The Great Realignment: US Power Slipping
The New World Order Is Being Built fast. What's currently underway?
It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the geopolitical earthquakes the world has been through over the last several months.
Primarily, the world is witness to a sublimation — not evaporation, but sublimation — of US soft and diplomatic power. That is, US soft power has gone from solid to gaseous almost instantaneously. Goodwill that has been built over centuries is vanishing, and not without reason. Mainstream media outlets are openly discussing de-dollarization — a concept that was laughable a few short years ago. Long-time allies are turning away, and rival states are forming alliances of convenience. US hard power is vanishing as well, and may have just been made irrelevant. More on that in a later post.
We’re very much at the point where the world realizes the Emperor Has No Clothes — and a naked, embarrassed US is losing its gravitas.
Let’s take a look at some key examples of this process and then discuss why it’s happening. This will be a series of posts broken up into bits as bite-sized as possible, since there’s far too much to chew in one go.
China Arranges Saudi-Iranian Peace Deal
The Chinese-led peace deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest recent earthquakes. The US is now irrelevant in most of the Middle East, where it wasted decades, trillions of dollars, and countless lives. This leaves some of the world’s largest oil producers more closely tied to China, who represents a far better customer than the US anyway.
Saudi Arabia has been a major partner of the US for decades, especially since 1973, when Henry Kissinger arranged the Petrodollar system. In short, the US offered military protection to Saudi Arabia in exchange for the country pricing its oil in dollars and reinvesting profits in US debt like Treasury bills.
So, Saudi Arabia siding with China and striking a peace accord with Iran sends a clear message: It no longer needs US protection. There’s a good chance this is because it finds that protection to be lacking — the disgrace in Afghanistan and the newly-realized vulnerability of surface fleets surely plays a big role here. What’s more, the military threat posed by Iran is now largely a moot point thanks to this peace deal. There’s no guarantee the deal lasts, but it’s one hell of a start.
To underscore the move, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced a significant oil production cut of more than a million barrels per day. This is in addition to a 500,000 barrel per day cut by Russia, leading to a total of 1.66 million barrels per day less production. For a price-inelastic good like oil, that’s an enormous change.
Last summer, Emmanuel Macron “privately” asked President Biden to lean on Saudi Arabia to increase oil production. Of course this was meant for public consumption. But Saudi Arabia doing the opposite indicates a rebuff of American requests.
Reading between the lines would indicate OPEC nations like Saudi Arabia aren’t pleased with the US manipulating oil markets by flooding them with its Strategic Petroleum Reserves. Now, why might Saudi Arabia and OPEC have been upset with this market manipulation? Compare the nose dive in SPR levels in 2022 to oil prices.
It’s simply a bottom-line move. The US crushed the price of oil, which hurt Saudi revenues. That’s a good way to make anyone mad.
But I doubt it’s practicality alone that has turned Saudi Arabia away from the US. After all, who would have guessed that a conservative Muslim country wouldn’t want to be closely allied with a country that prioritizes transgender ideology? What a shocker!
An important note is this: The current changes don’t mean the Petrodollar is dead, but it does make the US dollar’s existence as a reserve currency more precarious. The dollar’s death has been greatly exaggerated. Dismantling such a broad system takes time.
Russia and China Reach “Strategic Partnership”
The Russia-China alliance is a few weeks old as of this writing, which is ages in current news cycles. But it’s one of the biggest moves, and represents an abject failure of US foreign policy. Keeping the two countries from allying was meant to be one of America’s key objectives. Well, shit, there goes that.
What’s more, China is continuing its role as the arbiter of peace, as it has introduced a peace plan for Ukraine. It doesn’t matter if this plan goes through or not: China setting itself up as peacemaker is the polar opposite of what the US has done, which is to fan the flames of war. In short, it’s proposing itself as an alternative world leader, and is indeed gaining some traction. Look at this move as geopolitical Judo.
The “change that’s not been seen in a hundred years” Xi mentions in the video above is the changing of the world order. The domination of the Western world, especially the US, is coming to an end. And China is offering itself as an effective foil to American power, which has been abused for decades.
It’s not just about power politics, of course. Peace in Ukraine is very much in line with China’s national interest. Its economy relies on foreign trade, and war is the worst possible disruption to such trade. Crucially, the New Silk road part of its One Belt, One Road initiative runs through Ukraine, so peace in the region is key to the project’s success.
