In four books from 1997 to 2008 Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined a comprehensive American foreign posture around the geopolitical grail of Central Asia. Since 1945 the United States has been largely defined as the first non-Eurasian thalassocracy to prevail in the Great Game, yet for how long? Maybe the superpower in the position to rule the wave while avoiding the making of formal dominions in its most vital areas of interest still felt at a disadvantage against the Eurasian Great Gamers. This stance was underlined by that the Cold War shaped most of the US strategic thinking. Once under pressure it will have chosen force to impose its will. The problem is that at least since the 16th century no empire has sustainably prevailed by force in Afghanistan. Besides, neocon strategists never provided a convincing answer to the question “why would you succeed where the Russians failed?” The way the Great Game will evolve after 2011 shall lay the foundations of the whole 21st century geopolitics. In this article we provide a historical analysis of the Great Game emphasizing the contribution of the most local human factor to global geopolitical changes. We also try to anticipate a few trends underlining the growing power of projecting popular hope, prosperity and dignity in advancing political interests. Man is thus free to demonstrate the realist political profitability of peace and the millennium development goals in this new round of the Great Game, which shall open with a grand new deal to which each thinker may contribute. In particular, we anticipate it be defined by noopolitik and the knowledge economy, beyond geography, the most promising means for any Great Gamer to decisively prevail over the many others.
Introduction: ultima ratio populorum
A defeat on the Eurasian Heartland can be most painful. Since Alexander the Great no empire has long survived an injury in Central Asia. This fairly verifiable phenomenon has become an empiric rule of military history:
The US has broken the second rule of war. That is, don’t go fighting with your land army on the mainland of Asia. Rule One is don’t march on Moscow
From McKinder & Brzezinski’s theoretical guidelines we may sum-up the US position as that of the first non Eurasian power prevailing in the Great Game. If we consider Britain a Eurasian power such situation is unprecedented. Of this New World Order reported by whom Brzezinski (2007) calls “Global Leader I” the administration of “Global Leader III” reaped a sense of invulnerability which misled it to believe the Greater Middle East could be reshaped by force. Such plan included the control of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and ultimately Iran and the subsequent creating of a Baluchi client state between Pakistan and Iran. Although its strategic stakes remain mostly vital to the US foreign posture the total obsolescence of its method in less than ten years Brzezinski has called “the cemetery of neocon dreams”.
The control of Afghanistan was a priority before China, which sphere of influence clearly covers the area and which made its intentions clear in embracing globalization, or Russia still on its knees after the ruble crisis, (re-)establish themselves as significant Great Gamers. The second objective was necessarily Iraq with its vast oil reserves and its border with Iran, the ultimate goal now unattainable by force (though not necessarily by soft powers, including the partaking in a legitimate popular revolution). Projecting the forces and personnel of a country endowed with one of the highest standards of living in countries both desperate and long seasoned (Iraq by the carnage of the 1980-1988 war and Afghanistan by that of 1979-1989 and subsequent civil war) could only lead to a protracted occupation devoid of decisive victories and especially insensitive to shock or terror, which military strategists have often considered a last resort “antibiotic” to insurgency. Brzezinski recalls how Churchill himself urged the Royal Air Force to resort to chemical weapons in the Iraq of the 1920s. Thus resistance can never be deemed futile if it is no option. Such ultima ratio populorum may always bend the ultima ratio regum on the long term. In that we may have another well-sourced rule of war.
By contrast the resort to the skillful projection of hope and prosperity in a “Shock and Awe” doctrine of projecting economic power may become increasingly more palatable to strategists as a pragmatic continuation of political intercourses by other means. The credible implementation of this option is yet made harder for the USA which international standing has been deeply tarnished by the “global war on Terror”. Even the unparalleled versatility of the American soft power, epitomized by Barack Obama’s 2009 address at Al Azhar University, has hardly restored a credible American leadership in the Middle East that is fit to the most subtle stakes of the 21st century.
To govern is to foresee, and in a nuclear world empires have become too big to fail. If they collapse, decline or fold the vacuum left in their influence may not be filled at once portending many conflicts in their periphery. The dismantling of the USSR has left the world with manifold vivid memories of such atrocious “low intensity” conflicts from Algeria to the Balkans to the Caucasus to Central Asia and the New World Order has been marked by a steep rise in the number of conflicts from 1991 to 2011. Brzezinski often underlines that while in the past it was easier to govern rather than to kill a million the reverse is still most verified at the beginning of the 21st century’s second decade.
Without precipitating an all-out war (but the rules of engagement in the global economic war are proving much different, especially since 1991) the international situation since Hiroshima is not conducive to all-out peace either. While this so-called sub-optimality of post WWII international relations has never been formally proven inevitable it is easily explained by the dynamism of great powers’ spheres of influence. This well-verified dynamics of Pacium Imperiorum (from say the Pandora’s box of nationalist passions in either the post Pax Carolum or Pax Napoleonica Europe to the sovereign solidification of post Pax Britannica colonies in the Indies and Africa) must be anticipated in its American manifestation. Like tides superpowers do ebb and advance across countries which, in changing hands, are among the modern world’s most flammable zones.
Vladimir Putin thus often called the USSR’s dismantling the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. Either directly or not, Russia’s latest cycle of contraction and expansion also coincided with the claiming of over one million lives (without counting the massacre of the so-called “African World War”) including at least 200 000 Chechens, 200 000 Algerians and 270 000 ex-Yugoslavians.
If today’s first military budget (USD 663.8 billion in 2010, of which less than one tenth, also per annum, would achieve the Millennium Development Goals according to the World Bank) and the first power projection capacity in the world (eleven high-capacity carrier battle groups, the first Economic Exclusive Zone, the first diplomatic network…) had its power significantly challenged globally the international consequences would be unprecedented since at least the advent of the New World Order. Afghanistan is where that challenging is coming from. The fate of the world is thus intimately linked to the Afghan fate, a local moment of truth with the most global consequences. This destiny we must anticipate in a proactive manner.
Back to the human factor in geopolitics.
It is said that the only laws an intelligence agency must meet are those of physics because they are non-negotiable. It is precisely in such mentality the Afghans have been fighting regardless of their political affiliation from at least the era of Ahmad Shah Durani, considered the founder of their modern national identity. As Didier Giard recalls the game of Wuzloba (Pashto) also known as Buzkashi (Dari-Persian / Urdu) well correlates this large asymmetry in the will to fight between foreign forces and the Afghans. The traditional version of the game imposes no limits in time and space. The space-time of the game is therefore that of physics: game lasts till the exhaustion of horses, dozens of miles and hours away if necessary. This is the game of a people raised to go all the way, even in awing inferiority of troops and equipment.
Since the destruction of pre-Columbian empires there has be no historical precedent of an occupation force having sustainably prevailed over a population in a state of total resistance. Of all the examples of protracted warfare and guerilla movements described in the exergue of Hans von Dach’s classic Total Resistance the only ones to have faced annihilation were those being opposed by another nationally and politically legitimate contender (as in Dach’s example of the Vendée war in France). Thus the simple question “why would you succeed where the Russians failed” has been raised, to which no answer convincing enough to justify a full operation has yet been given. Rather, hundreds of pages in intelligence memos and think tank studies have been given, but to paraphrase Talleyrand,
When one is right, one does not write forty pages.
In spite of Napoleon’s frequent advice “regardez la carte” Afghanistan has somehow made us forget the very heart of geopolitics lies not primarily in geography but in politics. In geopolitics one ultimately seeks control over minds and the resort to force is but one (out of many, and many remain ignored) proximal means of achieving this distal, long-run goal. Man is the target and a strategic objective may only be an empty area if it entails the control of peoples, which grants their tremendous geopolitical value to capital, food and above all energy in geopolitics (from grain to oil and beyond). The control of peoples gives a new meaning to the modern control of the Eurasian Heartland, mainstay of the world’s most populous area, and what makes a Russia-China-India diplomatic triangle unacceptable to the Russians.
Humanity is more of a process than a thing where – at human scale – territory is much more of a thing than a process. The control of a lifelong process allows some control of its fate, particularly that of its expansion. Because it commanded minds Marxism succeeded better than any military leader in conquering the constitutions of successively the largest and most populous nation-states in the world. The people’s will and spirit are the ultimate goals of geopolitics and the control of an enemy territory does not necessarily induce the control of his will while controlling his will inevitably leads to the political subordination of his land. It may seem safe indeed to claim land has no political volition per se, while it is also clear that geological events induce geopolitical changes that are still far beyond any political volition. From the Bronze Age eruption in Santorini to the Fukushima earthquake via San Francisco and Lisbon, there is a long record to establish that reality.
As compared to the lands and resources of the Universe the control of the entire planet Earth would be most futile, but the political control of Humanity would be that of all the existing human beings and thus provide a huge ascendancy over their future. There are trillions of trillions more land, raw materials and energy beyond the Earth but this is hardly the case of human lives, which are still wasting each other in favor of the former, a historically relevant sign of the transient immaturity of Man’s contemporary international relations. With this far-reaching elephant in the room geopolitics takes all its meaning back. Hence Margaret Thatcher:
Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.
One would have to be on one’s toes to win the hearts and souls in Afghanistan. Coercion has never proved effective in subduing the people among whom a dozen civilizations have established their historic capitols and that was traversed by empires from the Achaemenids to the Guebres to the Mongols – whom they even assimilated in their national and cultural identity – to the Russians and British whom they defeated several times at the top of their power. The main weakness of the Muslim world in the Arc of Crisis (that is to say without Indonesia and Malaysia in particular) is its vulnerability to novel, politically-assertive “radicalism” (novel in the sense that its most ancient form, Wahhabism, was established eleven centuries after the Hegira). It comes as no surprise that radicalism became the dominant means of extending political reach across the Arc since 1916 and throughout the Cold War.
Arnold Toynbee reminded us – and much documented – the common wisdom that empires live and die. Yet Ron Suskind famously reported in an interview with key members of the Bush Jr. administration for the New York Times Magazine (the quote is widely assumed to be from Karl Rove) in October 2004:
We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too.
a delusion of omnipotence of which Brzezinski relentlessly reviewed the vast consequences, and we know that with the election of Barack Obama his prescriptions did not go unheard.
