Mar 042023
 March 4, 2023  Posted by at 1:05 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »

Robert Capa Capucine, French model and actress, on a balcony, Rome 1951

Andrew Korybko:

The global systemic transition’s impending evolution towards tri-multipolarity could see the US-led West’s Golden Billion, the Sino-Russo Entente, and the de facto Indian-led Global South becoming the most prominent poles in International Relations, below which would be rising powers and regional groups. All actors would balance one another by multi-aligning within and between their respective levels, which might result in stabilizing global affairs much more than the prior unipolar and bi-multipolar orders did.

International Relations are hurtling towards tripolarity at an astounding pace as a result of the dramatic events that unfolded over the past year and especially the last month. Those readers who haven’t closely been following this megatrend might be taken aback by this assessment, hence the need for them to review the following analyses that’ll place everything into its appropriate context. After listing them, they’ll then be summarized for convenience before explaining what might soon come next:

The “New Détente”

To oversimplify the confluence of these complex trends, the US prioritized containing Russia in order to facilitate its containment of China, ergo the latest phase of the Ukrainian Conflict that it provoked via Moscow’s ongoing special operation there. Throughout the course of the NATO-Russian proxy war that followed, the US successfully reasserted its unipolar hegemony over the EU while destabilizing the globalized system upon which China’s grand strategy depends, thus giving it an edge over Beijing.

This in turn prompted President Xi to initiate an attempted “New Détente” during mid-November’s G20 Summit in Bali, during which time he hoped that China and the US could eventually reach a series of mutual compromises aimed at establishing a “new normal” in their ties. The purpose behind doing so was to delay the end of the bi-multipolar world order within which these two superpowers exerted the most influence over International Relations, which was challenged by India’s rise over the past year.

India’s Game-Changing Influence

That South Asian state became a globally significant Great Power during this time as a result of its masterful balancing act between the US-led West’s Golden Billion and the jointly BRICS– & SCO-led Global South of which it’s a part. Its kingmaker role in the New Cold War between them over the direction of the global systemic transition enabled the rest of the Global South to rise in India’s wake, thus revolutionizing International Relations by accelerating the emergence of tri-multipolarity.

The aforementioned sequence of events imbued the Sino-American “New Détente” with a sense of urgency since both superpowers had self-interested reasons for regaining joint control of these processes, though their attempted rapprochement was unexpectedly derailed by the balloon incident. The resultantly renewed influence of hardline factions over policymaking that occurred in the aftermath of that incident abruptly ended their incipient talks and placed them on the trajectory of intense rivalry.

China’s Grand Strategic Recalculations

In parallel with the abovementioned development, NATO declared that it’s in a so-called “race of logistics”/“war of attrition” with Russia, which implied that it’ll redouble its military support to Kiev even at the expense of meeting its own members’ minimum national security needs. Should that bloc succeed in making a breakthrough along the Line of Control (LOC), then it could catalyze the worst-case scenario of Russia’s “Balkanization” if those disadvantageous military-strategic dynamics spiral out of control.

Both President Putin and his predecessor Medvedev recently warned about that possibility, which remains unlikely for now but still can’t be discounted, thus contributing to China’s gradual recalibration of its approach to the NATO-Russian proxy war when coupled with the end of the “New Détente”. This directly led to the People’s Republic seriously considering the dispatch of lethal aid to its strategic partner in order to offset that worst-case scenario, thus prompting sanctions threats from the West.

“The Great Trifurcation”

In the event that China feels forced by NATO to aid Russia in such a way and the Golden Billion imposes sanctions against it in response, then it’s expected that a US-initiated Chinese-European “decoupling” along the lines of the prior US-initiated Russian-European one could potentially follow. Reuters’ exclusive report on Wednesday citing four unnamed US officials and other sources extended credence to the preceding scenario by revealing that the Golden Billion is indeed discussing multilateral sanctions.

Should those two developments take place – China arming Russia and then being sanctioned by the Golden Billion in a way that provokes their “decoupling” (whether gradual or instantaneous) – then International Relations would enter a period of tri-multipolarity characterized by the prominence of three poles that exert the most influence over global affairs, but whose influence nevertheless wouldn’t be absolute since it’ll be kept in check to an extent by rising powers and regional groups.

