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Old World Order New World Order, Chaos And Change

Politics / New World Order Apr 17, 2014 - 11:35 AM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop

Politics

Geopolitical Harbingers

Certainly by the closing decades of the 19th century, geopolitical theory was splitting into two camps, that we can call the global seaborne Hegemon theory of US admiral Albert Thayer Mahan, and the pan-Asian landward Hegemon theory of British academic and director of the London School of Economics, Sir Halford Mackinder. In both cases however, whether the coming single global superpower attained that status by sea wars or land wars, military and political-economic conflict was certain as the power blocs collided and the seats of global power shifted. In both cases, either or both land areas and seas or oceans – pivot or shatterbelt zones, and blue water seas and oceans - would remain disputed.


As only two large examples of their influence, Mackinder's theories certainly encouraged Nazi Germany's disastrous attempt to invade and conquer Russia, while Thayer Mahan's theories have a present and current major influence on China's expanding military naval strategy.

The New Inquiry (TNI) non-profit group of academics, writers and historians in the US pursues a standing program of publications that analyze and comment the underlying theses of geopoliticians, of chaos and change. One key critical example was the 1930s era of the Great Depression and the failure of capitalism, overlain by a veneer of only-apparent stability. Historians published by TNI, and political economists tracing the causes of World War II, say the 1930s were the harbinger of the post-World War I Old Order shifting to the New. Necessarily there was coming global conflict terminating with the first and only – to date – use of atomic weapons in 1945.

Groups like TNI bolster the thesis that the current global situation, and the domestic political-economic situations in the former global hegemons, including the G7 countries and Russia, are now inherently unstable. No stability will be possible until there is the emergence of some kind of new order. In that perspective, the gathering global crisis symbolized and made concrete by the Ukraine crisis, the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the growing and real threats to the continuing existence of Nato and the European Union, the post-2008 global finance, banking and economic crisis and other harbingers such as rapidly-growing instability of the pan-Islamic world, are all vastly significant.

This is because they fundamentally and firstly underline the collapse of ideology. Previous mega-change on the global geopolitical chessboard always featured, usually at an intense level, a clash of ideologies. One major example in the current world is Samuel Huntington's supposed but easily contested “Clash of Civilizations”. In fact Islam, exactly like the other major world religions faces a potent set of life-sapping threats. The appeal to “hardcore Islam” ideology such as Hanbalism, dating from 850 AD, or Wahabism dating from the mid-18th century, can be seen as an ideological attempt at clutching straws in the wind.

This key role of ideology is not the game-changer, this time. It also underlines the critical role of chaos in the process of change. Neither Huntington nor any serious historian can signal the presence of ideological dictatorships, today. Instead, there is a much more sombre and threatening mass confusion of the elites, rank political incompetence, and constant prevarication – playing for time when time is counted and nearly up – pushing the geopolitical time counter back to World War I.

Old Order Somnambulism

Taking only the Ukraine crisis as an example, this can be instantly analyzed as a Mackinder-type geopolitical and hegemonic attempt by western Europe to push east, and Russia to push west, of course resulting in armed conflict after the economic sanctions “warm-up” or interlude. But most astonishing is that today's version of this geopolitical instinct, which in its current “eastern Europe pivot country” context dates to at least the 15th century – 500 years ago – has no evident or clear logic involved. It is the purely instinctive action of political sleepwalkers. The ideological crutches are gone.

Provocation has been heaped on escalation. What were the leaders of the Western powers thinking? For sure and certain they are not thinking that the European Union is a neo-Christian empire with a God-willed mission to march east, except on paper and in theory. Why the EU stubbornly refuses to accept and admit Muslim majority Turkey to the Union, is an unanswered question. Is the EU a Christian Union, like Charlemagne's empire? How or why the Ukraine crisis has any meaning at all to average Americans, outside of Washington, is another question - but with no answer at all.

