You might recall that I began last week's "return to blogging" after the Christmas-New Year holiday with some speculations on the possible geopolitical fallout from the American elections. Without rehearsing all those speculations in detail again, let's just say that I concluded that both America's friends and allies, competitors, and outright enemies would be considering a "pulling away" to the extent that that is possible, and for countries like Japan or India (or even Russia), that meant over the next several years an increase in defense spending and bilateral security arrangements by-passing, or not including, the United States, such as the recent logistical support agreement signed by India and Japan. As the Russians observed some years ago toward the tail end of the Obama Administration and the beginning of the incoming Trump administration, the USA was simply "not agreement capable." In the wake of the election of Trump in 2016, and now that of Biden in 2020 under circumstances many - including this author - view as highly questionable, foreign powers have had to lurch from one policy adjustment to another.
All this adds up to: instability; in their eyes, the USA appears to be increasingly unstable, and being run by a bunch of infants.
Well, it didn't take long for the corroboration of my speculations to come, for according to this article shared by K.M., none other than former Russian president and prime minister, Dmitri Medvedev, has weighed in on the subject in a recent op-ed piece in TASS:
It's important to recall that Mr. Medvedev, while a regular feature of Mr. Putin's government, is more of a globalist or Atlanticist than is Mr. Putin, at least, as far as his public posture is concerned. It's that little fact which makes his message more intriguing. Indeed, I cannot help but think that Mr. Medvedev was probably encouraged to write his op-ed piece precisely because of this point; Mr. Putin has given many speeches over the past decade, warning about the dangers of uni-polarism and a globalism incapable of recognizing the importance of national cultures and their preservation, and a pax Americana version of Mr. Globaloney's globalist fantasies. Mr. Medvedev, on the other hand, has not been nearly as vocal on this score, which makes his commentary worth noticing.
The very first thing to notice is the title of the piece: "America 2.o, After the election". The implication seems to be clear, namely, that whatever America was before the last election it is now something else; it's an "update" or a "version 2", but it is not what it was. There has been a rupture, a break, an interruption, and it no longer is what it was before.
Beyond this, there's much to ponder in Mr. Medvedev's editorial. Firstly, there is the general corroboration that this last election has set into motion geopolitical waves that will ripple around the world and well into the future:
It is commonly acknowledged that the biggest economies have a major influence on political and social development of other countries. Crises that they periodically go through affect the global economy and consequently have impact on regional and national economies, as well as on political systems of countries that are sensitive to such impact. Yet, it is often overlooked that certain political events, such as elections, can also provoke serious crises in other countries. That is especially so when countries that have a direct influence on the fundamental global processes are concerned.
In this context, it is worth taking a look at the recent US presidential election. It is not that this presidential campaign, likely the most scandal-ridden in history, proved that the flaws in the US electoral system have a comprehensive nature. That is no news.
In fact, the strengths and shortcomings of the US voting system could be regarded as a purely domestic issue. But there is one problem. Elections in this country, especially when there is a transfer of power from one political force to the other, can trigger significant changes in the global economic development, seriously affecting the existing institutions of international law and global security system.
In other words, there will be long-term consequences of this "likely most scandal-ridden" U.S. election in history, most of them geopolitical and economic, and impacting international stability and security. For those studied in the language of "Kremlinese", this translates to "we'll be watching what you (attempt to) do in, and what you say about Russia and The Ukraine very carefully." On this score, Mr. Medvedev underscores, once again, America's "not-agreement-capable" instability:
Many US leaders have at various times admitted, including to me personally, "It is true that our system is not perfect, but we are used to it and it is convenient for us." The problem is that the rest of the world finds it increasingly "inconvenient" to work with such a country, as the US becomes an unpredictable partner. This unpredictability gives other States, regional associations and military political organizations cause for concern. It would be nice if the US political establishment realized this responsibility. (Emphasis added)
The reason for this instability? Note carefully the following words:
The nation is divided, the fault line running between people of different value orientations, which reflect on the electoral choice between Republicans and Democrats. There is a clear "value divide" between conservative Americans and those who promote change in traditionalist attitudes, between "law-abiding" Americans and those who support active street protest, between those employed in high-tech industry and those left out of the technological revolution. Besides, the election race laid bare the tensions between the federal government and state and local governments. Accusations against the federal government of exceeding its authority in using force to suppress riots have exposed cracks in American federalism, which the central government (regardless of party affiliation) prefers to conceal as far as possible.
There have also been large-scale violations of the election law. The United States still has no standard procedures for voter registration, voter identification, ballot issuance and submission. (Emphasis added)
In other words, Mr. Medvedev notices what is obvious to other major world powers on the "outside looking in": America is culturally divided, and in addition to this, there a bad fissures running along the lines between state and local governments, and (an increasingly weak) central or federal government. He even manages to note what much of the propatainment media in the US ignores, namely, the widespread violations of election laws during the last cycle. He then continues by rehearsing essentially the case that Mr. Trump and his supporters have outlined.
Most noteworthy, however, are his remarks concerning the censorship being practiced by the social media tech giants. Consider the irony of the following words, composed by a former President and Prime Minister, and current high ranking national security advisor in the Kremlin, writing in an op-ed piece appearing in TASS!
