What Happens After the Russia-Ukraine Conflict?

Offering predictions about what will follow the Russia-Ukraine conflict is probably a foolhardy exercise but here a few thoughts that might engender further speculation and discussion.

First, after the Ukraine crisis is resolved we’re likely to see a self-congratulatory period in Washington over its temporarily forcing Western European nations into a closer integration with U.S. imperialism, guaranteeing more European purchases of U.S. weapons and giving an immediate boost to Pentagon spending. The United States will portray the Russian Bear as intent on gobbling up more European countries and every effort will be made to ignite Cold War, Phase 2. These efforts will fail and much to the consternation of the American oligarchy, the dissolution of a unipolar world will continue apace. In fits and starts, perhaps for 2-3 years, Europe will gradually move away from the United States as mutually beneficial relations with Russia and especially with China, prove irresistible. European big business is not inclined toward class suicide and as international relations analyst Michael Hudson has asserted, there’s a limit to how long they will forego the immense opportunity costs — the costs of lost opportunities — of trading with Russia as the price for their continued obedience and vassalage to U.S. geo-strategic ambitions. Meanwhile, Washington will step up its frantic push to militarily encircle China, its primary foe.

Second, acclaimed scholar Alfred McCoy predicts that the United States as the world sole superpower will be eclipsed by China by around 2030. This projection is confirmed by several hard-headed, objective analyses, including the accounting firm PxC (also cited by McCoy) now calculate that the Chinese economy will be 60% larger than the United States by 2030. The period leading up to this rough demarcation line will be exceedingly dangerous because, as opposed to some past empires, it’s far from certain that United States will make a graceful exit from center stage, There is the possibility that in its death throes, the American empire, like the thrashing, violent extinction of Tyrannosaurus Rex, will take down much of the world with it.

Third, those living in the belly of the beast are likely to witness their rulers attempting to employ surrogates as boots on the ground to resist changes in the existing world order, perhaps commencing when Russia and China began trying to expel U.S. bases near Taiwan and in the South China Sea. These tactics will not succeed in stopping China from attaining, at least, parity with the United States. Barring the unthinkable introduction of advanced weapons systems, the call may go out again for U.S. troops to be dispatched to faraway places. Should that happen, one hopes that a strong, rekindled anti-war movement arises with the prominent organizing slogan, “No More Deaths for Nothing.”

Finally, and closely connected, is the fact that except for weapons stocks and a few others, the diminution of U.S. global power will cause an ever falling profit margin for big capital, including potential financial losses for the wealthiest, most powerful segments of society. This will, in turn, require an attempt to impose savage austerity measures that will fall largely on the working class. Private economic interests and their bilateral enablers in government will try to conceal that the roots of the economic crisis lie in neoliberal capitalism and specifically, its need to maintain the U.S. empire. In service to this escalating and corrosive logic of austerity, elites will reach into their seemingly bottomless trick bag and pull out racist dog whistles, appeals to fiscal discipline and personal sacrifice, while castigating the “entitlement mentality.” Flag-waving nationalism aimed at Russian and especially “The Chinese Threat,” will assume a high profile.

We know that austerity politics is class politics and here they will be inextricably woven into the politics of an empire in free fall. Much depends on whether ordinary citizens of the country finally come to realize that the welfare of the well-being of the capitalist class is inimical to their own well-being. And whatever remains of the actual left will have ample opportunity to help connect all the dots and participate in the radical changes that must follow.

About Gary Olson

Gary Olson is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA. He can be reached at: garyleeolson416@gmail.com

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5 Comments on “What Happens After the Russia-Ukraine Conflict?”

  1. The United States oligarchy (the group that controls US foreign policy) has shown that they may break international laws and agreements when they like. In fact, the US does so on a regular basis.

    When Russia rushed in to protect the Donbas region of Ukraine (Feb. 24) from the both the invading neo-Nazi militias and constant artillery bombardment of the Kyiv government, they evoked the same international laws of minority group protection the US used as its excuse for invading Libya and toppling its government. (Of course, that was an ersatz justification.)

