Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Valentina Tzoneva exclusively for SouthFront
Antoinetta Kiselincheva intrviews Valentin Vatsev, an expert on politics, geopolitics and international relations, professor of European studies and political philosophy at the College of Europe and at Plovdiv University, ‘Paisii Hilendarski’.
Mr. Vatsev, the major US media that is openly sympathetic to Hillary Clinton is already talking about her as the next US president. What can we expect from Clinton on foreign policy? What is your forecast?
I would be happy if Trump wins, because his victory would be very symbolic. That would be proof in practice, that the monopoly on power in the United States (US) – an absolutely great country, could be broken by an ordinary person because in terms of the establishment of the US, Trump is an ordinary man, despite being a millionaire, an eccentric, and he has even been married to Slavic women, which is the tip of the eccentricities in the Anglo-Saxon world, but he is an absolute outsider to the high elite of America. So, here we have the question of principle: can an ordinary miserable outsider (bad unclear origin, laughable education, non-prestigious background, “new vulgar money,” he has not built any library or church or cultural centre, he does not speak French, he is not even gay etc.) enter the Bohemian grove in the world that defines the future of the great country? And it really is a very narrow and closed world of several thousand people with tribal traditions, cultural ancestry, old families and “old great, albeit invisible, money.” Literally, a few hundred families coordinate for years ahead who will be next. And suddenly, here comes some Trump. How vulgar! But I think that he cannot become a president and if his chances increase enough, troubles and mishaps might start happening to him because the stake is too high. It is too much power, we are talking about great power. Those, who are in power now managed until recently, albeit indirectly, to control the Republican Party. In other words, the tribal union that defined the Clintons as the favourite for the real power of the United States (though indeed, there was a time when they did not allow them into the Bohemian Grove), controlled the leadership of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The Republicans managed to emancipate themselves from the effects of this non-partisan leadership and shifted, but I think that their potential will not be sufficient to bring Trump to the presidential position. Again, I would love to see Trump elected, but I think the stakes are so high that for such things, some shoot and kill. For smaller things, the Kennedy clan (a really old, rich and influential family) was almost completely destroyed. So it is more probable that in reality, Mrs. Clinton will be the next president. From her, I expect a forceful conversion of the European Union into the 51st US state. I expect an extremely acute and forceful politics, not because Hillary Clinton is a special person. She is a complicated, sharp, rude person and psychologically ready for this type of activity, but the explanation is not in the soul …
By the way, the October before the election in the US in November is traditionally reserved for the so-called. “October surprises.” I will observe with interest and to certain a degree, with disgust, how landfills of any impurities will open. This is described by Mark Twain in Candidate for Governor. This is classic; there, one knows what to expect. Perhaps we will learn for example, that Trump is transgender or something like that, and maybe that half a century ago, he raped (in the plebeian school, of course, heh-heh) his black(!) classmate (who “cannot keep silent”). And Hillary on her side is an epileptic who “has complications” in boarding and getting off a plane (we already heard it). Then some doctor will show and prove with his signature (showing on television cameras his indisputable medical degree) that he has treated the lady specifically for epilepsy and not for a chicken thorn … This is what the Americans do before elections. Here, the stakes are so high that the funds will not be selected. This is normal; it is a part of the cultural code. I expect as well that the US embassies around the world will open office hours for the progressive humanity to legitimise the love for Hillary Clinton with a signature. Bulgaria, of course, will also have its own committee for love (do you want to guess who will establish it? I give you three chances to guess right.) and will open a site in support of the lady. The last time they did the same; they announced that the entire progressive mankind vote for American democrats … Then to my great pleasure, Bush won, who of course, in the meantime managed to disappoint us. But I hate it when the American establishment makes the whole world vote for their whims.
