Post Modern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Author: Eric Walberg
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Clarity Press (June 15, 2011)
The game motif is useful as a metaphor for the broader rivalry between nations and economic systems with the rise of imperialism and the pursuit of world power. This game has gone through two major transformations since the days of Russian-British rivalry, with the rise first of Communism and then of Islam as world forces opposing imperialism. The main themes of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games include: * US imperial strategy as an outgrowth of British imperialism, and its transformation following the collapse of the Soviet Union; * the significance of the creation of Israel with respect to the imperial project; * the repositioning of Russia in world politics after the collapse of the Soviet Union; * the emerging role of China and Iran in Eurasia; * the emerging opposition to the US and NATO. As the critical literature on NATO, the new Russia, and the Middle East is fragmented, this work brings these elements together in historical perspective with an understanding from the Arab/ Muslim world's point of view, as it is the main focus of all the "Great Games”. It strives to bridge the gap between Western, Russian and Middle Eastern readers with an analysis that is accessible and appeals to all critical thinkers, and at the same time provides the tools to analyze the current game as it evolves. The Great Games of yore - Britain vs. Russia and their empires in the 19th century, and the US vs. the Soviet Union in the 20th century - no longer translate merely as the US vs. Russia or Russia/ China. A major new player is a collective one, NATO, which today is as vital as the emperor's clothes to justify the global reach of US imperialism. Today, the "playing field” - the geopolitical context - is broader than it was in either the 19th or 20th century games, though Eurasia continues to be "center field”, where most of the world's population and energy resources lie. The existence of Israel is an anomaly which seriously complicates the shaping of the geopolitical game. Its roles in the Great Games as both colony and an imperial power in its own right, is analyzed in the context of the history of Judaism and its relations with both the western Christian and the Muslim worlds.
The term “Great Game” was coined in the nineteenth century to describe the rivalry between Russia and Britain. The ill-fated Anglo-Afghan war of 1839–42 was precipitated by fears that the Russians were encroaching on British interests in India after Russia established a diplomatic and trade presence in Afghanistan. Already by the nineteenth century there was no such thing as neutral territory. The entire world was now a gigantic playing field for the major industrial powers, and Eurasia was the center of this playing field.
The game motif is useful as a metaphor for the broader rivalry between nations and economic systems with the rise of imperialism and the pursuit of world power. This game has gone through two major transformations since the days of Russian-British rivalry, with the rise first of Communism and then of Islam as world forces opposing imperialism.
The main themes of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games include:
• US imperial strategy as an outgrowth of British imperialism, and its transformation following the collapse of the Soviet Union;
• The significance of the creation of Israel with respect to the imperial project;
• The repositioning of Russia in world politics after the collapse of the Soviet Union;
• The emerging role of China and Iran in Eurasia;
• The emerging opposition to the US and NATO.
As the critical literature on NATO, the new Russia, and the Middle East is fragmented, this work brings these elements together in historical perspective with an understanding from the Arab/ Muslim world’s point of view, as it is the main focus of all the “Great Games”. It strives to bridge the gap between Western, Russian and Middle Eastern readers with an analysis that is accessible and appeals to all critical thinkers, and at the same time provides the tools to analyze the current game as it evolves.
The Great Games of yore – Britain vs. Russia and their empires in the 19th century, and the US vs. the Soviet Union in the 20th century – no longer translate merely as the US vs. Russia or Russia/ China. A major new player is a collective one, NATO, which today is as vital as the emperor’s clothes to justify the global reach of US imperialism. Today, the “playing field” – the geopolitical context – is broader than it was in either the 19th or 20th century games, though Eurasia continues to be “center field”, where most of the world’s population and energy resources lie.
The existence of Israel is an anomaly which seriously complicates the shaping of the geopolitical game. Its roles in the Great Games as both colony and an imperial power in its own right, is analyzed in the context of the history of Judaism and its relations with both the western Christian and the Muslim worlds.
