Thirty years ago, the United States dominated the world politically, economically, and scientifically. But today?
Watch this in-depth discussion with distinguished guests:
Alastair Crooke – Former British Diplomat, the Founder, and Director of the Conflicts Form
Pepe Escobar – Brazilian Political Analyst and Author
Max Blumenthal – American Journalist and Author from Grayzone
Chaired by Dr. Mohammad Marandi – Professor at University of Tehran
America didnt rule the world but ideologies & interests. Even if USA disappeared today, someone somewhere will have the interest to fleece the working class and impose their control over anyone and anything.
That would better fit your meme you are pasting all over the Vineyard today.
Sophomoric as ever.
Go read a comic book. This is way over your head.
Well said Mr anon. re silly ideologies ruled the world irrespective of the dominant nation state of any period in the colonial period to present.
A typical disease of those that are conditioned by the pompous exceptionalism of either the empire or their totalitarian competitors (previously S.U. now a greatly weakened and despised China) is the disease of projection and utter self blindness. in addition, a sense of entitlement based on being a member of a privileged coterie where privileged access and being above the rules was purchased by money, sycophancy or favors. The funniest part is they are so far gone they can’t even recognize their own humiliation whether by their own hilarious hubris or by the hand of others.
You do bring up a valid point, no matter what the system, hierarchies develop, corruption sets in, and those at the lower rungs get their output skimmed by those at a higher rung, and that applies to each level in the pyramid.The only exception to this is societies where those with wealth are not respected for their wealth but by how much they contribute back to society. In the idiotic fundamentalist fraud philosophy of fake free marketers in nixonian-kissinger corrupted USA (or thatcherite UK), these values are inverted: people of wealth are adulated purely due to their wealth whereas those that contribute all that wealth back or give their lives to better society are disrespected as fools, troublemakers and bleeding hearts (a society that celebrates selfishness as a virtue instead of a vice is on an accelerated slide to exponential decline).
Four unique minds, across several generations and civilizations, each erudite and fluent with analytical skills.
Marvelous time spent with the video.
Though the topic is the US and the World after the Unipolar dominance is over, it just scratched the surface of that huge theme because the four focused on the near events that have propelled the US into its final paroxysm.
The rigged election, the Jan. 6th riot, the social media silencing of the President of the United States, and the “blue zone” concertina wired DC with National Guard troops pointed out as indicators of the sickness crippling America.
There could be on other interpretation of these events as the four experts lay it all bare like a panel of doctors who declare the terminal illness is for real.
But they are not dour. They see the clowns and con men of the US establishment and laugh.
Worth your time to watch it all.
You’ll get a clear picture of the here and now and what the future will be as the Hegemon melts into history.
I love the future as told by Alastair Crooke, the so colourful enthusiasm of Pepe Escobar, and the intelligence of Dr. Marandi. I think Max Blumenthal, while a brilliant writer, analyst, and investigator, is American and cannot step out of that American box. Max is brilliant, as I say, but Crooke, Escobar and Marandi all can see a new life without America. I would downplay the cultural renaissance of Alastair Crooke somewhat (I don’t think religions will come back), and think that Escobar himself is half American and is only predicting a new improved America … what interests me most is Dr. Marandi, who does not fully explain his opinions. I sense in his quiet a loud denial of Biden & Co. and I think the Iran nuclear deal will be, in future, named as a real turning point in world politics, and, that we will have to live with a soiled America, a rocketing China, and a fallen Europe for the rest of the 21st century, with Iran forever ‘blamed’ by the US for everything getting out of hand. We do have this already, but now, the pyschological realization: The future is not American.
Alastair Crook said something very thoughtful, as usual, when he observed that the spectre of the emperor having no clothes gives the rest of the world an opportunity to ‘reinvent themselves’. What he meant was that the dominant narrative of liberal democracy, which had long held sway and was essentially imposed on the rest of the planet, presently joins ‘the other gods that failed’. This opens up an opportunity for other countries to try to reach back into their history and culture to locate other narratives hitherto suppressed or in the shade to guide and make sense of their political life and ends thereof.
