshold of emigration… in Ukraine, for example… flows can destabilize societies… without being able to predict much more than the appearance of sociological black holes.” In this regard, he evokes “the appearance of a zone of anarchy” and recalls that the massive departure of the Ukrainian middle classes to Europe or Russia, makes it very unlikely that this country will be politically stabilized because, precisely, “the construction of a state is only the institutional crystallization of the supervision of society by its middle classes.”

Since 2014 (Euro Maidan), the Ukrainian political class has disintegrated into internal quarrels between the pro-Russian and the pro-European, leaving the field open to far-right paramilitary organizations.

LS-SD: How would you explain this “game of cat and mouse” that the Russian army is engaged in?

BW: I think that this expression itself gives us the “key” needed to decipher what is happening at the present time:

  • For the record, Russia’s objective is not primarily Ukraine, but to stun and unbalance the EU and NATO (energy crisis=> economic crisis=> inflation, recession. See insert: “The Legacy of Soviet Operational Thinking”).
  • On the other hand, under pressure from his Western mentors, President Zelensky withdrew his February-March peace proposals, so the war can continue until it is exhausted. This is most likely the game that the Russian cat is playing with the Ukrainian mouse. Since a negotiated solution seems impossible today, only the (demographic) exhaustion of Ukraine can guarantee Russia relative long-term “tranquility” on its southwestern border.
  • This cat-and-mouse dialectic could explain the Russian attitude of “not wanting to end it all.” Such a strategic posture is not unheard of in military history.

Let’s explain this with a historical example.

The case of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) is particularly emblematic from this point of view. General Franco, commander-in-chief of the nationalist forces, was considered for a long time, certainly as a very shrewd politician, but as a poor strategist on the ground. Despite the military superiority at his disposal, he made poor operational choices, giving the Republicans the opportunity to carry out desperate counterattacks, prolonging, in this way, the war by at least two years.

Then recently, historical research revealed that these “wrong choices” were made knowingly in order to exhaust the human potential of Republicans in battles of annihilation, where the firepower of the nationalist army could reach its full potential. For example, even in September 1936, rather than seizing Madrid, then very little defended, and thus obtaining the capitulation of the Republican government and ending the war in two months, Franco opted for the capture of Toledo—a city certainly very symbolic, but whose strategic importance was limited. Franco wanted a long war to destroy the demographic pool of the Republicans and thus “cleanse” the conquered regions of populations favorable to the regime in place. He felt that he could not have the stability necessary to rebuild the country if a young and sufficiently large pro-Republican generation survived the war. He said it explicitly in an interview: “In a civil war, it is better to systematically occupy the territory, accompanied by the necessary cleansing, than a rapid rout of the enemy armies that would leave the country infested with adversaries.”

The Legacy of Soviet Operative Thought

Thinking in terms of the “Ukraine” objective is too narrow. It is important to bear in mind that, geographically speaking, Russia is a world country (in the Braudelian sense). Neither Western Europe nor the United States are. Russian strategic thinking unfolds at a macro-spatial and macro-cultural level. It takes up the achievements of its big sister, Soviet strategic thought, which developed and conceptualized what is called the operational level of war, which no longer primarily targets tactical military objectives (troops, equipment, infrastructure, etc.), but the adversary as a system.

Operative thought does not view the enemy from a strictly military angle, unlike the classical Clausewitzian doctrine of destroying enemy armed forces in a great battle of annihilation deemed as the key to victory. Soviet and then Russian operative thinking approaches the adversary from a systemic perspective—it aims at its collapse, not in a great decisive battle, but by actions in depth.

It should be noted that this notion covers different aspects: the term depth does not necessarily refer to the defensive device of the adversary (fortifications, logistics centers, communication networks), but to all political, socio-economic and cultural structures as well as the infrastructures which allow the enemy country to function. Therefore, from the perspective of Russian operative thought, the objective pursued is rarely specific; it is holistic.

Russia is not simply seeking to bring a recalcitrant neighbor to heel, it is the “systemic enemy” that it is aiming at by showing in concrete terms that it is not only ready, but above all capable of waging war, including nuclear war. This systemic enemy is obviously the EU and NATO. Russia was able to become aware at the latest with the war in Syria (from 2011 onwards) of the meagre capacities of Western intervention which, in this case, were limited to sending a few contingents of special forces to support the Kurdish militias. It was able to get a concrete idea of the severe operational limits and the inability of the Atlantic Alliance to conduct a large-scale military operation due to a lack of manpower and logistics.

After that, Vladimir Putin and his staff were able to plan their intervention in Ukraine. But Ukraine is not the main objective of the war; it is only a battlefield, i.e., a place where military operations take place. The Russians have other effects and targets.

As for the effects, Russia wants to demonstrate that it can declare a conventional war and bring it to an end. In the face of this show of force, it must be noted that NATO and the European Union (EU) are militarily “absent.”

LS-SD: Do you think that the Russians also want a long war? Do they really have an interest in it?

BW: Mutatis mutandis, this could be the calculation of the Russians in the face of the war (by proxy) that the United States and NATO are waging against them through the Ukrainians. This war will eventually end because of a lack of fighters. But we must hasten to add that, on the Russian side, everything is not simple either. The shock caused by the partial mobilization of the young generation does not bode well. Indeed, a part of the society of this great country has been tasting for more than twenty years the “delights” of the consumer society—possibility to travel abroad, a certain feeling of freedom linked to the consumerist way of life, etc. For all of them, suddenly, everything has changed. For all them, suddenly, everything has stopped and closed. The specter of war and death now haunts their daily lives—hence the question, is a war that is prolonged and begins to affect the young Russian generations themselves, still acceptable—and especially bearable?

Under these conditions, we can hypothesize that Russia and Ukraine are both at risk of a mutual collapse. A bit like the dialectic between Greece and Rome in antiquity, the antinomy between these two worlds being summarized by the famous formula— Captive Greece took captive her savage conqueror—expressing the fact that, militarily defeated, Greece nevertheless managed to completely Hellenize the Roman world. In this case, a militarily destroyed Ukraine would provoke, as a shock in return, a collapse of Russia because of the sacrifices required or, at least felt, by a part of the Russian people. The recent attacks perpetrated on the Russian soil could reinforce this feeling of sudden fragility?

LS-SD: What is the relevance of your study on self-defense when war is raging on our doorstep?

BW: As its title indicates, my latest little book is devoted to self-defense, which I consider to be the operational concept instead of that of “national defense,” which became obsolete with the decline of the nation-state (marked in particular by the concomitant and exponential return of mercenarism.

[Weberian sociology regarding the formation of the modern state (Max Weber, Norbert Elias, Otto Hintze, Charles Tilly, to name the main ones) focuses on the construction of the state monopoly of coercion—also called monopoly of legitimate violence. It thus highlights the evolution of the military apparatus and its progressive control by state authorities. From the point of view of this conception of state-building, the recourse to mercenaries represents an intermediate stage between the feudal age (characterized by the absence of the state as well as by an anarchic chivalry practicing private warfare—Faustrecht), and the contemporary period with the advent of national armies completely controlled by the state. The current return of mercenarism, via the recourse to private military companies, tends to signal a “return to the past,” and consequently a relative de-construction of the state monopoly. On this subject, see Yves Déloye, Sociologie historique du politique.]

That is why, when war broke out in Ukraine, I thought that my study had also ipso facto become obsolete, for the Russian attack seemed to indicate the great return of conventional war between states and that of regular armies. My working hypothesis, based on “molecular civil war” type threats, with a predominance of non-state actors, such as narco-gangs, narco-terrorists and Islamo-jihadists, seems therefore compromised. As my friend Laurent Schang said to me on the evening of February 24, “this time it’s the end of war 2.0” (referring to sub-war challenges).

LS-SD: Are the Western/European nation-states still capable of waging war?

BW: It is apparent that apart from a few scattered battalions, NATO no longer has any effective military power; that the German army is in an advanced state of decay; that the French army (although still very operational) has only seven days’ worth of ammunition in the event of a high-intensity confrontation, and it is the same with all the rest.

All this means that in Western Europe, the nation-state is no longer capable of “making war,” a function that was its main regalian attribute and the driving force behind its historical construction (according to Charles Tilly’s famous formula, “war makes the State.” (See insert “War as the Driving Force behind Nation-State Construction”).

Today, the nation-state is huddled over its sole penal-carcenary privilege. Moreover, the storm of media disinformation, orchestrated since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, shows that citizenship has lost all substance and that it is no longer important to inform free and responsible men and women, but to keep a populace, always on the verge of a riot or revolt, calm.

War as the Driving Force behind Nation-State Construction

In his approach to state-building, Charles Tilly highlights two factors that contribute to the formation of the state monopoly of legitimate violence—on the one hand, constraint (the capacity to impose order and, above all, to mobilize the human resources necessary to wage war); and, on the other hand, capital (the capacity to finance and equip armies through taxes and the profits of foreign trade).

Thus, Tilly demonstrates that it is the combination of these two factors (hence the title of his work) that determines the type of state organization in force, at a given historical moment—that is, the one capable of “making war.” In our case, from the 16th century onwards, the transformations in the art of war (systematization of the use of firearms, recourse to professional soldiers, exponential growth in the number of soldiers) led to the need for the existing political units in Europe to have sufficient financial resources to be able to “afford” this new military tool.

Hence the institutionalization of taxation, in place of the old local feudal dues. The foundations of the modern nation-state were thus laid (a bureaucracy in charge of levying taxes, a standing army). From then on, the constraint-capital dynamic was set in motion—the more wars succeeded one another in Europe, the more the above-mentioned nation-state phenomenon was strengthened in the geographical areas concerned (the Netherlands, France, Spain, and later on, Prussia and Sweden). And thus we come to the famous formula: war makes the State.