The Tri-Multipolar World Order

The three expected poles are the US-led West’s Golden Billion, the Sino-Russo Entente, and the de facto Indian-led Global South that’ll likely continue informally assembling into a new Non-Aligned Movement (“Neo-NAM”). Within the last-mentioned will reside rising powers like BrazilIranSouth Africa, and Turkiye, among others, alongside regional groups like the African Union (AU), ASEAN, and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Each of these three categories of actors – the three poles as well as the rising powers and regional groups that sit below the former in this informal international hierarchy – are expected to balance one another by multi-aligning within and between their respective levels. India’s role will be the most important of them all since it’s poised to facilitate trade between the Golden Billion and the Sino-Russo Entente in the event that their potential “decoupling” is taken to an extreme, which can’t be ruled out.

India’s Kingmaker Role

Furthermore, India’s earlier virtual hosting of the Voice Of Global South Summit positioned this civilization-state as the center of gravity for its fellow developing peers, which bolsters the likelihood that the Neo-NAM will continue informally assembling around it. From there, India can promote its own financial, technological, and other platforms in order to provide Global South states with a neutral third choice between the Golden Billion and the Sino-Russo Entente’s respective ones in the New Cold War.

Those rising powers and regional groups that participate within the unofficially Indian-led Neo-NAM could also develop their own platforms too, but India’s might become the standard for facilitating engagement between them at their early stages. In parallel, global fora like the UN and G20 will no longer have much significance other than functioning as talking clubs, while interests-driven and regional groups will replace their prior role in promoting tangible cooperation between countries.

Concluding Thoughts

The global systemic transition’s impending evolution towards tri-multipolarity could see the US-led West’s Golden Billion, the Sino-Russo Entente, and the de facto Indian-led Global South becoming the most prominent poles in International Relations, below which would be rising powers and regional groups. All actors would balance one another by multi-aligning within and between their respective levels, which might result in stabilizing global affairs much more than the prior unipolar and bi-multipolar orders did.

Background Briefings

* 7 October 2021: “Towards Bi-Multipolarity

* 16 December 2021: “The Neo-NAM: From Vision To Reality

* 15 March 2022: “Why Did The U.S. Prioritize Containing Russia Over China?

* 26 March 2022: “Russia Is Waging an Existential Struggle in Defense of Its Independence & Sovereignty

* 22 May 2022: “Russia, Iran, And India Are Creating A Third Pole Of Influence In International Relations

* 6 June 2022: “India Is The Irreplaceable Balancing Force In The Global Systemic Transition

* 20 June 2022: “Towards Dual-Tripolarity: An Indian Grand Strategy For The Age Of Complexity

* 5 August 2022: “The Russian Foreign Ministry Comprehensively Explained The Global Systemic Transition

*  1 October 2022: “The Ukrainian Conflict Might Have Already Derailed China’s Superpower Trajectory

* 29 October 2022: “The Importance Of Properly Framing The New Cold War

* 19 November 2022: “Analyzing The US-Chinese-Russian-Indian Interplay In The Global Systemic Transition

* 29 November 2022: “The Evolution Of Key Players’ Perceptions Across The Course Of The Ukrainian Conflict

* 14 December 2022: “India’s Principled Neutrality Reaps Grand Strategic Dividends

* 28 December 2022: “The Five Ways That The US Successfully Reasserted Its Hegemony Over Europe In 2022

* 1 January 2023: “The New York Times Tried To Throw Shade On India’s Global Rise

* 7 January 2023: “India’s Global South Summit Is The Most Important Multilateral Event In Decades

* 11 January 2023: “Exposing Western Media’s Narrative Agenda In Spinning The Sino-American New Détente

* 4 February 2023: “The Chinese Balloon Incident Could Decisively Shift China’s & The US’ ‘Deep State’ Dynamics

* 14 February 2023: “NATO’s Self-Declared ‘Race Of Logistics’ Confirms The Bloc’s Military-Industrial Crisis

* 26 February 2023: “China Compellingly Appears To Be Recalibrating Its Approach To The NATO-Russian Proxy War

* 28 February 2023: “Just How Drastically Would The World Change If China Armed Russia?

