On May 27, Henry Kissinger will celebrate his one-hundredth birthday. His centenary couldn’t come at a more symbolic time: Kissinger’s century was the American century, and they’re both coming to a close. Kissinger is probably America’s most controversial and polarising statesman — reviled as a war criminal by his critics, hailed as a master in the art of diplomacy and a peacemaker by his admirers. On one point everyone agrees: few people have had a bigger impact on US post-war foreign policy than Kissinger. As National Security Advisor and Secretary of State from 1969 to 1977 under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Kissinger played a pivotal role in marshalling the United States through one of the Cold War’s most violent and turbulent decades. What one chooses to emphasise about Kissinger’s political record depends on where one sits in the “Kissinger wars” — the fierce intellectual battle that has been raging on for decades over the statesman’s legacy. According to his detractors, Kissinger was above all an imperialist who pursued US global supremacy with unmatched ruthlessness and cynicism. At the other end of the ideological spectrum we find the Kissinger-as-diplomatic-genius-and-peacemaker camp. Who’s right? Read my latest article here.
Now that the US and WHO have both declared an end to the Covid health emergency, one might be tempted to think that the pandemic nightmare is truly, finally over. Indeed, for most people, it had already been overtaken by more pressing issues, ranging from inflation to war. But for those of us who maintained that the real nightmare was not the virus itself (which never a serious threat for the vast majority of the world’s population), but rather the governments’ dystopian response to it in the name of “public health” — the deployment of disastrous biomedical protocols, the upending of human life as we know it, the violation of citizens’ most fundamental civil rights, the state’s intrusion into the most private aspects of our lives (including birth, sex, worship, death), and even our bodies, the sweeping aside of democratic procedures and constitutional constraints, the militarisation of societies, the introduction of extraordinary measures of social control, the discrimination and stigmatisation of non-compliant citizens, the rampant use of propaganda and censorship, the massive transfer of wealth — there is little to celebrate. Not only do most people still subscribe to the Covid consensus, but vast resources are now being poured into consolidating the “accepted story” of the past three years — what we might call the post-Covid consensus. Read the article by Toby Green and I here.
I’ve got a new piece up about how austerity is returning to Europe, but with a perverse twist: while the EU is devising a plan to get states to cut their overall budgets, it is also calling on governments to increase their defence budgets to at least 2% of their GDP to comply with NATO’s spending target. In other words, European countries will soon be required to cut back on social welfare and crucial investment in non-defence-related areas in order to finance the EU’s new defence economy — we might call this military austerity — in the context of the bloc’s increasingly vassal-like subordination to US foreign policy. Welcome to the age of military austerity.
I’ve written for UnHerd about the new scramble for Africa — the struggle between Western countries, China and Russia for influence over this immensely resource-rich, young continent predicted to be the next frontier of growth. In this game, Russia is particularly well-positioned. More so than the West, it enjoys strong historical and ideological ties with many African nations, given that the Soviet Union was the primary ally of several nations on the continent during the Cold War. Meanwhile, Sino-African relations are also deepening, with China now the continent’s largest trading partner and main source of project finance in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative. This has included massive infrastructural projects: railways, roads, dams, ports and airports. China’s approach differs starkly from the Western one, which continues to be heavily reliant on military force and repression — what some might call neocolonialism. Just last year, the US bombed Somalia and Niger. Meanwhile, American special operations teams are playing a direct role in military actions in at least eight African countries, including Somalia, Kenya, Tunisia and Niger, under a set of classified “surrogate programmes”. Read the article here.
I’ve written for UnHerd about the most important economic story since Bretton Woods: de-dollarisation — or the world’s gradual disengagement from the dollar. The dollar’s demise has been endlessly — and wrongly — predicted since the Sixties, so scepticism here is justified. This time, however, there is good reason to believe that it’s happening for real. De-dollarisation comes in many forms, but three are particularly easy to spot: the settling of international transactions in currencies other than the dollar, primarily the Chinese yuan; the reduction of the dollar in global foreign-exchange reserves; and the decline in foreign holdings of US Treasury bonds. On all counts, the trend seems clear: countries are slowly moving away from the dollar. This is good news not only for the world but also for America. By attracting capital to the US and allowing it to help itself to foreign goods and resources such as oil simply by printing its own currency — in what Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, de Gaulle’s Minister of Economy, called America’s “exorbitant privilege” — dollar dominance has undoubtedly benefited America’s imperial elites: Wall Street, large global corporations and, most importantly, the national security establishment. It’s what has allowed the US to sustain a regime of perpetual war, on top of exercising financial dominance over much of the world. But this has come at a significant cost not only for the rest of the world but also for American workers, farmers, producers and small businesses. Read the article here.
