On August 28th while the geographical area formerly known as Iraq descended further into chaos, President Obama announced to the world "We don't have a strategy, yet." A few days later, another brave American journalist was brutally beheaded by a slickly televised cockney-accented jihadist. Clearly things are not going well outside the bubbly confines of the S&P 500.
Last week The Wall Street Journal published an extract from Henry Kissinger's forthcoming book, "World Order". In it, the former Secretary of State cited Libya, ISIL, Afghanistan and "a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China" as developments of grave concern to the United States. Kissinger went on to warn, "The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis."
Kissinger noted that the era between 1948 and 2000 could be considered an "amalgam of American idealism and traditional European concepts of statehood and balance of power. But vast regions of the world have never shared and only acquiesced in the Western Anglosphere concept of order. These reservations are now becoming explicit, for example, in the Ukraine crisis and the South China Sea. The order established...by the West stands at a turning point."
In the 20th Century, the Anglosphere was unsuccessfully challenged by Germany and Russia. The first German challenge ended with the abdication of the Kaiser in 1918. But Allied negotiators failed in a crucial test and set the stage for a brutal outcome. Although Germany was left unoccupied, its citizens were saddled with a very heavy debt load. These conditions were mutually incompatible. Soon a strong man emerged in Germany to try to throw off the Anglo yolk. Similarly at the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union never was occupied, but hadnegotiated a peace. Implicit in the voluntary dismantling of the Soviet Union was the Russian understanding that NATO would not extend its membership to the former Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe.
But fired with the heady feeling of apparent 'victory', the Anglosphere attempted to 'bend' the agreed Cold War peace terms by extending NATO membership to the Baltic States, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Poland. It was no secret that the Ukraine was next on NATO's wish list. Such an outcome would have been very difficult for Russia to accept.