The tragedy of the war in Ukraine is that it is not about Ukraine. This is a big-stage global drama with a small number of A-list actors and lots of unsuspecting and unwilling extras.
Ever since the 2014 coup d'état, Ukraine’s role was to be the casus belli between the West and Russia, and it played it perfectly in the opening act.
The second act hasn't even begun yet. We are in the intermission. The Sultry Summer Special. It’s shaping up to be a long play, with big strategic and operational implications.
Strategic: Who Will Build Back Better?
The UK/US block has dominated the geostrategic chessboard partially since 1918, and completely for the last 33 years, since its comprehensive defeat of the Communist block.
Francis Fukuyama declared The End of History and the arrival of The Last Man in 1992, openly announcing the victory of the new and improved 1000-year
Reich liberal democratic order. A new and final paradigm for the globe.
For various reasons, this paradigm proved untenable, and its builders knew it. What would you do if the system you’ve set up and controlled for a century is falling apart and cannot be salvaged? You lead the demolition of the old and the transition to a new system. Build Back Better as it were.
A global system has a vast number of moving parts, most of which are invisible to the masses. The masses usually see only the TV and the Fridge, or the other way around if the situation is desperate.
Panem et circenses. This is the dialectic under which the systemic transition dramas usually play out for the masses. If the TV is on top, everything is fine and the system is stable. When the Fridge prevails, as it invariably does, things are going badly and the system needs a realignment.
How amusing that the empire in the Hunger Games was called Panem. Get it?
With the war in Ukraine, the TV/Fridge dialectic is again in play. The visible moves in the global systemic realignment have finally started in earnest. The only question is who will be the last player standing, the one to Build Back Better.
By invading Ukraine, Russia triggered the strategic trap set for it by UK/US planners. Its prescribed role was to commit fully, place the Fridge on everyone’s mind, escalate until all of Europe is involved as well, and close the second act by leading the disintegration of the entire Eurasian political structure.
Interestingly, so far Russia has not mobilized and committed fully to the war, leaving the majority of its regular forces in reserve. Nevertheless, food and energy prices are going through the roof across the West, and shortages are very much on the agenda. Soon, the Fridge will be on everyone’s mind.
Europe is already involved way deeper than it would have seemed possible even a year ago. The energy and food sanctions the EU imposed on Russia are a fast-track systemic suicide for the union. So far, apart from Ukraine, the EU has been the biggest loser of this war. Also, winter is coming.
China has taken Russia’s side, which was to be expected, given it is one of the main contenders for Building Back Better after the play is wrapped up. The fact that Brazil, India, and the Greater Middle East, from Egypt to the Gulf States, Iran, and Turkey, refused to take part in any sanctions on Russia is far more telling. They are hedging their bets.
Not strong enough to win this round of the great game, Brazil, India, and the Greater Middle East will try to be on the winner’s side. The fact all of them are still hedging their bets this late into the first act demonstrates how uncertain the outcome is.
I think the UK/US dramatic sanction gambit early on was a strategic mistake. They played all cards of the sanction game in one go, denying themselves the ability to control the escalation pace through economic means. For comparison, notice how slowly the Russian counter-sanctions are unfolding. They control the pace for maximum effect.
Cutting Russia from the legacy Western financial network was part of this strategic gambit. All it achieved was to smooth Russia’s transition into China’s financial system. China's alternative to SWIFT is called CIPS. Cross-border Inter-bank Payments System. China’s alternative to Visa and MasterCard is called UnionPay. We will be hearing a lot more about CIPS and UnionPay in the coming years, as more and more countries switch to the Chinese financial system.
Operational: Europe Goes For The Trifecta
On an operational level, this war is about Europe, or, more specifically, the systemic deconstruction of the European landmass from Lisbon to the Urals. The best illustration of how far this deconstruction will go is the interesting case of Switzerland.
Switzerland banned Russians from accessing its territory and/or using its banks. For reference, Switzerland has been neutral for centuries, neutrality was its main brand. The Swiss were the mountain goblins with whom everyone kept their gold. Even Harry Potter’s parents kept theirs with the Swiss!
Switzerland remained neutral even during WW1 and WW2. Not anymore. The mountain goblins will now take your gold if they feel like it. Not a winning long-term banking strategy.
While Switzerland suicided only its banking industry, the EU block, led by Germany, suicided all of its industry by sanctioning Russian funds and energy. Without Russian gas German industry faces catastrophic collapse.
Germany’s trade balance is already in catastrophic collapse mode, as is the Euro. The former has gone negative for the first time since modern unified Germany exists, and the latter has gone below the USD for the first time since its creation. Also, winter is coming.
Then, there are the future food shortages everyone is already talking about. Official food inflation is around 10%, unofficial at least double that. Yes, the Fridge is here.
Europe has the unique honor of being the only continent to achieve three (3) collective suicides in a row within 100 years. World War I, World War II, and the current play. The trifecta.
Interesting times ahead.