From Pepe Escobar:
The proverbial bogeymen of our world — Osama, Saddam, Gaddafi, Ahmadinejad (how curious, all Muslims!) — are clearly meant to act like so many mini-black holes absorbing all our fears. But they won’t save the West from its decline, or the former sole superpower from its comeuppance.
Yale’s Paul Kennedy, that historian of decline, would undoubtedly remind us that history will sweep away American hegemony as surely as autumn replaces summer (as surely as European colonialism was swept away, NATO’s “humanitarian” wars notwithstanding). Already in 2002, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, world-system expert Immanuel Wallerstein was framing the debate this way in his book The Decline of American Power: the question wasn’t whether the United States was in decline, but if it could find a way to fall gracefully, without too much damage to itself or the world. The answer in the years since has been clear enough: no.
Who can doubt that, 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, the great global story of 2011 has been the Arab Spring, itself certainly a subplot in the decline of the West? As the West wallowed in a mire of fear, Islamophobia, financial and economic crisis, and even, in Britain, riots and looting, from Northern Africa to the Middle East, people risked their lives to have a crack at Western democracy.
Of course, that dream has been at least partially derailed, thanks to the medieval House of Saud and its Persian Gulf minions barging in with a ruthless strategy of counter-revolution, while NATO lent a helping hand by changing the narrative to a “humanitarian” bombing campaign meant to reassert Western greatness. As NATO’s secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen put the matterbluntly, “If you’re not able to deploy troops beyond your borders, then you can’t exert influence internationally, and then that gap will be filled by emerging powers that don’t necessarily share your values and thinking.”
So let’s break the situation down as 2011 heads for winter. As far as MENA is concerned, NATO’s business is to keep the U.S. and Europe in the game, the BRICS members out of it, and the “natives” in their places. Meanwhile, in the Atlantic world, the middle classes barely hang on in quiet desperation, even as, in the Pacific, China booms, and globally the whole world holds its breath for the next economic shoe to drop in the West (and then the one after that).
Pity there’s no neo-T.S. Eliot to chronicle this shabby, neo-medievalist wasteland taking over the Atlanticist axis. When capitalism hits the intensive care unit, the ones who pay the hospital bill are always the most vulnerable — and the bill is invariably paid in blood.