As Global Leader III, George W. Bush misunderstood the historical moment, and in just five years dangerously undermined America’s geopolitical position. In seeking to pursue a policy based on the delusion that “we are an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality”, Bush endangered America. Europe is now increasingly alienated.(…) The World of Islam is inflamed by rising religious passions and anti-imperialist nationalisms. Throughout the world, public opinion polls show that U.S policy is widely feared and even despised.
Arnold Toynbee was himself – which is not irrelevant – an admirer of Sufi historian Ibn Khaldun. The latter, author of the Book of Examples and the Sufi sociology of religion The Path and the Law, lived a few generations after the apogee of the Assassins’ influence in Central Asia, in this History marked by the coming and going of the Mongols. He would meet with Tamerlane himself in Damascus.
That an empire claim it will last a century or a millennium is a rather clear correlate of the beginning of its decline. Such is not a mystery: subjective invulnerability is the worst enemy of empires, one of the key factors of their historical self-regulation as Toynbee and Ibn Khaldun documented it. Hubris may weaken the wisest of governances. The concentrating of power over others beyond a critical point is thus dooming power itself. So famously recalled the first Baron Acton, on power over others as opposed to power over oneself:
All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
In taking note of the Project for a New American Century one had to see a telltale sign that the US government of the time hastens its own failure by a memorable miscalculation, probably has Napoleon 1st did in verifying Montgomery’s first rule of war. An individual or a nation may enjoy much more of its free will by seeking power over itself rather than over others, and maybe lateral competition should remain a potent means of keeping superpowers on their political and ideological toes. This is how we may read Brzezinski (2004). In reminding of the profound advice of Marcus Aurelius in his Thoughts to Myself we must remain cognizant of that power over oneself is superior to any power over others. Which king are you indeed, who will not reign over yourself? Which superpower are you who lack power over yourself?
Yet as for the Afghan campaign it would be wrong to think that Enduring Freedom did not assimilate serious feedback from the Soviet invasion. A key point in the human dimension of warfare the US intelligence did remember – which had precipitated the earlier Soviet withdrawal – is clearly described by Richard A. Gabriel (1980):
Soviet military units appear to have failed to develop strong primary-group attachments among the soldiers and between leadership elements and their men. This represents a potential for instability and fragmentation under combat stress. Therefore the effectiveness of Soviet military units in prolonged battle, when quick victories are not forthcoming (…) is open to question. Soviet military units could well begin to unravel if pressed hard enough in a conventional battle environment. From this perspective, Soviet units contain a great systemic weakness. 
A force of either occupation or peacekeeping does not have the initiative to go from victory to victory, which the guerillas can afford, earning a substantive tactical and psychological profit thus decisively sustaining their willingness to fight. This makes for a great asymmetry in the fighter’s morale. On the one hand we have a band of soldiers required to remain in a solid state, which has everything to lose and is already sustaining the protracted effort of maintaining cohesion in a hostile environment, on the other we have a liquid network of people who have almost everything to win (yet which may fail politically once protracted occupation ends, which the Soviet withdrawal most demonstrated in Afghanistan). Certainly NATO did not send units plagued with the “systemic weakness” described by Gabriel but rather groups of soldiers trained and seasoned together. Yet Napoleon’s men, historically famous for their unparalleled cohesion and ability to maintain ranks under the hardest conditions, awing or protracted, did not hold Spain. The USA may not hold Afghanistan either.
Faced with highly cohesive groups from a very young population that grew up amid death (the country is covered with unexploded ordnances; Shah reports that during the Soviet campaign booby traps were dropped for children to pick up), and that controls havens (among which the flanks of the Hindu Kush) virtually impossible to survey by either satellite or Unmanned Armed Vehicles (UAV) only the awing and shocking projection of massive, unprecedented popular hope and satisfaction may yield a palatable political outcome. Yet in the context of rising prices for projecting credible, sovereign hope, for having failed to assimilate this much novel and maybe counter-intuitive peace doctrine in their strategy of Full Spectrum Dominance, the United States may find themselves lagging behind China which historical foreign policy in the region is still perceived as much more exemplary. And as their image is marred by huge unpopular wars the US economy is decisively weakened, thus even less able to project convincing prosperity on its vital strategic stakes.
Moreover the cruel miscalculation of resorting to private contractors, while it may yield formidable results in projecting construction and peace is totally counterproductive to achieve military objectives in Afghanistan. The first simple reason to that is biology’s so-called life-dinner principle. A mercenary fights for his “dinner” while his opponent fights or believes to fight for his life. As the will to fight is therefore much different, so is the strength of the unit. Jean-Jacques Patry recalled the basic interests of a mercenary, which are known at least since Hannibal and remained true in the Europe of condotierri and Doppelsoldners:
1. Stay alive (do not engage in decisive battles)
2. Do not look for the enemy but rather for riches
3. Except in the winter, never accept peace
4. You obey to the extent of your pay and you’re never paid enough
…finally if you kill the war you simply kill the business.
The fundamental rules of private warfare may yet prove extremely productive in private preacefare, namely the resorting to seasoned troops well versed in the art of projecting popular hope, stable peace and construction in hazardous areas to target the reified enemies of despair, anger and hatred themselves (Aberkane 2010) while most importantly keeping the frustrated people’s hands most busy with constructive rather than destructive projects. The tactical and strategic use of such newly-formed units has been very poorly researched into, yet it has the potential to become one of the most historically significant returns of experience of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as it may yield tremendous results in advancing political objectives by other means. Thus in this article we have also peculiarly made the tactical and strategic interests of such peacefare the original defining frame of our analysis otherwise concerned with the proactive description of contemporary international relations through the premise of a few empirical rules of war.
The very political slogans of Barack Obama – “Hope” and “Yes We Can” – have yielded great domestic result by projecting strong emotions charged with the meaning of constructive hope. This – politically – much described the Second Chance defined by Brzezinski; in which the projection of hope and prosperity on vital strategic targets, as a very continuation of politics by other means, could become a potent tool of modern foreign policy.
A great power could thus subvert the human factor of geopolitics to its advantage by creating its own sovereign means of projecting hope, which major economies are basically in the best position to achieve as long as they enjoy political cohesion (which sadly casts out the European Union so far). Until such a doctrine is appropriately researched into asymmetric warfare will widely play the human factor against great powers and manifest the unbending strength of the ultima ration populorum. No wonder that the mechanization of violence (with the resort to offensive UAVs for example) thus became the novel trademark of NATO occupation as opposed to the Soviet one. By reducing the confrontation to a factor it does not control indeed (the human one), a global power can suffer a local defeat, in turn precipitating most global consequences. We may remember how much one decisive Russian winter contributed to the deep political reshaping of Europe.
A global power can suffer a local defeat.
Globalization has been often considered the manifestation of a non-negotiable natural force. The self-regulation of superpowers, especially once they are freed from relevant lateral pressure, may comparably be considered in the order of things, and probably non-negotiable though it may be consented by superpower’s very free will to cede influence.
For a superpower the reshuffling of influence may arise from absolutely anywhere indeed. It may come from the eccentric inventor, marginal philosopher or out-of-the-box strategist whom, having a necessarily limited cognition, a superpower is even more inclined to leave in its blind spots. Thus while the fortune of an obscure German philosopher commanded the constitution of the URSS and now the PRC, the irresistibly exemplary later life of an Indian lawyer prompted the peaceful decolonization of the Crown’s jewel. Both the Celestial Empire and Napoleon’s Navy missed the steam engine which decreed Anglo-Saxon power. That Drake drilled his first well in Pennsylvania or that the Standard Oil was founded in Ohio were two decisive events in the fate of an American Century. But change is a constant, which beyond resources makes knowledge the most important commodity in geopolitics, although counter-intuitively to prior geopolitical principles, it need not be geo-localized.
The appropriate doctrine the US early came up with during the Cold War was thus that of Full Spectrum Dominance.
(…) there was a fear that any vulnerability anywhere might become a general vulnerability everywhere. That was part of the Cold War mentality that we’ve carried on, perhaps, to our new circumstances.
As a polarity change may come from anywhere it seems no longer enough to dominate a few key areas only: one should flawlessly prevail in every single domain, especially scientifically. Thus to acknowledge that a superpower should dominate all fronts is to acknowledge that a single fault may precipitate its decline. Central Asia is certainly that fault, in which the human factor is most decisive. Beyond, the restless race for a full spectrum noopolitik may become the most decisive trend of the 21st century’s Great Game.
Having reminded that no convincing argument was given to prove the US could prevail where the USSR failed on its very continent is also having acknowledged that a far-reaching strategic failure is at hand. Afghanistan is not North Vietnam, not a decisive obstacle to communism en route to warm waters anymore but still the immutable pivot of the Great Game it was millennia before communism was ever thought of. It is also immensely rich in natural resources (lithium, geological and historical gold including artifacts, lapis-lazuli, emeralds, poppy…). This means a downturn after an awfully costly war may become even more ungovernable economically as it may cast a tipping supplement of doubt over the US ability to service its staggering debt. The question of making economic profits out of the Afghan adventure may thus even more precipitate pressured strategists to a fault, while an unprecedented, and indeed unheard of, US debt default is far from impossible. As the US has made clear its doctrine to be the undisputed world debt leader, such situation would have dramatic global consequences.
In Colombia the FARCs have never been wiped out because like all guerilla movement they maintain both sanctuaries and sufficient popular support. They never reached their political goal either because successive governments were considered legitimate enough to depress popular subversion. Great political leverage would yet have been granted them in the context of a popularly visible and above all sustained foreign intervention. A special force Colombian “lancero” fights the FARCs because he kissed the Colombian flag. Yet would he not join the insurgents if he woke up each morning knowing – and seeing – his orders coming from, say, Washington?
In Afghanistan Hamid Karzai’s authority, not more than that of Babrak Karmal or Najibullah Muhammad during the Soviet campaign will be recognized by a patriotic, largely rural public. Thus guerillas continue to enjoy popular support and secure sanctuaries on the flanks of the Hindu Kush and various borders. Besides from the public’s point of view the occupation remained unchanged overall from 1979 to 2011. Where an average Englishman may, still today, find difficult to distinguish between a Chinese, Korean or Japanese for the Afghans independent of their ethnical background the French, Germans, English and of course Americans all speak a language from “Franguestan”. Such “Frank” is the mirror image of the Westerner’s fuzzy “Arab”. Thus that the Franks be either Russian or American is little difference: they occupy the country, they must be driven out, and that’s all. In this regard a visible foreign military presence, if it is not employed once again to the projection of awing prosperity, hope and popular satisfaction for the purpose of commanding minds and hearts, is totally counter-productive. It gives grist to the guerillas, discredits the established government and defines most of the tactical difference between the FARCs and the Afghan guerrillas.
