Nicholas Dima, 2 February 2022
At the surface, the Russo-Ukrainian conflict is between Moscow and Kiev. At a deeper analysis, the conflict is between Russian regional interests and the American and Western global interests. It is a new phase of the 21-st Century geopolitical game that might de-escalate or could lead to an international catastrophe.
Ukraine is a young nation that wants to develop its full potential and to affirm its modern nationhood. Russia, on the other hand, is an old nation that for centuries dominated Ukraine and other Eastern European lands. The two nations share many common roots and traits. They belong to the same ancestral Slavic stock, their main religion is very much the same, linguistically they are related, and their recent evolution is intertwined.
The current conflict is territorial from a Ukrainian point of view and Geo-political from a Russian stand point. Kiev wants to control all its territory while Moscow aims at geopolitical control of the entire Ukraine. Geographically, the claims of the two countries overlap. In this regard, Moscow points out that present Ukraine was established by the wills and decisions of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev. Indeed, the Ukrainian territory, which incorporates some lands form neighboring countries, was established after WWII and was completed when Khrushchev gave Kiev Crimea.
From an international point of view, however, Moscow had no right to annex Crimea in 2014 and to incite secession in eastern Ukraine. Yet, Moscow did it. What does it want? In reality, Russia wants more than control over the Donbas region. It aims at full domination over the entire country. This goal collides, with America’s interests and with the current process of globalization. And at a global level that brings into play China and of other international actors. What do the chief world contenders want? Can they compromise or their goals are incompatible?
There are currently only a few political systems and models of governance that claim to be the world’s best and aim to impose themselves globally. During much of the preceding century the world was dominated by the American capitalist system and the Soviet communist system. America’s was very much based on democracy, private property, liberty of religion, personal freedom and economic opportunity. The communist system was collectivistic, abusive, atheistic, and dictatorial. Theoretically, Marxism claimed to be morally superior and to bring equality for all, but in fact it brought equal misery to everybody. In the end, American capitalism won, but it was a Pyrrhic victory. Once Winston Churchill said that capitalism was a bad system of government, but it was the best from all the systems humans have ever experienced.
Once the USSR disappeared, American capitalism lost its sense and direction and was gradually replaced by a corporation race to global domination. America became the main force of the new process and old capitalism morphed into something else. Freedom began to take chaotic forms; individual liberties became licentious, old religious values acquired pagan expressions; profits and money became the new kings, Mammon became the new god.
The new Western capitalism offers us plenty of material goods, but it erodes our spiritual values. To buy the goods we want we have to borrow money. And the more we want, the more we borrow, and the more we become indebted to financial companies. The rich are getting richer, the middle class is shrinking and the poor are getting more and more indebted. In a way, the new global system is enchaining many of us with invisible chains. The big international banks and corporations are increasingly in control! Is there an alternative?
Take Russia now. After losing its international appeal through Marxism, Moscow has returned to its old Orthodox and tsarists roots. Without economic development and lacking adequate technology Russia offers its people pride and security through old territorial expansion. And here is the crux of the conflict. America and the big Western corporations want to acquire Ukraine without risking a war. And they have to do it because globalization cannot be stopped without risking to lose its own purpose. Russia on the other hand must continue to expand, otherwise it risks to shrink further and end up around the duchy of Muscovy. And this bring us to a third player. Russia can no longer challenge America by itself and is trying to engage China on its side.
China is currently the real contender for world domination. After traversing hell throughout the 20th Century, China is offering now an alternative model of governance. The model is atheistic, materialistic and totalitarian at the top with controlled individual freedom at the bottom. The system guarantees everybody a minimum standard of living, but the citizens are paying the price through a system of surveillance that does not allow any deviations. People are rewarded for good behavior and severely punished for mistakes. Real freedom is strictly limited, and if there is any modicum of democracy, it is among peers of the same class: party elite among themselves, plebeians among themselves.
This is a rather static view of the world as it is today, but the world is in perpetual motion. No one knows how the world will look like tomorrow, but the ongoing conflict at the Russo-Ukrainian border may change everything. Those who wished for a change may soon regret it.