Robert Steuckers, born in Uccle in 1956, graduated from the Institut Maria Haps, associated with the University of Louvain, where he obtained his Master’s in English and German languages. He directed a translation agency in Brussels for twenty years before devoting himself to various tasks teaching languages. He created the think tank “Synergies européennes” in 1994, which has organized summer universities in France, Italy, and Germany. He manages, with others, the site Euro-Synergies which has posted nearly 17,000 feature articles, available to everyone. He also has a Twitter account Robert Steuckers (@RobertSteuckers) updated daily. Robert Steuckers is the author of numerous books and essays, notably the trilogy Europa, a truly complete work on the identity and history of European peoples as well as La révolution conservatrice allemande and Sur et autour de Carl Schmitt.
A first remark: nothing is clear in media discourses, remotely controlled by American outfits for the most part. Contradictions follow each other and overlap: is this virus natural (a more pernicious variant of the seasonal flu) or has it been released, intentionally or unintentionally, from a Chinese laboratory? Is the practice of confinement useful or totally useless as the Swedish experience proves? Other projects seem to graft themselves on to this pandemic: the ruling powers’ project of further controlling human masses clustered in the major megapoles; the project of planetary vaccination that would largely benefit “Big Pharma”, a hypothesis apparently confirmed by Bill Gates’ past and present declarations; furthermore such generalized vaccination would grant it a stranglehold on funds accumulated by the social policies, socialist and Keynesian, of Europe’s industrialized countries. Moreover, the unpreparedness of states and the instances of mismanagement regarding the purchase and distribution of protective masks, the quarrel over medication in France whose principal protagonist Dr. Didier Raoult prescribed a simple chloroquine treatment, a very recent hypothesis contesting the validity of treatments chosen to counteract the illness, fatal abuse in the distribution of Rivotril in nursing and retirement homes, pleads in favor of the (conspiracist?) hypothesis of a planetary staging, aiming to create and amplify panic: in this sense, the political – media system, dominated and subsidized by high finance, the pharmaceutical lobbies and GAFA [Translator’s Note: Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple], would play its role in the scenario dictated to it, to prepare the masses to accept vaccines, confinement, and other extraordinary and unprecedented police measures, even compared to regimes considered as the most repressive. The French television channel LCI nevertheless just revealed that the elevated levels of lethality and contagiousness of the virus were considerably exaggerated following alarmist and apocalyptic speeches by WHO representatives. Confinement, against which German and Dutch public opinion fought back with vehemence, was thus totally useless or the pretext to implement unprecedented police control technologies, imitating those in the future (but very near) Chinese “smart cities,” among which we can especially cite facial recognition technologies. Whatever hypotheses we can formulate about the effects, real or fabricated, of the present pandemic, we must admit that the upheavals occurring on the international political chessboard, especially Eurasian, will not be stopped by the pandemic: much to the contrary, outfits of strategists actively prepare for the world comes after the virus crisis. This pandemic evidently can camouflage an ensemble of shifts beneficial to the hegemon, despite the weaknesses it seems to show, in its industrial decline, in the decay of its society, or in the technical failures of its health-care system. The vigilance of all those who desire to see the often smothering grip of this hegemon loosen is thus in order.
Firstly, the zone of conflictual turbulence seems to have shifted from the Ukrainian – Syrian and Iraqi complex towards the South China Sea. China seems to have become the principal enemy of the hegemon, very clearly, although from 1972, China was “the enemy of my enemy” against the USSR, before becoming a major economic partner permitting the implementation of the neoliberal practice of relocation towards Asian zones with low price labor. China, within the complex that certain geopolitical thinkers named “Chinamerica”, was the workshop of the real economy, the producer of physical goods, while the hegemon reserved the service industry for itself and henceforth practiced a virtual and speculative economy, which it tried to portray as entirely sufficient while the present crisis demonstrates its glaring insufficiencies: one cannot dispense with the real economy paired with a good “political” dose of planning or regulation. The middling powers of Europe, subservient to the Americanosphere, imitated this disastrous practice inaugurated by the hegemon from the moment where China, although “communist” in the ideological scheme, became its “enemy of my enemy” against Soviet Russia. In this context, Europe progressively abandoned its planned economic practices or what Michel Albert called “(paternalistic) Rhine capitalism”: it’s the Germany self-destructing, described by Thilo Sarrazin, or the France committing suicide, explained by Eric Zemmour. The coronavirus crisis has notably proved that France, and even Germany, no longer produce small elementary consumer goods in sufficient quantities, like protective masks, henceforth manufactured in countries with cheaper labor. All the errors of delocalizing neoliberalism have appeared in broad daylight, against the background of the latent economic crisis ongoing from autumn 2008.