    Remember, the Minsk one and two agreements were supposedly put into place to protect the Russian-speaking Ukrainians of the Donbas from being murdered by their own government. (Between 2014 – 2022, 14,000 ethnic Russians had been killed by the regime in Kyiv.). Later, we found that US and its European vassals we’re not negotiating in good faith; instead, they were training, organizing and arming Ukraine’s armed forces for the future invasion NATO was intent on provoking. One week before the Russian invasion, Ukraine stepped up its artillery bombardment of the civilian areas of Donbas.

    Why should Russia trust the US and its vassals? And, as an aside, any European leader that openly and regularly criticized US foreign policy usually didn’t stay in power. The last one who did -Olaf Palme- died a mysterious, violent death. To me, that means the democracy of America’s European vassal states is more puff and smoke than actual bacon.

  2. Prof. Paloheimo,
    Thank you for your contribution to this conversation. First, one does not need to be a Putin apologist to sort through all the facts, especially what occurred in Ukraine in 2014-15, the repeated warnings from Russia about further encroachment and US-led NATO provocations to determine who’s responsible for this conflict. Neither the 24/7 MSM lying nor Prof. Paloheimo’s evidence-free animus toward Russia will prevent anyone who retains an ounce of objectivity and integrity from arriving at a proper conclusion. Second, too many people are unaware or disingenuously pushing the line that NATO was created or continues today as a “defensive alliance” against Russia. As Bruce Lindroff has observed, any American official who claims NATO was not and does not to continue to be an offensive threat to Russia is “either ignorant or a liar.” Third, I understand and actually sympathize with Paloheimo’s desire for smaller European countries having an independent role in international relations. The harsh truth, however, is that this is wishful thinking. The moment that a Finland or really any European nation decided to democratically pursue a path contrary to Washington’s designs for the world, it would immediately be on the receiving end of unyielding hostility and worse from the United States. That’s the one reason why my prediction of Europe’s putting more distance between themselves and the U.S. may prove unfulfilled. Finally, and not unrelated, no end to all the innocent people being killed in Ukraine will occur until U.S. policy makers agree — and there is no reason to believe they will do so until they’ve extracted the last shred of self-serving propaganda for their efforts.

    Gary Olson

  3. Gary Olson has a totally biased view of politics in Europe. For Gary European nations are either loyal puppets of the USA or friendly partner of Russia. In Gary’s analysis, there is no analysis of the independent role of European nations in international relation and not any serious analysis on the security thinking in European nations, nations that have been battle fields in two World Wars.

    Gary’s supposition that after some years Europe will gradually move away from the United States as mutually beneficial relations with Russia and especially with China, prove irresistible. Although the role of the USA will decline in world economy there are no marks that the security co-operation of the European nations with the USA will come to an end.

    After the Second World War, a new kind of security architecture was gradually developed in Europe. From 1975 on, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has been the main organization of this European security architecture, including both Western nations and Russia. In February 24th, the European security architecture was smashed down. Russia has shown, that it may break international law and agreements when she likes. As a result, in Europe, there is no trust on Russia. According to and old saying “It takes time to build trust between actors, but you may lose trust on you in a minute. That is what has happened to Russia now in Europe.

    For decades, Europeans thought that increasing economic interdependence with Russia could build so strong partnership between Russia and European nations that both sides have an incentive to avoid hostile relations. This faith on the usefulness of interdependence has no lost. European nations have begun to make massive decisions to reduce their dependency of Russian energy.

    The after Second World War period has turned to a new phase, an ice age in Russian-European relations. We can see how long this can go and how long it can last. As long as Mr. Putin is the dictator of Russia, there are no possibilities to overcome this ice age. Russia will have its place as the other isolated rogue state (along with North Korea) in world politics, relying mainly on her relations with the rising world power China.

    In Europe, strong military defence is still needed, to counter the unpredictable action of Russia.

    Gary’s text is a dream of a socialist, not a credible estimate of future trends in European politics.

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