The crisis in Ukraine has done more than expose weaknesses in regional security and international air safety arrangements. It has exposed fundamental flaws in the bedrock assumptions underlying that secular faith known as globalization.
George Ball, liberal State Department and Wall Street apparatchik, stated the first axiom of globalism in his infamous 1967 testimony to a congressional Joint Economic Committee when he declared nation states 'obsolete.' This has been unquestioningly accepted as an article of faith by the smart set. Western elites have come to believe nations will wither away in a brave new economically integrated world.
As a corollary, we are to believe flags are simply vestiges of a bygone era rather than touchstones of pride and identity. Individuals' self-identity will be tied not so much to country of birth as to their smart phones, whose parts have crossed more borders than five generations of migrant workers. 'iPhone or Android' will mean more to homo modernicus than 'American or Brazilian.'
We were promised deracination would lead inevitably to world peace. The original Cobdenite told us nations that trade with each other don't go to war with each other. Free trade apologists have been repeating this utopianism ever since, facts notwithstanding. (Germany and France were major trading partners before World War One.) No rational head of state would upset the harmonious workings of the global economy; nationalist passions would be tempered by "market realities."
It's clear they didn't get the memo in Russia and the Ukraine. They have been number one trading partners, yet economic realities did not trump nationalism. To be sure, many of the Maidan protestors coveted their own flag more than designer goods from the EU.
It is a modern Western conceit to view human aspirations strictly through a materialistic lens. Alexander Solzhenitsyn decried Western society's tendency to focus on the accumulation of material goods to the exclusion of all other human characteristics.
This stubborn insistence on seeing the world in purely economic terms blinded us to anticipating that Vladimir Putin could do exactly what he did. Putin wasn't supposed to risk upsetting "the market" - but he did. He was supposed to fear sanctions and economic backlash - but he didn't. the only possible explanation is that he is disconnected from reality, as Angela Merkel reportedly said.
Blind faith in economism informs the solutions to foreign conundrums proposed by many across the political spectrum. Economic sanctions will promote good behavior in Eastern Europe, while economic engagement will promote human rights and religious tolerance in East Asia. In the Ukraine, we can conveniently have it both ways, sanctions and engagement: exporting loads of cheap American natural gas will reward our friends and punish our enemies.
Events in the Ukraine show us nationalism is not a spent force, and expose the limits of global technocracy.
We have come to believe that raising everyone to the Western standard of living will spread our values. The assumption is that having the same material goods makes everyone the same - the software goes with the hardware. President Clinton and the Washington establishment used this formulation to sell economic engagement with China by granting it "most favored nation" status then Permanent Normal Trade Relations: democracy would flourish in China in tandem with a growing middle class.
Despite developments in Ukraine, the Obama administration and its globalist fellow travelers in think tanks, on K Street and in Congress continue to pursue their post-nationalist agenda. The TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the TransPacific Partnership would fully merge the U.S. economy with the EU and countries around the world.
These agreements are part of the transnational project envisioned by George Ball and David Rockefeller 50 years ago. They are based on the assumption that nationalism is a thing of the past, and that people around the world think, conduct business and share the same values as the Western elites.
Those who have courage to see will find those cherished notions dead on the shores of the Crimea and in the fields of the eastern Ukraine.