Originally appeared at Globalaffairs.ru; Appeared in Bulgarian at A-specto, translated by Valentina Tzoneva exclusively for SouthFront
The events from the summer political season this year do not give us a chance to take a breath. No one can imagine what will happen tomorrow. Even if we leave aside the nervous atmosphere bordering hysteria, which has got a hold of all the elites, there is a feeling of irreversible change of the coordinating system that, for a long time, was believed to be eternal. The August putsch of 25 years ago drew a line in Soviet history. The Soviet Union of Gorbachov, as well as the idea of the ‘New World Order’, built up on ‘shares’ like a shareholding composed of former opponents went beyond existence. We shall never know whether it was possible to keep the USSR, but after the disappearance of the Soviet Union, there was not a single word about some common design for the new world. First, Russia was seen as a defeated country. The scale of its social and economic devastation was compared to a military defeat. Second, Russia itself announced its desire for integration with the society of western countries; in other words, to accept their norms, but not to become a partner in the creation of a new world order.
From this moment on, the dominant position of the West became undeniable. The events on the border between the 80s and 90s of the last century, led to a radical turn in the world. However, after the passing of a quarter of a century, this assessment is questionable. It is true that the systematic confrontation of 1940-1980 finished with the disappearance of one of the sides, but if the backgrounds were changed, the institutions suffered very minor changes. The West did not change anything and again bet on the same structures that served it before, or said in a different way, no one had any intention to review the model for managing the world established in the period of the Cold War. It was accepted that the realisation of this model must lean not on two balancing each other super states, but only on one of them and this one state, superior to all the others, was destined to own the entire global power.
Slowly but surely it became clear that the practice of pouring new wine into old wineskins does not work. Gradually, Russia became a problem. Regardless of the initial enthusiasm, Russia did not integrate organically with the society of the Western democracies. This neither happened in the period of the devastation in the 90s, nor after the re-establishment of the state. It is true that up to the second half of 2000, the USA and Europe did not have particular problems with Russia. In 2004, the Harvard Economist, Andre Schlayfer, and the Political Analyst, Daniel Traceman, wrote that Russia will either “break up” and take up the road of “the normal countries”, or won’t manage the competition and will silently burn down as a meaningful international factor. Even in the period of 2007-2014 when the relations with the West started to deteriorate, it was still believed that Russia could give headaches, but could not create real problems.
Parallel to this, however, the Western model started to show defects. The experiment of making NATO a global policeman did not last for a long time. It started at the end of 1990 in Yugoslavia, after that in Afghanistan, and finished with the war in Iraq where the alliance was not in unanimity. The consequences of this experiment were huge. It became clear that a multiple military superiority is not sufficient for the realisation of the Western programme. The export of democracy only deepened the unresolvable problem for changes in the Middle East, and called for the categorical opposition from Russia and China. The correctness of this strategy created doubts in the Western society itself. The reason for the following cataclysms became the growing crisis at the core of the New World Order. Neither the ambitions of the wounded Russia, nor the economic height of China, neither the explosion of Islamic terrorism, on their own, could have brought in such a quick – in historic terms – decline of the neoliberal globalisation, which changed the bipolar model of the Cold War 25 years ago.
The summer of 2016 showed that the erosion has reached the heart of the liberal project. Two central institutions were struck – NATO and the European Union, as well as the USA – the leader of the global power. Proof for the conditions of the North-Atlantic alliance became the events in Turkey, which is a key ally of NATO and has the second biggest army in the alliance. President Erdogan started behaving as if NATO does not exist at all, and this at a time when NATO qualified Russia as an opponent and at the same time Ankara discussed the extension and the deepening of military technical links and contacts in the security sphere with Moscow. It is difficult to understand to what degree the information that the Russian special services warned Erdogan about the coup is correct. But at least it becomes clear that the Americans didn’t do so, although Russia and Turkey were in a dire conflict, and the USA together with Turkey, have been members of NATO since 1952.
The Republican candidate for the White House, Donald Trump, also added fuel to the fire. The speeches of the billionaire that America must protect only those countries which pay their installments to NATO, angered the military and strategic institutions in Washington and the EU. By the way, the USA has on numerous occasions and on different levels expressed its dissatisfaction with the passiveness and stinginess of its European partners. Trump brought the same accusations, but in a much sharper form. Moreover, he expressed his doubts about the correctness of the expansion of the alliance in which states are included not according to the principle of military expediency, but exclusively for political reasons. Saying this, he de facto allowed himself encroach on the “sacred cow”.
Broadly speaking, despite the external success of NATO and the confirmed bloc-solidarity at the summit in Warsaw, one can say that today the alliance is loose. In the American presidential campaign, for the first time in a quarter of a century, a nuance of a turn towards isolationism is noticed. Trump interprets the exceptionalism of the USA in a completely different way from its interpretations after the Cold War. His appeal for exceptionalism speaks about distancing America from everything that does not directly concern it. Whether Trump will win or not will be clear after the election, but the theme he spoke about will probably develop because it reflects the prevailing public sentiment.
The Euro-union is also undergoing a strong truce. Regardless of the reasons of the British voters for leaving the EU, a new historical reality was born. For the first time in the history of the Union, the community is not expanding but is contracting. The conflict with Turkey, the confusing relations with Russia and the exit of Great Britain are different in nature, but the conclusion from them is singular: a greater Europe with Brussels at its the centre failed to materialise.
Twenty-five years passed between the two failed putsches – the Soviet one in August 1991 and the Turkish one in July 2016. This was the period when an attempt to redesign the design of the past was made. This attempt led to its lawful outcome. The logic of the old construction won. The relations resembling those from the time of the Cold War are renewed. The world, after all, changed. After 1991, no new institutions were created, but now they have started emerging, thanks to Russia, China and some other national states. The new era which did not manage to take place in the past is coming and it cannot be stopped.
Author: Feodor Lukianov