* 1 March 2023: “Global Fora Like The UN & G20 Are Gradually Losing Their Importance

* 1 March 2023: “Germany Is Lying: Chinese Arms Shipments To Russia Wouldn’t Violate International Law

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Sep 032015
 September 3, 2015  Posted by at 5:30 pm Finance Tagged with: , , ,  10 Responses »


This is a rerun of an article I wrote on August 10, 2012. It seems to have regained quite a bit of relevance in recent days. I was thinking earlier today, how can I write about finance when Europe continues to offend people’s, and humanity’s, most basic dignity the way it does, but it does. It gets more incomprehensible by the hour, what happens there. But it does.

So here’s a different view, 50+ years old, of what Europe could, and perhaps should, have been, instead of the sad and amoral place it has become. Just for perspective.

One note: Freddy Heineken would never have allowed for toddlers to drown. He was not that kind of man. He would have sent in all he could to prevent more suffering. Europe no longer seems to have than kind of man. Or woman. No leadership, no vision, no humanity. No nothing.

Just about everyone will recognize the family name. Fewer will be familiar with the man behind it. But Alfred (Freddy) Heineken was an interesting man regardless. Starting in 1941, he took over the family firm founded by his grandfather, bought back shares and never looked back. Freddy built the Heineken brand into one of the best marketed ones in the world for any product, and today, 10 years after his death, it is still in the very top of world breweries.

But Heineken didn’t just think about beer. When the European Union was formed, he devoted time to letting his light shine on that project too (Heineken was a known Europhile). What he brought to the table was that, of course, he knew Europe well, from his own unique personal business experience. He oversaw, hands on, not just sales, but also marketing in all the different European languages and cultures.

Heineken didn’t trust that the European Union would work the way it was proposed – and eventually organized -. According to him, if Europe were to be a success, it would have to be divided in far smaller units than the nation states that had been formed post-WWII.

It’s reminiscent a little of Joel Garreau’s “Nine Nations of North America”, published in 1981. I don’t know if Heineken knew the book, but given his overall curiosity and his wide array of contacts with business leaders, politicians and artists all over the world (Heineken was a very wealthy man), it wouldn’t surprise me. Then again, his vision is based on completely different ideas than Garreau’s.

For those who are not familiar with Garreau’s work, here’s a map of how he “envisioned” North America:

Garreau divided the continent into units that he thought would be most coherent from the point of view of culture, political ideals and economic interests. Interesting notions, and a good book to pick up.

Back to Heineken, who would have found Garreau’s units far too sizeable for his liking. He was thinking along the lines of optimally manageable untis.

Immediately after the 1992 Maastricht Treaty saw European nations sign away the first real chunks of sovereignty, Freddy Heineken published his pamphlet The United States of Europe (A Eurotopia?), written with Dutch historians Henk Wesseling and Wim van den Doel. The underlying idea here is that the individual units (statelets) should have no more than 5-10 million inhabitants.

Philip Ebels revoked the idea in an article written for EU Observer last week:

For the United Statelets of Europe

[..] If the EU was considered a country, it would be seventh on the list of biggest countries and third on the list by population size. And, as officials in Brussels never tire of repeating, first on the list of biggest economies.

The time is [..] gone when people were ignorant and obedient. The time when they did not annoy their leaders with demands of transparency, efficiency, democracy and accountability.

Technological progress has always led to political turbulence, often at the expense of those in power. The Internet, just like the printing press before, gives people access to information and the power to create and distribute, undermining establishments everywhere – not only in the Arab world.

That is why states are doing what they need to accommodate an ever more demanding and emancipated people: decentralise. The UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy: all have passed down powers over the last couple of decades. The closer the power, the more transparent, efficient, democratic and accountable it is.

Everything which has a function, one could argue, has an optimal size. A pen can be bigger or smaller, you still need to be able to use it. The European welfare state has multiple functions. It needs to protect its territory from outside, uphold the rule of law, provide healthcare, education, take care of the roads and the forests and – to a more or lesser degree – distribute wealth.

The problem is that each of those functions has its own optimal size and that, as the world continues to change, they continue to diverge. The result is not that the state does not work anymore – it just does not work very well. Like a pen as big as a broom or as small as a splinter – you might still be able to use it, but it is not very practical.

It is a trend that will continue as long as technology continues to progress. China and other rising giants will continue to rise; the ruled will continue to undermine their rulers. And then there will come a day – or has it come already? – that the European states of today do more harm than good [..]

Heineken called it “Eurotopia” – a contraction of Europe and utopia. He was well aware of the skepsis the idea would garner. But radical times call for radical measures. And the way things are going, I prefer utopia over dystopia.

