The dispute for global hegemony that we are experiencing scares us because of the danger of the use of nuclear weapons. We see that there are leaders who are quite unbalanced and lacking in empathy, who might be willing to use them.
However, there is a caricaturing, a demonisation of China, a country which, although it applies trade and production policies that are not too different from those of the rest of the planet, does have other concepts, other values, a different way of interpreting democracy, human rights, what they consider to be the common good.
This collision between the Western way and the Eastern way of seeing the world is usually very poorly analysed in the mass media, which is why, from Presenza and accompanied by one of our leading international analysts, we could say, Antonio Carvallo, we are going to try to look a little beyond the prejudices and propaganda. Thank you, Antonio, for being with us.
Good. Thank you very much, Mariano, for inviting me.
Yes, I think it’s important that we can talk about these issues and your point of view always helps us to think a little bit beyond where we had put ourselves, sometimes you get into a drawer and well, sometimes you have to run away from the walls a little bit.
That happens to us all these days, doesn’t it?
Yes, yes. Let’s start by giving some kind of context to this. Let’s try to briefly describe this macro scenario in which this strong confrontation between China and the United States has been going on for a few years now.
Well, I believe that the broader framework is that of the decline of the United States as a superpower, of its hegemony; although it did not fully configure itself as an empire because China has been growing since it became an independent country in 1948, when its revolution was completed and the government of the Communist Party was consolidated. They had to start from scratch to develop China into the 20th century.
And then the United States, during that whole period, looked down on them. However, China’s support to Korea made them withdraw from Korea. And then from Vietnam, and all their various adventures in Asia were pushed back by the power and the resistance that China and the Soviet Union represented at that time.
So, from then on, the United States has gone backwards because China entered a period of economic development progression and consolidation of its modern society, which is unprecedented historically, and that led to a change in the relationship with the traditional powers, basically the United States and the clones of the United States in Europe and Japan.
Don’t forget that the United States maintained since the end of the World War II an occupation force in Europe of approximately 100,000 troops at all times. Mainly concentrated in Germany, and elsewhere in Europe. Another one in Japan by the way.
In addition, Europeans had to continue paying for the Marshall Plan, war reparations and compensating the US. Europe remained subordinated. They were giving instructions, because US were the ones running NATO, and still do. This body, under the pretense of being a defensive organization, was a kind of rubber stamp they used to kind of give legitimacy and to “legalize” their other military adventures, because fundamentally one of the main sources of exports for America is the military industry, as we know very well.
In that context, they need to legitimize their role in the different conflicts they have created since the end of the Cold War. Then come the wars in the Middle East and afterwards all the different interventions you can imagine, always with American military intervention, as a way to “stabilize” the disorder, and of course increasing their arms exports.
I think that China’s growth and its powerful position, especially in terms of trade, is something that is becoming increasingly evident in terms of technology, but perhaps the decline of the United States is something that is sometimes left invisible, because they continue to control the major media.
And of the big mechanisms such as the United Nations. You have seen how, for example, Antonio Guterres has been very timid in all these events because they have everything under their thumb, they knock on your door and say, “if you don’t do this, there will be consequences”, they are bullies! They have taken international relations to this point, and that’s what they are doing at the moment with the European Union, that’s why you see that the leaders of the European Union are bureaucrats, because they haven’t won popular elections, none of their parties have any political responsibility towards the general public. So, they say the most unbelievable things like Russophobia, what it is, how to justify it, they seem to legitimize the attitude that the Western states and the United States have taken towards Russia.
And well, going back, we have left a little bit the development of China to talk briefly about the case of Ukraine, because that defines the relations between Russia and China and the agreement that exists and that has represented a resistance to American impositions. So, there is a whole power struggle. There is a very buffoonish stage where many statements are made in front of the media, which in turn distort the news all the time, creating fake news, like everywhere else, and everything is done in front of the television. So, what Biden says or what Putin says or the Russian foreign minister says. Then what the various heads of the European Union say, Ursula von der Leyen on the one hand and afterwards another one appears, which is the head of the Council, Charles Michel who is in Belgium, and then there is the secretary for relations, who is Borrell and the heads of state as necessary, and undoubtedly the NATO secretary general, Stoltenberg. All of them win television space and make inflammatory and always very insulting statements and threats of very low level and without touching any of the substantive points in relation to Russia.
Russia has been holding these talks since the end of last year, you remember we had another conversation on radio, he said that if they continued to move eastwards there was going to be a very serious problem, because there had been continuous NATO advances into new states of the former USSR, which now became independent on Russia’s own initiative, became independent, Germany re-unified, a number of events that were based on good faith, good will and the initiative of the Perestroika people at that time. It’s not that they had to fight a war of liberation, none of them, Russia let them go, because the Russian Communist Party decided to disband the USSR by their own initiative, because it was no longer effective, because economically they had problems and they realised that the world had changed and they had to adapt to the new moment.
And there, going back to the case of China. So, it’s a bit like what happened with China, it went through stages in its internal development, while it was consolidating as a society internally. It was pulling people out of poverty, developing education systems, moving from a basic manufacturing activity to a real technology industry, as you rightly pointed out, and it began to advance in areas that already represent acute competition with the European states and the United States.
So, the West have started to say that they have to contain China and they have to contain Russia, what kind of language is that? We are living in a world of equals, of human societies that are equivalent, that have the same needs, the same conditions and so on. Yet there are those who say that others have to be contained, they are like despots, like bullies in a primary school, something of that kind. They have also had a very great inability to adapt because they have been stuck in the old world.