Today, this analysis remains fully relevant for understanding the evolution of military-political units. However, the dynamics described above have changed scale—with globalization, capital is no longer located at the national level. As a consequence, states are emptied of their substance and depend on global finance for their functioning.

Nowadays, at the junction of constraint (mobilization of human resources) and capital (mobilization of financial resources), we no longer find regular armies, but two types of non-state military organizations—on the one hand, mercenarism in the form of private military companies (PMCs), and, on the other hand, armed-paramilitary-criminal groups. The former are generally financed by global capitalism, the latter by the grey economy. On the one hand, there is the combination of Wall Street and PMCs, and on the other, the combination of drug trafficking and various irregular armed groups.

LS-SD: So, your analysis remains relevant?

BW: Vanitas vanitatis… Yes. It is that of a nation-state emptied of its substance by disaster capitalism, of post-national societies subjected to an internal violence that is no longer channeled by the now obsolete state monopoly. If it were still necessary, the war in Ukraine and the decisions it has generated (in particular the sanctions of which we are the first victims) demonstrate that European states are no longer concerned with the well-being of their peoples; that their political elites are sucked in by the dynamics of global capitalism and by those who hold the control levers.

Fernand Braudel said: “Capitalism only triumphs when it identifies itself with the State; when it is the State.” Moreover, its regulation no longer goes through the nation-state (welfare), but through war (welfare => warfare), whether it is internal or against an enemy, designated by the media apparatus (Russia in casu). It is important to keep this reality in mind and to make it the starting point of any effort to understand the mechanisms of the present world—in the framework of global capitalism, the empty-shell nation-state is no longer the subject of war; it is only the theater (the setting, one might say), the geographical space where the confrontations take place. If we try to study it beyond the media noise, the war in Ukraine reveals this new state of affairs.

LS-SD: Yet this conflict marks the return of war between nation-states. So, isn’t it contradictory to say that the nation-state is no longer the subject of war?

BW: No, and this question allows me to clarify my point. Roughly speaking, one can say that until February 24, 2022, many analysts (myself included) considered that infra-state warfare represented the major risk in Europe: 1) confrontations at the molecular level (suicide attacks, machete attacks, shootings); 2) taking place below the technological threshold; 3) involving armed groups, gangs and terrorist cells; 4) financed via drug trafficking and other channels of the grey economy. In other words, a representation that follows directly from Martin van Creveld’s observation: “Modern armaments have become so expensive, so fast, so indiscriminate, so impressive, so cumbersome, and so powerful that they are sure to drive contemporary warfare into dead ends, i.e., into environments where they do not work. (The Transformation of War, p. 52).

As I said at the beginning, the outbreak of the war in Ukraine has shattered this threat picture by making us think of a return to conventional warfare in Europe (battles between regular armies, tank engagements, artillery, aviation and long-range missiles, the specter of the use of tactical nuclear weapons). However, on closer inspection, the reality of combat is not so obvious. Certainly, conventional warfare is well and truly present on the Russian side, with a disciplined, well-equipped, well-commanded army practicing joint maneuver.

On the Ukrainian side, on the other hand, the situation is much more blurred, as the regular conscript army was already in disarray before the conflict broke out, thus forcing the Zelensky government to rely on paramilitary groups, in particular the sinister Azov battalions, whose abuses against the civilian population are now well known. Nevertheless, they are the only real fighting forces on which the “failing” Ukrainian state (let’s be honest and use this term) can rely to confront the Russian offensive. Let us specify that these units are not directly dependent on the Ukrainian state; they have their own mode of financing, based on trafficking and mafia racket of the local populations whom they do not hesitate to use as human shields. However, they were completely decimated in the fighting around Marioupol and the Azovstal steelworks. From that moment on, it must be considered that they ceased to exist as constituted troops.

[It would seem that since the outbreak of the conflict, the Ukrainian authorities have issued eight calls of mobilization to make up for the heavy losses suffered. It is therefore worth asking why the younger generation is still responding to these calls when they are almost certain to die on the battlefield. The following hypothesis can be evoked: Ukrainians from the working classes did not have the possibility to flee abroad for lack of means; in a destroyed country where the economy is exsanguinated, it is not unreasonable to think that a “nice” bonus for the commitment (financed by the dollar) can represent for them a sufficient motive, because the sum thus received makes it possible to guarantee the survival of the remainder of the family. As is often the case in military history, it is the poor who pay the blood tax.]

Today, after the frightening human losses suffered by Ukrainian troops, it is mercenaries who seem to bear the brunt of the fighting—but who, above all, are taking over the predatory role previously played by the Azov battalions. These mercenaries are obviously not paid by Ukraine, which does not have the means, but by the American-NATO military-media complex. Capitalism is at work! We can therefore already say that at the moment, a weakened (failing) state—Ukraine in this case—is no longer able to wage war with its own national forces. It is obliged to call upon external forces that it does not control. We are thus in line with our previous observation on the incapacity of the nation-state to wage war.

[According to the analysis of the available videos, they would be mercenaries of Latin American origin, probably recruited by the services of Erik Prince (founder of the infamous SMP Blackwater). The latter had been called, at the time of the Arab Spring, by the oil-rich monarchies of the Gulf, to provide them with military police battalions, composed of Colombian mercenaries. The latter had no qualms about firing on the crowd, whereas the Tunisian and Egyptian armies had refused to do so in their respective countries. Erik Prince has the necessary connections for this recruitment pool].

Let us digress a little to note how much we find here the scenario of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). This war is a perfect illustration of the above-mentioned developments: the confusion between internal and inter-state warfare; the relative weakness of the states involved; and, as a result, the exponential recourse to private military contractors (mercenaries). For the record, the young European kingdoms (France and Sweden) sought to take advantage of the temporary weakness of the Holy Roman Empire to increase their territory and their influence in Europe. For the latter was entangled in an internal struggle against the Protestant princes who were challenging the imperial power.

First France, then Sweden entered the war to take advantage of this momentary fragility of the Empire. But, neither the king of France nor the king of Sweden had the means for their policy. They did not have sufficient nation-state apparatus to maintain such a war over a long period of time and over vast territories; their bureaucracy, still in its infancy, did not allow them to raise taxes in an efficient and sustainable manner, nor to recruit the necessary troops from among the population.

The Holy Roman Emperor had the same limitations. This is why all of them called upon military entrepreneurs (Wallenstein, Tilly, Saxe-Weimar in particular). In addition to their skills as great captains, these military entrepreneurs were also talented businessmen with the appropriate networks to recruit soldiers and maintain their armies. From then on, and precisely because of the implementation of this business model, this war became a “commercial affair,” largely determined by the interests of these entrepreneurs and their financial backers. It was they who decided on the goals, not so much according to the politico-strategic priorities of the States, but rather according to the “commercial” interests of their respective companies (the armies of mercenaries made available to the European princes in struggle). To do this, and given the insufficiency of public funding, they relied on the first “transnational financial system”—the Bank of Amsterdam. However, no matter how clever the Batavian bankers were, the credits provided were never enough to cover all the needs, especially in terms of logistics. As a result, mercenary armies continued to “live on the land,” looting and pillaging almost all of Central Europe.

The duration of the conflict can also be explained by this reason—in a Europe emerging from feudal economy and entering the so-called “first capitalism,” military entrepreneurship brought really juicy profits.

In short, the Thirty Years’ War offers an example of a confrontation that can be described as “pre-Clausewitzian,” i.e., a confrontation in which, although initiated by states, war quickly ceased to be the continuation of politics by other means, for lack of adequate state resources. Mutatis mutandis, it is a similar situation that we find today in Europe with the war in Ukraine.

LS-SD: So, are we witnessing (or not) the return of conventional war in Europe?

BW: Certainly, but this statement requires some explanation, because if there is a return to conventional warfare, we must hasten to say that it is a conventional NG (new generation) war in which, on the Ukrainian side, the paramilitary and mercenary forces, charged with defending the country are proving to be more dangerous for the Ukrainians than the Russian army that is attacking them.

From this point on, the following parameters seem to be emerging concerning this “new generation conventional war”: 1) at the core level, a weakened (failing) nation-state which is no longer able to ensure its defense by means of its national armed forces; 2) which has to call upon irregular forces, paramilitary and mercenary; 3) these forces are “living off the country” through racketeering and predation; 4) and are massively financed and equipped by global capitalism. Moreover, it appears that Ukraine is by no means a precursor in this matter—at the beginning of the war in Syria (2011), it was the intervention of Lebanese Hezbollah irregulars that saved the weakened state of Bashar El Assad from collapse.

In the same way, the case of Azerbaijan points to a similar situation—it is thanks to the arms and mercenaries made available by Turkey, as well as to the contingents of Arab-Muslim fighters, all paid for by Azeri oil revenues, that this country manages to achieve the successes that we have seen in Nagorno-Karabakh.

But despite all their differences, Ukraine, Bashar’s Syria and Azerbaijan are not strong states. This is not the case in the United States, which is the only country in the world that has a strong social cohesion and a prosperous economy that benefits all its citizens. Nor do any of these countries have a genuine national political elite on which the nation-state apparatus can rely; power is held by clans or mafia-like cliques seeking above all to monopolize wealth for their own benefit.

LS-SD: As a result, for the Ukrainians, it is “a war within a war?”

BW: Yes, and this is not surprising, if we follow the grid of Hobbes’ Leviathan: in the absence of the State, it is the war of all against all—which, in the age of global capitalism, can last indefinitely because it represents a very lucrative business—hence the concept of “disaster capitalism.”

