Dis-United Nations: The Scramble for Power in an Ungoverned World
New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2020
About a year ago I ran into one of my old Army buddies. He’d been working a job that dealt with “foreign military sales.” That’s the tricky business of selling the export model of American-made military equipment to an ally without giving away some super-secret hardware, while not allowing said ally to use the equipment against another American ally. The job was mostly interesting and rewarding — but “Canadians,” he said angrily, “are really dicks.”
During the Cold War, Americans involved in foreign military sales or any other military-diplomatic operation would have brushed insults from Canadians off with a smile, but now they don’t. Reacting to these small insults are part of a larger pattern of less American tolerance for hostility from allies. This frustration has been building for two decades. Zeihan shows that Argentina went to Washington for a financial bailout and then disavowed debts to American citizens. Brazil’s development is greatly aided by American investments, but they launched an alternative financial and trade system called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). South Korea, Israel, and France regularly spy on American operations. Thus, my Army buddy’s story is like the experiences of many other Americans who are dealing with our allies, and the cumulative effects of these frustrating incidents, both large and small, are starting to have an effect on American policy.
But before one can explain what is coming, one must explain what is — or better said, what was.
The Bretton Woods Order
America was historically isolationist. One of the Democratic Party’s slogans during the national elections of 1900 was “a Republic, not an Empire.” The Cold War changed everything. At the end of the Second World War, the United States and the Soviet Union were supreme. During the war the Soviet Union had been a killing machine; not only were they able to brutally suppress any internal ethnic revolt, but they raped, robbed, destroyed, and murdered their way through Eastern Europe. In 1949 they got their own atomic bomb and then instigated a war on the Korean Peninsula to further their gains.
The Americans responded to the Soviet threat using two methods. The first was that they showed to all their anti-Soviet allies that they were willing to fight for even the poorest of America’s allies to check Communist expansion and demonstrate American resolve. Americans waged two wars along these lines in Korea and Vietnam. Americans also held the line in Berlin and the inter-German border. Then the Americans
guaranteed the safety of the imports, exports, and supply lines of everyone. Even countries it economically competes with. Even countries it likes to bomb. As Detroit was hollowing out, German automotive exports were sacrosanct. As Midwest farmers were struggling with low grain prices, those pursuing Brazilian agricultural expansion found it easy to import American fertilizers and equipment. As the Americans were sparring diplomatically and militarily with the Iranian Ayatollah, the American Navy maintained ironclad naval safety for all commercial vessels at all times. Even when the Americans were actively prosecuting a war — as in Vietnam — they persisted in protecting local commerce, even that of the other side. The Soviet Union found itself often on the defensive, forced to act as the agent of chaos, seeking to overthrow states that were economically thriving, many for the first time ever. It was a losing proposition. (p. 12)
By the late 1980s, this Bretton Woods Order had lifted billions out of poverty. It allowed all nations, including rivals such as Russia and China, a chance to achieve continuity of government. This didn’t mean the continuity of any one political party or any one politician, but rather that these nations were able to keep their governmental forms intact until the people themselves opted for reform. This created a great deal of internal stability.
The Order also allowed for small peoples, such as the Slovenians, to exit dysfunctional entities such as Yugoslavia and profitably participate in the Order on their own terms by specializing and achieving economies of scale. The Bretton Woods order allowed the Europeans to paper over their many differences and create the European Union.
But then the Cold War ended. Zeihan writes:
On New Year’s Eve as 1991 ended, the Soviet flag was lowered for the last time. The world has since changed, and – belatedly — the Americans are changing with it. With the Order’s strategic rationale gone, the Order has had to justify its continuing existence to the Americans. It has not gone well. (p. 17)
When human institutions are at their height, the sands which underpin those institutions will shift and the entire edifice risks collapse. This collapse might be unstoppable. The first crack in the Bretton Woods Order occurred in the form of American attitudes just before the Soviet Union fell apart:
The issue was a simple one: Japan had done very well for itself under the Order, capturing all the benefits of empire without any of the costs. That was all well and good. That was the plan. What was not the plan was that, by the mid-1980s, the average Japanese citizen became better off in terms of income than the average American. Subsidizing an ally to make them strong against a common enemy makes sense. Subsidizing an ally to the point that the ally becomes wealthier than you makes somewhat less. The Japan question quickly boiled up into a headline American political issue, featuring loudly in the 1988 presidential election among both the Republican and Democratic candidates, as well as attracting the ire of a New York property mogul by the name of Donald Trump. It was the first true crack in the edifice that was the global Order. (p. 116)
American frustration with Japan has lessened since the 1980s, but it has not gone away entirely. Instead, much of the alarm has been transferred to China. China’s rise started in 1969. That year there was a border war between the Middle Kingdom and the Soviet Union. This war war broke the links between China and the Soviets, and President Richard Nixon exploited this in 1972. In 1989, just as Americans were noticing that their allies had become rich and Eastern Europe was throwing off the Soviet yoke, the Chinese maintained their governmental continuity by crushing the Tiananmen Square rebellion with tanks.