If you look at the slogans of the most recent leaders of the United States, they have Trump’s slogan: “We need to be Great again”, that is, with a sense of nostalgia that there is a certain greatness or power that the United States has already lost, and Trump as a candidate is going to give it back to them. In other words, he wanted to bring the past into the present, but it is not clear why. Now this other old man who is already senile, 79 years old, comes along and says “We have to build back better again”, we have to continue to be better, build better as with more resistant materials, etcetera, but both are nostalgic for the past and have no vision of the future.
Meanwhile, China is thinking only about the future. It is saying well, we are establishing through the Silk Road investment relations in all parts of the world, we are trying to bring in some of our experience and at the same time secure the raw materials we need, because we are a very large population in a relatively small territory and we want to be in contact with the whole world, but not aggressively, not by selling them arms and not by creating conflict, but partnerships.
Of course, it seems to me that this is the big difference, because for decades we have been dependent on the United States for its currency, for its thuggish force, which also imposed a model of life on us, and now we are beginning to generate a certain dependence on China too, because it is through technology, let’s say, that it can offer us greater developments and is often equated with them, but I think that the difference that you were making, not the thugs and the other more collaborative thing, is the subtle and enormous difference.
Indeed, because in the world to come, being the numbers we are, in the sense that we are going to become 8 billion people by the end of this year, according to most statistical sources, we are going to be more and more, after 20 years we are going to be 10 billion, that is, the inter-relationship between all of us in the same territory of the planet is going to be more and more interdependent. So, to say that now we are all dependent on China… We will all inevitably depend on each other for one reason or another, as it already happens today, but it is not a hegemonic dependence, it is like dependence in a family group, in a work group, in a club, in any human activity. Nobody can cut themselves off, nobody can create the conditions as historically, very briefly, very reduced, that the United States had by exception enjoyed since the end of World War II.
Because the great colonial empires of the past confronted each other and destroyed each other. And the same thing happened in Japan with America, they got crushed.
US had already sent an “Expeditionary Force”, as they called it, during WW I, and they moved about 4 million troops between the United States and Europe and fought on some of the western war fronts, gaining a lot of experience, above all they perfected all their systems of logistics, of transporting troops, of transporting materials across the Atlantic. In other words, they were very well prepared because they anticipated that the great confrontation between the empires of Germany and England would inevitably take place a few years later.
The ideology of Nazism interpreting that feeling in the defeated Germany, which still remained powerful, industrially, and in internal infrastructure. On the other hand, the British Empire, already declining because India was becoming independent, India and Gandhi, remember when the war broke out, said that they were going to postpone their libertarian cause, but to take it up again at the end of the war, that was already a fact, the British couldn’t sustain themselves. India was the great engine that allowed the empire, and Britain, to live; and Africa too, of course.
So, the United States took all and imposed its currency. It created the whole financial system of the world afterwards and took it all. It took it all! It’s a poker player who doesn’t know what happened to the cards and suddenly finds himself with all the stakes in front of him, and that’s what he’s been doing for the last 70 years, taking advantage and subordinating the rest. And now it’s over, because the world is changing and the US is stuck.
Antonio, you were talking about just that, about the need for the United States to get back to that situation of hogging all the chips in this poker game and China thinking about the future, as examples. You spoke of the world to come, of that future, are the aspirations of the peoples of the world compatible with the future that China is trying to build? We have a minute for you to tell me that.
I think so, because in that sense Mariano, the Chinese are reasonable, they are not doing things that would lead them to dominate the rest, to impose themselves on the rest, they want to collaborate, they want to work and at the same time they want to share. They want to collaborate; they want to work and at the same time they want to share. They have the concept of the common good, not the hegemon. I think they feel contempt for the ideology of “the winner wins all” which lies at the heart of Neo-Liberalism.
The same as I think fundamentally of the peoples of Europe, not the leadership that exists at the moment, who are all subordinate to NATO and the United States, the people.
The same with the peoples of Africa, when I came to this conversation, you were discussing what is happening in Latin America. We are all growing in one way or another according to the primary needs, of the societies we live in, but the world is moving towards a synthesis.
It is this process, that I see in today’s leadership is not been taken into account, it is out of sight for them. There is not even a remote idea of human intentionality, they believe they can suppress it, that they can contain it, according to their language. So, they are doomed to failure.
A few more cannon shots here or there, a few more conflicts, a proxy in Ukraine, how long will it last? Already their economy is collapsing as a result of their own sanctions, everywhere. In the United States they have already 12 per cent inflation. The latest opinion poll on Biden’s support is 36 percent of the American population supporting him, last week it was 42 percent. The American people are desperate and they are going to throw him out, and if he continues to do this adventurism and to generate a war that nobody needs, indebting the people of the United States by issuing money and donating to buy weapons is just crazy.
And, well, it may take a few more months before they realize that, so it’s very difficult to put an end date on the conflict, but it’s inevitable that people are going to realize, they’re going to take to the streets, naturally, the people of Europe are going to take to the streets very soon to protest about it. And if all the bureaucrats in the European Union have to be thrown out, they will be thrown out.
That would be so nice.
I would love that.
We’re going to see the dominoes falling.
Because we believe in people, Nelsy, as humanists we do. Of course not, we can’t imagine a world of repetition of American hegemonism. It’s suffocating.
Mariano, close. I’m sorry, it’s just that I can’t avoid this thing, how is it that I made the image and I said there’s something more beautiful.
It is because of these images that we always like to talk to Antonio Carvallo to open a floodgate that allows us to regain hope. Sometimes looking at the media, at the news, things get a bit dark. That’s good, to allow us to keep dreaming, to keep feeling, to keep beating. Thank you, Antonio Carvallo.
We have to ask ourselves questions with the things that we experience with ourselves and that make common sense. Because that is what prevails, that is what is human.