Geopolitics & Empire recently came across Thomas Hon Wing Polin’s very insightful commentary on social media and reached out for an interview. Thomas can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram. The interview follows.
Hrvoje Morić: Thomas, I find your commentary and analysis on social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Telegram) concerning the world situation, geopolitics, and multipolarity to be very unique and compelling. Could you briefly tell us a bit about your relevant background, worldview, and where you are coming from?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: I was born in Hong Kong and have lived here all my life, except during university studies in the U.S. I’m of Chinese and Ukrainian-American descent. Molded by a decades-long career in international journalism, I am a supporter of the emerging multipolar world and an opponent of the West’s centuries-long, predatory domination of the planet.
Hrvoje Morić: Since the inception of Geopolitics & Empire, as an American, I have been consumed with the idea of Pax Americana and American Empire. While I believe there are many great things about the United States, I have been concerned with the cycle and decline of empire and since the 2000s have been expecting the West to deteriorate economically, degenerate culturally, and move toward political authoritarianism, if not totalitarianism. I have also been unhappy with the many ills of empire exhibited through American exceptionalism, the countless wars initiated on wholly false pretenses which have resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people around the world, and the general drive for total global hegemony and full spectrum dominance or world empire. Experts such as Morris Berman, Johan Galtung, John Perkins, and others have joined me on the podcast over the years to examine these issues. What are your thoughts on American Empire, it’s goals, and the current state of the empire?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: The American Empire has been the most powerful and destructive force in the history of the world — a scourge of all humanity. In addition to the “ills of empire” you mentioned, the U.S. has a politico-militarist system that perpetuates war and mayhem worldwide because they are highly profitable, in the literal sense. This makes the imperium inherently evil. The Empire is also obsessed with wielding perpetual global hegemony. That has become Washington’s overriding foreign-policy goal. As recent years have shown, there is just about nothing its rulers won’t do to achieve it. That includes not only subverting and destroying nations it identifies as threats to its domination (China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, etc.), but also sacrificing the interests of putative allies or friends (the EU, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, the Philippines). Another salient feature of the Empire is its serial, almost reflexive lying. An independent-minded person who has followed world affairs closely in recent years can’t help but be struck by the elaborate fictions conjured and sustained by USA & Co.’s omnipresent agitprop machinery. Prominent among such mythologies: China is evil, Russia is evil, we are the good guys, Ukraine is winning, we are the champions of Freedom, Democracy & Human Rights, etc. Indeed, imperial mendacity is now so pervasive and relentless that one can often get at the truth by assuming the opposite of what the Empire’s spokes-agents are saying. The current state of the Empire is not so good, thankfully. Its full-spectrum decline — diplomatic, economic, technological, military, educational — is readily apparent to anyone who’s paying attention. Many Global South countries are in open rebellion against U.S. dictation, bullying and exploitation, especially since the outbreak of the Ukraine war last year. They are coalescing into a multipolar world whose natural leaders are China and Russia. These seismic changes will almost certainly accelerate and intensify in the years ahead.
Hrvoje Morić: Halford Mackinder and others have warned for over a century of the coming together of Eurasia and the World Island. It appears to be happening through the process of “multipolarity” (e.g. BRICS, de-dollarization). What are your thoughts on the rise of the East and the coming together of the Global South and the non-Western world?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: The coming together of the non-West, and the Empire’s efforts to retard or suppress it, will be the core theme of world affairs for decades to come. The worst nightmare of Western geo-strategists from Mackinder through Kissinger and Brzezinski has been the convergence of Russia and China into a unified force dominating the Eurasian landmass. Washington’s hidebound rapaciousness since the turn of the millennium has made that nightmare a reality.
Hrvoje Morić: What are your thoughts on the process of de-dollarization, will the dollar lose it’s world reserve status, and could this lead to serious economic consequences for the United States?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: Dollar dominance in the global financial system is the ultimate, single most powerful prop of the American Empire. De-dollarization is real and ongoing. But it will not mean any quick collapse of the U.S. currency. However, the dollar’s dominant reserve-currency status will be eroded with the rise of other currencies — like the Chinese yuan — and alternative, commodity-linked benchmarks. With that comes erosion of U.S. control of world finance as well as the value and status of the dollar. Significant inflation is likely for dollar users. All this will sap the strength and the very foundations of the U.S. Empire.
Hrvoje Morić: I view the war in Ukraine as a proxy war between East and West. What is your big picture assessment of the situation in Ukraine as well as the state of the Kremlin?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: The war in Ukraine is an epic confrontation between Russia and NATO — the military arm in Europe of the American Empire. The West’s sanctions blitzkrieg against Russia has failed badly, hurting its instigators more than its target. Using a fraction of its strength, the Russian army has been grinding down and incapacitating the NATO-backed Ukrainian forces. Not even the cheerleading of Western media will be able to cover up the debacle that lies ahead. Within the Kremlin, Putin looks strong. He has extensive support from political elites as well as the broader Russian population.
Hrvoje Morić: Do you fear the possibility of escalation toward a Third World War of some sort?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: A Third World War of some sort is already underway. The U.S. has waged a multidimensional hybrid war against China for five years and is still escalating it. The last missing element is a kinetic U.S.-China war. In Ukraine, hot war is already under way — against Russia.
