Vladimir Lenin said, “There are decades when nothing happens, but there are weeks when decades happen”. The frantic pace of 2016, demonstrates that this was a year filled with weeks where decades did happen. Beginning in 1991, when the Soviet Union was illegally broken up, the geo-political world stagnated. Neo-liberal American policies would shape the world, small countries would submit or face swift military action, the age of the factory was replaced by the age of corrupt ‘free’ trade agreements and the sovereignty of nations was no longer sacred.
The end of Soviet Power as a rival block against America did not result in old cowboys going home, it resulted in a hideous cattle drive we now call interventionism. For years, many tried to resist this trend both politically and militarily. All such attempts ended in failure until this year, the year of resistance.
Three individuals in particular, shaped the course of this year of resistance. Here is how they did it.
The Russian President has never been a weak leader. His early terms in office helped bring Russia out of the horrible 1990s and restored stability, prosperity and internal-peace to Russia. His period as Prime Minister helped cement the fact that Russia would once again be a proud, patriotic and dignified nation that would not be a soft-colony of American power any more than the Russian Empire could ever submit to occupation by Sweden, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Ottoman Empire, France or Germany.
In 2016 though, whilst the mainstream media said that Putin started messing with the world, in reality, the world came to Putin and to Russia. Organisations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the burgeoning BRICS and the Eurasian Economic Union are all signs that many former Soviet states as well as China and powerful Asian allies like India, are looking to form collective alliances under the political leadership of Moscow.
In Syria, Putin has demonstrated that Russia is not afraid of using her restored military might abroad, but will only do so at the request of an ally. Russia’s military actions in Syria shows that the Russian military will be used to preserve the geo-political map, not to redraw it.
For the first time since the post-Watergate Brezhnev era, it is safe to say that Russian geo-political influence has eclipsed that of America. The recent trilateral group for peace in Syria which excludes the US is one such example of this. Whether in Ankara, Beijing, New Delhi and now even Cairo, Islamabad, Manilla and parts of Latin America, world leaders will judge their political moves based on what is coming out of the Kremlin, not the White House. The world has become functionally multi-polar and Russia stands out as a political leader in this.
When Bashar al-Assad became the President of Syria after the death of his father, many saw him as a kind of weaker, less significant version of his mighty predecessor. He was a eye doctor who had practiced in Britain, was gentle in his mannerisms and never gave the kind of impassioned speeches that Saddam and Gaddafi did, speeches which relied those in the west. In life, one rarely chooses the timing of the occasion to which one must rise, but Assad rose to the occasion and more.
He has gone from the eye doctor in Chief that ought to have been easy for the west to push about, to a dignified, strong, level heading and humane leader of one of the last secular, multi-faith, modern Arab states. What’s more, he has now become the first Arab leader since the towering Nasser, to resist western attempts at regime change. The Battle of Aleppo has become the Stalingrad of regime change and even though the western mainstream media will never admit this, everyone can see that whilst Assad’s European and American detractors have gone, Assad has stayed.
Ever since the 1990s, both Republicans and Democrats have adopted the same foreign policy. It involves a neo-liberal/neo-con crusade against any nations which refuse to submit to this style of government. People ought to remember that every US President from George H.W. Bush through Barack Obama has bombed Iraq and that’s just one strident example.
Ever since Russia began asserting her sovereignty after the 1990s, America’s relationship with Russia has become tenser. In 2016, it reached an all-time low. Enter Donald Trump, a man who says America should ‘get along with Russia’ and that he personally would ‘get along with Putin’. Meet a man who campaigned on a foreign policy that opposed regime change and meddling in countries not called The United States.
Republican and sometimes Libertarian Ron Paul has tried to become President saying those things, but whilst Paul was a noble voice in the wilderness, Trump did what he promised to do, he won and won and won. His Pat Buchannan style anti-globalism and Ron Paul style opposition to foreign interventions turned the Clinton dynasty into losers. The western mainstream media lies could not stop Trump, the well-oiled Democratic Party machine could not stop Trump and nor could a Republican party that barely endorsed its own candidate.
Trump has shown himself to be a master of social media, new media outlets like RT and influential news websites that are becoming the go-to source for news over the lethargic mainstream media. If Assad resisted military regime change, Trump has conducted democratic regime change. One is tempted to imagine a gang of Trump supporters tearing down a giant CNN sign and pelting it with their shoes. Such an image is surprisingly emblematic of what Trump has accomplished. He did more to change America with a smart-phone and Twitter than all of the Saudi and Qatari gold could do for Hillary Clinton.
In an American political landscape which seemed doomed to political stagnation and dishonest media, Trump has changed the game and what’s more, he doesn’t appear to have changed his methods nor his policy positions since winning the election.