In other words, conducted by fighters from paramilitary and mercenary units, this NG belligerence is “limitless” and itself becomes the objective; civilians supposedly defended become the main objective of the aforementioned armed groups, and the war effort is financed by global capitalism in its “disaster” declination. Such a war does not respect the distinctions of civil/military, front/back, war/crime. It is mixed [I will not use the term “hybrid” because it is so overused and misunderstood]: conventional on the battlefield, criminal in its functioning, terrorist in its acts and targeting populations. Let me emphasize how we get to the characteristics of sub-state warfare described above.

LS-SD: From this vantage point, what further general perspective can be drawn from the Ukrainian situation?

BW: The Ukrainian case highlights the profound transformation of Europe and the Western world (in fact its disintegration) through two specific dimensions: one macro-economic and the other macro-geographic. The first reminds us of the relevance of the principle that war is waged in the same way as wealth is produced: the mode of economic production at a given time has a determining influence on both the type of war and the configuration of the military tool. Thus, wars between states in the 19th and 20th centuries were essentially based on a three-term equation: Nation + Industrial Revolution = mass armies. Industrial capitalism has formatted national spaces (nation-states) and increased competition between them in a paroxysmal way.

Today, the era of regular national armies financed and equipped, thanks to the progress of the Industrial Revolution, is definitively over. Capital has mutated; it has become entirely financialized and has migrated to the supranational level, leading to what is usually called globalization. It is at this level that wealth is now produced and the conduct of war is irrevocably modified. This means, as we have already said above in reference to the return of mercenarism, that states are no longer masters of their own defense. A regular army, even if it remains apparently financed by a state, has become de facto a tool at the service of global capital, as illustrated by the (almost surreal) eagerness of European governments to empty their meager arsenals, disarming their own armed forces to send weapons to Ukraine, some of which are already being sold on parallel markets. The analysis of this war reveals such a reality which was is both unprecedented and unimaginable before.

[In such circumstances, and following the announcement that the Bundeswehr (German army) had only a two-day supply of ammunition, a German commentator questioned this state of affairs and its official recognition by the authorities. He went so far as to formulate the hypothesis of a “de facto surrender,” explicitly admitted, in order to preserve Germany from destruction in the event of the war spreading westwards. According to him, by declaring itself “bankrupt” due to the liquidation of its very modest stocks of arms and ammunition in favour of Ukrainian forces, the country could avoid “becoming the next battlefield” once Ukraine is destroyed. While this may be a bit far-fetched, it does highlight the extent of Western European disarmament in the current conflict.]

As regards the macro-geographic dimension, the Ukrainian case underlines the value of the analysis delivered by David Cosandey in his monumental study published in 1997 and entitled, Le secret de l’Occident: du miracle passé au marasme présent (The Secret of the West: From the Past Miracle to the Present Morass). In his quest to understand this “past miracle,” Cosandey focuses on the geographical factor as the decisive element of European dynamism. Europe being a priori only a promontory of Eurasia, it is its coastal perimeter, in the north as in the south, which is jagged, meandering and irregular, which allows for the establishment of very diverse socio-political entities, but intensively practicing commercial exchanges among these entities first, then with the rest of the world.

It is thus because of this specificity of the European geographical space that Cosandey proposes his explanation of “the” miracle based on two neologisms of his creation: “mereupory” and “thalassography.” The first term aims at explaining the scientific progress of Europe by its stable political division and its commercial dynamism. The second term specifies that the commercial dynamism as well as the diversity and the stability are favored by this very particular coastal contour, compared to the other continents. Therefore, based on this mereuporico-thalassographic articulation, Cosandey examines the contemporary evolution of our continent.

In casu, it is not a question of subjecting the theses of Cosandey to criticism, but to consider what they say to us of Europe in the framework of the war in Ukraine. Cosandey indeed thinks that the power of the armaments developed since the Second World War fundamentally questions the morphology of Europe. In other words, space is no longer sufficient to absorb military force. It is now too small to be able to form a stable geopolitical zone.

Consequently, Cosandey argues that the European geographical advantage is now obsolete because of the power of armaments: “Because of the progress of military technology, the thalassography of the European continent, however extraordinary it may be, no longer allows a system of states to establish itself there durably.” This insight obviously deserves some explanation.

The reference to the progress of military technology refers mainly to the continental and intercontinental reach of modern weapons (ballistic missiles, aircraft carriers and long-range aircraft capable of striking any point on the continent). Faced with these capabilities of force projection over very long distances, the meteoric and thalassographic qualities of Europe become ineffective—the specificity of its coastline is no longer sufficient. The continent becomes once again a simple tongue of land, a Eurasian promontory, which can be crossed very easily, and in all directions (migratory flows seem to confirm this). Hence the impossibility, under such conditions, of maintaining a stable and dynamic chessboard of states, since these no longer have the capacity to protect themselves, and their geographical borders no longer fulfil a defense function.

Following Cosandey on this trajectory, the war in Ukraine seems to indicate that the future of Europe in terms of states can only be that of a large-scale disorder—a kind of new Middle Ages in which the Church is replaced by the dollar.

LS-SD: To conclude, let us return to the initial question. Is self-defense still relevant in such a state of chaos and disorder, of war without limits?

BW: Now more than ever—especially in a Western Europe incapable of defending itself, where the Ukrainian pattern is likely to be repeated. For, if the nation-state is no longer the subject of war, then it is the individual himself who becomes the subject of war (hence self-defense). Moreover, this individual is no longer a citizen, but a “naked man” stripped of all protection, without a city (a-polis) and liable to be put to death by the police as well as by the gangs or the aforementioned actors of the conventional NG war without limits. For this naked man, from now on, self-defense represents the only horizon in terms of residual freedom and security, the last means of preserving some snippets of the status of political animal that citizenship in arms (the hoplitic polis) previously conferred on him.

[Several factors argue not only for a prolongation of the war, but for its possible extension to the European region: the attitude of Russia, which is ready to continue the fighting as long as the Ukrainian government does not make a peace proposal; the possible involvement of Belarus; the clumsiness and blunders of the Poles and Lithuanians with regard to the enclave of Kaliningrad; the activism of the EU, the United Kingdom and the United States to prevent any end to the hostilities; and, last but not least, the blind eagerness of Germany to empty its arsenals and send their contents to Ukraine.]

Let us specify that the notion of self-defense understood here goes beyond the simple technique of fighting with bare hands. It represents the reverse side of self-defense because it is not a legal concept protecting the citizen, but a state of affairs, a defensive tactic, a survival reaction. In this sense, it constitutes the ultimate barrier of the banished and the proscribed against the violence they are subjected to. For them, it is the means to rebuild themselves, to become human persons again and not only bodies (homo sacer) that can be violated at will.

The philosopher Elsa Dorlin speaks in this respect of the construction of a “martial ethic of the self,” through practices that the disarmed individual, without citizenship, uses to protect himself physically from aggression. And, given the generalized chaos and the collapse looming on the horizon of European societies, in the wake of the war in Ukraine, it is important to insist on this reconstitutive function of self-defense. To defend oneself is to exist—the insurgents of the Warsaw ghetto are an emblematic example!

Let us also point out however that even in this scenario of re-empowerment, the margin of maneuver of homo sacer remains very narrow. This is why the putting into perspective of events (according to the method of long historical time), that is to say the narrative, occupies a strategic place. This allows for the definition of a space, an “alternative” reality to the narrative imposed by the military-media complex of global capitalism. The philosopher Eric Werner seeks to articulate this minority narrative with the triptych—autonomy-crisis-proximity—in response to that of the dominant discourse—insecurity-crisis-resilience. For the record, this last notion does not mean to resist, but “to meekly accept one’s fate, however bad it may be.”

Autonomy, proximity, self-defense, understood as “defense as close as possible,” will, in all likelihood, constitute the new reference points in a European world where the war in Ukraine marks the ultimate end of the Western historical cycle: “The time of revolutions is over. We are living in the time of extermination; and, by implication, the time of survival and self-defense. This is the era of pockets of autonomy.”

Having qualified the world-system by the state of insecure governance, we can begin by defining the new framework of war. It is part of the abatement of national sovereignties. The European nation-state no longer seems to be relevant to solve the security problems of its citizens. The latter, a historical legacy of the Westphalian state (1648), and theorized by Hobbes in Leviathan (1651), geographically delimited, is in decomposition… Moreover, the degradation of the nation-state model sees its military sovereignty put under the tutelage of another form of sovereignty, non-military, that is to say economic, carried by global capitalism (Olivier Entraygues, Regards sur la guerre: L’école de la défaite—Views on the war: The School of Defeat).

Bernard Wicht is a lecturer at the University of Lausanne, where he teaches strategy. He is a regular speaker at military institutions, including the Ecole de Guerre, and think-tanks abroad. He is the author of several books, including Vers l’autodéfense: Le défi des guerres internes (Towards Self-Defense: The Challenge of Internal Wars), Les loups et l’agneau-citoyen. Gangs militarisés, Etat policier et desarmement du peuple (The Wolves and the Citizen-Lamb: Militarized Gangs, the Police State and the Disarmament of the People); Citoyen-soldat 2.0, Mode d’emploi (Citizen-Soldier 2.0: A User’s Guide); Europe Mad Max demain ? retour à la défense citoyenne (Mad Max Europe Tomorrow? A Return to Citizen Defense); Une nouvelle Guerre de Trentre Ans ? Réflexion et hypothèse sur la crise actuelle (A New Thirty Years War: Reflections and Hypothesis on the Current Crisis); L’OTAN attaque : la nouvelle donne stratégique (NATO Attacks: the New Strategic Order); L’Idée de milice et le modèle suisse dans la pensée de Machiavel (The Idea of the Militia and the Swiss Model in Machiavelli’s Thought).