I’ve got a new column up at UnHerd about what is shaping up to be the new geopolitical paradigm that will dominate European politics in the coming years: the shift of the EU’s centre of gravity to the East and the return of the East-West divide — and why it matters. Until recently, the turn towards “illiberal” or “post-liberal” democracy in various Central and Eastern European countries — most notably Hungary and Poland — was described as one of the greatest threats to the EU, with those nations branded as the bloc’s bêtes noires. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed everything. It has greatly enhanced the geostrategic importance of those countries that border Ukraine, Russia or Russian-controlled Belarus (or overlook the Northern Sea Route), thus dramatically tilting Europe’s geopolitical balance of power from the West to the East (and partly to the North). This will have momentous consequences for the EU, given that most Central and Eastern European countries are staunchly pro-US and pro-NATO — a position that is fundamentally incompatible with the aspirations of France and other Western European countries for greater “strategic autonomy” from the US. The East-West divide is back with a vengeance — and has the potential of bringing down the entire bloc. Read the article here.
In my latest column for UnHerd I chart the rise of private military and security companies (PMSCs) — the modern version of mercenarism. There’s much talk these days about the infamous Wagner Group, Putin’s “private army” that is playing a leading role in Ukraine. But Wagner is just the tip of the iceberg. The corporate security and military industry is a global and growing phenomenon, with the West leading the way. In 2022, the PMSC sector — whose largest businesses are American and British — was valued at $260 billion and is projected to reach a value of around $450 billion by 2030. Ultimately, the growth of the PMSC sector is just another example of how economic transformations in recent decades have blurred the boundary between the public and private-corporate sphere to the point of making it indistinguishable.
I also have a new piece up at Compact, where I argue that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may be immoral, but it cannot be considered irrational or unprovoked, as the Western narrative contends. In fact, it may be seen as a rational response to the Western encirclement of Russia’s borders that began during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and continued to the eve of the war. By that point, events in Ukraine had reached a tipping point, and were plausibly understood by Russia’s leadership to represent an existential threat to its survival. The point is not to justify Russia’s actions in Ukraine; the point is to understand how we got into this mess, because that’s the only way of getting out of it. Appreciating the rational motivations that drove Russia to invade, and acknowledging the responsibilities of all the parties involved, including the West, are preconditions for reaching a solution capable of putting an end to the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine — which must necessarily involve credible security guarantees for both Ukraine and Russia. Read the article here.
It’s been 75 years since the signing into law of the Marshall Plan, which laid the groundwork for a mutually beneficial North Atlantic alliance that offered Europe several decades of economic prosperity and military security. Today, that world no longer exists. Indeed, the contrast between the Marshall Plan and America’s approach to Europe today couldn’t be more jarring. The Marshall Plan may still be regarded as one of the pillars of America’s post-war mythology, but under Biden, America is pursuing an isolationist economic policy and a ham-fisted foreign policy that both run counter to Europe’s vital interests. In my latest UnHerd column, I argue that today the costs of the transatlantic alliance, for Europe, far outweigh the benefits. It’s time for European countries to grow up, get out of this abusive relationship with Washington and embrace the emerging multipolar world order.
I’ve got a new piece up at UnHerd about the way in which small/medium farmers across the world are being forced to shut down in the name of “sustainability”, to the benefit of Big Agro and the world’s food oligarchs — and the catastrophic consequences this could have at a time when the world is already facing a food and resource shortage.
A few days ago I also wrote a short post about a latest poll showing that 30% of British people think lockdowns were a mistake. These people are unlikely to feel represented by either of the two major parties — on issues ranging from immigration to globalisation to the war in Ukraine. This silent (for now) but sizeable minority shows that there’s a potentially large space for a new populist party in Britain.
During his recent visit to Moscow, Xi Jinping reaffirmed the two countries’ strong ties and emphasised that Russia has not been isolated by the global community. Indeed, China isn’t the only country Russia has strengthened ties with since the start of the conflict. Despite the West’s attempts to “globalise” the conflict, only 33 nations — representing just over one-eighth of the global population — have imposed sanctions on Russia and sent military aid to Ukraine: the UK, US, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan and the EU — in other words, those countries that are directly under the US sphere of influence, which in many cases involves a significant US military presence. The remaining nations, comprising close to 90% of the world’s population, have refused to follow suit. If anything, the war has actually strengthened Russian relations with a number of major non-Western countries — including, besides China, India, South Africa and Turkey — and accelerated the rise of a new international order in which it is the West that looks increasingly isolated, not Russia. As I write in UnHerd, it is not China and Russia that are decoupling from the West; it is the West that is decoupling from the rest of the world.
I also wrote about Germany’s health minister Karl Lauterbach’s change of tune on vaccine injuries: Lauterbach, a pro-lockdown and hawk who infamously claimed that Covid vaccines were “without side effects”, has now admitted he was wrong. It’s the biggest vaccine-injury scandal to have emerged since the pandemic.