What stunned US the most during the ongoing Ukraine Crisis, was actually something it has been meddling with for a long time.
Most of us treat the post-WWII mainly as the Yalta Conference system, where US versus USSR seems to be the perpetual battle hymn. This is not wrong, to say the very least, but shields something more important : The Anglo-American Order’s dominance in Europe.
For the convenience of political correctness and of course historical propaganda, the depiction of WWII focus on the ideological struggle between the evil racism and the bright liberalism (in the old way). However what underneath is the eternal contention between “The Land Power” and “The Maritime Power”, or call it Behemoth vs Leviathan if you want. Hitler’s Reich is, at its very core, no different from Napoleon’s France, from the point view of national security of Great Britain. And what underneath that, is a more fundamental problem : human’s genetic discomfort among different races.
This is a typical three layer national security structure, but what changed from Vienna Conference System and Paris Conference System is that the Leviathan totally demolished the Behemoth this time. Great Britain had to perform an earlier version of Glorious Isolation after the Napoleon’s war because it already had been stretched thin. Europe affairs was left to, although reluctantly, the big three : Russia, Austria and Prussia to maintain the post war geopolitical layout. Everything changed after WWII, when US as the ultimate maritime power totally overcome Europe’s will. The most significant point made by the Atlantic Charter is that Anglo-American will rule Europe, or the Western part, for the first time. This is hard, of course, for traditional behemoths. Years later, EU emerged with the sole purpose of replacing the Leviathan Order (NATO).
In order to sell the Anglo-American Order to the European people, Layer 1, the Propaganda Layer, has to be overstretched to cover the other two layers. It has to be about black and white, and it has to be the right and wrong. Hence “Beacon of the West”, “Warrior of Freedom” becomes the national security “billboard” for decades, until USSR collapsed into pieces.
But US find it difficult to find another theme to replace the “Freedom Fighter”, and this becomes more and more devastating after 911. You can’t put democracy on countries that still living in Layer 2 to solve any problem. And because of that, US becomes more and more confused to justify the Leviathan Order it projected over the West.
That is why when Ukraine Crisis broke out, US can’t even fitness a message. US could take the Layer 2 approach : Russia is the representative of Orthodox Order and the arch enemy of both old and new Christian World. But it couldn’t, it stuck with Layer 1 in limbo.
US is not the only victim here : China also suffers from the same problem. China hasn’t been able to formulate a good Layer 1 narrative to cover the lower two layers, and it can’t do it only on the lower layers. It is a fact that we are not defined by ourselves but by other people. No matter what kind of Chinese people you are, the traditional Uyghurs see you as the representative of the West: you put your kid in an educational system that study English from elementary school; you want to do shopping and buy nice brand – western brands; even the Chinese spelling system is based on Latin letters.
The solution here is to embrace the sense of “Western” and “Modern” projected on us and try to make more and more Uyghurs look like us, talk like us, and walk like us. The Ethnic Autonomous could do nothing but ignite the Layer 1 tensions. You have to do it the old way: assimilate, not in the name of Han Chinese, but in the name of The West; and not surprisingly, migrate more our people there. Admit it is a struggle between the past and the future, and willing to fight to win it.
It’s time to return to the primitive.