Hillary Clinton will escalate the contradictions with Russia to the maximum of the degree of conflict. Today, in the few months before the election, there is such a feature – in the US, the highest political positions are not dealing with international politics, that’s why in the last five to six months before the elections, the local nomenclatures – intelligence, agents and others are relatively free. “The boss is not looking, so we are creative!” So now is the time for the local creativity of the CIA, the Intelligence of the State Department, the Department of Military Intelligence of the US (although there, they are more strict). I expect for example, an armed conflict on the Russia-Ukraine border around the date of the election. But if that happens, it will be the work of the lower ranks. The high American establishment has now forgotten that there is a world beyond them. Now the world is not Olympics but elections. The interest of the US to the world will return in late February after the presidential elections. When Mrs. Clinton wins, and it becomes more likely that she will, she will escalate the conflict relations with Russia to the limit. Although the Kremlin quite obviously is unwilling to participate in any real escalation, it will be forced to. Mr. Putin’s ability to turn a blind eye is large but not infinite.
And in the US, the logic of democratic thinking leads them to the conclusion that might not be wrong. The loss of hegemony is an inevitable objective process. It is like ageing – it has no cure. I think that it is nobody’s fault; it is just the spirit of the time. But the loss of American hegemony which we are witnessing, is compensated with a small or if necessary, a great victorious war or multiple wars.
There is no interest in a war with China, but Russia is given by God to fight it. So this is the logic of thinking of the Democrats and I think that they are right in their own way. Of course, there are many authoritative representatives of the opposite understanding, but they will be kicked out. I think that they have already been kicked out.
Europe will be bent. On any resistance in the EU, like the refusal to sign the transatlantic trade economic agreement, its spine will be broken. Someone in Europe, mainly in France and Germany, might try to resist. But several million swarthy internationalists with an Arabic accent, well-armed and organised and settled at key locations in Old Europe will quickly explain to the old lady what global progress means now, aligned with congenital human rights.
Ukraine will be armed with as many weapons as it needs to allow the expected war with Russia to begin and never end.
Romania will acquire nuclear weapons (this is already underway), and we can be made happy with some nuclear warhead – we are not worse than the others!
Softly but relentlessly, each criticising mouth will be clogged and the European world will enter what once was far-fetchedly called an “iron heel” – you must obey, not reason. Smiling power – authoritarianism will come from the Democratic Party of the US, which may lead to future internal party problems. But today, Hillary is the undisputed party favourite and an expression of the will of the “party of war” in the high elite of America that believes that the fix is in power activities in all directions.
And now Trump must answer the question: why are you not ready to hit Russian planes? He repeatedly said that he was ready; what is he supposed to answer in the election campaign when they ask: won’t you shoot Putin? The Kremlin understandably hopes that Trump will win. Although nobody has proved it, I would not be surprised if they really tried in some very indirect way to help. What I do not believe in, however, is their hopes that things can be repaired if Trump got power. Yes, the Kremlin will live in a slightly more relaxed manner, but only for a while; it’s time to remember the wise Arab proverb about the “meeting in Samara” …
Let us imagine, however, that Trump won the election and became the president of the United States.
In history, usually what is possible happens and what is impossible does not. But yes, there are miracles. And sometimes the impossible becomes possible. Mistakes happen. Suppose, they made a mistake and missed the situation and Trump became president. America is a scary, complicated country and right now, the problems are particularly multilateral. In such an allocation of factors I see war again, but this time of the civil type in the US. Trump will split all American corporations, give voice to the rednecks, challenge the power of the families, defile the holy of holies of the system. This wretch was not even in the “Phi-Beta-Kappa!” He will encroach, it is scary to say, even the Owl! His attempt to bring back the industrial production from China to the United States and restore the old victorious American policy will be unsuccessful. Yes, I admire his reactionary retrovision, but it has only sentimental value. History, the old witch, is not at all sentimental. Do we not perceive in the slogan of Trump “return to greatness” a romantic impulse, a reaction-heroic pathos? But the greatness of America will not return. It’s like the beauty of a 25-year-old woman; it happens only once. In this sense, he is lying to both himself and the voters. America will not be great, at least not in the way it was when I liked it. In the happy years until the 70s of the last century, it was a really cruel but glorious country.
This will not come back, but he can do many things for partial reindustrialisation, introduction of new relationships, a new brain-power in international politics, change the geopolitical line, and postpone in time the Day of Wrath. And this is not a small job. Trump is self-taught and an improviser, he has no formal political education, but he extremely accurately feels a principle of Lincoln – America should support freedom and democracy around the world and not seek enemies around the world. With Trump it is easier to talk about some active isolationism and much less aggression. All this is true, but today the United States really cannot live without a war.