To be sure and certain, Russia has little in the way of concrete economic gains on offer from extending westward into Ukraine, but logic has a very small role in the high-level process of geopolitical change, in this current case.  We are forced to shift back to the 1914-era to find applicable models. Historians still debating the causes of World War I, not II, mostly agree that this war started through a constant and confused, cacaphonic interplay among political deciders and heads of state unable to understand what was happening. This was a permanent disconnect with the real world that could only end in tragedy.

From a historical perspective, today's political elite – especially in Europe - looks back on 1914 heads of state with disdain. They go on to imagine that the 1914 war ended “nearly a century of relative stability and peace in Europe”, terminated by hapless, out of touch, and stupid leaders. World War I, to be sure and certain was firstly triggered in the Balkans – where the current action is – but secondly had much less meaning or reason than World War II, which had a huge ideological content.

Since the 1990s, and accelerating, the political elites of today have on one hand accepted or welcomed the collapse of ideologies, but on the other hand have multiplied – not reduced or attenuated – the geographical focus regions and the political-economic motives, for conflict.

The US rampage in Muslim majority countries since 2001 is one baleful example. This was an unmotivated, supposedly pre-emptive geopolitical lunge. Islam was demonized, and became diabolic.

Betraying what can be called a lurking sense of shame and fear of revenge, the cult of “national security” was then ramped up to giddy heights in many Western countries, as a pseudo-ideology or neo-doctrine, but in no way hides the real and complete absence of ideology. Following the Ukraine crisis, Russian cyber-criminals “undermining the West” could be added to Islamic computer programmer devils threatening the Western economy and its security, but to be sure, all this is only a playact. It can only be an interlude before the real affirmative action comes – which is usually military.

World War Reset

Historians also agree that World War I was not only overdue and inevitable when it broke out, but vastly accelerated global geopolitical changes that had become certain, and were awaiting their trigger moment. The Middle East of today, we can note, is essentially a Treaty of Versailles mapmaking exercize, with a post-World War I date stamp of the 1920s. Massive changes in the region, and the world since World War I intensify the unreality of what we face today in this region, symbolized and made concrete by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Almost endless proof has been given, and continues to be given that heads of state toying with a “just and lasting solution” to this conflict are disconnected with reality. They can be called hapless or stupid. The endless ballad of US and European officials to Jerusalem and Arab capitals has in global geopolitical terms, however, been downsized to its real significance of almost nothing. For the new global economic powers of Asia, including China and India, as well as Japan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has no meaning and no interest. It is a relic feature of the Old World Order. It is a Western ritual of previous, but now lost, geopolitical reach and power.

The dangers of this strange and possibly unique global context of instinctive geopolitical urgings, devoid of all ideology but if necessary ending in war, with no external logic or rationale such as potential economic gains, are hard to exaggerate.

Ideological Vacuum – Geopolitical Impasse

The current context thrusts us back to a 1914-era framework and process of geopolitical change, but with the massive difference that today, we have tail-end ideologies counting down and out, unlike the 1914-era of rising and coming ideological conflict. For some historians, including the most-quoted historian of Italian fascism, Renzo de Felice, World War I was the scene-setter for the later ideology-based war of 1939-1945. More important on this analytic basis, World War I was groundless, but helped create the ideological bases for the “real war of civilizations”, World War II.

Today's greatest danger is probably this. We are dealing with post-ideological and post-rational political mindsets, able to reset and respond to semi-instinctive geopolitical groping of the types described by Mahan and Mackinder. The difference is that, today, the political elites do not have or need a rational base or logical explanation, nor definition of what they want to achieve.

Much as the exact causes of World War I are still disputed and debated today, 100 years later, the current geopolitical process of change from Old Order to New Order is likely to become a future debating ground for historians and political scientists. What we can conclude at present is that among the convergent drivers of change, we have the “Death of Ideologies” thrusting political leaders and heads of state into permanent confusion. By default, this enables instinctive age-old gropings to make the final decision. We therefore have a “stochastic model” for global change, where pure chance can easily play a major role – and we will live with the results.

By Andrew McKillop

Contact: xtran9@gmail.com

Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2014 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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