Brazil Reaches Trade Accord with China
As of this writing, Brazilian president Lula is in China to arrange multiple bilateral trade deals. Back in February, the two countries agreed to settle trade in Yuan, and now they’re hammering out the details.
That China and Brazil have agreed to trade in Yuan is indeed a very big deal. It demonstrates China’s growing ties with South America, which the US formerly claimed as its backyard in the Monroe doctrine. Expect further Chinese investment in Brazil and growing ties between the two countries as bilateral trade increases. An economic alliance is the first step towards a defensive pact or a military alliance.
At the same time as the deal is being finalized, former Brazilian (impeached) president and Lula ally Dilma Rousseff has taken office as the heads of the BRICS New Development Bank. These changes indicate very strong and quickly growing ties between Brazil and China.
Bear in mind that both Lula and Rousseff were involved in a $5 billion oil corruption scandal that was deeply controversial. Rousseff was impeached, and Lula was imprisoned, but later released and exonerated. Still, to many, these are far from squeaky clean players. But hey, who is these days?
BRICS Going Gangbusters
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) group of nations is rapidly gaining steam and moving towards an alternative world economy and diplomatic structure. On April 15, Tunisia rejected loans from the International Monetary Fund and applied to join BRICS. Last November, its neighbor Algeria applied as well.
But the trend has been going on for a while. In 2021, Bangladesh, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay all joined the BRICS bank, while Iran and Argentina applied to join BRICS in 2022. And just to pile on, Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all looking to join as well. That’s another note from Saudi Arabia that they’re done with the West.
Turkey is an especially interesting case here, as it’s one of NATO’s most important members. Keep an eye on that space, because Turkey dropping the US as a strategic ally would be a massive change and further revolutionize the Middle East.
There’s even scuttlebutt about Mexico showing interest in joining BRICS. This is likely to be a no-go as it would lead to seriously strained relations with the US, which is by far Mexico’s largest trading partner. Relations are already strained, with US Congressmen seriously discussing sending in troops to tackle Mexico’s drug cartels.
The US-Mexico trade relation is crucial to each country. However, China is Mexico’s second-largest trading partner, and lots of manufacturing is set to move to Mexico from China, with Chinese companies following. If NATO encroachment in Ukraine was a red line for Russia, Chinese encroachment in Mexico would enrage the US — with good reason.
Macron Encourages Strategic Autonomy, France Sells LNG in Yuan
French President Emmanuel Macron is in hot water. Now, I’ve never had anyone burn an effigy of me, but I imagine it might change someone’s thinking.
As an American who lived in France in 2005-2006, I’m well aware of just how unpopular American foreign policy was in France. It continues to be. So, maybe pulling away is the smart move?
Consequently, Macron has been discussing the need for increased European sovereignty for the last few years. European sovereignty is a novel concept, given that much of Western Europe has been militarily dependent on the US since the end of the Second World War. That military dependence has led to economic freedom in a sense but not full autonomy, since a sovereign nation must be free to decide all of its interests.
As Macron wrote in a recent Tweet (translated from French), “The economic sovereignty of our Europe. This is our goal. To achieve it, Europe has ceased to be naïve. It can now defend its interests, its values and its independence.”
What this reads like is a vassal trying to replace suzerainty with sovereignty. Suzerainty describes the essentially feudal relationship France and other European nations have with the US in regards to foreign relations. In short, France and other countries can work internally as they want, but their foreign policy has been largely guided by the US. The wording here is quite meaningful.
Going along with this trend, France’s Total energy settled China’s first liquified natural gas (LNG) purchase in Yuan on March 29 via the UAE. This is a thumb in the eye to US foreign policy, and the message is not lost. That the first LNG deal settled in Yuan was with France, the longest-standing American ally, is a very telling sign of just how allies are willing to ditch the US.
Japan Buys Russian Oil
Japan has broken ranks with the US and its allies by buying Russian oil above the artificial $60/barrel limit. This follows the trend of the US’s Asian allies, including India, thumbing their noses at the limit and buying Russian oil for cheap.
Interestingly, this comes on the back of a surprise visit of Japanese PM Fumio Kishida to Kiev. Surprise visits from Japanese dignitaries to anywhere are rare, so this visit certainly raised some eyebrows. Kishida pledged its support to Ukraine and condemned the Russian invasion on March 21. Then, less than two weeks later, it went against Western-led sanctions and bought Russian oil.
