Andrew Korybko: The New Cold War & The Future Of International Relations

Andrew Korybko: The New Cold War & The Future Of International Relations

Interview prepared and conducted by Alessandro Bianchi from Italy’s L’AntiDiplomatico.

1. The Russian special operation in Ukraine, as announced in the early stages by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, heralds the beginning of a new era in international relations. How would you define this new phase?

The global systemic transition towards complex multipolarity (“multiplexity”) far predates last year’s start of Russia’s special operation but was unprecedentedly accelerated by it. In the 13 months since it began, it’s now clear that International Relations are on the brink of trifurcating into the US-led West’s Golden Billion, the Sino-Russo Entente, and the de facto Indian-led Global South. The first wants to retain unipolarity, the second wants multiplexity, while the third aims to balance between those two.

Further elaborating on the last-mentioned observation, the Global South’s objective interests are in seeing the Sino-Russo Entente successfully midwife multiplexity, but this collection of countries is also very closely connected to the Golden Billion through trade and investment. That’s why they’re loath to take anyone’s side in the New Cold War struggle between those two blocs over the direction of the global systemic transition, ergo why they decided that it’s best to mutually benefit by balancing instead.

This state of grand strategic affairs places the Global South in the center of those two’s competition, however, since neither of them can advance their desired vision of International Relations without the Global South’s support. The Sino-Russo Entente wants to comprehensively expand relations with those countries without pressuring them to step back from the Golden Billion, while the second-mentioned bloc wants to impose zero-sum demands on the Global South by forcing them to ditch China and Russia.

The next phase of the New Cold War is therefore expected to be fought over geostrategically significant Global South states. Those countries that are destabilized by the Golden Billion’s Hybrid Wars as punishment for their principled neutrality towards this worldwide competition that the former considers to be tacitly in support of the Sino-Russo Entente will come to rely more on the latter to retain stability. Some conflicts will remain economic and informational while others will go kinetic.

There are still too many uncertainties surrounding this incipient phase of the emerging world order to confidently predict exactly where the next proxy war will be fought, let alone through which means and not to mention its ultimate outcome. Nevertheless, if Color Revolution mastermind George Soros’ de facto declaration of Hybrid War against India during last month’s Munich Security Conference is any indication, then it’s possible that this South Asian Great Power might soon be targeted by the West.

  1. In this new phase, what role does Europe have today?

The US successfully reasserted its previously declining unipolar hegemony over the EU throughout the course of the past 13 months of the NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine. This was achieved by activating all levers of influence that it embedded within those countries’ elite over the years, which resulted in them promulgating the anti-Russian sanctions that were counterproductive to their objective economic and energy interests as well as participating in this aforementioned proxy war by arming Kiev.

Even the rapid rise to power of populist Giorgia Meloni in Italy, whose conservative-nationalist worldview sharply contrasts with the liberal-globalist one of the West’s ruling elite, didn’t lead to any changes in that country’s geostrategic position. This observation therefore suggests that the Golden Billion’s American overlord will provide some leeway when it comes to its proxies’ domestic socio-political agenda as long as their leaders continue marching in lockstep with it on the geostrategic one.

Of course, it would be much easier for the US to manage its collection of European proxy states if their leaders all shared the same liberal-globalist worldview, but it pragmatically decided to accept some countries’ conservative-nationalist ones like Italy’s and Poland’s for the preceding reason. Nevertheless, there should be no doubt that the US still faithfully supports those two’s liberal-globalist opposition, which it hopes will return to power one day in order to more effectively consolidate the US’ hegemony.

Considering the extremely low likelihood of geostrategically significant states like France, Germany, and/or Italy liberating themselves from this unipolar yoke through democratic means at the ballot box, it should therefore be taken for granted that the EU will remain within the US’ “sphere of influence”. The US will continue exploiting the continent’s potential in its proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, throughout the course of which it’ll profit by selling expensive energy and encouraging the EU’s deindustrialization.

Over the long term, there’s also a chance that the euro will become officially tied or subordinated to the dollar as part of the US’ larger plans to promote a single currency across the Golden Billion that would begin in its trans-Atlantic half and then eventually spread to its trans-Pacific one. That’s still very far off in the future, if it even happens at all, but observers nevertheless shouldn’t lose sight of that scenario since it would institutionalize the EU’s grand strategically subservient position vis-à-vis the US.

  1. With the confiscation of assets of the Russian central bank, the West is losing all its historical allies. The realignment of Saudi Arabia is especially surprising. What role will Riyadh play in the new multipolar world?

Saudi Arabia began to recalibrate its grand strategy in the multipolar direction after the rise to power of Crown Prince and now first-ever Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) in 2015. The Kingdom’s most influential figure wisely realized that International Relations were in the midst of a global systemic transition, one which threatened to place his country in a supremely disadvantageous position if it remained tied to the US. With this in mind, he proactively sought to diversify its partnerships.

There were some twists, turns, and setbacks along the way, but the end result was that Saudi Arabia successfully cultivated strategic relations with the Sino-Russo Entente. Beijing recently mediated a game-changing rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran that’s expected to unlock both of their economic potential along the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) while energy market coordination with Moscow has proven itself to be financially beneficial for both of these oil superpowers.

Not only that, but the latest developments could supercharge de-dollarization processes in the event that oil superpowers Russia and Saudi Arabia team up with latent gas superpower Iran (which Russia also is too) to sell their related resources in non-dollar-denominated currencies, including the yuan. In preparation for this scenario, they might first start by using national currencies in bilateral trade across those two trans-Eurasian corridors crisscrossing Iran.

