Friday 8 April 2022

America’s To Lose: But the Outcome Of The “Great Game” Remains Unclear.

Disputed Territory: By 1991 it looked as though America’s geopoliticians had won the Great Game. The Soviet Union had collapsed, Eastern Europe was theirs for the taking, and the People’s Republic of China had allowed itself to be transformed into a giant American factory. No wonder a US State Department analyst, Francis Fukuyama, had jubilantly penned a paper entitled “The End of History”.

THE GREAT GEOPOLITICAL CHALLENGE confronting the United States is that the Americas are separated from Eurasia by two broad oceans. Since the end of the Second World War, from which it emerged as the undisputed global hegemon, this geopolitical challenge has required the American government to transform Western Europe into a military, economic and cultural appendage of the United States.

Had the United States failed to effect this transformation, its own economy would have faltered, and capitalism, as a global system, could very easily have collapsed. Making the nations of Western Europe part and parcel of the American economy – principally as borrowers of American dollars and consumers of American exports – was crucial to preserving the American people’s economic prosperity and, hence, the USA’s political stability.

Had the USA not launched the “Marshall Plan” for European recovery, and intervened aggressively in the domestic politics of France and Italy, it is practically certain that the formidable Communist Parties of those two countries would have come to power, bringing the whole of Europe under the tutelage of the Soviet Union.

And Great Britain?

The United States had taken a majority shareholding in Great Britain Ltd during the darkest days of 1940. In return for the US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, keeping his country in the war, Winston Churchill, was forced to set in motion the dissolution of the British Empire.

It is likely Churchill consoled himself for this capitulation to necessity with fairy tales about a “special relationship” between the USA and Great Britain. No doubt he truly believed that in the unfolding history of the English-speaking peoples, Britain would be seen to have played the role of Ancient Greece to America’s Ancient Rome: peacefully blending its old empire into something new and altogether larger and more powerful.

The Americans would not have disagreed with the last bit, but they were never foolish enough to believe in the rest. Since becoming the world’s banker during the First World War, US capitalism had been aching to get its hands on the protected markets and resources of the geographically vast British Empire. The only thing the Americans were willing to share with the British was the English language.

As the Brits found out to their cost during the Suez Crisis of 1956, the sun had well and truly set on the British Empire. It had become an expensive joke. The British lion was stuffed.

Which still left the USA facing the problem of Eurasia. The Soviet Union and China might be broken and destitute after years of oppression and war, but beneath the graves and the rubble lay resources that could make them rich enough to one day compete with the United States for the rest of the world’s allegiance.

The geopolitical planners in Washington understood that American hegemony could only be sustained by making damn sure that neither Russia nor China ever arrived at that strategically critical position. What they were in the process of doing to the British Empire, they were determined, eventually, to do to the Russians and the Chinese: break them into pieces and transfer their markets and resources into the safekeeping of Uncle Sam.

By 1991 it looked as though America’s geopoliticians had done it. The Soviet Union had collapsed, Eastern Europe was theirs for the taking, and the People’s Republic of China had allowed itself to be transformed into a giant American factory. No wonder a US State Department analyst, Francis Fukuyama, had jubilantly penned a paper entitled “The End of History”.

But, the clever boys and girls in the State Department, and their moronic friends in the military and the CIA, had not factored in the extraordinary historical resilience of the Russians and the Chinese. Henry Ford had told his fellow Americans that “history is bunk” – and they had believed him. Drunk on the heady brew of their “unipolar world”, US geopoliticians had called their global victory too soon. Eventually, after twenty years of getting its ass kicked in the Middle East, the United States had to confront the inconvenient truth that Eurasia wasn’t beaten yet – not by a long shot.

Inevitably, Russia and China had produced leaders in possession of the requisite political steel to exploit the Americans’ mistaken assumption that they could command the rest of the world to dance – and it would dance. Only when it was too late did Washington understand that Moscow and Beijing has music of their own, and dance-steps with which America was entirely unfamiliar. In the global edition of Dancing With The Stars, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping made Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden look like flat-footed rubes.

Snapping out of their premature imperial bender, the Americans did their best to re-energise the Drang nach Osten (Drive to the East) that had been set in motion by the Soviet Union’s collapse. The United States’ geopolitical catspaw, Nato, had been expanded all the way to the borders of the Russian Federation. Washington and its surrogates were stirring up trouble in China’s western border province of Xinjiang. Bait the Bear and Poke the Dragon had become the only games in town.

But these were no sand-blasted Middle-eastern dictators they were facing. Russia and China were nuclear powers. Getting rid of Putin and Xi would require something the Americans have never been over-endowed with – guile.