"Those who think that the "Great Game" played for control of Central Asia is a superannuated relic of Europe's imperial past must read Walberg's epic corrective to their egregious error. In extensive, richly textured and carefully documented detail he reveals the evolution of this competition into the planetary quest for dominance it has become, as well as the imperatives animating its new "players," among whom many will find, to their surprise or consternation, tiny Israel and its symbiotic liaison with America Inc. Prime imperial architect, Zbigniew Brzezinski actually called the blood-soaked playing field The Grand Chessboard, but like all his rapacious forebears omitted to mention the pawns. Walberg places them at the heart of this much needed remediation of the sinister falsehoods propagated in a political culture manufactured from above and offers hope that this anti-human playboard may yet be overturned." -- PAUL ATWOOD, American Studies, University of Massachusetts and author of War and Empire: The American Way of Life (2010)
"Walberg's book is a sharp and concise energizer package required to understand what may follow ahead of the Great 2011 Arab Revolt and related geopolitical earthquakes. It's a carefully argued--and most of all, cliche-smashing--road map showing how the New Great Game in Eurasia is in fact part of a continuum since the mid-19th century. Particularly refreshing is how Walberg characterizes Great Games I, II and III--their strategies and their profiteers. Walberg also deconstructs an absolute taboo--at least in the West: how the US/Israeli embrace has been a key feature of the modern game. It will be hard to understand the complex machinery of post-imperialism without navigating this ideology-smashing road map." --PEPE ESCOBAR, roving correspondent for Asia Times, author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (2007)
"Imperialism is as alive today as in the days of the original Great Game. Central Asia and the Middle East are as strategically important today for the US and Great Britain as they were in earlier games, if for different reasons. Postmodern Imperialism is a continuation of Kwame Nkrumah's Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (1965) and carries forward the struggle of the pen against the sword." --GAMAL NKRUMAH, international editor, Al-Ahram Weekly, Cairo
"Walberg's provocative work traces the transformation of the imperial world through the twentieth century. It is a valuable resource for all those interested in how imperialism works, and is sure to spark discussion about the theory of imperialism and the dialectic of history." --JOHN BELL, author of Capitalism and the Dialectic (2009)
"Eric Walberg's treatise on the Great Games, on Empire, is an excellent read. It is not a blow by blow account of the rise and fall of empires involved with the Great Games, but an accounting of their methods and raison d'etre. It is a dense read, provocative, bold, touching on ideas that seldom appear in mainstream presentations. It is a significant and important addition to the geopolitical and political-military thinking of the global cultural environment of finance and wars." -- Foreign Policy Journal, July 22, 2011
Master’s Degree in Political Science & Expert on Asia Issues
The term “great game” was introduced in the 19th century to describe rivalry between Russia and Britain. The UK dispatched spies under the cover of expeditions and surveys to Afghanistan and Turkistan along with great military forces to put more pressure on Russia. After Russia established diplomatic ties to Afghanistan and UK perceived threats to its interests in India, the first Anglo-Afghan war broke out from 1838 to 1842 which was one of the most important conflicts under the great game. It was a result of competitions between Russia and UK to gain more influence in the Central Asia and dealt deadly blows to Britain’s power in the region. That term can now be used to describe extensive competitions among nations and economic systems after the rise of imperialism and emergence of new world powers. Now, that game has gone well beyond the competition between UK and Russia over Afghanistan to include the whole Eurasia, including the Central Asia and the Middle East.
Geopolitical study of Eurasia started after the United States joined that competition in the beginning of the 20th century when Britain as the dominant world power had already expanded its imperialistic game in the region at the cost of other imperialistic powers.
The term ‘geopolitics’ denotes the use of politics to control geographical expanses and is used when a geographical areas is of more strategic importance. Anyway, geopolitics is more related to viewpoint of the great geographer and politician, Halford John Mackinder, and his views about the heartland which includes the Central Asia. Two main parts of Eurasia include the Central Asia and the Middle East, which also encompass the legendary Silk Road. It is a combination of various routes used for cultural, trade, and technological exchanges by merchants, dealers, pilgrims, missionaries, soldiers and desert-dwellers in China, Tibet, India, Iran and Mediterranean countries. The imperialistic game began in the 19th century as a result of imperialistic competition between Russia and UK. This is what has been called ‘Great Game I or GGI’ by the author of this book.
Britain kept Afghanistan, Iran and the Ottoman Empire in line with its policies, though they were apparently independent states. Following World War I, that situation greatly changed. The World War I was catastrophic for all European imperialistic powers and the Russian revolution in 1917 was a declaration of war against the imperialistic system which is known as the second big game or GGII. It was a Cold War between imperialism and Communism. This was where the United States joined hands with former imperialistic powers such as UK, France and Germany to form a united front against anti-imperialistic foes. Of course, this game did not reach its final stage until the end of World War II. Therefore, the period from 1917 to the end of World War II can be considered as the period of the Great Game I (GGI).
