Category Archives: Western Hegemony’s Collapse

Western Hegemony’s Collapse

This is the Way the West Ends

by ADRIEL KASONTA via Asia Times
Image: YouTube Screengrab / Getty

Ukraine’s humiliation and Gaza’s shame accelerating estrangement of West and the rest at a crucial turning point in global power relations

With the United States entangled in conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza and the threat of a war with China looming large, Professor Michael Brenner’s insights and views on the state of the US-led liberal order are arguably as timely and important as ever.

Brenner, a respected luminary on transatlantic relations and international security, is Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

He has also served at the Foreign Service Institute, the US Department of Defense and Westinghouse. In a wide-ranging and no-holds-barred interview with Asia Times’ contributor Adriel Kasonta, Brenner lays out how the US and collective West lost their moral authority and way.

Adriel Kasonta: Despite what we hear from the Western political class and the compliant stenographers from the mainstream media, the world doesn’t seem to look as they want us to believe. The hard reality on the ground, known to anyone who lives anywhere but Europe or the US, is that the collective West is experiencing an accelerated decline in political and economic domains, with significant moral ramifications. Could you please tell our readers what is the root cause of this state of affairs and what is the rationale behind continuing this collective suicide?

Michael Brenner: I suggest that we formulate the issue by asking what is the causal direction between the moral decline and the collective West’s political and economic decline? On Ukraine, it has been a fundamental geostrategic error that has had negative moral consequences: the cynical sacrifice of half a million Ukrainians used as cannon fodder and physical destruction of the country, in the cause of weakening and marginalizing Russia.

The stunning feature of the Palestine affair is the readiness of immoral government elites – indeed the near entirety of the political class – to give their implicit blessing to the atrocities and war crimes Israel has committed over the past five months, which is having profound repercussions on the West’s standing and influence globally.

At one moment, they speak proudly about the superiority of Western values while condemning the practices of other countries; at another, they lean over backwards to justify far greater humanitarian abuses, to provide the perpetrator with the arms to destroy to kill and to maim innocent civilians, and in the case of the United States, to extend diplomatic cover in the United Nations Security Council.

In the process, they are dissipating their standing in the eyes of the world outside the West, representing two-thirds of humanity. The latter’s historical dealings with the countries of the West, including the relatively recent past, left a residue of skepticism about American-led claims to being the world’s ethical standard setters. That sentiment has given way to outright disgust in the face of this blatant display of hypocrisy. Moreover, it exposes the harsh truth that racist attitudes never had been fully extinguished – after a period of dormancy, its recrudescence is manifest.

As far as the United States is concerned, the reference points for this judgment are not the mythic image of “the city on the Hill”; the last, best hope of mankind; the indispensable nation for achieving global peace and stability: the Providential people born in a state of Original Virtue destined to lead the world down the path of Enlightenment. None of those idealistic standards. No, it has debased itself when measured against the prosaic standards of human decency, of responsible statecraft, of a decent respect for the opinions of humankind.

Moreover, the ensuing estrangement between the West and the rest is occurring at a turning point in international power relationships. It is a time when the tectonic plates of the political world are shifting, when the old constellations of power and of influence are being successfully challenged, when America has responded to feelings of self-doubt as the ordained global guide and overseer by compulsive, futile displays of muscle flexing.

Anxiety and self-doubt masked by false bravado is the hallmark sentiment among America’s political elites. That is a poor starting point for a re-engagement with reality. Americans are too attached to their exalted self-image, too narcissistic – collectively and individually, too lacking in self-awareness, too leaderless to make that wrenching adaptation. Those appraisals apply to Western Europe as to the United States. Leaving a diminished, aggrieved but unrepentant trans-Atlantic community.

AK: In your recent essay “The West’s Reckoning?”, you mentioned that the situation in Ukraine humiliates the West and the tragedy in Gaza shames it. Can you expand on this a bit more?

Photo: Courtesy of Michale Brenner

MB: Defeat in Ukraine entails much more than the military collapse of the Ukrainian forces that is in the cards. For the United States has led its allies into what amounts to a campaign to permanently diminish Russia, to neutralize it as a political or economic presence in Europe, to eliminate a major obstacle to consolidating American global hegemony.

The West has thrown everything they have into that campaign: their stock of modern weapons, a corps of advisers, tens of billions of dollars, a draconian set of economic sanctions designed to bring the Russian economy to its knees and a relentless project aimed at isolating Russia and undermining Putin’s position.

It has failed ignominiously on every count. Russia is considerably stronger on every dimension than it was before the war; its economy is more robust than any Western economy; it has proven to be militarily superior; and it has won the sympathies of nearly the entire world outside the collective West.

The assumption that the West remains custodial of global affairs has proven a fantasy. Such comprehensive failure has meant a decline in the United States’ ability to shape world affairs on matters economic and security. The Sino-Russian partnership is now ensconced as a rival equal to the West in every respect.

That outcome derives from hubris, dogmatism and a flight from reality. Now, the West’s self-respect and image is being scarred by its role in the Palestine catastrophe. So, now it faces the double challenge of restoring its sense of prowess while at the same time regaining its moral bearings.

AK: Is it accurate to say that Ukraine and Gaza are connected in the sense that both indicate a failing liberal international order that is attempting to prevent itself from collapsing and causing turmoil as it descends into oblivion? If so, what are some potential outcomes for the future?

MB: Let’s bear in mind that the liberal international order serves Western interests above all. Its workings were biased in our favor. That’s one. The regularity and stability that it produced, for which the IMF, World Bank, etc were the institutional cynosure, ensured for decades that it would go unchallenged. That is two.

The rise of new power centers – China, above all, and the wider centripetal forces redistributing assets more generally – has left the United States and its European dependents with two choices. Accommodate themselves to this new situation by: a) hammering out terms of engagement that accorded a larger place for the newcomers; b) resetting the rules of the game so as to remove the current bias; c) adjusting the structure and procedures of international institutions in a manner reflecting the end of Western dominance; and d) rediscovering genuine diplomacy.

