History is Not Over
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
Part of the History is Not Over series authored by Petrus Liberius
Russia is at war with the West and it is only a matter of time before the United States and Russia meet on the battlefield. When that happens it will not be anything nearly as satisfying or horrific as the apocalyptic battle for world domination of popular dreams and nightmares. Why is that? The answer is simple. We have returned to the old way of fighting: limited wars fought with limited means for limited ends. What will be at stake when the shooting starts? How much American blood and treasure will it be worth? The answers to those questions will determine who wins, and if anyone even cares.
The standoff to war between the US and Russia cannot be separated from the rising wave of populism which has inundated the West over the last half decade. The election of Donald Trump appeared like the crest of a populist wave fast approaching, swiftly followed by Brexit, the reinvigoration of right-wing politics throughout the West, the rise of Germany’s Alternative-Right National Party, the AfD, and Brazil’s election of notorious figure Bolsonaro. Today, humanity is tempted to think the election of Joe Biden has brought an end to extremism by placing the “right people” back in governmental positions. As tempting as is to hope for a simplistic solution, it would be a grave error on our part to rely on such assumptions. These events are precursors to what will be a truly destructive tsunami of political destruction unless serious action is taken by Society at large. Trump is not the root cause; he was the alarm.
Consequences of the Status Quo
The broad strokes of societal change are here: the old postwar neoliberal consensus is collapsing and what appears to be the populist right has gained momentum. January’s breach of the Capitol has shown the world just how thin the veneer of impregnability truly is, but it occurred as the culmination of an entire era of narrative collapse; the greatest example of which may yet turn out to be beyond American borders. Just as we have yet to see the full effect of the Capitol riot or the full effect of Trump’s views on NATO -particularly Article 5- “an attack on one is an attack on all” - the significance of these shifts remain unclear. In short, the Trump era professed a new age where reliance on American hard power is no longer a reigning counter measure holding would-be agitators at bay. As comforting as it is to assume that we have returned to “normalcy”, what Trump said and did was more in line with his predecessors than most want to understand. Remember Obama’s “free riders'' and Bush’s “old Europe”? This is just another example of Trump breaching the thin veneer of what we assumed to be true. Remember Obama’s Syrian “redline”? Other presidents have toed the same line in prior administrations and acted on it in the real world! The globe is that much closer to believing our assurances, forged through alliance, have all but collapsed. Without this, how might the Europe Union or the United Nations respond? How might Russia? Did you know there is already a de jure European Army?
Europe’s central pillar has been the certainty of American retaliation against Russian adventurism. American guarantees have given Europe the security to flourish in the postwar period; there would be no EU without it. Trump and, more importantly, the phenomena driving him has called those guarantees into question. Without that assurance, sovereignty, that most modern of questions, is back in play. What is sovereignty? Who has it? How is it best defended? If it is lost, how is it restored? History is not over and those who fail to see this will pay the ultimate price with respect to sovereignty: political subjugation.
How will this play out? Will European armies march across the continent seeking to annihilate each other? Doubtful, but not for the reasons we might presume. European morals have shifted because nuclear weapons underwrite sovereignty and the borders that come with it. As long as there is a nuclear armed state willing to wage a war of annihilation on their behalf, sovereignty remains vulnerable. And who still cares enough about Europe to defend against that?
About the Author
The Grey Point of View welcomes Petrus Liberius: a merciless patrician who identifies with other merciless patricians who have been underserved for a Millenia. Petrus is a fellow American Expat writing to us from an undisclosed location in the heart of Europe. ThcGreyPointotView.com is an American expat , new-style independent blog site started by a group of their own. We cover a range of topics spanning from politics, practical ethics and more. Send us your post for review. We look forward to hearing from you.
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