The baton of “global leadership,” which Joe Biden mentions every chance he gets, is passing to non-Western leaders.
By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Aug. 16 speech to foreign dignitaries at the Moscow Conference on International Security, an annual affair that Russia has hosted for the past decade, articulates a new idea of our world, a veritable Weltanschauung, of great consequence. Putin said:
“The situation in the world is changing dynamically and the outlines of a multipolar world order are taking shape. An increasing number of countries and peoples are choosing a path of free and sovereign development based on their own distinct identity, traditions and values.”
That a multipolar world is emerging has been evident to many people for a long time — since, at least November 1989 when Germans dismantled the Berlin Wall.
I’ve long been convinced that in the years following the 1945 victories scores of Asian and African nations in the “independence era” broke colonial bonds and most of humanity aspired to and set out to build the very world order that Putin describes. The U.S. and its allies suppressed these remarkable aspirations with the onset of the Cold War.
This was among the Cold War’s most significant features. When the West divided the community of nations into blocs, the effect was to force the non–West to choose one or the other side. In effect, an identity was imposed: Correspondents could write of “pro–Western Singapore” or “Suharto, a staunch American ally.”
The Non–Aligned Movement, which coalesced gradually in the 1950s and formally declared itself in the Belgrade of Josip Broz Tito in 1961, was in one part a movement of resistance against the Cold War binary. The impulse driving it was never extinguished — the NAM still lives, indeed — but the East–West divide did its awful work over the years.
It was precisely this impulse that was reanimated in November 1989. The window giving onto a multipolar world had reopened. And it was precisely this window the Americans set about trying to close once again during the triumphalist 1990s, with their insistence that the new Russian Federation, along with the rest of the post–Cold War world, follow the Americans’ neoliberal example.
Joseph Brodsky, a poet who was living in New York by this time wrote to his friend Václav Havel that the Americans were playing cowboys and Indians as they tried on their “just like us” routine once again. Russia and the rest of the world had to find its way to the universal values America professed, Brodsky said, but it must find its way in its own way, each nation on its own, not at the direction of cowboys riding high horses, wielding lassos.
Russia stands at the forward edge of this historical movement, this longue durée. I am growing more confident that Russia, along with other non–Western leaders — Xi Jinping, yes, but not the Chinese president alone — will at last push the world through to an enduring world order with multipolarity as its core principle.
I say this for a few reasons. Putin’s assertion that this new order will rest on “free and sovereign development based on their own distinct identity, traditions and values” is nothing but a restatement of Brodsky’s case against the post–Cold War American position.
Going further back, Putin’s remarks reminded me of direct reference to the Five Principles Zhou Enlai proposed in the mid–1950s and which formed the basis of the 10 Principles the NAM articulated in Belgrade a half-dozen years later. This is the well from which I draw confidence.
Putin continued in his speech:
“These objective processes are being opposed by the Western globalist elites, who provoke chaos, fanning longstanding and new conflicts and pursuing the so-called containment policy, which in fact amounts to the subversion of any alternative, sovereign development options. Thus, they are doing all they can to keep hold onto the hegemony and power that are slipping from their hands; they are attempting to retain countries and peoples in the grip of what is essentially a neocolonial order.”
“Globalist elites,” “a neolcolonial order.” Putin’s audience included many representatives of former colonies with pronounced identities as members of “the third world” or “the Global South,” with whom he wanted to connect as directly as he could. It was Putin’s strongest language on the subject.
It is one thing for a columnist such as I to write of Western hegemony and the subversive intent of the U.S. and its allies as the reality of a new world order becomes evident. It is another for the president of one of the world’s most powerful nations to use such language. It confirms my surmise that Putin has turned a corner in his thinking.
I date this turn to the document he made public with President Xi on Feb. 4, the eve of the Beijing Olympics — 20 days before Russia commenced its intervention in Ukraine. The Joint Statement on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development, is a remarkable statement.
The timing of that declaration seems significant. As I have written on several occasions, the Chinese leadership gave up making any sense of their relations with the U.S. after their calamitous encounter with American officials in Anchorage 11 months earlier. From all that subsequently transpired, Xi and his ministers evidently decided then that China would go its own way and stop bothering to mollify a nation that remains powerful but stuck in the past.