Nowhere in the West has that option been seriously considered. So, after a period of ambivalence and muddling, all signed onto an American project to prevent the emergence of challengers, to undermine them and to double down on assertive policies to yield nothing, to compromise nothing. We remain locked on that course despite serial failures, humiliations and the impetus given the BRICS project.

AK: According to some Western politicians and policymakers, other global powers are often treated as passive actors without agency or power to shape the world according to their national interests. This Manichean worldview is marked by a distinction between the “rules-based order” and international law or “democracy vs authoritarianism.” Is there an alternative to this thinking and what are the chances of change occurring before it’s too late?

MB: See above response. There are no signs that Western leaders are prepared intellectually, emotionally or politically to make the necessary adjustments. Necessity is not always the mother of invention. Instead, we see stubborn dogmatism, avoidance behavior and a deeper plunge into a world of fantasies.

The American reaction to manifestations of declining prowess is denial along with compulsion to reassure itself that it still has the “right stuff” through increasingly audacious acts. We are seeing where that has led in Ukraine. Far more dangerous is the reckless dispatch of troops to Taiwan.

As for Europe, it is evident that its political elites have been denatured by 75 years of near-total dependence on America. A complete absence of independent thinking and willpower is the outcome. In more concrete ways, Europe’s vassalage to the United States obliges it to follow Washington down whatever policy road the seigneur takes – however reckless, dangerous, unethical and counterproductive.

In predictable fashion, they have walked (or run) like lemmings over whatever cliff the United States chooses next under its own suicidal impulses. So it’s been in Iraq, in Syria, in Afghanistan, in regard to Iran, in Ukraine, on Taiwan and on all matters involving Israel. The string of painful failures and heavy costs produces no change in loyalty or mindset.

A printed photograph of a US Army soldier in a chair among the trailer trucks, and electronics which sold for the price of iron at a bazaar outside airfield in the Bagram district north of Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 19, 2021. Photo: Asia Times Files / AFP via Anadolu Agency / Haroon Sabawoon

It cannot – for the Europeans have absorbed totally the habit of deference, the Americans’ worldview, their skewed interpretation of outcomes and their shamefully fictitious narratives. The Europeans no more can throw this addiction than a life-long alcoholic can go cold turkey.

AK: There has been a lot of discussion about the negative impact of neoconservatism on US foreign policy and the world. In essence, neoconservatism seeks the role of the US to dominate not only the Western Hemisphere (as per the Monroe Doctrine) but the entire world, as per the Wolfowitz Doctrine.

Although some US think tanks are now advocating for an end to the “never-ending wars” in the Middle East and for Europe to continue the US-provoked proxy war with Russia, it seems that the neoconservative ideology has taken on a new guise of “progressivism” and “realism”, and now aims to focus solely on China, even to the point of replicating the Ukraine scenario in Taiwan. How accurate is this assessment?

MB: The entire foreign policy community in the United States now shares the basic tenets of neoconservatives. Actually, the scripture is Paul Wolfowitz’s notorious memorandum of March 1991 wherein he laid out a comprehensive, detailed strategy for systematizing American global dominance. Everything that Washington is doing, and thinking, now is derivative of that plan.

Its core principles: the United States should use all the means at its disposal to establish American global dominance; to that end, it must be ready to act preventively to stymie the emergence of any power that could challenge our hegemony; and to maintain full spectrum dominance in every region of the globe. Ideals and values are relegated to an auxiliary role as a veneer on the application of power and as a stick with which to beat others. Classic diplomacy is disparaged as inappropriate to this scheme of things.

For Biden himself, a confident, assertive, hard-edged approach to dealing with others derives naturally from belief in Americanism as a Unified Field Theory that explains, interprets and justifies whatever the US thinks and does. Were Biden reelected, this outlook will remain unchanged. And were he to be replaced by Kamala Harris mid-term, which is likely, inertia will keep everything on the fixed course.

AK: Do you think the United States is destined to remain a global empire, constantly in conflict with anyone it perceives as a potential threat to its world dominance? Or is it possible for the country to become a republic that collaborates constructively with other global players to achieve greater benefits for its citizens and the broader international community? As the saying goes, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword,” right?

MB: I’m a pessimist. For there are no signs that either our rulers, elites or public are susceptible to coming to terms with the state of affairs depicted above. The open question is whether this pretense will simply persist as a gradual weakening of global influence and domestic well-being unfolds, or, rather, will end in disaster.

Europeans and allies elsewhere should not accept to be sideline observers nor, even worse, become co-inhabitants of this world of fantasy as they have in Ukraine, on Palestine and in demonizing China.

Michael Brenner is the author of numerous books and over 80 articles and published papers. His most recent works include “Democracy Promotion and Islam”; “Fear and Dread In The Middle East”; “Toward A More Independent Europe”; “Narcissistic Public Personalities & Our Times.”

His writings include books with Cambridge University Press (“Nuclear Power and Non Proliferation”), the Center For International Affairs at Harvard University (“The Politics of International Monetary Reform”), and the Brookings Institution (“Reconcilable Differences, US-French Relations In The New Era”). He is reachable at mbren@pitt.edu

Russia’s Conditions for Strategic Arms Talks

by Gilbert Doctorow via Gilbert Doctorow

Western media have mentioned Vladimir Putin’s remarks a week or so ago that Russia will not enter into new negotiations on strategic arms limitations with the United States while the USA is doing everything possible to inflict a strategic defeat on his country in the Ukraine war. Strategic arms talks cannot be separated from the rest of the relationship between the countries, said Putin.

This position was amplified a day ago by a senior Russian diplomat, Dmitry Polyansky, first deputy permanent head of Russia at the United Nations. His statements have received little if any attention in our media, though they were broadcast on prime time news in Russia.

