Putin’s War-whoop: The impending clash with
By Mike Whitney
-- --- “What is a ‘unipolar’ world?
It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign--- one
center of authority, one center of force, one center of
decision-making. And at the end of the day this is pernicious
not only for all those within this system, but also for the
sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.
It has nothing in common with democracy, which is the power of
the majority in respect to the interests and opinions of the
In Russia , we are constantly being lectured about democracy.
But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn
themselves.” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address to the
Munich Conference on Security Policy 2-10-07
The deployment of the US Missile Defense System in Eastern
Europe is a de-facto declaration of war on the Russian
Federation . As Russian President Putin said in a recent press
conference, “If this missile system is put in place, it will
work automatically with the entire nuclear capability of the
United States . It will be an integral part of the US nuclear
capability.” This will disrupt the current configuration of
international security and force Russia to begin work on a new
regime of tactical nuclear weapons. This is a very serious
development. Russia will now have to rethink its current policy
vis a vis the United States and develop a long-range strategy
for fending off further hostile encroachments into former-Soviet
states by NATO.
Welcome to the new Cold War.
Putin cannot ignore the gravity of the proposed system or the
threat it poses to Russia ’s national security. Bush’s Missile
Defense is not defensive at all, but offensive. It thrusts US
military bases--with nuclear infrastructure and radar--up to
Russia ’s doorstep giving the US a clear advantage in
“first-strike” capability. That means that Washington will be
able to intimidate Russia on issues that are of critical
international importance. Putin cannot allow this. He must force
Bush to remove this dagger held to Moscow ’s throat.
Bush’s Pyrrhic Victory at the G-8
The central issues on the docket at the G-8 meetings were
downplayed in the media. The press primarily focused its
attention on the “anticipated” conflict between Bush and Putin.
But, the brouhaha never materialized; both were respectful and
President Bush, however, was adamant that his plan for missile
defense in Czechoslovakia and Poland would go ahead according to
schedule. Putin, for the most part remained politely silent. His
objections were censored in the media.
But less than 10 hours after the closing ceremonies of the G-8,
Putin fired off the first salvo in what will certainly be
remembered as “the war that brought down the Empire”.
Putin addressed 200 corporate leaders at the International
Economic Forum in St. Petersburg and his comments left little
doubt that he had already settled on a plan for countering
Bush’s missile shield in the Czech Republic .
Putin’s speech articulated his vision of a “Moscow-centered” new
world order which would create a ``new balance of power''--less
dependent on Washington .
He said, ``The new architecture of economic relations requires a
completely new approach. Russia intends to become an alternative
global financial center and to make the ruble a reserve currency
for central banks.”
“The world is changing before our eyes.'' Countries that
yesterday seemed hopelessly behind are today the fastest growing
economies of the world. Institutions such as the World Trade
Organization and the IMF are ``archaic, undemocratic and
inflexible''. They don’t `` reflect the new balance of power.''
Putin's speech is defiant rejection of the present system. We
can be sure that it has not passed unnoticed by anxious
mandarins in the US political establishment. Russia is
announcing the beginning of an asymmetrical war; designed to
cripple the United States economically, weaken the institutions
which have traditionally enhanced its wealth, and precipitate a
shift of global power away from Washington .
Putin’s challenge to the US dollar is particularly worrisome. He
emphasizes the inherent unfairness of the current system, which
relies almost entirely on the dollar and which has an extremely
negative effect on many smaller countries’ economies and
"There can be only one answer to this challenge,” he said. “The
creation of several world currencies and several financial
Putin’s remarks are a direct attack on the dollar and its
position as the de facto international currency. He imagines a
world where goods and resources are traded in rubles or “baskets
of currencies”--not just greenbacks. This would create greater
parity between the countries and, hence, a more even
distribution of power.