As I read things, Putin made roughly the same judgment by Feb. 4. All of Russia’s efforts to talk sense to the U.S. and its NATO allies about a sustainable security order in Europe had yielded nothing more than obstruction and serious nonsense.
It seems Putin and Xi drew a line — or accepted the line the Americans drew: If you insist on adversarial relations, you will get them. “They’re standing in the world’s way” is a simple phrase to translate.
The way I see it, it was late last winter when Putin determined to stand four-square for the new world order he now speaks of with notable clarity and without inhibition. The Joint Statement is a far more extensive exploration of the thoughts shared at the security conference on Aug. 16.
If anything, Putin’s speech reads like an after-the-fact précis of the earlier document. The thinking is well-developed now. Putin’s commitment is quite evident – another reason I am confident a multipolar world will win against Washington’s unilateralism. Time is on their side.
The timing of the speech, and others Putin has made since last winter, seems ironic as it address topics of historical magnitude while we watch a succession process in Britain that stands to leave Liz Truss as the nation’s next prime minister.
Truss is what Americans call a piece of work. She will undoubtedly be the stupidest, least serious PM in recent British history – and I’m not sure I need the “recent.” Her political rise is emblematic of a marked decline in the quality of leadership across the West. The U.S. president shows signs of senility. The German chancellor can’t seem to get out of his own way. And so on.
The baton of the very “global leadership” President Joe Biden mentions every chance he gets, is passing to non-Western leaders as the West surrenders out of sheer self-absorption.
The tasks ahead are too many to count. Humanity is in desperate need of the new order leaving to them their histories, cultures, traditions, economic models, politics and domestic affairs.
But there is one responsibility that needs emphasis.
Russia derives considerable influence from its vast store of resources, oil and natural gas chief among them. It has reached important energy agreements with China, India and Iran recently as steps towards the development of independent nations. But development cannot proceed without considering the question of climate change, the global environment and the future of humanity.
The Western powers are not serious about addressing these questions. They are too driven by capital, by profit, by what probably counts as unprecedented corruption as measured by the conflicting interests of their political leadership. These people seem willing to let the earth burn as they count their ever-accruing wealth and sprinkle their lawns while their majorities are parched for drinking water.
If global leadership is to pass to the non–West, this responsibility comes with it. Putin’s duty to the Russian people, Xi’s to China’s, the Iranian leadership’s to Iran, Cuba’s leaders to the Cuban people, and so on 190–odd times, is to help them achieve lives of dignity and to one degree or another prosperity.
But the non-West would assume a responsibility to the rest of the earth’s population, too. This includes the citizens of the very nations, such as the U.S., that seek to sink the project. Western leaders and their “rules-based international order” have made it perfectly clear they will do nothing about climate change except at the inconsequential margins. Putin, Xi and other non-Western leaders must take the lead driving the thinking, the ideas and the policies.
I would not like to be in their shoes. But how can we look forward to a new world order if those leading it fail to act in the world’s, that is, the whole world’s, favor?
Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
Would be wonderful if the new multilateral States could introduce something like this at U.N.- level as soon as possible:
It is a challenge to transition the giant industries including all the connected “jobs” from a destructive towards a constructive process/ progress.
There is really a lot(!) to do to “repair”- looking at the human/ industrial made huge social and environmental damage in history and at present around the planet (including the oceans).
Let’s shift (almost in the first place) the military budget (~ 2 trillion dollars per year) in a step by step international binding agreement within a 12 year time-frame to regenerating nature and social balance.
The attached industries will follow consequently.
Let our (military) guys and girls be good “forces”/ stewards for a healthy and as far as possible resilient planet, and a socially stable global society including all wonderful creatures sharing the world with us.
By training the staff correspondingly and thoroughly.
That would be really great & smart for national and global security!
And lets make them finally undertake the long overdue clean up of all the highly dangerous, poisonous and tremendous mess, the military and their industries have been leaving or dumping about everywhere around the planet during and after past (world) wars.
Including the deadly nuclear waste time bombs rotting somewhere.
Dangerous work for decades.
