What is left roaming our wilderness of mirrors depends on the mood swings of the Goddess of the Market. No wonder an effect of Eurasia integration will be a death blow to Bretton Woods and “democratic” neoliberalism, says Pepe Escobar.
By Pepe Escobar
Special to Consortium News
Get ready for a major geopolitical chessboard rumble: from now on, every butterfly fluttering its wings and setting off a tornado directly connects to the battle between Eurasia integration and Western sanctions as foreign policy.
It is the paradigm shift of China’s New Silk Roads versus America’s Our Way or the Highway. We used to be under the illusion that history had ended. How did it come to this?
Hop in for some essential time travel. For centuries the Ancient Silk Road, run by mobile nomads, established the competitiveness standard for land-based trade connectivity; a web of trade routes linking Eurasia to the – dominant – Chinese market.
In the early 15th century, based on the tributary system, China had already established a Maritime Silk Road along the Indian Ocean all the way to the east coast of Africa, led by the legendary Admiral Zheng He. Yet it didn’t take much for imperial Beijing to conclude that China was self-sufficient enough – and that emphasis should be placed on land-based operations.
Deprived of a trade connection via a land corridor between Europe and China, Europeans went all-out for their own maritime silk roads. We are all familiar with the spectacular result: half a millennium of Western dominance.
Until quite recently the latest chapters of this Brave New World were conceptualized by the Mahan, Mackinder and Spykman trio.
The Heartland of the World
Halford Mackinder’s 1904 Heartland Theory – a product of the imperial Russia-Britain New Great Game – codified the supreme Anglo, and then Anglo-American, fear of a new emerging land power able to reconnect Eurasia to the detriment of maritime powers.
Nicholas Spykman’s 1942 Rimland Theory advocated that mobile maritime powers, such as the UK and the U.S., should aim for strategic offshore balancing. The key was to control the maritime edges of Eurasia—that is, Western Europe, the Middle East and East Asia—against any possible Eurasia unifier. When you don’t need to maintain a large Eurasia land-based army, you exercise control by dominating trade routes along the Eurasian periphery.
Even before Mackinder and Spykman, U.S. Navy Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan had come up in the 1890s with his Influence of Sea Power Upon History – whereby the “island” U.S. should establish itself as a seaworthy giant, modeled on the British empire, to maintain a balance of power in Europe and Asia.
It was all about containing the maritime edges of Eurasia.
In fact, we lived in a mix of Heartland and Rimland. In 1952, then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles adopted the concept of an “island chain” (then expanded to three chains) alongside Japan, Australia and the Philippines to encircle and contain both China and the USSR in the Pacific. (Note the Trump administration’s attempt at revival via the Quad–U.S., Japan, Australia and India).
George Kennan, the architect of containing the USSR, was drunk on Spykman, while, in a parallel track, as late as 1988, President Ronald Reagan’s speechwriters were still drunk on Mackinder. Referring to U.S. competitors as having a shot at dominating the Eurasian landmass, Reagan gave away the plot: “We fought two world wars to prevent this from occurring,” he said.
Eurasia integration and connectivity is taking on many forms. The China-driven New Silk Roads, also known as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); the Russia-driven Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU); the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), and myriad other mechanisms, are now leading us to a whole new game.
How delightful that the very concept of Eurasian “connectivity” actually comes from a 2007 World Bank report about competitiveness in global supply chains.
Also delightful is how the late Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski was “inspired” by Mackinder after the fall of the USSR – advocating the partition of a then weak Russia into three separate regions; European, Siberian and Far Eastern.
All Nodes Covered
At the height of the unipolar moment, history did seem to have “ended.” Both the western and eastern peripheries of Eurasia were under tight Western control – in Germany and Japan, the two critical nodes in Europe and East Asia. There was also that extra node in the southern periphery of Eurasia, namely the energy-wealthy Middle East.
Washington had encouraged the development of a multilateral European Union that might eventually rival the U.S. in some tech domains, but most of all would enable the U.S. to contain Russia by proxy.
China was only a delocalized, low-cost manufacture base for the expansion of Western capitalism. Japan was not only for all practical purposes still occupied, but also instrumentalized via the Asian Development Bank (ADB), whose message was: We fund your projects only if you are politically correct.
The primary aim, once again, was to prevent any possible convergence of European and East Asian powers as rivals to the US.
The confluence between communism and the Cold War had been essential to prevent Eurasia integration. Washington configured a sort of benign tributary system – borrowing from imperial China – designed to ensure perpetual unipolarity. It was duly maintained by a formidable military, diplomatic, economic, and covert apparatus, with a star role for the Chalmers Johnson-defined Empire of Bases encircling, containing and dominating Eurasia.
Compare this recent idyllic past with Brzezinski’s – and Henry Kissinger’s – worst nightmare: what could be defined today as the “revenge of history”.
That features the Russia-China strategic partnership, from energy to trade: interpolating Russia-China geo-economics; the concerted drive to bypass the U.S. dollar; the AIIB and the BRICS’s New Development Bank involved in infrastructure financing; the tech upgrade inbuilt in Made in China 2025; the push towards an alternative banking clearance mechanism (a new SWIFT); massive stockpiling of gold reserves; and the expanded politico-economic role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
As Glenn Diesen formulates in his brilliant book, Russia’s Geo-economic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia, “the foundations of an Eurasian core can create a gravitational pull to draw the rimland towards the centre.”
If the complex, long-term, multi-vector process of Eurasia integration could be resumed by just one formula, it would be something like this: the heartland progressively integrating; the rimlands mired in myriad battlefields and the power of the hegemon irretrievably dissolving. Mahan, Mackinder and Spykman to the rescue? It’s not enough.
Divide and Rule, Revisited
The same applies for the preeminent post-mod Delphic Oracle, also known as Henry Kissinger, simultaneously adorned by hagiography gold and despised as a war criminal.