The continuity which followed led to China’s enormous economic expansion. Today, China has a space program and a formidable navy, and is threatening its neighbors in the First Island Chain. Zeihan argues that China’s rise is not as stable or unstoppable as it might seem.
When the Chinese government began allowing ordinary Chinese to invest anywhere, they started to move their life savings out of China as fast as they could. Alarmed, the Chinese government reversed this policy. Chinese companies — all of them — are mired in debt that they will never be able to pay back. To keep their people employed, the Chinese government builds cities in its western deserts, where nobody lives. They pay people to dig holes in which to plant trees, but no trees ever get planted. Indeed, the entire Chinese economy might be on the edge of collapse.
There are several other problems as well. Most foreign nations are comfortable quartering American troops on their territories. An American soldier can be stationed in Bosnia, South Korea, Kuwait, and Qatar in the course of a single enlistment. This is because these countries get a security guarantee from the United States, and there is rarely any significant domestic hostility to their presence. On the other hand, it is impossible for Greeks to accept Turkish troops, or Koreans to accept Japanese. In some cases, Poles, Balts, and others can accept German troops, but the issue is touch-and-go.
In this regard, China is more like Turkey or Japan than America. In their 2,000-year history, the Chinese have managed to permanently alienate all of their neighbors. Vietnam and America started to unofficially reconcile within a decade of the Vietnam War’s end. Relations officially normalized in mid-1995. Relations between China and Vietnam cannot get past centuries of antagonism and mistrust, however. Since the rise of Chairman Mao, China has invaded Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, and India. They have been threatening to invade Taiwan since 1955 and have appallingly hostile attitudes toward Japan.
Internally, the Chinese are mutually hostile toward each other. Chinese history is a story of social unity and economic success followed by internal collapse. The society is also riven with corruption. Chinese parents fly to Australia to purchase baby formula because the Chinese-manufactured version might be toxic. When the Chinese attempted to ban opium in the nineteenth century, the opium dealers bribed government officials — and the opium plague persisted.
Historically, the Chinese government is prone to make terrible decisions. The Chinese Great Leap Forward created a huge famine, and for a time they shut down public education entirely. They are very likely making catastrophic decisions nowadays as well. The Chinese-produced COVID vaccine is entirely ineffective, so they have locked down the population of Shanghai, which is the heart of the nation’s economy. Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Sichuan simmer with revolt. Non-Han ethics in Tibet and China’s far west are likewise a hair’s breadth from rebellion.
Then there is China’s collapsing demographics. The famine of the early 1960s and the One Child Policy means that there are fewer young people than in earlier generations. Part of the reason for this is urbanization: The cities of northeast Asia generally have small apartments and no suburbs, so children are a luxury. The situation in China is made worse in that women are often working in the cities in large, female-only dorms while the men are elsewhere doing construction work. Additionally, there is a male-to-female gap of 40 million men. The marriage scene in China is abysmal. South Korea and Japan also have demographic problems, though not as starkly dire as China’s.
China also has an oil problem. The Chinese probably have oil shale, but have not developed an industry to gather it. Instead they get their petroleum by tanker from the Middle East. Their tankers run a gauntlet through the Strait of Hormuz. After that, the tankers are within range of the Iranians should they ever turn hostile. Next up is Pakistan. While Pakistan is currently aligned with China, the nation is poorly governed, so there is plenty of risk there. The next stop is India, where there is long-standing enmity. From there, a Chinese oil tanker must pass through yet more hostile territory. Should relations between China and any of these countries turn sour, their oil supplies can be cut at any point along the supply chain by capturing their oil-laden ships on their way out and sinking the empty ones on their way to the Persian Gulf.
Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States can easily do this with their nuclear-powered submarines, which have a very long range indeed. But the Anglo-Saxons aren’t the main threat to the Chinese today; the Japanese are. Japan has a highly competent navy that is allied with the Anglophone powers. The ships of the Chinese navy — officially The People’s Liberation Army Navy — have a range of only 1,000 miles. Further, China has aircraft carriers, but they are not combat-ready.
China isn’t so much a threat to the nations of the First Island Chain as it is boxed in by them. Should China collapse, the situation could revert to what it was in 1900, when foreign powers carved out concessions either through conquest or through a direct exchange with China’s coastal cities. China’s nuclear arsenal is a sticky point, but it might not matter if China is in chaos.
