This was a year full of changes and innovations.
Written by Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.
2021 was a year full of important events in the geopolitical scenario. Several significant changes in the international balance of power were witnessed, but, while the year was permeated with innovations, on the other hand, 2021 also seemed a continuation of 2020, when we consider the health aspect, with constant waves of infections and coronavirus variants emerging and generating victims throughout the planet. This ambiguous and complex character made 2021 one of the most interesting years of the last decades.
The first scenes of 2021 were really scary. The popular riots and social instability in the US raised doubts about whether Joe Biden would really assume power or not. After violent rebellions and even an invasion of the Capitol, the Democrat operated his inauguration, which, curiously, was the most militarized and least applauded in all of American history. Expectations from then on became one of a true “unipolar crusade”. Biden came to power with the promise of regaining US hegemonic status in the global arena, but his plans confronted the material reality of a declining power unable to maintain the “world police” role it has held for decades.
The Democrat president was forced to take a more realistic stance and, in the end, he became a true sucessor of the Trump era. Biden withdrew US troops from Afghanistan, took the first steps towards a similar retreat in Iraq, stopped sanctions on Nord Stream 2, and intensified interventionism in Latin America. At the same time, despite maintaining a policy of constant provocation in Eastern Europe, he agreed to negotiate with Russia, having held two summits with Putin (one physical and one virtual) and scheduled a conference between Moscow and NATO for January 2022.
However, not in all respects, Biden abdicated his initial plans. The Democrat intensified opposition to China, moving the axis of confrontation from the commercial sphere (initiated by Trump) to the military sphere, increasing the activities of the QUAD and creating the AUKUS. The provocations in the Chinese strategic environment have significantly intensified and boosted the Moscow-Beijing bilateral relations, as a way of reacting to Western pressure on both countries. Russia and China are reaching their highest diplomatic level in decades and this will certainly be a challenge Washington will have to deal with in order to pursue its geopolitical agenda.
It would be wrong to say that Biden abdicated his early expansionist ideals. His retreat in Central Asia, for example, was just a consequence of the inevitable conditions of keeping American troops in Kabul, but he has been trying to take advantage of this to promote further incursions in the region. Washington and Ankara have advanced the idea of installing NATO’s bases throughout the post-Soviet Central Asian space, worrying Russia and China, which have interests in the same region. As a consequence, once again Moscow-Beijing relations are boosted.
In several other cases, Biden’s actions have generated side effects that Washington will have difficulty in reversing. This is what we can conclude when we analyze cases such as, for example, the boycott against Saudi Arabia – which emerged in the early days of the new American administration, as a consequence of Biden’s humanitarian idealism. Quite unexpectedly, Riyadh has been gradually approaching its biggest geopolitical enemy, Iran. Although this is still a slow and premature process, it is a real promise of significant change in the entire geopolitics of the Middle East.
In short, Biden has failed to fulfill with most of his initial promises. This can be observed not only in the international scenario, but also in internal politics, with his catastrophic management of the migration crisis and his visible weakness in the dialogue with technology companies. The Democrats were supported by the Big Tech in the last elections as a way to end Trump’s neo-nationalist isolationism, but the extraordinary power of these companies generates fear even to the most globalist American congressmen, which makes the agenda for limiting these companies’ actions a common cause for Republicans and Democrats.
Biden, who in the past supported the imposition of restrictions on Big Tech and who abdicated this topic during the elections, now needs to take a side in a conflict with increasingly serious consequences: on the one hand, the damage caused by Big Tech’s activities affect the entire Western society; on the other, the economy of the entire West depends on the Big Tech and an organized boycott of these companies would irreversibly harm the US and all Western states.
As far as Europe is concerned, a good part of the problems of last year remained, but with more serious consequences. In France, the social crisis generated by the unlimited reception of immigrants is leading to extreme polarizations, including warnings issued by the armed forces of a possible civil war starting in the short term. Macron, in order to satisfy the public opinion, tried to take more conservative measures in this aspect, intensifying policies against the Islamization of France, but the future of this scenario will depend exclusively on the result of the next presidential elections.
The UK is on a journey in search of new partnerships after its departure from the EU. The current bet appears to be an automatic alignment with Washington, which has been witnessed in projects like the AUKUS and in the growing British interventionism in the Chinese and Russian strategic environments.
Another important point was the German case. Berlin is undergoing important and historic changes with the end of the Merkel era. The former minister’s last years in power were marked by a gradual distance from Washington and by the search for greater sovereignty for Berlin, while the new administration has already intensified restrictive measures on Nord Stream 2 and sanctioned the pipeline for alleged non-compliance with European energy standards. It is likely that a period of rapprochement with the US is about to begin.
In Eastern Europe, the political scenario looked like an escalation of Russia-West tensions, operated by their respective allies. Ukraine, Poland, the Baltics and other allied or members of NATO have intensified anti-Russian measures and favored Western troops’ maneuvers in the entire region, while Belarus has sought Moscow’s support to deal with the pressure it has been suffering from NATO and the EU, especially during the migration crisis and the friction with Poland in recent months.
Turkey hardened an anti-Russian move, adopting a destabilizing stance in Central Asia and Ukraine. Ankara has its own geopolitical project, which does not allow the country to become totally subservient to Western interests, but at the moment what most interests Erdogan is to favor NATO’s actions in these regions, as a way of undermining Russian influence. Something similar can be said about India, a country historically characterized by a sovereign foreign policy but which has come very dangerously close to adopting a role of Western satellite in Asia in order to deal with its rivalry with China and Pakistan – country that, in turn, ends the year strengthened, considering the victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
However, despite major changes in the geopolitical arena, in a central aspect, 2021 seems to have been just a continuation of 2020 because of the pandemic. The promise of a return to normality has failed around the world. Vaccines have proved insufficient to deal with new coronavirus variants, perpetuating the so-called “new normal”. The restrictive measures, the use of masks and constant “booster doses” of vaccines seem to be a reality without any expectation of ending in the coming years. Undoubtedly, large pharmaceutical companies have benefited from this scenario. Companies that produce and sell vaccines have been denounced by emerging states for unfair rules in their contracts with governments, such as the requirement to donate natural reserves, bank assets and exemption from liability for the side effects of vaccines.
There has also been great cooperation between Western Big Pharma and liberal governments to ban vaccines produced in non-aligned countries such as Russia, China and Cuba. Indeed, the pharmaceutical race that started last year has continued and it looks like this will be a factor of extreme relevance in global geopolitics for many years to come. However, despite the growing power of the big pharmaceutical industries and the advance of the globalist agenda, the scenario of a post-pandemic world still seems totally uncertain.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- New Footage Confirms French Troops Are Still Operating In Northeastern Syria
- ISIS Terrorists Inflicted Heavy Losses On Nigerian Troops During Recent Attack In Yobe State (Photos)