Do you expect Trump to be allowed to conduct an independent policy? And what would be his fate if he still tries to conduct anti-establishment politics? What are the reasons for the political elite in the US to organically reject candidates like Trump?
If I had an insurance company, I would not insure him. But the problem is different. The political, public and cultural and political system of the United States was amazingly strong because it was flexible and adjusted to self-change whenever needed. It adapts to the changing environment, it even changed ahead of its own changes. And today, they are right even when they are wrong.
The US, with everything good and bad that can be said about it so far is the land of the victorious industrial capital. And the industrial capital is no longer in power. Industrialism went out to other lands and there it enriches other nations, other states and other leaders. The US is rather the point where the centres of transnational capital prefer to live and keep its legal registration. These very people may be US citizens and alumni, but transnational capital has no homeland. The grandeur and glory of the United States, its deserved hegemonic position in the world has already passed simply because the dominance of industrial capital has passed.
Today, we are witnessing the full domination of finance capital over all its historical preconditions, over all its conditions. Financial capital is fundamentally different from industrial capital. This, by the way, explains why indeed the position of Karl Marx, who obviously respected capital, is so contradictory. He sees it as a factor of Progress (yes, with a capital, as a major “ferment” of history) and I agree with him that capital is a factor that drives Progress. Above all, Marx is a Progressive and then everything else. Is it not obvious that with him it is not “Progress is for the proletariat” but the opposite – the proletariat is the instrument of Progress? Then why did he so rudely, honestly and irrationally hate capital? Perhaps, because he suspected it with the intuition of a grandson of a rabbi that after the industrial capital, another capital will come that destroys capitalism to create a New anthropology, a New social order: the transhuman reality of the Age of Aquarius, where the boldest visions of Nietzsche look like banal humanism – the blonde character against Cthulhu … [tTanslator’s note: a character in the mythos by H. P. Lovecraft.]
These processes are already present; they have already started in the United States. America is an extremely dramatic country and I think that the US is no longer able to choose its leadership without a collision, without a violent conflict. They have already started and will intensify. One must avoid strong words and bold predictions, but I think that the old American separatism will wake up and will enter the zone of obviousness. In America there are and always have been separatist attitudes and even motions. They are the continuing concern of the FBI because the FBI is not just handsome uncles who hunt serial killers, although they do this as well. The FBI is counterintelligence plus anti-organised crime plus political police. Each serious country (minus one, and it is no longer quite serious) has a political police. The political police in the United States prevents the creation of separatists. They are there but they constantly disappear. But there are situations when the political police cannot stop the separatism – the usual Anglo-Saxon, hot, tough and stubborn separatism. It has been there for a long time, but it can come out from the kitchens, garages, backyards with barbecue, from the everyday life of the average American. In Texas and several other states, separatism is already visible. If they took the power from the hands of Trump, and they probably will, they cannot not do it, I expect a new wave of unrest. The redneck would be extremely unhappy. Yes, the redneck can be shot dead brutallym but the other reference groups of Trump are not so easy …
So far, the US government has purchased eight million coffins and I do not know how many tens of billions of bullets. These days in the circles of the Democratic Party, there was an official discussion how the state should deal with domestic unrest and riots: by shooting and not with rubber batons. Yes, America is a dramatic country. Unfortunately, one cannot explain this to Bulgarian Russophobes and Americanophiles, and they do not care to know …
The confrontations between the US and Russia have a long history, but what do you think: has the point of conflict been amended or does the wheel of history rotate rhythmically?
As a historian, I know the role of analogy in historical thinking. I think that Aristotle was right when he claimed that “the future of the past is similar.” History repeats itself – it never repeats details and always repeats frames, gestalt and content. This is the eternal return of the same and no one knows how to get out of this scheme of Nietzsche.