Before the Trump inauguration, there was much debate in Washington about how Kissinger might engineer – for Trump – a “pivot to Russia” that he had envisioned 45 years ago. This is how I framed the shadow play at the time.
In the end, it’s always about variations of Divide and Rule – as in splitting Russia from China and vice-versa. In theory, Kissinger advised Trump to “rebalance” towards Russia to oppose the irresistible Chinese ascension. It won’t happen, not only because of the strength of the Russia-China strategic partnership, but because across the Beltway, neocons and humanitarian imperialists ganged up to veto it.
Brzezinski’s perpetual Cold War mindset still lords over a fuzzy mix of the Wolfowitz Doctrine and the Clash of Civilizations. The Russophobic Wolfowitz Doctrine – still fully classified – is code for Russia as the perennial top existential threat to the U.S. The Clash, for its part, codifies another variant of Cold War 2.0: East (as in China) vs. West.
Kissinger is trying some rebalancing/hedging himself, noting that the mistake the West (and NATO) is making “is to think that there is a sort of historic evolution that will march across Eurasia – and not to understand that somewhere on that march it will encounter something very different to a Westphalian entity.”
Both Eurasianist Russia and civilization-state China are already on post-Westphalian mode. The redesign goes deep. It includes a key treaty signed in 2001, only a few weeks before 9/11, stressing that both nations renounce any territorial designs on one another’s territory. This happens to concern, crucially, the Primorsky Territory in the Russian Far East along the Amur River, which was ruled by the Ming and Qing empires.
Moreover, Russia and China commit never to do deals with any third party, or allow a third country to use its territory to harm the other’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.
So much for turning Russia against China. Instead, what will develop 24/7 are variations of U.S. military and economic containment against Russia, China and Iran – the key nodes of Eurasia integration – in a geo-strategic spectrum. It will include intersections of heartland and rimland across Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and the South China Sea. That will proceed in parallel to the Fed weaponizing the U.S. dollar at will.
Heraclitus Defies Voltaire
Alastair Crooke took a great shot at deconstructing why Western global elites are terrified of the Russian conceptualization of Eurasia. It’s because “they ‘scent’…a stealth reversion to the old, pre-Socratic values: for the Ancients … the very notion of ‘man’, in that way, did not exist. There were only men: Greeks, Romans, barbarians, Syrians, and so on. This stands in obvious opposition to universal, cosmopolitan ‘man’.”
So it’s Heraclitus versus Voltaire – even as “humanism” as we inherited it from the Enlightenment, is de facto over. Whatever is left roaming our wilderness of mirrors depends on the irascible mood swings of the Goddess of the Market. No wonder one of the side effects of progressive Eurasia integration will be not only a death blow to Bretton Woods but also to “democratic” neoliberalism.
What we have now is also a remastered version of sea power versus land powers. Relentless Russophobia is paired with supreme fear of a Russia-Germany rapprochement – as Bismarck wanted, and as Putin and Merkel recently hinted at. The supreme nightmare for the U.S. is in fact a truly Eurasian Beijing-Berlin-Moscow partnership.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has not even begun; according to the official Beijing timetable, we’re still in the planning phase. Implementation starts next year. The horizon is 2039.
This is China playing a long-distance game of go on steroids, incrementally making the best strategic decisions (allowing for margins of error, of course) to render the opponent powerless as he does not even realize he is under attack.
The New Silk Roads were launched by Xi Jinping five years ago, in Astana (the Silk Road Economic Belt) and Jakarta (the Maritime Silk Road). It took Washington almost half a decade to come up with a response. And that amounts to an avalanche of sanctions and tariffs. Not good enough.
Russia for its part was forced to publicly announce a show of mesmerizing weaponry to dissuade the proverbial War Party adventurers probably for good – while heralding Moscow’s role as co-driver of a brand new game.
On sprawling, superimposed levels, the Russia-China partnership is on a roll; recent examples include summits in Singapore, Astana and St. Petersburg; the SCO summit in Qingdao; and the BRICS Plus summit.
Were the European peninsula of Asia to fully integrate before mid-century – via high-speed rail, fiber optics, pipelines – into the heart of massive, sprawling Eurasia, it’s game over. No wonder Exceptionalistan elites are starting to get the feeling of a silk rope drawn ever so softly, squeezing their gentle throats.
Pepe Escobar is the correspondent-at-large for Hong Kong-based Asia Times. His latest book is 2030. Follow him on Facebook.
The Chinese tributary system actually offered advantages. You got a valuable trade trip to Peking once every year or two years; you got the calendar giving you dates for holidays and planting and you got protection from your neighbours.
The American tributary system Pepe identifies is reading some of her intercepted communications and a theses, erected on a tiny part of those data that have been analysed, usually provoking you to take action you had not hitherto intended.
As a general rule, the west will discover a confirmation of events in its intercepts only after the event has occurred and justificatory corroboration has been sought. What a waste of time and resources, particularly when added to the resentment that most countries feel towards the 3-letter agencies and other officials for their boorishness.
I suspect the day will soon come when that ring of bases around Russia and China will require food and maintenance from the very people its supposed to be intimidating. There is already much of American commerce and industry that relies on Eurasia. The idea that a policy of eternal war might compete with a policy of growing trade could only fester in the corrupt environment of Washington DC. Everywhere else it just causes big eyes and raised shoulders.
Btw Pepe, the important financial agreement at Bretton Woods was destroyed by Ian Fraser and a few good friends in 1970s – read his autobiography “The High Road to England” for how he got a few countries and banks to help him do it. That’s why we are again back in financial trouble.
A very interesting read.
I do though “kind of” disagree with the assessment of the Russia/China alliance. It’s not that it’s so “strong”. It’s that it has to be because their common enemy is strong.
In the past they didn’t really have an alliance, despite the talk of socialist solidarity. There was a border war over parts of Manchuria in the ’60s that shows the truth of that.
