The Great Unravelling of the Postwar Order

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Submitted by Olivia on Wed, 2019-07-17 05:32

By Olivia Pierson

As the chaotic madness of WWII drew to an end, the victorious heads of the Allied Powers, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Josef Stalin, met to restructure the future of the world at the Yalta Conference of February 1945. This resulted in the ‘Declaration of Liberated Europe’, where it was pledged “the earliest possible establishment through free elections, governments responsive to the will of the people.”

By July of the same portentous year, Roosevelt had been dead for three months and the presidency had passed to Vice President Harry Truman. Churchill lost his office of Prime Minister to Clement Attlee in the same month. The Potsdam Conference saw Churchill, Attlee, Truman, Stalin and other world leaders embark on plans for what we now refer to as the postwar order. Following on from the Yalta conference, Potsdam formulated a comprehensive strategy to deal with the utter devastation from the war in Europe, while planning a bit more. It was here that the demand for the “unconditional surrender of Japan” was outlined. The first atom-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, August 6th – four days after the conference ended.

Although the Soviet Union had helped to conquer the Wehrmacht, Stalin violated the Yalta pledge, which had promised free elections and the corollary of representative governments, in the nations of Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

This came as no surprise to Churchill or to Truman; both men held deep misgivings about the creep of Soviet communism, and they often fulminated with Cold War rhetoric. “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent”, declared Churchill in his 1946 “Sinews of Peace” speech to Westminster College in Missouri. The Truman Doctrine of “countering Soviet expansionism” led to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which was formed in 1949 with 12 member countries and today has 29. (New Zealand is not a full member but rather a Major non-NATO Ally and partner.)

The major postwar institutions – NATO, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, the European Union – were all created for the purpose of encouraging countries to be focused on a shared, global vision rather than on anything resembling nationalistic parochialism, which was deemed to have been the cause of the war.

Emerging from its pre-WWII isolation, America intervened in the Korean War (successfully), the Vietnam War (unsuccessfully), then the First Gulf War (successfully) and Bosnia (successfully). These wars were conducted within the framework of willing coalition partners – Britain, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and other nations focused on a view of global peace; where communists and genocidal tyrants don’t get to act with impunity.

The postwar order was seen as a great success – the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union broke apart and communist China lifted its bamboo curtain high enough to engage in widespread international trade. The Maastricht Treaty provided open borders in Europe along with a shared common currency. Ethnic diversity, multiculturalism, feminism and indigenous human-rights reparations were heavily pushed by the UN.

So why is this 75-year-old international, liberal order ripping apart at the seams?

September 11th, 2001, saw the forces of radical Islam destroy the Twin Towers in the heart of America’s financial and cultural capital, Manhattan, along with the deaths of 3000 Americans in one day on their own soil.

The 1990's globalist peace-dream came to an abrupt end, at least in the minds of some. Knowledgeable writers with insightful views, such as Oriana Fallaci and Christopher Hitchens, cast their gazes toward the Middle East and saw a nuclear-armed, West-hating Pakistan, a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and a mad, genocidal tyrant in Iraq, Saddam Hussein, vociferating wildly that he was on a path to developing nuclear weapons – so beware!

Nobody knew it at the time, but after he watched Saddam Hussein be overthrown, and fearing the Americans were coming next for him (they did under President Obama), Muammar Gaddafi of Libya voluntarily gave up his plans to develop nuclear weapons and helped to expose the nuclear proliferation caused by Pakistani nuclear physicist, Abdul Qadeer Khan (the AQ Khan network). Khan himself confessed in 2004 to selling nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran.

Had President George Bush not invaded Iraq, President Trump conceivably might be dealing now, not only with a nuclear-armed Pakistan, but also a nuclear-armed Iraq, Iran, Libya and perhaps even Syria. North Korea is a done deal, though a shaky and perhaps incompetent one, but underestimating a tyrant is just as foolish as overestimating him. If this were the state of the Middle East today, telling Saudi Arabia that “it can’t follow suit” would be akin to screaming at a winter wind.

Fighting this war in Iraq kept America soundly in the bad books of Europe and beyond. The war dragged depressingly on and on, while the NATO alliance just left America to it; thus undermining the efficacy of the treaty.

Europe, following the lead of Germany, did not pay up for its share of U.S protection from Russian hegemony, even after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and went on to conduct a war inside the borders of Ukraine. Obama twiddled his thumbs on the sidelines and let the hawkish harridans – the alphas of his administration, Hillary Clinton and Samantha Powers – overthrow an irrelevant Gaddafi in Libya, thus unlocking North Africa’s longest border with the Mediterranean: the gateway to Europe.