Featured: “Defenders of the Brest Fortress,” by Pyotr Krivonogov; painted in 1951.

The Republic of Artsakh: A Way Forward?

Hovhannes Guevorkian is the representative of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) in France. Here he speaks with Augustin Herbet about the current situation of his country, in the face of Azerbaijani aggression. This interview appears through the kind courtesy of La Nef.


Augustin Herbet (AH): What is the current situation of the Republic of Artsakh?

Hovhannes Guevorkian (HG): After the signing of the ceasefire on November 9, 2020, thanks to the deployment and reassuring presence of the Russian peacekeeping forces, nearly 80,000 Artsakhis, who had taken refuge in Armenia during the military aggression, returned to Artsakh to settle in the free zone—not occupied by Azerbaijan. Some 23,000 Artsakhis have not been able to return—these are the inhabitants of the territories under Azerbaijani control who were driven out and who will be murdered by the Baku regime, if they try to return to their homes.

Work on restoring civilian infrastructure deliberately targeted by the Azerbaijani army during the war—roads, hospitals, schools and homes—is almost complete. An ambitious housing construction program is also underway.

Hovhannes Guevorkian.

The new geography of Artsakh, the result of the war, poses a fundamental problem—the supply of water, since a portion of the springs that supply the country have been under the control of Azerbaijan since 2020. As well, the supply of energy and vital resources has been greatly weakened and depends entirely on the thin Lachin corridor that still links Artsakh to Armenia. Through regular incursions, Azerbaijan is trying to further weaken this link with Armenia by nibbling away at it in order to tighten this passage until it is completely strangled. Artsakh will then find itself completely enclosed in Azerbaijani territory. The consequences are easily imaginable.

AH: What reasons for hope are there for Artsakh?

HG: The first reason is political. Three major powers, Russia, which is now de facto protecting Artsakh, France and the United States of America, strongly engaged in mediation for the political settlement of the conflict within the framework of the co-chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group, have declared that the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh must be given a political solution. This statement contradicts Azerbaijan’s statement that the problem is already solved and cannot be negotiated.

The second reason is the undeniable reality of Artsakh’s existence, as evidenced by the viability of its functioning state, despite its current extreme fragility. The fact that the people of Artsakh have returned en masse and are determined to live there is in itself a sign of their faith in the future.

AH: What abuses are being committed by Azeri forces against Armenian cultural heritage in the Azeri-occupied part of Artsakh?

HG: According to the report of the Artsakh Human Rights Defender, 1456 Armenian cultural properties and monuments are now in the Azerbaijani occupied zone. Although Azerbaijan has been occupying these territories for a short time, we already know of a number of cases of vandalism and erasure of Armenian heritage in these occupied territories through the filmed and photographed testimonies of the soldiers or Azerbaijani officials themselves. For example, the medieval cemeteries and stone crosses in the village of Tsar in the Karvachar region, the Sourp Zoravor Astvatsatsin church near the town of Mekhakavan, and the church of Saint Yeghishe in the village of Mataghis. In fact, during his visit to the Armenian church in Tsakuri, President Aliyev expressed his intention to have its Armenian inscriptions removed. This policy of rewriting history portends the worst for the fate of Armenian Christian cultural heritage. The objective is obvious—to alienate these regions from the Armenians, to erase all traces of Armenian-ness so that the Armenians will never again have the desire to return. This practice is called ethnocide.

AH: To what extent could the elections in Turkey in 2023 change the situation for the better or worse? And what do you think of the Turkish-Azeri negotiations?

HG: It seems to me that the elections in Turkey will not have a significant impact on the problem. Turkish society is one that has strong nationalism, in which Armenia and Armenians are constant targets. The various Turkish governments have maintained this sentiment, with state denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide being the permanent paradigm for over a hundred years. In my opinion, Turkey’s attitude towards Armenia and Armenians in general will not change until a real work equivalent to that of denazification is carried out in that country, as was the case in Germany after the Second World War.

However, for the time being, the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide are still glorified in Turkey and cited as an example of Turkish patriotism. Streets, squares and monuments bear the names of the executioners of the Armenians in today’s Turkey. The example of the presence of the mausoleum of the bloodthirsty Talaat Pasha (the main organizer of the Armenian Genocide) on Freedom Hill in Istanbul is one of the manifestations of this. This perpetuation of racial hatred against Armenians has a deleterious effect on Azerbaijan’s ability to conclude peace with Armenia: Turkey and Azerbaijan consider themselves as “two states in one nation” and have been moving closer together since Azerbaijan’s independence in 1991. The former’s state negationism and the Armenophobia from which it stems have also become political lines of the latter. Successive governments of both sides have not deviated much from this consistent foreign policy line.

AH: Can the Minsk Group of the OSCE, even if it is not very active because of the conflict in Ukraine, and the UN, still intervene in favor of Artsakh?

HG: Absolutely! The Minsk Group is not dissolved, and it has an institutional obligation to act in favor of peace and a peaceful settlement of the conflict. For almost 30 years, even in a position of absolute strength, the Armenian side, true to its commitment, has trusted the negotiations under the aegis of the Minsk Group.

This Group would lose all credibility if it were to bow to the Azerbaijani will, which is trying to remove it completely from the peace process. But it is no longer a question of mediation. It seems to us futile to negotiate with an aggressor state like Azerbaijan and its criminal regime. The threat of the disappearance of Artsakh is so great that it needs effective international protection as a priority. The risk of mediation by the Minsk Group, without this more urgent precondition, is to legitimize the criminal authorities of Azerbaijan and their policy of fait accompli.

As for the UN, at its World Summit in 2005, all the heads of state and government affirmed the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in the face of a state failing to protect a population. This is precisely the case in Nagorno-Karabakh, where the Armenian population lives under the threat of ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijan.

AH: How can France as a state and individual French citizens help Artsakh?

HG: France can recognize the Republic of Artsakh, in line with the French Senate resolution of November 2020, which clearly designates such recognition as an effective tool for the peace process.

At the same time, it is time for the French state to adopt sanctions against war criminals—including the highest Azerbaijani authorities and oligarchs of this country—whose impunity only encourages them. In this regard, we warmly welcome the statement of President Emmanuel Macron that “France will not give up on the Armenians.”

As for the help that French citizens can bring to Artsakh on an individual basis, you can do so by informing yourself, by alerting your elected officials, or by committing yourself on the humanitarian level alongside structures, such as the Armenian Fund of France, for example. The latter will launch its annual fundraising campaign—the Phonéthon 2022—in a month’s time, under the prestigious patronage of the writer-traveler Sylvain Tesson and the great reporter, deputy director of the Figaro Magazine Jean-Christophe Buisson.

Vladimir Putin and Russian Sovereignism

As we mentioned in a previous article, Boris Yeltsin’s period of government in Russia led the country into unprecedented economic chaos and a real danger of fragmentation. The savage privatization of companies and infrastructures gave birth to the emergence of the so-called “oligarchs,” former officials and politicians of the communist regime who had accumulated a great deal of power and wealth with these privatizations, wealth that contrasted with the growing misery of the majority of the Russian population.

In September and October 1993, the discontent of a large part of the population against Yeltsin’s policies led to the uprising of the Duma (parliament) against the president. The previous elections had given a majority to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a populist and nationalist leader, but the very presidentialist structure of Russian politics meant that in reality the Duma had very little power. In the uprising would converge the patriotic and illiberal forces that would form the basis of the patriotic movement that would be led by Vladimir Putin: Zhirinovsky’s nationalists, the Russian communist party (actually national-communist) of Gennady Zyuganov, and tsarist and orthodox religious groups. Despite their ideological differences, these groups had in common their opposition to liberalism and Westernism, and their defense of the integrity and sovereignty of Russia.

The rebel deputies made a strong stand in the Duma building, which was shelled by military units loyal to Yeltsin. The uprising was crushed. But from this point on Yeltsin’s political line began to waver. Yeltsin’s eight years in power had been a truly dark period in Russian history, with an anti-national government allied to the interests of foreign powers. His policy of change towards a Western-style liberal society was based on Western foreign investment and large loans from international financial institutions. However, none of this materialized in reality—the loans from the International Monetary Fund were in dribs and drabs, immensely smaller than promised and served only to pay the interest on the foreign debt.

In a way, a certain parallel can be drawn between the Russian and Spanish transitions: Governments that respond to foreign interests, dismantling of industry, privatization of companies and danger of fragmentation due to growing nationalism. The only difference is that in Spain there has not been the patriotic reaction that took place in Russia.

Although the uprising in the Duma was crushed by force, it showed the failure of the Yeltsin project. The oligarchs, enriched by savage privatizations, and who supported liberal and pro-Western policies, withdrew their support for the president and promoted an unknown—Vladimir Putin, thinking that he would carry out a policy more in line with their interests. Yeltsin resigned on December 31, 1999, so the year 2000 was the beginning of a new era in Russia.

Vladimir Putin was a bureaucrat. He had nothing to do with the patriotic and sovereigntist forces that had led the 1993 uprising. But Putin came from the Security Services (the former KGB) and was educated in the idea that these services, together with the military might, were meant to defend the national interest.

From the beginning of his mandate, Putin advocated a more assertive and nationalistic foreign policy, which would not be subordinated to the interests of the Western powers, and which gave him the support of the Russian military elite. But, at the same time, he skillfully enlisted the support of Boris Berezovsky, the leading oligarch of the Yeltsin era, who thought, wrongly, that Putin would further his interests.

Putin forced the oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky into exile. He also brought about the fall of Roman Abramovich and Alexander Voloshin, other powerful oligarchs. Subsequently, the new leaders of these clans helped him to drive out Berezovsky.

