The board moves

Signing Ceremony of the NATO Innovation Fund Letter of Commitment by participating Allied Leaders
Signing Ceremony of the NATO Innovation Fund Letter of Commitment by participating Allied Leaders. Source: NATO

Jaime Batlle
Director of the Postgraduate Course in Executive Development in Sustainable Business
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The NATO summit in Madrid should be seen in the perspective of a great marketing operation. Excellent presentation, all very neat and tidy, like good advertising messages. But the reality –as seen in what lies behind it– is quite another matter.

It is evidence that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has not provoked military response, essentially for one simple reason: it cannot without risking the security of millions of people and assets in one part of the world. Today, that is unimaginable. 

The NATO summit in Madrid should be seen in the perspective of a major marketing operation: it was necessary to show muscle with an excellent presentation, as in good advertising messages

In the face of this reality, it is necessary to show muscle for appearance's sake. Hence the NATO summit in Madrid. And like any self-respecting presentation, it is necessary to project a bold beyond. We are talking about Sweden and Finland joining NATO, which, for all practical purposes, will mean the deployment of NATO military structures along the 1,700-km border that Finland shares with Russia. 

Putin has been quick to say that he will respond symmetrically.

Who wins in this situation?

The invasion and war in Ukraine is proving to be a bargain and also the first conflict in which the attacker's nuclear threat is used as a deterrent to response, without the need to use it in the theatre of war, even with tactical nuclear weapons.  

Let's take it one step at a time. From a business perspective, it is so from several points of view, bearing in mind that, in any war, the business that is generated is so that a few gain a lot and many others lose.

The winners are the arms manufacturers, the winners are NATO –which is taking centre stage– and the winners are the energy and oil companies (Russian and non-Russian). All those who have joined the inflationist bandwagon and have raised prices without cost reasons are winners. The winners are those who want to change the current economic system, with China lurking in the background. 

The war in Ukraine is turning out to be a business, considering that, in every war, business is generated so that a few gain a lot and many others lose

Russia wins, which despite the sanctions has managed to strengthen the rouble to pre-war levels. The economic sanctions do not affect the purchase of energy suppliers from Russia, and in a scenario of rising prices –not only because of the conflict– you can imagine what this means in terms of revenue for the Kremlin. 

China also wins, as I noted, as it invests resources through Russia and waits in the wings on the other side of the world. China's economic aid to Russia will undoubtedly be rewarded (it is no more than an investment), pending future political opportunities (watch out for Taiwan). 

And all those who do terrible things win. It is no longer talked about. 

Business and geopolitics

Russia's boldness in invading Ukraine, using nuclear deterrence as an instrument of defense, has provoked a reaction from those demanding their share of the economic and geopolitical pie. The West, which has found that the affair has gone beyond what was expected –a lightning invasion– is forced to rethink its strategy in terms of business and geopolitics. 

The NATO summit in Madrid is therefore the culmination and presentation of work that has been going on since Western intelligence services learned that Russia would invade Ukraine and that it would go on for a long time. Yes, a very serious business and move on the part of the actors who want to weaken the West (Russia and China) at a particularly delicate moment in terms of the economic scenario.

The West, which has found that the affair has gone further than expected, is forces to rethink its strategy in terms of business and geopolitics

Meanwhile, it is easier and more fear-inspiring to portray Putin as a new-style "nazi". Nothing could be further from the truth, regardless of his criminal profile, who should be tried in an international court –like so many others– but the global scene is not ready for that. 

Invasion and war are motivated by economic and power objectives, but history moves slowly. The happy period after the Second World War is over and we Europeans are only now learning about it. The risk is to return to 1939, with the aggravating factor that no human being alive today was a conscious participant in that era. 

Middle East? That happens to others

Terrorism in Europe was serious, but isolated. Is it being talked about now? No. Does it exist? Yes, but it has been replaced by something potentially more dangerous, although it still happens to others (the Ukrainians), as it used to happen to the Yugoslavs. 

We are approaching the end of something and, like all endings, it is turbulent. No one is prepared for it. It will just happen and it will happen, like all the tectonic shifts that have transformed the global scene. The surprising thing is that you go out on the street and nothing seems to happen.

The information society has been reduced to the selective kidnapping of attention by the mobile phone –pathological projection of the ego and commercial cajoling– and watching the news like watching rain. Perhaps there is nothing else that can be done and happiness is connected to unconsciousness, but the world is giving us symptoms to be worried about. 

The system that emerged 80 years ago is disappearing and we ordinary people can do nothing about it. We will only be spectators of the change to a different reality. We will have to go through it. The question is under what conditions we will do it. The board is moving.