Geopolitics: The Ukraine conflict in the multipolar world order

30 07 2014

Here are some recent pieces, from a variety of political perspectives, helpful for understanding the geopolitical implications of the Russia-Ukraine (and effectively Russia-U.S.) conflict.

Most of these focus on the recent Russia-China gas deal, and together they underscore the importance of the Russia-China relationship in the unfolding multi-polar geopolitics of the post-2008 world economy.

Note that while the Callinicos piece is a few months old now, I include it because I find it offers a fairly lucid radical-left perspective that contrasts with some of those voiced on the left in recent months — one that affirms the “hydra-headed” (as he calls it) nature of imperialism, which Callinicos basically equates with capitalism.

I quote:

“But from a Marxist perspective, imperialism is about more than American power. The classical theory of imperialism is, more than anything else, a theory of intra-capitalist competition. Imperialism is a system, the form taken by capitalism when the concentration and centralisation of capital bring about the fusion of economic competition among capitals and geopolitical competition among states.22 Putin’s actions express exactly this imperialist logic, combining geopolitical preoccupations (above all, blocking NATO expansion) with economic motivations (fear that Russian firms will be squeezed out of the Ukrainian market by European rivals).

“The confused left response to the Ukrainian crisis is in part the result of an optical illusion created by the so called “unipolar moment” of apparent US global dominance after the end of the Cold War. Particularly in the light of Afghanistan and Iraq, American power has seemed so overwhelming and so malign that everything must be subordinated to resisting it. But this was always precisely an illusion. US hegemony has always been contested, reflecting the fact that imperialism involves a hierarchical distribution of power among competing capitalist states. This fact is becoming more important now.”

Also, see my post about Gerald Toal’s work on Putin’s “affective geopolitics.” It seems the original post (from Toal’s excellent Critical Geopolitics blog) has been removed. It’s also a few months old, but helpful.

Finally, for fun, I include a link to a piece called “Ukraine, Russia, the US/EU: What’s Going On?” from a California-based Evangelical Christian outfit called Bible Based Ministries. While it’s rather quirky (OK, downright bizarre), it is really just an extreme example of the kinds of conspiracy theories that have cropped up — both in the western far right and far left and in the Russian right and left — to account for recent events in Ukraine. We might think of it as an example of how 2 plus 2 can be made to add up to 7. (Or 11, or 53.)


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