An also mighty way of stabilizing Afghanistan would have been that of reintroducing, in conjunction with skillfully delivered and lasting Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) imprinted with a relevant U.S. trademark, its endemic Sufism which was largely destroyed during the Soviet campaign and thus left the way wide open to radicalism. In deciding which card to play against the Soviets the pick of radicalism has proven a disaster because rubbles do, positively, cause a lot of troubles. The fire of self-organized violence and hatred one may quickly fail to control, unlike self-organized stability and hope. Besides in spite of their well-known interest for promoting peace the Sufis have a consistent record of having partaken in warfare against occupants from Emir Abd-el-Kader in French-invaded Algeria to Ahmad Shah Massoud (a name reminiscent to “Ahmad Shah Durani” and Shah’s character of “Adam Durani”) who met with Idries Shah and was said to always carry a book of Sufi Al Ghazali during the Soviet campaign. The Afghan Royal institutions were largely penetrated by Sufism, which may be compared to the US founding fathers’ (guerillas themselves before they proved fantastic builders) practicing freemasonry. “Rubbles” thus meant turning Afghanistan into a maelstrom of radicalism rather than a stable, historically and culturally legitimate country and again, it now definitely causes troubles.
At the local scale what Brzezinski calls a Second Chance, if it can still apply to Afghanistan, should be manifested by one awing new deal that should be most popularly palatable and promote the reintroduction of endangered local modern Islam. Turning the immense trauma suffered by the population into an opportunity it would leverage the projection of CBMs by multiplying their resulting popular hope, thus clearly defusing the resort to violence – the main objective.
Every expert will acknowledge Afghanistan is a special country, and its Sufi tradition has also remained poorly understood by the West’s diplomacy as would the initiatory mysteries of neoclassical architecture in Washington DC appear to the layman. The deep mysteries of Ismailia brotherhoods and that of twelver Shiism in Central Asia have also mostly remained sealed to the working intelligence analyst; the initiatory aspect of the Afghan society was thus largely ignored. As a mirror image of the West we may still remember of the vital importance masonry played in say the French Revolution (the Marseillaise was composed by a mason while the “Liberté-Egalité-Fraternité” French Motto is clearly a Masonic contribution) in Cold War Italy (a KGB rezident in Italy would have yielded poor results in ignoring the P2 lodge) or even before, during the Austrian occupation, that of the Carbonari. Interestingly enough, Idries Shah has directly pointed out the similarities between the very ancient Malamatti Sufi order and masonry, along with the direct influence of Sufism over the Carbonari which “lodges” are directly named “baracca” (a cognate of the Sufi “Baraka”).
Here we may hence underline the rather original observation that the last king of Afghanistan H.R.H Zahir Shah was named after the divine name Az-Zahir meaning the Surface, the Visible, as opposed to the other divine attribute Al Batin, the Hidden, the Invisible. It is an initiatory mystery that Afghanistan has its Batin Shah, the identity of whom, as that of the Sufis’ Qutub, is a deep self-protecting secret.
As the devil is in the detail ignoring one such secret of the Afghan structure and geo-historical profile may entail tremendous consequences. Full Spectrum Dominance is per se incompatible with limited cognition, to which states as much as individuals cannot escape yet. We may thus say Full Spectrum Dominance simply cannot be sustained if any cognition must have its blind spot. In selecting out relevant information, namely the key mission of a central intelligence agency, self preserving secrets will naturally trick those who handle them into their labeling as irrelevant.
Brzezinski is right to remind the exemplary contribution of its first builders to the modern American identity as it must sheds light on its democratic philosophy of power:
Decisions made within two overlapping but relatively tight triangles project US power worldwide and heavily influence the way globalization evolves. A line drawn from the White House to the monumental Capitol building, to the fort-like Pentagon, and then back to the White House encapsulates the triangle of power. Another line from the White House to the World Bank just a few blocks away, to the State Department, and back to the White House (thus also encompassing the International Monetary Fund) and the Organization of American States) demarcates the triangle of global influence. The two triangles together signal the degree to which traditional “foreign affairs” have become inside-the-beltway affairs.
But the ignorance of the Afghan equivalent has remained a critical flaw, especially when the final objective remains that of subduing a people the fraternity and bonding of whom, as strategists and officers best know, is a key attribute of their unparalleled resilience against force.
Finally a last geopolitical resort to secure military preeminence in Afghanistan would have been the total control of the tribal area over the Afghan-Pakistani border thereby ensuring the systematic control of the vital Khyber Pass. But if opening the can of worms of nuclear Pakistan would represent an immense regional risk, deployment in China’s natural ally amid the turmoil of the economic crisis would have been unsellable to a public increasingly tired and in shock. The general volatility of the Arc of Crisis and the rising assertiveness of China is making such move clearly unfeasible as of 2011, with no prospect of an opportunity coming by this decade.
A new, New World Order.
Brzezinski accurately recalls:
there’s a famous saying by Sun Tzu “the best strategy is to let your opponent defeat himself”
The patience of the Chinese foreign policy in 2001, quietly acquiescing to a massive US deployment in its most vital continental areas of interest, is here made crystal-clear.
The weakening of the US in the Great Game allows us to anticipate a global reshuffling of international power. When the USSR folded after a considerable raise in Central Asia the US taking control of the table declared such New World Order, recalling the seal adorning the greenbacks, Novus Ordo Seclorum. Such appraisal quickly became clouded by subjective misconceptions. Thus Annuit Coeptis “accept what is begun”: the advent of a new, New World Order is irresistibly emerging. There is a large arborescence of possibilities but we may identify a few determinant trends. Let us start by Brzezinski’s (2004) simple comment:
What would happen if the U.S. Congress were to mandate the prompt retraction of U.S. military power from its three crucial foreign deployments – Europe, the Far East, and the Persian Gulf?
Any such U.S. withdrawal would without doubt plunge the world almost immediately into a politically chaotic crisis. In Europe, there would be a pell-mell rush by some to rearm but also to reach a special arrangement with Russia. In the Far East, war would probably break out on the Korean Peninsula while Japan would undertake a crash program of rearmament, including nuclear weapons.
Given the foregoing, the long-term strategic alternatives for America are either to engage in a gradual, carefully managed transformation of its own supremacy into a self-sustaining international system, or to rely primarily on its national power to insulate itself from the international anarchy that would follow a disengagement.
“To insulate itself from the international anarchy”, such worst-case scenario would mark a clear return to state sovereignty but also inevitably to the passions of nationalism in a power struggle that many heavily populated areas are not prepared to withstand. Besides, it would simply manifest the clear returning to the isolationist state of “before 1941” for the American Empire, as that of “before 1805” for the Napoleonic one, yet with probably no prospect of restoring the Monroe Doctrine ever. And beyond, the very spirit of the United Nations as embodied by the quotation from Saadi of Chiraz at the Hall of Nations…
Human being are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you’ve no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain!
… would find itself violently denied. It is often wondered what relationship actually links superpowers to the UN: a priori the latter may function without the former – since History has many examples of empires having ensured peace without such novel collegial organism – but is it reciprocal? Probably not in a unilateral world, probably yes in a multilateral one, and multilateralism is increasingly trendier in a world where it is “harder to govern than to kill a million”…
Barack Obama has sometimes been considered the American Gorbachev, a liberal, idealistic and visionary leader able to keep hand on the decline of his superpower and certainly the most internationally promising of Brzezinski’s Global Leaders. Anticipating the withdrawal from Afghanistan allows Obama maintaining some control over it, and more generally over the ebbing of US influence, thus reducing the overall risk of an implosion, as if Napoleon had decided not to enter Moscow… It gives the US an overall proactive posture amidst their own weakening, where a George W. Bush would most probably have allowed them to die of exhaustion. One can then imagine, like Brzezinski, the cruel consequences of the US withdrawing projection to leave behind a world of “before 1945” comparable to the Europe of the Congress of Vienna that fermented into three successive wars between France and Germany.
The policy of the Obama administration leaves the US with the most valuable choice of deciding where to withdraw from and where to keep hand. For the BRICCA (the world’s six largest countries besides the USA, all of which are industrialized), the strategic consequence is very different between the total inanition of the American empire and its ebbing in good order preserving much of its projection capability and thus political reach. Again, this may be compared to an anticipation of the Russian Retreat by Napoleon in Europe, before the final fatal blow be dealt to the Grand Armée and upset most of France’s reach. Australia and Canada would appreciate the consequences of such intelligent power, probably more than Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
The scenario of a US Berezina with an unanticipated collapse also similar to the early events in Western Europe having disrupted the Soviet pre-1989 schedule remains fully possible. A major economic crisis correcting by force the large overvaluation of the U.S. dollar since the Iraq war could provoke just that. Besides U.S. forces are far from immune to the suffering of a defeat with high media impact (similar to the Tet offensive in Viet Nam) prior to 2014 in the Afghanistan where so much has been spent on military operations for so little political return. Theirs hastily leaving the country would end up in an immediate building of influence on behalf of Pakistan and Iran while negotiating a proxy with China for the maintaining of order would be, if not unthinkable, a very thick pill to swallow. With its four consulates in the country, just like Pakistan, India may also be considered in the maintaining of order during a military transition in Afghanistan but this would sure aggravate Pakistan and China without mentioning Iran. However leaving the way wide open for China to build direct influence over Afghanistan would also be a formidable means of tricking the People’s Republic into the legitimacy of force. The scenario of a Kabul “open city” would become a great obnoxious gift; Afghanistan is that kind of trap in which empires easily fall.
…for about five years now, the Chinese leadership has held, at the highest level, a seminar for the top leaders. (…) It’s a full day session led by some specialists. (…) One session is called (…) “ Overview of World History with an emphasis on the rise and fall of Imperial powers”. I wish our president had spent some time in sessions like that
The Atlantic community must quickly reassess how the strength of Europe depends on that of the U.S. In post-colonial era is Europe ready to define itself or only from one sphere of influence to another? And echoing Kissinger’s famous comment, when will there be one phone number to call Europe?
