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Current Affairs

Living In A World Without The West
By Rakesh Krishnan Simha, December 2010 [[email protected]]

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As the world enters the  second decade of the millennium, signs of a precipitous decline in Western  power and prosperity are clearly evident.

PIGS! No, I’m not swearing at anyone. PIGS is an acronym  for Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain – the four European countries so deep in  economic troubles that not even light can reach the bottom. Indeed, this could  be the last Christmas many countries in the West will celebrate in the way they  have done in the years past. For, a black hole of financial and social troubles  is threatening to bring down Europe and North America from the apex position  they have occupied for barely 300 years.

By the time the current recession pans out, vast  swathes of Europe will have living standards lower than Thailand’s. Many East  European countries are already hopelessly poor, with joblessness and crime  rampant. In some regions prostitution is the only ‘industry’ left.

Western Europe’s powerhouse, Germany, is getting  ruined propping up the PIGS and other equally insolvent countries.

Canada’s Globe & Mail newspaper wonders if  Britain’s current condition is a harbinger of the West’s future. It says that  intergenerational poverty, rare in most countries today, has become a factor in  a notable British subculture. That tallies with a British government report,  which shows that if you are born poor, you stay poor. Worse, millions of middle  class British youth are faced with the stark choice of either stepping down  into the underclass or migrating.

However, it is the American implosion that is the  most notable. Earlier this year Tracy, a small town near San Francisco, California,  declared that its residents will now be charged US$300 every time they call 911  for a medical emergency. Remember, California is America’s richest state. You  get the picture.

It gets worse. Currently, more than 35 million  Americans are starving. This is an official US government figure so the real  picture is probably higher, and soup kitchen organisers say they now see  formerly middleclass people coming in. Officially 30 million Americans are  jobless but again the figure could be close to 45 million – that’s a whole  country by itself with nothing to do.

Contrary to what the media says, it’s not the Iraq or  Afghanistan wars that are hollowing out the West. It’s just that the East is  becoming wealthier in comparison through better economic practices and systems.

Chew on this figure – $123,000,000,000,000. For the  numerically challenged that’s $123 trillion and China’s estimated economy in  the year 2040. For perspective, the US economy is worth some $14 trillion  today. What it means is China will soon become a colossus and the US will have to  simply take a deep breath and retreat. If India gets it act right, it could top  China. These figures are giving nightmares to Western conservative think tanks.

Yes, the titans of tomorrow will be China and India  – not necessarily in that order. The second string will be a motley cast comprising  Russia, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia, Argentina, and of course the  US. Western clubs like the G8 and NATO are either dead or on life support. And  the IMF, that organ of American imperialism, will have to shut shop or be controlled  by China and India.

That is tomorrow’s world without the West.

In this new world order, the rising powers led by  the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are keen to break the dominance of the  current order by increasingly “routing around” the West.
  This works in two ways. One, the rising powers  deepen their trade, defence and cultural ties among themselves. This in turn loosens  the ties that bind them to West. So in effect, by not playing by the rules set  the West they are creating an alternative arrangement in which they neither  enter into conflict situations with the West nor enter into subservient  alliances (like those offered to South Korea and Japan).

This simply makes the West irrelevant.

For instance, India’s biggest trade partners are now  the UAE and China. Its biggest weapons supplier is Russia. China has become the  world’s factory. Russia has brought its vast mineral resources and high-tech  weaponry onto the world’s market. Moscow’s astute diplomacy has shut out Western  companies from the huge gas and oil fields of Central Asia.

In effect, the West is getting squeezed out.

As the West stumbles around in the recession, both  India and China are racing each other to buy up the world’s minerals and  commodities. India is buying farmland across Africa to grow crops for its  burgeoning middle class. Australia is better known as China's mine.

This routing around the West is increasingly  visible. Look at the Russia-India T-50 fifth generation fighter bomber. It is  being designed and built in Russia with avionics and electronics from India,  with potential buyers in China, Venezuela, Algeria, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Today Israel prefers Indian rockets for launching  its ultra-powerful spy satellites. After the churlish and bumbling former Australian  Prime Minister Kevin Rudd refused to sell uranium to India, New Delhi signed long-term  agreements with Kazakhstan and Russia, shutting out the West for the next 30  years. India now won’t accept uranium from Australia if they offered it free.

But why is the West getting bypassed?
  One reason is that the Western economic model has  failed spectacularly. Not only has it failed to lift most countries in the  wider world, even in the West it has only benefitted the rich. Banks and  financial institutions across the Western world have violated nearly all the 10  Commandments – they have lied to their customers and stolen trillions of  dollars. The politicians, who are supposed to have protected these unfortunate  investors, have lied even more and shielded the bank robbers and then rewarded  them with hundreds of billions in bailout cash. US billionaire philanthropist  Pete Petersen calls it “carnivorous and animalistic capitalism”.

The second reason why the BRICS are determined to  create a world without the West is America’s blatant misuse of the dollar. The  US Federal Reserve ‘creates’ money by merely electronically ‘transferring’ trillions  of dollars into the US banking system. Even printing bills has been given the  go-by. In fact, defying the law of physics, wealth is being created literally out  of thin air. Speaking to the media, financial expert Max Kaiser said:  “Countries like Russia, China and Brazil are trying to divorce themselves from  the US dollar because it’s a completely toxic currency that’s just right for  the counting fraud. It supports an empire that’s just too lazy to compete.”

To restore a semblance of normalcy to international  economics, the BRIC countries have gone into a huddle several times to find a  replacement for the dollar and end America’s phoney economics. Even India,  whose feckless leaders vie with Britain to cosy up to America, has spoken of  the need for an alternate global currency.

Smaller players like Iran have their own axe to  grind. In 1953, a US-UK coup ousted their democratically elected leader  Mossadeq, causing decades of instability. Iran is now trying to create a  massive petroleum exchange where payments will be accepted in any major  currency bar the dollar. Can you blame the Iranians for carrying a grudge?

The West has had its heyday and made too many  enemies along the way. Unfortunately its liberal democratic traditions have not  benefitted 95 per cent of the planet. In sharp contrast the model of  authoritarian prosperity espoused by Russia and China has yielded dramatic results.

The prelude to a world without the West was seen at  the Copenhagen Summit, where the BRIC nations set the agenda and the US President  got a finger-wagging from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Europe was not invited  into the room where the deal was struck.

Come to think of it, who’d want to be in a huddle  with PIGS?

(About the author:  Rakesh Krishnan Simha is  a features  writer at New Zealand’s leading media house. He has previously worked with  Businessworld, India Today and Hindustan Times, and was news editor with the  Financial Express.)

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