There is only one garden Eden we very likely are ever able to reach ^^
The entire weapon industry (military- industrial complex) must become state owned and controlled for no monetary profit.
Just maintained for the really necessary defense needs.
Not more than that!
And this can be probably done very well with just ~10% of the present budget/ cost in about every country.
In the hands of a shareholders dictated industry they always will be looking for more profit every single day and year by year.
And if there is no conflict/ crisis they will create one at its “best”. They even are in for multiple conflicts/ crisis if maximum profit is on the horizon.
Again and again, always based on malicious propaganda, spread by “government” agencies, evil willing „think tanks“ and allied media.
Accepting/ causing millions of civil deaths and natures destruction.
There is a choice for what to use global yearly military spending’s…
… of now more than 2.000.000.000.000,. $ each year.
We got to want it and insist on it!
The prosperity of 190 odd nations over the coming decades will require use of oil and natural gas, not simply leap-frogging over what built western development by current solar and wind technologies. No one is going to follow zero-carbon dictats.
Fascinating to see Tito and the leader of Ghana riding in a 1960 Cadillac to arrive at the Belgrade meeting of non-aligned nations.
An excellent article. But would the imbeciles who run this country start WW3 in a fit of pique when they finally realize their time in the sun is over? I’m afraid the answer to that is yes. Certainly I could see our great friend and ally Israel using the Bomb once their project goes permanently off the rails.
My wish would be that the people of the world wake up and stop following all the foolish leaders. Experiments with allowing a few fools to play leaders have proven to be disasters for those forced to follow them and left the planet on the brink of collapse. If humanity is going to survive it will be because they rise up and figure out a way to take back control of their lives and put the so called leaders in their places. Following some new fools down an apparently new path will only lead to more misery and failure at the hands of a few more fools. See more on the topic here: hxxp://ecologicalleadership.blogspot.com/2020/11/stop-following-leader-even-if-he-claims.html#comment-form
“Her political rise is emblematic of a marked decline in the quality of leadership across the West.”
Government of the people, by the people, for the people. Well, some of the people anyway. In the US, policy is largely driven by corporate lobbyists, corporate donors, and the revolving door of lucrative corporate sinecures for retiring politicians who have faithfully served their corporate sponsors. And that’s the corruption that’s openly admitted to. Add to that the nepotism and the under-the-table stuff, insider trading etc. and it’s not difficult to see why the American political system attracts the wrong sort of characters, so much so that it’s virtually impossible to find a person of any real quality among them.
A very good article. I would like to hope that humanity will wake up and find out the truth about democracy imposed by America in American style. You write “…20 days before Russia commenced its intervention in Ukraine.”
I do not agree with this term. In 2014, America and its allies launched a political, economic and informational intervention in Ukraine. We are now seeing the consequences of these events.
Reading these comments … It’s too bad you are preaching to the choir here! Good to get a bit of hope though ?
The ‘baton of global leadership’ has gotten dropped on the pass and is now bouncing along the track. It was on the pass from Obama to Trump. Before that, it looked like a straight up race, with China gaining on America and likely to pass them on the straight. But it looked like a good race between competent world class runners. Now it looks like a three-stooges comedy where Biden keeps kicking the baton unable to even pick it up. Its not even a race any more. Its only a question of how far behind do the Americans finish, if they even bother, as it looks like Team America is throwing a big temper tantrum at having lost the leadership.
Russia made a decisive “turn to the East” when it launched its SMO to stop the slaughter in the Donbas and NATO’s Drang nach Osten.
Putin was able to do that ONLY because China has risen and provided a powerful economy to which Russia could turn. Otherwise he would have had no alternative.
And it was and will be a turn that is win-win in many regards.
Complementary economies is one way but military coordination is another.
China and Russia not only stand shoulder, as they say, but back to back.
“Putin was able to do that ONLY because China …”, yea, that was one of the reason, but not only. The arrogance, stupidity and rapacity of the “collective West” converted many key countries from the obedient (to variable degree) posture to studious neutrality and trading according to THEIR interest, not the regulations promulgated in Washington and Brussels with dizzying frequency.