What is entirely missing in Western reporting, to my knowledge, is a context for these Russian position statements that goes back in time further than a few weeks. Let us try to address that lacuna here and now.


Contrary to what one might expect, pursuit of strategic arms treaties with the Soviet Union and then with Russia was never championed by doves in the USA, who were more interested in people to people exchanges, increased cultural, educational and commercial relations…in détente in its widest sense. Many of these doves even believed that Russia and the United States could and should be friends, acting in consort to address the problems of humanity.

No, the champions and chief negotiators of strategic arms treaties were always the hawks in United States political circles. It was they who saw in these agreements the possibility to continue trade, diplomatic and other policies that would prevent the USSR’s economic development and reduce its more general threat to American global interests while providing guard rails against the relationship erupting into war threatening life on earth, and most especially life and prosperity in the US of A.

The last iteration of these American initiated arms control talks was the negotiation of the New START agreement in the presidency of Barack Obama. This took place against the background of the widely advertised “Reset” of relations, which was intended to move beyond the open hostility between the two countries in the summer of 2008 during the Russia-Georgia war under George W. Bush. At that time, armed conflict in the Black Sea was averted only by Turkish intervention, preventing entry through the Dardanelles of American naval vessels.

In that crisis atmosphere, ‘wise men’ from among active and retired U.S. Senators, former senior government officials and including the most notable celebrity of the time, Henry Kissinger, formulated a road map for bringing US-Russian relations back from the brink which they passed along to both candidates for the presidency, Barack Obama and John McCain. The underlying logic was to improve the atmospherics while doing nothing to change the substance of America’s containment policies towards the Russian Federation in the spirit of Cold War I. Following Obama’s inauguration in 2009, this was rolled out as the ‘Reset.’ The logic given to the American public was that despite their adversarial positions, the United States would cherry pick those issues where a cooperative relationship with Russia would serve American interests and pursue them in the months ahead.

For those who wish to understand the origins and sense of the ‘Reset,’ there are several highly pertinent and detailed essays in my Stepping out of Line: Collected (Nonconformist) essays on Russian-American relations, 2008-2012.

One might well ask why the Russians played along with the American initiative in 2008 which fell far short of their hopes for a new détente? The answer is very simple: the Kremlin held a weak hand of cards, one that was as bad, possibly even worse than the Soviet Union held when it negotiated the first treaties on arms limitations with the United States in the 1970s. Its armed forces were still far from being restored from the self-destruction and chaos of the Yeltsin years. This was demonstrated to the glee of Western military analysts who commented on the performance of Russian troops in their engagements in Georgia. Moreover, even if Russia held some better cards, its then President, Dmitry Medvedev, was, shall we say, naïve and inexperienced in international relations. He hoped that gestures of good will towards the Americans would be reciprocated. Needless to say, they were not.

So what has changed now for Russia to declare arms limitations talks inseparable from negotiations on the full scope of US-Russian relations? The answer to that question goes back to 2018 and Vladimir Putin’s announcement of his country’s latest strategic arms systems which, for the first time in Soviet and RF history, placed Russia as much as a decade ahead of the United States in developing, producing and deploying strategic weapons. The hypersonic missiles and other state of the art systems that Putin presented at his State of the Nation address back then were said to be invincible and would nullify entirely the nuclear first strike capability that the United States under Bush had been investing hundreds of billions of dollars to achieve by its global anti-ballistic missile installations.

In 2018, Putin’s announcements of strategic superiority over the United States were taken to be a bluff. There was the common belief among U.S. elites that the Russians could never produce these weapons in numbers sufficient to pose a threat to American superiority.

Now, in 2024, Putin has been proven right and the doubters and scoffers in the Collective West have been proven wrong about Russia’s ability to put on standby, ready for launch, weapons that the USA still has not succeeded in passing trials. Moreover, the two years of the Russia-Ukraine war have demonstrated that Russia possesses conventional weapons which are equal to or superior to the best that NATO can bring to the battlefield.

Whereas a couple of years ago major media in the West spoke of China as the world’s fastest rising military power, second only to the USA, and Russia was said to be just a spoiler, a star on the decline, today the The Financial Times, The New York Times and their confrères in the USA and Europe do not hesitate to admit that Russia is number two in the world’s league of military powers.

This, my friends, is the proper context for reading Mr. Polyansky’s declarations in the United Nations. The worm has turned.

For the full English translation text of Polyansky’s address in the UN, see: https://russiaun.ru/ru/news/180324

Not Bibi, But the UAE Behind US Plan to Build Pier on Gaza

via The Cradle

The Emirati government reportedly threatened to suspend work on an Arab–Israeli land route if aid does not reach Gaza

US plans to construct a temporary port on the shores of Gaza are reportedly the result of Emirati pressure on Washington.

“UAE pressure on the US administration led to the recent announcement by President Joe Biden regarding plans to construct a port for humanitarian aid entry into Gaza,” Israeli news site I24 reported on 10 March, citing exclusive sources.

“Abu Dhabi warned of potentially suspending work on the land trade line if aid does not reach Gaza, highlighting the UAE’s growing dissatisfaction with Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s policies,” the sources told the Israeli outlet.

They added that the UAE has lost hope in Netanyahu’s government, specifically due to its continued blocking of roads and border crossings and obstruction of efforts to bring in aid to the Palestinians.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog tried to mediate between Netanyahu and Emirati leadership during his last visit to the Gulf state in November 2023 but failed as UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) “refused to engage in dialogue” with the prime minister, according to I24 sources.

In response to the severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the famine overtaking the strip, the UAE introduced the plan to the US, with Washington welcoming the plan. Emirati and Palestinian businessmen are reportedly supporting the initiative.

The land route, which I24 said Abu Dhabi threatened to suspend its work on, was reported on by Hebrew and western media at the start of February.

