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Beneath the cacophony of reports and claims from many sources about the unfoldment of Russia’s ‘special operation’, some revealing insights can be gained from recent developments. The extensive leak in US Intelligence alleged to originate from a 21-year-old National Guardsman is suspected by certain American experts and retired officials to have in fact been authorized by a very high-level military source, possibly even General Milley, the Joint Chief of Staff, in order to prevent further escalation of a worsening conflict which could trigger a nuclear exchange although official western sources have mostly misrepresented it as leading to Russia’s inevitable defeat. Senior CIA analyst Ray McGovern has drawn a parallel with the anonymous release of classified information to the New York Times about the real war situation in Vietnam in March 1968. That disclosure, by exposing the misrepresentations of General Westmoreland, undermined his demand for more troops by evincing America’s dwindling chances of success and prompted, within a few days, President Johnson to deny the General’s request, not to seek a second term and to put an end to his political career on March 31st.
It was only in 2019, shortly before his death, that Leslie Gelb, then a high Pentagon official, ultimate insider, and future President of the Council on Foreign Relations, confessed to being the author of that leak that decisively swayed public opinion in America about the Vietnam conflict. Likewise, the recent leaks belie public statements about the near certainty of a Ukrainian victory.
While through these leaks the problems, divisions and doubts within the pro-Ukranian league are exposed, one of the best-known insiders in France, the consummate ‘eminence grise’ Jacques Attali, a former key adviser to President Mitterrand, futurist and prolific author (he has even penned a thick volume on Gandhi) has issued an alarming prognosis in print. Attali is regarded as a member of the small group of financiers and high-level influencers – sometimes known as Synarchs – who orchestrated Emmanuel Macron’s successful bid for the Presidency in 2017. As someone broadly aligned with the US-EU Atlanticists Neo-Conservatives, he has never made a mystery of his antagonism to Putinist Russia and of his opposition to Euro-Russian Entente. He deplores the hesitancy of the European governments, ‘terrified, he writes, of appearing to be co-belligerants’, who nevertheless have gradually been led to supply offensive weapons to Kyiv and are now enmeshed in a war that is not theirs.
In an article published on his blog, he warns that the conflict in Ukraine is a quagmire and that there is no realistic prospect of victory for Kyiv unless the West goes for all-out open war with the Russian Federation which he rightly regards as unthinkable. He notes in passing that the project of breaking up Russia into at least three parts – a longstanding desideratum of Neocons, as I personally found out, back in the mid-1990s – is counterproductive as it would essentially surrender Eastern Siberia to China while letting the Southern region fall under the influence of Islamic forces in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Instead, Attali suggests that the Atlantic Bloc should wait for Russia and its allies to abolish their dictatorships and become democratic for launching ‘a massive reconstruction plan….from Belarus to Albania, from Kyiv to Vladivostok, integrating all the regional states’. He notes however that this rather utopian plan ‘would today be rejected by all, beginning with the Ukrainians who won’t hear of bringing Russia into the EU institutions which they dream of joining’
Evidently, the writer still regards the US-led West as the sole realm of prosperity and peace whose goodwill is indispensable for any other nation to achieve a satisfactory state of affairs; that is unfortunately still the common view among policy-makers in the liberal democratic sphere as they are all brought up in the belief that the North Atlantic area is home to the most powerful and politically successful civilisation, whose mission it is to reform the rest of the planet and punish those countries and governments which don’t abide by its laws and norms.
Attali nevertheless is a realist and he points out the lack of a clear and unanimous agenda behind the West’s military support to Ukraine apart from the goal of weakening Russia. He notes that previous military involvements in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria ended badly for the same reason, unlike the second world war which was driven by the Atlantic Alliance’s common and unambiguous commitment to crush the Axis Triad (he conveniently forgets the critical role of the USSR) and eradicate Nazism from Europe. Ukraine’s government is now calling for its foreign backers to dedicate 1% of their respective GDPs to military and economic assistance, above and beyond the ‘insufficient’ tens of billions already sunk for their cause. Yet, Attali thinks that no one would be confident enough to invest in Ukraine after the war ends. as long as there is a looming threat of future Russian interventions in this young and fragile state.
If the reader believes that, as the author seems to expect, the West will confidently wait for a diminished and chastened post-Putin Russia to sue for peace and forgiveness after making amends, he should read another piece by Attali that warns of an impending and gigantic economic crisis which will hit all states, probably by August 2023, excepting perhaps Russia ‘which has nothing to lose’ according to him.
The French technocrat quotes the ominous numbers about the US economy to show that the country is heading for financial collapse, dragging its allies and commercial partners down into a depression. The mathematical certainty derived from his analysis leads him to look for outcomes if not solutions. The Republicans who dominate Congress, prescribe huge cuts in the US budget, shrinking all social and public services and hence wiping out much of the middle class and starving the poor. The Democrats call for raising all taxes, fiscally targeting the Uber-Rich, but the US Establishment will not accept this frontal assault on the neoliberal economy and the Senate is equally split. Shaving the bloated Defence and Security budgets will be fiercely resisted and will create a national crisis of confidence. Attali evokes the rising and often debated the possibility of a national breakup if some states secede in order to protect their finances from a hungry Federal Treasury and from insolvent ‘socialist’ blue states.
After underlining that the fate of the US will affect Europe even more than other regions Attali concludes that the only possible solution would entail “a new mode of development, with a completely different relationship to consumer goods and housing ownership, reducing both debt and the climate footprint”.
Though he leaves that unsaid, he seems to refer to the concept of the ‘Great Reset’. Would that imply confiscation of resources by a ‘global’ super-state tasked with the reorganization of the economy? In any case, a not-so-cryptic prediction voiced at the Davos World Economic Forum, the incubator of the Great Reset, was: ‘You will own nothing and you will be happy’.