Russia is clearly the geographic future of Europe as Charles de Gaulle recalled, in the context of a loss of U.S. power the little-assertive European “national” (Federal?) interest would easily tip to the East. In spite of the re-starting of the arms race in Eastern Europe some unambiguous political signs may mark the advent of such scenario as the appointment of a head of the European diplomacy with Eastern rather than Atlantic sympathies. If such trend comes to emerge Poland will have to play very skillfully. While it is well placed geographically to significantly partake in the building of a Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok, it is certainly not culturally.
If the diversification of its energy supplies remains a most vital interest of the Union (on which its members have often played solo) the Russian Federation’s immense reserves of natural resources would be its new Eldorado, the value of which would not fail to rise amid a backlash in the U.S. monetary policy. The already operating touristic railway between Nice and Moscow is thus endowed with great geopolitical significance, almost as much in a world of culture and soft power than the proposed Berlin-Baghdad line before WWI. It is also historically significant that such “soft” access to warm waters be so easily offered to Russia. Besides, when coming to “hard” power of coercion, the U.S. are now finding themselves in no position to deny Russia a monopoly on the export of oil and gas supplies from Kazakhstan.
Europe has not stated an eloquent political project for the 21st century, and as Raymond Aron recalled the reach of a great power is diminished when it ceases to serve and idea. It is urgent that Europe long fascinates and captivates its own peoples with a brilliant unifying agenda, manifesting to the world its success in being a vanguard laboratory of peaceful, constructive collegiality. With Clinton (“Global Leader II”) the United States more than ever linked their identity to globalization, already well advanced by Reagan and Thatcher though marked with popular mistrust. This globalization is also backfiring when China makes its own asset of it.
Indeed 2001 shall mark the date when on the one hand the U.S., at the height of their power, massively deployed in a Central Asian Berezina of their own making while China on the other hand patiently withdrew from the Great Game to consolidate economic power, thus joining the World Trade Organization. May all go well in Xinjiang (which is yet not sure) this is only a postponement and China would surely rise like no other in the Great Game, marking a moment in its History most comparable to the sharp transition between isolationism and interventionism for the U.S…
As Europe has no agenda it is vulnerable to that of others and thus in contrast with its times of colonial power, extremely weak politically as a union. In a worst-case scenario the rise of a fascinating political ideal abroad could even prompt its very political colonization in a process made all the faster by globalization. Despite the unity of three of its geographic heavyweights against the war in Iraq, Europe is still marked by anachronistic remnants of a NATO/Russia fracture and hardly unified “from the Atlantic to the Urals”, a geopolitical dream its western leadership has less and less leverage to foster proactively, especially if the modernization of Russia’s power is carried on. Condoleezza Rice’s position against France, Germany and Russia’s refusal to partake in the War in Iraq indeed defined the scarification of the European political unity, still very vivid in 2011. “Punish the French, ignore the Germans, Forgive Russia”, though “forgive” quickly became a “forget” for political matters. The reviving of the arms race prompted the Russian Federation to declare NATO the very first of its strategic threats altogether, especially when Ukraine was considered a prospective member of the Atlantic Alliance.
For the French the 2007 elections were also particularly notable as they definitely marked the coming into power of an administration most sympathetic – to say the least – to the agenda of Global Leader III. It rushed to prepare the French public to a potential war in Iran while liquidating the Gaullist ambition of an independent Europe preserved from external struggles of influence from the Atlantic to the Pacific and publicly condemned France’s earlier denial to deploy in Iraq. Since 2009 – and markedly in 2011 – such anachronism of the French executive beholden to the tenets of suicidal Global Leader III in the context of Global Leader IV’s rather new deal has been most significant in international as in European affairs.
It is now unthinkable that the European Union claim by itself any piece of direct influence in the Great Game that is yet in its near vicinity. Any access to the Heartland will thus be ensured by proxy, most probably Russian (though again a last, desperate move of promoting any sort of an Indian mandate over Afghanistan could prove quite politically favorable to the Atlantic community). Turkey, Europe’s other natural gateway towards Asia is already looking for new horizons and it is in a much stronger position that the EU should expect to meet it in the future. For this Russia’s posture will also be crucial, especially if the US give the slightest sign of ceding hand on the Bosporus.
Perhaps the interaction between Gaullism and Atlantism or more broadly the increasingly anachronistic fracture between “Continental” and “Anglo-Saxon” Europe will still affect its political future, especially economically. One could wonder if such would have been the case would the “Union Franco-Britannique of 1940” have been consummated. In the scenario of a crisis driven by a sharp devaluation of the dollar mostly anything could happen in over-indebted and popularly frustrated Europe, including a full return to pre-Maastricht. Previous confrontations of monetary policies like the volatile subject of the franc’s gold convertibility under de Gaulle or the reevaluation of the dollar at the same period are no promises of a bright future, especially if the Euro were to accumulate unbearable popular frustration. To keep the young currency from imploding Russia could then make the EU an offer it could not refuse: the emergency entry of Russian interests and raw materials into a refit, easternized Euro. In this the Russian Federation may pull the rug from under China’s feet which already intervened in the Greek debt default.
In any case it is urgent that Europe assert a simple and candid politico-philosophical ideal, for example by making its constitutional project as popularly accessible as possible (which is far from being the case) lest it cannot live by itself. This Asian powers will increasingly exploit. Such an ideological, philosophical or political gap can only weaken Europe indeed. Yet if it manages to fill it its continental unity will be ensured and allow for a much-needed proactive foreign policy. The good relations between Lisbon and Moscow are well known, while in Macao Portugal has a solid cultural and diplomatic bridgehead towards the People’s Republic, along with its strengthened relations with Brazil. France by contrast has long left Brazil in the blind spot of its grand political project, though it is bordering it directly by both Guyana and Comte’s positivism the motto of which adorns the Brazilian flag.
In Central Asia
Lateral pressure theory predicts that a U.S. withdrawal leave a gap in Central Asia the filling of which will ultimately confront politically assertive China, India and Russia (along with Iran and Pakistan). We know how firmly Moscow is opposed to the making of a strategic triangle with Beijing and New Delhi as if it maneuvers fast enough to tie itself formally with Europe it will inevitably become China’s very first competitor in the Great Game. The United States are already increasingly projecting themselves towards India a priori by virtue of their democratic affinities though it also seems as their best way of preserving influence in the Great Game. Russia has thus many interests in keeping a maximum degrees of political liberty as it cannot formally ally neither with China nor with India while it cannot let the latter become a total ally of the USA either. Finally although it may virtually monopolize Europe’s right of entry to the Great Game it is not certain Russia enjoys its direct support, especially after an unpopular NATO defeat. Assuming it addresses the Xinjiang issue in the most exemplary manner China would therefore become the number one player in Central Asia, that is to say, in the subtle rules of the Great Game, at once the most powerful, most legitimate, and most apt to cause its own demise.
Moreover in a maneuver worthy of the game of go the only thing that may prevent China from denying India a direct entry to the Heartland across Pakistan would be a gaffe of its own in its relationship with the Muslim world (which will be watching Xinjiang with increased attention if the Arab revolutions need not be protracted to succeed, and especially if international pressure declines on Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict gives any sign of appeasement). Pushed to the sea India would assert itself more quickly in its reserved Ocean, most probably leading to major confrontations with emerging Chinese full spectrum dominance. Brzezinski points out that China has long set up its own version of the Revolution in Military Affairs and noopolitik is one of the People’s Republic most visible political trends. Besides, China already holds key positions of its “Pearl Necklace” system in the Indian Ocean. It would also be wrong to believe that an alliances between India and a Muslim country remain unfeasible in the future. Egypt, Turkey, or Indonesia and Malaysia if they are not approached by China in a smarter way are only a few of India’s possible political partners. Finally besides their affinity of political structures multiethnic India and Brazil might also easily connect as key maritime powers and merge their maritime sphere of influence together: the Indian Ocean and South Atlantic. This would much upset China in any attempt to flash-secure the Democratic Republic of Congo (see “In Africa”).
A politically Euro-tropic Russia would probably leave some autonomy to key Heartland pivots (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgizstan where a large concentration of both US and Russian forces is deployed). Yet as soon as the balance of power seriously breaks up in the Great Game it seems inevitable that Russia act fast to co-opt its former satellites. In the context of rising oil prices Kazakhstan’s political assertiveness may also gain momentum though it may not leave any gap with the Russian one, thus keeping the geopolitical balance constant.
Two historical features of Russian geopolitics are that, first, it naturally plays on two chessboards (hence the double-headed eagle) and second has not demonstrated a great record of patience, either domestic or foreign. If the European chessboard lags behind, the Federation will certainly (and quickly) engage more assiduously in Central Asia. Thus paradoxically while China would gain much from a rapprochement with Russia, beginning for example with the building of a major Urumqi-Novosibirsk communication line, it would also win (in Central Asia) if Russia’s attention was turned towards Europe, which it should very well encourage either by ruse, mediation or coercion. Granted all goes smoothly in Xinjiang, this also leaves the PRC with, by far, the largest choice of options in a new round of the Great Game.
Projecting prosperity and hope seems the most excellent strategy to control the Heartland, which is made all the more visible by the recent and repeated failure of the use of force in Afghanistan. Maybe with its almost flawless past vis-à-vis the Muslim world China is in the best position to set the first precedent of projecting sustainable prosperity and popular hope in co-opting Afghanistan, a very efficient way of leveraging its unparalleled economic growth for political means. In all the possible cases the ordeal of Xinjiang will prove decisive and this is where the People’s Republic, the world’s eyes fixed on her, would have the opportunity to amass either tremendous prestige or contempt. Perhaps, while the US mastered the skies and seas in the 20th century, shall China be the first to secure undisputable primacy for itself over the means of projecting hope and popular satisfaction in the 21st.