As long as Saudi Arabia remained the biggest oil producer, they could get away with anything. But as the Bretton Woods Oder starts to break down due to American disinterest, the Saudi position becomes more perilous. Since the 1970s, the Saudis have managed to alienate their neighbors in the Gulf and the West. It started with the OPEC embargo, when their blocking of oil shipments in retaliation for America’s support for Israel helped make America in the 1970s a place of stagflation and stress. The Saudis also blockaded Qatar and have kidnapped the Lebanese ambassador. The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, famously sent a death squad to kill, dismember, and burn a journalist whom he disliked.
Individual Saudis spearheaded the 9/11 attacks, and elements in the Saudi government could have been involved. Furthermore, a Saudi student shot up the Naval Air Station at Pensacola in 2019, and his Saudi friends suspiciously filmed the event. Saudi money is the backbone of Sunni Islamic terror and jihad across the Middle East. Part of the problem is that the House of Saud keeps itself in power by keeping their people uneducated. They instead import whites to do their intellectual work such as banking and engineering, and non-whites, often from South Asia, do the low-end jobs.
Dangerous young men are dealt with in the following way, writes Zeihan:
Those with a track record limited to domestic violence are ignored. Those whose violence leaks out of the home a bit are typically imprisoned and beaten into sheep. Those who are a bit more vehement are brought into the security services and become responsible for beating their countrymen. And for those special men who demonstrate a penchant for more intense and sustained violence, a special future awaits. The government gives its sociopaths some weapons training, packs their wallets with oil cash, puts Korans in their pockets, straps bombs on their backs, and ships them abroad to fight for greater glory of the House of Sau –, er Saudi Ara –, um, Islam. Exporting such malcontents acts as a pressure valve to ease social management at home while also generating endless headaches for Saudi Arabia’s foe-of-the-day. Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia have all found themselves inadvertently importing Saudi militants at one time or another. (p. 246)
Now that the Americans have oil and a huge potential to obtain energy from wind and solar power, they don’t need Saudi Arabia as much. Additionally, while there is plenty of distrust of Iran, there hasn’t been much actual blood spilled between the two countries since 1979 — but Saudi Arabians have killed a considerable number of Americans through their support for ISIS and other terrorist groups. They also riled up the Middle East for an event that led to over 150,000 deaths. In this poisoned environment, Saudi-American relations are sure to sour, and possibly become openly hostile.
An America First policy will change the US-Israeli relationship. Zeihan argues that America’s relationship with its “Greatest Ally” can only go downwards.
Those who will thrive in a world with an isolationist America
Zeihan argues that some nations will do quite well for themselves in a world where Americans are no longer willing to jump into every global crisis or provide security for the trading relationships of far-off nations. It comes down to geography, demographics, climate, and energy.
Turkey has a large population, a good climate, and energy in the form of coal, and if it aligns with Romania and Bulgaria, it will also have food of every kind.
France’s geography will make that nation Europe’s great power. France and the United States have plenty of interests which align, besides.
Argentina’s excellent agricultural sector, good demographics, educated white population, and its remote, defensible location will keep it secure.
Brazil will be South America’s next largest power, but it is being held down by racial issues (14 Afro-Brazilians are said to be killed by the police every day). Brazil’s tropical climate also makes growing wheat and other staples difficult.
Japan will do well as long as it remains aligned with America. Americans alienating Japan would be an idiotic policy by any means. Iran will also continue to do well, mainly due to its mountainous borders and proven ability to fight.
The British will continue to flourish, but Zeihan believes that Brexit was a self-inflicted wound. They will be forced to align more with the Americans, and on American terms. The other “Five Eyes” Anglophone nations will likely follow suit.
Demography is also a factor. Zeihan doesn’t mention the Great Replacement or say much about the fact that America’s domestic politics are warped by overrepresentation of sub-Saharans in the nation’s political system. He instead focuses on age brackets. He writes:
The ratio of four children to three young adults to two mature adults to one revered elder has more or less held true since the dawn of human civilization: 4:3:2:1. But today many countries are closer to 1:2:2:1, signifying both rapid aging and shrinking of the population. (p. 80)
In one branch of my own family, which comes from the American Majority – I have mostly Pennsylvania roots with some Yankee and Tidewater interweavings — our demographics, beginning with my late grandparents, are 20:9:4:2. In another branch of my family, the demographics are even better. America is lucky in that the native, white Baby Boomers had children, their children had children, and that trend will likely continue. The South Koreans aren’t having many children, nor are the Germans, Russians, Iranians, Japanese, and many others. Young families with children drive the economy through consumption and work. The kids cost money, and the father works to feed them. Retirees live off their savings. More retirees mean less money for investment and less work.
