It’s Time To Clarify The Dynamics Of The New Cold War
Here’s the full English-language version of the interview that I gave to Victor M. Rodriguez about the dynamics of the New Cold War, which was originally published in Spanish on his Uruguayan alternative media platform Si Que Se Puede under the title “Andrew Korybko, analiza la transición sistémica global hacia la multipolaridad”.
1. How would you describe the current situation of the communicational processes of International Relations between the main power blocs?
The New Cold War can be described as a worldwide struggle over the direction of the ongoing global systemic transition. It’s being fought to varying extents between the US-led West’s Golden Billion and the jointly BRICS- & SCO-led Global South, the latter of which is expected to eventually also be led by other multilateral groups like the AU, ASEAN, CELAC, etc. The first wants to retain as much of the US’ prior unipolar hegemony as possible while the second wants to accelerate multipolar processes.
The Golden Billion is a bonafide bloc in the traditional sense that its members all for the most part promulgate the exact same policies with few exceptions, while the Global South is much more diverse. Leading members of both, in this case the US-EU and Russia-China, don’t have solid communication between each other at the official level. They do, however, attempt to convey their respective worldviews to each other’s populations through soft power means.
Golden Billion states like Hungary and Global South ones like India are trying to balance between both de facto New Cold War blocs in order to derive benefits from both without taking either’s side. Delhi has pioneered the most masterful method of doing so, though its success is largely attributable to a combination of its leadership’s multipolar worldview, this country’s traditional neutrality, and its status as a Great Power, all of which are difficult for others to emulate to the same extent.
India is therefore best positioned to facilitate communication between the US and Russia, though it’s unable to play this role between the US and China due to its continued decades-long border disputes with Beijing. Nevertheless, the point is that certain players who aspire to balance between both de facto New Cold War blocs to whatever extent they’re capable of realistically doing are expected to serve as increasingly important bridges of communication in the coming future.
2. How has your involvement with the processes of analysis, your departure from the United States, and your arrival in Russia been?
I’ve been actively analysing International Relations since late 2013 when I began sharing my views at Oriental Review, which is an online journal based in Russia that seeks to explain this country’s worldview. Prior to that, I’d been researching this field for years but hadn’t felt comfortable enough publishing my views since I hadn’t yet established my own paradigms for interpreting them. I then began working at Voice of Russia, which later became Sputnik, from early 2014 to early 2019.
From summer 2013 to summer 2015, I was pursuing my Master’s in International Relations at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (popularly known by its Russian abbreviation as MGIMO and run by the Russian Foreign Ministry) with a focus on Governance and Global Affairs. I therefore balanced between my studies and career, which was admittedly difficult to do but I felt that it was important to continue my work with Sputnik in order to learn as much as possible hands-on.
While there, I hosted several radio programs and shared written analyses on their website. I also began freelancing for various online outlets and even sometimes contributing to some pro bono. Freelancing ended up affording me with the flexibility that works a lot better for me than a traditional job so I left Sputnik in early 2019 and have been on my own since. Over the past nine years, I’ve worked to ensure that my analyses are as accurate as possible and am constantly recalibrating them in light of the facts.
3. Much is said about the partiality or impartiality of the media, however in the context of the Ukrainian Conflict there have been multiple denunciations, acts, and facts that have impacted freedom of expression, media, and journalists. What is your reading of the current state of freedom of expression in the context of the interests of the power blocs?
My professional assessment is that the vast majority of information products coming from both de facto New Cold War blocs and their supporters can be described as “propaganda” for the reasons that I’ll now explain. What I mean by that term is something that’s designed to deliberately manipulate its targeted audience through fake news, purposeful omissions of relevant information, and/or consciously biased angles through which something is interpreted for others in order to lead them to a certain conclusion.
I’m not making any value judgement about this since producing such information products serves certain strategic purposes, but it’s important for folks to obtain the media literacy required for discerning the difference between various forms of propaganda and actual news or analysis. The Golden Billion’s propaganda is more well known since it’s spewed by the US-led Mainstream Media while the Global South’s isn’t often discussed by those within that de facto New Cold War bloc or its supporters.
The Alt-Media Community (AMC) that serves as the tip of the spear for this side’s information operations tends to portray all Global South countries, and especially leading ones like Russia and China, as being on the exact same page as one another and in full principled opposition to the Golden Billion. For instance, many deny both the strength of the Russian-Israeli Strategic Partnership as well as the Sino-American efforts to explore a New Détente prior to the recent balloon incident derailing them.