The Central Asian chessboard is now more than ever defined by lateral pressure. The rule is not but the means may be very new. Unlike the US which ensured themselves, for better or for worse from the late 19th century, a unique geopolitical prevailing from North to South of their continent neither China nor India nor Russia may find themselves in a comparable position in the Great Game. This is unless – and that makes for all the importance of new means in playing it – a major technological innovation, comparable to, say, the atom bomb in the 20th century or the steam engine in the 18th decisively distinguish one of them. The immense stake of noopolitik in the Great Game could not be better explained: while sustaining a purely geographic race for power in the Global Balkans may accumulate enough tension to blow them all up, the struggle for dominance among its key players may be projected instead in the ill-defined and little-mapped geography of innovation and knowledge.
We may thus expect that the decisive victories of the Great Game switch to the knowledge economy and geopolitics. What then seems the curse of imperial multilateralism in Central Asia may actually be a blessing. The specificity of Central Asia reminds us that prospective Great Games must demonstrate protracted subtlety and finesse, and maintain constant focus. There strength has never yielded anything lasting. The Empire of the Khans itself is there, or rather is not, to testify. Yet it is precisely unrivalled empires, convinced of their nigh-invulnerability, that are most likely to enter the Great Game like a bull in a china shop. So self-regulates the Central Asian chessboard, where more than anywhere else the strongest shall cause their demise. There Great Britain failed, overturned by force in Afghanistan and by Peace in India, there Russia failed twice, and there the U.S. is on the irremediable verge of failing. China which will soon enter it will have to demonstrate a great finesse, in which its inevitable lateral pressure should help it maintain full concentration.
As the most fascinating trend of the new Great Game will be that of noopolitik and the knowledge race, we may also note that in a world where solar energy (that is, far beyond photovoltaic technology only) would become more and more profitable (and even liquefiable, perhaps a great stake of its geopolitical future) deserts will become more and more attractive with the technology of solar automatons and solar cities probably gaining momentum worldwide. So must be anticipated the future of Mongolia and the Taklimakan desert, as elsewhere Australia’s fascinating potential, or that of the Sahara which is already much invested in by major solar energy companies (as the recent 475 USD billion Desertec initiative best demonstrated).
In the Pacific
Just as resource-rich yet most fortunately unexploited South Pole is a solid chessboard precisely cut by the lateral pressure of its sovereign “shareholders” the North Pole is a liquid one nations are encouraged to solidify (by new conventions, customs or fait accompli) to better capture and redistribute its vast geological and strategic wealth. Recent Russian territorial claims should be read as a clear attempt to solidify (“freeze”, no pun intended) the North Pole chessboard to their advantage. Russia which chronically lacked a fully independent access to warm waters, finally decided to make an asset of it by the means of innovation. It has developed unparalleled icebreaker naval technology in the continuity of a noopolitik that one can expect to last far beyond the Cold War. As always, playing on two chessboards, Russia will see its immediate interest in noopolitik also sustained by neighboring both the Japan/China/India competitors and Europe as long as it does not (or cannot) partake in the making of its Euro-integrated military industrial complex.
But if from South to North we find in the poles respectively a solid chessboard – politically and strategically frozen and so far little attended – and a politically seething liquid one, the Pacific Ocean in-between is itself the largest liquid chessboard. It is the oceanic equivalent of the Heartland and to best understand it we concordantly need oceanic equivalents of McKinder’s theories. Alfred Mahan is often cited but much earlier the debate between thalassocray and continental dominance is often brought back to the struggle between Sparta and Athens.
The fact is – an immense risk for all naval powers – that innovation will so much dominate the geopolitics of the 21st century that nobody knows yet which naval doctrine it will favor. The great power that will first understand and implement the appropriate innovation-based naval doctrine will therefore gain a huge strategic ascendency over the liquid chessboard. Such power should quickly ask itself the good questions when it comes to liquid strategy (or whether the Pacific will grow more solid in terms of international politics) rather than diligently answering outdated ones.
Through the lens of conventional geopolitical theories while the Pacific is still marked by the yet unparalleled American presence its most visible trend is the reshuffling of its lateral pressure among such players as Japan, Indonesia, Australia and of course China. The “physical” behavior of lateral pressure little changed on continents. That powers compete and geographically rub shoulders from equilibrium to disequilibrium was verified in a rather similar fashion from Alexander the Great to the Cold War via Napoleon and it ensured the lasting topicality of the British Balance of Power doctrine. It is explained by that Man has moved and established itself across lands in a way that little changed from the Antiquity to nowadays. Cities, the centers of political power, are still fixed places relatively to competing powers, and continental resources, supply lines and basically all the leverages of political power have remained geo-localized in a rather unchanged fashion albeit with a few exceptions (such as the novel ability to secure energy anywhere with nuclear fission).
Until the 21st century the fundamental, defining law of oceanic geopolitics was that oceans have a negligible density of population (that is, sailors and passengers at time t.). Man does not settle at sea, does not cultivate the sea and, mine warfare put aside, builds not fixed fortifications over the oceans. Thus while a same reason of controlling well-localized granaries may have motivated the invasion of Sicily in the 4th century BC and that of Ukraine in the 20th AD it is not yet known for which novel vital reasons Man may control the seas in the 21st. For example the geopolitics of oceans could start changing from that of a communication line to that of a place of semi or total sedentism. Noopolitik and the space race may find new motivations and testing grounds in the sustainable colonization of the seas. A crowded world will most surely find interesting potential in thalassoculture from the cultivation of “sea cereals” (algae) to the breeding of fish shoals at sea, which Japan and China are well researching into.
What we must thus understand as the Pacific’s defining geopolitical property is that of a very fluctuating chessboard, fluid both physically (its balance of power is being dynamically reshuffled) and in the sphere of knowledge (the civil or military innovations, technology or doctrine that will define its key strategic stakes are probably not known yet). One wanting to be reminded that change is a constant simply needs to take a good look at the Pacific.
The trend that we can most certainly anticipate however is the possibility that the Ocean solidifies a little, mimicking the distribution of lateral pressures on continents. The fuzzy balance of power in liquid medium would come to resemble more that in a solid one which is much better known and historically documented, thus facilitating the task of policy makers and theorists.
Therefore, comparable to the Heartland, the “Heartocean” inevitably disputed by powers of which none may prevail alone in the future without a decisive innovation will become the scene of a commensurate Great Game with the two same grand stakes. This will be the fate (or doom) of multilateralism on the one side and the global knowledge race on the other. There History will once again challenge great powers to the making of practical peaceful multiparty governance. As stated by Seth Cropsey (2010) commenting on China’s noopolitik move of deploying new anti-ship missiles in the ocean “keeping the Pacific pacific”. The two issues are well summarized.
What may one expect of a lateral pressure comparable to that of the Heartland yet propagated in a liquid chessboard? Either that the aptly named ocean offers us the opportunity to build collegial peace or that it become the oceanic Global Balkans. The stakes are tremendous for peace scientists, whose acts will plainly affect the geography of knowledge. One prescription, one well-placed theory in this shifting balance of power may change everything. Knowledge has never been so vital to world peace. With his brain and pen the 21st century researcher can contribute to a world change. His peace theorems will be most eagerly awaited.
For now from a realist point of view the Obama administration has emphasized the maintaining of American geopolitics over Japan. One can expect Canada and Australia to gain momentum in the Pacific. After the ANZUS a group of affinities between Canada Australia-New Zealand and the U.S. could be emerging that no South American power may challenge which would give Brazil more reasons to affirm itself in the South Atlantic and connect with India. The United Kingdom would do well to encourage such geopolitical federation in which it could partake via a Commonwealth refit to the 21st century.
In the Americas
Richard Francis Burton wrote “Earth shifts her poles” and the 21st century of Pan-american geopolitics will be marked by a change of polarity the intensity of which is mostly to be decided in Central Asia. When an empire is put at a disadvantage all the frustration it has accumulated in its periphery and on behalf of vassals expands as a gas and breaks all the valves. The Monroe doctrine has produced such a situation and it is in focusing its attention on the Great Game that the U.S. has most lost political hold of Latin America. There economic and strategic alliances have never been more pronounced for the liquidation of the Monroe Doctrine, from the “turn to the left” to the “pink tide”; Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia have shown an unprecedented display of political and economic unity towards Latin sovereignty. In such context the position of Colombia as the U.S. first local client state is increasingly unbearable.
Again Obama’s foreign policy is marked by a great composure in the evaluation of the U.S. weakening which allows them to remain proactive in their own decline. Thus it is not known yet where the USA will focus their remaining and increasingly challenged forces in defining a realist strategy (ie the allocation of scarce resources to proportionate objectives). Otherwise, the very term superpower (reminiscent of the individual “superpowers” of superheroes, a founding myth) is so strong in American foreign policy since the advent of the New World Order (an act of self-coronation) that the U.S. have long been planning their global policy under the assumption of an unlimited reach.
The U.S. debt strategy complies with such principle of unlimited credit since debt can diverge to negative infinity while a balanced budget is constrained by the barrier of the zero. The choice of becoming the world leader in debt had been that of opting for unlimited credit but finiteness may come back with a revenge in a process that is presently catalyzed in Afghanistan. The intensity of such historic clash between finite reality and the doctrine of infinity will most determine the intensity of the advent of a new, New World Order. Again Obama’s policy, soon after the titanic injection of liquidity by the Volker plan under Global Leader III, is attempting to soften such confrontation, a “political buffer” somehow marked by a wise awareness of physical limitations.
The outline of the Americas’ changing geography seems to be the emergence of Brazil and Canada while the instability in the Caribbean, the local Balkans, has been left to rot unresolved. The latter instability could be a huge opportunity for foreign powers able to project hope and popular satisfaction, what China is globally (and Brazil locally albeit with a horrible Gini coefficient which forces it to focus on domestic popular satisfaction) in the best situation to achieve, in which it would also demonstrate a resounding historical failure of regional powers to foster the development of their immediate vicinity. In all these trends the Americas’ main shaping factor will remain the way the US decide to confront Monroe with finitude and do a reasonable mourn of Full Spectrum Dominance.