In fact, from the very beginning, Putin initiated a battle for control of the economy, which led to a confrontation with the oligarchs. He succeeded in exiling Berezovsky and Abramovich. Subsequently, in July 2000, he arrested Vladimir Gusinsky, the largest media owner, accusing him of having stolen ten million dollars from the state-owned Russian Video company.

In 2003, near the end of his first term, Putin arrested the powerful oil millionaire Mikhail Kodorkovsky, accusing him of tax evasion and corruption. Even at that time, and using these arrests as an excuse, the West began to accuse Putin of “authoritarianism” and of returning to the police methods of the Stalinist era. This campaign was joined by the media (New York Times, 2003, Washington Post, 2003); and the U.S. State Department itself claimed that the basic freedom of Russians was in danger. As we can see, the Western (more specifically US) animosity towards Putin goes back a long way, from the moment he refused to be a puppet—like his predecessor, Yeltsin.

Kodorkovsky perfectly represented the former functionary of the communist apparatus, enriched by the savage privatizations of the Yeltsin era. He tried to use his immense fortune to finance his campaign for the Russian presidency, emboldened by Western support, which presented him as a representative of “liberal and democratic” values.

The concentration of wealth in the hands of a few oligarchs had caused some 31 million Russians (more than 20% of the population) to subsist on the equivalent, or less, of 50 dollars a month. According to a UN study, half of the Russian population lived in poverty; and according to figures from the Russian State Statistics Committee, in 2002, more than forty million Russians suffered from malnutrition. In such circumstances, it no longer seems so strange that many Russians longed for the Soviet era.

Together with this data concerning the quality of life, the destruction of the state health care system should also be noted. All this led to a drop in life expectancy from 70 years for men in the Soviet era to 57 years.

The Putin government’s political offensive against Kodorkovsky was central to President Putin’s second election in 2003. It projected an image of fighting against the oligarchs that made him very popular for a population that, in the words of political scientist Yuri Tsyganov, wanted to see all Russian gangsters prosecuted and punished for the social destruction they had caused in Russia.

Kodorkovsky was noted, not only for the accumulation of great wealth, but for his intention to use it politically. He had made large contributions of money to what he called “democratic opposition parties,” and had tried to exploit social discontent to instigate a change of regime.

In view of all this, the Western propaganda that keeps talking about “Putin’s oligarchs” is pathetic, when precisely what has characterized Putin’s domestic policy has been the persecution and economic and political neutralization of these oligarchs, enriched during the Yeltsin period, and who had been characterized by their support for liberal and Westernist ideas in Russia.

Towards the end of his second term, in 2007, Putin gave an important speech at the Munich Conference on security policy. In this speech he set out a whole doctrine of international relations based on multipolarity, a doctrine that is essential to know in order to understand the deep roots of the current conflict with Ukraine.

This doctrine can be summarized in the following points:

  1. The unipolar model of the world is not only unacceptable, it is impossible.
  2. The USA has overstepped its national borders in every sense, imposing its economic, political, cultural and educational policies on other nations.
  3. Decision-making on the use of military force should be at the UN.
  4. NATO is advancing its border forces to our borders.
  5. What happened to those promises given by our Western partners after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?
  6. With one hand “charitable aid” is given, with the other hand economic backwardness is preserved and profits are collected.
  7. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has become an instrument for securing the interests of some states against others.
  8. Russia, in its millennia-long history, has always had an independent foreign policy. We will not change this tradition.

With these eight points Putin clearly established the basic lines of his international policy. The mere fact of maintaining the unity of Russia against the policies of balkanization and disintegration of the Yeltsin era readily meant a confrontation with the unipolar “New World Order,” cherished by the US after the collapse of the USSR. Maintaining Russian national pride, the refusal to ask for forgiveness, the uninhibited assumption of its own history (from Tsarism to the USSR)—constituted a provocation towards the ideology of this “New World Order,” which consists of nothing more than exporting and imposing the values of American society on the entire globe.

To all this must be added the low permeability of Russian society as a whole to the ideological project of Agenda 2030, with all its tentacles: neo-feminism, climate hysteria, gender ideology, immigrationism and multiculturalism. Russia has become a problem for the “New World Order,” a “problem” with a vast expanse, reserve of raw materials and nuclear weapons.

During the Trump period, nothing serious happened. Trump proved to be the least globalist of all US presidents (he did not initiate any war), more concerned with domestic issues of the American nation, and whose moves in international politics did not clash (at least head-on) with Russia.

With the arrival of Biden everything changed. This character, who is nothing more than a puppet of the neo-con sectors of the Democratic Party, made it very clear in his electoral campaign that his policy would be aimed at making the USA once again the world LEADER. This meant that the USA would return to the policy of Unipolarity (disguised as “multilateralism”) and, therefore, confrontation with any power that opposed them.

Let us recall that the neo-cons are the spokesmen of a messianic vision of America as a nation united only by a creed capable of extending to all humanity. In the neo-con theory, the USA is a “universal nation” that has “human rights” as its foreign policy axis, in the same way as the Soviets had Marxism-Leninism. Biden’s America is thus once again the expansive epicenter of “liberal democracy.”

For the neo-cons, that is, for Biden, liberal democracy and the market economy, can be built anywhere in the world, with the help, if necessary, of American fighter-bombers and missiles; or, better still, of a puppet state—as in the case of Ukraine. Any opposition is “tribalism,” Nazism, Stalinism or all three at once. Naturally, the arms lobby smiles complacently.


José Alsina Calvés is a historian and philosopher who specializes in political biography, the history of science and the history of ideas and edits the journal Nihil Obstat. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Posmodernia.


Following the Thread

As intrepid travelers not willing to let “advancing age” stand in the way, we met in Istanbul and then boarded a 12:15am flight bound for Uzbekistan…on the far side of the Caspian Sea. Some five hours later in Tashkent, we were met by our very knowledgeable “professors” and astute guides: Vedat Karadag, a folk art specialist and tour guide in Istanbul, and Marat Karimov, his Uzbekistan partner, who is based in Tashkent.

There, they led us on an incredible insiders’ journey along the fabled Silk Road from the Ferghana Valley in the east to Nukus in the far west and then back through the ancient walled cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand to marvel at glorious architecture, monuments and vistas.

The Yodogorik Silk Factory shop.

This 16-day tour in May, sponsored by Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Museum of International Folk Art, included visits to some of the Uzbekistan artists who have participated in the International Folk Art Market held on the grounds of the Museum each year over a July weekend (next year July 5-9, 2023). They included Rasuljon Mirzaahmedov, an ikat master from Said Akhmad Khoja Madrasa, a little city in Margilan. There, as in other madrasas we visited, we came to appreciate the fact that there can be more to a madrasa than memorizing the Quran, and that the type of education madrasas offer can differ dramatically from country to country. In the nearby village of Rishton, we spent a very pleasant morning with the world-famous UNESCO-protected master potter Rustam Usmanov and his son, Damir Usmanov, who would be participating in that year’s Folk Art Market. So some of us decided to wait to buy their pottery in Santa Fe, rather than trust fragile treasures to the airline baggage handlers.

But it was no holds barred (except for running out of cash) when it came to textiles. Fortunately, we were warned about the scarcity of ATMs and were told that the U.S. dollar was the preferred currency for major shopping—what with the exchange rate being some 2,500 Uzbekistan Sums/US$1. that spring (compared to 11,145/US$1. today).

The Yodgorlik Silk Factory, housed in spacious adobe buildings in the 2,000 year-old city of Margilan, which turned out to be one of our favorite “shopping centers,” stood as proof that private enterprise has succeeded the years of Soviet domination and state planning since it was transferred to local hands in 2000. There, we watched the whole wonderful process: the extraction of silk thread from the cocoons boiling in a vat to the winding of the warp, tying of the intricate ikat designs, and the handweaving to the pressing of finished yardage between giant rollers.

Another unique treat dating from the Soviet era was the Karakalpakstan Museum of Art in the city of Nukus (a two-hour flight northwest of Tashkent), which had an extraordinary collection of Central Asian archaeological objects, in addition to applied and contemporary art and the Savitsky Collection of Russian avant-garde art. Who among those of us who had been enchanted by the film, The Desert of Forbidden Art, which ran for weeks at a local art film theater two years before, had dared dream of ever having the chance to see the works in person? The late Igor Savitsky, a courageous Russian artist-archaeologist, had managed not only to smuggle some 40,000 stunning works of banned art out of the Soviet Union, but also raised the funds to pay the artists, as well as build this museum to house the collection. And our gracious hostess, who led our tour of the museum and treated us to lunch, was the very woman he had designated as the one and only director, Marinika Babanazorova.

Still, Uzbekistan may be a land too far for some folks. So for those who would rather experience Uzbekistan vicariously and yet collect some of its exquisite crafts, we suggest that they attend the International Folk Art Market.

Meet multi-lingual Marat Karimov, our wise, witty Uzbek guide, who is still leading tours for the International Caravan Travel Service.

Marat Karimov.

Jean Ranc is a psychologist retired from the University of North Carolina.


Featured: “A Girl of Khiva,” by Pavel Petrovich Benkov; painted in 1931.

How the West Brought War to Ukraine

We are so very pleased to bring you an excerpt from a very crucial book, How the West Brought War to Ukraine, by Benjamin Abelow. To orient readers, we begin by quoting the one-paragraph blurb from the back cover:

According to the Western narrative, Vladimir Putin is an insatiable, Hitler-like expansionist who invaded Ukraine as an unprovoked land grab. That story is incorrect. In reality, the United States and NATO bear significant responsibility for the Ukraine crisis. Through a series of misguided policies, Washington and its European allies placed Russia in an untenable situation for which war seemed, to Mr. Putin and his military staff, the only workable solution. This book lays out the relevant history and explains how the West needlessly created conflict and now labors under an existential threat of its own making.

