Home 2021-2040: Back to the future

GEAB 157

The monthly bulletin of LEAP (European Laboratory of Political Anticipation) - 15 Sep 2021

2021-2040: Back to the future

The historic event of this summer is of course the withdrawal from Afghanistan, a withdrawal in which no one seemed to really believe, despite the decisions taken a year and a half earlier[1]… No one except France, which withdrew its troops last May[2]… proving everything was well planned after all.

This event is important enough to justify that the GEAB, contrary to its usual practice, joins the media concert on the subject and makes it the central topic of this issue. The American debacle in Afghanistan is to be understood, in our view, as the “real end of the Cold War” which the future history books will place under 1945-2021 – and no longer 1945-1989. Having spent 15 years anticipating the collapse of the Washington Wall as the logical follow up of the Berlin Wall, we are pretty familiar with these notions.[3]

In a war, the models of all belligerents must die so that a new system emerges, putting an end to the incessant reproduction of the conditions of war.[4] This is what NATO has shown us (which the immutability of the American actor has prevented from reforming), as it continued to produce Cold War logics, desperately seeking a new enemy, to the point of reinventing it, though the Soviet enemy no longer existed.[5]

For the last 15 years, these reflections have made us “hope” for the fall of the Washington Wall, not because we wanted the disappearance of the United States or the Americans (no more than anyone wanted the disappearance of Russia or the Russians), but quite the contrary, because, in the absence of a clear signal of structural transformation of the other Cold War actor, it was impossible to see anything other than the inexorable move of the planet towards a new abyss… which, in fact, we have seriously approached.

The withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan is an event that, until 2001, could have been avoided. But since then, it has been inevitable. It is a signal that, this time, we are not the only ones to hear: the American empire is laying down its arms and listening to the multipolar world that has emerged despite its will, in order to rethink a new global order together.

Strikingly enough, history resumes a natural course that the United States had blocked in 2001, at the exact point where it was at the time:

. the Taliban are regaining the power they held in the late 1990s

. Germany is about to return to the SPD leadership that dominated German politics in 2001

. Germany completes the Nord Stream II project conceived by Schröder at the time, despite the American resolution to block the project[6]

. a Chiraco-Gaullist France has managed to get back on track after fifteen years of being side-lined and various political weakenings[7]

. Europe’s strategic sovereignty is once again the relevant horizon for the entire process of European construction[8]

. the conception of the Euro-Russian relationship is back in the spotlight as an absolute priority, whether the Americans like it or not[9]

. the “clash of civilisations” announced by Samuel Huntington[10] is indeed the great challenge of the next twenty or even fifty years – in new forms and considerably aggravated by the last twenty years of American management of the Arab-Muslim revolution[11]

. as for the technologies resulting from the great internet revolution of the 1990s, their development outside of any serious control has transformed them into challenges rather than solutions, imposing a return to the control of which the Chinese[12]  and the Europeans[13] seem to finally be taking the reins.

As for the American player, it is ready for a reinvention that should have started in 2001 and which will now be set in motion at a stage of absolutely extraordinary systemic fragility, in fact summoning the whole planet to the bedside of the dying man. Therefore, we are focusing this issue on the notion of ‘back to the future’, one that sends us back to 2001, where the Americans left it 20 years ago. But these 20 years have passed, considerably modifying the context in which the flow of time unfolds. For the most part, these changes are linked to the immense processes of reinvention to which the various world poles have had to proceed in view of the dangers of all kinds that American aggressiveness posed to their survival:

. a Europe that experienced the restructuring shock of UK’s departure

. a China that had to abandon its plans to join the Western world and propose its own model and organise its trade routes instead

. a Russia that has also repositioned itself outside the Western sphere of influence that it aspired to join – without being diluted – in the 1990s

. an Africa that the Chinese have helped to close ranks around a strong regional integration

. a Middle East with constructive axes of cooperation, even if the consequences of the Islamists’ victory over America weigh on the immediate future of the region

. a South America that has succeeded in shaking off the American yoke which was once again placed on its neck in the Trump years via the OAS,[14] and is currently inventing its own path in Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay.

It is therefore a multipolar world where universal values must be rethought with the greatest tolerance for the diversity of aspirations, tools and cultures of the peoples who make up the new world map. The West still has to learn to stop imposing its vision of the good on the rest of the planet. The future of world peace which has to be built in the next 20 years depends on this sine qua non condition… and it begins by “accepting” Talibanism as we had to “accept” Sovietism in the last century – in order to escape it better.

In the shorter term, since the Berlin Wall fell nine months after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, should we anticipate that the Washington Wall will fall in June 2022? And above all, is it really a Dollar Wall that will be falling as we analysed/anticipated in 2006?

Join the GEAB Community on LinkedIn for more discussions on this topic.


[1]  On 29 February 2020, the US and the Taliban signed a treaty as part of their peace process. Source: Wikipedia

[2]  Source: Why France was more clear-eyed about Afghanistan than the US, Financial Times, 31/08/2021

[3]  Source: GEAB archives, 2006

[4]  The failure to invent new conditions for European countries to live together after the First World War led to the Second one.

[5]  As seen perfectly by the American Ted Galen in 1992 (another return to the future). Source: A search for Enemies : American’s Alliances after the Cold War, Google Books, 1992

[6]  Source: BBC, 21/07/2021

[7]  Source: Elysée, 07/02/2020

[8]  Source: Conseil de l’UE, 28/09/2020

[9]  Source: Politico, 12/08/2021

[10]    Source: Wikipedia

[11]    See our anticipation on this subject in the large article on Afghanistan.

[12]    Source: Time, 01/09/2021

[13]    Source: CNBC, 25/03/2021

[14]    So much so that Bolivia is considering taking OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro to court for fomenting Jeanine Anez’s coup against Evo Morales. Source: Telesur, 16/03/2021


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