These pairs of partnerships are considered “politically incorrect” by the AMC’s gatekeepers since they complicate their deliberate oversimplification of the New Cold War’s strategic dynamics, the perception of which influential voices seek to manipulate for clout, ideology, and soliciting donations. Instead of explaining the nuances and realities of International Relations, they prefer to misrepresent everything in black-and-white ways that infantilize their audience by creating “superheroes” and “sports teams”.
I’m against those of my “peers” among the AMC who continue pushing false assessments of Russia-Israel, China-US, and other “politically incorrect” pairs of countries for those self-interested reasons connected to clout, ideology, and/or soliciting donations. The real enemies of multipolarity aren’t just the Golden Billion’s MSM that multipolar supporters already distrust, but also those charlatans among the AMC who get folks’ hopes up with false expectations only for them to inevitably be disappointed.
4. The United States has sold out and many countries have bought the discourse of the society of freedoms and democracy, however the levels of political activation of citizens is decreasing and its electoral system eludes direct democracy. How do you explain this situation?
I don’t believe that citizens are less politically mobilized across the world than ever before but rather more mobilized than ever, or at least have greater potential to be. Many among the Golden Billion remain influenced by their side’s information warfare narratives and have thus voluntarily chosen not to mobilize themselves for whatever reason, but others within that de facto New Cold War bloc are also easily manipulated by other related narratives into rioting like we saw with Antifa-BLM in summer 2020.
As for observations about direct democracy, I don’t believe that should be a universal goal in and of itself, but I acknowledge that the majority of people in some societies might consider it to be one that they and their compatriots should pursue. Other societies, however, might not feel comfortable with direct democracy since it’s more easily manipulated by the elite’s information warfare narratives as well as that of corporations and rival countries than any other political system.
I believe that societies in general are concerned about the future but that each has different views about how to proceed, with there also being different interest groups within them fiercely competing over what their societies should do. The influence of modern-day communications platforms like social media can both exacerbate and weaken these dynamics, with the outcome varying depending upon which forces instrumentalise them, to which ends, and the nature of their targets.
5. From the West, Russia is pointed out as an antagonistic element to North American capitalism, however, after the fall of the USSR, Russia has proposed an economic system that is not communist or socialist at all. How then can we understand this struggle of supposed antagonisms that no longer exists?
The struggle between capitalism and communism no longer defines International Relations like it did during the Old Cold War. Instead, the New Cold War is experiencing a three-tiered bifurcation between all players, with it being extremely difficult to pigeonhole any single player into all three. At the systemic level, the “Great Bifurcation” is most noticeably characterized by the division between the US-led West’s Golden Billion and the jointly BRICS- & SCO-led Global South.
The second level concerns each country’s worldview, which can be simplified as liberal-globalist or conservative-sovereigntist. The first’s liberal characterization refers to the belief that there should be no socio-cultural limits like those that some have placed on the public promotion of LGBTQI+ and that their free-for-all approach should be imposed on everyone else across the globe. The second, meanwhile, acknowledges each state’s sovereignty in general and especially regarding socio-cultural issues.
As for the bottom tier of the “Great Bifurcation”, this one is very dynamic and involves the occasional friction between the establishment and populist movements. The former refers to the existing power structure in any given state while the second concerns those movements that are rising to oppose it. It’s the most easily manipulatable level of the New Cold War since information warfare, intelligence agencies, and “NGOs” (which are sometimes just intelligence fronts) can easily shape its dynamics.
With this insight in mind, it can thus be observed that the previously globalized world order is bifurcating along the systemic, worldview (“ideological”), and domestic levels. The division along each level also isn’t clear-cut nor perfect, but the model that was just shared should help to simplify this complex process. I encourage others to consider contributing to this paradigm in their own ways as they regard relevant in order for us all to move closer to producing the most accurate analyses possible.
6. Many analysts maintain that Ukraine is a Trojan horse to involve Russia in a conflict that will set it against the European Union, but which in turn will open the way for the USA to end up affecting China, and if so, what can we expect in the coming years on the geopolitical map?
I’ve maintained since shortly after the start of the special operation that the US prioritized containing Russia over China because it thought that it could successful neutralize Moscow’s role in the emerging Multipolar World Order via strategic blackmail coming from NATO’s clandestine expansion to Ukraine. By leveraging anti-missile systems to negate its target’s second-strike capabilities simultaneously with waging multidimensional Hybrid Warfare from Ukraine, the US thought that it could defeat Russia.