According to Channel 13, ships unload goods in the UAE and are trucked into Saudi Arabia before reaching Jordan and entering Israel via the Jordan River Crossing, helping Tel Aviv bypass Yemen’s Red Sea blockade on Israeli shipping.

Israel’s Broadcasting Corporation reported on 7 March that an Emirati officer made a secret visit to Tel Aviv that week to discuss efforts to bring aid into Gaza.

The report came a day after two Israeli officials said that Tel Aviv would begin allowing aid through its territory into the north of Gaza and cooperate with Cyprus to establish a sea route.

A source told Hebrew Channel 13 that the UAE will fund and lead these efforts. Abu Dhabi did not comment on the matter.

The Hebrew radio report coincided with US President Joe Biden’s announcement that Washington will build a temporary pier on the shores of Gaza to bring in “large” amounts of humanitarian aid.

While the war in Gaza has soured Israeli–Emirati ties, the US-sponsored peace accords between the two states are unlikely to be threatened, according to analysts who spoke with the New York Times (NYT) on 10 March.

The UAE also confirmed in a written statement to NYT that ties with Israel will help facilitate aid entry into Gaza.

“The UAE believes that diplomatic and political communications are important in difficult times such as those we are witnessing,” the statement read.

Houthis, Hypersonic Missile? Iran-Russia-China Navy?

Yemen’s Houthis test-fired hypersonic missile, says military source

Yemen’s Ansar Allah movement, also known as the Houthis, has carried out a test flight of a hypersonic missile with high destructive capability and is preparing to add these missiles to its military arsenal, a military source close to the movement has told Sputnik.

“Missile forces of the movement have successfully tested a missile that can reach speeds of up to Mach 8 [10,000 kilometers per hour or 6,200 miles per hour] and is powered by solid fuel. Yemen plans to begin manufacturing it for use in attacks in the Red and Arabian Seas and the Gulf of Aden, as well as against targets in Israel,” the source said.

At the same time as the hypersonic missile test, the armed forces in northern Yemen upgraded their missiles and drones, having modified the explosive warheads to double their destructive power, after a test that lasted three months, the source added.

Last Thursday, Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi spoke about the movement’s efforts to produce hypersonic missiles, saying that “our enemies, friends and our people will see a level of achievement of strategic importance that will place our country in terms of its capabilities among the few countries in this world.”

He then said that Yemen’s forces have used new weapons in recent operations in the Red and Arabian Seas, which “surprised the US and the UK.” He added that the movement attacked 61 vessels and a military ship since the Palestinian movement Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, 2023.

Meanwhile the International naval drill ‘Sea Security Belt-2024’ enters active phase in the Gulf of Oman

The exercise involves over 20 ships, including support and warships from the Russian Navy, Iranian Navy, and PLA Navy. Its primary purpose is to practice safety in maritime economic activities.

The final phase of the exercise will occur on March 14 on the shores of the Iranian city of Chehbehar, where a debriefing will also take place.

The Sea Security Belt-2024 International Naval Exercise is being held for the sixth time. This year, representatives from Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Oman, India, and South Africa will participate as observers for the first time.

Pre-Revolutionary Days in the US

by Claudiu Secara

We are seeing big, historic changes right now, these very days and this year, in the US and Israel. The equivalent of the transition from the Soviet Union to Russia.

In a few words, we have the dismantling of the Anglozionist political structure. The old guard is disintegrating. Jacob Rothschild, age 87, just died. He was the leader of the aggressive clique, Soros, Biden, Pelosi, Schumer. Netanyahu is very much on his last legs. Israel seems to have lost the war against Hamas.

It’s like the times of Brezhnev, followed by Chernenko, Andropov, Gorbachev… We are going to see a lot of instability coming up before things stabilize.

The Ukraine debacle is a major loss of face for the Collective West, the loss of a military campaign, and further losses on a whole range of aspects. Militarily the West has been revealed to be a paper tiger; it could not sustain either the quantity or the quality of weapons and munitions that Russia could deploy on short order. Sure, if there were the will to go for an all-out confrontation, then the West could transition to a war economy and out-spend and out-produce Russia in military terms. The problem is that if the West did gird itself for this glorious sacrifice, Russia has promised unequivocally to use nuclear weapons.

So the West has to confront this dilemma: escalate, only to expedite the day of total, mutual annihilation, or take the losses now and look ahead for another day.

Another day? But what if there isn’t another day? Having faced the naked reality of military defeat, the West is now faced with the economic consequences. It just does not have the resources to maintain the standard of living that it was used to since WWII. The energy to power its industry is no longer available. Bad enough, but worse is the long-term deterioration of its social fabric, the deterioration of its labor quality.

Generation after generation corrupted by self-indulgence in a leisurely life style, lower and lower education standards, the destruction of family as the natural laboratory generating the perpetual army of ready-made warriors—the bedrock of the society, all the forms of deviance that were promoted by the old elite in order to maintain their status quo, all those signs of weakness that were just glossed over, they all are now converging together to undermine the Western edifice.

The departure of Nuland from the State Department is a telltale sign. Biden’s fading into decrepitude is like the unfolding of a biblical prophecy.

On the other hand, there are obvious signs that more people of influence, especially in the US, are preparing the ground for the end of the road for this 400-500 years’ journey.

Is it just a coincidence that on September 19, 2023, an obscure publishing house in Brooklyn released a book with the title “Jewish Space Lasers: The Rothschilds and 200 Years of Conspiracy Theories”? Maybe. Authored by a man whose name is Rothschild? Published in Brooklyn, NYC? The center of Jewish life in the US?

OK, coincidence. Let’s check the book’s endorsements. Who? CNN? The Washington Post? Bloomberg? Endorsing the “conspiracy theory” that the Rothschilds were the bad guys for the last 200 years, at least? What’s going on that we don’t know?! No one told us that it’s OK now to promote anti-semitism and to reveal the Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.