Crooke’s trenchant observation provides an occasion to consider things that are truly fundamental, or even epochal. I believe he’s right that the era of liberal democracy is drawing to a close and that we are on the cusp of other forms of political ideas, ideology, and justifications. On the most general level I believe that what is emerging and what is to come will be so many ideas of ‘the good’. It sounds almost too obvious. ‘The good’ is taken for granted but we shouldn’t. There’s a great deal of difference between the value of ‘the good’ to that of ‘freedom’. Otherwise the difference is between tradition and modernity. Modernity is the time of freedom, hence ‘liberalism’. This is a large subject but I’ll just table my view on the matter. Liberalism has failed because it requires constant expansion. In order to survive and thrive it needs space to expand, to colonise, to exploit, a margin to co-opt, room to grow. When it ceases to grow; it dies. And when that happens we are back to square one, where our ancestors were, where they and everybody else on the planet had to sustain a life that accorded – or not – with ideas of justice and the values we live for and are willing to fight for or against. This is a little bit abstract but in fact this ‘return of the good’ is already happening. We can see it take shape in China on the one hand and Iran on the other.
Very briefly, the Chinese leadership has disappointed their Western contemporaries by declining to fulfil their dreams and becoming another liberal democracy, allowing an oligarchy to assume power and hop into bed with the global elites who managed their offshore accounts. Instead, the present CCP leadership has evolved a mode of governance which synthesises ancient Chinese values with contemporary science, technology, and capitalistic social relations, albeit under the watchful eye of political elites who have no intention of selling off their influence in the manner of American representative governance, that is, in the open marketplace. Rather, they aspire to ‘good governance’ that strongly resonates with traditional popular values. The purpose of governance is to allow the people to accumulate wealth so as to take care of their families, friends, and communities. Governments that enable this are good and openly regarded as such. But the way to this aim is distinct and contains rich cultural content. Chiefly this concerns the customary ritual relations and above all filial piety. Singapore led the way with this when they legislated that children had a legal obligation to care for their ageing parents. China followed suit and this has become enshrined in the new ‘social credit’ systems. China intends to remain Chinese.
Iran is presently styled an Islamic Republic. The senior religious authorities preside over a representative government similar to most others. The religious authorities define the general goals of governance, which chiefly concern ideals of justice long associated with Shiite traditions. There are many other instances of Islamist modes of governance. There is Hezbollah, and in Sunni lands many governments that adhere to Islamic doctrines and values. We even see Islamist enclaves taking root in France in Arab suburbs where the combined influence of the drug gangs and the Sharia police define a zone of governance that is ‘not France’. Similar developments are actually happening in America in cites where the New Black Panthers are active. Many of these latter are Muslim and their aim is to rule their own turf. They are not integrationist. In India, the BJP has attempted to establish a ‘Hindu’ superstructure over the governmental base of the Republic. One could go on. It’s happening already and looks likely to continue in the foreseeable future.
Last thought: we have all been treated to the myth of liberalism whereby a gallant Liberty does battle with the dead hand of Authoritarianism, wins, and History begins it’s progressive march to the stars. Nice myth but what actually happened was different. In early modern times a zone of self interested public behaviour opened up that was functionally walled off from the newly established private world of religion. That was new. Previously religion was for Christians what it remains for many Muslims, the very essence of public life. But during the wars of the Reformation the ideas and ideals of Christian goodness spilled rivers of blood throughout Europe and precipitated a crises. ‘The good’ was found to be evil. And this is when our, or at least my ancestors began to experiment with novel modes of governance that did away with ‘the good’ because schism had set in and there was no alternative. Now the great historical alternative of modern liberalism has run its course. Now what? Food for thought.
“Liberalism has failed because it requires constant expansion. In order to survive and thrive it needs space to expand, to colonise, to exploit, a margin to co-opt, room to grow. ”
Not sure I can agree with this. I wondereda bout it when I first read it.
Blumenthal spends some time talking about liberalism meant to him, when it still meant something positive. At its best liberalism meant that goverment used its power and authority to distribute the goods of the society in an every more fair way that benefited the most people, especially previously trampled upon groups. FDR also had an international vision, picked up by JFK, of helping former colonies develop their own economies. Whether or not you agree with the construction of dams, etc., this was the underlying idea. The notion that democracy could be imposed at the point of a gun was not, I believe, part of classic liberalism.
All of the idealism of genuine liberalism was poisoned and turned on its head by Reagan and Thatcherism. Others know more about this than I, but IMO classical liberalism is not the villain here. The fact that under Reagan liberalism came to equate exploitation and regime change isn’t inherent in the original ideas of liberals.
