ANALYTICS

16.03.2018 | Forget NATO. We need a new world alliance to take on totalitarian capitalists in Russia and China
by Allister Heath - The Telegraph

No two countries with a McDonald’s ever go to war: it was the kind of tale a naive, trusting world preoccupied with spending its Cold War peace dividend wanted to hear. So when Thomas Friedman, the US author, coined his Golden Arches theory of conflict prevention back in 1996, the idea was lapped up enthusiastically.It was an exhilarating, hopelessly optimistic take, perfect for a pre-9/11, pre-internet era that still believed in unstoppable economic and political progress. Friedman’s screed, later expanded into a book, was merely the latest to argue that some freedom begets more freedom: 19th-century economic liberals saw free trade not just as a means of generating prosperity but also of replacing war with peace, military empires with commerce. They argued that free trade raises the cost of armed conflict, reducing its prevalence. More contemporary thinkers went even further, positing that with the universal adoption of capitalism would also come mass democracy. Consumers used to choice in economic matters would demand it in the political realm. Now that they had become capitalist, Russia and China would naturally become more Western in other ways, and not just when it came to munching burgers and wearing jeans. Authoritarian governments would soon look like East German trabants: a laughably obsolete relic from an inferior age. Add in the internet, Facebook and Skype, and how could anybody ever go to war with anybody again? How tragically wrong-headed all of this turned out to be. There are over 600 McDonald’s outlets in Russia and the country remains a dictatorial, militaristic monster. It has launched a chemical attack on British soil, forcing Theresa May to take action after years of provocations and violations of our sovereignty. Even though there are more trade, investment and personal links between our two countries than ever before, even though we can communicate freely on social media or WhatsApp, we are in a new Cold War with Russia. So how come the 1990s optimists got it so wrong? There is fact no causal link between embracing trade and economic openness on the one hand, and choosing liberal democracy on the other (it doesn’t necessarily work the other way around either). Capitalism is not just about supply and demand, and democracy isn’t about holding the odd election: true liberalism can only exist when a certain set of values and institutions dominate. One cannot simply privatise a couple of companies or remove a tariff barrier or two and hope to replicate the City of London or New York. There is thus more than one kind of “capitalism”, and some varieties are deeply illiberal or even fascistic. My own favourite version – a radical libertarian free market, with the smallest possible state, governed by a liberal, participative form of rules-based democracy – is not exactly popular even in the West, with Switzerland perhaps the closest embodiment. In Russia and China, the other big authoritarian capitalist state, such a system would be anathema – as is even the technocratic version of capitalism practised in much of the EU, or the Singapore/Dubai model. Instead, Vladimir Putin and his kleptocratic allies, many of whom are ex-KGB or ex-FSB, have leveraged trade and commerce to build an ultra-nationalist authoritarian political model that is more sustainable than the communism of yore but just as threatening. This transformation is symbolised by McDonald’s itself: when it opened its first restaurant in January 1990, the queues were immense and it soon became a cult wedding venue for a public desperate to embrace Western consumer goods. Today, the chain tries to be as Russian as it can: even its signs have now been rebranded in Cyrillic alphabet, and it underplays its Americanness whenever possible. The company is an innocent bystander in all of this, of course, but it nevertheless symbolises a capitalist dream that has been perverted and captured. So what next? We are expelling 23 Russian diplomats and considering sanctions. There will be a meeting of the UN Security Council and Nato has expressed its concern. None of this will make much of a difference. The stark reality is that the world is now a much more dangerous place which requires a completely new foreign and defence policy. First, the UK needs to spend more on defence. The target should be 2.5pc of GDP; we should no longer assume that conventional wars are over. With the exception of France, our EU neighbours don’t want to spend to protect themselves, seeking instead to free-ride on America; Brexit is a great opportunity to break with such an utterly irresponsible approach. This transformation is symbolised by McDonald’s itself: when it opened its first restaurant in January 1990, the queues were immense and it soon became a cult wedding venue for a public desperate to embrace Western consumer goods. Today, the chain tries to be as Russian as it can: even its signs have now been rebranded in Cyrillic alphabet, and it underplays its Americanness whenever possible. The company is an innocent bystander in all of this, of course, but it nevertheless symbolises a capitalist dream that has been perverted and captured. So what next? We are expelling 23 Russian diplomats and considering sanctions. There will be a meeting of the UN Security Council and Nato has expressed its concern. None of this will make much of a difference. The stark reality is that the world is now a much more dangerous place which requires a completely new foreign and defence policy. First, the UK needs to spend more on defence. The target should be 2.5pc of GDP; we should no longer assume that conventional wars are over. With the exception of France, our EU neighbours don’t want to spend to protect themselves, seeking instead to free-ride on America; Brexit is a great opportunity to break with such an utterly irresponsible approach. Second, we must take the lead in building a new global military and economic alliance of like-minded countries committed to the promotion of capitalism and liberal democracy. Nato is no longer enough: it is too European, too many of its members are outright pacifists, and Turkey’s membership is problematic. The UN is ineffective and, like Nato, the product of a previous, 20th century conflict. The new network should be based on mutual self-interest and respectful of national sovereignty; it would be open to all liberal democracies that practice capitalism, and that respect human rights, intellectual property and privacy. It should be a “values” alliance, governed by a treaty guaranteeing military self-help and seeking the freest possible trade in goods and services. America would be a member, as would Canada, India, Israel, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, France (if it remains sufficiently distinct from the emerging European super-state) and many others. Such an alliance would be the biggest shift in geopolitics since the creation of the UN. It would dramatically shift the global balance of power, and allow the liberal democracies finally to fight back. It would endow the world with the sorts of robust institutions that are required to contain Russia and China and to deal with cyber-terrorism or chemical warfare. Britain needs a new role in the world: building such a network would be our perfect mission. Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/03/14/forget-nato-need-new-world-alliance-take-totalitarian-capitalists/


USERS COMMENTS

Your name
Your email
Header
Your reply
Remained symbols
| | | Add to chosen
Search
Subscribe
Центр миру, конверсії та зовнішньої політики України
Інститут євро-атлантичного співробітництва
Центр "Україна - Європейський вибір"
Defense Express
Центр європейських та трансатлантичних студій

Rambler's Top100 Rambler's Top100


Міжнародний фонд відродження Project is realized with support from The International Міжнародний фонд відродження Project is realized with support from the NATO Information © 2004 - 2018. ЄВРОАТЛАНТИКА.UA
All rights reserved

This project was funded, in part, through Grant the opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the Author (s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of State.
На головну Анонси подій Новини Аналітика Топ новини та коментарі Мережа експертів Про проект