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LOOKING AHEAD
22.12.2008

December 19, 2008 (The date of publication in Russian)

Alexander Rublev

BRZEZINSKI'S NIGHTMARE

A global anti-American ideology is on the ascent

A DIRE RESULT OF A GOOD JOB

The unfolding global economic crisis leaves makes the opportunities for re-establishing America's "moral leadership" wasted during the period of the Bush-Cheney rule. Retaining military and technological superiority but losing the status of the locomotive of global economy, the United States will be unable to run the world by means of informational and financial levers. Estimating relevant risks, US expert circles foresee possible emergence of a "new integral ideology, directed against America".

A similar phenomenon was likely to emerge in 1960s, when the US ambition for global hegemony was confronted not only by the communist USSR and the Maoist China but also by pan-Europeans led by de Gaulle, leftist pan-Arabists personified by Nasser, and national liberation movements of Latin America and Africa.

At the brink of ideological isolation on the background of the collapse of the US military-political prestige after the humiliating defeat in Vietnam, the US ruling circles made everything possible to reverse the situation it their favor. Due to efficient diplomacy and introduction of a number of new ideological concepts (primarily, the human rights doctrine), the United States managed to undertake an ideological counter-offensive and impede the formation of a global anti-American front. A significant contribution to this success was made by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the ideologist of Jimmy Carter's foreign policy. Exactly at that time, leading figures of European conservative, social-democratic and socialist parties were involved into the ideological confrontation with the USSR, and convinced to view the process of European integration in the format of the trans-Atlantic unity, and the major Western communist parties distanced themselves from Moscow. Exactly at that time, Deng Xiaoping was invited to the United States, and the subsequent 1978 US-Chinese agreements ruined the opportunities for reunification of the socialist camp. In the same period, the United States managed to involve Egypt, the most powerful Arab state, into an alliance by means of a privileged partnership, involving a separate peace accord with Israel. The efforts, undertaken by Brzezinski, were highly efficient. However, Carter's United States encountered a number of unexpected challenges.

Having spent a lot of efforts for undermining international socialism, Gaullist pan-Europeanism and leftist pan-Arabism, Brzezinski's team was forced to leave the White House with disgrace due to the failure to prevent the Islamic revolution in Iran and the Sandinist insurrection in Nicaragua. These two revolutions, forcing Carter to leave the political scene, marked the emergence of two new ideologies – the Khomeini doctrine, and the Ibero-American theology of liberation. Being focused on different subjects, Brzezinski overlooked the moment when the ideas that seemed to be spread only locally, acquired a powerful material force.

 

A NEW IDEOLOGICAL CHALLENGE

Today, Brzezinski is trying to convince the US establishment that the future of the United States depends not only on the military superiority but on the way the United States is perceived by the global public opinion.

The ghost of new ideology, challenging the US domination, is troubling him today as well. In his book "The Choice: Global Domination, or Global Leadership?", he warns the US Administration of the increasing exposure of the US hegemony to the rapidly spreading "virus of anti-Americanism".

Brzezinski foresees emergence of a new comprehensive social conception that might form the base for a global intellectual environment, essentially hostile to the United States. This anti-American counter-creed may be assembled from elements of Marxism, Christian humanism, and radical environmentalism. Mutual penetration of relevant political circles and amalgamation of relevant theories is likely to generate an integral anti- American doctrine, becoming a powerful lever of global mobilization of masses, and a platform for unification not only of political forces but also of clusters of states, teaming up against American hegemony.

"At a certain moment, the Americans are going to encounter a coalition, led by China in Eastern Asia, Russia and India in Eurasia, possibly involving also Iran". In this process, the West's achievements in communicative technologies, once introduced for boosting freedom of expression, may benefit not American interests but their opposite. The Internet may become a domain of indignation and envy developing into a challenge to the "global hierarchy surmounted by America".

This potential network shape of future anti-Americanism is what Brzezinski is concerned about most of all. The United States has got a broad experience of "dealing with" major states that eagerly agreed for ideological compromises in exchange for obvious economic advantages, as it happened with China in late 1970s, as well as of playing upon personal ambitions and political vanity of particular leaders, as it was in the case of the USSR in late 1980s. But what should America do in case it has to confront a new ideology shared by a group of states with no imperial ambitions but with a high level of ideological mobilization?

It is true that new ideological poles emerge today with an astonishing speed. The best example is Ibero-American Bolivarianism emerging from conceptualization of Cuban experience by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. It is noteworthy that ABLA, the newly-established bloc of South American states, was formed at the time when Brzezinski's Second Chance was prepared for publication.

As recently as a decade ago, Chavez's success in Venezuela would be perceived as an unimportant event, attracting interest only in a narrow circle of specialists in Latin American affairs. In the period of time when Chavez was starting his political career, he was perceived as a potential military-populist dictator, a type rather typical for the continent. But as soon as Chavez became President, he rapidly evolved into an ideological leader of the whole continent, using Fidel Castro's ideas for global initiatives. Chavez's Venezuela actually became a melting pot in which elements of solidarism, theology of liberation, indigenism, Marxism, Trotskyism, the doctrine of the European New Left, and classical Western social democracy are today synthesizing into a single world outlook.

The political successes of Evo Moralez in Bolivia, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, and Rafael Correa in Ecuador crated preconditions for a new "local socialist camp" with a nucleus in Venezuela and Cuba. The potential for Bolivarian integration does not yet involve Brazil, named "the core state of South America" in Samuel Huntington's writings. Brazil's proto-imperial interests seem to stay above any universal ideological projects, and the country's leadership is cautious about ideas like a Ibero American military bloc or the trans-continental gas pipeline. But while the continental (Bolivarian) element of Chavez's concept is restricted with the territory of the continent, their socialist element possesses a formidable potential of ideological expansion.

 

XXI-CENTURY SOCIALISM FOR AFRICA AND THE ISLAMIC COMMUNITY

Chavez's oil diplomacy in the framework of OPEC has already resulted in an unprecedented Venezuela-Iranian alliance, both in polity and ideology. Not accidentally, the meeting of the two leaders was followed with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement that "Iran and Venezuela stay together and support one another, and President Chavez personifies a progressive and revolutionary trend in South America that significantly contributes to the international resistance to imperialism". Mutual penetration of Ibero-American Bolivarianism and Iranian "Islamic socialism" is likely to consolidate in the nearest future, admits Brzezinski.

To his view, Africa may also become a favorable playground for implementation of Chavez's ideas, due to the combination of a demographic upsurge and a similarly rapid deterioration of the economic situation. Under the circumstances of the global financial crisis, the doctrine of "XXI-century socialism" is likely to involve the Republic of South Africa where socialist ideas are visibly reviving after the resignation of Thabo Mbeki.

In fact, South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, had originally emerged as a leftist movement, though after the 1994 demolition of apartheid this self-identification used to be rather declarative. However, the current power shift in South Africa, with its numerous tribal communities, as well as an organized Moslem minority, may result in a neo-socialist transformation, contagious for other African states, and contributing to internationalization of the South American model.

The processes that fear the experienced US strategist today are undoubtedly going to accelerate in the period of global crisis and related utter discredit of the American model in the eyes of politicians and state leaders across the planet. Moreover, the obvious dissemination of new leftist ideas may not necessarily be associated with Chavez's activities. To become a political figure of an international scale, Hugo Chavez needed a decade. But given today's speed of exchange of ideas and information, emergence of another political figure of the same type may take a shorter period of time.


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