BRICS, a fractious grouping if there ever was one, has risen again. Brazil may need fertilizers, India needs weapons and strategic balance in respect to India, South Africa is free from conflicts and results of staying that way.
Consider India, permanently in conflict with China. Conflict is basically a matter of national pride, considers inhospitable mountain desolations. But it periodically flares up, so India needs a certain backing. Russia provides weapons and technology, but strategically, it makes her an irreplaceable mediator to dampen tensions at such times. Could USA provide moderating diplomacy? Do American even remember about such a concept, as opposed to “stand behind’ and put oil on the flames.
Consider the Gulfies. My theory is that the abrupt freeze of humungous assets and the hunt for property of “oligarchs” gave those potentates a real pause. On occasion, they receive similar insults as Russia. Their public and private assets they have in the “West” can be confiscated any minute. No wonder they want to avoid the West from getting collective conviction that such stuff is but innocent (and profitable) piece of fun/
An inspiring article, for sure!
Josip Tito did his best uniting the different ethnic groups in what was once Yugoslavia. Even though he was a Croat, Tito, as a Partisan, fought against the Nazi, and Italian armies who invaded that nation, even though Croatia supported the Third Reich.By the way, Serbia fought against the Germans in both world wars. After WWII, Tito told Stalin, “No Soviet troops in Yugoslavia” and it remained a peaceful nation until Tito passed away. Read Dr. Michael Parenti’s book, “TO KILL A NATION” about the American and NATO plan to destroy Yugoslavia.
Back to the present. Good eventually triumphs over evil and I also feel Russia and China will prevail, and still believe they are the hope of the world. Of course, environmental issues affects everyone on earth, and if the nations of the world don’t unite in true cooperation in changing the destructive abyss we’ve been heading in, the future looks bleak.
Russia and China tell the world – “cooperation, not confrontation.” More and more nations are looking up to them rather than Imperial (sanction crazy) America who wants to rule the planet (and outer space too!).
“But there is one responsibility that needs emphasis”. Here is where your very accurate article of the current dynamic of change goes off the cliff. It’s not that the West is not leading on climate change. It was the western bankers at the Jackson Hole summit in 2019 that mapped out the device of “Climate Crisis” to usher in a bankers dictatorship over the planet. The one responsibility that needs emphasis now from Putin, Xi, and other non-aligned leaders is to craft a new financial architecture for this planet that includes every nation. This has been elaborated over decades by US economist and statesman Lyndon LaRouche, and is today the fight led by his wife, Helga Zepp-LaRouche and the Schiller Institute. This is why the Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation, listed Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Diane Sare, Scott Ritter, and 30 individual thinkers from around the world who have participated with the Schiller Institute on creating a new security and development architecture in order to derail the drive for World War III, on a blacklist of “Proponents of Russian Disinformation”. Mr. Lawrence, you should do what it takes to get yourself on that list!
I was wondering whether anyone would challenge the global warming stand Mr Lawrence takes as his parting shot.
Thank you for challenging him on this matter in a far better informed manner than I could have done.
Great article stating the possible future world of multi-polarity, but also the attendant problems of this world view in terms of our common need to think globally (act locally), to travel freely and safely, to address climate and sustainability issues, inequality among nations and people, international trade and all that now we consider necessary – but as yet so far off – for a just and harmonious one world.
A week ago and one day prior to Putin’s address to the Moscow Security Conference I published my essay dealing with our contemporary issues,
What a brilliant essay it was, too, Karl! Prescient, too, in its anticipation of these landmark speeches by President Putin and Defence Minister Shoigu. I commend Karl’s work to all. He is referring here to ‘The Plundering Nations Last Stand’. Like me here in Australia, you may have to access Karl’s work on Vk via a VPN.
Great to hear of the NAM, now revived.
Yet, amazing – it seems the last chess piece is Climate?
China and Russia ignoring COP26, that Glasgow tea party of Prince Charles and UN financier Marc Carney, ex Bank of England chief, was just a warning.
Using sanctions, all climate shenanigans are now history.
There is no climate ’emergency’.
Hard to face, this is decoupling, while economic decoupling is impossible.