One can easily anticipate that in the context of soaring commodity prices Africa will retain all the immense interest it had upon overseas powers in the past. One usually identifies five areas of high strategic value in Africa: the Saharan belt, the Gulf of Guinea, South Africa with the cape of Good Hope, the desperately poor and ready-for-anything African Horn and last but not least the Great Lakes region. As usual to control the chessboard one should command its center. Tamanrasset is thus by far the most strategic city to whomever wants to control the Sahara and the U.S. has already established a strong influence in the ancient desert city. But the Great Lakes are no doubt the most coveted geopolitical position of all Africa, multi-ethnic and multinational volatile Balkans on their own. Yet in this African adaptation of the Great Game the U.S. finds itself in a much better position, having secured a unique client South Sudan while decisively reducing Chinese influence (yet for how long?).
As of 2011 the U.S. is best positioned on the Great Lakes and one can expect China to heavily focus on the country that is often considered the world’s very richest geologically: the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the royal road to the great lakes but also the explosive stage of the last “African World War” with its more than five million casualties. Brzezinski stated Siberia may be an exciting field for prospective trend setters in the projection of peace and prosperity although it is controlled by what is the very opposite of a failed state, much unlike the DRC. Yet the DRC should sure be considered an opportunity, where prospective great powers in Africa should strictly avoid building popular frustration and resentment but rather have the projection of sustainable popular hope and dignity as their very first proximal objective to secure the distal one of commanding Africa’s deliriously wealthy Heartland.
The Obama method focuses on soft power and redefines American strategy away from invincibility, which, carefully used, could allow the U.S. to build a lasting nay popularly satisfying relation with South Sudan. Protracting conflicts are still raging in Africa and soft power may best allow succeeding in building influence there. There is a narrow window of opportunity to make the 21st century that of an African colonization not by war, corruption, plunder and coercion but rather by peace, construction and the projection of popular prosperity to make an asset of immense popular frustrations. Such would seem a great way for Africa to quickly achieve independence, a constructive foreign policy of its own and a hold over its own destiny. There is and inevitably will be immense struggles for influence in Africa. China and India that have never been colonial powers are already much tempted to correct this mistake of History. Thus the most promising way to ensure Africa a glorious 21st century seems that of transmuting competitions into a race for soft power, prestigious exemplarity and stable economic satisfaction. “The fair trade of peace and dignity” somehow, as it may be very profitable to overseas powers.
Along with the African Horn the Sahara and the Democratic Republic of Congo will surely become the dominant issues of African geopolitics as seen from outside the continent. Whoever shall succeed in making the DRC its client state while maintaining the borders of this mostly failed state will dominate the sub-saharan scene and secure a huge piece of the raw material economy. Yet tensions are so strong that the DRC could quickly be thorn (like Sudan) in a bloodshed rampage. China would thus kill two birds with one stone in quickly projecting awing popular satisfaction and development under its very flag and political assertiveness in the DRC, linking its turning into a client state to that of a democracy and stabilizing it at the same time. This elegant, possible way of making democracy a natural prerequisite of securing a sustainable client state is giving much hope in the practical interest of projecting peace for political purpose. Anybody trying to remove the DRC Excalibur from its rock should seriously look into this novel strategy, very fit to the stakes of the 21st century.
So India and China could design a Treaty of Tordesillas of their own to economically divide Africa (though we may expect such cut of overseas lateral pressures to rather be at least tripartite), most ideally in a process of projecting awing popular satisfaction which they are in position to do. In such process also, peace scientists and strategists should much encourage them by researching into the practical implementation of a Shock and Awe doctrine for development. In being exemplar India and China would also manifest an eloquent convergence of world interest with their own, a fundamental political premise of achieving superpower status.
The two powers thus have an irreversible choice to make: the struggle to project popularly palatable hope and prosperity for political purposes rather than dominion and coercion. As we have already underlined, if – say – China had already developed its own diversified arsenal of Confidence Building Measures and its ability to wage decisive unilateral wars against war and despair, a strategic arsenal which “warheads” would be delivered by a very seasoned chain of command versed in the practice of building sustainable popular satisfaction in extremely dangerous areas and under the unambiguous national flag, it could already had secured both the DRC and Somalia.
Indeed in a geopolitics of peace the great powers which have been careless enough not to ensure stability in their immediate vicinity are exposed to foreign acts of war against war which take enormous political significance. We saw a premise of that with China’s bailout of now obliged Greece. Thus in general, all the mistakes of the great powers that have been left to rot for generations in Africa could be immense opportunities for the country with the largest solvability and economic growth to project political prosperity and hope. Such projection, yet, need be absolutely flawless as it commits the national image. As such its credibility is reversed to that of a nuclear arsenal: harming once ensures you may harm again but working one weal just once is not enough to ensure flawless confidence.
Therein lies the hope for the African Continent. It would be illusory to believe that foreign titans are not going to affect its geography in the 21st century, and with a US weakening in the Great Game such influence will grow increasingly multipartite. Yet all this lateral pressure could self-organize into an elegant peace race to create bounded democracies. The rule is simple: win the man before you win his territory; and the best way of winning a man is that of going in his deep immediate interest.
We have already mentioned the complex Somali issue which may only be solved by projecting popular satisfaction and hope rather than letting misery rot within its failed borders, and Africa is also a significant part of the Arc of Crisis. A Umma that enters modernity could become a huge opportunity for China. At home, in Xinjiang, it is indeed radicalism that could most decisively expel the People’s Republic of the Great Game. However it is clear that if radicalism looses momentum in the entire Muslim World it will not penetrate a Xinjiang where Sufism is endemic. Thus once again China has much to win in fostering moderate and modern Islam, both at home and far abroad.
In the Western end of the Arc of Crisis China’s natural geopolitical allies are Senegal and Morocco where Sufism is also firmly anchored. If the Cold War played the card of radicalism, especially in the Arc’s new socialist countries (Egypt and Algeria for the most tragic cases) China’s interest of skillfully endorsing Sufism across the Umma could grant it a real piece of Muslim leadership. Thus while the US are well established in Tamanrasset China’s best entries in the Sahara are, in order, “SénéMali”, Mauritania, Morocco and possibly Chad (though the long-term future of Lybia is most uncertain). Again, countries that major powers have been careless enough to leave miserable all become entry points for a blitzkrieg against misery for political purposes. This China should assess with much care and composure as it would also be a great mistake to believe it could launch such operations indiscriminately and simultaneously anywhere. As in conventional strategy, a skillful maneuvrist war against misery and despair must be waged by concentrating all available forces on one objective at a time, ideally from the smallest to the largest.
Across the Arc of Crisis…
…It is now clear that the neocon best put the spirit of a Project for a New American Century in jeopardy by drafting a plan of action which, less than centennial, has become totally obsolete in one decade. Such spirit seems much better defended by Brzezinski’s reflections of 2004 (The Choice) and 2007 (Second Chance) in which he wrote of
THE GEOPOLITICS OF GLOBAL POLITICAL AWAKENING
Global political awakening is historically anti-imperial, politically anti-Western, and emotionally increasingly anti-American. In the process, it is setting in motion a major shift in the global center of gravity. That in turn is altering the global distribution of power, with major implications for America’s role in the world.
The foremost geopolitical effect of global political awakening is the demise of the imperial age (…) that makes America the focus of anti-imperial sentiment.
The strategy of force has favored unity in the latent animosity of the Muslim World against the United States. China is not yet in a position to claim the shares of prestige and popularity the U.S. has left behind across the Arc but it remains the best placed of all powers in such race. India indeed is slowed down by its inability to have the Kashmir issue fixed, and Russia has been largely discredited by its position in Chechnya and by the inappropriate statements of its by the time President on top of that. France claiming the second diplomatic network in the world could have skillfully played its now long buried politique arabe but is thus, now, totally off the race. Yet while it is unable to claim new strong positions in the Arc, especially after its suicidal diplomacy during the Maghreb revolutions, France may retain the ones it shares in key positions (SénéMali, Djibouti, Doha and even Afghanistan). A far-reaching laboratory of its soft power for the Muslim World could be the aptly named Réunion island, a religious melting pot with exemplar stability where the Muriddiya Sufi brotherhood, a key player in the Western end of the Arc, is particularly well represented.
Still the strategy epitomized by Barack Obama’s memorable Salam Aleykoum at Al Azhar University and a now continued leadership and mediation in the Arab revolutions (the case of Libya well illustrates such positioning) has granted the USA a very significant strategic ascendency, weakened yet by the rotting effect of the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So intervening across the Arc the U.S. demonstrates a very keen interest in promoting the relief of popular frustration and fostering democracies. Such reshaping of the Greater Middle East, much more subtle, is worthy of an intelligent power à la Brzezinski. A world war for leadership (in which Europe is very ill placed and neocon-subservient France presently humiliated) has indeed begun and, as anticipated by the Democratic strategist, Obama’s policy has proved immensely more unifying than the sad “if you’re not with use you’re against us” and the theatrical representation of an “axis of evil” to a “coalition of the willing” already in tatters. Of Global Leader III’s foreign policy Brzezinski comments
A simplistic dogmatic worldview prompts self-destructive unilateralism.
…to the Middle East
The devil is in the detail and the detailed heart of the Arc of Crisis is the shattered post-Ottoman Middle Eastern chessboard. Here we thus have here kept the best for last.
The Middle Eastern nation that is both most powerful economically and militarily and that enjoys a strategically central position with an access to both the Mediterranean and Red Sea along with a nuclear arsenal is that of Israel. Its geopolitical destiny, that of the first client states of the U.S. in the region, is fundamentally linked to U.S. power and it is in its interest to evolve with it.
It is hazardous to rewrite history but we may speculate over the much different practical Zionism that would have emerged from a creation of Israel in the fateful and very narrow 1917 historical window. In such scenario the political destiny of Israel would have remained linked to that of the United Kingdom but also, by coincidence, to the rising Arab nationalism amid the dismantled Ottoman Empire. It seems clear that in such context and without the shocking memory of the Shoah, an Arab-Israeli fraternity, between nations being born together indeed, would have been almost spontaneous or at least very easy to foster. The missing of such narrow historical window for the optimal creation of the state of Israel has entailed a much irreversible, catastrophic phase transition in the geopolitics of the Middle East. Yet as the Chinese advises, when lost, one should come back to departure point. We sure are lost in the fostering of self-organized peace in the Middle East, but a broadcast challenging of American global leadership may precipitate events we must keep foreseeing. Coming back to the perfect scenario of a 1917 incorporation of the State of Israel could thus shed most light on how to sort out a phase transition towards peace in the Middle East.
