Both the U.S. and Europe have stalked brazenly into traps of their own making, Alastair Crooke writes.
To be blunt, both the U.S. and Europe have stalked brazenly into traps of their own making. Caught in the lies and deceit woven around a claimed inheritance of superior cultural DNA, (vouchsafing, it is said, almost certain victory), the West is awakening to a fast-approaching disaster to which there are no easy solutions. Cultural exceptionalism, together with the prospect of a clear ‘win’ over Russia, are draining rapidly away – but exiting delusion is both slow and humiliating.
The coming devastation is not just centred around the failed Ukraine offensive and NATO’s weak showing. It comprises multiple vectors that have been building over the years, but which are reaching culmination synchronously.
In the U.S., the run-up to momentous elections is underway. The Democrats are in a fix: The party has long since turned its back on its old blue-collar constituency, engaging instead with an urban ‘creative class’ in an exalted, world-shaping ‘social engineering’ project of moral redress, in alliance with Silicon Valley and the Permanent Nomenklatura. But that experiment has run off into the weeds, becoming ever more extreme and absurd. Push-back is building.
Predictably enough, the Democratic campaign is not gaining traction. Team Biden has low, low approval ratings. But Biden family pressure insists that Biden must persevere with his candidature, and not yield to another. Either way – Biden staying or going – there is no ready solution to the Party’s conundrum of a non-performing, non-platform.
The electoral landscape is a mess. Heavy ‘lawfare’ artillery is intended to break the Trump defences and drive him off the field, whilst an attrition of disclosures of Biden family malfeasance are intended wear down and implode the Biden bubble. The Democratic Establishment is spooked too by the flanking manoeuvre of the R. F. Kennedy candidature, which is snowballing rapidly.
Put simply, the Democratic wokish ideology of historical redress is separating the U.S. into two nations living in one land. Divided not so much by ‘Red or Blue’, or class, but defined by irreconcilable ‘ways of being’. The old categories: Left, Right, Democrat or GOP are being dissolved by a Cultural War that respects no categories, crossing the boundaries of class and party affiliation. Indeed, even ethnic minorities have been alienated by the zealots wanting to sexualise children at age 5 years, and by the pushing of the trans agenda on to school children.
Ukraine has served as the solvent to the old order and has become the Albatross hanging around the neck of the Biden Admin: How to spin the looming Ukraine debacle as somehow ‘mission achieved’. Can that be done? Because the escape route of a ceasefire and a frozen line of contact is unacceptable to Moscow. In short, ‘Biden’s war’ cannot continue as it is, but nor can it do ‘other’ without facing humiliation. The myth of American power, NATO competence and the reputation of U.S. weaponry hangs in the balance.
The economic narrative (‘everything is fine’) is poised, for somewhat unconnected reasons, to turn sour too. Debt – finally – is becoming the sword suspended above the economy’s neck. Credit is being tightly squeezed. And next month, the BRICS-SCO bloc will take the first strategic steps to disentangle up to 40 countries from the dollar. Who then will buy Yellen’s $ 1.1 trillion Treasuries – now and in the future – that is needed to fund U.S. government expenditure?
These events ostensibly are disconnected, but in reality, they form a self-reinforcing loop. One leading to a ‘run on the political bank’ – that is to say, the U.S.’ credibility itself.
Faced with many questions – and no solutions – the mood amongst sectors of the electorate is driving a radical and increasingly iconoclastic mood. A counter-revolutionary spirit, perhaps. It is too early to say whether it will sweep a majority, but it may – for the radicalism is coming from the two wings: GOP grassroots and the Kennedy ‘camp’.
One strain of GOP voters separates conservative leaders into two camps: those who “know what time it is” and those who don’t. That is the catchphrase on the Right that has become increasingly important to a significant wing of the Party who see a country weakened and corrupted by ideology; who hold that there is almost nothing left to ‘conserve’. Overturning the existing post-American order, and re-establishing America’s ancient principles in practice, is advocated as a sort of counter-revolution – and the only road forward.
That aphorism for ‘knowing what time of day it is’ refers to an emerging sense of urgency and appetite for sweeping action, not dragging and dull academic debates among more populist-minded conservatives. “The premise is that the struggle against wokish cultural power is existential, and that extreme tactics that would shock an older generation of conservatives need to be the norm”.
