By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times
The West is the best
The West is the best
Get here and we’ll do the rest
Jim Morrison, The End
For those spared the ordeal of sifting through the NATO summit communique, here’s the concise low down: Russia is an “acute threat” and China is a “systemic challenge”.
NATO, of course, is just a bunch of innocent kids building castles in a sandbox.
Those were the days when Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay,
NATO’s first secretary-general, coined the trans-Atlantic purpose: to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
The Raging Twenties remix reads like “keep the Americans in, the EU down and Russia-China contained”.
So the North Atlantic (italics mine) organization has now relocated all across Eurasia, fighting what it describes as “threats from the East”. Well, that’s a step beyond Afghanistan – the intersection of Central and South Asia – where NATO was unceremoniously humiliated by a bunch of Pashtuns with Kalashnikovs.
Russia remains the top threat – mentioned 63 times in the communiqué. Current top NATO chihuahua Jens Stoltenberg says NATO won’t simply “mirror” Russia: it will de facto outspend it and surround it with multiple battle formations, as “we now have implemented the biggest reinforcements of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War”.
The communiqué is adamant: the only way for military spending is up. Context: the total “defense” budget of the 30 NATO members will grow by 4.1% in 2021, reaching a staggering $1.049 trillion ($726 billion from the US, $323 billion from assorted allies).
After all, “threats from the East” abound. From Russia, there are all those hypersonic weapons that baffle NATO generals; those large-scale exercises near the borders of NATO members; constant airspace violations; military integration with that “dictator” in Belarus.
As for the threats from China – South China Sea, Taiwan, the Indo-Pacific overall – it was up to the G7 to come up with a plan.
Enter “green”, “inclusive” Build Back Better World (B3W), billed as the Western “alternative” to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). B3W respects “our values” – which clownish British PM Boris Johnson could not help describing as building infrastructure in a more “gender neutral” or “feminine” way – and, further on down the road, will remove goods produced with forced labor (code for Xinjiang) from supply chains.
The White House has its own B3W spin: that’s a “values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership” which will be “mobilizing private-sector capital in four areas of focus – climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equality – with catalytic investments from our respective development institutions”
The initial “catalytic investments” for BW3 were estimated at $100 billion. No one knows how these funds will be coming from the “development institutions”.
Seasoned Global South observers already bet they will be essentially provided by IMF/World Bank “green” loans tied to private sector investment in selected emerging markets, with an eye on profit.
The White House is adamant that “B3W will be global in scope, from Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa and the Indo-Pacific”. Note the blatant attempt to match BRI’s reach.
All these “green” resources and new logistic chains financed by what will be a variant of Central Banks showering helicopter money would ultimately benefit G7 members, certainly not China.
And the “protector” of these new “green” geostrategic corridors will be – who else? – NATO. That’s the natural consequence of the “global reach” emphasized on the NATO 2030 agenda.
NATO as investment protector
“Alternative” infrastructure schemes already proliferate, geared to contain “Russia bullying” and “Chinese meddling” off from the EU. That’s the case of the Three Seas Initiative, where 12 EU member-states from Eastern Europe are supposed to better interconnect the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas.
This initiative is a pale copy of China’s 17+1 mechanism of integrating Eastern Europe as part of BRI – in this case forcing them to build very expensive infrastructure to receive very expensive American energy imports.
The offensive against “threats from the East” is bound to fail.
Dmitry Orlov has detailed how “Russia excels at building and operating huge energy, transportation and materials production systems” and, in parallel, how “the technosphere…has quietly relocated and is now busy telecommuting between Moscow and Beijing.”
As every geek knows, China is way ahead in 5G and is the world’s top market for chips. And now the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law – significantly approved right before the G7 in Cornwall – will “safeguard” Chinese companies from “unilateral and discriminatory measures imposed by foreign countries” and the US “long arm jurisdiction”, thus forcing Atlanticist capital to make a choice.
It’s China as a rising global power that in fact has proposed an “alternative” to the Global South in the first place, a counterpunch to the endless IMF/World Bank debt trap of the past decades. BRI is a highly complex sustainable development trade/investment strategy with the potential to integrate vast swathes of the Global South.
That’s a direct connection to Chairman Mao’s famous theory on the division of the Three Worlds ; the emphasis then on the post-colonial Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), of which China was a stalwart, now encompasses the whole Global South. In the end, it’s always about sovereignty against neocolonialism.
B3W is the Western, essentially American, reaction to BRI: try to scotch as many projects as possible while harassing China 24/7 in the process.
Unlike China or Germany, the US hardly manufactures products the Global South wants to buy; manufacturing accounts for only 5% of a US economy essentially propped up by the US dollar as reserve currency and the – dwindling – Pentagon’s Empire of Bases.
China churns out ten top engineers for every US “financial expert”. China has perfected what is known among bilingual tech experts as an effective system to make SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) development plans – and implement them.
The notion that the Global South will be convinced to privilege B3W – a hollow PR coup at best – over BRI is ludicrous. Yet NATO will be regimented to actively protect those investments that follow “our values”. One thing is certain: there will be blood.