“[T]he simple step of a simple courageous man is not to partake in falsehood, not to support false actions! Let THAT enter the world, let it even reign in the world – but not with my help. But writers and artists can achieve more: they can CONQUER FALSEHOOD!”Solzhenitsyn
The world crisis ignited by events in Ukraine rumbles on. The elites of the Anglo-American world are being exposed for their shallowness, their conceit, and their mendacity. An example appeared in The Debate with Arnab Goswami on Republic World TV, a major Indian news channel. On this show, Goswami debated the proposition that Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, had executed a diplomatic masterstroke by adopting an even-handed and independent position during the Ukraine crisis. A panel joined him including distinguished Indian scholars, a Portugese legal scholar, Russian and American military analysts, and the leading American international relations scholar, Charles Kupchan.
Kupchan is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, professor of international affairs at Georgetown University in the Walsh School of Foreign Service and Department of Government, and author of innumerable articles in the American tradition of grand strategy and defining the world order in American interests. Together with the veteran of the American foreign [imperial] policy establishment, Richard Haas, he wrote an article in Foreign Affairs in May 2021 that tried to redefine American leadership in the world as the unipolar era rapidly burns in failure. There Kupchan and Haas wrote:
“The international system is at a historical inflection point. As Asia continues its economic ascent, two centuries of Western domination of the world, first under Pax Britannica and then under Pax Americana, are coming to an end. The West is losing not only its material dominance but also its ideological sway. Around the world, democracies are falling prey to illiberalism and populist dissension while a rising China, assisted by a pugnacious Russia, seeks to challenge the West’s authority and republican approaches to both domestic and international governance.”The New Concert of Powers- How to Prevent Catastrophe and Promote Stability in a Multipolar World
American diplomacy, in the form of Jo Biden and Anthony Blinken no less, were to march in and sort out the surly and recalcitrant world. It might have seemed a sound idea in the tea rooms and cocktail circuits of American think tanks, consulting firms and political lobbyists. But the world and events did not fit into the grand imperial schemas of Professor Kupchan and his colleagues at the Council of Foreign Affairs. America was defeated in Afghanistan; and its military, grand strategists, intelligence community and commentariat were disgraced by their incompetence. Russia and China formed a deep partnership. America refused to discuss a reasonable set of propositions to end the Cold War security architecture of Europe, in favour of a tendentious, romanticised dream of a democratic Ukraine. Then the bluster and threats, the sanctions and media staging of the United States and European elites were outplayed. Russia entered Ukraine. Facts on the ground were hidden by videos by Zelensky from a basement, but facts win in real wars. America and NATO were left with the illusory victories of an information war, and now must rapidly need to tell new stories to their own public to explain the impending defeat, the certain shame of revelations of complicity with an undemocratic and corrupt regime, and the economic consequences of endless, aimless wars, including food shortages.
But when Professor Kupchan deigned to appear with those recalcitrant Indians on Republic World, America was still in denial. The world is united. The truth is clear. This is a clear moral choice. These were Professor Kupchan’s somewhat overheated claims. And India – well, Professor Kupchan could not hide his contempt for the venality of the sub-imperials from the subordinate subcontinent. He “gets it”. India wants Russian oil (even though one of the better informed non-metropolitan guests points out Russian oil is a tiny part of Indian oil supply, but one per cent, a seventh of American supplied imports. But now is the time to speak up, the missionary Professor intones, but in support of what, the other guests and audience ask. The Professor splutters in indignation about being interrupted, corrected and mocked live to air. How petty, surly and unpersuasive can this pumped-up international relations scholar, Charles Kupchan, be when the non-exceptional nations of the world do not follow in “lockstep” with his thinking on how to order the world.
This debate from a major show in India gives a good insight into how the USA has alienated Indian elites. It is one event in an rushing cascade of intellectual revolt against the Anglo-American world, against the Netflix stream of American thinking about the world, diplomacy, democracy, economics etc. The world is saying: America, look at me, I am the captain now.
It is kind of hard to keep a level head amidst this world crisis, and believe that culture, what thou lovest most, will endure through the flames. Yet that is what one must do. Turn to the garden. Tend it. Plant more flowers for the mind. Believe they will outlive the ruins.