Then there is the Tucker Carlson phenomenon. Under very obscure circumstances he was, or on his own, separated from Fox News after being promoted as the number-one talkshow host. Lo and behold, he now has an audience 10 times larger than Fox News and is by far the most watched platform in the world. And what is he saying? That Russia is right in the Ukraine war; that the CIA is very bad, undermining America and the world, and this has to stop. Right now. That the covid pandemic was/is a scam. That climate change is fiction. Etc.

Then there is Marjorie. Where did she pop up from? Marjorie Taylor Greene is also being promoted, and what she is propounding is nothing less than the conspiracy theories of the Rothschilds and the Jewish takeover of the world. Promoted by whom? By the Wall Street Journal, by Forbes Magazine, New York Magazine, the New Yorker, The [Jewish] Daily Beast, etc.

When did this all change ? I didn’t sleep much throughout these years, but honestly I didn’t catch the change of direction.

Finally, we have the International Court of Justice ruling on the genocide in Gaza. Yes, this is now the accepted view worldwide. The holocaust of WWII is being remanufactured under our gaze into its very opposite. Instead of the holocaust of the Jews, we now have the holocaust by the Jews. Interesting.

And then we have the Trump phenomenon. Only three years younger than Biden, Trump very closely recalls Chernenko/Andropov/Gorbachev all in one, following Brezhnev. What is Trump’s manifesto? A lot of buzzwords, just like Gorbachov’s. Ending the war in Ukraine. OK, and then? Stop illegal immigration. Just as Reagan promised, only to legalize all those already in the country. Drain the swamp. Yeah, we heard that before, while watching the worst warmongers being brought into his administration: Bolton, Nikki Haley, etc.

If we take Russia as a case study on how a superpower reformats itself from within, then we should see more false starts before it is really on the path of reinventing a new political entity. If Trump could be seen as the American Gorbachev and his distabilizing economic policies, then we are looking for the next Yeltsin and a whole string of prime ministers parading across the stage. It’s a long way till the system blows up, but we do see the start of it.

Former stalwarts of the system are now coming out of the closet as the voices of dissent. These are the first-level oppositionists, like the Long Parliament of 1640 on the eve of the English Revolution of 1642, or the Aristocratic Revolt of 1787-1789 in the French revolution of 1789, or pre-Kerensky government of February 1917 before the Bolshevik coup in October 1917 in the Russian Revolution.

Things get really, really hot, later on as the conflict unfolds.

India Gets a Rude Awakening in West Asia

by M. K. BHADRAKUMAR via Indian Punchline

Britain’s HMS Diamond deploys missiles to attack Yemen

From the standpoint of affirming ‘solidarity’ with the regime of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the October 7 attack, India has swung away to the far horizon and has unceremoniously dumped the US-Israeli axis, which provided beacon light to Delhi’s West Asian policies in the past few years.

From a strategic asset, the Israeli connection is becoming a liability for the Indian government. Delhi spurned Netanyahu’s repeated entreaties to brand Hamas as a terrorist organisation — by the way, India never pointed finger at Hamas for the October 7 attack. It has resumed the traditional stance of voting against Israel in the UN General Assembly resolutions on the Palestine problem. The Netanyahu-Modi pow-vows have become infrequent.

This is a far cry from the controversial gesture by PM Modi during his ‘historic’ five-day visit to Israel in 2017 to pay homage at the tomb of the founding father of Zionism Theodor Herzl in Haifa . It is doubtful if any Indian prime minister would repeat Modi’s feat in future. With reasonable certainty, it can be said that the future of Zionism in West Asia itself looks rather bleak.

Again, for reasons that remain obscure even today, India decided to be a strong votary of the ill-fated Abraham Accords that purportedly aimed at ‘integrating’ Israel into the Arab fold but, in reality, to isolate Iran in its neighbourhood. Delhi never provided a rational explanation for such a dramatic shift in the traditional policy not to take sides in the intra-regional fratricidal strife in West Asia or identify with the US hegemony in that region.

Delhi followed up by enthusiastically lining up with a surreal venture called ‘I2U2’ which brought together India and the UAE with the US and Israel as a condominium to promote the spirit of the Abraham Accords. In an extravagant gesture, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar paid a 5-day visit to Israel to participate in ‘I2U2’.

Above all, Delhi, which hosted the G20 Summit last year and was supposedly highlighting the rise of the Global South in the world order, instead ended up arranging photo-ops for the visiting US President who hijacked the event and instead catapulted a phoney, laughable idea as the main outcome of that historic event — the so-called India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC).

The US apparently incentivised Delhi by planting a patently absurd thought that IMEEC would toll the death knell for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China of course retaliated by just hoisting the BRI flag high all over the Maldives (population: 515,132 in the 2022 census) on India’s soft underbelly from where it is visible all over the subcontinent day and night.

However, Indian diplomats are quick learners and course corrections come naturally to them. Delhi has understood that such absurdities in its West Asian policy will do no good and may even be counterproductive as they raise hackles in the Arab Street. Thus, Qatar ticked off India recently by ordering the 15 Indian schools in Doha that cater to the needs of the largely-Hindu 700,000-strong Indian ex-patriate community to ignore Hindu holidays, especially Diwali.

Consistent with the championing of the Global South, India should have voiced support for South Africa’s brilliant initiative to petition the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to bring Israel to justice for its genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. After all, it was in South Africa that Mahatma Gandhi had finessed the concept of resistance to racialism. But, alas, India lacked the courage of conviction and the moral fibre to do so.

It is too much to expect the ICJ to put Netanyahu in a cage and try him in the Hague court for his abominable acts against humanity. But there is a strong likelihood that with tacit western support, the ICJ may issue in the coming weeks some sort of interim order for a ceasefire. And in the present atmosphere, that can prove to be a game changer.