However, the Chinese understand that if they don’t stand with Russia, there will be no one left to stand with them. They didn’t mind the US helping them modernize their military in the ’90s, knowing the US leadership believed the next big war could be between Russia and China. Things have changed though.
The Russia / China alliance is only just getting its feet underneath it. This was foreseen in the 1960’s by author John Hersey (who wrote ‘Hiroshima’) in his epic ‘alternate futures’ novel “White Lotus”. An excellent read.
One dynamic this article does not address is the “Northern Silk Road” aka the shipping route from Vladivostok to Rotterdam via the Northern Sea Route. Russia is totally engaged in developing its (very !) extensive arctic coast with deepwater ports, a rail line to the arctic coast, etc. China is also looking North and is no doubt negotiating protocols with Russia regarding Arctic shipping. China has built its own icebreaker, the ‘Snow Dragon’ for the Northern Sea Route, and Russia has lots of icebreakers, some nuclear powered, and even a combination container ship / icebreaker. The Northern Sea Route is fast becoming viable. Next will be the ‘over the Pole’ deepwater Arctic route. The Northwest Passage from Hudson’s Bay across the top of Canada and Alaska will be the last route to thaw, due to archipelago north of the Canadian coast, which is comprised of over 36,000 ice-locked islands. As the ice begins to melt, the passages between through the archipelago will continue to shift as the various routes become choked with large chunks of thawing ice. So Russia and China have a distinct shipping advantage compared to the US (which is only an Arctic Nation because of Alaska), and it is in both their interests to cooperate in developing and exploiting it.
Great article!We Europeans wait hungry for the time,when we will have better and free economic trading and political connections to russia,china and the other silk-road players.I mean we european people!Not our still ruling anglo-american “secret communities”Their time soon is over.Occupied Germany will be the last country to become free.But its already rumbling!Others are faster.
Fearing the silk-road is not necessary.I would not say that that would be the worst case for the anglo-american connection.Only for their “secret-communities.”Who cries for these dark beiings?If the anglo-american economies would try to take part in the new economic race,i mean in a completely NEW WAY,without permanently throwing knifes in the back of their competitors,especially without any bombs and tanks and falseflag actions,their countries would become strong competitors again!Good for a lot of economical victims!And the best for their people:employment and prosperity.And necessary for our little planet.He belongs to us all and after all ,he does not grow…
I offer you a Heart-felt and Vociferous, Thank You, Matt Krist !
The Capitalist Empire must crumble at our feet
Being overwhelmed by the Force of Humanity.
With all due respect, from a third world citizen married to a German national: do you really think the German elites are not imperialistic themselves? The German bankers and industrialists of the Ruhr valley will toss aside Merkel as the trouble she’s become for their interests in trading with eurasia, and exploit the cheap labor and opportunities for their own wealth, and not that of the global south, not that of the working German, as the imperial-minded elites they are. I don’t see a stronger Germany as any more positive for the oppressed peoples of the world as the anglo-american (actually, simply american) hegemonies have been, and history does not shine a bright light on the German elites. German elites act like their peers in America, in England and the recent geopolitical strangling of German expansionism does not assuage the risk they pose in oppressing and exploiting its own German working class and the impoverished peoples of the world. Twelve for a dozen….
A global community of sovereign nation states is possible with a new renaissance. Humanity has written code for crowdsourcing truth and Kissinger has met his match.
The world of politics is basically of the instinctive level.
It belongs to the law of the jungle.
Might is right.
Politics can be reduced almost into a mathematical maxim.
Politics means will-to-power.
But the whole thing depends upon the American people.
The whole nation just has to wake up to what these politicians are doing, and create a government of non-political people.
It is time that American people should take over all the powers from these mediocre people.
They are the real danger in the world…
I’m afraid it’s impossible to create ‘a government of non-political people’.
Politics begins at the family level and propagates from there.
An unavoidable dynamic and part of what it means to be a human being.
Of course, we could do everything possible to un-fund the political lifestyle
at the governmental level . . . But that would involve voluntary tax redirection,
which we have been programmed to believe is impossible (it’s not).
… following the intrigue of the name / title Arioch …
Thank you for participating and adding your Deeper Insight (to the curious). …
It is supremely ironic that Voltaire and other thinkers of the Enlightenment were in fact strongly influenced by Confucianism. So much so, that Adolf Reichwein, a German economist in the early 20th century, described Confucius as “a patron saint of the 18th century enlightenment.” Even today there is a carving of Confucius at the US Supreme Court in Washington DC, on the east side of the building in the triangle pediment, next to Moses and Solon!
How very ironic that, far from following the great Confucian dictum that “within the Four Seas, all men are brothers” (Analects 12:5), the Western world today has proven itself a far more faithful disciple of the ancient Greeks, who for all their ‘civilization’ would never have understood (let alone come up with) the said dictum. :)
Actually, why should we worry about such things anymore? The whole bloody farce that is the global economy is about to blow sky high anyway. But then again, well, perhaps it’s exactly because of this that we might as well indulge a bit more in such petty squabbles for the fun of it while we can (shrugs).
“But then again, well, perhaps it’s exactly because of this that we might as well indulge a bit more in such petty squabbles for the fun of it while we can (shrugs).”
As & So. – SomeoneInAsia,
Must the Force of Hate Overwhelm/Overthrow the Force of Love?
I, as you, see forces of destruction in all sectors of the world/globe.
Those in control reject universal peace and fondly embrace Death.
DOOM LERKS AS
OVER DEAD BODIES
AND ATLAS SHRUGED
A DEATH OF CARING,
IN OUR MELANCHOLIA,
DOOM LERKS AS
OVER DEAD BODIES?
WHO CAN DELIVER US
FROM THE BODIES OF
RABID BLACK RAVENS… ?