There is one more critical issue which, in the context of the outdated American electoral system, has moved up extremely high up the agenda. I am talking about the unprecedented role in public politics of social networks and new media, and, accordingly, of private IT companies that own those platforms. Conventional American media, whose activities are regulated by laws and fall within the First Amendment, have traditionally – and always officially – taken the side of a certain candidate and yet deemed it necessary to give coverage to statements made by the opponent during election and post-election campaigns. The social media, however, are beyond any special regulations and work on the basis of user agreements. And it was them that unleashed the media war without rules! And that war is waged against one single person. During the vote counting, Trump's posts on Twitter, where he has over 85 million followers, were flagged as potentially misleading and later even hidden. The events in the Capitol resulted in the unprecedented and permanent suspension of Trump's accounts in all social media – where he has a total of about 200 million followers. Noteworthy is that the tone of the posts that provoked the suspension of Trump's accounts was not much different from his narrative of the preceding weeks. Next, they blocked tens of thousands of supporters of the incumbent president across all kinds of platforms which used to be viewed as forums for a full-fledged discussion. For America, just as for the rest of the world, this level of corporate censorship is a truly extraordinary phenomenon. A question arises: who are those supreme judges that decided that they, of their own volition and based on their own rules – but, in fact, guided by their political preferences, can deprive the country's president of the opportunity to communicate with an audience of many millions? Whether Trump is good or bad, he is his country's national, and, furthermore, an official who enjoys the trust of nearly half of the Americans. Thus, it turns out that several technological corporations located in California got an appetite for power and thought it possible to juggle with news and facts to suit their own political preferences. This is but a blatant censorship!
Dictating their own terms, they have sought to substitute for state institutions, encroaching on their mandates, aggressively imposing their views on a great number of people, leaving them no other choice; while the 75 millions of Trump's voters and hundreds of millions of his subscribers were left out of their "choice." These were simply labelled as insecure. Isn't it, indeed, a spectre of cyber totalitarianism that is gradually overwhelming the society, taking away from it (and potentially the entire world) the opportunity to see the reality for what it is? But even if Donald Trump leaves the politics for good and the Tech Giants wipe out his digital footprint, the minds will remain hugely polarized. This is yet another problem stemming from the US's outdated voting system, and it will push governments of different countries into action to prevent the same scenario in their own States. (Emphasis added)
Medvedev is correct in his prediction, as we've already seen both Mad Madame Merkel, and Mad Madame Macron expressing concern about the censorship of Mr. Trump, and there are already indications that Russia is attempting to build out its own version of the internet. Or to put all this as plainly as possible: other countries will take similar action, leaving the American social media giants isolated within their own country, peddling their own version of propatainment, and assuming the role that TASS once had during the Soviet era!
He then passes on to the economic and financial implications that inevitably follow in the wake of the geopolitical ones:
Given the special place of the US in the architecture of international relations, all this makes us try and guess the impact of the elections on the "classical" world politics as well as economy. It is crystal clear that the elections influence directly trends in global development. Everything else, with certain reservations, can be regarded as an internal affair of the US itself. Yet outward effects are our common issue. Let me remind you that George W. Bush's victory back in 2000 caused a significant though short-term volatility on stock markets. It is equally possible after the current shock, which of course provides considerable grounds for concern. But the long-term stability of the US dollar will be largely determined by the resilience of institutions for the protection of property rights, the demand for American goods and services in the global market, as well as the predictability and independence of the Federal Reserve System (FRS), which underpins the confidence in the US dollar.(Emphasis added)
Perhaps, however, it is Mr. Medvedev's concluding words that are the most ominous and, behind their carefully crafted wording, the most chilling:
I have listed only a few areas which will obviously be among those deserving special attention. Most importantly: the unpredictability of further US actions in the international arena, a kind of toxicity of this country even for its allies and partners is a result of serious social upheavals that American society faces. This internal and external instability is largely due to a clumsy, hopelessly outdated voting system that has seen no major changes since the 18th century up to the present. And the last election turned out to be not a political competition of ideas that the US had always prided itself on, but rather a confrontation between two campaigns of hatred.
We do not want the US to have problems. And for practical reasons: such problems create waves of instability all-around that overflow us as well. The problems of the Unites States can only be solved by the Americans themselves along with the good governance of the country. One of the founding fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, rightly noted that "the whole art of government consists in the art of being honest". Any election is the most important test of such honesty. Of course, only Americans themselves can decide whether to put aside their national selfishness and launch the voting system reform, and, consequently, the reform of political life, or not. So far, there has been no real move towards this. Nor even the slightest hint of a desire to change anything. And the international community is already paying too high a price for the US reluctance to change. (Emphasis added)
To boil all that down to its most succinct quintessence: the U.S.A. is simply "not-agreement-capable" because as he has pointed out, it cannot even agree with itself. In that context, the USA should expect its allies, and its competitors - such as Russia - to act accordingly. And this is bound to affect Mr. Globaloney, whose mantra is the Great Resert and whose base of power is still locked firmly and squarely within North America.
See you on the flip side...