Keith Hart on Sat, 3 Jun 2017 23:13:23 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> merkel, macron: europe on its own

Hi Brian,

There were two threads on this topic and I meant my comment to speak
to both of them. The main one launched by Alex and added to lately
by you and Felix was basically about geopolitics seen in the context
of recent developments. Morlock and Patrice brought up the narrower
issue of nukes. My piece was shorter and more coherent than usual.
Talk of nukes reminded me that the anti-war/nuclear movement was the
most impressive mobilization in my lifetime, but does not feature in
our conversations much today. Rather than speculate about global power
shifts in peacetime, a major war will change the dynamic radically and
is quite likely. I wondered, rather than sleepwalk into another world
war, how we might focus on stopping it. We should also ask who might
benefit most from starting one.

In the 80s Germany and Japan were widely touted as successors to
the US as global hegemons. I sought to correct your suggestion,
Brian, that the US is all washed up again, with Germany and China
the likely replacement and Felix's notion that the last six months
have been decisive in some way. I listed the abiding strengths of the
American empire: mercantilism, militarism, the internet economy, world
currency. We are already in a world war over intellectual property
and I pointed out that the US is busy procuring legal immunity for
war crimes around the world. Why if not preparing for world war? This
conclusion reverted to the war theme of the post.

Do we seriously believe that, holding the cards it does, the US would
allow some Eurasian combo to take over global hegemony peacefully?
No doubt the Pentagon routinely runs any number of war scenarios
and assesses unfolding events accordingly. Some see Trump as a
destabilizing factor, but he could just as easily force the US
establishment into bed with each on a cross-party basis. A war would
do that anyway, so Trump is a temporary force for peace. I have
enormous respect for the Washington policy-making establishment who
are only in the news now because of Trump, but usually don't care for

Europe is in terminal break-up and decline. Consider their
corresponding features to US strengths: their market has been wrecked
by the German export surplus; the union will be destroyed by its
currency eventually; their internet economy is squeezed between the
US and Asia; they can neither reproduce nor defend themselves;they
could launch another internal 30 years war between pro- and
anti-globalization factions. They started two word wars already and I
wouldn't put it past them to start another. For the last few decades
most of the wars and revolutions have been on their South and East
borders and are now coming home. It's a hot spot alright.

China imports loads of food, energy and minerals while relying
on export manufactures. World wars disrupt trade, transport and
communications. The country's internal contradictions (Beijing vs
Southern/Coastal cities) open up the possibility of another of China's
periodic breakups. Putin wanted only to stir things up in the West.
The last thing he needs is to bring the whole house of cards down.
Where else can he and his gang stash the billions they have stolen
from Russians if Western banking fails?

We always fight the last war --disruption to Atlantic food supplies,
the threat of nuclear holocaust. Maybe the next one will hinge on
defending undersea cables. Our speculations here are often trapped in
a moralizing positivism -- we make predictions, but are powerless to
do more than react to events. The people who are currently developing
strategic options in the US, China, Russia, Germany and France do not
advertise their thoughts publicly and they are stronger-minded and
more pragmatic than the left critics who denigrate their incompetence.

Which is where I came in with my last post here. What would it take
to mobilize global networks to resist war that, whatever form it
took, would be a disaster for humanity? IT would take something more
ecumenical than political discourse on nettime. I would take no
pleasure in saying I told you so after the balloon goes up. It will
be too late by then. We should be debating how to form an effective
coalition for peace, not predicting winners in a cultural contest of


On Sat, Jun 3, 2017 at 5:54 AM, Brian Holmes <>

> On 06/02/2017 03:39 AM, Keith Hart wrote:
>> It is foolish to bracket the US and Russia together, even
>> rhetorically, just because right now they share autocratic leaders
>> of unequal weight. The American empire, for all its recent political
>> mismanagement, is alive and strong: with its share of the world
>> market, all those weapons and bases, the world currency (even more at
>> times of radical uncertainty) and the content, hardware, software and
>> giant firms of the internet economy which is fast becoming the world
>> economy. The US is still signing up small (and some large) countries
>> for TRIPS, the intellectual property treaty, while signing bilateral
>> treaties with each exempting American citizens from future prosecution
>> for war crimes.
> Well, you are right about how things stand in the present and your
> sobriety is well warranted. But tremendous cracks have opened up in the
> legitimacy of US domestic and global governance, and even more, in its very
> coherency, and in the rationality of state on which the power to govern is
> founded.

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