If it is necessary that Israeli leadership change concordantly to the American one, it is also that this geopolitical mirror of U.S. interests in the region, being a democracy, may well perform an about-face in its soft power as the U.S. did between Global Leader III and IV. As often in the post-Ottoman Middle East the opportunity to perform such move is quite narrow but Israel could still build itself an identity of peace setter by becoming proactively constructive towards the Arab World. Just as taking multicultural leadership was naturally expressed in the U.S. founding e pluribus unum, Israel may find historical legitimacy in asserting its willingness to project peace, popular hope and fraternity by its founding שלם meaning “unity” as well as “peace” (it is shared by Semitic words “Islam” and “Shalom”).
Such initiative towards a legitimate leadership for collegial, multicultural and multiethnic peace only Israel may take in the region as both the most powerful economically and militarily while also a democracy able – like the U.S. – to quickly upset its international image. To such endeavor it should very quickly dedicate a whole “Institute” (“Mossad” in modern Hebrew) with an endowment proportionate to the geopolitical interests it may yield, and dedicated to the flash projection of vicinal prosperity and hope (ie. the best way to defuse terrorism) in the unilateral interest of the state of Israel. One may remember that the outcome of despair is capped to suicide but that of hope is virtually uncapped. In Israel’s geopolitical position the ultima ratio populorum could become most deadly. So may we remind the geopolitical consequences of sustaining frustration and despair, in quoting an all-too-familiar report from an international journal:
This year, the spring offensive by the Taliban and other insurgent groups has a new and terrifying face. The insurgents are now using suicide bombers who create high casualties to sow terror and planning assassination campaign as well, Afghan and US military analysts say.
Otherwise a leadership comparable to that of Global Leader III for the Middle East will remain most counterproductive, as often noted by Raymond Aron as early as 1970. Yet it is precisely as the region’s first military power that Israel is most prone to the resort to violence (“Cast Lead” etc.) in advancing geopolitical interests. Engineers say that when all you have in your hand is a hammer, you may see all your problems as nails. Yet Israel is in a regionally unparalleled position to develop other tools than the obsolete hammer to extend political reach. Should it put a sufficient number of minds on this issue at the Weizmann Institute the practical, sovereign know-how would rapidly emerge.
There is an emergency to perform such a move because nowadays an Israeli foreign posture that would not be flawlessly exemplar is proving most hazardous to the Jewish people as a whole, far beyond Israel’s borders. Such ugly reality need be faced with composure. Israel is more than a nation-state, it is an unparalleled religion-state and as such its political responsibility is far more tremendous. It has the pressure to be much more exemplar indeed than say a “U.S. land of the free”, “France of the Human Rights” or “South African Rainbow Nation”. Such imperative Israel should absolutely focus on as it is committing most – if not all – of its future. Anti-Zionism is therefore total nonsense as the best policy towards a peaceful Middle East is clearly that of annuit coeptis, and although we have resorted to an alternative scenario of Israel’s optimal foundation in 1917 rather than 1947, the Jewish state’s policy must be though in futurum. For that political exemplarity is absolutely vital. It also yields great power and is probably the best way for Israel to escape suicidal statecraft.
Indeed if the state flapping the flag stamped with Solomon’s seal causes any sort of popular frustration it is de facto committing an increasing share of the whole Jewish identity, regardless of that Jewish spirituality far exceeds politics, has no boundaries and is of several millennia the elder of Israel as a political entity endowed with the powers of statehood. A policy that is not totally flawless is incompatible with the Law of Return and comes to commit any Jew anywhere, whether he wants it or not. Again, Israel has its own Manifest Destiny in ensuring it maintains diplomatic standards far above those of other nations while preserving its survival in conducting international relations. Clearly the law of return is not negotiable as it basically defines the state of Israel. What must therefore be changed is the state’s political and diplomatic exemplarity. Today we face the ugly reality that while as of 1950 an intelligence analyst in any country of the West may very well be a Jew, as of 2011 he would be most distrusted as a potential Israeli agent. This dire situation only Israel can resolve.
And it can resolve it. This simply comprises the complete abandonment of the Dayan “Mad Dog” doctrine. Such doctrine is absolutely not kosher for a start and it is a salient precursor (all powers may have their own apparently) of the suicidal statecraft described by Toynbee. We all know the proverb “Give a dog a bad name and hang him”; what may we say then of a state that verily calls itself a “Mad Dog”? Before ungovernable popular tensions be unleashed in the context of disputed US power Israel may replace the Mad Dog doctrine by one, much fitter to the 21st century, of waging one awing blitzkrieg against despair across its immediate vicinity, thus decisively sanitizing it. Such doctrine would most rely – and thus not conceptually alter – Israel’s vital need for total combat readiness but rather change its target from that of enemy nations to that of popular despair and frustration. In the 21st century indeed, the ability to project hope will prove increasingly more politically significant (and rewarding) than that of projecting awing despair.
What is most interesting is that Israel’s very military doctrine translates easily, almost naturally, to the waging of a “peacefare” for political purposes. Here are some of its basic principles: Israel…
… Cannot afford to lose a single war
… Shall determine the outcome of a war quickly and decisively
… Must minimize losses in its ranks
… Must prevent the escalation of tensions
In the most basic doctrine for the use of the hope weapon all these principles are met one after the other. Trust and hope must be projected continuously in a flawless fashion as one mistake can destroy it strategically and tactically; so indeed, there is no second chance and Israel may never afford to lose a single such war against despair and mistrust. Confidence Building Measures may also be delivered fast and in a decisive fashion. They naturally entail the minimizing of casualties on behalf of those who deliver them because, finally, they precisely aim at defusing tensions. Thus while it is urgent for Israel’s strategic and diplomatic independence to develop its own, sovereign arsenal of CBMs in both quality and quantity, how it trained its officers and strategists already transposes wholesale to the appropriate doctrine. Again, the state does not lack spare brains to further conduct the research and development into potent CBMs.
Like Russia and Turkey the Jewish state must naturally play in two diplomatic chessboards. Its diplomatic anchoring in the Middle East is yet weak and disputed. The world’s second most popular religion, Abrahamic Islam, is overwhelmingly represented by Semitic peoples across the Arc of Crisis and represents the most immediate diplomatic future of Israel. Sitting at the very Heart of the Arc, the Jewish state must absolutely establish its credible and efficient leadership towards the Muslim World which it may never manage to bypass. Therein lies the interest of a CBM blitzkrieg capability.
We may therefore see Palestine and Jerusalem as remarkable opportunities in disguise, just like Xinjiang is more of an opportunity for China than it is a problem. In projecting hope and peace across Xinjiang in a decisive maneuver with a rapid and sustainable outcome China would enter with great fanfare and prestige in the Great Game. The very same goes for Israel which, in establishing a much regal doctrine of projecting awing popular satisfaction and prosperity in its vicinity would secure a royal road across the Arc of Crisis that is inexorably democratizing and modernizing.
There is therefore a powerful doctrine for Israel to affirm an indisputably legitimate and philosophically inalienable Zionism to a globalized world while also affirming an eloquent convergence of world interest with its own. We must again remember the principle that underlines the Afghan failure: man implies territory but the reverse is not true. Like the representatives of the other two Abrahamic religions in the region before Israel has a de facto mandate over Jerusalem – a powerful center of attraction of the world’s Muslims and Christians. Such mandate it may affirm through flawless, awing exemplarity. There is thus a yet to develop “Ruth Dayan” doctrine to clearly manifest the immense soft power opportunity that is offered to Israel. Crisis means to decide. Israel must keep total readiness to wage a war against war, à la William James, anytime.
Conclusion: in the Global Economy
With a broad diversity of possible scenarios the most global lever of a strategic failure in Afghanistan could be that of a massive devaluation of the dollar against commodities and precious metals (gold, platinum, silver, palladium…). The reserve-to-debt ratio of the Atlantic community is abysmally low while that of China is by far the world’s highest. A map derived from the data provided by the CIA world factbook is most eloquent. Indeed the economic strategy of the Atlantic community (USD, EUR, GBP, with the exception of the NOK much better protected by the Norwegian reserves) is not that of building a treasure of reserves with a positive trade balance but rather emphasizes the ability to raise funds. Portugal and Greece suffered violent attacks not on their reserve-to-debt ratio (several order of magnitude higher than that of say France, the Netherlands or the UK) but on their ability (or lack thereof) to incur debt. Initially this paradigm may elegantly be seen as that of process rather than savings economy. Yet in practice it is doomed to grow and secure new credits, turning the Atlantic community into a chilling credit junkie. With growth no longer an option, the Atlantic community has become an economic bubble on its own and the most brutal risk is that it bursts, with monstrous consequences. The very fate of such burst lies in the Great Game.
The United States are like an investment bank supplied by China and Japan, which would have concentrated the vast majority of its funds on two interdependent operations: Iraq and Afghanistan. The whole world is thus surveying such investments in which the bank USA, clearly too big to fail geopolitically, has invested most of its future. The main economical return on the first investment is the reconstruction of Iraq representing a market of more than half a trillion dollars while it has already cost that at least to the US economy, which wisely ceased publicizing the USD M3 at around the beginning of the war. The second, Afghanistan could produce an immediate return on investment with a wide variety of raw materials but efficient control of the country has never been weaker. In these conditions many countries that overreached in favor of the U.S. could be tempted to go short on its treasury bonds should the opportunity arise to do so without committing economic suicide. Japan and China are two good examples, and the U.S. has less and less means to prevent such event. With the majority of their eggs in the Great Game basket a crucial event there could topple world history. The French well remember the consequences of the Russian campaign.
Brzezinski (2007) accurately points out that a Europe folded on itself and an Asia focused on the strengthening of a common currency could cease to be the lender of last resort to the U.S. The shearing effect threatening the U.S. economy is that in its current paradigm the ability to incur debt is conditioned to the maintaining of high interest rates but economic recovery clearly calls for a cut.
In the twentieth century the United States had all the geopolitical power to prevent OPEC countries from coming together and set up their own petro-currency. Here again that strategy was “grand central”, that of controlling the OPEC chessboard’s center namely Saudi Arabia. We will remember the great diplomacy of a Franklin D. Roosevelt who unlike Winston Churchill abstained from drinking and smoking before Wahabbi King Abdulaziz.