All this makes India’s decision to stay clear of the US’ harebrained idea of disciplining Yemen’s Houthis a sensible step. The theatre of the absurd playing out in the Red Sea with the Five Eyes in the cockpit is incredibly complicated. One main vector there is about the phenomenon of the Houthi resistance as such.

An old friend and Beirut-based editor-in-chief of the Cradle, Sharmine Narwani twitted about the quagmire in the Red Sea that awaits the Anglo-American attack on Yemen today:

“I honestly question whether the US or UK have carefully considered #Yemen‘s potential responses to this act of war. Ansarallah (Houthi) is an unusual member of the region’s Axis of Resistance. It marches to its own tune and its mindset is entirely devoid of western narrative grooming. There is no guessing at the full spectrum of its retaliatory palette, but I would not want to be an American or Brit in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, or any of the neighbouring waterways right now.

“It may be that Washington misread the Russian and Chinese abstentions at the UNSC yesterday (on Red Sea). Or, perhaps Moscow and Beijing dangled that bait so the US would miscalculate this badly. The Americans are now militarily engaged, supplying, or bogged down on 5 separate fronts: Ukraine, Gaza-Israel, Yemen, Iraq, Syria. US adversaries can easily hold out until the fatigue sets in; they are nowhere near depleted.

“Bottom line is I think the entire Global South is going to be wearing Abdul Malik al-Houthi t-shirts by springtime.”

Indeed, it is such prescience that is often lacking in India’s West Asia strategy. This is not a region for one-dimensional men. It has been a strategic mistake to be aligned to the US and its allies in the Indian Ocean under the rubric of ‘maritime security’. The erstwhile colonial powers are innovating Neo-mercantile mechanisms to transfer wealth to their metropolis. Why should Indians act as ‘coolies’, as during British rule?

Most important, India should be seized of the Renaissance that is sweeping through the Muslim countries in West Asia. It is epochal in its sweep and has cultural, political and economic dimensions — and will inevitably have far-reaching geopolitical significance. That is why, it becomes imperative that Delhi stops viewing the region though Netanyahu’s Zionist eyes. It is important to terminate India’s collaboration with the US and colonial powers such as France and the UK to interfere in the region on the pretext of maritime security in the Indian Ocean.

India has no reason to have institutionalised partnerships with the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). In a conceivable future, the curtain could well be descending on the western military bases in West Asia. Delhi should grasp the reality that something fundamentally changed post-October 7 in the geopolitics of West Asia.

It is in sync with what Germans call the zeitgeist (spirit of the times) that Saudi Arabia is demanding that the security of the Red Sea is an international responsibility in cooperation with the riparian countries and UN support. Since 2018, Saudi Arabia has called for the establishment of a Council of States bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and in 2020, eight countries signed the Council’s founding charter, who include, ironically, Yemen. Saudi Arabia plans to host a summit meeting of the Council of States.

Today’s Anglo-American missile strike against Yemen should come as a rude awakening to India messaging that the very same western powers who are backing Israel are also escalating the conflict in Gaza and step by step transforming it as a regional conflict — all in the name of freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. Unsurprisingly, Saudi Arabia, the regional superpower in the Red Sea, has called on the US to exercise restraint.

Seismic Shifts are Taking Place in Geopolitics

The US is internationally isolated, for their support for Israel – says Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs.

Seismic shifts are taking place in geopolitics, in which the US has chosen total isolation by standing with Israel. 

“The world does not look to the US for leadership, the world looks at the US aghast! We don’t have a President in Biden, I don’t know what he is…We have the worst foreign policy imaginable” – Sachs does not hold back.

Bye, bye Another American Industry

by SCOTT FOSTER

via Asia TimesChinese smartphone company Xiaomi on Dec. 28, 2023, revealed its forthcoming electric car, the SU7 sedan. Photo: CNBC / Evelyn Cheng

Chinese electric vehicle maker NIO and smart phone maker Xiaomi have ended the year with the announcement of new products challenging NVIDIA and Apple. This marks yet another advance in China’s efforts to develop its own semiconductor technology and eliminate dependence on imports.

On December 23, NIO revealed its first autonomous driving chip, which it claims is superior to the NVIDIA Drive Orin chips it is using now. The Shenji NX9031 SoC (System-on-Chip) will be used in the company’s new ET9 executive sedan, which was also presented at NIO Day 2023. Held in Xi’an, the event attracted more than 10,000 participants and attendees.

The ET9 is a long-wheelbase, four-door luxury EV priced at about 800,000 yuan, or $113,000 at the current exchange rate. Orders for the ET9 can be placed in China now, but deliveries are not scheduled to begin until the first quarter of 2025.

The first 5-nm Chinese automotive IC, the NX9031 will probably by fabricated by TSMC, Samsung Electronics or Intel Foundry Services. In theory, it could be made by SMIC, but that would be inefficient and more expensive. Under the sanctions against the Chinese semiconductor industry, SMIC does not have access to the advanced EUV lithography systems that IC foundries outside China use to make chips with 5-nm and finer processes.

The NX9031 features an Arm 32-core CPU (central processing unit), an NPU (neural processing unit), a graphics core and more than 50 billion transistors. It comes with low power, double data-rate LPDDR5X DRAM memory (probably Korean-made) and can process lidar (light detection and ranging) data.

An NPU, which mimics the human brain, deduces optimal solutions from available data. Lidar uses laser light to survey the environment, providing autonomous vehicles with 3D images of the road and traffic. The NX9031 will work with SkyOS, Nio’s vehicle operating system, which covers vehicle control, assisted driving, cockpit systems and mobile connectivity.

According to NIO CEO William Li, the computing power of the NX9031 is comparable to four NVIDIA Drive Orin SoCs, the standard configuration currently used in NIO electric vehicles. These 7-nm chips are capable of up to 254 TOPS (trillion operations per second) each, or 1,016 TOPS in total. That is sufficient for smart driving today, says Vice President Bai Jian, but not for the next generation of autonomous vehicles.