China accumulated a colossal mass of currency after having accepted this role of planetary workshop. Nevertheless the planetary workshop should secure maritime and terrestrial routes of communication to send finished products to their places of destination, in Europe as in Africa or South America. When China was “the enemy of my enemy” of the Americanosphere during the Cold War, and even during the one or two decades after the end of this virtual conflict, it had no maritime vocation and its continental / telluric tasks were limited to consolidating its frontier fringes in Manchuria, its border with outer Mongolia, and zone of Chinese ex-Turkestan, which had fallen under Soviet influence in the time of Chinese misfortune. This zone, once coveted by Stalin, is today Xinjiang, populated by a native Uighur minority. Thus China practiced a policy of “containment”, that also (and especially) served the interests of the United States. A tacit peace was then established on the Taiwanese maritime front and the two Chinas even envisioned a reconciliation lato sensu [Translator’s note: Latin for “in the broad sense”], perhaps even leading to a rapid reunification, similar to German reunification. The Chinese Communist Party and the Taiwanese Kuomintang could have ironed out their differences in the name of an effective planist and productivist ideology.
The imperative necessity of securing the maritime routes beyond the Chinese coasts themselves, in the context of the South China Sea and extending to the Singapore choke-point, progressively changed the situation. New Chinese pursuits in the South China Sea imply a further and quite predictable step of projecting itself far beyond Singapore towards India (which itself aims to establish its sovereignty over increasingly vast portions of the Indian Ocean) then towards the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea to reach to the Mediterranean: in short, a re-actualization of the Ming dynasty’s policy that supported Zheng He’s expeditions in the 15th century before ceasing any support for this oceanic policy in order to focus on hydrological projects, very costly, in continental China. Xi Jinping, as the great Eurasian and Sinophile geopolitical specialist Pepe Escobar explains in a recent article, doesn’t seem to want to repeat the strictly continentalist error Emperor Yong Le opted for.
Actually, the gigantic project of China today is to create new silk roads on the great Eurasian continental mass and, simultaneously, open maritime routes towards the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, and Mediterranean, by building on a terrestrial link starting from continental China towards the Pakistani port of Gwadar, then opening, with the assistance of Russia, a second maritime silk route across the Arctic in the direction of Hamburg, Rotterdam, and Antwerp. This colossal Eurasian project constitutes a major challenge to the hegemon which intends to pursue the thalassocratic containment policy of the former British Empire and, obviously, sabotage any initiative aiming to develop terrestrial communications, via railroads (like the Transiberian in 1904) or waterways, which could counter-balance or reduce the importance of ocean communications (the “Highways of Empire”). The Chinese henceforth show themselves to be disciples of Friedrich List, the economist of development, more than Karl Marx. List was also one of the great inspirations of Sun Yat-Sen, whose objective was to extract China from the “century of shame.” The United States, in order to counter this large scale project, already suggests an alternative, equally “Listian”, in the middle of the coronavirus crisis: block China in front of Singapore and suggest to Russia the exploitation of the terrestrial routes and railway infrastructure of Siberia, even the Arctic route, which would couple, via the construction of a bridge over the Bering Strait, similar routes on the North American continent. Which would also permit it to control the space designated as the “Greater Middle East,” encompassing the Muslim ex-Soviet republics and situated under the strategic command of USCENTCOM, still effectively underpinned by the possession of the small island of Diego Garcia, an unsinkable aircraft carrier in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Without any valid projection towards the Mediterranean and Central Asia, Russia will only retain its role as a “bridge” between Europe and China, whose maritime policy alone will be tolerated so long as it is only limited South China Sea, on one hand, and the North American continent on the other. Thus the final plan of the new Deep State policy will be: contain the maritime inclinations of China, encircle Russia in a Siberian / Arctic project where China cannot intervene, and control the Greater Middle East, without which neither China nor Russia can have any control over this space and market.