Very good Mr. Lawrence. As I was reading this, I thought to myself that it is all moot after all because of the climate emergency, and then you very expertly addressed that very thought. It does remain to be seen if the ‘new’ leaders will rise to a sufficient level to respond to the emergency or follow the well-worn path of safe political calculation. Putin, Xi, et al are just and only human – like the rest of us.
Brilliant article! The West is finished. Glory to Russia!
Wow! Thank you to Patrick and to Consortium – this is the most important article you have published in a long time. And thank you for the link to Putin’s earlier speech which I was having trouble finding so I could read it again. I hope all your readers will take the time to read it – it’s an important one and events since he made it, have put it in even more perspective.
This article also ties strongly with a book I have just finished reading called “Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance between the Vatican, the CIA and the Mafia” by Paul Williams published 2018. Basically it is a detailed history of how the CIA (starting with the OSS) took over the world drug supply in order to finance an underhanded war against communism. This was thought up by the Dulles brothers, especially Allen Dulles, the one who headed OSS and then CIA, John was head of the US State Department. Both hated communism and plotted to do all in their power to kill it. They had a lot of power, and Allen managed to install that hatred into the foundation of the CIA so that it stayed there long after he was gone. Gladio became the code word for projects designed to combat communism.
Was there a communion between the Italian Mafia, the Catholic church and the CIA? You bet!! To raise money (eventually it amounted to billions) the CIA with the help of the Mafia (who also hated communism) ran drugs and the church (which also hated communism) allowed all this money to be laundered through the church’s bank system which was free from examination by government. Wars ( Vietnam was only one of them) were fought, regime change was plotted and often achieved, and terrorist attacks were used and blamed on innocent parties. The people involved in this become a list of names well known to Americans and Europeans who follow politics, as well as Mafia names and also the names of every Pope from 1945 onward as well as most of the cardinals. Williams provides copious footnotes, and quotes.
So “Gladio” is the underpinning of Patrick Lawrence’s excellent essay about how the west has prevented the world from creating a multipolar society that helps people survive and progress.
Thank you Consortium News for providing it!
Love this article.
Thank you for putting in print what so many of us don’t know and want to learn.
I believe if all of them together took the lead , they would be successful
Finally, somebody told the truth. I am sick and tired of the US Russo- phobia. We need to know the truth!
By far the greatest danger the world faces today is the slow but steady immolation of the U.S. empire.
China and Russia clearly got together a couple years and said to each other [this is very, very broad brushstrokes] — come 2022 we’re finally going to stand up the Washington neocon-Ziocon militarist empire. You (Russia) handle the military side of things, while we (China) will handle the commercial and economic side.
The ruling class in Washington is deeply concerned and is lashing out in unpredictable ways. On the home front it’s resorted to downright suppression, deplatforming, raiding a faux populist president’s mansion, jailing confused Jan 6ers who engaged in civil unrest, and internet censorship. Abroad the neocon/Ziocons are directing dangerous proxies to commit precarious attacks on civilians and nuclear power plants, while engaging in overt provocations in the South China Sea and Taiwan.
The elites in Washington must be reined in before they pass a moment of no return and get millions killed.
Always spot on. Biden’s election was America’s premier, uni-polar moment in history. America could have led the world toward mitigating the effects of our existential, self-made climate crisis. This is what the world’s people expected with the removal of Trump. Instead, America invested its efforts in reviving Cold War values and started Cold War 2. This was always the plan, that Biden and his State department arrived with; dropping this horrific burden on generations to come. Unmentioned, this turned out to be the status quo that he had promised to return us to. Cold War 2 though is the very opposite of the cooperation that is required for humanity to survive in our new and evolving climate reality. Allowed to run its course, the Biden plan is certain death for our species on this planet.
Now, the moment of American leadership has passed. Looking at the grotesque, puny leaders who have arrived at this moment of inflection, Biden, Blinken, Nuland, Sheridan, Sullivan, Price, etc., no wonder. When a leader in a situation refuses to lead, or is incapable of leading, the era changes. The “American Century” died with a whimper with the election of the Biden administration. Sadly, the American people have gotten just what they asked for.
