Pelosi in Taipei

If the US Republican party suffers from mania, invoking apocalyptic and ecstatic political and religious visions, then the Democrats surely suffer from dementia, acting as if the last 30 years had not happened. Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taipei, surely a provocation to test China’s resolve in this delicate matter, could not have come at a worse moment in the context of the Russo-Ukrainian war. It is as if the US is looking to start a new World War, dragging all of us into something we scarcely imagined possible only 5 years before.

It is even more of a sign of exhaustion when these gambles are done less in the interest of preserving US global hegemony, but rather to placate internal tensions. It is telling that the US supreme leader, a man who appears to be literally suffering from some form of dementia, had to assassinate the Al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri in order to save his record-low popularity. When you have to disregard other countries' sovereignty – in blatant breach of international law – in order to appease your voters, it is clear you have a political culture that had gotten to a point of no return. It is absurd to expect people like the January 6th rioters to respect things like rule of law, due process, peaceful transition of power, etc., when the country they live in has built up its station in the world in part by denying or infringing upon these principles for everyone else.

The question of the rise of China is posed typically in the West as a “threat” [1]. I understand this is a default position inherited from the Cold War era – and understanding China and Chinese culture is a tall order for such a solipsistic and myopic culture as ours. But this ignores the reality that a great deal of the gadgets we have grown so dependent on come mainly from China. In mainstream analysis, this aspect is often overlooked, and I cannot see any possible solutions to this within the current system. While Trump gestured towards bringing manufacturing back to the US, this amounts to little more than rhetoric, as the economic base simply is not there to sustain a renewed shift towards protectionism. 50 years of neoliberal capitalism has consolidated a transnational capitalist/financial class that is not concerned with the location of capital, but only the location where its maximal exploitation can take place; and that is not in the West but rather in the semi-periphery.

It seems to me clear that the new strategy of the US is to implement a new “strategy of tension” in the hinterlands between the imperial core and the semi-peripheral challengers in order to “cordon off” these would-be great powers from their potential future sources of growth. The escalation of the Russian ambitions in Eastern Europe to outright war has at least as much to do with US/NATO provocations as with internal Russian conditions. Baiting China into a “tiger trap” in Taiwan to limit its growth is an even more insane gamble, one that risks dragging the world into (an even worse) recession and decline at best, and nuclear annihilation at worst.

In the long run though, the US cannot truly win this game of tension either. It is a case of the neoliberal state – that is, the state that funnels public money into private profits – against the neo-Fordist, vertically integrated state capitalism of China. In the last World War, it was clear which system was more militarily capable, as even the capitalist nations transitioned to a mixed economy which, after the war, ushered in the trentes glorieuses. In the present, according to my estimation, things have not changed much in this regard, and China certainly has structural advantages while the US still maintains an absolute advantage – but for how long?

It is very probable that in the near future, we will face a multipolar world where the US is no longer the world hegemon it once was. While China is gaining strength and influence by the day, Russia has consigned itself to marginality and a perpetual provincial status by engaging in the senseless war in Ukraine. Us in the EU, by tethering ourselves to an ailing hegemon, risk doing the same.


  1. Nye, Joseph S., America și provocarea chineză (America and the Chinese Challenge), Dilema Veche (Romanian),