by Frank Schnittger
Wed Aug 6th, 2014 at 04:11:13 AM EST
The USA has been the undisputed Global superpower since the collapse of the Soviet Union; dominating the world militarily, politically, economically and culturally. In recent times China has begun to make some inroads into that economic dominance, Russia has begun to become more assertive again, and Merkel has consolidated her position as undisputed leader of the Eurozone. But the most significant changes have possibly been within the USA itself.
First came 9/11 which punctured the sense of American invincibility: that the US could do what it liked abroad without it having much in the way of repercussions at home. In military terms the event wasn't all that significant: 3,000 deaths is all in a weeks work in some of the bloodier conflicts around the world. But what was significant was the reaction: America went collectively mad.
front-paged by afew
First they repeated the Soviet mistake of invading Afghanistan - in a conflict which has now gone on longer than Vietnam. Then they invaded Iraq for no very good reason at all - except that they thought they could do so with impunity, and perhaps grab control of a few oilfields for some of their contractors. Then they manufactured one of the biggest financial crises of all time, one which threatened to return them to the dark ages of the Great Depression.
The election of Obama put a halt to some of that hubris, though it didn't stop the still influential neo-cons from dreaming of the USA dominating the "New American Century". Just how powerful they remain is illustrated by the utter inability of President Obama to rein in the NSA and CIA despite many flagrant breaches of the law and threats to democracy itself. The Republican strategy of opposing everything Obama might do has also seriously damaged the USA's ability to repair it's economy and act coherently on the world stage.
The crisis in Ukraine might just be the first to demonstrate that the USA can no longer call the shots around the world, and that we may be re-entering an era of multiple superpowers competing for supremacy. First the US made the mistake of being found out monitoring Merkel's private phone. So long the lapdogs of US power, a Merkel dominated EU may just be about to turn it's back on the US and conclude a historic concordat with Putin's Russia. And if Cameron's UK doesn't like it, they are more than welcome to leave the EU and become a vassal state of the US instead.
Afghanistan, Iraq, extraordinary rendition, torture, the financial crash, NSA spying, Ukraine and now Gaza. Europe has a large Islamic population. Europe and the USA's interests have simply diverged too far. A combined Russian and Eurozone bloc would have the military and economic muscle to rival the USA. Perhaps that is why the neo-cons are so desperately trying to stoke up trouble in Ukraine. And why they will fail. They haven't even been included in the negotiations...
And the emerging deal? Russia gets to keep Crimea, abandons east Ukrainian rebels, East Ukraine gets some autonomy, Ukraine doesn't join NATO but retains links with the EU, everybody gets stable borders and secure energy supplies, and then business as usual... except that the US and UK aren't part of the deal. This is Merkel deciding to go her own way.
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
The Independent can reveal that the peace plan, being worked on by both Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, hinges on two main ambitions: stabilising the borders of Ukraine and providing the financially troubled country with a strong economic boost, particularly a new energy agreement ensuring security of gas supplies.
More controversially, if Ms Merkel's deal were to be acceptable to the Russians, the international community would need to recognise Crimea's independence and its annexation by Russia, a move that some members of the United Nations might find difficult to stomach.
Sources close to the secret negotiations claim that the first part of the stabilisation plan requires Russia to withdraw its financial and military support for the various pro-separatist groups operating in eastern Ukraine. As part of any such agreement, the region would be allowed some devolved powers.
At the same time, the Ukrainian President would agree not to apply to join Nato. In return, President Putin would not seek to block or interfere with Ukraine's new trade relations with the European Union under a pact signed a few weeks ago.
Second, Ukraine would be offered a new long-term agreement with Russia's Gazprom, the giant gas supplier, for future gas supplies and pricing. At present, there is no gas deal in place; Ukraine's gas supplies are running low and are likely to run out before this winter, which would spell economic and social ruin for the country.
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said they had no knowledge of such negotiations taking place. However, the spokesman said he thought it highly unlikely that either the US or UK would agree to recognising Russian control over Crimea. There was no one available at the German embassy's press office yesterday.
Reaching a solution to the ongoing dispute is pertinent for the Germans as Russia is their single biggest trading partner. Under Ms Merkel, the Russo-German axis has strengthened significantly and, until the plane shooting, her government had been staunchly against punitive sanctions for commercial but also diplomatic reasons.
Such strong trade ties between the two countries have also served to strengthen Ms Merkel’s hand and the Russian speaker has emerged as the leading advocate of closer relations between the EU and Russia. “This is Merkel’s deal. She has been dealing direct with President Putin on this. She needs to solve the dispute because it’s in no one’s interest to have tension in Ukraine or to have Russia out in the cold. No one wants another Cold War,” said one insider close to the negotiations.
The downing of MH17 has most probably put those negotiations on hold for the next few months. Merkel will not want to be seen cutting a deal with Putin whilst public outrage persists, particularly as so many EU citizens were killed. Perhaps at some point Russia will reveal that their investigation has discovered that "undisciplined untrained irregulars" shot the plane in error and agree to compensate the victims. This will be done in the context of the above deal which effectively cuts the East Ukrainian insurgents out of the loop.
And the neo-cons can sing for their supper.