Oh Beautiful for spacious skies
for amber waves of grain
for purple mountain majesty
above the fruited plain,
God shed his grace on thee,
and crownThy Good
with Brotherhood, (???)
from sea to shining sea… .
Thanks so much for your comment,
Pepe Escobar has been the crème de la crème of truth seeking investigative reporting — there are no “alternative facts” / “fake news” /or “reporters” opinion to be found in his narratives and reports. He, and, if I may add, Garath Porter w/ http://www.tomdispatch.com supply accurately reliable news reports free from Embedded narratives/ gov’t Propaganda.
Escobar can be frequently read on http://www.atimes.com – where Other News (outside America) can be viewed that add reason, depth, discernment, insight, and expansion outside the realms of the habitual mediocracy that is fed to us, and we easily swallow daily, hour by hour, day after day.
The superficiality – or super imposition (exceptionalism) inherent in the ideal/idea behind “Oh Beautiful, For Spacious Skies / For Amber Waves Of Grain” speak to the opportunisms Gifted upon European Immigrants whom filled boats of Easy Immigration out-of-Poor-House European Ghettos-Of-Poverty and Into “The Land Of The Free” — where land was Literally Free to any and all who’d Stake A Claim, build a fence and OWN THE LAND !!! — Purple Mountain Majesty / Purple Waves of Grain – Farmland For Days — Free !!! To Europeans !!!
don’t get me started on how we got from there to the ridiculous-idea-of-“affirmative action” and all the BullSpit, Vomit & Hatred/Dispersion that CONTINUES to be Heaped upon that Roundly Discredited attempt toward some form of “equality”
MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN
“REAL AMERICANS” DEMAND IT
Trump and Sarah Palin… . (am i right…?)
That’s why we are so happy that Pepe has joined Consortium News to write original articles for us.
> Alastair Crooke took a great shot at deconstructing….
And in that perfect British manner he mistranslated his now-designated-enemy Lenin’s words.
Just like earlier British history “scientists” mistranslated tzar Ivan 4th nickname
With all Lenin’s contempt to Russia wwhom he saw competitor, what he said on Russia was waving off rathee than shadenfraude and bloodlust.
…..With up to 10 million Russians left dead by his cleansing, Lenin said “I don’t care a bit about Russia. [Russia is] only one stage we have to pass through, on our way to world revolution [i.e. to his vision of a universal Communism].
That, if to translate it properly without the urge to use charged wording and bloodlust projection.
Which Modern Nation (21st century) does the term BLOODLUST have affection – affinity to, Arioch… ?
(by the way, are you Greek)?
Which Nation Dominates & Controls the “United Nations” and it’s Charter… ?
What Militaristic Nation Dominates and Controls the NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION ?
Pepe Escobar, one of the few individuals with more flight time hours than Hilery Clinton. Not only is he in constant motion but the same can be said of his writings, as this article is, with many a moving part(s). So what the heck, I’ll contribute a few more, parts.
China, about to suffer the same fate as Japan, a trade imbalance with the West, followed by domestic economic collapse. It suffers from daily riots and has constructed entire cities that remain unoccupied.
The article has not interpolated the Islamist economic impact in Eurasia. How to work along side of the narcotics trade in all this? Most of the worlds opium is found in the “Golden Crescent” , these revenues are to the tune of, at last count, better than two billion USD a year in Pakistani’ coffers, all under the aegis of the ISI of course.. This trade fostered the Afghani poppy production of today, and is used to fund Islamist guerrillas. The Chinese Silk road, will run, smack, (oh the irresistible pun) right into the hands of these groups; This scenario goes quite a ways back; the well laid plans of General Zia, then Bhutto, stretching from Pakistan’s eastern border with China, including Afghanistan and central Asian Republics, and the oil rich regions of the Caspian sea. An ongoing Islamist insurgency financed with dope and gun running delivered into the hands of any number of radical religious groups!
Pakistan still aims for hegemony in Central Asia and in Afghanistan. This whole sphere of terror economics, now sheds additional light on the reasons behind, continued US occupation of Afghanistan. I don’t know what ever happened to Ahmed Shah Massoud (he controlled that part of northern Afghanistan, bordering with the other Stan’s) but this single example, is typical of the sort of trouble the PRC and their BRI plans will most assuredly encounter. One can almost hear the currency counting machines running wild, paying off innumerable war lords and highwaymen along the way, Good luck Xi, LOL !
Good to read you at the consortium news Pepe. As usual, you rock.
What I gather from this tangled mass of an article is that the private profit system is ending and it cannot be stopped. I also glean that the future is quite uncertain, and that much suffering will go on in America until our short-sighted and greedy ultra-wealthy decision-makers and their servants in government wise up or die off. I also feel this article is a morass bogged down in unnecessary complexities and “learned” references.
“I also feel this article is a morass bogged down in unnecessary complexities and “learned” reference
I agree and this passage is emblematic:
“Alastair Crooke took a great shot at deconstructing why Western global elites are terrified of the Russian conceptualization of Eurasia. It’s because “they ‘scent’…a stealth reversion to the old, pre-Socratic values: for the Ancients … the very notion of ‘man’, in that way, did not exist. There were only men: Greeks, Romans, barbarians, Syrians, and so on. This stands in obvious opposition to universal, cosmopolitan ‘man’.”
So it’s Heraclitus versus Voltaire – even as “humanism” as we inherited it from the Enlightenment, is de facto over. Whatever is left roaming our wilderness of mirrors depends on the irascible mood swings of the Goddess of the Market. No wonder one of the side effects of progressive Eurasia integration will be not only a death blow to Bretton Woods but also to “democratic” neoliberalism.”
But then the Editors lifted the final two sentences and placed them as the preface to P.E’s article. To each his own. But I find the heavy referential brocade of P.E’s style harder to take in than i feel it needs to be.