The sudden irruption of the coronavirus and the culpability for the pandemic, which the Deep State caucus attributes to China and the Wuhan laboratory for propaganda purposes, allows it to deploy every strategy and tactic to contain China in the waters of the Pacific and only let it directly control the waters in immediate coastal proximity, preventing it from turning the Philippines into a satellite, and, in addition, consolidating Vietnam as a permanent threat on China’s southern flank through American aid. The site “Asia Times,” based in Thailand, remind us, today, that the Islamic State seizes locations in the Philippines, to the great chagrin of the Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte, angered with the hegemon and an advocate of rapprochement with China: in short, the usual scenario …
Pepe Escobar sketches the major themes of the first two sessions of the 13th National People’s Congress, the third session of which would have been held March 5th 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus crisis. One can already imagine that China will broadly accept the recession that it will be the victim of and it will understand the austerity measures that it’s been asked to accept. For Escobar, the conclusions of the 13th Congress convey a response to the plans concocted by the United States and laid down on paper by Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster. This Pentagon soldier describes a China that constitutes three threats for the “free world” with: 1) The “Made in China 2025” program targeting the development of new technologies, notably concerning the firm Huawei and the development of 5G, indispensable for the creation of the “smart cities” of the future, and where China, apparently, enjoys a very long head start; 2) with the “silk routes” program, through which the Chinese are creating client states, including Pakistan, and reorganizing the Eurasian continental mass; 3) with the “military/ civil” fusion, the coagulation of List’s and Clausewitz’s ideas, where, through mobile telephony, China will prove itself capable of developing large espionage networks and cyber-attack capacities. Since May 2020, Washington has refused to export components to Huawei; China retorted by placing Apple, Qualcomm, and Cisco on a list of “unreliable enterprises” and threatened to stop purchasing American made commercial aircraft. All of this, and Escobar doesn’t mention it in his recent article, in a situation where China has 95% of the rare earth metal reserves. These reserves allowed it, until now, to score points in the development of new technologies, including 5G and mobile telecommunications, the principal objects of American hostility towards Beijing. In order to confront the Chinese advance this domain, the hegemon must find other sources to supply these rare earth metals: hence Trump’s indirect proposal to buy Greenland from the kingdom of Denmark, formulated last autumn and reformulated in the middle of the coronavirus. China is present in the Arctic, under the guise of a set of mineral exploration companies in a highly strategic zone: the so-called “GUIK” gap (Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom) was extremely important during the Second World War and during the Cold War. The entire Arctic space will become a highly strategic zone again, and in an intensified manner, in light of the resources that it conceals, including the rare earth metals that the United States is seeking to appropriate, and because the Arctic passage, freed from ice by nuclear powered Russian ice breakers, will become the shortest and more secure route between Europe and the Far East, between the Antwerp/ Amsterdam/ Hamburg port complex and Chinese, Japanese, and Korean ports. So the hegemon has a double interest in its Greenlandic projects presently being articulated: to move in and profit from Greenland’s geological assets and sabotage the exploitation of the Arctic route. The coronavirus crisis hides this geopolitical and geo-economic issue that concerns Europe foremost!
Returning to the 13th National People’s Congress of May 2020: it prioritized future development of the Western regions (Xianjiang and Tibet), a reinforcement of links with ex-Soviet republics that border these regions, and, among other things, the construction of deep water ports, and an augmented ecological policy based on “clean coal.” The problem of the silk routes initiative (“Belt & Road Initiative”) was at the back of the line behind new priorities, which constitutes a distressing setback in itself.
The hegemon seems to be lessening the pressure a bit on Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq, but Iran remains an enemy to eliminate or, at least cause it to implode through sanctions. The rigor of the hegemon’s repressive measures increases while Europeans focus on the effects of COVID-19, though they recently demanded a relaxation of the sanctions and invented a ruse to circumvent the American embargo which in no way serves their commercial and geopolitical interests. Iran remains a major target, despite the centrality of its territory in a zone entrusted to USCENTCOM or “the Greater Middle East”: in order to control this space, which was once the space of “Iranian civilization”, Washington seeks to implode the center. The reason for this tenacious anti-Iranian ostracism, particularly aggressive, has two essential causes: one highlights a very old strategy, the other is defined by the very existence of oil based capital that Iran can use to establish a limited regional hegemony. The very old strategy, today articulated by the United States, seeks to forbid any power for exercising itself between the territory of the ancient Parthian Empire and the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean. The United States is actually posing, according to the historian – geopolitical expert Edward Luttwak, as the heir of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires in the Levant and Mesopotamia. Roman policy, from Trajan to the collapse of the Byzantines in the region following the strikes of Muslim armies after the death of the Prophet, was