Regardless, they laid a trap for Putin, baited it with Ukraine, and waited. If Russia took the bait, the United States and Nato would unleash, as one pundit put it: “an economic and cultural Barbarossa”. And if Xi was foolish enough to come to Putin’s aid, then they were quite willing to declare full-scale economic war on the People’s Republic as well. A geopolitical twofer!

Except, the imposition of crippling sanctions cuts both ways. The USA is pinning all its hopes of finally subduing Eurasia on both Russia and China succumbing to the impact of the West’s economic warfare before it blows back into Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and, ultimately, and perhaps a lot faster than Washington anticipates, into America itself.

The Russian Federation has released a map of the world showing all those nations who have declared themselves “Enemies of Russia” by joining the economic blockade. The most striking thing about the map is that it identifies not only Putin’s (and potentially Xi’s) enemies, but also those parts of the world inhabited by white people.

If Eurasia survives the sanctions; and if, in the process, it creates a new economic order from which the great American hegemon and its hangers-on are excluded; then it will not be the USA that wins the Great Game, it will be Russia and China, the masters of Eurasia.

Because, as the inventor of geopolitics, Sir Halford Mackinder (1861-1947) wrote more than a century ago:

Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; [Russia] Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; [Eurasia plus Africa] Who rules the World Island commands the World.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 8 April 2022.


sumsuch said...

Havna read a syllable beyond the caption and headline. This is the one in ten years when you Left talkers need to go to ideals first and last. We have 8 years to address climate change seriously. Politicking has brought us to this dismal place, your beautiful language is meant for philippics, ciceronics, except this time it's the only realism. You have a platform, we love your lyricality and we love ideals ( if I remember Disney's 'Old Yeller' rightly).

If you want to see how importantly I view democracy as the boiler room of truth see my comment on TDB letters column.

larry mitchell said...

I am disappointed (to say the least) in your position on the Ukraine conflict.

The moral equivalence you assert of this and historic atrocities has the effect of excusing the current one.

Rather ... assert and condemn the facts of Ukraine, the Putin hegemony, an INVASION and the deaths.

And stop playing some kind of self-absorbed all seeing commentariat guru and play what's in front of you/us all at the present minute.

greywarbler said...

What unhelpful comments. One thoughtful but ignoring practicalities and the other just mouthing conventional platitudes.
Some stats to help you cogitate as to how ,why, what, when etc we keep having wars and and conflicts, each one trerrible and being spoken about such as this: ' assert and condemn the facts of Ukraine, the Putin hegemony, an INVASION and the deaths.' Let's think and try and learn and deal with the demotions and economics before they poison the world in another way.

How many wars has America started since ww2?
The United States has officially declared war 11 times during five separate military conflicts. According to the Constitution (Article I, Section 8), Congress has the exclusive power to declare war. The last time America declared war was during World War II.21/01/2022

How Many Times Has the US Officially Declared War? - HISTORY › news › united-states-official-de.
How many wars have there been since 1946?
The Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), the leading provider of statistics on political violence, has identified 285 distinct armed conflicts since 1946.

Trends in Armed Conflict, 1946–2017 - ReliefWeb › › files › resources
List of wars: 1945–1989

Armaments spending
• Ranking: military spending by country 2020 | Statista › ... › Politics & Government
7/05/2021 — The United States led the ranking of countries with highest military spending in 2020, with 778 bilion U.S. dollars dedicated to the military.

Global arms industry: Sales by the top 25 companies up 8.5 ... › media › press-release › global-a...
7/12/2020 — Sales of arms and military services by the sector's largest 25 companies totalled US$361 billion in 2019, 8.5 per cent more than in 2018.

Arms Exporters largest 2020 (billion TIVs)*
1 United States 9,372
2 Russia 3,203
3 France 1,995
In 2014–18, the volume of major arms international transfers was 7.8 percent higher than in 2009-13 and 23 percent than that in 2004–08. The largest arms importer was Saudi Arabia, importing arms primarily from the United States, United Kingdom and France. Between 2009–13 and 2014–18, the flow of arms to the Middle East increased by 87 percent. Also including India, Egypt, Australia and Algeria, the top five importers received 35 percent of the total arms imports, during 2014–18. Besides, the largest exporters were the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China.[14]

The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine changed the National Shooting Sports Foundation members ability to obtain an export license from taking a month to taking just four days. [15] This was due to the United States Department of Commerce and agencies associated with ITAR expediting weapons shipments to Ukraine.[16] In addition, the time it took to obtain a permit to buy a firearm in Ukraine also decreased from a few months to a few days.[17]
World's largest arms exporters

Figures are SIPRI Trend Indicator Values (TIVs)* expressed in millions. These numbers may not represent real financial flows as prices for the underlying arms can be as low as zero in the case of military aid. The following are estimates from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.[18]

2021 Military Expenditure in equal TIVs estimated
1 778 USA 39% of world total
2 252 China 13% "
3 74+ India 3.7% "
4 61+ Russia 3.1%

I think these facts and figures should be considered in making assessments of what is driving war and how to stop it and prevent it starting again in the same location, or elsewhere in the world.
That is if the major 'players' want this outcome. There are big contracts and profits to be made in armaments.