Kathrine, isn’t the “democracy… at the point of a gun,” (with massive sarcasm quotes around “democracy”) style of liberalism or neo-liberalism older than FDR and JFK in the US? Major General Smedley Butler said he and the US military were “a high–class muscle man for Big Business” over 100 years ago. Instead of “helping former colonies develop their own economies,” Butler said he “helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street.”
The general served under the Taft (a Republican) and Wilson (a Democrat) admins, but this did not really change under FDR either. Yes, FDR had a more classical liberal stance; he called out the “financial element in the larger centers [which has] owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.” However, FDR largely kept that “financial element” in place and supported its foreign policy aims. Hitting Japan with sanctions and provocations for years before the war, then pretending that Pearl Harbor was attacked for no reason is basically what the neo-liberals are trying with sanctions and provocations against Russia, Iran, China, etc. for their regime change today.
I agree that these neo-liberal tendencies should not reflect poorly on the classical variety, yet what exactly is the significance of the classical? “Government… power and authority to distribute the goods of the society in an every more fair way that benefited the most people” just sounds like good government doing what it needs to be good.
“style of liberalism or neo-liberalism ”
This is the problem, or a large part of it: conflation of liberalism with neoliberalism and utter tainting of true liberalism in the process (this is not to say that the idea of classical liberalism has no internal issues). How “liberalism” came to be introjected into “neoliberalism” has something to do with the utter abandonment of any social ideals and goals and the occupation of the word by apologists for exploitative global finance capitalism who arrogated to themselves the word and a new definition of “liberalism” to mean “no limits” (for them). Deregulation of all and rights to all that can be taken by any means fair or foul. Kind of like the Victorian notion of “libertine” but applied to economics. But of course I am not an expert and this is just my take.
Nope, no argument from me on that, Katherine. Of course, the conservative or neo-conservative talking points have the same problem, like how “free trade” started to mean “free” to cheat, steal, enslave, etc.
all of the words and concepts that we need to use to discuss how to make society better have been “occupied” and made into third-rail words and banned from the political discourse, or turned into their opposite. From “reform” across the spectrum to “liberal” to “progressive” to “socialism” to “communism.” Our language has been stolen to prevent rational discussion of how to manage our complex society. As Crooke emphasizes, the more complex it has become the easier it seems to have become for a few men at the switch to control the whole shebang.
Now very intelligent people are leaping into line to have messenger RNA shot into their systems.
Hi Katherine, thanks for commenting. ‘I’m not sure I can agree with this. I wondered about it when I first read it’. I think if I tried to qualify the thesis it would turn into one of these thick as lard missives and probably overlong, so I’ll just cut to the chase and say that while I’ve been thinking about it for decades and believe there’s considerable truth to the statement I confess that I’m still wondering to. What you said about Roosevelt, Kennedy, the great infrastructure projects and all – I quite agree. When I suggest that liberalism is dying I take the view that the whole thing is a bit tragic. I certainly don’t think this indicates that things are going to get better. And I’m not without my hopes although I should qualify that most of these ride on developments going on in Eurasian spaces, rather than around here. There was Kafka. One day Kafka was holding forth and Max Brod cut in saying: ‘isn’t there any hope?’ Kafka replied: ‘there’s always hope .. but .. not for us’.
Excellent talk, looking forward to the next talk. Thanks a lot, guys!
Hilarious words by Dr. Marandi at the end: “I’m not a fan of Iranian TV, it’s… but when you look at American TV now, Iranian TV looks… pretty good.” :)
I’m grateful for the posting of this excellent discussion.
It was a great discussion amongst some of our most important and insightful geopolitical observers and thinkers, giving a big picture analysis about what’s going on in Murka right now, and its role in re-defining the world that’s soon to come. What a pleasure to watch a conversation between intelligent, rational, civil, articulate thinkers who all have their eyes open to clearly see what’s going on.
The entire discussion was worthwhile (though it kind of loses focus in the second half), and is a great summary for those of us already cognizant of the topics covered. (Those coming new to these topics would most likely have their Premium Thought Terminating Cliche Earplugs™ firmly in place. But such people are unlikely to come across this in the first place I suppose.) And though it’s a two+ hour discussion, many important things can’t be covered, so I will forgive any omissions.