Putin's vision is a clear threat to America ’s ongoing economic
dominance. Already, in the last few months, Norway , Iran ,
Syria , UAE, Kuwait , and Venezuela have announced that they are
either cutting back on their USD reserves or converting from the
greenback to the euro or a “basket of currencies”. Dollar
hegemony is at the very center of American power, and yet, the
downturn is visible everywhere. If the dollar loses its place as
the world’s “reserve currency”; the US will have to pay-down its
monstrous current account deficit and live within its means.
America will lose the ability to simply print fiat money and use
it in exchange for valuable resources and manufactured goods.
Putin is now openly challenging the monetary-system that
provides the flow of oxygen to the American superpower.
Can he carry it off?
What kind of damage can Russia really inflict on the dollar or
on the many lofty-sounding organizations (WTO, World Bank, IMF,
NATO and Federal Reserve) which prop up the US Empire?
Russia ’s power is mushrooming. Its GDP is leaping ahead at 8%
per annum and by 2020 Russia will be among the five biggest
economies in the world. It now has the third largest Forex
reserves in the world and it is gradually moving away from the
anemic dollar to euros and rubles. Nearly 10% of its wealth is
currently in gold.
Russia has also overtaken Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading
supplier of petroleum. It produces 13% of the world’s daily
output and has the world’s largest reserves of natural gas. In
fact, Putin has worked energetically to create the world’s first
Natural Gas cartel—an alliance between Russia , Qatar , Iran and
Algeria . The group could potentially control 40% of the world’s
remaining natural gas and set prices as it sees fit.
Putin’s ambitions are not limited to the energy sector
either---although he has strengthened the country by turning
away foreign investment and “re-nationalization” vital
resources. As Pavel Korduban says in his recent article “Putin
Harvests Political Dividends from Russian Economic Dynamism”;
Putin intends to expand beyond energy and focus on technological
“The shift in official discourse to “innovations” reflects an
attempt to reorient economic policy from the goal of
consolidating the status of “energy superpower” to the emphasis
on industrial modernization and catching up with the
technological revolution. The key role in formulating this new
policy is given to Sergei Ivanov, who promised that by the year
2020 Russia would gain leadership (measured as 10% of the world
market) in such high-technology sectors as nuclear energy,
shipbuilding, aircraft, satellites and delivery systems, and
Putin has also strengthened ties with his Central Asian
neighbors and engaged in “cooperative” military maneuvers with
“Last month it signed deals with Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan and
Kazakhstan to revive the Soviet-era united system of gas
pipelines, which will help Russia strengthen its role of the
monopoly supplier from the region”. (Reuters) He has transformed
the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) into a formidable
economic-military alliance capable of resisting foreign
intervention in Central Asia by the United States and NATO.
The CIS is bound to play a major role in regional issues as the
real motives behind the “war on terror” are exposed and
America's geopolitical objectives in Central Asia become
clearer. So far, Washington has established its military bases
and outposts throughout the region with impunity. But the mood
is darkening in Moscow and Beijing and there may be changes in
the future. We should also remember that Putin is surrounded by
ex-KGB agents and Soviet-era hardliners. They’ve never trusted
America's motives and now they can point to the new US bases,
the “colored-coded” revolutions, the broken treaties and the
projected missile defense system--to prove that Uncle Sam is “up
to no good”.
Putin sees himself as leading a global insurgency against the US
Empire. He represents the emerging-market economies of China ,
India and Brazil . These 4 nations will progressively overtake
the “old order”. Last year 60% of the world's output was
produced outside the G-7 countries. According to Goldman Sachs,
by 2050 Brazil , Russia , India and China will be the world's
The transition from “superpower rule” is already underway. The
centers of geopolitical power are shifting like giant tectonic
plates. The trend is irreversible. The deployment of Bush’s
missile defense system will only hasten the decline of the
“unipolar-model” by triggering an asymmetrical war, where Forex
reserves, vital resources and political maneuvering will be used
as the weapons-of-choice.
War with Russia is pointless and preventable. There are better
choices than confrontation.
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