Meanwhile, Germany sought extended trade deals on Russian gas via the Nord Stream pipe line – and still does. How the Germans get away with bitter criticisms of President Trump’s criticisms of NATO, yet keep wanting to forge trade alliances with Iran and gas out of Russia, I’ll never know, but I don’t expect the contradictions to last for very long.

The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 undermined the globalised financial institutions of the world.

Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, the two government-sponsored financial entities created by Congress to buy mortgage debt from banks, competed with each other buying up debts that, if left to naturally conservative bankers, would never have been given out as loans to begin with. Throughout the 90s, Bill and Hillary Clinton, in order to artificially expand the “American Dream”, made it policy to pressure banks to loan to black people since black home-ownership lagged behind white home-ownership. The DOJ began suing banks who didn’t loan on subprime mortgages.

When the crash finally happened, 980 American financial institutions and selected auto companies, such as GM (who never repaid), were bailed out by the government to the tune of 107 billion dollars. (Imagine how small and medium business owners in America, who run their companies day-in and day-out with diligent responsibility, may have felt about that?)

Germany, the wealthiest economy of the EU, ran up a 65 billion dollar trade surplus with the United States while imposing anomalous 10% tariffs on US cars being sold into Europe. The US imposes a 2.5% tariff on car imports from the EU, being their number one destination which is worth over 40 billion euros per year to the European market. Why then does Germany fail to meet its 2% of GDP for NATO – an alliance that has ensured its security for over 70 years?

Mexico, thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), ran up a trade surplus with the US of 71 billion dollars, while both their illegal and legal migrants in the US sent home remittances, that is foreign revenue, amounting to 31 billion dollars. As Mexico grew wealthier and its drug cartels and illegal immigrants ran amok to-and-fro across the Southern border, working-class Americans lost their jobs in manufacturing and low-skilled labour to Mexicans, both inside and outside of Mexico – and also to China.

China ran up a trade surplus with the United States of 376 billion dollars while it indulged shamelessly in copyright abuses on intellectual property and technology. It also manipulated its currency on the foreign exchange markets – all against the rules of the WTO, but nobody dared to call them on it because a trade war was considered too overwhelming to even contemplate.

The European Debt Crisis of 2009 pushed Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and Ireland toward bankruptcy before they were rescued by the European Commission; austerity measures followed and unemployment levels skyrocketed (to 27% in Spain). Tens of thousands of people migrated looking for work abroad. Italy, one of the six founding nations of the EU, struggled too.

Just as the European markets started to stabilise around 2014 – 15, Angela Merkel spectacularly opened Europe up to wave upon wave of Third World immigrants pouring through the unclogged Libyan gateway and across the Mediterranean. Between one and two million immigrants (the real number is not actually known) came from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, Libya, Somalia, Eritrea, the Congo and the rest of Africa. Merkel kept welcoming them into Europe (causing many to drown on the perilous journey) then forced other EU member nations to provide for them whether those nations wanted to or not; they were forced to take quotas. 70 percent of said migrants were working-aged males; all were offered welfare on the dime and goodwill of Europe’s citizens. Islamic terrorism, rape, acid attacks and stabbings dramatically increased from France and Germany to Sweden and Norway, prompting the rise of the white Identitarian Movement, which I doubt will be going away any time soon.

Suddenly in 2016, two seismic political events spoke volumes about this unravelling postwar order of ours – Brexit and the election of President Trump.

Neither of these unforeseen results were the cause of the order being overturned. They were but a dramatic symptom of a smouldering, dissatisfied anger that had been brewing for the last twenty years – and demanded a reckoning.

The very concept of democracy demands fairness and equality – not of the maudlin identity-politics sort; those egalitarians who meddle with, and obsess over, forced outcomes – no.

Democracy demands citizens who value the fairness and equality of both the Self’s individual sovereignty and the individual sovereignty of the nation state. Only by embracing this guiding principle of how citizens and nations interact with one another, can we be confident about building a future order worth fighting for and preserving. It is not a dangerous rebound back to nationalistic parochialism, as is often printed in the media and spoken about in the corridors of power. Rather, it’s a healthy self-evaluation being taken into account. A grounded re-centring of enlightened, rational self-interest.

We are living through a reckoning with the post war order. Western civilisation can absorb a lot; it’s proven that many times through history as it has evolved. While the world goes through this ongoing change, so must our institutions reflect this change. Some, such as the United Nations, need to be cut away like dead, rotting wood.

Stalin paid mere lip-service to the Yalta Conference’s ‘Declaration of Liberated Europe’ – the earliest possible establishment through free elections, governments responsive to the will of the people. Russia, under Vladimir Putin, still has nothing of the kind.

But what of Europe? It’s possible that, due to its commissioners wielding something more cudgel-like than its highly vaunted soft-power, the EU may yet go the same way as the Soviet Union did.