“Truss is what Americans call a piece of work. She will undoubtedly be the stupidest, least serious PM in recent British history – and I’m not sure I need the “recent.” Her political rise is emblematic of a marked decline in the quality of leadership across the West.”
You certainly hit the nail on the head there, Mr. Lawrence.
She is just the latest ‘idiot’ in a rapidly growing line of Western leaders seemingly chosen for their inability to do (too much obvious) further damage to their countries. It is as if the electorates, or rather by the manipulation of the electorates, are steered towards political candidates that stick to the official narratives, make the usual & expected claims and promises, and have never done anything too stupid or conversely too clever. Real politicians are shunned or discredited. Boris Johnson was to some extent an exception, but his clownish behaviour was a terrific distraction and served its purpose – for a while. He was more concerned about his personal aggrandisement than anything else.
These candidates maintain the status quo and are really nothing more than window dressing for the real power behind the scenes. They can be relied on to further the agendas of those who control them.
Great emphases pointed out herein. Let’s hope that your conclusion proves itself prophetic.
Yes. The new laws-based world order, unlike the dying rules-based order (he who has the money makes the rules), must honor the most fundamental laws of all: those of nature. The passing of the baton will be meaningless if the race of “progress” continues toward the cliff of environmental collapse.
“Environmental collapse”. Everything else pales in comparison to this gigantic threat facing the planet. But which most governments worldwide seem to be unconcerned with. Funds rather spent on weapons and killing machines.
Imagine, Valerie, if the MICs of every nation were repurposed to preserve life rather than take it. We’re one changed mission statement away from a better, more beautiful, more sustainable world. Everything else is in place save for our thinking and feeling and willing. Yet such a change, merely of mind and heart, seems impossible even to imagine.
Excellent article, thank you. The United States, like the old British Empire, refuses to realize that it is terminally ill. The American working class, however, realizes this and is awakening to the danger. Loved your comment about Liz Truss. The United Kingdom is another denier of reality. As it rides the coattails of the United States, dreaming of being a part once again of “greatness”, it fails to realize that it is riding on a rotting rag and will disintegrate when it does. Americans have never been good at acknowledging that the entire rest of the globe doesn’t worship it any longer. The gun-toting fascist Trumpists are among those who are terrified of accepting that the U.S. is just another country on the planet that must cede hegemony to a larger entity: the planet.
The term “Trumpist” has morphed quite a lot from what it meant in 2015 and 2016. Even before his Jan. 2017 inauguration I knew it was all over, Trump quickly folded for the Deep State and sold out his voters. A few weeks later he began 4 years proving he was a worse neocon than McCain. In Jan. 2020 I was sickened when Trump assassinated the Iranian official, but on alleged GOP websites, masses of commenters cheered “that’s my president!” Who would cheer a worse neocon than McCain?
Similarly, I may be mistaken, but didn’t the American MSM (In particular Brian Williams of MSNBC) praise Trump as looking presidential after he bombed Syria?….I’m not so sure that Trump sold out his voters….It seems to me that he gave them everything they wanted plus MORE!
The big question is the one most democrats and really most of Washington DC don’t want to discuss that is how did Trump get elected in the first place. Yes there was a xenophobic element but that alone could never gotten him elected. During the campaign he articulated how Washington politicians had sold Americans out through distrous free trade agreements, forever wars and bailouts for financial institutions. Enough people were willing to take a chance hold their noses and vote for him on the hope maybe he would follow through. I voted third party in 2016 but was even somewhat encouraged with Trump’s initial foreign policy team with Rex Tillerson and Micheal Flynn only to be sorely disappointed when he threw Flynn under the bus and drove Tillerson to resign and replacing them with neocon hacks.
I agree with your post and applaud your powerful final sentence. But please remember that Trump voters are also members of the working class.
You raise a valid point. Even though Hitler had lots of support among the working class, they were in the end , among the victims with massive war casualties, cities destroyed and mass rapes.
Most people don’t do things they think are bad. They do bad things thinking they are doing something good, necessary or they are fighting an evil.
As always the struggle is to change people’s minds before they act out their fantasies.
Most Trump voters are actually not working class–Trump was put into office by upper and middle upper class people. And really, what difference does it make?