NVIDIA has come to the same conclusion. Drive Thor, the successor to Drive Orin, is scheduled to go into production in 2025. It will have twice as much computing power as Drive Orin. What does this mean? NVIDIA Vice President Danny Shapiro explains:

“If we look at a car today, advanced driver assistance systems, parking, driver monitoring, camera mirrors, digital instrument cluster and infotainment are all different computers distributed throughout the vehicle. In 2025, these functions will no longer be separate computers. Rather, Drive Thor will enable manufacturers to efficiently consolidate these functions into a single system, reducing overall system cost.”

NIO established its IC design team in 2020. Led by Bai Jian, its purpose is to develop an independent smart driving capability including sensors, autonomous driving algorithms and now SoCs. Bai was previously an executive at Chinese smart phone makers OPPO and Xiaomi.

Xiaomi beats Apple to the draw

On December 28, Xiaomi revealed its first electric vehicle before thousands of people at the China National Convention Center in Beijing. At the event, CEO Lei Jun said that his company’s goal is to produce a dream car that can rival Porsche and Tesla.

The Xiaomi SU7 (SU stands for Speed Ultra), a four-door electric sedan designed by professionals who previously worked for BMW and Mercedes-Benz, is manufactured by BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Corp). It is equipped with NVIDIA Drive Orin SoCs for assisted and autonomous driving and Xiaomi’s own operating system. Videos show the SU7 avoiding obstacles on the street and parking without a driver.

Deliveries of two- and four-wheel drive models are expected to begin within the next few months. Prices have not yet been announced, but benchmarking against the Tesla’s Model S and Porsche’s Taycan Turbo suggests that they might be as high as 700,000 to 900,000 yuan range – about the same as the NIO ET9.

Xiaomi plans to invest about $10 billion in its auto business in the next 10 years. “By working hard over the next 15 to 20 years,” says CEO Lei, “we will become one of the world’s top five automakers, striving to lift China’s overall automobile industry.”

Xiaomi’s plans appear to put Apple to shame. Last September, MacRumours reported that a semi-autonomous Apple Car equipped with neural processors still might be launched in 2026 – but that there have been so many delays since the project began in 2014 and so little information provided by management that the timeline is up in the air

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said “We’re focusing on autonomous systems. It’s a core technology that we view as very important. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on.” But it was in 2017 when he said that.

In any case, Xiaomi has beaten Apple to the draw, and so has Huawei, which announced its entry into the electric vehicle market in 2021. Now it is reported that Huawei plans to establish hundreds of new EV sales and service outlets in China over the next two years.

Under sanctions that have proved far from crippling, Huawei has developed its own automotive ICs and operating system. The Ascend chipset in its Mobile Data Center is capable of 352 TOPS, which enables Level 4 High Driving Automation. That means completely autonomous operation under certain conditions such as a defined route, highway driving or parking.

In the meantime, NVIDIA continues to supply more than a dozen Chinese automakers including NIO, Xiaomi, BYD, DENZA, Human Horizons, Ji Yue, Xpeng and ZEEKR (which is owned by Geely). ZEEKR was the first Chinese automaker to announce that it would adopt Drive Thor. Xpeng has reportedly asked NVIDIA to provide it with a custom designed version of Drive Thor.

At the end of November, it was reported that NVIDIA is looking to hire more than 20 specialists for its autonomous driving development team in China. That team is led by Wu Xinzhou, who joined NVIDIA last August. Before that, he was vice president of autonomous driving at Xpeng.

Breaking News: The Chinese develop 5nm chip, the Last US Technological Advantage

Chinese automaker Nio develops 5nm chip, claims a 4x advantage over Nvidia’s Drive Orin X processors, perhaps the most complex Chinese SoC to date

by Anton Shilov
via https://www.tomshardware.com

Nio, a major maker of electric vehicles from China, has developed its first 5nm processor for autonomous driving. The chip comes packing 50 billion transistors, comparable to Nvidia’s A100 processor for artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) applications. The company believes that its system-on-chip is more advanced than Nvidia’s Drive Orin X, which it currently uses for its self-driving systems. Interestingly, the SoC (A System on a Chip) is set to be made using a 5nm-class process technology, reports CnEVPost.

Nio’s Shenji NX9031 SoC was developed by the company itself and packs 32 general-purpose Arm cores in total (including both Big and Little cores), a neural processing unit, a graphics processor, and an LPDDR5X memory subsystem. The system-on-chip can process data from LiDAR, which differs from processors used by Tesla that rely on data from video sensors. Since the unit is designed for autonomous driving applications, it complies with the ASIL-D risk and safety requirements.

The automaker says that its own chip is four times more powerful than Nvidia’s Drive Orin X processor it uses today, though it has not mentioned any specific numbers. Meanwhile, it is evident that Nio wants to use its own silicon and no longer rely on Nvidia’s Drive Orin X.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect about the Nio Shenji NX9031 processor is that it is set to be made on a 5nm process technology, though it is unclear by whom. Unlike many of its Chinese counterparts, Nio is not blacklisted by the U.S. government, so it can order chips from TSMC, Samsung Foundry, or even Intel Foundry Services. Furthermore, since China-based SMIC doesn’t really offer automotive-grade leading-edge process technologies, we expect Nio to use the services of TSMC, Samsung, or IFS rather than its Chinese peers.

Nio’s Shenji NX9031 SoC will first be used for the company’s ET9, a premium sedan whose deliveries are set to start in Q1 2025, so the company will have enough time to test the processor and tailor software for it.

How Saudis Overcame “Reputational Damage”

by M. K. BHADRAKUMAR via Indian Punchline

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman, New Delhi, Sept 11, 2023

European Union’s super bureaucrat Ursula von der Leyen chose April Fools’ Day last year to threaten China that it would suffer “reputational damage” in the world community for backing Russia’s Ukraine war. Being a civilisational state, China let pass that arrogant, presumptuous, egotistic remark.

