The United States and the European Union have imposed fresh sanctions on Russia over the escalating Ukraine crisis. There have even been calls to strip Russia of the right to host the 2018 World Cup or to boycott it after some Western leaders and media accused "pro-Russia separatists" of downing the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine on July 17.
The Western media (and some Western leaders) have been claiming right from the outset that the "missile" used to "shoot down" the plane was made in Russia. Their political goal is to turn international opinion against Russia and its supporters in Ukraine, and their strategic objective is to ensure a halt to the use of missiles by pro-Russia groups in order to give the Ukrainian military an immense advantage against them. The so-called voice transcripts that some Western media outlets cited as evidence to "prove" that pro-Russia groups shot down the aircraft could have been easily manufactured in any intelligence agency laboratory and, hence, will prove nothing unless those engaged in the "conversations" are identified beyond doubt.
Western powers have to accept the fact that Ukraine is a divided country, and perhaps needs a Cyprus-like solution, that is, partitioning into pro-Russia and pro-NATO parts. That the NATO refuses to acknowledge this and still believes that it can hold sway over the whole of Ukraine by eliminating Moscow's influence is indicative of what may be termed the "Bretton Woods syndrome".
In the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US and its EU allies lost an opportunity to create a sustainable partnership with the newly formed Russian Federation by effectively insisting on surrender conditions for establishing any sort of relationship between NATO and Moscow. This is the fuse that ultimately led to the MH17 explosion. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO assumed that it could carry into the 21st century the Bretton Woods system, which was created in 1945 and handed the reins of the international architecture to the US and its key European allies.
Three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are NATO member-states while the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are still controlled by the military alliance partners. It is the refusal by the US and its allies to accept that the world has changed since 1945 that has led to the creation of alternative geopolitical architectures, such as the establishment of a BRICS development bank, which was announced in Fortaleza, Brazil, just over two weeks ago.
The "Bretton Woods syndrome" (or the refusal to accept and adjust to the realities of the post-1945 world) was manifested in the military sphere after the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. Since then, under specially created doctrines and a largely silent UN bureaucracy, NATO has been trying to get back the power that the US and key EU states enjoyed in the previous two centuries - of using military force to resolve issues to their advantage.
The Libyan government was toppled in 2011, followed by determined but until now unsuccessful efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad even though Syria has maintained peace with Israel for four decades and more. Because the NATO alliance no longer has the power to enforce its will across the globe, each of its initiatives has been a disaster. Libya has dissolved into a fractured country, ruled by warlords. In Syria's case, the cash, weapons and training given to rebels, including terrorists, have ended up in the formation of the "Islamic State", creating monsters which threaten global security.
NATO has become a "monkey army", which can destroy a country very effectively but is powerless when it comes to rebuilding it - just as monkeys can wreak havoc but cannot clean up the resultant mess.
NATO powers tried their utmost last year to bring Ukraine into their fold, using the usual tactics of mobilizing street power and strengthening some elements in Ukraine who seem to be the "ideological descendants" of the pro-Hitler groups found in the country from 1941 to 1945. The Western military alliance's attempt failed, because Moscow refused to follow former Russian president Boris Yeltsin's script of accepting whatever punishment NATO inflicted on Russia.
The Russia-Georgia War in 2008 should have been a warning for the Western military bloc not to try its game in (or with) Ukraine. But a hyper-confident NATO, deep in the grip of the "Bretton Woods syndrome", went ahead and orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Kiev, replacing it with its own nominees.
What has followed shows that the world has moved far (nay permanently) away from the Bretton Woods system which empowered the US and the EU to dominate international discourse. MH17 is an indication of the chaos that will ensue - and has already ensued in many parts of the world - if the US and its NATO allies do not cure themselves of the "Bretton Woods syndrome" and change their policies to meet the demands of a multipolar global architecture, which had already taken shape in the 1990s but was ignored by the US and the EU in their blindness to carry forward their dominance and influence into the 21st century.
The author is vice-chair of Manipal Advanced Research Group, and UNESCO peace chair and professor of geopolitics at Manipal University, India.
(China Daily 08/07/2014 page9)