The fate of the Middle East and Central Asia are once more tied to each other after the lapse of seven centuries. A large part of those regions, however, is now made up of various ethnic groups and different tribes some of them have been created by imperialism as a result of divide and rule policy of imperialistic powers. A large part of this region is rediscovering Islam as its main root and is using it as the main axis for resistance against new imperialistic players such as the United States and Israel.
The important point is that all these games are variables of imperialism and their main goal is to gain economic growth, pursue public interests, deprive smaller states of the ownership right, and to establish domination of central states over peripheral ones. In the latest version of the great game (GGIII), there are differences with previous versions, but there are also similarities. For example, Rothschild family was the main financial center of GGI, but they have been replaced with International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions in modern times. The main arena of the game is, once more, the Middle East and Central Asia with Afghanistan as a center of the most intense combats again. There is still geopolitical rivalry in this game. The rivalry was just between big powers in GGI and GGII. In GGI, for example, the rivalry was between UK, Germany, France, and US. Russia and the former Soviet Union were the main centers of rivalry in GGII. In the recent game, however, the rivalry is not just between big players, but also between groups of imperialistic states such as the United States and Israel. GGII defended North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) against Communism, but NATO has become a tool for the United States to achieve its imperialistic goals in GGIII. Like GGII, there is also a common enemy involved here, but it is a different enemy which cannot be defeated.
Players in the new games use extended strategies and modern technologies to gain power and control resources. The whole region is now experiencing an unprecedented conflict and unrest in which participating teams pursue extra profits. Those players include world powers which are changing alliances as well as such regional players as Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and Indochina all with their own historical and cultural backgrounds which seek to meet their own interests and goals. Israel, as an anomaly, has been present at the heart of all three great games: as a ghost in GGI, as a base for imperialism in the Middle East in GGII, and as an independent global power in GGIII which is sometimes a US ally and a rival for all other big players.
To gain the maximum amount of wealth were geopolitical and economic goals of GGI and GGII with zero-sum game being the rule. In GGIII, however, the goal is more complicated. Many players are hardly united in a single camp and try to control the world. There are many variables involved and a zero-sum game is not the rule anymore.
The present book follows and delineates the route of imperialistic games from the past century and explains developments in financial as well as politico-military strategies which aim to control global resources. It also lays out the most prominent characteristics of every one of those great games.
Following the preface, the first chapter begins under the title “Great Games: Imperialism in Central Asia and the Middle East.”
The second chapter entitled “GGI: Competing Empires” focuses on how GGI began and what its goals were. It also expounds the dominant ideology of the game as well as various roles and strategies used including financial strategies and politico-military ones. It then discusses how global resources are controlled and finally elaborates on the endgame process.
The third chapter entitled “GGII: Empire against Communism” is also about beginnings and goals of GGII, its ideology, rules of the game and strategies, including finance strategies and their impact on the end of the game, military-political strategies, institutions such as the United Nations, European Union, and NATO; hard power and soft power in strategies, control of world resources and finally endgame of GGII.
The fourth chapter is about “GGIII: US-Israel – Postmodern imperialism.” It discusses the struggle to establish the new GGIII goals, ideology governing that game, rules of the game and strategies including financial strategies and military-political strategies, GGIII imperial doctrines, role of such institutions as UN, NATO and pre/ postmodern states, hard power (wars, military bases, missile defense, cyber warfare, arms production, nuclear weapons, proxies), soft power (aid, NGOs, color revolutions, co-opting regimes, anti-piracy, drugs, and domestic repression), and control of world resources.
The fifth chapter is entitled “GGIII: Israel – Empire-and-a-Half.” It discusses goals of Judaism and Zionism in these three games, political and military strategies of Israel, hard power (wars, arms production, nuclear weapons, terrorism/ mercenaries/ mafia), soft power (politicide and co-opting the PLO, use of Islamists, spies/ assets/ gatekeepers, Israel lobby, media manipulation, culture wars), control of world resources, and endgame.
The sixth and the last chapter which is entitled “GGIII: Many players, Many Games,” focuses on major players in the third great game, including the United States, Israel, Middle Eastern states, Central Asia, Russia, China, Japan, India, Europe, and popular resistance forces.
About the Author
Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s. He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio. His articles appear in Russian, German, Spanish and Arabic and are accessible at his website ericwalberg.com. Walberg was a moderator and speaker at the Leaders for Change Summit www.leadersofchangesummit.org in Istanbul in 2011.