The North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) that connects Russia and India can see Saudi Arabia exporting forthcoming products to the first-mentioned and Iran after Chinese investments take MBS’ “Vision 2030” policy of far-reaching real-sector economic reform to the next level. Similarly, his country could also export similar wares to China via the China-Central Asia-West Asia-Economic Corridor (CCAWAEC) that also transits through the Islamic Republic.

Even prior to progress being made on these credibly interconnected financial scenarios, the very fact that Saudi Arabia patched up its well-known problems with Iran unexpectedly neutralizes the US’ ability to indefinitely divide-and-rule West Asia for the purpose of delaying its unipolar hegemonic decline. This in and of itself is incredibly significant, not to mention that China was the one to mediate that outcome, which proves that the People’s Republic is a serious diplomatic player to be reckoned with nowadays.

  1. In one of your recent articles you addressed the issue of Georgia. Is this a new Color Revolution underway? And does the West really intend to open a second front against Russia with potentially apocalyptic prospects?

The ruling party’s attempt to promulgate a comparatively milder form of the US’ own foreign agent legislation was exploited as the trigger event to orchestrate preplanned Color Revolution pressure against them. The US doesn’t like that this South Caucasus country has practiced an impressively pragmatic policy towards Russia in the 13 months since Moscow commenced its special operation in Ukraine.

It wants this EU- and NATO-aspiring state to take a harder line against that Eurasian Great Power, including through more stringent enforcement of the illegal sanctions regime despite this being economically counterproductive from the perspective of its objective national interests. Not only that, but the US also believes that manipulating Georgia into opening up a “second front” against Russia in Abkhazia and South Ossetia could relieve the heavy pressure put upon its proxies in Ukraine right now.

These military-strategic calculations explain why the US stabbed its Georgian vassal in the back since that country didn’t do its bidding to the extent that was expected. The ruling party’s subsequent withdrawal of its US-inspired foreign agents legislation drastically reduces the chances that it’ll ever have a fighting chance at regaining its sovereignty, but it nevertheless temporarily de-escalated the Color Revolution and thus prevented the opening up of a “second front”, at least for the time being.

This doesn’t mean that such a scenario can now be dismissed, nor that the US might not engineer events in the coming future with a view towards advancing that self-interested outcome, but just that everything will either remain a bit calmer for a while or this the “calm before the storm”. In any case, it’s important for observers to be aware of the military-strategic dynamics that were just described since that should help them make sense of why the US wanted to overthrow an EU- and NATO-aspiring party.

A final point to be made on this subject is that the latest events in that country reinforce the previous prediction that was shared in response to the first question regarding the growing number of New Cold War battlefields between the Golden Billion and the Sino-Russo Entente. In the Georgian case, this country clearly falls within the first-mentioned’s “sphere of influence” but was ruthlessly destabilized by its own patron as punishment for daring to strengthen its sovereignty through US-inspired legislation.

  1. It is now clear that the conflict in Ukraine can only be resolved with an agreement between Russia and the United States that redesigns the international security system, particularly in Europe, taking into account Moscow’s legitimate requests on the matter. This present US administration doesn’t seem to be intent on it. Could the next US president do it?

Russia offered the US the political means to resolve their security dilemma through its related requests that were shared in December 2021, but these were rejected, which in hindsight made its special operation inevitable. Since the start of that campaign last year, most of the military-strategic dynamics that prompted Moscow to proactively resolve this dilemma have been exacerbated, even though some were effectively addressed by it such as preemptively averting a genocide in Donbass.

That being the case, the root causes of the then-Ukrainian Civil War becoming an international conflict and subsequently a NATO-Russian proxy war can’t sustainably be addressed without a comprehensive agreement between Moscow and Washington. That remains elusive for several reasons, first of which is that the US wants to fight Russia “to the last Ukrainian”. Second, its hegemonic interests over the EU are best served by keeping the conflict kindling in order to perpetuate the bloc’s vassalage on that pretext.

Third, formally redesigning the international security system would require a degree of compromise with Russia, which is politically unacceptable from the perspective of those American policymakers in that country’s permanent bureaucracy who don’t have to answer to voters. Fourth, the outcome of the 2024 presidential elections there remains unclear and nobody even knows yet who the Republican candidate will be, so it’s difficult to predict whether they’d even have the interest to change this.  

And finally, even if the political will was present to go against those powerful policymakers in the US’ permanent bureaucracy who are convinced that the NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine should go on as long as possible, there’s no guarantee that the president would succeed with this. After all, it’s enough to recall Trump’s failed but well-intended efforts to enter into a rapprochement with Russia, which were viciously subverted by those same forces in his country’s permanent bureaucracy.

Without them radically recalibrating their grand strategic calculations and associated worldview, there aren’t any credible grounds for predicting that they’d let Biden or whoever the next president may be implement the required compromises for sustainably resolving the NATO-Russian security dilemma. That said, this recalibration could still occur unexpectedly as a result of abrupt changes in the military-strategic dynamics of their proxy war, the onset of a major economic crisis, or some other black swan.

The interview was originally published in Italian at L’AntiDiplomatico under the title “Nuova guerra fredda e futuro delle relazioni internazionali – Intervista all’analista Andrew Korybko”.

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