On March 5th, 1946, Winston Churchill delivered his famous Sinews of Peace speech in Fulton Missouri in which he famously claimed that, “an Iron Curtain has descended across Europe.” The essential purpose of the speech, a speech clearly approved in advance, and probably partly written by the staff of US President Harry Truman, was to declare Anglo-American hegemony over the world.
On the 27th October, 2022, President Putin, delivered his world-historical speech at Valdai which spelled the end of the hegemonic power of the United States, and with it, the English speaking nations and their allies in Europe. Perhaps it should be called the “symphony of civilisations’ speech since that is the phrase President Putin used to express his vision of the world which replaces the concept of iron curtains placed between nations with the concept of a dialogue of civilisations.
The two speeches not only express the beginning and end of one epoch in world history and the beginning of another, overcoming the first, they are an expression of two worldviews, of two different worlds.
But let’s examine what Churchill and Truman proclaimed to establish in 1946, that is, the Anglo-American world order.
The first thing Churchill stated in his speech, after his preliminary remarks thanking Truman for inviting him was,
“The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American Democracy. For with primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future. …Opportunity is here now, clear and shining for both our countries.”
He continued on in his speech to talk about the search for peace and security after years of war, in which he acknowledged the debt owed to Russia for defeating the Nazis in Germany and spoke of the establishment of the United Nations as a means of achieving it. But immediately after that he stated the need for an armed force, created outside of the UN, which would act as the policeman of the world and whose main forces would be provided and controlled by the USA and Britain.
This idea was soon translated into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation created three years later on April 4, 1949 and which, soon after that, revealed its aggressive character and purpose when it attacked North Korea and China in 1950, under the guise of a UN operation.
Churchill justified the need for such a force by declaring that the world faced the treat of “tyranny,” by which he meant primarily socialism and its threat to western capital and in particular Soviet socialism. He claimed that,
“The liberties enjoyed by individual citizens throughout the British Empire are not valid in a considerable number of countries, some of which are very powerful.”
The liberties he spoke of were not known by the peoples of the British colonies and, in fact were hardly known by the citizens of Britain itself who, in the majority, had been reduced to poverty by the war and who had little real say in the policies of the British government ruled by the same old cliques of bankers and industrialists as they had always been, whereas in the Soviet Union progress was being made to provide the people with the liberty of freedom from the harsh realities of capitalist exploitation and the dog eat dog life that results from it.
He spoke of a fantasy of the unity of the peoples of the Empire, when most of them were quickening their struggle to escape the Empire. He claimed that the British people would overcome the hardships of the war, yet totally failed to see that Britain’s bankruptcy from the war would result in the collapse of the Empire, beginning with the liberation of India in 1947, followed by the rapid succession of nations and peoples that were soon thereafter able to throw off the British yoke.
He spoke about the US-British “special relationship’ a phrase the US and Britain bandy about still today, a relationship due to their historical, cultural, and economic ties and how the two together can police the world, and boldly bragged about the spreading of “democracy,” meaning their version of capitalist democracy, and he claimed, falsely, that the creation of a military force outside the UN would not be a violation of the UN Charter, but an adjunct to it.
He stated that the UN would become a “temple of peace” which would ensure peace in our time, yet, as pointed out, a few months later the USA and Britain would abuse the UN and their position on the Security Council to claim that their war on Korea and China had the imprimatur of the UN and was an operation for peace when it was outright aggression and then he warned that only the US, Britain and Canada should have knowledge of how to make nuclear weapons.
But he then said something important that both London and Washington now deny, the Russian need for security. He stated,
“We understand the Russian need to be secure on her western frontiers by the removal of all possibility of German aggression,”
But of course, that left open the threat of NATO aggression and of the Cold War and immediately after that paragraph he modulated his speech to claim the USSR was a threat to the peoples of the west, with this famous line,
“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.”
Of course, this “Iron Curtain,’ existed only in Churchill’s imagination as the peoples of eastern Europe had been liberated from fascism and allowed to enjoy the benefits of socialism, which was largely denied to the peoples in western Europe and North America. The artificial division expressed in the phase “Iron Curtain, was really a propaganda phrase setting the stage for the economic and military siege imposed on the new socialist republics in Eastern Europe, and on the USSR which became known as the Cold War.
He also stated that, “The safety of the world requires a new unity in Europe.”
But he did not include the USSR or Russia in his vision of a united Europe, which meant a unified Europe under Anglo-American domination, and falsely claimed that,
“Though I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war… they desire the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines,”
thereby projecting onto Russia, the ambitions of the Anglo-American alliance that could only maintain its dominance through war and the threat of war.
He ended his speech by stating,
“From what I have seen of our Russian friends and Allies during the war, I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness, especially military weakness.
And, “for that reason the old doctrine of a balance of power is unsound,” and that, “it is the Anglo-American Axis that must have the dominance of power in the world.”
“If the population of the English-speaking Commonwealths be added to that of the United States with all that such co-operation implies in the air, on the sea, all over the globe and in science and in industry, and in moral force, there will be no quivering, precarious balance of power to offer its temptation to ambition or adventure. On the contrary, there will be an overwhelming assurance of security.”
