Voices from Russia

Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016: The Year Washington Lost Its Mind

00 Vitaly Podvitsky. Putin did It! 2014


Seismic is the only word to describe 2016, especially when describing the USA-Russia relationship. Paraphrasing Gramsci, it was a year when we witnessed the dying of an old world and the birth of a new one. However, by no means, was the birth painless… nor is it complete. Western hegemony… geopolitical, military, cultural, and economic… has never been so fiercely contested as it was in 2016. Surveying a year in which anti-Russian hysteria became the new normal in Washington, London, and Paris, not to mention across Eastern Europe on the part of governments that deployed Russophobia as a convenient scapegoat to deflect from their own political and economic shortcomings, it’s a reminder that no empire ever forgives its defeats.

If this past year was anything, it was a year that hammered the final nail into the coffin of neoconservatism and its Masters of the Universe conceit. It saw humanity travel full circle from the starting point of the boast by American academic Francis Fukuyama that the demise of the USSR heralded the End of History, wherein Western liberal democracy had triumphed and would now reign supreme forevermore. Those who allowed themselves to luxuriate in this conceit have just lived through a year of unparalleled agony and anguish, defined by the collapse of this liberal order under the weight of the misery and despair it succeeded in sowing over the past decade and more at home and across the world.

For the first time since 9/11… when Western hawks declared war-without-end in the cause not of security, democracy, or human rights, but instead domination, hegemony, and unipolarity… the Western project of régime change was thwarted in Syria, though not without huge cost and suffering. It was a seminal defeat marked by the liberation of Aleppo, followed by trilateral talks between Iran, Russia, and Turkey with the objective of ending the conflict. The exclusion of the USA and European powers from these talks was hugely significant, evidence that we’re increasingly finding solutions to the crises created by Western hegemonic policies in the East rather than the West.

The election in November of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the USA, following in the wake of Brexit, confounded a Washington political and media establishment that had grown complacent over the years in a bubble of self-aggrandisement in which they detached themselves from reality. Indeed, their inability to come to terms with the shock was such that rather than look to their own failures, they sought to scapegoat Russia as the primary cause. Never mind the millions of Americans who opted to vote for a maverick billionaire businessman rather than a machine politician whose record was a monument to mendacity. No, Trump’s election had nothing to do with them. It was all Russia’s doing. In what can only be described as an insult to those voters and their democratic rights, no sooner had the election result been announced than the forces of hell were unleashed against Moscow, accused of hacking the DNC, and passing the results on to Wikileaks, whose release of the so-called “Podesta emails” provided not only the American public but also the entire world with an insight into the inner workings of what passes for democracy in Washington.

Just think about this for a moment. According to the DNC, Clinton’s supporters, the CIA, and many more besides, Russia effectively forced millions of Americans to walk into a voting booth and vote for a candidate whose suitability for office was considered so outlandish that he was ridiculed throughout both the Republican primary process and ensuing presidential election campaign thereafter. Such a rendering is so desperate and deluded it could only gain traction in a period of huge and momentous transformation, such as took place over 2016, involving the decline of what is and the rise of what will be. Over the past year, the resulting flux and discord succeeded in turning rational human beings into irrational and paranoid wrecks, people who found themselves being swept away in the currents of historical change.

It was a year that we witnessed countries responsible for the destruction of entire countries lecturing the world on the meaning of democracy and human rights. They depicted President Putin as an amalgam of every James Bond movie villain this decades-long movie franchise unleashed. Meanwhile, rather than the largest and most populous country in Europe, with a history as rich in culture and civilisation as any on the planet, they reduced Russia to a vast criminal enterprise as part of the same exercise in demonisation. In 476 AD, what was then known as the Western Roman Empire came to an end, after a century of successive “barbarian” invasions finally succeeded in bringing it to its knees. The symbols of Rome’s power… the emperor’s imperial vestments, diadem, and purple cloak… were sent to Constantinople, the seat of power of the eastern half of the empire, to bring the curtain down on a millennium of history. It was proof that no empire, regardless of its economic and military power, lasts forever.

Rome fell for the same reason that all empires fall over time… greed… greed for wealth, for power, and for domination. Our time is no different. The economic crash of 2008 was the result of greed in Wall Street and the City of London, the twin engines of Western economic growth and hegemony over so many decades. Allied to the triumphalism with which Washington (and the West in general) met the demise of the USSR in the early 1990s, the result was overreach. In 2016, we witnessed the culmination of what has been a slow but inexorable decline in the West… a political order with no answers to the crises that they in their ideological fixation with domination and hegemony caused. Blaming others rather than look in the mirror and accept responsibility was their only answer.

As the Roman philosopher Seneca reminded us, “For greed, all nature is too little”.

Western ideologues take note.

31 December 2016

John Wight




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