In fact, if a leader is not shocking in his conduct and proposals, he or she probably “doesn’t know what time it is”.
The second key feature of this us-against-them mentality is that any policy consensus, ipso facto, triggers suspicion and becomes a focus of attack.
“When you realize this, what looks at first like a hodgepodge of different ideas seems more unified. Covid health policy, disgust about Jan. 6, the Pentagon budget, immigration, support for Ukraine, promoting racial diversity, trans rights — these are all issues that enjoy a measure of élite bipartisan consensus. But for the Tucker Carlson wing – Republicans who embrace these things simply – don’t know what time it is”, Politico explains.
What is salient in this formulation is that just as unreserved support for Covid regulatory practices was a ‘marker’ of ‘correct-think’ in pandemic time, so support for Ukraine is defined as ‘a marker’ of correct liberal-think (and being in the Team) in the in the post-pandemic era.
This suggests that – already and as the election nears – Ukraine will be no-longer bi-partisan in terms of support, but rather will become a sword used against the hated Uni-party establishment, and any hint of a major f*ck-up will become centre-piece in this counter revolutionary war.
The GOP’s sense that U.S. culture has gone off-track: Legislation was snarled in Congress earlier this month, when the formerly sacrosanct Pentagon Defence Bill became the target of culture-war amendments on abortion, diversity and gender that could scuttle its passage. Speaker McCarthy was forced to accept the far-right rebellion against the Defence budget bill and push it through, without the usual widespread bipartisan support.
The measures stripped funding for diversity initiatives in the military and added restrictions on abortion and transgender care for service members. GOP lawmakers said they acted because liberal ideology was weakening the military. But the amendments endanger the bill’s path in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The heightened feelings on both sides are reflected in a poll that found that about 80% of Republicans believe that the Democratic agenda “if not stopped, will destroy America as we know it.” About the same share of Democrats had the same fear of the Republican agenda, saying it would destroy the country, an NBC News survey found last autumn.
The President of the Heritage Foundation, Kevin Roberts, underlines Tucker Carlson’s role in ‘telling truth to the American public’. Carlson understands the “fissures in the economic consensus, fissures in foreign policy, and most important to me, as some conservatives like to say: [he knows] ‘what time it is.’”
Carlson blasts a business-friendly GOP for cosying up to corporations that outsourced manufacturing jobs. He made the conservative critique of gender transition surgeries for minors mainstream. On social and fiscal policy, Carlson went where more traditional conservatives would not [go]. And his influence was unquestionable. “The key thing”, Roberts said, “is that Tucker sees himself as having a moral obligation on behalf of the average conservative.”
Democrats and others in the liberal camp, however, say the GOP culture war is a mere backlash against greater acceptance of the nation’s growing diversity, which they say is long overdue in America.
“The Counter-Revolution has turned the next race for the White House into an existential moment. Very few people are talking about tax reform, and everybody is talking about the cultural issues”, said one Republican leader; “they see politics as almost a life-or-death situation”.
GOP Presidential Candidate Ramaswamy, speaking earlier this month, warned that patriotism, hard work and other values had dissipated: “That is when the poison begins to fill the void – wokeism, transgenderism, climatism, Covidism, depression, anxiety, drug usage, suicide”.
So, ‘fireworks’ are ahead for the U.S. In Europe, however, few ‘know what time it is’. The Culture War has, as intended, weakened the sense of collective belonging to distinctive European cultures. And the pushback is muted. Europe remains broadly torpid and sluggish. (The ruling class are counting on the latter for their survival.)
However, as American fireworks illuminate the political sky, resonance in Europe is almost certain. Europeans share the distrust for their élites and the Brussels technocracy in the same fashion as the Carlson-Kennedy constituencies.
The Euro-élites disdain the people. Ordinary Europeans know that their rulers regard them with contempt – and know that their élites know it too.
The fire that will cast the European iron is the economy: A set of bad decisions has mortgaged Europe’s economic future for years to come. Austerity is coming. And inflation is ravaging peoples’ standard of living – even their ability to live.
Fireworks are coming for Europe – but slowly. It has already begun (governments are falling); but the U.S. is the vanguard for radical change as the West loses its grip on the meta-narrative of its ‘vision’ being uniquely the paradigm through which the world’s ‘vision’ must be shaped too. A shift that changes everything.