United World International is starting a new article series, where international experts evaluate the year 2021 and present their predictions and expectations for the year 2022.
Today we present the views of Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein, Venezuelan expert on International Relations. Gelfestein takes in his article a global tour before focusing on Latin America.
By Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein*
The end of the year 2021 shows a situation of extreme tension in Ukraine motivated by the need for the United States to fuel conflicts that allow it to hide its precarious internal situation. Both in Eastern Europe and in the South China Sea, the extreme aggressiveness of a West losing its prominence to China and Russia once again puts the world on the brink of a war that would have virtually incalculable dimensions, especially since they are talking about nuclear powers. whose spokesmen have not skimped in announcing that in the event of a war they will resort to this type of weapon.
Only the responsibility of statesmen could prevent this situation from occurring. On December 14, Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China had a telephone conversation in which they established new parameters for a strategic alliance that becomes the main instrument that humanity has to guarantee peace, successfully confront the pandemic and advance towards development in a sustainable world.
However, the difficult internal situation of the United States that President Biden has not been able to face successfully, conspire with the pacifist spirit of most of humanity. Biden’s failure to handle the migration crisis, his inability to generate the necessary consensus that allows him to respond to the economic crisis, and the ineffectiveness of anti-epidemic measures, have led to a dramatic drop in the popularity of the president with all the repercussions that such a situation entails, when in November 2022 the midterm elections will be held that could lead to the end of the control of the Democrats of the House of Representatives and of the parity existing in the Senate, which nevertheless have not allowed a parliamentary activity that supports the management of the White House. A defeat for the Democrats, which most US analysts are already predicting, will deepen the country’s governance crisis.
In this context, the international scene is the space in which Washington establishes its possibilities of maintaining global hegemony, given that the prevailing capitalist system does not offer solutions to face and defeat the crisis. Contrary to what can be assumed, a cursory glance at the planet provides sufficient evidence to support this idea.
In the confrontation with China that Washington raised at the beginning of the century and that President Trump escalated to unspeakable levels, the setback in technological, scientific, military, economic, financial and health matters in the face of the pandemic are now notorious. While China achieves success after success in these respects, the United States grapples with continual problems that it cannot solve. The same happens with Russia, especially in military and diplomatic matters. To this extent, as force is no longer enough to sustain credible threats to countries and peoples that resist, US leaders outline a militaristic and aggressive rhetoric that seeks to maintain the levels of conflict necessary for arms sales to feed their weakened economy.
The firm response of President Putin and General Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister to the provocative actions of the United States and NATO on the western border of their country, demonstrates the willingness of Russia to resist by any means an aggression that the West will try to shake off its own ghosts. In this scenario, Europe has ceased to be an autonomous actor. Although some of its leaders make strenuous efforts to constitute themselves into a bloc with their own initiative and independence to think and act, their elites decided to permanently blur themselves to openly subordinate themselves to the United States, playing the shameful role of the bastard in this horror movie.
To believe that the people and the army that defeated Napoleon in the 19th century and Hitler in the 20th, can be defeated by the senile Biden in the 21st is an absurdity, especially given the deplorable state of its armed forces. It is to be hoped that, as has been happening in recent times, if a conflict should arise, the United States will sacrifice its European “allies” so that they can wage the war that Washington cannot, for which it will surely also resort to contest of mercenaries and soldiers of fortune that have already begun to concentrate in Ukraine as denounced by General Shoigú a few days ago.
The orphan leadership of the United States is of such a dimension that the White House organized a clownish “Summit for Democracy” with which it intended to relaunch Biden as world leader, summoning friends and sycophants to do so in view of his real inability to exercise such leadership despite a rhetoric of force that sounds hollow and decontextualized causing blush and mistrust even from the military and the Pentagon that they must continually “ground” the occupant of the White House with respect to the surrounding reality, especially in strategic terms .
In Asia, Washington’s erratic policy of seeking allies against China runs up against the ostensible advances of the China-driven economic and financial, infrastructure and security cooperation and integration mechanisms that it has in the Belt and Road. On the contrary, the initiatives implemented by the United States are confined almost exclusively to the military sphere. Despite the controversies in the South China Sea in the field of negotiations, Washington has not managed to consolidate a large and numerous bloc that surpasses the gradual projection that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization led by China and Russia offers to its members in matters of security and peaceful coexistence. However, the support of the United States for the independence of Taiwan and its growing military presence in waters close to China generates worrying tension. Yet, barring the subordination of Japan and Australia, Washington doesn’t have much to show for its efforts in this region.