Though practically every thing discussed could be highlighted, I especially appreciated Escobar’s summary of Putin’s recent speech at Davos about the Multipolar world versus the Great Reset (beginning around 1:04:55). (“The Great Reset in 10 seconds” as he puts it.) Escobar had me laughing heartily with: “[Putin] was delivering a direct message to the Crash Test Dummy Hologram Administration…” I think that’s a perfect characterization of the window-dressing sock-puppet usurpers currently squatting in the White House: I hope that label sticks, and becomes the nickname they’re known by in future history books.
Pepe is always great. He sees the Big Picture of the world dynamics.
However, we were disappointed with Max Blumenthal’s Capitol Hill scenario. More and more evidence is coming to light with the (supposed) riots on January 6th.
Just as the Election was stolen from 70 million of us via the Elites/Corrupt Politicians & Judges, so too was “the riot manufactured” by The Elites, Big Media, Politicians and all the forces of Wall Street, the Big Banksters, the Tech Oligarchs and others within The Elite.
We expected better of Max, with his heavy bias against anything-Trump which was less than professional.
Only 8 comments. The opportunity to hear Pepe Escobar mix it up with Alisdair Crooke is rare and most desirable. Crooke is by far the most interesting thinker hosted by Strategic Culture. But hardly any interest? Something’s amiss.
I am often surprised by what looks like a lack of interest in some of the most interesting contributions available here at the The Saker blog as reflected in fewer than expected comments.
I’m not so sure that fewer comment necessarily indicate less interest. This was an extremely interesting conversation and there is so much to comment on!! Too much. One would have to be taking notes along the way in order to order one’s thoughts and questions. Possibly the ;more interesting the contributions the less people have to say, or argue with.
In some ways the more impressive the presentation the less there is to day, except for Thank you for presenting this. That said, on occasion when I have simply written “Great essay!” or some such, that comment not been published, presumably because not interesting to anyone else.
The one question I can reactivate from this conversation has to do with Pepe’s info and opinions on the Great Reset and Crooke’s comments about the financial collapse that is looming.
Crooke seemed to be more optimistic (if i recall correctly) about the refusal of humans and Americans to accept the Great Reset agenda. Yet his prognosis regarding the sooner or later quite sudden collapse of the economy and financial structures we now have would seem to be exactly the desired preconditions to usher in the Great Reset. Conditions that will leave citizens with no defenses of any kind against the major manipulations of those who would become the global commanders.
Perhaps in a future article Crooke might elucidate his view of the relationship between the coming collapse that he foresees and the imposition of the Great Reset.
Once again, thanks for this wonderful club of four. Each one has his style and each was different and interesting, to watch as well as listen. I love Mohammad’s indefatigable smile. Loved the comment about the mediocrity of a yes-man to the top mediocrity! Pepe is always wonderful. Having only read Crooke’s essays, I am glad to have seen and heard him now.
I thought Blumenthal did pretty well, although his actual delivery is unexciting. He actually seems to think in pretty long paragraphs and in each case at the end he drew all the threads together. It required (from me) more commitment to stick with him as he did quite detailed rundowns—perhaps he could have edited out some of the details—but I think in the end he arrived at a place where he could make his point and it was buttressed with many observations and data points. For example, he could simply have stated that the US is going to be turning inward and this is going to affect its foreign policy. Instead he made a detailed presentation leading up to the conclusion as to why this will be the case. Since the topic of the talk was “Whither the USA,” I think this was a valid approach. Still, the length of his segments may have meant that free-wheeling conversation was curtailed. Hopefully the format will evolve to be a bit more informal when this group gets together again.
Regarding the Jan 6 business, the narratives and myths are so thick on the ground and in the air—call it not the fog of war but the fog of domestic political jockeying—I don’t think anyone can say with confidence exactly what that event meant or even exactly what happened.
An addendum to my earlier comment re few comments.
Many people who post comments here are very argumentative.
If they don’t have something to argue about they don’t bother to comment.
Very perceptive comment.
The long form blows most of them out of the thread. They have the attention span of a firefly.
Also, it’s a big investment in people’s time to watch the whole thing in one sitting.
This isn’t the Netflix binge crowd.
And the other element is the topics are deep. Four voices speak to them. Many people feel they aren’t up to that level. So, they say nothing.
In some ways, Blumenthal was a tier below the others. He’s knowledgeable for certain. And he is an important American voice. But, he doesn’t bring insights. He brings facts. That’s good, too. But he couldn’t carry Pepe’s backpack.
Well, I would cut Blumenthal more slack.