Wayne Mapp said...

I have never really bought into MacKinder's view of the world. It is highly eurocentric in the sense that it puts total emphasis on land power. Although MacKinder is British, he ignores the fact that Britain, and subsequently the US, are maritime powers.

Their power is not sourced in central Europe, but instead on the global network of economic trade power built on the extraordinary expansion of international trade over the last two centuries. In Britain's case, primarily on the profits of trade, for the US a combination of internally sourced capital as well as trade. It is easy to forget the power of the internal economic engine of the United States. A vast internal market and the expansive use of capital is what primarily drove US expansion right up until WW2.

In contrast Russia has a population of 140 million, only 40% of that of the US and just 30% that of the EU. The failure of the Russian Army in Ukraine shows how far Russia is technologically lagging. Their military technology is basically 40 years old, mostly from the late Cold War period. They have largely missed out on the era of digitately enabled weapons systems, which the west has in abundance.

In my view it is probable Russia will lose the war. They will keep the Donbas and Crimea. They may hold the land bridge between these two. If so the war will settle into a stalemate for some time before a settlement. Russia will be able formalise what it already had. But was a war, which will ultimately result in probably over 200,000 dead directly killed in battle, and 400,000 injured, really necessary simply to formalise the prewar status ante?

Patricia said...

It is interesting to read your essay Chris. I love history. It always explains the now. Things don’t happen in a vacuum. No wars are excusable but why they happen needs to be said and understood. Diplomacy is the only answer. Personally I think Ukraine should hold up the white flag. Europe cannot manage without Russia’s gas and payment in roubles is sensible. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of the US$ as the reserve currency. After all why would any country hold US treasures when they could be seized at a whim. Afghanistan, Venezuela, Iran are brought to mind.

Anonymous said...

Uniting Wisdom With The Soul – Vivida Vis Animi
Author: Jacques Baud
Jacques Baud is a former colonel of the General Staff, ex-member of the Swiss strategic intelligence, specialist on Eastern countries. He was trained in the American and British intelligence services. He has served as Policy Chief for United Nations Peace Operations. As a UN expert on rule of law and security institutions, he designed and led the first multidimensional UN intelligence unit in the Sudan. He has worked for the African Union and was for 5 years responsible for the fight, at NATO, against the proliferation of small arms. He was involved in discussions with the highest Russian military and intelligence officials just after the fall of the USSR. Within NATO, he followed the 2014 Ukrainian crisis and later participated in programs to assist the Ukraine. He is the author of several books on intelligence, war and terrorism, in particular Le Détournement published by SIGEST, Gouverner par les fake news, L’affaire Navalny. His latest book is Poutine, maître du jeu? published by Max Milo.

When the article was first published it contained the above biography of the author, this has since been removed and the piece is now attributed to C B Forde.

Graham Wright

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well, if some neo-Nazis are an excuse to invade someone – we could easily invade Russia. A little too much is made of this, every country has neo-Nazis, including the USA. They can't be particularly powerful in Ukraine given that the president is Jewish though you think? Putin on the other hand......

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Russia will almost certainly lose the war, but come out of a stalemate with something, if only to salvage Putin's pride. The crushing of Czechoslovakia was done with half a million troops in two waves. That was pretty much shock and awe USSR version. The Armed Forces of Czechoslovakia didn't have a chance to resist. And it was all over very quickly because Czechoslovakia was relatively small.
Russia doesn't have half a million troops to spare for wars anymore. Their population is shrinking, people aren't having the same huge families they used to in the 40s and 50s. It's just a question of how many soldiers Putin can sacrifice before even he has to call a halt.

Patricia said...

Anyway the first casualty of war is the truth so I don’t think anybody really knows what is going on.

larry mitchell said...

Hey greywarbler ... a lot to cut and paste ehh?

You are awarded the "Wotta Bout XXX?" apologists-sanctuary choclate fish ... of the month.

I rest my case. L

greywarbler said...

Larry What's in your case, seems heavy or are you feeling weak? Are you going somewhere - running away eh!