The book is endorsed by many experts. For example, in the words John J. Mearsheimer: “For anyone interested in understanding the true causes of the disaster in Ukraine, How the West Brought War to Ukraine is required reading.”

Please support the valuable work of Benjamin Abelow and purchase a copy of this book, and spread the word. What follows, copied by permission, is the entire Chapter Seven from this short and readable eight-chapter book.

[Read our review]

How Overly Pessimistic Narratives Become Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

The story of an evil, irrational, intrinsically expansionist Russia with a paranoid leader at its helm, opposed by a virtuous United States and Europe, is a confused and strange confabulation, inconsistent with a whole series of directionally aligned events during the past 30 years—events whose significance and meaning should have been readily apparent. In fact, the predominant Western narrative might itself be viewed as a kind of paranoia.

The provocations that the United State and its allies have directed at Russia are policy blunders so serious that, had the situation been reversed, U.S. leaders would long ago have risked nuclear war with Russia. For U.S. leaders to assert otherwise, as they now are doing, represents a dangerous disregard of reality. In some cases, this disregard surely represents willful demagoguery. But for some policy makers it must be well intentioned, occurring for the simple reason that they continue to interpret new facts in light of the same spent narrative.

Major press outlets also bear responsibility. Rather than seeking to contextualize events properly for their readers, the media have trumpeted the government’s preferred narrative. Whatever its motivations, the mainstream media have implemented, and continue to implement, a regime of propaganda that misinforms the public and can only be perceived by Russia as an affront to the national character of its people. Online providers of information are doing much the same. In fact, as the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and First Amendment lawyer Glenn Greenwald has shown, massive censorship of dissenting views is now occurring at many levels of society in both the United States and Europe.

Although it is difficult to look at the horrific images coming out of Ukraine without revulsion and anger, succumbing to blind emotion and embracing the dominant Western narrative is a dangerous error. It empowers the worst forces in Washington, including the nexus of bureaucratic power and commercial interest that President Eisenhower, a fivestar Army general, termed the military-industrial complex, about which he warned the American public in his final televised address as U.S. president. This narrative also enables the most Russophobic and militaristic of European leaders, as well as those with the least guts to stand up to misguided American policies. The narrative clouds the minds of American and European citizens, leading to jingoism and war-mongering.

My primary goal in this book is to correct a false narrative, and for a very practical reason: because false narratives lead to bad outcomes. Narratives are inevitably reflected in behaviors; they are both descriptive and generative. By functioning as models of reality, narratives serve as guides for action. Then, through the dynamic of action and reaction, push and pushback, they can produce the results they allege are already present. In this way, a narrative that is overly pessimistic about the intentions of a potential opponent—what I term a “narrative of suspicion”—can potentiate the very threats it purports to mitigate.

This description underlies the classic dynamic of an arms race that culminates in escalation and war. It instantiates not the paradigm of World War II, with its associated images of implacable expansionism and Western appeasement, but of World War I, in which Germany, Britain, Western Europe, and ultimately America sleep-walked into catastrophe. Yet now, because of the nature of nuclear weaponry, catastrophe can happen more easily, and with more devastating effect.

As with World War I, each side, fearing the worst from the other, seeks to make itself invulnerable through a military strategy that necessarily also has offensive potential—a double-edged strategic sword that policy analysts term a “security dilemma.” This is precisely what George Kennan predicted with respect to NATO expansion, and in respect to which he has proven correct. That expansion, which was justified in the name of defense, has been perceived by Russia as an offensive threat and led to actions that are, in turn, perceived by the West as expansionist. In 2014, Richard Sakwa offered a pithy retrospect on the situation that Kennan had anticipated:

In the end, NATO’s existence became justified by the need to manage the security threats provoked by its enlargement. The former Warsaw Pact and Baltic states joined NATO to enhance their security, but the very act of doing so created a security dilemma for Russia that undermined the security of all.

And since Sakwa wrote, the situation has only gotten worse, in good measure because the United States and its allies have carried out a parallel set of military expansions outside of NATO.

Mr. Putin, whatever authoritarian tendencies he might possess, was not born on a set path. In the current zeitgeist, it may be considered heretical to state the obvious: that Mr. Putin, like all human beings, is influenced by a combination of what is within—his psychology, beliefs, and values—and what is without, the dynamic external circumstances that confront him. This is simply a truism. It is likewise a truism that chronic exposure to certain patterns of external events can change a person’s inner tendencies, or, at least, selectively magnify some tendencies at the expense of other,
sometimes opposite tendencies.

Incrementally, in steps small and large, the West has disregarded Russia’s reasonable security concerns, considering them irrelevant, stoking Russian concerns about encirclement and invasion. At the same time, the United States and its European allies have implied that a rational actor would be assuaged by the West’s statements of benign intention: that the weapons, training, and interoperability exercises, no matter how provocative, powerful, or close to Russia’s borders, are purely defensive and not to be feared. In many instances, Western leaders, especially from the United States, have actively disrespected Mr. Putin, sometimes insulting him to his face.

In doing all this, the West has suggested that Mr. Putin is imagining strategic threats where none in fact exist. This Western framing—which posits a lack of legitimate Russian security concerns coupled with implied and explicit accusations of irrationality—underlies much of the currently dominant narrative. It also underlies the ideological position of the Russia hawks who play such a prominent role in Washington. In personal relationships, the combination of threatening actions and accusations of paranoia would be considered gaslighting. Is the situation really so different in the realm of international politics?

During times of war and military threat, even the leaders of free countries lean toward authoritarianism. Sensing great danger, they may tighten the reins of power, imposing top-down control and expanding the categories of domestic action and speech that are considered treasonous. It is not extreme to suggest that the provocations described in this book created in the mind of Mr. Putin and other members of the Russian political and military class an evolving sense of siege and emergency. My point is that one must contemplate the possibility that Western actions contributed not only to Russia’s foreign policies, but to untoward aspects of Russia’s domestic politics as well. In fact, George Kennan predicted this in 1998. NATO expansion, he said, would “have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy.”

Political actors, both individuals and corporate actors, such as bureaucracies and nations, are not static entities. Rather, the human decisions we call “policies” emerge from a concatenation of conscious intentions; unconscious motivations; accidents of history; and personal, human interactions, including blatantly threatening, humiliating, and disrespectful interactions and words, such as those that have emanated from the mouth of President Biden. And it is quite possible that the actions of the United States and its European allies exerted, and continue to exert, a more profound effect on the policies of Mr. Putin, including his domestic policies, than some are inclined to think.


Eurasianism: A Reaffirmation of Empire

Contemporary Eurasianism is undoubtedly marked by the strong personality of Alexander Dugin (1962). However, Eurasianist thought cannot be reduced to that of the latter (which he does not claim). At the same time, the Eurasianist movement has been able, during the two clearly differentiated phases of its history, to gather original and independent thinkers (and regularly in disagreement), while keeping a very specific intellectual identity.

Pyotr Savitsky: Father of Eurasianism and Theorist of Topogenesis

Eurasianist thought was born in exile at the beginning of the 1920s, at the initiative of certain White Russian intellectuals. Its main theorists were Prince Nicholai Trubetzskoy (1890-1938) and Pyotr Savitsky (1895-1968). The Eurasianist movement gradually broke up during the 1930s, before disappearing after the Second World War: the fairly complex thinking of Eurasianism was probably no longer suited to the simplistic confrontation of ideologies typical of the Cold War. However, Eurasianism experienced a revival in Russia in the 1990s (it was then referred to as neo-Eurasianism), around the personalities of Alexander Dugin and Alexander Panarin (1940-2003). It is not insignificant to note that the two historical phases of Eurasianism reacted each time to a fall: the fall of the “White Empire” of the Romanovs for classical Eurasianism, and the fall of the “Red Empire” of the USSR for neo-Eurasianism. We can thus readily define Eurasianism as a will to rethink the fundamentally imperial identity of Russia, at times when it seemed threatened with dissolution.

Before Eurasianism

If the double birth of Eurasianism is thus linked to precise contexts, the latter was obviously not constituted like Athena already emerging armed from Zeus’ brain. Without falling into the always somewhat vain exercise of “searching for precursors,” it is obvious that Eurasianism is rooted in a typically Russian intellectual soil, inaugurated by the father of Slavophilism, Aleksey Khomyakov (1804-1860). He interpreted history as the confrontation of two principles: the Iranian principle and the Kushite principle. These two principles were conceived as covering all the structural dichotomies of the world. To the Iranian/Kushite opposition thus corresponds the oppositions freedom/determinism, spirituality/ materialism, peasant civilization/industrial civilization, autocracy/plutocracy, Orthodoxy/Catholicism and Protestantism, East/West. Khomyakov thus radically opposed to a Kushite West an Iranian East, to which he integrated Russia. This integration of Russia with the East nourished Khomyakov’s interest in Iran and India (he would go so far as to learn Sanskrit to be able to read in the original the classical works of Hinduism). This conception of a Russia, open to the East but closed to the West, would become a constitutive pillar of Eurasianism.

