The West is on its death-bed. You can hear the sounds of its dying from all over the place. Whether it is England or Europe or the United States, the sounds are loud and clear. After three hundred years of global domination, the West is bidding good-bye.
And high time too. It has been on top for too long. In the process, it has managed to keep the world in its tight grip, exploited it and drawn blood, and made life miserable for those who have tried to resist its hegemony. In maybe another fifty years, there will be no West as we know it, no England except as a colony of perhaps India, no Europe and almost certainly no United States as it now stands.
Failure on such a large scale is a many pronged affair. And the west is failing, as the East did three hundred years ago. Whether it is on the economic front, or military front, or even technological front, which is supposed to have been its forte, the West is simply unable to cope. Its economy is in disarray and has been for quite sometime. Its military is facing defeat at the hands of one of the poorest and most backward countries in the world, and its technology has become a laughing stock as it struggles with the dirty plumes of oil in the Pacific. After umpteen attempts by all and sundry, the Western economy is still floundering and several countries are poised on the brink of bankruptcy. In Afghanistan, and to a certain extent, in Iraq, Western forces are on retreat and just marking time. And in the Gulf of Mexico, the anticipated oil bonanza has turned into a big disaster which mocks the so-called supremacy of the West in technology.
Take the economy first. Three years ago, the Wall Street and also the City of London were salivating as the Dow Jones kept going up and up, and the juveniles from Harvard and Yale made millions and billions out of nowhere, just manipulating the market with fancy juggleries of numbers and bogus speculative movements. When the markets crashed and dozens of big banks went under, the government had to intervene and stuff the markets with printed currency notes. The entire economy was reduced to piles of currency notes and if the Chinese and the Indians had not picked them up, the economy-not just the markets-would have collapsed. The Western government still do not know what hit them and have no idea how to put Humpty Dumpty together again, except to patch up holes in the economy, sometimes in Greece, sometimes in Spain, but without much success.
What destroyed the economy? There is only one reason: greed. The government and the speculator became so greedy they really believed they could have anything-and how-without paying for it. It was greed, remember, that finished Adolf Hitler, and also Joseph Stalin, and their stupid economists and military advisers-greed for power. And it was greed that destroyed the Roman empire, just as it was greed that is now bringing down the carefully constructed financial empire of the West and with it the West itself.
Take a small country like England which too once had an empire of its own. It has a new government now, which came out with its new budget last month. The country is all but bankrupt and living, if you can call it that, from hand to mouth. It is a sign of the times that the budget went largely unnoticed. Not a single Indian newspaper took notice of it, because Britain has ceased to be the country it used to be, and now is a kind of tourist resort which men and women visit from time to time to look at the jewels in the Tower of London and watch the changing of guards outside Buckingham Palace. Britain, on which the sun once never set, has become a kind of a circus, for it has no industry worth the name, no factories, no laboratories, only Madame Tussands and the Windsor Castle. England has suddenly disappeared from the world’s financial map and lost its place in the sun.
Now take Afghanistan. Even the Americans do not know why they went into Afghanistan in the first place, though. I am glad they did. Afghanistan is nothing but an extension of Pakistan-all these Stars are the same-and the country is so unruly, and has been for centuries-even the local warlords cannot control it. But it is a wrong country to fight your wars in, for, like Pakistan, it exists only on paper, and is not also like Pakistan, a proper country at all. There is no country, but it has a President who goes about with a cope wrapped around him, like a Roman emperor, and his relations, including his brother, make money from their deals with the Americans. I doubt whether he can appear in public even in Kabul, which is supposed to be the capital, without somebody taking potshots at him.
The Americans are in the midst of a big mess in Afghanistan, just as they were in Vietnam a few decades ago, and are just waiting to get out and go home, and to hell with the place. Didn’t they know that Afghanistan is not a country at all. Just a conglomeration of tribes who cannot get on with one another and whose main currency is opium? This is the second or third time they will be withdrawing from an Asian country, after Vietnam and Iran, and were doomed from the start, just as Adolf Hitler was doomed in Soviet Russia.
Just as you must be careful in choosing your friends, you must also be careful in choosing your enemies. And the Americans chose a wrong enemy in Afghanistan and a wrong friend in Pakistan. Anybody who chooses Pakistan as a friend and ally, as the Americans have done over the years, and pours billions of dollars into the country, must be the world’s biggest fool. The United States has many think-tanks and so-called policy experts. Didn’t one of them warn the government against going into Pakistan and Afghanistan?
And now technology. The west has always prided itself on its prowess in technology. In fact, it is technology that made the West and help it build a civilization.
It is there today because of its technological and scientific superiority and break-throughs over a long period of centuries. From Isaac Newton to Albert Einstein and Madame Curie. It is the West that produced the first nuclear bomb and it is the West that put the first man on the moon.
But it seems totally helpless in the face of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Millions of barrels of crude oil have been pouring into the Gulf for the last two months and there is nothing that either the oil company or the mighty US government can apparently do about it. The helplessness is a measure of the decline of the West from a powerful technological force to a virtual non-entity in this sector in the course of barely half a century.
Countries like India should draw a lesson from all this and stop its excessive dependence on the West in the matter of economic development as well as military strategy. There are several reasons why the West is or has been the main source of capital for emerging economies like India. Economic decline in the West will soon lead to a paralysis in investment as the Western economies grind to a halt, as some of them are already doing. The recent financial mess that led to several bankruptcies in the West is only the beginning of the coming paralysis. One of the principal reasons for the decline is the lack of innovation and scientific progress. India should give up relying on the West and concentrate on self-reliance, as soon the West will not be in a position to help us, either financially or technically. In fact, in a few years from now, it will be the West that will have to rely on countries like India for investment-Indian companies are already buying Western companies by the handful-as well as technology!
(The writer can be contacted at 301, Manikanchan Apts, Kanchan Galli, Law College Road, Pune-411 004)