The Choice: Ecumenical Peace or Rules-based Order?

‘Rules-based’ countries need to feed the breadbaskets of the world rather than the buffet plates of military industry shareholders.

13 April 2022 | Clipper Media News

By James Porteous

The US has always based its world view on the concept of ‘rules-based’ or the US-led international order. You will hear US politicians using this term all the time, to the point that they seem to have come to the conclusion that it is an all-powerful, Svengali-like mantra. 

And it is. To those who adhere to the ‘US-led international order.’

But it is a big ol’ world and it could be said that the US long-ago become so enamoured with ‘outsourcing’ virtually everything that it can no longer ‘blackmail’ ‘rogue nations’ with threats of cutting off supplies of steel, computer chips, food, oil… 

Ecumenism is the concept and principle that Christians who belong to different Christian denominations should work together to develop closer relationships among their churches and promote Christian unity. The adjective ecumenical is thus applied to any interdenominational initiative that encourages greater cooperation between Christians and their churches.


The US dollar and the SWIFT banking system, sure, but the US now imports just about everything they need to function as a nation of adults.

The ‘just-in-time’ system worked fine, just so long as those sending the products ‘just-in-time’ are not on the ever-changing US shitlist. 

So what to do with places like China? Appeasement and harsh words in public and dire negotiations behind the scenes? 

In international relations, the liberal international order (some times referred to as the rules-based or the US-led international order) describes a set of global, rule-based, structured relationships based on political liberalism, economic liberalism and liberal internationalism since the late 1940s.


That will only work so far. As we are seeing now, even the threat of skyrocketing fuel and food prices -or a complete cut-off of both- due to their usual intransigence has only solidified their ‘you are either with us or against us’ mantra. 

But guess what. Those countries that no longer have to put all of their eggs into the US-made basket are taking a step back and saying, maybe this divorce is for the best.

And China? They have no need or desire to take the side of the US or Russia in the battle for Ukraine. They know where they stand, and so do Russia and the US, but there is no real need to appease the US. Or Russia.

They are not very concerned at all about the US ‘rules-based order’ or the constant fear of waking up in the middle of the night and wondering when the next shipment of steel, computer chips, rare earth, plutonium, nickel, rice, batteries, solar panels… will arrive.

In truth, China long ago embarked on a program to become as self-sufficient as possible. And yes, part of that involves decamping into countries throughout Africa and beyond with the intention of tapping into their natural resources. 

Is the Belt and Road Initiative always fair and equitable to all concerned? No. Often it is based on a sort of IMF-rules-based order designed to help countries run up huge debts with an eye on eventually calling in those debts and taking control of everything. 

Is it any worse that what the US did for decades when they needed resources to be shipped back to America? Probably not,.

But the difference is that China is buying and paying for the resources they will need now and for generations to come.

The ‘rules based order’ country would rather continue its new Manifest Destiny and entitlement programs. As such, they are certain these measures give them the ‘right’ to simply take whatever they need. By force or war if need be.

And they can try to take anything they need, just so long as those countries continue to abide by the ‘rules based’ order. 

And more and more do not. So the king of the rules based order does not like to admit it, but they are on the cusp of having to make a choice: Become more violent in taking what they need or decide to finally become a member of the international order that, at least on the surface, strives for a common, world-wide good,

And no, China is not 100% good or bad. Any more than the US is 100% good or bad. Any more than Russia or dozens of other countries are 100% good or bad.

But if nothing else came out of the disastrous handling of ‘covid,’ we know now that nothing happens in a vacuum. If nations want to act like corporations, immune from the rules of civil society, they can. 

But from here on out, they will need to pay a price for the spoils. All of them. The US, China, Russia…

If the US wants to continue on its path to war with China, they should know that next war will be fought on distant shores but it will also be fought on the beaches of New York and in the food-belt of the Midwest and California and the windy city. The days of ‘over there’ are over.

And even without the proxy wars, they are surely running out of time. 

We are moving ever closer to climate calamity and widespread social unrest unless the ‘rules based’ countries start adopting something akin to an ‘ecumenical peace’ that will feed the bread baskets of the world rather than the buffet plates of military industry shareholders. 

James Porteous | Clipper Media News

Ukraine war: failure of the West’s ‘ecumenical peace’ could spill over to Taiwan

13 April 2022 | Lanxin Xiang | SCMP

Ecumenical peace is a powerful Christian movement emphasising Christian unity all over the world.

As part of Christian civilisation, Russia deserves a place in it. Unfortunately, today’s ecumenical peace has been replaced by a “democratic peace” that Russia is in effect excluded from.

China, of course, was never part of it. Thus, China has good reason to see the war in Ukraine as an internecine conflict as its cause has nothing to do with Chinese history and culture.

Western civilisation has seen far more war than peace throughout its history.

Not only is the war in Ukraine a tragic conflict between Slavic brothers, it is a failure of Western management of ecumenical peace since the end of the Cold War.

Few in Western countries are able to read this event as such because they are misled by the faulty theory of a “rules-based order”.

Russia’s behaviour actually follows the basic rules of the international system founded by Europe in 1648 and enshrined in the Treaty of Westphalia.

Two principles are at the core of this system – the sovereign rights of the state and the balance-of-power logic for state security. The Western accusations against Russia only focus on the first but entirely neglect the second.

But the West has imposed an ecumenical peace in Europe since the end of the Cold War with a set of “universal values” derived from the West alone.

It is not surprising that peace cannot be maintained if Russian concerns over state security in a Westphalian context are consistently dismissed during Nato expansion.

Nevertheless, the collateral damage to China from this war should not be underestimated. This damage is not so much economic as political.

Ecumenism symbol from a plaque in St. Anne’s Church, Augsburg, Germany. It shows Christianity as a boat at sea with the cross serving as the mast.[1]

In the recent summit between the European Union and China, European leaders warned that the relationship between the two is at a tipping point if China does not support the Western position against Russia.

Chinese leaders have refused to comply with this demand. The danger is that as the ecumenical peace has failed in Europe, politicians in the West might want to focus on the rivalry with China.

The medieval and early modern mindset in Europe often connected the ecumenical peace in Europe with the need for holy war against the real enemy of Christianity – the infidels. The West today seems increasingly keen on imposing a global ecumenical peace beyond democracies.

The risk is most obvious in its relationship with China, which has already been designated the leading rival to the United States in every dimension, whether it is religion, culture, politics, history and even race, to the theologians of democratic peace.

Transatlantic solidarity and the bipartisan consensus in Washington on China could eventually entail a shift of the “one China policy” to a “one China, one Taiwan” policy. Taiwan is now widely seen as the Ukraine of the East, as the current Western debate shows.

The idea of abandoning “strategic ambiguity” in favour of “strategic clarity” suggests the possibility of promoting Taiwan’s international status, but it could also lead to miscalculations on the part of Beijing, Washington or Taipei. Cross-strait war will become more likely than ever.

The Russian invasion can be seen as a prelude to something far more ominous to come. As one leading Western analyst recently explained, the Russian war in Ukraine is just bad weather while deadly climate change will be caused by Beijing.

This is a recipe for war. As the US is increasing its military deterrence against China, the prevailing mood of no longer tolerating “appeasement” could further intensify diplomatic, economic and military confrontations.

We are living in a pre-1914 situation. The only possible venue to promote true global ecumenical peace might be the BRICS bloc, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, rather than the Group of 7 consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The West should consider promoting real ecumenical peace that crosses civilisations. Give that the West has failed to manage the peace within its own civilisation, how can China trust it to manage “inter-civilisational” peace?

Lanxin Xiang is professor emeritus of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and visiting fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute in Florence


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