Of course he meant the overwhelming power of the Anglo-American alliance.
Seventy-Six years later, on the 27th of October 2022, President Putin, at Valdai, delivered the speech that spelled the end of the world power of the Anglo-American alliance Churchill and Truman intended to create, and with it, heralded a fundamentally different worldview.
President Putin said many things in a long speech that should be read in its entirety but its essence is contained in the following statement,
“The collapse of the Soviet Union upset the equilibrium of the geopolitical forces. The West felt as a winner and declared a unipolar world arrangement, in which only its will, culture and interests had the right to exist.
Now this historical period of boundless Western domination in world affairs is coming to an end. The unipolar world is being relegated into the past. We are at a historical crossroads. We are in for probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and at the same time most important decade since the end of World War II. The West is unable to rule humanity single-handedly and the majority of nations no longer want to put up with this. This is the main contradiction of the new era. To cite a classic, this is a revolutionary situation to some extent – the elites cannot and the people do not want to live like that any longer.”
“A future world arrangement is taking shape before our eyes. In this world arrangement, we must listen to everyone, consider every opinion, every nation, society, culture and every system of world outlooks, ideas and religious concepts, without imposing a single truth on anyone. Only on this foundation, understanding our responsibility for the destinies of nations and our planet, shall we create a symphony of human civilisation.”
He continued by attacking the fabled “rules based order,” which is in essence the Anglo-American order;
“It looks like we are witnessing an attempt to enforce just one rule whereby those in power – we were talking about power, and I am now talking about global power – could live without following any rules at all and could get away with anything. These are the rules that we hear them constantly, as people say, harping on, that is, talking about them incessantly.”
And describes western intentions:
“Global power is exactly what the so-called West has at stake in its game. But this game is certainly dangerous, bloody and, I would say, dirty. It denies the sovereignty of countries and peoples, their identity and uniqueness, and tramples upon other states’ interests. In any case, even if denial is the not the word used, they are doing it in real life. No one, except those who create these rules I have mentioned is entitled to retain their identity: everyone else must comply with these rules.”
He then points out that world political and economic problems are a distraction from the fundamental threat to humanity of climate change and ecological crisis:
‘Current developments have overshadowed environmental issues. Strange as it may seem, this is what I would like to speak about first today. Climate change no longer tops the agenda. But that fundamental challenge has not gone away, it is still with us, and it is growing. The loss of biodiversity is one of the most dangerous consequences of disrupting the environmental balance.”
He continues this theme to attack the attempt by the West to force the world to adopt and conform to its culture, domination and exploitation, leading to a world crisis and the events in Ukraine today. He said,
‘What stance has the “civilised” West adopted? If you are democrats, you are supposed to welcome the natural desire for freedom expressed by billions of people, but no. The West is calling it undermining the liberal rules-based order. It is resorting to economic and trade wars, sanctions, boycotts and colour revolutions, and preparing and carrying out all sorts of coups.
“One of them led to tragic consequences in Ukraine in 2014. They supported it and even specified the amount of money they had spent on this coup. They have the cheek to act as they please and have no scruples about anything they do. They killed Soleimani, an Iranian general. You can think whatever you want about Soleimani, but he was a foreign state official. They killed him in a third country and assumed responsibility. What is that supposed to mean, for crying out loud? What kind of world are we living in?
As is customary, Washington continues to refer to the current international order as liberal American-style, but in fact, this notorious “order” is multiplying chaos every day and, I might even add, is becoming increasingly intolerant even towards the Western countries and their attempts to act independently. Everything is nipped in the bud, and they do not even hesitate to impose sanctions on their allies, who lower their heads in acquiescence.’
“Without exaggeration, this is not even a systemic, but a doctrinal crisis of the neoliberal American-style model of international order. They have no
ideas for progress and positive development. They simply have nothing to offer the world, except perpetuating their dominance.”
Then stated that,
“Development should rely on a dialogue between civilisations and spiritual and moral values,” and that the degradation of western liberal ‘democracies and their aggressive and exploitative policies had led to the collapse of American prestige and authority, that aggression against Russia has accelerated this collapse, that Russia is defending itself, that the breaking of US economic power is due to its own aggressive and destructive character and policies and that the increasing trend of world nations to reject the US dollar as the word currency will result in the same fate for the USA as happened to the British Empire, its collapse as a global power, an event that will have reverberations for years to come but that this loss of American power means the corresponding ability of other nations to live as they choose, on their own terms, in their own way.
In this regard he stated that reform of the UN Security Council must be considered to better reflect the world’s diversity. “After all”, he stated, “much more will depend on Asia, Africa, and Latin America in tomorrow’s world than is commonly believed today, and this increase in their influence is undoubtedly a positive development.
So, there we have it, two speeches, two worldviews, the end of one epoch, the beginning of a new one.
I will close with these lines of President Putin,
“Unity among humankind cannot be created by issuing commands such as ‘do as I do’ or ‘be like us.’ It is created with consideration for everyone’s opinion and with a careful approach to the identity of every society and every nation. This is the principle that can underlie long-term cooperation in a multipolar world.”
May it be so.
President Putin at the Valdai Discussion Club: “He Who Sows the Wind Will Reap the Whirlwind”