In Africa, the situation is dire. The United States and especially NATO (in which France has had a main participation) has only offered militarization and war without offering real alternatives to combat marginalization, hunger and poverty, and in the last two years it has not delivered, despite its promises, any real help to fight the pandemic. On the contrary, the progressive ties between China and Africa provide positive options for solving the problems that the continent has inherited from centuries of predatory colonialism.
On the other hand, 2021 has seen the colossal defeat of the United States and NATO in Afghanistan and their shameful flight from that country. In the same way, they must leave Iraq and Syria sooner rather than later, given the rejection of their illegal actions in those countries where they are rejected by the peoples, governments and parliaments. The configuration of its presence in the region based on its alliance with Israel and Saudi Arabia, which act as aircraft carriers in the application of its policy, makes water before the gradual increase in the prestige of Iran, which has not been defeated or destroyed, instead growing to articulate the axis of anti-Zionist, anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist resistance. The unsustainable Saudi war against Yemen is an expression of the crisis of a discredited monarchy that is only sustained by the support that the West gives it, endorsing human rights violations and avoiding expressing an opinion, as it does in other countries, in the absence of norms most elementary of democratic functioning. If the war continues, Saudi Arabia will sign its death certificate as a relevant actor in the region.
In this context, the great reserve that the United States still conserves is part of the maintenance of its strategic stability is the control of Latin America and the Caribbean, which the US still considers its backyard. However, after five years of success that began in 2015 with the defeat of Peronism in Argentina, the dismissal of Dilma Rousseff and the prison of Lula in Brazil, the betrayal of Lenin Moreno in Ecuador, the coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia, the loss of the Broad Front government in Uruguay, among other actions, in the last year, a new correlation of forces has been manifesting in the region that has been sustained by the resistance of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, the return to power of the MAS in Bolivia and Peronism in Argentina and especially the victory of the left that led Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico. These shifts point to a different path from the one the United States planned for the region. This year, the Sandinistas were confirmed in the Nicaraguan government while progressive candidates triumphed in Honduras, Peru and Saint Lucia, at the same time that Barbados shed the postcolonial subordination of Great Britain, transforming itself into a republic and designating Sandra Mason as its first president.
These changes led to, among other important situations for the region, the revitalization – under the impulse of Mexico and President López Obrador – of the CELAC as a body that encompasses the integrationist need in the region. This process contradicts the interventionist imprint of the OAS, which this year showed a clear setback in terms of its leading role. Similarly, the Lima Group, created to legitimize the overthrow of President Maduro, has entered into a process of terminal illness that augurs a prompt natural death if a death certificate has not already been formally signed that Canada tries to avoid by acting as a shameless subject of the United States.
The saddest and most regrettable situation in the region is that of Haiti, subjected for two centuries to the colonial revenge of Europe and the imperial depredation of the United States. The assassination of its president and the government’s inability to find ways to overcome the multiple natural and political disasters that afflict it are an expression of a situation in which the brutality of capitalism and the impudence of the political elites of the continent are shown with total self-confidence, who turn a blind eye to the terrible situation in a sister country, the cradle of freedom and independence in the region.
The year 2022 will be marked by presidential elections in Colombia, Costa Rica and Brazil. Above all, the latter will have a transcendent influence throughout the region and the world. The eventual triumph of Lula will take place in 2022, and for the first time in history, the two greats of the region, Mexico and Brazil, will be in tune with policies in favor of a Latin American and Caribbean integration that will not be to Washington’s liking. This will put the region in a position to be a relevant actor in the international system in the short term, with possibilities of future projection if the peoples are capable of sustaining and deepening the trend that has indicated the path of independence, sovereignty and cooperation to find solutions to common problems that afflict everyone.
* Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein is a Venezuelan international relations expert, who was previously Director of the International Relations of the Presidency of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, his country’s ambassador to Nicaragua and an advisor for international politics for TELESUR. Gelfenstein has written numerous books, among them “China in the XXI Century – the awakening of a giant” which has been published in several Latin American countries.