The deepening recession caused by the epidemic is fueling conflict between states and capitals. The Anglo-Saxon powers are raising tension against China, Germany is using the EU mechanisms to consolidate its economic power in the Eurozone at the expense of Italy, Spain and France and Brussels is engaging in its own information war with Beijing. Russia places Syria on the brink of a new civil war in order to squeeze out monopolies and rents to compensate for its military adventure.
The strategy of blaming China
It is obviously unfair to blame China for the Covid, but scientific reality was never an obstacle to a good campaign of war propaganda. And the idea that ” Covid was created at a laboratory in Wuhan” certainly is war propaganda. That’s why Pompeo keeps insisting on it. Because, even if there is no evidence of an artificial origin, the Chinese epidemiological story does not add up and this is easily recognizable as a foothold in the propaganda war. In fact it is the “level two”, the level of official reports, that is managing to undermine Chinese global positioning. The official US report blames China for falsifying data in the early stages of the epidemic in order to hoard supplies.
But underneath the crossfire of accusations lies, as always, the logic of imperialism. Yesterday, the U.S. Secretary of Defense announced to the Italian press that Chinese and Russian aid to Italy during the pandemic sought to…
…use the pandemic and the resulting economic challenges we all face as an opportunity to invest in critical industries and infrastructure, which in turn can affect long-term security.
Everything suggests that this is the case, but one only needs to listen to Trump to see that there is more to this battle than a struggle for geopolitical influence. If China had lied in order to hoard medical supplies, repatriating the pharmaceutical industry, as Trump is promising to do in front of a panicked Irish capital, would be a basic matter of national security regardless of any commercial considerations. And as if that weren’t enough evidence that what is speeding up is the struggle to force the distribution of capital and global markets, the U.S. is threatening to break the famous ” phase 1 agreement,” the celebrated truce in the trade war, if China doesn’t make good on the $200 billion purchase it pledged to make.
The turmoil generated by this war of words does not remain between the US and China. In the first place it forces a rift into geopolitical blocs between the two powers in the Asia-Pacific, to the point that the Asian press is already talking about the danger of the whole region becoming a “conflict zone”. At the moment Australia is on the verge of starting its own trade war against China on account of the escalation of declarations.
And it doesn’t stop there. The spiral is reaching Europe on all fronts. China accuses the UK of joining the blame game in order to force the international recognition of Taiwan. And Sweden has formally asked the EU to investigate the origin of the epidemic.
Leaks by a member of Borrell’s team to the New York Times exposed pressure from China to downgrade a report on China’s social media disinformation strategies. Borrell appeared before the European Parliament to deny that the EU had given in to the wishes of Chinese diplomacy – though he does not appear to have been very convincing. Among other things because the sectors closest to the US within each national capital see the opportunity to widen the gap with China and accuse him of surrendering to China.
The Commission is trying to keep the pressure on China under control without causing a rupture. The aim is for the Beijing government to join the initiative Europe is organizing in order to finance a Covid vaccine internationally… in which China leads the rest of the world.
Economic wars are no longer “invisible” nor “diplomatic”
As we can see in the graph above, the difference between the amount that Germany will guarantee its companies versus the rest of the EU countries is huge. Even Italy, the country most economically hit by the Covid in the whole EU, is significantly below it. Spain is under an eighth and even the banks are asking the government to extend the aid programme for companies. Together with the loan guarantees and direct aid, the German government’s spending to refloat its productive base is equivalent to half of the total spending by European governments towards the same goal. The result is clear: German capital will economically and politically “eat up” the European market.
The issue has already left the political debate, it is a pure economic war between the countries of Northern and Southern Europe. And offers shocking scenes like that of Ana Patricia Botín, president of the Santander Bank, asking for fiscal power from Europe in order to “guarantee equal North-South opportunities”. The president of the Eurogroup, Mario Centeno, insists on maintaining hopes about the plan that the Commission is to present to the states this week, stressing that increasing the indebtedness of the South would also harm the same states that refuse to channel European aid through direct spending.
Conflicts speed up everywhere because of the rush to obtain sales or income. We’re dealing with imperialism running amok.
Russia couldn’t be more brazen in Syria. Putin is threatening Al-Assad with a violent way out if the post-war monopoly contracts go to the president’s family or to Iran. The Iranians “are no longer partners”, Russia stresses. They are demanding that phosphate concessions be granted as soon as possible to Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the Wagner military company and the petrochemical industry in Syria and the Tartous port authority to Gennady Timchenko, former chairman of Gazprom and one of Putin’s trusted oligarchs. In case Al-Assad had any doubts, Russia has started recruiting the remnants of the rebel troops who were negotiating their incorporation into the Syrian army and multiplying the secret contacts with their military leaders and their own family environment, while threatening a palace coup and a new war. Al-Assad’s response seems to have been to attack his own network of family economic power, in an attempt to literally secure his own back.
The multiplication of chaos and the threat of war
Let’s put all this in a global scenario of constant military frictions, from Greece to Korea, with unexpected turns in wars in which precarious alliances invested too much, with rising military budgets worldwide and sudden jumps in the nuclear capacity of emerging powers. We are not seeing the dawn of a “post-American world order” as the media would have us believe. We are seeing an acceleration of chaos driven by the recession that makes each day more dangerous than the last.