Food Shortage: Is This America Or Ethiopia?





This post includes 3 articles. The last 2 articles are By Pepe Escobar and were first published in 2002. It is really worth revisiting these articles for an in-depth analysis of current events and understanding the fundamentals and the driving force behind these events.




Kalvoks daily Dombalan –

Dec 5, 2002

euphoria that followed the end of the Soviet Empire, it
was easy for United States planners to enjoy the
benefits of a Russian knockout, the emergence of the US
as the sole superpower, torrents of foreign capital
flowing in, and the prospect of an everlasting life of
leisure without a worry about a mounting trade deficit.

But there were plenty of risks. Nobody could
tell whether Russia was dead and buried. Nobody thought
that the US might become economically dependent on the
rest of the world.

Nobody could imagine that a
certain Vladimir Putin would one day go to Berlin and
deliver – in German – an extraordinary speech stating
that Europe would only consolidate itself as a really
independent world power by associating its capacities
with a Russia full of human, territorial and natural
resources, and full of economic, cultural and defense

Nobody could possibly imagine that
from Europe to Latin America, from Asia to Africa, the
perception of the US’s relationship to the world would
switch from protection to virtual aggression, as
perception of Russia’s relationship to the world would
switch from aggression to a possibility of protection.

This is not what Washington wanted – but with
the new fundamentalist ethic put in place by the Bush
Doctrine, the result was pretty much inevitable. To
examine what happened, we should go back to Brzezinski’s
geopolitical opus, The Grand Chessboard: American
Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives
. In 1997 he
was sure the only threat to the American Empire was
Russia. So Russia had to be isolated and defanged.
Brzezinski’s advice was for the US to follow a
conciliatory foreign policy with everybody except
Russia. He perfectly understood that the US grip over
Eurasia would depend on the consent of the
“protectorates” – Europe and Japan. So the US had to
care about the solidification and expansion of the
European Union, and should attribute to Japan a global,
and not only Asian, role.

Brzezinski also
understood that the Franco-German axis was the major
strategic player in Europe. So his vision seemed
surefire: as long as Europe and Japan were satisfied
with US leadership, the American Empire was invulnerable
– an empire taking over Eurasia and concentrating the
essence of the economic and technological power of the

Brzezinski was also clever enough to
understand that China had to be appeased. He saw rivalry
with China as being far in the future. And he
recommended conciliation toward Iran, because its
democratic evolution would not lead to confrontation
with the US. By following all these precepts, Russia –
the only imminent military threat to the US – would be
squeezed between Europe and Japan, cut off from China
and Iran, and in fact be excluded from any major role in

The problem is, Bush’s Washington did
not implement Brzezinski’s vision. The US in fact
expanded NATO to eastern Europe, courted Ukraine, and
extended its influence in the Caucausus and Central
Asia. But then came the war against terrorism. There are
now between 10,000 and 12,000 US troops in Afghanistan,
1,500 in Uzbekistan, a few hundred in Kyrgyzstan and a
little more than a hundred in Georgia. But this is far
from representing a destabilization of Russia.

Bush’s Washington – as any diplomat in Brussels
will tell us – engaged in a catalogue of actions
humiliating or snubbing the European Union. They
despised Japan, provoked China, and put Iran into the
Axis of Evil. The result is that different poles in
Eurasia are now joining forces against the US. To top it
all, Washington hawks guided Bush in supporting Israel
against the Palestinians, thus antagonizing the Muslim

As we have seen, the US’s military,
economic and ideological capacities are limited. The
only way for the US to affirm its global role is to
confront and attack military midgets. This is not empire
but simulation of empire, manifested by maintaining
absolutely useless tensions with Cuba, North Korea and
Iraq, and the usual provocations of China. Hostility
toward Iran is in fact absurd, because any US senator or
congressman, with a simple visit to Tehran, might see
for himself how the country is yearning and already
striving for democracy. If the US was really an empire,
it would be striving for Pax Americana – a series of
relations of patient condescension toward regimes that
will not last very much longer. Kim Jong-il and Saddam
Hussein might fall without a shot being fired.

But so much Washington-engendered tension
entails no military risk for the US and reinforces the
perception that the US is everywhere. The whole process
feeds a larger-than-life illusion of an unstable and
dangerous planet which needs US protection.

reconstituted al-Qaeda has already ruined this
perception. Al-Qaeda, a deadly mutant virus interlinked
with myriad groups, has just rendered the planet really
unstable and dangerous – and no one can rely on the US
for protection.

The showdown with Iraq, threats
against North Korea, provocations against China: this is
all theatrical micro-militarism, able to distract the
media and cause apprehension all over Eurasia.
Meanwhile, the only real military adversary, Russia, is
left alone. An increasingly stable Russia and the
increasing autonomy of both the European Union and Japan
imply only one thing: a deadly blow to US hegemony.
Strategic major players Japan, Russia and the EU are
drawing together. Eurasia is starting the drive for a
balance without the US.

