An octogonal world

By Johan Galtung

Let us try a look at the world from above, right now. There is so much drama unfolding. Is there a Big Picture? Of course there is, we all have one, so here is one effort, imgaine it as The Octagon, consisting of these eight big states or regions:

1) USA, 2) Russia, 3) India, 4) China, 5) OIC (the Organization of Islamic Conference, the 57 Muslim countries), 6) EU (27), 7) Africa (AU, African Union, 54 countries) and 8 ) CELAC, Latin America and the Caribbean, 33 countries). We might add Israel and Japan to the USA if the criterion is willingness to go to war with and for the USA – but Israel wants the USA to fight its wars, and Japan, even with Japanese hawks more than willing to join the nuclear club, is still bound by the constitution depriving Japan of the right to war. So they work for a new constitution with an emergency article that could justify a military take-over. Ominous. Hopefully Germany does not follow suit.

The eight certainly differ in level of integration: from the USA very high for the first four big states, very weak for OIC, high for EU but torn between the German creditor and the debtors, very weak for Africa, medium for CELAC but coming quickly. But the weakest compensate with numbers: OIC well above 1.6 billion, Africa above 1 billion, like India and China; whereas USA and EU are small, below half a billion; like Russia.

From an economic point of view USA-EU are in a strange economic crisis of their own making, badly served by that fake science called economics – read capitalistics – whether by the Black-Scholes equation for the “right” price for derivatives forgetting the range of validity, the wrong “findings” about the impact of a shrinking public sector on the private sector, and the Ramsey-Rogoff scandal about relations between debt and growth; leading to speculation, crash and austerity policy.

But, even if economists are paid to serve the top 1 percent and focus on the economy as system, not on the livelihood at the bottom, politicians are not forced to pick their advice unless paid by them to do so. Economists will hardly learn from this, being rigid intellectually, but politicians may learn not to take them seriously.

There is an outer circle – BRICS – with the comparative advantage of relying less of neo-classical economics. Harvard’s Business School is said to have killed much of the blooming 1970s Japanese economy; now like USA and England printing money; BRICS is taking money. But, looking at the figure there is a gap: no major Muslim Economy.

Saudi Arabia would make it BRICSS, same pronunciation; also like China among the top creditors. But the story is clear: the West–USA-EU–against the Rest. 37% of the world population live in the IC part of BRICS; 60% in Asia; are young populations eager to produce and consume, USA-EU-Japan–the old Trilateral–are aging, consuming health insurance.

What does this look like from a more military point of view?

The USA obviously tries to thwart Latin-American/Caribbean autonomy as they did with interventions and selective killing, France-England-Italy try to reconquer Africa, and Japan want an upper hand in East Asia. They will not succeed: Latin American integration has come too far. Africa will recover with Islam, and Abe cannot base massive export on countries Japan brutalized without entering a reconciliation he does everything to avoid. We sense three military bands across the Octagon.

Down there in the South is the Non-Aligned Movement, NAM, wisely keeping off and out, low on military expenditure, by and large.

In the temperate middle we find the old NATO expanding, tying it with the US-Japan AMPO system, also expanding, led by the giant on printed clay feet, the US military budget (with the French, wisely, shrinking its budget). Big Bang Bases, more Buck than they can afford.

To the East we find the rapidly expanding Shanghai Cooperation Organization, SCO, that the West officially refuses to accept as a fact – with the Russia-China-Central Asia Muslim core, and India, Pakistan and Iran as observers. RC from BRICS, may expand to its acronym neighbors. Confrontations over Syria-Iran and in East Asia.

Now, how is this going to evolve politically? Can the West, challenged from the South and from the East, move from a reactio trying to reinvent the past, to a proactio? What would it look like?

Very easy and – very unlikely. USA welcomes CELAC on equal terms, and EU lets Africa be Africa. USA industrializes and EU agricultarizes for more self-sufficiency; trade between equals, intra-sector not inter-sector. Japan does the same for East Asia. USA sheds half of the bases and half of the military budget in this administration and the next.

China gives up its maritime imperialism, harking back to “When the World was Asia, 500-1500 AD, and forgives 50% of the US debt in return for 50% disarmament – pledging to stick to its policy of no military intervention. SCO cooperates, peacefully. The West switches to spiritual, cultural growth and a decent level of equality, refreshed its democracy by controlling bankocracy and technocracy.

Prognosis: like horses the West runs into the burning stable, gets badly hurt, and spends the 21st century sinking into oblivion; following the first decade of self-demolition, using fact-denial as a guide. Tragic, though. We prefer Plan A above.

First published here.

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