to keep the Persians separated from the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia. The coronavirus crisis permits it, in the shelter of the media limelight, to further demonize Hezbollah in Lebanon, this Shi’ite party being an Iranian antenna on the banks of the Eastern Mediterranean and also a solid rampart against the official Sunni Islamist enemy (but in reality ally), represented by ISIL, and it permits Netanyahu and his new heterogeneous coalition government to annex the West Bank, reducing to near annihilation the reliquae reliquarum [Translator’s note: Latin for “remnants of the remnants”] left to the Palestinian Authority, henceforth weakened and discredited. With the background of indescribable chaos that persists between Syria and Iraq, the hegemon consolidates the Zionist state, actually qualifiable as “Judeo-Herodian” in the sense where the Herodian kings were pawns of the Romans, in order to make Judea – Palestine an uncrossable barrier against any Persian penetration. Europe, fixated on the invisible and perhaps fictive coronavirus, only turns a very discreet eye towards this problematic mutation happening in the Eastern Mediterranean. Washington’s other pawn in the region is Saudi Arabia, whose politics were shaken up a bit in the course of these past months, without anyone being able to say that the understanding created on the bridge of the USS Quincy in 1945 between King Ibn Saud and President Roosevelt has been fundamentally altered, as shown by Western support for the bellicose and genocidal policies that the Saudis practice in Yemen, where Colombian and Eritrean mercenaries intervene, in the midst of the coronavirus: the hegemon and its allies advance pawns in this highly strategic region while the media fills the public opinion of the Americanosphere with frightening stories of a coronavirus that won’t disappear with the summer heat and will return to the attack at the first frosts of autumn. The Palestinian writer Said K. Aburish recalls, in works that are practically never cited in polemics revolving around the Israeli – Palestinian conflict, the constantly pro-Western role of the Saudis, tacit allies of the Zionist project since the First World War, of the project envisioned by the Protestant Biblicist Sykes.
The capital that Iranian oil can constitute for the Islamic Republic, as it once was for the Shah, could fuel a Euro-Iranian economic pole, without damaging Russia, which the hegemon would never allow, the hegemon has no desire to see any (peaceful) European or Russia or even Indian and Chinese intervention in the territorial heart of “the Greater Middle East” that it reserves entirely to itself for the next gamble, in order to make it a territory with a “penetrated economy” with more exponential demographic growth than the rest of the world (although Iran is experiencing a certain stagnation in birthrate). The “Greater Middle East” is not only a reserve of hydrocarbons but a space where the gigantic cotton production of the former USSR remains, which interests the American textile industry.
Trump – despite his electoral promises and the hopes he excited among millions of naive people, who believed that he alone would vanquish the Deep State totally composed of “neocon” coteries – hasn’t prevented the recruitment of a new generation of neocons into the intricacies of his government and within the American ministry of foreign affairs: thus for the Middle East, Simone Ledeen, daughter of the muscular neoconservative Michael Ledeen, will shape the contours of future American policy in this region of great turbulence. She is the author, with her father, of a book entitled, How We Can Win the Global War, where America is portrayed as an empire of Good, well intentioned but besieged by a certain number of pernicious enemies, of which Iran is the principal instigator, the center of the anti-American plot in the world. This new promotion of a neoconservative dame of the purest type, a part of the machinery of neoconservative foreign policy since 2003, was enacted during the period of the coronavirus crisis.
Finally, the planetary coronavirus crisis camouflages the present maneuvers of the hegemon in its own hemisphere, seeking to destroy the quadricontinental dimension the BRICS assumed when Brazil was a part of it and when Argentina sought to become closer to it. Today, in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, the United States multiplies the pressure against Venezuela, interfering in the Caribbean where it deploys its fleet, reacting against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s naval escort of Iranian oil tankers, although nothing, according to international law, could criminalize bilateral commercial relations between two countries boycotted by the United States and, in turn, by the entirety of the Americanosphere. At the same time, Trump, who was elected to counter the machinations of the Deep State but who has henceforth promoted them in his own way, declared the withdrawal from “Open Skies” Treaty, which permitted the signatories to observe each others military movements, in hope for transparency and pacification. With the American withdrawal from the treaty concerning the Iranian nuclear program, we have the premises for a new Cold War, premises that Russia deplores, which are deliberately erased from the preoccupations of the masses in Western Europe, panicked by the real or imagined progression of the coronavirus, glued to their screens recording the dead, preoccupied with the purchase of masks or hand sanitizers or hoping for the release of a vaccine on the pharmaceutical market. During these mundane disturbances, generated by the soft power and the technologies of four dimension warfare, the pawns of the new Cold War have advanced, rooted in strategic reality.
Thus the crisis has not frozen the dynamics of global geopolitics, it has hidden them from the view of the masses; it has allowed the media to flood us with more or less artificial alarming news, while the protagonists of “large scale politics” hone their arsenals and prefect strategies to apply in the third decade of the 21st century.