Delighted to see Pepe Escobar pop up at Consortium News. I’ve been following him loyally since his first evocation of a “Pipelinestan”—a fascinating series that eventually gave way to the New Silk Roads series. Escobar’s work is a tonic for those who tired of Western (euphemism for Washington and its vassals) Russophobia, Sinophobia, Islamophobia, and all those other phobias that function as evidence of patriotism in America. Today, it’s Putin-hatred spun out of thin air for the purpose of proving Putin a traitor, worthy of dumping without benefit of an election.
Thanks, Pepe, for this abbreviated history of the Eurasia-phobic thinkers who gave Brzezinski nightmares and schooled him in new chess moves—thinkers who also continue to influence those hallucinatory neocons, with their psychedelic visions of full-spectrum dominance. In my distinctly Canadian view, we’ve been ready for a Great Game changer since Americans—for some reason I’ll never understand—elected Ronald Reagan.
Most people remember where they were when JFK got shot. Much more vivid for me is the memory of waking up the morning after an American election to learn that Reagan was President-Elect. I have always been fond of the American nation but fearful of the American state, heavy on the latter on that gloomy morning. By the time the Supreme Court named Baby Bush to the presidency, fear was already total disrespect following the GOP-sponsored sexcapades and impeachment of Bill Clinton. By 9/11, it wasn’t airplanes slamming into buildings that struck terror in my heart but rather, the Cheney-Bush response to them.
However, with Cheney-Bush too busy with torturing and slaughtering Muslims and delivering huge wooden skids of American cash to Iraqi warlords, China made good use of the time to pass that point of no return in its economic development, and Latin America initiated a renaissance under the influence and generosity of Hugo Chavez. When Washington came to its status quo senses under Obama-Hillary, it turned out to be too late to do much about China’s rise except order up another anti-China propaganda narrative, but Chavez succumbed to cancer, and the new leftish administrations in Latin America revealed the shifting of the imperial winds from the north by promptly unravelling.
Pepe, it’s nice—at last—to be able to write a response to one of your articles, as only Facebookers are allowed over at Asia Times. (I was giving a thought to Facebooking, but after Snowden … forget it.)
All our political/economic/military games only represent whistling while we avert our gaze from the looming graveyard of human civilization, which is crying out louder and louder for our attention. Better the familiar idiocies of history than the unknown horrors of global extinction, eh? Oh, but that was just a movie, wasn’t it?
We will march resolutely to our doom singing the same old songs of good guys versus bad guys, when it is really a handful of the sane against a vast army of the insane and deluded.
Thank you for the time travel.
The idea of infinite progress wedded to the industrial drive of civilization is destroying the planet, and will collapse soon, possibly foretelling the extinction of homo sapiens. All the wonderful dreams of silk roads, etc. will soon morph into the nightmares of a collapsing global ecology, already in full progress.
The Enlightenment was never all that enlightenment. It gave us things like “scientific” racism and the Reign of Terror. I really doubt that Herakleitos or any Hellenic philosophers would have had much to say to Voltaire.
Pepe is not just a political/economic pundit, he is a veritable professor of world history. Perhaps those who major in these studies at university will have heard of the Stryker vs Mackinder theories of containing Central Asian (meaning Russian) and East Asian (meaning Chinese) influence in the world economy through controlling the maritime rim or the overland routes through the heart of the Eurasian landmass respectively. But I have never before encountered them in my own casual personal reading of the news, politicis or economics. Neither did I ever know about the extensive penetration of Western markets by Chinese mariners in days long gone by, setting a precedent for the “belt” part of China’s proposed “One Belt, One Road Initiative.”
The Silk Road everyone has heard of. It was always described as a positive force in Western evolution in our high school world history courses. Now we want to sandbag it. The shift to world trade via nautical routes by the European powers (and later their Anglo-American subsidiary) was always portrayed as merely an upgrade in efficiencies, plus a way to avoid bandits, the black plague (and other medical maladies), local politics, and acts of god at the geophysical level rather than a naked grab at world hegemony. (Of course, anyone with analytical skills past the 9th grade level realises the imputed simplicity deliberately portrayed is simply risible.)
The Kissinger/Brzezinski ploy to divide and stymie, if not conquer, Russia and China is common knowledge… and considered desirable, nay essential, because any outcome that does not have Washington in complete control of the entire globe is intrinsically evil. The world must NOT be fully connected at all costs because the “zero sum game” principle is supposed to be explicitly obvious (at least to all loyal North Americans).
Especially bad for Americans would be the scenario Pepe envisions with Europe, its power center clearly focused in industrial Germany, being linked with industrial China via the Russian resources cog in the middle. To Washington, this is even worse than the scenario in Orwell’s “1984” wherein Oceania, in its never-ending war, was never pitted against both Eurasia and East Asia at the same time, let alone against a unified polity from Lisbon and Amsterdam to Shanghai and Vladivostok. Nope, clearly not acceptable in Washington unless all the shots, big and small, are called inside the Beltway–or wherever the world hegemons set up shop after the looming war to cement universal control by the present entitled insider elites. (Since Washington, New York and London will undoubtedly be wiped off the map in such a war, smart money says someplace like Davos up in the mountains of Schweiz will be the capital of the self-proclaimed new world government.)
Good summary Realist. Given the insane drive to dominate the world, all the Russia/China hatred makes sense. After all “white people” are supposed to rule everyone, aren’t they?
Ah yes, the remarkable George Kennan, who let the cat out of the bag, admitting, essentially, that Soviet Communism – brother caring for brother – would naturally be more attractive to people than the dog eat dog American capitalist system. It’s fitting that he also intoned that with its oversized share of world wealth, the US needed “to maintain this position of disparity.” Nice ruling class you have their America!
Isn’t it ironic; the people of the Western world, at least those of us who even have a clue of what’s happening, are reduced to praying for Russia and China to save us from our own elite leaders WHO SEEK TO REDUCE ALL OF US TO ABSOLUTE SLAVERY? I thank God that Putin is a political genius who surpasses anything the West can put forward. And China the definition of inscrutable has quietly allowed us to finance their takeover of the complete Western economic system which is breathing its last breaths as our leaders wonder what happened.