Hrvoje Morić: The West paints China as the world boogeyman. How should we view China in actuality?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: China has become a hyper-bogeyman because the Empire’s rulers regard it as the endgame, over and beyond Russia. China’s all-round national strength, grounded in its powerhouse economy, is greater than Russia’s, so its “threat” to U.S. hegemony is more acute. The demonization has reached proportions recalling the notorious Yellow Peril hysteria of a century ago, as well as the McCarthyism of the 1950s. But unlike the U.S., China does NOT want to dominate or control the world. In fact, the Chinese think that global dominion is a fool’s errand. For two millennia, China’s guiding principle in inter-state relations has been harmony and mutually beneficial interaction. That’s the basis of Beijing’s proposal today of win-win ties and a “community of shared human destiny.” The Chinese are essentially a nation of merchants and traders, not warriors or conquistadors. A deeper exploration of these ideas can be found in my essay at:
Hrvoje Morić: What is the future of the Belt & Road Initiative?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: The Belt and Road Initiative is moving along as expected by its Chinese planners. It is a half-century or even century-long mega-project, so nobody who understands it is looking for quick, flashy results. Still in its early stages, BRI will remain a work in progress for a long time to come.
Hrvoje Morić: The U.S., NATO, and allies are expanding into Asia-Pacific and seem to be militarizing and preparing for war with China. What are your thoughts on Western expansion into Asia and the situation regarding Taiwan, the South China Sea, etc?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: The U.S. has begun to shift its focus from the Western front (in Ukraine, against Russia) of its war for global dominance to the Eastern front (in Asia, against China). So we see NATO trying to extend its sphere of operations from the North Atlantic to the Asia-Pacific. European members have already made a few warship sorties near China, in a comical display of 21st-century gunboat diplomacy. And NATO wants to open an office in Japan, its first in Asia. Washington is also adding four new military bases in the Philippines (to the original five) and working with the pro-U.S. Manila government to stir tensions in the South China Sea. In Taiwan, the U.S. continues to step up its arms sales as well as political and military provocations. The problem for the U.S. is, nobody in Asia really wants to fight China, which is everybody’s biggest trading partner and neighbor in perpetuity. Much less would any country want to be cannon fodder in any U.S. war with China. So many variables will come into play the next few years.
Hrvoje Morić: It appears that Western puppet governments in Africa are shedding their colonial skins and shifting toward the East, toward Russia, China, and multipolarity. What are your thoughts on the ongoing coups in Africa?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: Africa is the latest live example of Global South nations rebelling against the Western colonialist legacy and US-driven unipolarity. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it’s very hard to put back in. Russia and China are the natural sources the rebels will look to for support. Since everybody senses the advent of a historical turning point, it would be hard for Beijing and Moscow to stand by and allow the West and its local agents to restore the ancien régime.
Hrvoje Morić: Separate from the East-West or U.S.-China conflict, there does seem to exist the danger of digital totalitarianism or technocracy facing the populations of all countries through social credit systems, cashless economies, and increasing censorship via de-banking and de-platforming. Do you have any thoughts or concerns regarding the Algorithm Ghetto or Cyber Gulag so to speak?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: Those are largely Western worries. A crucial difference is that In China, for example, ordinary citizens trust their governments to do the right thing by them while in the West, they don’t. Even according to leading Western pollsters, the Chinese government has 90%+ popular support — more than double the figure for any Western authority. The Chinese think of AI not as a threat but as a facilitator of everyday conveniences and a generally better life.
Hrvoje Morić: There seem to be many troubles in Western Europe and the United States, including de-industrialization and financial crises. There is great polarization and some speak of yet another civil war in America. What are your thoughts as to the internal situation in the U.S., talk of collapse, and what we might see with the coming U.S. elections?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: Today’s USA is a remarkably messed-up country. Its problems are legion. Seemingly impossible-to-bridge political divisions, loss of trust in major public institutions, a yawning rich-poor gap, societal breakdown, out-of-control drug problems, culture wars… the list goes on and on. Worst of all, the Washington elites are more preoccupied with fighting wars and creating mayhem worldwide than with fixing these dire domestic afflictions. One way or another, such “contradictions” will probably come to a head in the run-up to next year’s presidential election. Imperial overstretch, plus implosion at home, has through the ages been a recipe for the end of Empire.
Hrvoje Morić: Do you have any other or final thoughts?
Thomas Hon Wing Polin: There is a final observation. Washington’s decision to treat China as an enemy instead of a genuine partner could be the biggest strategic mistake of all time. And not only for the USA but for the world. China had just emerged from its Century of Humiliation, perhaps the worst national trauma in its long history. Its leaders and people alike are united in the determination that such must never be allowed to happen again. To rebuild their nation and economy, they opened to the world and for decades played by rules written by the West. But just when they were on the cusp of success, the US-led West decided it wouldn’t do — and moved the goalposts. The Chinese kept advancing. So the Empire moved on to naked discrimination, persecution and demonization — as we have seen so plainly in the past few years. Once decades of painstakingly accumulated good faith is lost, it’s very hard to regain. Things would have turned out very differently if the US had had wise, farsighted leadership — elites not obsessed with zero-sum games and world domination. True win-win cooperation between the US and China would have been a spectacle to behold, and a vast boon to all humanity. But that’s all water under the bridge now.