The political analysts of today, Lord forgive, are the worthy heirs of the so-called internationalists under socialism. It was very pleasant to speak to most of them and they were bright, but at the end, their internationalism degenerated into a banal chatter. And today, these are the Bulgarian political scientists. Now, they are supposed to talk about the renaissance of the Cold War and I do not see anything like that. The Cold War was an era of ideological conflict, and between the Russian and the American establishment; today there isn’t a single drop of ideological contradiction. They are in a boat with the same interest, with the same needs. Yes, there is a terrible conflict in Russia. On the one hand, the smaller (but very influential) part of the elite, which believes that the entire Russian national income should be delivered in English and in extreme cases – in Swiss banks, and after all it must buy Buckingham Palace, passing through the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. Everything that moves and does not move in Europe should be bought to make clear what Europe is. These are the “Russian Europeans” and Danilevski vividly writes about them; this is Renata Litvinova, who was forced to buy an apartment in Marais (just because life is so short, n’est pas?). On the other side is the greater part of the Russian elite that believes that Russia should deal with their own Eurasian affairs, established as a kind of an island.
But, there isn’t a real ideological conflict between the US and Russia today! In this sense, metaphorically, right now the world is not three years after the end of World War II, but three years before the First World War. It is unbelievable, but the phenomenon of globalisation, which we have learned to say is the spirit of modern times, was more adequate and more efficient, all-conquering reality than it is now. A theory of ultra-imperialism and hyper-capitalism according to which the whole world will become a big industrial business as a whole – that is what I heard recently and not by historians but by talking heads on television. At that time, the great powers did not have any ideological conflict. Some of them have even been associated with kinship. Kaiser Wilhelm had waited for two weeks for a phone call from his cousin, Nicholas Romanov II, to finally clarify the question of how it was that Germany and Russia would fight. Cousin Willy had waited in vain for cousin Nicky to pick up the phone so they could get an understanding.
Is this not monstrous? What kind of idea is it for Germany and Russia to fight? And this is not just because some of the most successful Russian emperors and empresses are actually Germans, the great Catherine II is German, but because of a much deeper reason: because of the historical kinship between the German and Russian civilization. These are close nations, close civilizations. While there are Russian people, they will continue to dream and rave about the Straits. While there are German people and something like Germany, there will constantly be sighs for Mitteleuropa. The German people are also a nation and a civilization and they cannot change their cultural and historic gene code. The same applies to Russia. These two great nations clashed due to the great merit and victory of the Anglo-Saxon civilization. It is known why it happened, but there is no ideology there. There were brutal economic reasons, there was a geopolitical raw, a brutal Realpolitik, but there wasn’t a drop of ideology. Unlike the Cold War, where all contradictions are successfully transcoded into an ideological plan, which notably enabled a period without fights for 60 to 70 years.
We are on the eve of the First World War. “You know, Your Honor, that Ferdinand was killed?” – Asked the unforgettable Mrs. Müller …
In this parallel, where would you put the European and Bulgarian geopolitical woes?
Recently we heard that our beloved Prime Minister has scored yet another diplomatic success in Turkey and Germany. But I still think it is an evil fate. He himself decided to be proactive and as his vision, his culture, his background, his upbringing is such that he imagines the situation as reconciliation and mediation between gangs at odds. And this is not the case. In the place of the dying and then disintegrated Austro-Hungarian Empire, today is the festering European Union. The role of Emperor Franz Joseph is played by Jean-Claude Juncker and Angela Merkel. Of course, Greater Germany (Grossdeutschland) has got a successor, Germany, as it is today – a non-sovereign country whose gold stock is not in its territory, with a look constantly pointed to the US embassy, and inspired by gay parades on “Unter den Linden.” A defeated country!
The Austro-Hungarian Empire; this is the only empire that died because the elite did not understand that it was dying. It was absolutely rotten and was not able to bear the responsibilities of history, the entire Gotha almanac dealt only with itself. And leaving nevertheless, it left the spirit of Count Coudenhove-Kalergi.
In its place today appears the rotting European Union. In place of the glamorous Vienna with the beautiful blue Danube and the Vienna balls, we have the stinky Brussels, full of lobbying firms. At least in Vienna there was nothing like this. And now if you become a European MP, you don’t go, of course, in the Gotha almanac, but for that 40-50 lobbying firms record your name in their lists and every month they demonstrate their respect to you. And the respect, we know, can take different forms: some moral and others less moral.