I have a friend who has a masters degree in business and economics yet he has no clue of what is happening right before his eyes yet I who barely squeezed through grade 12 foresaw this a decade ago. It’s pathetic that the most powerful people in the world are sp blinded by greed and dogma that they can’t recognize the writing on the wall.
You are seeing things very clearly Ronzig.
Thank you Pepe and CN for this thoughtful and well written article.
I also can’t wait for the collective western media ‘freak-out’ over the Vostok-2018 exercises which will involve China and Mongolia in the largest military excercise in Russia since ‘81. The pundits will claim even more “aggression” on display. But the mere fact that China is involved this time may provide even more clues to the agreements between Russia and China that Pepe is noting in his article, which goes beyond the monetary sphere. The fact that this is happening within Russias’ borders will not matter to those who don’t criticize the US military all over this planet.
The reference to the pre Socratic “men” as compared to “Man” is significant. – It is inherent in the concept of “Globalism”, “Hegemony”, and “One God”.
Dunderhead, I am not with the global warming/climate change folks at all! I am with folks who believe that we all must limit consuming and must learn to make do with less, not be greedy, live more simply. Climate change will always happen, that is basic geology, astronomy, science shows that. I am saying that, we are now seeing major shifts and I am with those who say our Sun is the major player. We have millions of landfills on earth, plastic and polllutants choking oceans and killing marine life. I consider these “carbon peddlers” just another form of disinformation and very misinformed, it’s political hype for the masses, but we have serious consequences for future generations that are real due to our capitalistic overconsumption and nearly 8 billion on Earth. I think China has awareness of that to some extent, but the competitive pressure from the Western genesis of capitalistic consumption is huge. For my personal choices, I am working to keep my plastic usage to a minimum. There is evidence that we are in the midst of an electromagnetic polar shift right now, we are seeing an intensification of number of earthquakes right now, and the last few years we have witnessed extreme catastrophic earth events. It is Earth itself doing this, and it may be coming from the mantle, or even the core. I used to be support staff for earth scientists in Boston and I learned a lot, took geology courses.
“I am with folks who believe that we all must limit consuming and must learn to make do with less, not be greedy, live more simply.”
I’m with you on that. We in the U.S. and Canada live in immensely wealthy societies, despite the wage stagnation that afflicts those in the middle class and below. It might be making a virtue of necessity, but many of us can live relatively comfortable lives by luxuriating in adequacy, a privilege not accorded those in the developing world.
Human caused climate change is established scientific fact. Those questioning this do not have a clear idea of what science is. That this issue has become a political football, does not alter the patient fact based work of thousands of scientists and their unequivocal conclusions.
Mr. Escobar is correct to assert that “integration will be a death blow to Bretton Woods and “democratic” neoliberalism” If one internalized this basic premise, it is easy to comprehend why Western elites throw a monkey wrench at every possible opportunity of Asia and Europe integrating. They fail to realize that all things must come to an end because their minds are closed to this very real possibility. Paraphrasing minister and speaker john mason “Nothing dies quicker than a new idea in a closed mind” Their days are numbered and they know it.
What I concluded from this article was that Western elites cannot stop what is coming. It is a very natural process that Europe and Asia integrate at some point. Western elites can only postpone the inevitable with their wars and tariffs. In other words, the idea of integration has been maturing long enough and there is no turning back. Quoting Victor Hugo Les Miserables “No army can stop an idea whose time has come”
It’s more like integration of Eurasia was a reality, unrealized but natural, always resisted by ruined, but powerful outsiders who simply hew to a ‘riches for the strongest’ paradigm. Following that operating principle, which anyone (loser, winner, weak, strong) can do, means that you need to beat someone, preferably by taking his means of survival from him for yourself, in order to feel strong (which self-modified people need to do). But I also believe that most of the world, including Russians and Chinese, play that game.
Excellent comments Jose!
First off, Pepe you rock, you are the coolest and probably most interesting journalists out right now. Couple of comments however, what looks like Genius from the Chinese is just strategic common sense though you’re right the Chinese do know how to play the long game. Speaking of which I really don’t believe that they are going to be as benevolent a hegemon as Pepe is suggesting, they’re not particularly good about respecting African opportunities for employment on some of their various projects in that region. All that being said I think the new Silk Road project is a fantastic idea and can only wish that that if these any sense left in these incompetent criminals running our government, they could figure out the long-term opportunities for cooperating with the Chinese, the arms manufacturers do not always have to produce arms, guns into plowshares as it were. Anyway Great to see your article and consortium, I’ve got to catch up with your stuff at Asia Times, Thanks.
Always fun to read Pepe Escobar, why i look at Asia Times online daily as well as Eurasia Futures and South China Morning Post. The Asians play the long game while the impatient West, especially US, play only the short gotta-have-it-NOW game. The bellicose bully bombing Machiavellian neocons with their hardening of arteries in the brain can’t conceive of cooperation. There is one other surprise prime mover in this mix often overlooked, and that is Gaia or Mother Earth. At least it seems that Xi Jinping and the Chinese have made reference to environmental concerns with the BRI, which is more than can be said for the Western neocolonialists in their bombing for “democracy”.
At a recent meeting with a top advisor of Assad in Syria, a Lebanese paper reported that the US negotiators said they would withdraw if Syria would give them a cut of the oil! Wow, what gall! Assad would not agree, wonder what’s next? This is the way they work, as Pepe said, “My way or the highway”, gangster diplomacy. There is no honor among thieves.
