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The West Has An Answer To China's New Silk Road — With A Lift From The Gulf

The U.S. and Europe are seeking to rival China by launching a huge joint project. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States will also play a key role – because the battle for world domination is not being fought on China’s doorstep, but in the Middle East.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Indian Prime Minister Narendra and U.S. President Joe Biden shaking hands during PGII & India-Middle East-Europe Economics Corridor event at the G20 Summit on Sept. 9 in New Delhi

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Indian Prime Minister Narendra and U.S. President Joe Biden during PGII & India-Middle East-Europe Economics Corridor event at the G20 Summit on Sept. 9 in New Delhi

Daniel-Dylan Böhmer

BERLIN — When world leaders are so keen to emphasize the importance of a project, we may well be skeptical. “This is a big deal, a really big deal,” declared U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this month.

The "big deal" he's talking about is a new trade and infrastructure corridor planned to be built between India, the Middle East and Europe.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the project as a “beacon of cooperation, innovation and shared progress,” while President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen called it a “green and digital bridge across continents and civilizations."

The corridor will consist of improved railway networks, shipping ports and submarine cables. It is not only India, the U.S. and Europe that are investing in it – they are also working together on the project with Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia is planning to provide $20 billion in funding for the corridor, but aside from that, the sums involved are as yet unclear. The details will be hashed out over the next two months. But if the West and its allies truly want to compete with China's so-called New Silk Road, they will need a lot of money.

The new corridor is part of the G7’s investment program Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII). The seven largest industrial nations, which are all Western or Western allies, want the initiative to act as a counterweight to China’s New Silk Road program; for more than ten years now, Beijing has been building infrastructure in developing and newly industrialized countries, thereby gaining significant influence in those regions.

The G7’s program wants to be better than the Silk Road: it aims to only support projects that are environmentally friendly, socially responsible and conform to standards of good governance. And unlike the Chinese programme, no states will get into debt as a result.

Over the next five years, PGII aims to reach $600 billion, with more than half being raised from private investors. It remains to be seen whether this sum will actually be achieved. However: if we add on the contribution of the Global Gateway Initiative, the EU’s response to the Silk Road, which should represent around €300 billion, then the two together will total €900 billion of investment – around the same amount that China has invested in the New Silk Road over the past ten years.

Because the total sum is not yet confirmed, the importance of the new corridor mainly lies in the strategic signal that it sends, which can be broken down into two main areas.

Friends of convenience

Probably the most important message of the new corridor is that those states that formerly had close links to the West and have since drifted towards China and Russia are by no means a lost cause. For some time now, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been working on building closer relationships with China. They receive investment from China, but also help in areas where the U.S. refuses to engage with them – such as support in building up their own nuclear programme, which can be used for both civil and military purposes.

However, this new project launched by Europe and the U.S. shows that the governments of the Persian Gulf have not entirely switched sides, and that India equally does not want to be seen as part of China’s sphere of influence, in opposition to the West.

Rather, these states, as middle-sized powers in a multi-polar world, are building contacts and relationships where they seem most convenient. And the West still has something to offer there. [...]

— Read the full story by Daniel-Dylan Böhmer for German daily Die Welt, translated by Worldcrunch here.

In other news …


The Catholic Church-affiliated daily Avvenire, based in Milan, lends part of its front cover to an analysis of “young Americans who dream of having many children.” The article is based on a survey conducted by Gallup, which found that the desire for a large family in the U.S. is at the highest it has been in the past 50 years.


“They are an expression of the joy conveyed by big, dirty, loud things and archaic, simple technology.” In Swiss-German daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung, David Signer dissects the “very American” love for monster truck events — the largest of which, Monster Jam, sells over 4 million tickets annually.

U.S. flags everywhere, 15,000 spectators rising and singing the national anthem, hands on hearts… The truck-and-motorcycle shows are “structured, even ritualized,” fun-filled family events with mass appeal. Although Signer notes that the shows are “a climate activist's worst nightmare,” and “atavistic in their cult of masculinity and strength,” they’re also “refreshing in their simplicity, their bravado and their belief that anything is possible, in a ‘Yes, we can!’ way.”

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ivan The Terrible's "Third Rome" And The Enduring Myth Of Russian Supremacism

Tracing the early roots of the concept of the "Russian world" that sees the Russian state as eternal and impervious to change. Its primary objective is the establishment of a robust national state, a realm of expansionism where autocracy is the only form of governance possible.

photo of tomb of the unknown soldier Moscow

Tomb of the unknown soldier Moscow

Vazhnyye Istorii

Updated Dec. 10, 2023 at 9:45 p.m.


Looking back at the start of the 16th century, the Grand Duchy of Moscow had emerged victorious over its Orthodox rivals, including principalities such as Tver and the Novgorod Republic. At the time, a significant portion of the eastern Slavic lands was under Catholic Lithuania's control.

So, how did Moscow rise to prominence?

On the surface, Moscow appeared to fill the void left by the Mongolian Golden Horde. While Moscow had previously collected tributes from other principalities, it now retained these resources for itself. There was an inclination for Muscovy to expand further eastward, assimilating fragments of the Genghisid empire. However, aligning the descendants of ancient Rus’ with the heirs of Genghis Khan would necessitate a fundamental shift in the state's identity. This was particularly complex due to the prevalent ideology built around religion, with the Tatar khans, unlike the Russian princes, adhering to Islam.

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In the early 16th century, a Pskov monk named Philotheus introduced a new idea: that Moscow represented the "third Rome."

According to Philotheus, the first Rome had succumbed to Latin heresy (Catholicism), and the second, Constantinople, had fallen to Turkish conquest. He believed Moscow was now the capital of the only Orthodox state remaining in the world. Philotheus presented his worldview to Grand Duke Vasily III, advocating for the unification of all Christian kingdoms into one.

The descendants of ancient Rus’ sought to trace their lineage back to Prus, the legendary brother of the first Roman emperor Augustus Octavian, establishing a link between Russia and the first Rome. Even though historical evidence doesn't support these claims, Ivan IV, better known as Ivan the Terrible, proudly asserted his connection to Augustus Octavian. He took the concept of the third Rome very seriously and became the first Russian ruler to take on the title of the tsar.

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