It hadn’t planned for Russia to militarily react in defence of its national security interests in Ukraine otherwise it would have retooled its military-industrial complex to prepare for the prolonged proxy war that resulted. The US thought that Russia would quickly collapse due to sanctions if it decided upon that course of action, yet this hasn’t happened and has thus thrown the US into a dilemma since its military-industrial complex can’t keep up the pace of proxy support to Kiev while ensuring the US’ own interests.
At this point, the US must therefore either double down on its proxy war with Russia via Ukraine at the expense of further delaying its “Pivot to Asia” against China or explore a so-called “face-saving” exit strategy from that European conflict in order to more effectively “contain” China in Asia. It’s a zero-sum grand strategic dilemma at this point since it literally can’t “contain” both multipolar Great Powers at the same time due to its military-industrial limitations and resultant opportunity costs.
It remains unclear at the time of this interview what the US will ultimately decide to do, but the recent balloon incident that unexpectedly derailed the Sino-American New Détente that Blinken was supposed to make further progress on during his now-postponed trip to Beijing helps inform us of its calculations. The US military’s hardline anti-Chinese faction will likely work hand-in-glove with ideologically aligned Republicans to make it politically impossible for Biden to revive the New Détente.
Should that happen, then the US might decide to abandon its failed goal of first “containing” Russia with a view towards facilitating its eventual “containment” of China in favour of cutting its losses in Ukraine in order to accelerate the “Pivot to Asia” that the public now considers a much greater priority. That said, there’s a chance that Presidents Xi and Biden might pioneer ways to work around the hardline anti-Détente factions of their militaries and thus revive the New Détente, but this seems unlikely.
For that reason and barring any further unforeseen developments that offset the aforementioned trajectory, then it’s expected that Sino-American tensions will continue growing and thus influence the US to recalibrate its “containment” efforts from Russia to China before it had prepared to do so. The US’ failure to neutralize Russia’s role in the emerging Multipolar World Order means that this Great Power can serve as valve for China from new Western pressure and thus avoid giving the US its desired edge.
7. Latin America has a wealth of biodiversity that is both recognized and envied by many nations facing multiple crises (energy, climate, food, water, among many others) the question is: What is in store for Latin America on the world stage disputed by the United States, Russia and China?
Latin American countries should prioritize their strategic autonomy in the New Cold War like India has in order to obtain the best deals from both de facto blocs, whether this concerns economic, environmental, financial, military, political, technological, or other forms of cooperation. The Golden Billion wants to exploit this region’s resources, but fair and balanced cooperation with it wouldn’t be detrimental to Latin American countries’ interests, if such an outcome can be achieved that is.
8. From coups d’état involving the military to those known as media or judicial coups, Latin America has been impacted by meddling actions of multiple intensities. What strengths and weaknesses do you perceive in democratic systems to face this vulnerability of democracies and the search for extortion as a way to make policy and try to bend governments?
“Democratic Security”, which refers to the wide range of counter-Hybrid Warfare tactics and strategies, must immediately be prioritized by all countries without exception in order to preempt others’ meddling of their domestic political processes. To that end, public awareness campaigns should be commenced to inform their people of the ways in which foreign actors manipulate internal events such as through information warfare, “NGOs”, and sanctions, among other means.
In parallel with this, people must learn proper “media literacy” with respect to being able to confidently discern the difference between various information products such as agenda-driven activism, analyses, fake news, investigations, journalism (reports solely consisting of facts without interpretation), op-eds, propaganda, etc. Failure to fulfill this goal will result in that society remaining extremely susceptible to Hybrid War meddling aimed at manipulating their domestic processes for the benefit of a foreign actor.
9. Returning to freedom of expression as a mechanism of information and denunciation, and appealing to your experience in both nations, what are the substantive differences between the exercise of freedom of expression in the USA and in the Russian nation?
These two countries represent pillars of their respective de facto New Cold War blocs, and accordingly, some ideas are more accepted by their societies than others due to the roles that they play. In my experience, multipolar views are obviously frowned upon in the US while being appreciated in Russia, just like unipolar ones are appreciated in the US but frowned upon in Russia. Those within each who passionately support the other’s worldview should thus move there if they want to express it freely.
That’s not to say that it’s impossible for someone to promote multipolarity in the US or unipolarity in Russia, but just that there’ll be obvious obstacles to how far and successfully they can do so. If someone only passively supports one or the other in a country where it’s not popular, then there’s no reason to consider moving since these views aren’t a major part of their life, but they should definitely consider relocating if they’re important enough to them that they want to make a career out of sharing them.
The interview was originally published in Spanish at Si Que Se Puede under the title “Andrew Korybko, analiza la transición sistémica global hacia la multipolaridad”.
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