The work of Constantine Leontiev (1831-1891) can be seen as a link between nineteenth-century slavophilism and twentieth-century Eurasianism. The latter, a veteran of the Crimean War, conceived of “Western progress” as a globalist and aggressive process of standardization of humanity from below. In contrast, he defended a diversity of men and cultures, finding its unity in a common imperial identity. This dialectic of the respect of the human diversity in the unity of the empire, put in opposition with the petty-bourgeois uniformity of the Western State-nation, will find itself in the Eurasianist thought. Thinking that the future of Russia was not in Europe but in Asia, Leontiev invited his compatriots to consider themselves no longer as Slavs, but as “Turanians” (the term “Turanians” designating, in the vocabulary of the time, the Turko-Mongolian peoples of Central Asia). Inaudible for his contemporaries, this renewal of Russian identity proposed by Leontiev will find an echo among Eurasianists.

The Idea of Eurasia

Eurasianist thought is vast and embraces many fields and themes. It is thus impossible to reveal it in its entirety here (we would in any case be hard pressed to give an account of Nicolai Trobetzskoy’s structural linguistic work). However, Eurasianists share a common way of conceiving the Eurasian discourse in itself. Totally anti-constructivist, Eurasianist thought considers that Eurasia pre-exists in its essence. The idea of Eurasia is an Idea, in the Platonic sense of the term, and the purpose of the Eurasianist discourse is therefore not to construct it, but to unveil it. This Eurasian Idea is thus fundamentally revealed in a territory that is neither Europe nor Asia, but a third continent: Eurasia. That the Idea of Eurasia is revealed in the territory of Eurasia may seem a very trivial statement, but it is not. Indeed, it means that, for the Eurasianists, Eurasia is a fact of nature, whose unity and specificity will have to be demonstrated by the geographical sciences. Eurasianism is thus thought of, on the theoretical level, as a scientific demonstration of the Eurasian Idea. Eurasian thought is thus characterized at the same time as a metaphysics and as a science (Trubetzskoy thus spoke of a geosophy of Eurasianism).

This naturalistic conception of Eurasia explains why the delimitations of the latter have never been the object of a clear consensus among Eurasianists, without them regarding this state of affairs as a real problem. Indeed, being defined by geographical and not historical-political criteria, Eurasia is not delimited by borders in the strict sense of the term, but rather by peripheral zones, by boundaries. Globally, Eurasia corresponds to the territory of the former USSR. In the East, Mongolia and possibly Tibet are generally added to it. Dugin excludes the Kuril Islands, which he proposes to return to Japan. The problem of the eastern limits of Eurasia has never really worried Eurasianists, insofar as they think of an opening of Eurasia to Asia, and see in the Asian countries natural allies in the face of Western hegemony (Alexander Panarin, who was a professor of political philosophy at Moscow State University, thus theorized the construction of a Sino-Eurasian alliance against the American “new world order”).

The problem of the Western limits of Eurasia is quite different, and has been of great concern to Eurasians (which is explained by their conception of a Eurasia closed to the West). The Eurasian territory is also based on that of the former USSR, excluding the Baltic States and the enclave of Kaliningrad, and with the addition of Bessarabia for some. Ukraine is considered Eurasian, but suffers from a very ambiguous status. As a western boundary of Eurasia, and because of its historical links with Poland, Ukraine is seen as having been largely influenced by the West (to such an extent that Eurasianists called the westernization of Russia in the Petersburg period “Ukrainization”). As a result, Eurasianists always considered that an independent Ukraine detached from Russia could not be anything other than a Trojan horse of the West in Eurasian unity.

The Concept of Topogenesis

Alexander Dugin describes this basically continental Eurasian space as “tellurocratic,” characterized by a traditional and socialist spirit, and opposes it to a “thalassocratic” Atlantic space, modern and capitalist (an opposition that we already find, mutatis mutandis, in The Peloponnesian War, where Thucydides opposes a “tellurocratic” and aristocratic Sparta to a “thalassocratic” and democratic Athens). The geographical opposition between a continental Eurasian space and a maritime Atlantic space is thus coupled with a civilizational opposition. Eurasian thought holds that civilization is conditioned (and not determined) by place. This is what Pyotr Savitsky proposed to call “topogenesis” (and which he considered a scientific concept): A specific geographical space conditions a specific civilization. To the Eurasian space thus corresponds a Eurasian civilization.

In the eyes of Eurasianists, religion is at the foundation of any civilization. The Eurasian civilization is thus for them fundamentally Orthodox. Atheism, deism, Catholicism, or Protestantism are seen as Western elements, foreign, and even opposed to Eurasian civilization. Thus, with a few exceptions, all Eurasianists are explicitly Orthodox. However, without questioning the sincerity of the personal faith of the Eurasianists, some criticized the ensuing notion that Russian Christianity thus does not seem to be based on a supernatural revelation, but simply as an expression of the Eurasian topogenesis; Father Georges Florovsky distanced himself from the movement for this reason, seeing in it a naturalistic reduction of the Christian mystery. Nevertheless, Eurasianists always remained conscious that not all Eurasians are Orthodox, and stressed that Russian Orthodoxy, while keeping its central role, can recognize, esteem, and fraternize with other Eurasian religious expressions. Thus, in the inter-war period, the Jewish Eurasianist Yakov Bromberg defended the existence of a specifically Eurasian Jewishness through the Khazar experience. More recently, Dorji-Lama, a spiritual leader of the Kalmyk Buddhists, joined Alexander Dugin’s Eurasianist organization.

But it is especially to Islam that the Eurasianists opened up, underlining the precocity with which the Russian empire was equipped with a representative institution of the Muslims of Russia (the great Muftiate of Russia was created by the empress Catherine II in 1788), and not forgetting that 40% of the citizens of the ex-USSR were Muslims. They held the existence of a specifically Eurasian Islam, Turkic, and influenced by Sufism and Shiism (Wahhabi Islam is on the other hand absolutely rejected as non-Eurasian, and being totally subservient to hated America). Dugin, mobilizing a conceptuality drawn from his reading of René Guénon, affirmed that Turkic Islam and Russian Orthodoxy are both linked in their essence to the “Primordial Tradition” (as well as all the authentically traditional religions) coming from “Hyperborea,” which he situates in Siberia (this conception is not foreign to Russian mythology; indeed, in the fourteenth century the archbishop Basil of Novgorod affirmed the existence of a secret terrestrial paradise in Siberia, which obviously refers to the biblical myth of the Garden of Eden and is very reminiscent of the Buddhist myth of Shamballah). Muslim personalities thus drew closer to Eurasianism: Talgat Tadzhuddin, former grand mufti of Russia, joined Dugin’s Eurasianist movement; and especially Nursultan Nazarbayev, former president of Kazakhstan and promoter of a specifically Turkic Eurasianism, distinct from the properly Russian Eurasianism (and to whom Dugin devoted a dithyrambic book).

As we can see, topogenesis is neither a determinism nor a universalism; it conditions and adapts that which exists. The various religions and cultures of Eurasia keep their particular identity, while showing common civilizational traits, making them all converge in the Eurasian unity, understood as a community, both natural and mystical, of destiny. The concept of topogenesis is thus a nodal point of Eurasian thought, where a dialectic of the one and the many is woven, founding an imperial affirmation of identity that respects (but also embraces) the particular identities of Eurasian peoples. it should also be noted that this strictly organicist conception leaves no room for individual choice—a Mormon Tatar who loves the country cannot be anything but a dangerous anomaly from a Eurasian perspective).

A Differentialist Critique of Western Universalism

This notion of topogenesis is also the basis of the Eurasian critique of Western universalism. The latter is understood as postulating the existence of a unique human civilization, the different cultures being only the expression of this unique civilization at different historical stages of advancement, obviously leading to the Western model, seen as the most advanced and most desirable historical stage of humanity (Eurasianists note that white supremacism is finally only a naturalized form of this universalism). Western civilization is thus seen as the goal of all humanity, and its model of development as the unique direction of history. Alexander Panarin considers that this superiority complex of the West comes from the obvious power of its industrial and consumerist model, while underlining that the contemporary ecological crisis undeniably demonstrates its harmful character.

To this historicist universalism of the West, justifying its political hegemony as well as the cultural westernization of the world, Eurasianists resolutely oppose a “geographist” differentialism. In their eyes, the Western model is absolutely not universal. As we have already said, each geographical space corresponds for Eurasianists to a given civilization, the Western model therefore legitimately and exclusively corresponds to the Western geographical space. Eurasianism thus defends an incommensurability and an equality of civilizations between them, which must each be respected in their specificity. The inexpiable fault of the West is thus to have believed itself superior to the rest of the world, granting itself the right to invade it “for its own good,” scorning thereby the irrefutable right of each people to remain itself and to develop according to its own internal logic; that is to say to remain faithful to its own topogenesis. The Eurasianists thus always presented themselves as anti-colonialists and Third Worldists (and this already in the 1920s; that is to say at a time when this was not yet fashionable). In France, Aleksander Dugin came closer to the New Right led by Alain de Benoist, which also carried a differentialist critique of Western universalism, while Aleksander Panarin, for his part, came closer to certain researchers from postcolonial studies. The latter affirmed in this respect that the providential mission of Eurasia is to take the lead in the revolt of the Third World against Western hegemony.

Eurasia as Ideocracy

Panarin’s Eurasian messianism undeniably reproduced certain “tics” of Russian nationalism. It is an observation that can be extended to the whole of Eurasianist thought, which grants Orthodox “Holy Russia” the role of the “spearhead” of Eurasia. Eurasianists, however, have always denied being reactionary. In the 1920s, they strongly criticized White Russians who stubbornly remained monarchists, and instead claimed to be “futurists” (and even “cosmists” for the most left-wing). If they rejected the Marxist ideology, they saw in the Soviet experience an important step in the process of political incarnation of the Eurasian Idea. For the Eurasianists, the Russian people, Orthodox and theophore, were providentially elected to carry out this process, i.e., to make the Eurasian empire come true. The latter, political incarnation of the Eurasian Idea, is thus understood by Eurasianist thought as an ideocracy, aristocratic and authoritarian regime, of religious and socialist essence, expressing the Eurasian organicity.