Jessica, There is obviously more carbon in the atmosphere, I don’t think that is debatable but the technology to actually do something about this has been around for 45 years orso, the fact that they don’t do anything about it, means to me this furor over climate change is just another government scam like overpopulation, anyway specific technologies: thorium based fission and long-term carbon sequestration, these are easy things to look up. I don’t believe I know everything about this topic but it’s even real debatable that wait now the climate is optimum in the sense that a slightly warmer climate all around gives longer growing seasons and makes it also less expensive to heat one’s home. So to ask the question, why do you believe global warming is such a problem more than just general pollution?
Yes, here in the continental subarctic (Interior Alaska) we are looking forward to a longer
growing season and less heating expense. BUT what we are seeing is simply more variable
weather, making it harder to grow anything in an already challenging climate. Also, for some
reason (go figure) weeds are more adaptive to higher CO2 levels than food crops. Meaning
the weeds thrive even better than ever, while the food crops grow at about the same rate as
always, only more choked out by weeds than ever. Other problems include new (to us) bugs
and plant diseases as they move North, drier droughts and heavier rains (this was predicted)
and skewed seasons with much later springs and somewhat later falls. (Not great, as our
really sunny season is spring, not fall).
Many areas of the planet may end up having such unpredictable year-to-year weather that
annual agriculture, upon which most of the global population depends, becomes untenable.
Well sorry to hear about your weed issue, here in the Northeast, I would say it’s better for both crops and weeds, on the other hand our trees are growing quite well. I find it quite surprising that food crops are capable of being grown in such a Northern climes honestly, are greenhouse is practicable? By the way for the weeds you also me try ground scorching, it does a pretty nice job of sterilizing the soil and problem areas. Anyway I hear what you’re saying about variable climate but organisms are adaptable on the other hand the real effects of the various types of pollution can be practically taking care of the fact that they have not in my opinion has more to do with the concentration of power and what implications of actually solving these issues would do to the Power dynamic of big oil and US military power.
Sorry, but it’s not quite all that simple re global warming (which is a misnomer).
The earth has a balanced system. The oceans play a huge part in this. Through fossil fuel extraction and burning we have unleashed huge exothermic releases. This has caused the “classic” global warming phenomena. Issue -it’s not all fun and games, “we now have longer growing seasons” (for HOW LONG is the question*)- is that of the effects on the oceans waters. Glacial melt releases FRESH water which doesn’t operate well for ocean current cycling. With an over abundance of fresh water in the oceans the ocean currents will essentially stall out. The stalling out is actually a tipping point toward GLOBAL COOLING. OK, fine, so we adjust back away from being too warm, so what? Global cooling leads to glacial periods: keep in mind the balanced system, the missing glaciers. It proceeds until sufficient glacial mass has been regenerated. BUT, everything has a bit of a carry-over affect and the glacial recreation process results glacial formations over landmasses. As John D. Hamaker (A Survival of Civilization) put it, the glacial periods are like a big re-till of the world’s soils: Hamaker believed it possible to slow down, and possibly halt, the shift toward the next glacial period by remineralizing soils (I feel he underestimated the energy expense necessary, but have no numbers either way). If you see this Big Picture you’ll see that it makes perfect sense.
We are all now becoming the Greenland Norse. We have optimized during a period of optimal conditions. Shifting climate patterns will derail our optimized structures (all predicated on food production). It is for this reason that I believe that any reshuffling of the economic deck (Russia-China activities) is essentially moot: most that will happen is to speed up the time interval in which the “West” declines. Any system predicated on perpetual growth (on a finite planet) is mathematically guaranteed to fail.
It’s all human hubris. Eternal optimism or eternal greed, take your pick.
“a slightly warmer climate all around gives longer growing seasons and makes it also less expensive to heat one’s home.”
Going to be hard to convince folks in equatorial regions that this is good thing (for them). Always be on the guard for human hubris.
Seer – yes, talk about an optimum period! Excellent post! I think you’re the only one who has mentioned perpetual growth, finite planet, and the ramifications. I agree. What the hell are we doing? More growth?
“It is for this reason that I believe that any reshuffling of the economic deck (Russia-China activities) is essentially moot: most that will happen is to speed up the time interval in which the “West” declines. Any system predicated on perpetual growth (on a finite planet) is mathematically guaranteed to fail.
It’s all human hubris. Eternal optimism or eternal greed, take your pick.”
The earth being in balance, like any system, the water currents – it all makes sense to me, and I’ve read this before. The One Belt Road will only speed up our demise.
Thanks, Seer, for your post.
“A Theory of Ice Ages”
Maurice Ewing and William L. Donn
15 June 1956, Vol 123, Number 3207
This article is a preliminary report of new ideas related to the origin of glacial climates; it is based largely on observations made during the last 20 years. Glacial climates pose two problems: (i) the striking alternations during the Pleistocene epoch of glacial and interglacial stages and (ii) the even more striking change from the warm non- glacial climate, which prevailed generally from the Permian to the Pleistocene, to the cold and glacial conditions of the Pleistocene and Recent.
If it is difficult to answer the second question, it is even more difficult to solve both problems on the basis of a single theory. The present study (1) offers an explanation for the alternations in climate during the Pleistocene and proposes an explanation for the change from nonglacial to glacial climates.
Pleistocene Glacial and Interglacial Stages
“First we wish to develop the following principal points of the glacial-interglacial theory.
1) The melting of an Arctic ice sheet (such as exists at present) would increase the interchange of water between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, cooling the North Atlantic and warming the Arctic and making it ice-free, thus providing an increased source of moisture for the polar atmosphere.
2) Two factors would then favor the growth of glaciers: (i) increased precipitation over arctic and subarctic lands and (ii) changes in atmospheric circulation, the latter also resulting from the warmer Arctic and cooler Atlantic oceans.”
3) The lowering of sea level would greatly decrease the interchange of water between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, which, together with the cooling effect of surrounding glaciers, would reduce Arctic surface temperatures until abrupt freezing occurred. The fairly sudden reversal of conditions favorable to glacial development would terminate the growth of glaciers abruptly.