On the other side, at the beginning of World War I was the dying Ottoman Empire, where a political genius Kemal emerged, who later became Ataturk (this is a title), and decided that he will make a progressive regime from a rotten dying empire, strict Republic. And he even succeeded! And history remembers the joy the Kemalist revolution was greeted in Moscow, because there was also a raging war against the bloody past that had to be discarded “overboard of history”; monasteries were burnt, bishops were shot, the Temple of Christ the Saviour was ruined in explosion, royal tombs were opened (yes, for scientific purposes) and the holy relics of Christian saints were thrown into the rubbish bins … Between 1924 and 1930, in Moscow the power was in the hands of the people of Trotsky, a spiritual cousin of Kemal. They saluted the Reformer.
The historic potential of the Kemalist revolution as a historical and creative event was sufficient to last to our days, when things are also settling under the weight of time because cultural and historical gravity is already exhausted. But this is not Erdogan’s fault. He does what he can in a situation where soon one will be able to do nothing because Turkey is an example of how to modernise a country where the majority of the population is Muslim, which in itself cannot be a problem, but the Muslim perception of the world cannot accept the axioms of the European/Caucasian modernisation. Simply, the threads do not match, the axioms disagree.
Up to a certain time, the Turks could have been beaten to make them take off shami and breeches, but they no longer beat them. Up to a certain time, the beards of the priests could be cut off (along with heads, if necessary), but now it does not work that way. Turkey is an amazingly complex country at a crossroads and I do not agree to blaming Erdogan for it.
On the one side is a completely unclear Turkey, on the other an even more vague Europe, and between them we have who? Boyko Borisov – the mediator! Hmm.
Thus he stands in a similarly-structured position of Stambolov, who tried to compete in lying with the dying Turkey and Austria-Hungary instead of looking to the north, where he could have requested assistance. Today, his followers and admirers already crowned him as Russophobe №1 of Bulgaria and put up his monument. The interesting thing here is that the financier and inspirer of this monument is a lieutenant colonel of the Sixth Department of State Security, the man is a personal friend of the chief of the former Fifth Headquarters of the KGB of the USSR – a structural analogue of the Bulgarian Sixth Department. The guardians of the ideological orthodoxy of socialism turned out to be supporters of Stambolov. But what can you do, this is historical dialectics. We know the end of Stambolov; I do not want Boyko Borisov to end that way. The other one was cruel and clever. Our man today is neither cruel nor … um … a titan of thought, although against the president, he stands as an Erasmus of Rotterdam. In fact, I only recently understood why God created Plevneliev. (God created every creature for a reason, didn’t He?) And I knew that God has a reason but I could not figure it out. Now I know – to work as background for Boyko Borisov. Against the background of Plevneliev, Boyko is just Pico della Mirandola, he is a bright Renaissance personality. I thought that Plevneliev was useless and it was: unknown are, Oh Lord, thy ways!
And since the situation is like before the First, not after World War II, Borisov cruelly deceives primarily himself that he can mediate and strive in the role of pneumatic mail between Erdogan and Merkel – he simply is equally absurd, mindless and expendable to both. The only right course of Borisov today is the fact that he spits on the Islamisation of the Bulgarian elite (his elite!) and tries to emancipate himself from it as far as possible.
He must go to Moscow to bring bones to the dog that he presented to Putin. Putin will probably not pay him any attention, because the Russian Tsar is busy resolving other problems and at the moment, Bulgaria is not on his agenda. But the Russian geopolitical thought is moving in zigzag and next year or at the latest the year after, Bulgaria will be assumed in the Kremlin as very important. The Kremlin in a political (and not in an architectural sense) is a few towers that are constantly in very complex relations, or several relatively independent managerial elite circles, where one continuously cuts the roots of the other. These are several often conflicting elite groups balanced by Putin.
But recently, terribly interesting things are happening – Putin himself began to change the balance of the elite. I cannot decide whether he does it intentionally but none other than President Putin now destroys the balance of the elites in Russia. I would like to know why this is happening and I do not know. And probably this is the main problem of the Russian government of today.