Outsuffering the Woke Western Alliance
The little-noted but principal effect of the ongoing world crisis has been to challenge woke-progressive political agendas throughout the world. As Roger Cohen recently wrote in the New York Times, a crisis has derailed the Great Reset:
The Covid-19 pandemic, invasion of Ukraine, trend toward autocracy and economic inequalities challenge the World Economic Forum’s relevance.... The scramble in Europe for new sources of energy to replace Russian oil and gas, in societies under acute economic pressures, does not always favor expensive renewables or the conversion to 'environmental capitalism' that so many business leaders in Davos have publicly embraced.
The End of History vacation cruise has been suddenly canceled. The expanding scope of the war in Ukraine will force Joe Biden to either let go of his Woke agenda or risk losing the conflict. Until recently there seemed hope he could hang on to both, but when China indirectly joined the fray Washington's calculus was upset. Beijing's offer to broker a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine, has both divided the West and threatened to extend Russia's ability to hold out. China has become the arsenal of autocracy, allowing the Kremlin to prolong the war.
This Chinese strategic challenge should not be confused with Russia's inability to inflict tactical attrition. Tactically, Russia may be weak and is losing men and equipment at an unsustainable rate. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "Russia suffered more combat deaths in Ukraine in the first year of the war than in all of its wars since World War II combined." Moreover the Kremlin is going broke. Russia will run out of money in 2024, one oligarch warned. But Russia and China may figure they can "outsuffer" the West if by that they can make the New World Order unaffordable in domestic political terms.
The warning signs that so alarmed Roger Cohen are flashing everywhere. Polls show that limiting economic damage due to the war has become a greater priority to Americans in 2023 than it was in 2022. According to a new survey, some 58 percent of Germans fear their country could be drawn into the war, while 69 percent believe the economy will deteriorate further. Politico summarized both trends by noting that:
Biden will host German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House... in what will be, on the surface, another display of Western unity with Ukraine as it repels Russia’s punishing invasion... The show of solidarity comes against a backdrop of growing strain as the trans-Atlantic alliance works to remain in lockstep while grappling with the fact that the war has no end in sight.
Perhaps nowhere are the strains between the new reality and the Woke agenda more evident than in the matter of "climate change." David Gelles at the NYT writes, "beyond the enormous human suffering and catastrophic damage inflicted on Ukraine, its people and its cities, one of the war’s most profound impacts has been on global energy markets, and by extension, on the global fight against climate change... coal has had a resurgence, subduing hopes for meeting goals to rein in greenhouse gas emissions."
The strain of higher energy prices is heightening tensions between the rich and poor voters. As Scientific American notes, "Russia’s war in Ukraine has altered global energy markets, accelerating the green transition in wealthy parts of Europe and forcing poorer countries to fall back on dirtier fuels like coal." News that wealthy Australians are buying solar panels while the poor struggle to pay their power bills sums up the class effect of Green policies that Joel Kotkin called a "neo-feudal war on the people."
"Can't afford the gas prices? Buy a Tesla!" works about as well as an electoral slogan as "Let them eat cake!"
But nowhere is the effect of the new Cold War potentially to be more keenly felt than upon DEI policies. The first Cold War was set off a competition between the United States and the Soviet Union in every conceivable arena – even space — that forced the United States to call on even politically incorrect Nazi rocket scientists to meet. "Operation Paperclip was a secret United States intelligence program in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were taken from the former Nazi Germany to the U.S. for government employment after the end of World War II in Europe, between 1945 and 1959... Many of these personnel were former members and some were former leaders of the Nazi Party."
The technological challenge now posed by China to Biden's crumbling "new world order" now equals or exceeds the former Soviet threat. "Technology is at the center of the emerging competition between the United States and China, with far-reaching consequences for democratic societies. At stake in this competition are the prestige and reach of liberal values, as well as the economic competitiveness and national security of the United States and its allies and partners," writes Brookings.
In the face of this challenge the U.S. cannot afford to lumber the hard sciences with racial and sexual identity quotas so favored by the progressive constituency. The Supreme Court's reported resistance to Biden's proposal to forgive half a trillion dollars in student debt may reveal a new reluctance to bail out bad choices. "Let’s not forget that the student debt problem is built on a foundation of terrible major choices. Bailing generations out of those bad choices will mean more bad choices, tuition hikes, and terrible consequences for America," said one investor. One thing America cannot afford to do in a Second Cold War is throw away money any more.
Before 2019 there may have seemed enough money for projects like DEI, the Great Reset, "Climate Change," Pronoun Revolutions, and the world order. It seemed like the whole landscape lay before the heights of Davos just waiting for them to remake. But the pandemic, economic crisis, war and Cold War that followed rang down the curtain on that fleeting scene and reimposed hard choice.
By the end even the politicians realize there'll be a lot less public desire to eat bugs, live in dark unheated ruins and make out with bearded ladies after privation brings the demand for basics back. China and Russia need not "outsuffer" the West in a military sense, only in a political one as hardship melts the Western progressive vision away.