For starters, he is much younger than Pepe, who has been junketing around the world for maybe three decades longer than Blumenthal. Pepe is clearly very comfortable in his skin, has a humorous take on the ways of the world. “Genial,” in the German sense of the word—congenial. Blumenthal is a different personality and, yes, he grew up in DC.
That said he has also put himself out there. His conclusion re Israel—where he says he has spent five years—was on target, I think: that Israel may be where, ideologically and politically, the USA is headed. Of course the witch-hunt template also has deep American roots. Responding to threats from within by exteriorizing” and projecting anxieties onto foreigners and others in a pathological, paranoid (buy, hey, also convenient) fashion.
I do hope this gang gets together again. I like the Peter Lavelle Crosstalk -similar format. Although Marandi is a “genialer” host than Lavelle, who has a tendency to interrupt a lot. It was great that Marandi let each person speak as long as desired. People have different ways of collecting their thoughts. Still, Lavelle has generated some very good conversations. In fact, I think I’ll just take a look at what CrossTalk has been up to lately . . .
I loved Pepe’s farewell to the fellows: Don’t forget, you’ll own nothing. (Laughter)
Mockery of Straub and a serious warning to everyone that the Elites intend to issue subscriptions service for food, water, medicine and a roof over every head that antes up.
No property, no country, no residence, no car, nothing will be owned. The Feudal Lords will hold title to everything, even that smartphone you hold dear.
Got Milk? No one will have milk but them. Pay or do without. The Liberal Cult is your teat. And they’ll let you know when or if you get to suck a little from it.
I thought it was really interesting and Max’s observations from within D.C. Were really meaningful for me.
Pepe speaks to the disenfranchised of the world, the Global South as he refers to them, Alastair speaks to those policy elites in the West who he imagines still have a conscience, and Max speaks to US Democrats. Pepe nailed it by highlighting Xi Jinping’s and Vladimir Putin’s insurrections at the WEF. Sorry Klaus but the future will be multi-polar. And, because he has lived his life on the streets, Pepe can toss off, when you least expect it, a pitch-perfect reference to Dylan, Hunter S Thompson or the Dead Kennedys. Jerry Brown was a warning but few were paying attention. After the show, I fished out my vinyl 78 of “Holiday in Cambodia” and played it loud. From Brown to Pelosi is but a heartbeat’s stumble in the dark.
Thanks for posting the conversation.
Crooke is all over the place, incoherent while verbose.
This video discounts the possibility that the Western elites are totally crazy. They have invested in hard power as it is put for a reason. That reason is quite simple. When push comes to shove these elites will say surrender or die. We may die if you refuse but we will assure that you die as well. Surrender!
The existence of the means to destroy the world are being too much discounted. There is the belief that the US will collapse and accept defeat without initiating catastrophe. The fears of global war of 80 years ago have been pushed aside. Presumably because nothing has happened. I think this is a big mistake.
Ambition such as the would be masters of the world, the exceptional people, possess will not surrender. The mad claims about Russian ambition to rule the world will only grow and be elaborated. Similarly, with China. If these elites do not yet believe their own propaganda, they will.
Delusion is the order of the day in the US. Fantasy has replaced reality in politics, the sciences, the arts and culture. When push comes to shove the people pulling the trigger on all out nuclear war will believe they can win and the thought of standing down will be unthinkable. It is because they are mediocre that they will be able to think and believe in ultimate victory.
The cost will be great these elites will think but the cost will mostly be born by people we don’t care about anyway. In any case it is beneath us not to do the utmost. They will not be able not to pull the trigger if only because they will never be able to admit failure.
Therefore the end game must be assumed to involve nuclear war. The US cannot be assumed to surrender its ambition as the pressure grows. On the cusp of final decline the US will cross its Rubicon and bet it all on all out war. One toss of the dice for victory or oblivion.
Even if you disbelieve this the possibility is certainly there and needs to be addressed, if possible. A cumulative victory by Russia, China and the Global South may be snatched into oblivion in an instant. With nuclear arms in the world it is impossible to count on victory from simply having the superior position and embellishing it over time.
I wholeheartedly agree. The elite are insane. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Here’s a Robert Jay Lifton about one aspect of this mindset:
Elsewhere, in the same book, he said:
Robert Jay Lifton. Superpower Syndrome: America’s Apocalyptic Confrontation with the World. Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2003.
(More along these lines here. Old, but still relevant… )