Actions speak louder than words, so this may indicate wavering Japanese loyalty to the US. Furthermore, as Japan is entirely dependent on imported oil, ensuring access to it is a pragmatic move that shows they’re considering their own self-interest above foreign ties.
On April 15, just two days ago as of this writing, there was a failed assassination attempt on Kishida. I’m not drawing any connections here, but the timing sure is interesting.
Leaked Documents Stink
You’ve likely heard about the Pentagon documents leaked by Jack Texeira by now. After all, it’s plastered all over the news. The leaker of the Pentagon documents has been arrested in full splendor, with helicopter news crews. To be frank, the whole thing smells like bullshit. That there’s already a Wikipedia page and every major news outlet has covered these documents despite official protests sets off my alarm bells.
What makes the most sense is that the documents are real, but they’re being intentionally leaked in order to make public a few facts:
The Ukraine war is a disaster and, contrary to previous testimony from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, is going very poorly. Casualty ratios are extremely unfavorable for Ukraine and are unsustainable.
US, German, French, and Dutch personnel are actively involved, meaning the countries can’t back out now. Think of it as blackmail.
The US is spying on allies, including South Korea and Israel — meaning they should know they’re being watched.
This is a hot war between NATO and Russia, and our Department of Defense is finally admitting it publicly.
The following analysis from former CIA operative Larry Johnson is the most sound I’ve heard. Of course, this is a developing story, so expect many more details soon.
Another key takeaway is that media outlets, especially the Washington Post and New York Times, took the role of the FBI in conducting the investigation and nailing the “leaker.” Also, rather than asking what’s in the documents, journalists are instead asking how best to prevent future leaks.
Weirdly, as well, New York Times journalist David Phillips admitted in a now-deleted Tweet the newspaper tracked down the suspect because he leaked the documents independently and not to them. As he put it, they would have protected him had he leaked to them. While this may make business sense, it’s the opposite of journalistic ethics and shows how petty the organization has become.
What Happened to the United States?
If there’s one thing that we can take away, it’s this: The United States is not the same country it was just a few decades ago, and other nations have figured that out. Simply put, the US has been parasitized by a combination of ideologues and disinterested money-worshippers who have bent the country’s immense power to their will to the detriment of essentially everyone else.
Much of the world has watched in horror at this transformation. To outside observers, the US has staggered, bloodshot and wide-eyed, from one foreign policy disaster to the next, only changing its victim when it loses interest in the previous one.
To call the modern incarnation of the US a zombie nation is not far off.
Some may call me anti-American, but that’s not at all the case: I love my country and want to see its citizens thrive. Peace, not war, creates prosperity for a nation. But that’s not what’s happening.
For those living in the US, it’s hard not to see the rot: homelessness, drug addiction, crime, inflation, you name it. Like an insect consumed by cordyceps, the country moves blindly in the direction demanded of it by its parasite. Few in the country have benefited from the foreign policy adventurism and overall bad policy of the last several decades. And hey, shout out to The Last of Us for popularizing the concept of mind-control fungus — because that’s a pretty damn good metaphor for what’s happened.
In this case, the parasite is not in Washington, DC — it is Washington, DC.
A person or a country that continuously behaves the same way based on a solid foundation of ideals is called principled. That term cannot be applied to the modern US. Capricious and moody, it is unpredictable and thus dangerous. Other nations are right to be terrified of it — especially its friends. As Henry Kissinger put it, “To be an enemy of the United States is dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal.”
The unipolar moment of American hegemony is over. This is an extremely dangerous time in history, as failing empires have a tendency to lash out. As I’ve previously written, empires that no longer expand are doomed to collapse. No empire or political structure is invulnerable or eternal. Percy Bysshe Shelly got it right when he said, “The Earth is littered with the ruins of empires that once believed they were eternal.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. The United States does not have to be an imperial power. With the immense, eminently defensible territory and natural resources it possesses, there is no good reason for it to continue its foreign policy adventurism. It would be much better off as a country that traded with all and had entangling alliances with none, as the nation’s founders intended.
It should have packed up and gone home after the Cold War ended. But should is a hell of a word. I fear we’ll only learn that the hard way.
Eventually, I hope, the US can return to its position as a global soft-power leader by following some advice from George Washington’s farewell address:
It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that in the course of time and things the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it?
And one more to close out, from former President Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Let’s get off that cross, put away our arms, and focus on our own development. The US needs some work. It can be better. But we must rid ourselves of those in power first.
Furthermore, I believe the Ghislaine Maxwell client list must be released.
The Proper Gander is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.