by Peter Franklin
Friday, 11
March 2022
Idea
12:51

Is the US prepared for a United States of Eurasia?

War always creates power vacuums — the West must fill them
by Peter Franklin
Credit: Getty

War is hardly a game. Nevertheless, in trying to discern the true winner of a conflict, we should always look to the edge of the board. 

If a power is present but not directly involved, then it is well-placed to benefit. Having not paid the price of war — or at least not the heaviest price — it has a head start when it comes to winning the peace. 

A recent example is Iran after the US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Wars that were meant to make the world safe for democracy strengthened the Ayatollahs instead. Prior to the invasions they were hemmed in by hostile governments in Baghdad and Kabul. But with the Saddam and Taliban 1.0 regimes obligingly removed by the Americans, Iranian influence was able to expand across the Middle East. 

Another example is the aftermath of the Second World War. Obviously, the USA and USSR were both involved in the war itself. But, crucially, they were still present and potent when the total defeat of Germany, the humiliation of France and the bankruptcy of Britain created a power vacuum across Europe. 

We also can see this effect in the aftermath of the First World War too. Though Germany was a defeated combatant, it was left standing with most of its territory intact. That’s in contrast to Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed altogether. Meanwhile a third empire, Russia, drew back and became the Soviet Union. That left a power vacuum in central and eastern Europe, which Germany, under Hitler, tried to take advantage of. 

And thus we need to think about the vacuums being created by the Russia-Ukraine war. The most immediate is the one created by the collapse of European — and, especially, German — delusions. The idea that the EU could be an empire of soft power alone has been cruelly exposed. NATO — and the Atlanticism that was so recently written-off — is rushing in to fill the gap. 

Then there are the vacuums on the other side. Even if Russia prevails in Ukraine and/or Putin holds on to power, the delusions of the Kremlin have also been exposed. The whole world can see that Russia is diplomatically isolated, militarily dysfunctional and on the brink of economic ruin. 

So who will fill those gaps? The answer, of course, is China. As Marshall Auerback explains here, the trade war between the West and Russia will draw the latter ever-closer into China’s economic orbit. The same goes for the countries whose economies are deeply integrated with Russia’s. They will suffer collateral damage — and also turn to Beijing for help. This is especially true of the Central Asian republics, which are on China’s doorstep.  

After the invasion of Iraq, the Americans were caught out by the rising power of Iran. But this time there can be no excuses. The opportunities for the expansion of Chinese influence are obvious. The United States of America must prepare itself to face the United States of Eurasia. 

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Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago

Maybe time to ask the question that has frequently been asked recently – who is running the US?

D M
D M
8 months ago

Yes and of course the glib answer is global elites who seemed to be completely in control of the last election. If so they went too far as the recent event has demonstrated.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
8 months ago
Reply to  D M

…The irony is that on the principle that “diversity is our (human) strength”, a strong foil to the self appointed Empire of the Rules Based World Order is needed.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
8 months ago
Reply to  D M

Glib is the word! There are no ‘global elites’, if by that you mean a cabal of people running everything according to some grand plan.

Last edited 8 months ago by Andrew Fisher
james curtis
james curtis
8 months ago

The US is run by the Washington Elite, The EU is run from The Elysse through two Parliaments in Mastrick and Brussels.
Revolting by Mick Hume is a good read.ISBN 978-0-00-822082-2

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
8 months ago
Reply to  james curtis

I’m not sure what these pithy one-liners actually mean, if anything. Every known society of any size since settled agricultural polities were set up thousands of years ago has had an elite: the landowners, the priesthood, the rich, the better educated etc. etc. Plato made a specific virtue of it in his writings. ‘Aristocracy’ – rule by ‘the best’.
The spelling is Maastricht; there is no parliament or assembly there, though there was a treaty signed there. You could bother to get those basic facts right.
You may have noticed that there are actually elections in the US with a real choice for the electorate. The EU is a different case, but hides its ambitions in plain sight (‘ever closer union’ in the 1960 Treaty of Rome for a start) so there never was any excuse for the UK to not understand the political project it joined in 1973. This conspiratorial stuff is just so much guff. If the people who want legitimate change in western countries, of which I am one, choose to carry on down these rabbit holes, they will have less and less influence while events pass them by.

D M
D M
8 months ago

David Starkey’s suggestion is that we might end up with a euro/North American block, a russo-chinese block and a non aligned block including India and part of South America, a la Orwell. Plausible I suppose – what else ?

J Bryant
J Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  D M

That seems like a reasonable guess. The problem is there are now too many moving pieces. What will the fate of Russia be? How will China try to benefit from this situation? What will be the effects on the developing world of possible food shortages due to loss of Ukrainian grain production? What will be the effects in the West of loss of Russian oil and gas on the Green Agenda. The issues go on and on.
We do seem to be witnessing the end of globalization, though, and the end of the notion that nation states don’t matter or that national identity doesn’t matter. I only hope the recent dose of realpolitik, courtesy of Putin, kills the ‘progressive’ cancer that has consumed the West for so long.

D M
D M
8 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes I think the myth of the apocryphal ‘rules-based International world order’ is well on its way out

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
8 months ago
Reply to  D M

Agreed. Like the blocs in Orwell’s 1984.
Is that such a bad thing? Why fight it?

D M
D M
8 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I never claimed it was a bad thing. Indeed it would be good thing not to have an, inevitably tyrannical, global government. We absolutely need diverse ways of organising society so we can learn from each others failings.

Last edited 8 months ago by D M
John Riordan
John Riordan
8 months ago

I think this underestimates the difficulty of actually creating a united states of anything. The most recent example, the EU, is a hopeless failure in terms of global power, the USSR collapsed after 70 years of oppression, and the two successful examples I can think of – the USA and the UK – achieved their respective unions only after wars and then a hard-won peace. And those have the advantage of being democracies where the creation of the unions in question possessed the consent of the peoples involved (well eventually, anyway).

A united states of Eurasia will be much more like the USSR than the USA. That’s not to say that such a thing isn’t worth worrying about – it could be very powerful and dangerous. But will we see millions of Europeans desperately trying to get into it because it’s a better place to be? Not a chance.

Last edited 8 months ago by John Riordan
Warren T
Warren T
8 months ago

The world does seem like it is descending into two camps, both requiring walls to be built. One to keep its people in and the other to keep other people out. (Someone please inform AOC of the difference)

John Riordan
John Riordan
8 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

I have a better idea – put her behind the wall that she can’t escape from.

Geoffrey Wilson
Geoffrey Wilson
8 months ago

Interesting article. What disappoints me, in the article and the comments, is the lack of consideration of (for me) the best outcome of the Russo-Ukraine war. That would be an agreed peace, involving a neutral Ukraine, protections of both Ukrainian and Russian-culture people in the territories in and around Ukraine, and rapid restoration of free commercial and cultural links between Russia and the rest of Europe. Future peace, and the stronger democracy likely given peace, would be good for all of us.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
8 months ago

Looks like then, that Russia and Kazakstan are going to be a lot more equal in power than in previous centuries.