A Clash of Civilizations

When the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, the United States – and its junior partners in Europe – found itself bereft of an enemy. One scholar, Francis Fukuyama, concluded by 1992 that this represented the "end of history" and the beginning of an age in which "western" values such as capitalism and "liberal democracy" were unchallenged and would dominate forever.

Fukuyama’s thesis served as the foundation for a manifesto of American imperialism. Written by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, and published in July 1996 on the pages of Foreign Affairs (a publication of the Council on Foreign Relations), it offered an "elevated vision of America’s international role" as a "benevolent global hegemony." Though Kagan and Kristol were what would later be described as "neoconservatives," their prescription was soon accepted and put into practice by the "liberal" Clinton administration.

Birth of the Empire

Washington’s policy of backing Croatian, Bosnian Muslim, Albanian and Montenegrin separatists against the Serbs in Yugoslavia led to the tragedies of 1995 – a mass expulsion of Serbs from territories claimed by Zagreb and Sarajevo, in a repeat of the 1940s – and 1999, when NATO openly attacked Serbia in order to occupy its province of Kosovo. Yugoslavia itself was abolished in 2003, and Montenegro separated from Serbia in 2006 – in effect establishing the Austro-Hungarian vision for the Balkans a century after the Hapsburg Empire vanished into history.

However dysfunctional Yugoslavia was, its shards are failed states outright. Serbia had been blockaded for nearly a decade and its infrastructure devastated by bombing, but the real reason for its present predicament is the series of quisling regimes in power since the October 2000 Yellow Revolution. Macedonia, which begged Empire’s protection to avoid war, got war anyway, and is currently held hostage by its ethnic Albanians – encouraged by the Empire’s gift of "independent Kosovo". Pitched as the "great success" of Washington after the Somalia fiasco, Bosnia is still a protectorate, ruled by EU viceroys and U.S. ambassadors. Even Slovenia and Croatia, presented as "civilized" and "European" – fared better only until the loot from Yugoslavia ran out; now they are EU members with economies on par with Greece.

Under Bush the Younger, Washington invaded Afghanistan as retribution for the September 11 terrorist attacks, and in 2003 attacked Iraq on spurious claims about "weapons of mass destruction". Contrary to Bush’s campaign talk about "a more humble foreign policy," both interventions quickly morphed from punitive raids and "regime change" into decade-long "nation-building" occupations. Perfectly in line with the Kristol-Kagan manifesto, the reasons given were "ending evil" and bringing "democracy" and "freedom" to both Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite promises to bring "hope and change" to Washington, Barack Obama’s election in 2008 preserved the continuity of Empire.

There is perhaps no better illustration of this continuity than Victoria Nuland: chief of staff to (Clinton’s Russia point-man) Strobe Talbott, foreign policy advisor to (Bush VP) Dick Cheney, ambassador to NATO, State Department spokesperson, and now Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs – in which capacity she was caught "midwifing" a coup in Ukraine. Oh, and she’s married to Robert Kagan.

Weaponizing "Democracy"

One of the last actions by the Clinton government was to introduce an experimental method of regime change: the "color revolution." The unconventional coup of October 2000 in Belgrade was so successful, it would be replicated in many places around the world, most notably Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004), and Kyrgizstan (2005), as well as Egypt in 2011. This was the equivalent of Wilhelmine Germany sending Lenin on a sealed train to St. Petersburg in 1917, only updated for the 21st century. The Bolsheviks of yore became "human rights activists" – trained and teleoperated by the Empire.

The "revolutions" all failed in the long run, but not before laying waste to the countries they subverted, creating poverty, conflict and societal collapse. This is why an attempted repeat of the 2004 "Orange Revolution" in Kiev devolved into a violent coup on February 22 this year, sparking the current civil war in Ukraine.

It wasn’t just the color revolutions that failed; nation-building in the Middle East did as well, leaving countless dead in its wake. Even the white-knighting in the Balkans did not produce the expected gratitude among the Muslims of the world. Just about the only success has been the destruction of Yugoslavia and turning Serbia into a pathetic lackey of Brussels and Washington.

Interestingly, US insiders involved admitted that the 1999 NATO war had little to do with the "plight of Kosovo Albanians," but far more with "Yugoslavia’s resistance to the broader trends of political and economic reform" – as well as that the ultimate target of this war of aggression wasn’t Belgrade, but Moscow.

Clash of Civilizations

The same year Kristol and Kagan wrote their manifesto based on Fukuyama’s triumphalist thesis, Fukuyama’s former teacher Samuel Huntington wrote "Clash of Civilizations," arguing that the world’s future was more likely to be one of conflicts between cultural blocs – the West, Islam, Latin America, Africa, the Orthodoxy, China, etc.

What immediately jumps out from Huntington’s thesis is his argument that other civilizations would have to deal with the (Anglo-American) West, one way or another – either by seeking isolation, trying to join it, or "develop[ing] economic and military power… while still preserving their own values and institutions." Professor Huntington passed away in 2008, so it is impossible to get his clarification, but this sounds like an implicit recognition of the West’s hostility and aggression towards everyone else.

Eighteen years later, it certainly seems that Huntington’s understanding of the world was far more accurate than Fukuyama’s (and Kagan/Kristol’s). Even as its own economy falls into ruin, the West is seeking to conquer and confront the world, from "regime change" in Latin America and the Middle East to the "Asian pivot" and hostility towards China and India. But the focal point of aggressive efforts seems to be Russia – most likely because its miraculous recovery through rejection of Western totems of "liberal democracy" and "human rights" threatens to undermine the perception Western triumphalism promoted by Fukuyama.

As the centenary of the Great War approaches, Anglo-American historians seek to blame it on Russia and Serbia, the Orthodox Other. Having failed to weaponize Islam against Russia (as well as China, India and Africa) the West has turned instead to that most malignant metastasis of European political heritage, backing Nazis in the Balkans, the Baltics, and now in Ukraine.

The problem facing the West today is not only that its deluded leaders have erred in following Fukuyama, but also that they do not fully understand Huntington’s warnings. From the Tatars to Napoleon, Hitler and even Communism – which failed to destroy Russia’s traditional being no matter how hard its adherents tried – Russia has a history of not only fighting civilizational conflicts, but winning them.

The West? Not so much.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com debuted in November 2000.