The fall of the Soviet Union, geopolitically profound as it was, didn’t usher in “a New World Order.” The world still lives in the warmth and prosperity of the dominance of Western Civilization. A collapse of the European Union could well end that world order – which is on notice of a challenge by a Sino-centric power center in any event. But the failure of the eurozone could hasten the challenge and wage it on Beijing’s, not our, terms.
The transatlantic axis, anchored by a prosperous Europe and America, represents a philosophically consistent worldview (Judeo-Christian Greco-Romanism) that has largely driven history for the better part of the last two millennia. The Age of Empire crumbled in the aftermath of World War I; The Second World War brought Japan into the Western fold, and the reinstatement of Israel established a Western outpost in the Muslim Middle East; President Nixon began a process (still underway) to entice a Maoist China in the direction of market republicanism; the collapse of Europe’s last great empire – the Soviet Union – brought about an opportunity to reorient Moscow toward a Western worldview. These last two are works-in-progress that are trending poorly.
The imperial intensions of the Soviet Union were exposed immediately post-World War II, and the Untied States countered by forming NATO to geographically encircle Eurasian Russia, and the Marshall Plan to economically isolate it. “Containment,” we called it. Military competition between us and the Soviets led to the space programs of each, which led to exponential expansion of the ability of each to inflict violence on the other. “Deterrence,” we called it. Containment and deterrence held Soviet expansionism in check until the revelation of stealth technology and our undertaking the design and construction of a ballistic missile shield rendered the Soviet Union economically irrelevant.
It’s ironic that governance failures in Greece and Italy may sink the predominance of Greco-Roman-based Western Civilization. It’s more likely than probable, and more potential then likely, but it could happen; and if a tipping point is reached, our “friends” in Beijing and Moscow will help push us over the edge. An evening of the global balance of power is in PRC’s and Russia’s best interests, and I would expect nothing less from them.
The problem isn’t Greek and Italian prolificacy as much as the false promise of European economic homogenization. It was never possible, awaiting only the first time is was actually needed to illuminate the fraud. Many commentators point to Ireland as the index-case, saying that the euro delivered on its promise – Ireland was bailed-out and has (thus far) repented and is sinning no more. That’s correct, but Ireland isn’t the disease, only the first symptom. The disease is the social-democratic model of European political economics. It just doesn’t work, and the eurozone remedies for assisting individual countries isn’t up to rescuing the ill-designed system upon which the eurozone is based. A failure of the eurozone could bring down the European Union, likewise based upon a myth – that of Europe’s people being more comfortable being citizens of Europe than being citizens of Germany, or France, or Poland, etc. A collapse of the Union in the midst of a surge in nationalist sentiments and economic impotence would provide a feeding frenzy for Moscow and a further economic isolation of the Untied States.
This would not be a collapse of the Old World Order, but it could well begin an irresistible shift in that direction, culminating in a Beijing-centric (or, less likely, a Beijing/Moscow-centric) New World Order in a generation or two.
What that would mean for the rest of the world depends on whether Beijing perceives it in their interest to maintain free world trade, or seeks to dominate world trade for short-term, parochial gain only. Much would depend on whether Beijing sees rabid Islamism as threat to civilization, or suppresses only Uyghur and Tibetan insurrections. Just as Hawaii is a strategic lynchpin in America’s ability to dominate the Pacific, it presents a strategic obstacle for anyone else’s dominance of it – how will a Chinese superpower handle the Hawaiian irritant?
All of this, of course, assumes continued Chinese economic progress, which is in no way a certainty. They are having their very own real estate bubble, but theirs is happening inside a larger, more dangerous currency bubble. Neither is sustainable, and how Beijing handles them will be outcome-relevant to what happens in the wake of Europe’s struggle to restructure itself on the fly.
If Greece fails, or is excommunicated from the euro, the euro will probably collapse as a serious world currency. That would initiate serious self-doubts among members of the European Union, a failure of which would dissolve Europe into Germany, England, the probable loss of much of Eastern Europe into the Russian shadow, and near-Third World conditions in southern Europe. Europe, as a player, would be off the table for at least a couple of generations.