By Fabio Reis Vianna for TheSaker blog
When the world system was still in its infancy in that appendix of the Eurasian continent we know today as Europe, Babur, the King of Kabul, entered India from the northwest to establish the Mughal Empire in 1526, outlining an empire that would later be consolidated by his grandson Akbar (1556 – 1605).
The splendor of the great Eastern civilizations took place in a historical period when the world’s economy, cultural activities, and military power were concentrated in places such as China, India, and the ancient Persian Empire, now known as Iran.
The strategic withdrawal of China of the Ming – the most advanced civilization among the great pre-modern empires – from the great expansionist game, may have been the delimiting point between the before and the after of the geopolitical rise of those, as historian Paul Kennedy would say, “dispersed and relatively unsophisticated peoples who occupied the western part of the Eurasian landmass”, namely, the Europeans.
The Chinese vacuum still remains a great mystery to many historians: Why would Admiral Cheng Ho have withdrawn his fleet and that great rising civilization have given up its expansion toward an undisputed hegemonism in the Eurasian world system?
More than five hundred years after these events, we see the current hegemon of the modern world system, heir to the violent and predatory expansionism invented by the Europeans, withdrawing in an impromptu manner from that territory that in the past was part of the great Mughal Empire of King Babur and his grandson Akbar, Afghanistan.
According to most Western media analysts, the US withdrawal from Afghan territory should have been done in a coordinated manner with the puppet government, allies, and after all the Afghans who collaborated with the invasion and occupation had already left the scene.
It so happens that both the abrupt exit from Afghanistan, and Biden’s first speech justifying the exit, would confirm something that analyses centered on an American leadership of the past no longer follow.
The current expansive explosion of the world system, which began in the 1970s and shaped itself into imperial contours after the collapse of the Soviet Union, seems to be at a unique moment and certainly generated by pandemic chaos.
It is true that even before the Covid-19 crisis the increase in competitive pressure was already visible, reflecting the entry into the game of the new emerging powers, especially Russia and China.
The intensification of interstate competition, therefore, would have led the United States to give up its global leadership based on the diffuse values of the so-called “Liberal Order” instituted after World War II.
The 2017 national security strategy published during the Trump administration, which in practice had already been outlining and deepening since the first incursion into Iraq in 1991, would now reveal itself without masks.
The tearing of the fantasy of the old benevolent hegemon had come true.
The big news of what happened in Afghanistan would be revealed at the last G7 meeting, when the European leaders demanded from the United States a more responsible posture in its global leadership.
However, what is still hard for the European allies to understand, or accept, is that the United States has given up any global leadership, and in this new strategic configuration – which was not a point out of the curve created by the erratic Trump administration – the national interest, and only the national interest of the United States, will be the priority.
This being so, and taking into consideration that the United States’ military presence in Afghanistan, paradoxically, would not be negatively affecting the Chinese economic projects, and, on the contrary, favored them by guaranteeing stability in the region, it is absolutely plausible the line of reasoning that would justify the way out: to establish chaos in a region where the Eurasian enemies would be interested in stability.
The fourth expansive explosion of the world system reveals itself in frightening appearances by indicating, besides the increase in competitive pressure and the escalation of conflicts in itself, a displacement of what the professor of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, José Luís Fiori, would call a “black hole” of destructive force.
The black hole, therefore, would be at this very moment moving to a new war epicenter, which would probably be the Indo-Pacific, as well as previously unthinkable regions such as South America itself.
In a recent poll, USA Today indicated a rise in Joe Biden’s unpopularity rating after what happened in Afghanistan, which could have erroneously indicated a possible step backwards in the American exit. However, what is likely to happen is just the opposite: the bid for more systemic chaos and global destabilization.
The world system feeds on the permanent expansion of power, and this becomes even clearer when those at the top of the system find themselves challenged and losing ground to their adversaries.
More than ever perhaps the time has come for the Eurasians to fill that void left by Admiral Cheng Ho’s squadron in 1433.
Fabio Reis Vianna, lives in Rio de Janeiro, is a bachelor of laws (LL.B), MA student in International Relations at the University of Évora (Portugal), writer and geopolitical analyst. He currently maintains a column on international politics at the centennial Brazilian newspaper Monitor Mercantil.