Here’s a nice version of Heineken’s map:


More background comes from Peter Jan Margry in 2008:

Memorialising Europe: Revitalising and Reframing a ‘Christian’ Continent

“(…) Heineken was convinced of the positive consequences of this process of the decay of centralism in favour of a Eurotopia as he called it. Immediately after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 many were already afraid of a Europe that was becoming too large and too powerful, despite the fact that, as an antidote for this, a representational Committee of the Regions had been included in the Treaty in order to weaken these tendencies and, at the same time, answer the call for more regional autonomy.

Initially, as a hypothetical response to this, Heineken went public with his plan for a United States of Europe. This involved a union composed of 75 independent states, created on the basis of political, historical, linguistic, cultural and ethnic affinities and sensitivities. Taking cultural differences into account in precisely this way would strengthen Europe as an entity. Although nothing was ever done politically as a consequence of this idealistic proposal, the underlying analysis is not inconsistent with developments in the years that followed – on the contrary.

The proposed decentralization and federalizing of Europe on the basis of smaller geographic units proceeded from the central idea that it would prevent conflicts and promote stability and equality. This assumption was based, on the one hand, on the theory of the British historian C. Northcote Parkinson that smaller national units could be less centralized, more efficient and therefore more stable, and, on the other hand, on the thesis of the Austrian sociologist Leopold Kohr (1957) that ‘bigness is a problem’. In effect, both embroider [Denis] de Rougemont’s initial preference for a regionalized, federalist Europe.

As early as the late 1960s, as a result of the European Communities, a process of growing regional autonomy had slowly got under way. The converging supranational and diverging national forces would, it was supposed, bring Europe more to its ‘natural state’, preserving the various regional identities. Because of regionalist tendencies the nation-state network was breaking down, and within various member states regions were gaining far-reaching autonomy.

According to an almost apodictic commentary in The Economist, if the logic for splitting up Czechoslovakia could be carried through, then there was all the more reason that the same should be done in Belgium, with its even greater language and economic divisions. Meanwhile, Spain fears the regional autonomy claimed by the Basques and Catalans, while France has to deal with a Corsican struggle for autonomy; similar claims are made by the Scots, Hungarian minorities throughout the Balkans, and so on.”

So why all this attention for a billionaire beerbrewer’s spare time activities? The answer lies in those last lines. “Spain fears the regional autonomy claimed by the Basques and Catalans, while France has to deal with a Corsican struggle for autonomy; similar claims are made by the Scots, Hungarian minorities throughout the Balkans, and so on.”

The map of Heineken’s utopia could quite feasibly serve as the blueprint for a dystopia. When the financial crisis starts to bite for real, and it will, count on it, it appears inevitable that nations and/or parts of nations begin preparing for independence. There are plenty of regions in Europe that hang on as parts of larger entities only for economic reasons. When these reasons no longer exist, appeals for separation will become louder.

It won’t be a coherent movement, far from it. It will be chaotic. But there seems to be no way that certain regions will not fall prey to populists, nationalists, and in general the resurrection of age-old ideas that never disappeared, but that simply lay dormant under a thin veneer of riches.

Why would the Catalans or the Basques elect to continue to be a part of Spain, when the government in Madrid has nothing to offer but empty coffers? Why would they let others decide for them when that brings them no economic advantages? Any charismatic leader might convince them that they would be better off as a separate unit. And that leader might be right to boot.

Why should the Scots remain in the United Kingdom? And what might happen in for instance Galicia, Silesia, Moravia, regions that have seen many different rulers in recent history only? What ancient cultural, religious or other divides will rise to the surface all over again?

It is not at all imaginary that regions want (back) their independence. And neither is it that borders between regions will be contested, that people will be told that only warfare will be sufficient to show “those over there”, who committed untold horrible if not unspeakable atrocities an untold number of years ago, that now is the time to avenge the ancestors who died to defend the land they now live on.

For obvious reasons, we call this scenario the Balkanization of Europe.

It will not develop exactly along the lines and borders that Freddy Heineken saw as desirable. But we may well one day think back of that map, and not for the reasons Heineken meant it for. I think along those lines on a regular basis when I see the likes of Monti, Draghi and Rajoy present their grandiose plans to save the union, and their place in it, far more costly than any can afford, as it’s sinking ever deeper into its overwhelming debt morass.