Russia is far from being
isolated by the US. Bush plays for the galleries,
lip-synching about cooperation with Russia. For Moscow,
on the other hand, the name of the game is Europe.

Russia is beginning to wake up to the fact that
it can live without the US but it cannot afford to be
estranged from Europe. Trade between Russia and the EU
is almost eight times bigger than between Russia and the
US. Russia is capable of making an offer the EU simply
cannot refuse: loads of oil and a counterweight to US
military influence. Russia can always slip back into
anarchy or Soviet-style autocracy. But make no mistake,
Russia is back – much earlier than anybody thought. No
wonder UN diplomats are happy. Russia is a very strong
nation but it does not harbor hegemonic designs. It’s
fundamentally egalitarian. And economically – unlike the
US – it does not depend on anybody else’s oil or supply
of goods. The US may keep floating the illusion of
financial power by means of political and ideological
control of the International Monetary Fund and the World
Bank. But because of its trade surpluses, Russia does
not need either of these institutions, unlike Argentina,
Brazil, Turkey or Indonesia. One of the most
extraordinary after-effects of September 11 was, in the
long run, to drive a wedge between Europe and US. The
Axis of Evil hysteria, US support for Ariel Sharon and
contempt for Palestinians, all led to a widespread
European perception of the US as irresponsible and
extremely dangerous.

The US media simply cannot
digest the fact that for any European ruling class, each
national history in each European country is much
richer, more relevant, more complex and more interesting
than three-century-old American history. Western Europe
now enjoys a standard of living and a quality of life
similar and in many regions superior to America’s. No
wonder there are widespread doubts over the legitimacy
of US leadership.

Cultural differences between
the US and Europe are infinite. US society is the recent
product of a very successful colonial experience.
America had an immensely productive soil, because it was
all virgin soil. America did not create riches – rather,
the original, natural wealth was exploited by an
immigrant population, most of it literate.

very long, centuries-old peasant history explains why
Eurasians as a whole feel the absolute necessity of an
ecological balance and a manageable trade balance. For
so long, Europeans, Chinese, Indians all had to fight
the exhaustion of their soil. In America, people were
liberated from the past: they had unlimited access to
nature as lush as paradise. The US really changed the
definition of economics. All over Eurasia, economics is
understood as the optimization of rare resources. In the
US it is the exploitation of plentiful resources.

Europe feels threatened by the American social
model. European society is far from being as mobile as
American society: it is deeply rooted. And unlike the
US, Europe has no problems with the outside world.
Europe wants and needs peace to increase its already
voluminous trade. The US, on the other hand, is now
conditioned by two conflicts: one against Russia, the
main obstacle to total American hegemony, and the other
against the Muslim world, the universe of theatrical

Europe and Japan are the two key
contemporary industrial powers. Russia remains a
nuclear-military power. The US cannot control any of
these three. So the US chooses to fight non-powers: the
Axis of Evil and the Arab world. That’s the ultimate
reason for the Iraq obsession. Iraq is at the
intersection of this non-power mini-universe.

Europe, Russia and Japan are two-and-a-half
times stronger than the US. And US hostility toward the
Muslim and especially Arab world is forcing these three
powers into a long-term alliance.

So we are not
marching toward an American Empire. We are evolving
toward an extremely complex system – a balance among
clusters of nations, disposed relatively equally. Russia
will be one of the poles. Japan will be another. China,
after 2020, will be another. And most of all there will
be the EU – soon to be a congregation of 25 nations, and

The core of Europe will remain the
Franco-German couple, finally to be enriched by
America’s Trojan Horse in the European Union, Britain
(otherwise Britain will only survive as one more state
of the US).

In South America, the pole will be
Brazil – now embarked on finding the Third Way for
social development that Tony Blair was not capable of
conjuring. No wonder the election of former metalworker
Lula as Brazil’s president has generated so much
attention in the developing world. Hobsbawm notes that
“Lula received more votes than any other
democratically-elected president, with the exception of
Ronald Reagan in the ’80s, and this is very significant
for the world.”

Britain’s Will Hutton, the
economist and journalist author of The World I’m
, says Russia, China, Brazil and India are crucial
allies of the European Union in the struggle to uphold a
multipolar model capable of offering to the world an
alternative to the predatory, financial-markets-ruled,
unilateralist US model.

A different US
administration might be able to realize that no country
in the 20th century became more powerful by waging war –
or by a major increase in its defense budget. France,
Germany, Japan and Russia all lost in this game. The
20th century was the American century because of the
US’s reluctance to get involved in military conflicts in
the Old World. Today, legions around the world now see
the war against terrorism as nothing but a
spin-concocted denomination for the maintenance of a US
hegemony that may no longer exist.

Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved.

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