The only key racial issue Zeihan mentions is in relation to France. He writes:
In many ways, the French system takes the two types of racism most prevalent in the United States and applies the worst of both. In the American South, racism takes the form of, “We will mingle, but we are not equal.” In the American North, it is in the vein of, “We are equal, but we will not mingle.” In France, the targets of racism are out of sight and out of mind, consigned to ghettos and at the back of the line as regards government services. This is a combustible and unsustainable mix, tantamount to occupying a sizeable chunk of one’s own population. In a democracy, even in the best-case scenario, it is a great way to get a lot of people killed. (p. 217)
The Wars of Disorder
Collapsing populations and America’s disinterest in foreign security, as well as harder tariffs, have resulted in a great deal of disorder. The first war of disorder is ongoing now in Ukraine. If this conflict had occurred during the Cold War, Ukraine would quickly have been gobbled up by NATO and American infantry would be arrayed along its borders, backed by nuclear-capable artillery, but since the Cold War ended the cold fact is that America has no vital interest in that nation. Americans might sympathize with the Ukrainians and support them remotely, but the American cavalry isn’t about to arrive. In the years leading up to the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War, the issue of what to do in Ukraine has created lasting bitterness across the American political scene.
Zeihan argues — not in this book, but lectures that can be found online — that from the Russian point of view, attacking Ukraine was a matter of now or never. Russia’s collapsing demographic situation means that they must face the risk of an invasion to secure the various entry points to the Russian heartland. The ultimate goal for Putin in Ukraine is to secure the Moldavian and Bessarabian points of entry. From there, they want to take Poland at least as far as Warsaw, as well as the Baltics. The resulting casualties will be worth it to Putin. Russians are a part of the Asiatic Hoardlands, and high casualties are a feature of hoard warfare, not a bug.
The downsides of the Russo-Ukrainian War have yet to be felt. Gas is expensive, but it will likely come down in America as energy policies change. The Biden regime deliberately harmed American energy output from the outset. This error will be corrected, especially after this year’s mid-term elections. The loss of the Ukrainian wheat crop will result in famines. Zeihan predicts that Pakistan will suffer, as will the oil-poor nations of the Middle East. The Horn of Africa is also at risk. Brazil will not starve, but the lack of inputs — especially fertilizer — will lower their yields. Food will become more expensive across the globe.
Russia’s actions will put them in a bitter rivalry with Germany. The Germans could cut a deal to get the oil they need to keep their industry running; they have cut deals with Russia at the expense of Poland and the Baltics before. But either way, disorder is returning to Europe.
It will also return to Asia. Americans are steadily withdrawing from South Korea. Korean hostility and anti-Americanism has gotten more intense, perhaps not coincidentally, since the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Zeihan argues that without America, there is no South Korea. I’m uncertain if this is true or not, but either way, America’s concern for South Korea’s fate has become an American luxury.
Splendid American isolation
Zeihan argues that America is in very good shape to return to isolationism. Militarily, America can now afford to be neutral and can deliberately stir up trouble with any other party, whereas during the Cold War, stability and support no matter what was the bedrock policy. Regardless, the deindustrialization and troubles caused by the Bretton Woods Order are coming to an end. The ongoing supply chain issues are the result of China’s internal troubles and the resulting lag before America’s factories come online. America’s internal economy is well-positioned to look after itself.
There is no mention of “civil rights” or anything relating to a white advocate’s perspective in this book, but such a perspective can be discovered between the lines. It paints a good picture of what could happen if America devolves into Civil War II: RAHOWA. Foreign nations will likely not participate; instead, they will be forced to deal directly with their own security situations. Issues such as the hostility between Greece and Turkey, France and Germany, and Japan and Korea will resurface. Some nations, like Argentina, will be winners; others, like Greece and South Korea, will be losers.
Zeihan further argues that the political parties are realigning. In 1930, sub-Saharans were solid Republicans and Big Business consisted mostly of solid Democrats. Now the Democrats have a mutually hostile coalition of minorities, sexual deviants, single women, and sub-Saharans. The Republicans are dealing with newly-powerful factions within their coalition: the America First isolationists and, to put it directly, white advocates. More established Republican factions like the Religious Right and the corporate elite must share power with these two previously marginalized groups.
A white reckoning has been predicted. For several generations, American foreign policy has been one of throwing its disaffected whites into frontier wars. It is telling that the Confederate Battle Flag sold in considerable numbers to soldiers in Korea and Germany during the 1950s. The Battle Flag was also commonly seen in Vietnam. Ronald Reagan got rid of his own white advocates by organizing them and sending them off to El Salvador and Nicaragua to fight Communists in the 1980s. Today, white advocates are at home and frontier wars are optional. Thus, white advocates are just starting to make an impact.
The collapsing demographics of the Far East are also a boon for white advocates. America can encourage the nations of Asia to take back their immigrants from here. “Repopulate the homeland” is a great slogan. It is certainly better for Koreans to be among their own kind rather than for them to lose money and take huge risks in a shop in a sub-Saharan ghetto. In this new situation, should white advocates play their cards well, the Great Replacement may very well be reversed.
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