Yet unless we consider the desperate measure of a de facto blockade of the Malacca Strait, the main vein of China’s much needed oil, or a global rise in the prices of crude which USD/GBP standard is increasingly contested, the United States have very few means to prevent China from leading the creation of a politically mighty currency basket in Asia. Whether the large resources of Siberia come to back a Euro or Asian currency will thus take much geopolitical importance and again China should move quick and with much finesse to show the Russians the profitability of a Novosibirsk-Urumqi axis while minimizing the political threat it could represent in a demonstration of goodwill.
The intensity of the advent of a new, New World Order will be conditioned to that of an economic crisis in the Atlantic system of unlimited credit and it seems again very sensible to have Barack Obama as its main mediator. An economic massacre could be precipitated by unexpected outcomes in the Heartland wars or it could be a smooth, mainly proactive transition. There is much to believe that would Russia attend the shattering of the European economy it will extend or rebuild its former sphere of influence as NATO did not hesitate to do after 1991 and through the brutal ruble crisis.
In the meanwhile China will soon or later consolidate its partaking to globalization by shifting the renminbi from an export to an investment currency that it would handsomely reevaluate. The time and duration of such transition may provide China with unprecedented economic leverage. This done in conjunction with a weakening of the dollar or a massive going short on the US debt would best doom the New American Century.
Further illustrating the principles identified by Toynbee and Ibn Khaldoun, former spokesman of Mikhail Gorbachev Andrei Gratchev recalled in 2009:
The West which has taken itself for the winner of the Cold War has undertaken a total drift into ultra-liberalism thus causing its own crisis
And Feike Sijbesma, CEO of a Dutch biotech multinational declared the same year:
We cannot call ourselves successful in a world that fails.
This poor countries have best experienced throughout the 20th century. In frustrating the aspirations of so many peoples the economic North has endlessly compressed a geopolitical spring it may no longer control (even though the case of the Arab revolutions may subtly challenge such statement). Yet it could still channel the enormous potential energy of such economic and political spring by implementing massive and awing CBMs across the most despaired countries. While the practical waging of a “War on terror” has already become rather infamous, the waging of a global war on despair may indeed be the very first geopolitical stake of the 21st century. Would China take leadership in globally affirming its eloquent willingness of waging a global war on despair its political leverage would become unprecedented while its soft power would rise dramatically. The marriage of world interest with its own would thus be best consummated…
Finally for the U.N. to retain legitimacy the profitability of Human Development should be quickly demonstrated so that it becomes a competitive and rewarding market on its own. In manifesting human development’s juicy profits we may find a formidable leverage to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. We may remember justice is the first base of global security. Yet a world where being born a Somali naturally sentences you to wandering in sickness and misery while watching huge foreign fishing vessels passing by your coasts is certainly not a world conducive to peace. And in such deeply interconnected world nobody may declare itself independent from even the most local injustice. Otherwise security may remain considered tantamount to isolation and the leaving of injustice to rot endlessly. As fever is a systemic symptom of the human body so is international volatility to the world. We may never ensure the health of the international physiology without administering it systemic remedies, which the increased blood flow of globalization may best help deliver fully. Hope and dignity are one of them, and shall surely lower the international fever.
“For the first time in history all of the world is politically activated. This is something that started with the French Revolution and spread through Europe and to Asia in the late nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century, and now it’s global.”
“You have to ask yourself, ultimately, what is the purpose of life? What is the purpose of national existence? What is the challenge that humanity faces? What is it that we all have in common as human beings?”
To Zbig, Mike & Mike
e pluribus unum
Aron, R. 1968 De Gaulle, Israël et les Juifs. Plon
Ayache, G. 2008 Israël: la naissance de l’État des juifs. Rocher
Ayache, G. Demant, A. 1991 Armement et Désarmement depuis 1945. Complexe
Brzezinski, Z. 1997 The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its geostrategic imperatives NYC: Basic Books
Brzezinski, Z. 2004 The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership Basic Books
Brzezinski, Z 2007 Second Chance: three presidents and the crisis of American superpower. Basic Books
Brzezinski, Z., Scowcroft, B. & Ignatius, D., 2009. America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy, Basic Books.
Engdahl, F.W., 2010. Gods of Money, Edition.Engdahl.
Engdahl, F.W., 2007. Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, Global Research.
Engdahl, W., 2004. A century of war: Anglo-American oil politics and the new world order, Pluto Press.
Fischel, W.J., 1952. Ibn Khaldun and Tamerlane: their historic meeting in Damascus, 1401 A.D. University of California Press.
Gabriel, R.A., 1980. The new Red legions: an attitudinal portrait of the Soviet soldier, Greenwood Press.
Grachev, A.S., 2008. Gorbachev’s gamble: Soviet foreign policy and the end of the Cold War, Polity.
Ruppert, M.C., 2009. Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World: A 25-Point Program for Action,
Ruppert, M.C., 2004. Crossing the Rubicon: the decline of the American empire at the end of the age of oil, New Society Publishers.
Shah, I., 2002. (1986) Kara Kush: a novel of Afghanistan, Overlook Press.
Shah, I., 1993. (1959) Oriental magic, Penguin Arkana.
Shah, I., 1999 (1963). The Sufis, The Octagon Press.
Sharp; G. 1985 Making Europe Unconquerable : The Potential of Civilian-based Deterrence and Defense. Taylor & Francis
Toynbee, A.J., 1963. A study of history, Oxford University Press.
To Zbig, Mike & Mike, e pluribus unum
 Chalfon, A. (1976) Montgomery of Alamein London : Weidenfeld & Nicolson p. 318
 Brzezinski, Z. (2007) Second Chance: Three presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower. NYC: Basic Books p. 146.
 Updated Summary Tables, Budget of the United States Government Fiscal Year 2010 (Table S.12)
 The Taliban movement is concretely a political entity leaning against the social dimension of religion. Its core preoccupations are regarding exoteric and material matters, such as the conduct of social life, which is rigorously political.
 Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord : Mémoires du prince de Talleyrand, Albert de Broglie (ed) Paris : Calmann-Lévy 1894. p. 358
 There is between one hundred and one thousand times more galaxies than human beings in the Universe and within each galaxy between 1011 and 1012 stars. There are thus between ten and one thousand million millions times less human beings than stars in the Universe. Yet Humanity carries on preferring a physical resource to thousand human lives and wages futile wars on the ground of resource scarcity. The act of destroying one human being remains much less anecdotic to the universe than that of destroying a star.
 The Sunday Times May 1st 1981.
 Brzezinski, Z. (2007) Second Chance New York : Basic Books p. 137
 Brzezinski, Z. (2007) Second Chance New York : Basic Books p. 178
 As Richard Francis Burton underlines in the notes of his Kasidah, Sufi sociology basically lies on the assumption that Humanity forms a single organic whole which has not yet achieved awareness of such Unity (“tawhid” in Sufi terminology). Hence the quote by Saadi of Chiraz at the UN Hall of Nations: “Human Beings are Members of a Whole”.
 Where would later meet Richard Burton and Emir Abd-el-Kader of Algeria.
 Acton, J.E., Figgis, J.N. & Laurence, R.V. (ed.), 1907. Historical essays & studies, Macmillan and co.
 Richard Gabriel. The New Red Legions. Vol. 2 an attitudinal portrait of the Soviet Soldier Greenwood Press, 1980
 We have examples of individual Americans with a remarkable track record of that, yet they are in no way organized and resorted to in advancing political objectives as a Military may be
 It may also be a verifiable rule of political sciences that the candidate projecting the strongest emotions may command the electorate’s lion share.
Ignatius D. (2008) in Brzezinski, Z. Scowcroft, B. Ignatius, D. (moderated by.) America and the World NYC: Basic Books. p. 4
 Namely “the land of the Franks”. In this spelling the word is of Richard Francis Burton.
 Idries Shah The Sufis Doubleday 1964. Idries Shah Tales of the Dervish Jonathan Cape, 1967
 Brzezinski, Z, (2004) The Choice : Global Dominance or Global Leadership. NYC: Basic Books p. 132
 in Brzezinski, Z. Scowcroft, B. Ignatius, D (moderated by) 2008 America and the World Basic Books p. 103
 Brzezinski, Z. (2004) The Choice: Global domination or Global leadership Basic Books pp. 17-18
 Zbigniew Brzezinski in Ibid p. 117
 Brzezinski, Z. The Choice: Global domination or Global Leadership Basic Books 2004 p 38 note #3.
 that is the Dungan revolution and Panthay rebellion, both domestic, put aside.
 An international agreement “froze” the exploitation of the South Pole though modern tourism reverses this trend.
 A title it may be disputed by the Indian Ocean.
 Seth Cropsey Keeping the Pacific pacific. The looming U.S.-Chinese Naval rivalry. Foreign Affairs Sept. 27 2010.
 Brzezinski, Z. (2007) Second Chance Basic Books p. 205
 Brzezinski, Z. Ibid p. 185
 Alyssa J. Rubin Afghan insurgents turn to an offensive of fear. The International Herald Tribune, Feb 28th 2011 p. 3.
 unparalleled in the sense that neither the Vatican grants admission to any Catholic, nor is there any Muslim country granting citizenship to indiscriminately any Muslim.
 That is, the six-branched star. Solomon also comes from the שלם root as does “Salam” in Arabic.
 the Israeli Defense Forces are a textbook example of forces most adequate to the so-called “maneuvrist” approach of warfare.
 Shall we say « benevolent dog » ?
 See William James. The Moral Equivalent to War. This “moral equivalent” Israel must quickly appropriate itself. In doing so, it could find itself in the unprecedented position to claim a convergence of global interest with its own.
 Andrei Gratchev, interviewed by Catherine Tricot (translated from French). Regards n°66, novembre 2009
 Statement made at the Biovision Forum, Lyon (Fr), April 2009. Feike Sijbesma is CEO of Unlimited DSM.
 Zbigniew Brzezinski, in Brzezinski Z. Scowcroft, B. Ignatius, D. (moderated by) 2008, America and the World Basic Books p. 242
 Ibid p. 229
Written by: Idriss J. Aberkane
Written at: Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques, Paris
Written for: Prof. Brendan Simms, Cambridge University / Prof. Pascal Chaigneau, HEC Paris
Date written: March 2011