The concept reeks of neo-colonial mentality. Saudi Arabia’s tryst with reputational damage has been of a different kind. The Kingdom has had spectacular success in overcoming the reputational damage related to the killing of the ex-CIA asset Jamal Khashoggi. It makes a worthy case study for India, which also is haunted by the spectre of reputational damage for allegedly committing trans-border crimes.

From an Indian perspective, there are seven “takeaways” from the Saudi experience. First, Saudi Arabia stood its ground; second, it sought no help from third parties to reach out to the power brokers in DC; third, it seized the initiative to set in motion an investigative mechanism of its own which came up with cognitive reasoning in a very short period of time; four, it followed up by sentencing the Saudi perpetrators of Khashoggi’s murder to imprisonment; five, it didn’t allow the “reputational damage” to impede normal life; six, it turned a new page so that “a new normal” became possible, which is resilient and geared for the long haul that is strengthening the Kingdom’s strategic autonomy; and, seven, in the final analysis, the “decoupling” from the US helped the Saudis to shake off the reputational damage.

Needless to say, the last point is the crux of the matter. Saudi Arabia’s assertion of strategic autonomy has taken myriad forms that caught the Biden Administration by surprise. This was not how Saudi Arabia was expected to behave under pressure with its ponderous decision-making process, the statecraft moving at a glacial pace, its comprador class among the elites only too eager to capitulate and the ruling elite’s unipolar predicament and so on.

But the “new normal” also dictated that Saudi Arabia did not get into an acrimonious brawl with the Biden Administration but instead subjected the latter to benign neglect of a kind that was most hurtful for the US’ interests and regional influence and bruised its vanities of being the only game in town in the Middle East.

In reality, Saudis had no alternative, given the profoundly troubling geopolitical reality that Khashoggi was being groomed by the Deep State in the US for a higher political destiny than that of a mere dissident — and that was something Riyadh couldn’t have tolerated, as the stability of the regime was being threatened from America, which was ironically the Kingdom’s provider of security and a strategic ally of several decades.

It takes years or even a decade to lick into shape a mole so that it can perform as a strategic asset like Khashoggi for the US intelligence, and the fury over his untimely murder surged in media attacks on the Saudi regime — targeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

However, as months passed, it became more and more difficult to demonise the Crown Prince under whose watchful eyes, the Kingdom embarked on a historic path of reform. Three major achievements through the past 5-year period can be seen as game changers. First, Vision 2030, the transformative and ambitious blueprint to unlock the potential of the people and create a diversified, innovative, and world-leading nation. The reform programme has already begun to show impressive results.

Two, OPEC+ which was the brainchild of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has liberated the world oil market from the US’ clutches through the past 5-year period and in turn put the two energy superpowers on the driving seat. The transition is hugely consequential in geopolitical terms. Incredibly enough, the new matrix fine-tuning the global market is taking place independent of American leverage. OPEC+ is working effectively, overcoming all external attempts to undermine it.

Three, Saudi Arabia’s induction as a full member of the BRICS — again, with Russian backing — is expected to carry forward the new impulses of the Kingdom’s independent foreign policy, which in turn is expected to galvanise the creation of a new international trade and financial architecture.

Although a sub-plot in this context becomes the normalisation with Iran, which at one stroke created a paradigm shift in the geopolitics of the Middle East region with the regional states steadily doing away with American midwifery in settling their intra-regional issues. A natural consequence of it has been the sharp decline in the US’ regional influence which has become evident during the current Israel-Palestine conflict.

All in all, the Saudi compass is laying the foundations for an emerging regional power that is destined to contribute to the international system and the world order. The US has understood that it lost the plot and is moving with alacrity to mend fences with Saudi Arabia. Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia in June last year came tantalisingly close to an act of atonement. That was only to be expected.

A few examples from the last month alone testify to the dynamism of Saudi diplomacy and the total collapse of the US’ strategy to “isolate” the Kingdom — visit by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil (a BRICS member state, which is due to join OPEC+ in January); winning the bid in a landslide in secret ballots to host the World Expo 2030 (Saudi Arabia won 119 of the 165 votes, easily defeating South Korea and Italy thanks to the huge backing by the Global South); the $7 bn local currency swap agreement with China’s Central Bank (latest sign of strengthening relations with China and a step toward delinking from the petrodollar); leading by example the OPEC+ decision on voluntary cuts of oil production “to ensure a stable and balanced oil market” (revealing at the grouping’s virtual meeting on November 30 that it would be continuing its 1 million barrels per day reduction, ie., roughly 45 percent of total production cut of 2.2 million bpd envisaged); and, of course, placing itself at the front and centre of high-stakes public diplomacy over the Gaza war, with China again as its preferred partner (while a Saudi-Israeli normalisation, which might have been a major foreign policy win for the Biden Administration, has become politically radioactive for Riyadh.)

The moral of the story — especially for countries like India — is that firmness tempered with tact and patience pays. The Saudi secret lies in avoiding nasty confrontation but instead quietly, systematically shaking off the critical dependence on the US by diversifying the Kingdom’s external relations.

The mother of all ironies in all this is that the US not only assassinated a senior Iranian general in a third country and the then president in the White House even bragged about it. Equally, the US took revenge on Osama bin Laden and dumped his corpse in the high seas.

It has kidnapped dozens of Russian nationals travelling abroad and locked them up in prisons in an attempt to persuade them to work for the US intelligence. Now, in June, with a similar objective, the US intelligence kidnapped an Indian transiting through Prague. Evidently, the US intelligence was stalking him on Indian soil.

It is a frightening thought that the Five Eyes may have penetrated the core of the Indian security establishment. Yet, state secretary Blinken vows not to let go India, the US’ indispensable partner for the undoing of China. It almost seems as if he knows something about Indian statecraft that we do not. Indian diplomacy has truly tied itself in knots.