The Eurasianists trace the history of the constitution of the Eurasian ideocracy, through a historical meta-narrative breaking with traditional Russian historiography. Indeed, the Rus’ of Kiev is thus seen as denying its usual founding role. Only Saint Vladimir of Kiev (958-1015), for his historical choice of Byzantine Christianity, and Saint Alexander Nevsky (1220-1263) are preserved. The latter, confronted in the East by the Mongols, and in the West by the Teutonic Knights (launched in the famous Baltic, or Northern Crusades), chose to recognize the suzerainty of Batu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, and to oppose the Teutonic Knights—thus making the choice of Eurasia against the West (the Eurasianists also contrasted Saint Alexander Nevsky with another Russian prince, Daniel of Galicia, who made the opposite choice, and whom they condemned to hell-fire for that; one finds here the dual character of Ukraine in Eurasianist thought)—because it is indeed the Mongolian empire which is seen as the matrix of the Eurasian ideocracy. The Eurasianist historiography, in an original way, thus rehabilitated Genghis Khan and the Genghisids. Lev Gumilev (1912-1992) pointed out the Christian dimension of the Mongol empire, including among its high aristocracy (the mother of Kublai Khan, emperor of China and grandson of Genghis Khan, was a Church of the East Christian princess). While traditional Russian historiography sees in the affirmation of Muscovy a founding struggle for national liberation against the Mongols, Eurasian historiography sees in Moscow the heir to the Mongol empire. The providential mission of the Russian people is therefore to bring to its historical completion the work that the Mongolian people started: the constitution of the Eurasian ideocratic empire.

It is difficult to assess the influence of Eurasianism on contemporary Russian politics. Those who have made Dugin into an eminence grise of the Kremlin, or even into a Eurasianist of President Putin, have probably greatly exaggerated. However, it would be wrong to underestimate the capacity of Eurasianist thought, with its mystical, political and scientific roots, to infuse some of its ideas into the state ideologies of the countries of the former USSR (as the examples of Russia, Kazakhstan and, to a lesser extent, Kyrgyzstan demonstrate).


Grégoire Quevreux currently teaches philosophy at the Institut Protestant de Théologie de Paris, and is completing a doctoral thesis on process theology under the direction of Professor Cyrille Michon. This article appears through the kind courtesy of PHILITT.


Featured: “The Road in the Rye,” by Grigoriy Myasoyedov; painted in 1881.

Walter Schubart: Can the East regenerate the West?

In his 1938 book, Europe and the Soul of the East (Europa und die Seele des Ostens—translated as Russia and Western Man), the Latvian writer of German origin, Walter Schubart, questions the possibility of a spiritual rebirth of the West compromised by Promethean ideology. In his eyes, the heroic man, that is to say the man who submits the world to his will, has run out of steam and must give way to the Messianic Man who alone will be able to reconcile the East and the West.

The spiritual decline of the West is a fact. Since the advent of what is usually called “modern times,” old Europe has abandoned making belief in God the condition of the possibility of the common good and of human life. The Promethean era—named after the Titan who stole the divine fire to give it to men—has reversed all values to make materialism, individualism and technical progress a new trinity. The superhuman has replaced the divine as the philosophical horizon. But the man who conceives himself as his own measure is exhausted and the 20th century has shown that the West has been irremediably attracted by its own destruction.

Therefore, where can we find the resources for the spiritual recovery of Europe? How to reinject spirituality into the worn-out carcass of Promethean Man? In the eyes of Walter Schubart, the salvation of the West must come from the East—and, more precisely, from that country torn between the two worlds since the reforms of Peter the Great—Russia. To the figure of the Promethean Man—of which Napoleon was the most perfect incarnation—Schubart opposes the figure of the Messianic Man.

Let us specify above all that for the author of Europe and the Soul of the East, history is cyclical and is divided into four ages. Each age produces a prototype of man who is characterized by his relationship to the universe: the Harmonious Man, the Heroic Man, the Ascetic Man and the Messianic Man. The Harmonious Man, the ideal of ancient Greece and China, does not perceive the heterogeneity of the spiritual and the material as a source of conflict. He contemplates the universe with love and is fully satisfied with the order of things. For him, “the problem of the meaning of history is already solved,” specifies Schubart.

The Heroic Man, the model of ancient Rome and modern Germany, sees chaos when he looks at the world. He wants to order what surrounds him, to make it conform to his will.

The Ascetic Man, on the other hand, considers material existence as a lure and turns away from it to devote himself solely to the spiritual. His objective is to live outside the world and within himself, while waiting for physical death. The Hindus and the neo-Platonist Greeks had adopted this philosophy.

Finally, the Messianic Man wants to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth and relies on an inner mysticism. To do this, he must reconcile what has been separated, through the love he carries within himself. The early Christians and the Slavs are emblematic of this temperament.

Schubart also breaks down the last millennium of the West into two ages: the Gothic Age, which was dominated by the Ascetic Man, and the Promethean Age, which was and still is dominated by the Heroic Man. In his eyes, the Promethean Age has run out of steam and must give way to the Johannine Age (of Saint John) which has the Messianic Man as its model. The Promethean age, as we have said, is characterized by man’s desire to detach himself from God: “No matter that Western man finds his destiny in the economy, or even in politics or in technology, he is certain that he no longer finds it in spirituality, nor in divinity. He has definitively renounced a spiritual attitude towards life. Attracted by material powers, he has finally succumbed to the forces of the earth—he has made himself a slave of matter,” writes Schubart. The contempt for the material that characterized the Gothic Age and its Ascetic Man is mirrored by the contempt for the spiritual that characterizes the Promethean Age and its Heroic Man.

Russia: A Link between East and West

The Johannine Age that the author calls for must therefore be envisaged under the sign of unity, in accordance with the temperament of the Messianic Man: “The Messianic Man does not act out of a spirit of domination, but is guided solely by a constant concern for conciliation; the feeling that animates him is love. He does not seek to divide in order to rule, his concern is to unite what has been separated,” emphasizes Schubart. For the Messianic Man, in this case for the Slavic soul, the spectacle of a fragmented world is unbearable. The separation of the material from the spiritual, of the soul from the body, of man from nature, and ultimately of man from God, strikes him with a deep sense of longing. The Messianic Man wants to recover the lost unity that was the joy of the Harmonious Man: “The image of the Universe that the Harmonious Man has of it is more or less the same as that which the Messianic Man had of it. However, whereas the one has already reached the goal, the other still seeks to reach it in a very distant future; both consider the Universe as the beloved being to whom they give themselves in order to unite with it.”

It is the Russians who have the task of turning the West from the Promethean to the Johannine Age, precisely because the Slavic soul—because it is fundamentally Eastern—is impervious to materialist and atheistic doctrines. Written in 1938, the thesis of Europe and the Soul of the East immediately raised an objection—why should salvation come from Russia when the Soviet Union has achieved on earth the exact opposite of what Messianic Man has a right to expect? Communism has turned materialism, atheism and technical progress into a state ideology: “The Russians, who are faithful to the Church, see in the Soviet Union the ‘Kingdom of Antichrist,’” responded Schubart.

For the author, the contradiction is merely superficial. Bolshevism is, according to him, only a vast enterprise of sabotage of the Promethean ideal. Schubart held that the advent of the Soviet Union was merely a harmful consequence of the Occidentalism which has been trying to impose itself on the Russian mentality since Peter the Great. The monstrous character of the Soviet Union resided precisely in this contradiction between the Slavic soul and the Promethean ideal: “The Russian is carried by a living feeling of universality. The contemplation of the steppes without limits always brings back his glance towards the infinite one. It will never be able to put itself in harmony with Promethean culture whose fundamental base is egocentrism and which supports individual emancipation or—what amounts to the same thing—the decline of the gods.”

The Unsinkable Russian Soul

Similarly, state atheism advocated by the communist regime had no hold on the deep convictions of Russians: “The absence of religious feeling, even within religions—this is the characteristic of contemporary Europe. The persistence of religious feeling, even in a materialistic ideology, is the characteristic of the Russian Soviet world. With the Russians, everything has a religious character, even atheism,” writes Schubart. This paradoxical formula translates a deep truth: the Russian man cannot do without religion, even when he renounces it. Schubart relied on Dostoyevsky’s Demons to support his point. Indeed, Stavrogin and Kirilov deploy, each in their own way, a mystical impulse in their enterprise of negation of divinity. Despite their respective nihilism, they position and define themselves only in relation to God. Unlike Westerners, they cannot be indifferent to this question.

Finally, the historical failure of communism, which Schubart did not see in his lifetime but which he foresaw, is a demonstration by the absurd of the intrinsically spiritual character of the Russian mentality: “Russia has provided the world with proof that a culture without God is doomed. It has also proved that the autonomy of the individual is an illusion,” says Scunart. And it is this unsinkability of the soul which can allow Russia to realize the synthesis between East and West, between the metaphysical spirit and the Promethean spirit, between faith and reason: “…modern Europe is a form without life—Russia is a life without forms. In the first case, the soul has abandoned the body and left an empty carcass. In the second case, life has destroyed the forms that hindered it.” Messianic Man—”the perfect man,” says Schubart—of the Johannine Age must above all be understood as a reconciled man, as a man who reaches out with all his might toward the lost harmony of Homer and Lao Tzu, even if it means finding the apocalypse in his path.


Matthieu Giroux is a Dostoyevskian sovereignist and the editorial director of PHLITT. This article appears through the generous courtesy of PHLITT.


Featured: “Strelka,” by Andrei Remnev; painted in 2015.