4) As continental glaciers waned, the sea level would rise, causing an increased transport of surface waters northward until the Arctic ice sheet melted once again, completing the cycle.
5) Temperature changes in the surface waters of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans are thus the causes of, rather than the consequences of, the waxing and waning of continental glaciers.”
Dr. Ewing is director of the Lamont Geological Observatory of Columbia University. Dr. Donn Observatory of Columbia U is a research associate at Columbia University and assistant professor of geology and meteorology at Brooklyn College.
If the above whets your appetite for more, get a copy of this paper and read on.
Pogohere – thank you for the very interesting post. Fascinating stuff!
Regarding what will happen in our world, I’d like to think that nations and governments matter, but I’m not sure they do any more. I’m not sure that geography or geopolitics matter either. What matters is not where resources are located, but who controls them. What matters is money and power.
In our world where the nine richest men have more combined wealth than the poorest 4 billion people, what determines our futures are the corporations that control governments and the individuals who control those corporations.
Unless we change things.
I’ve been reading Pepe’s stuff for a few years now.I like it. He is good at, Macro/ big picture stuff. He’s great on Pipelinestan issues as well. But I think he picks and chooses his ideas a little too freely at times .The result can be more like a collage at times than a Picasso. We are pushing real hard right now on Russia, China and Iran. Eurasian Integration Projects are clearly a threat to American dominance especially since we are undermining the dollar through unilateral sanctions and other tricks everywhere, up and down the line. This should be of great concern to our allies but they are already on board behind whatever decisions Our Government makes. They really don’t don’t have anywhere to go. Germany and Japan are totally integrated with our economy and Germany has been the biggest beneficiary in terms of economic and fiscal policy of NATO’s march eastward. They love it and they’ll buy Russia’s gas too. No problem. We won’t stop them. I believe Trump’s strategy is less aggressive than Clinton’s would have been. There really isn’t much of a choice. One thing I would add, Big Picture: China did not build the Great Wall as a tourist attraction. It was to keep out barbarians/foreigners, After the Boxer Rebellion they kicked out foreigners. Mao kicked out foreigners. They are fine with themselves, A guy I know who spends a lot of time in China and knows many very well, socially, says that the Chinese think the next 1000 years belong to them. . Forget a Project for a New Chinese Century, They expect the New Silk Road to deliver the goods big time and forever. They need Russian Gas to pull it off. They also like 5th and 6th generation Russian weapons but so apparently do everyone else.
The world reality is that the BRICS now account for 40 percent of the global economy…a bigger footprint than the G7 imperialist countries which are still trying to run the world…it’s simply not possible anymore…
Escobar goes into some nice details but the big picture trend is inevitable…the US lives off the rest of the world by dint of the dollar status as universal reserve currency…they can print as much as they want to cover any amount of debt, military spending etc…since there is a captive market for dollar demand…and any amount of dollars printed will be bought by the rest of the world…that’s ending…
The outcome is not really in doubt…the US sanctions wars on practically the entire world are the last, desperate gasp of a dying dinosaur…
Everybody knows they are getting a bad deal under this system…especially Russia and China, so they are in the forefront of remodeling how the world is going to work going forward…basically it will be better for everybody, since the model now is a continuation of colonialist parasitism…
For those interested in the topic of this article, I heartily recommend reading an Army War College paper from 2000. It’s longish, but gives MacInder, Spykman, and geopolitics itself a good debunking. http://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/pubs/parameters/articles/00summer/fettweis.htm
Great article, thanks!
Paul by the way, a couple of weeks back I revisited a post and sore your comment, thanks I think you made some valid points, I particularly thought it was encouraging of meaningful opposition to corporations having the rights of individuals, and your analogy about the regulation of the telephone companys back in the day, on the other hand, in an age of mass communication incorporate state propaganda the fact that more Americans cannot find it in their hearts to feel for the plight of Palestinians simply because they are ignorant of the fax in the matter is testimony to censorship has always been with us. I personally had no knowledge of the Liberty incident until about three months ago and I am a relatively avid reader, this discovery is due to independent journalism who support themselves directly through patrion or readit and probably other platforms, I think this is becoming normal, in certain ways this is a fortunate time to be alive. Anyway thanks again!
Many thanks Paul E. Merrill, this is the best analysis that I’ve seen, and it adds significantly to our conversation.
Your contribution is exactly why CN is a valuable resource…
You’re welcome, everyone. By the way, I’ve written on this topic myself. See https://relativelyfreepress.blogspot.com/2015/03/us-russia-and-ukraine-heartland.html
The legitimate grievance against the United States is that it has overplayed its hand, throwing sanctions to anyone not adhering to its rules. The power we have over the world banking system created a Putin who rose to challenge our unipolar world. For the sake of the world, and the United States, it is to be hoped that we can be made to climb down and join the rest of the world as real equals.
Escobar mention the principle of Westphalian sovereignty which is part of the UN Charter: : maybe it should be read aloud on the floor of a joint session of Congress and tweeted to our President. Maybe sent to our networks and newspapers. We created the UN Charter, we should abide by it
This is a fantastic read. I am wondering why the links to the Asia Times pieces don’t display correctly – hmmm – maybe it’s the new censorship.
I like to think that American Exceptionalism is nearing its end, but I don’t hold out hope it will happen soon enough. It appears they are doubling-down on the jingoism of late. Then again, that’s what desperation looks like.
Pepe is always able to get you thinking…
A major difference between the US and China is that the US tries to influence with heavy handed threats and coercion while the Chinese use flattery and assistance to help you see things their way. Russia under Putin acts like China but his predecessors were more of the heavy handed variety. In the end though American hubris and insufferability (from the last four presidents) has driven Russia and China together in a way that economic systems (communism) never could. The US is the past. We have frittered away so much of our wealth and international goodwill chasing phantom fears that were all well past their use by date decades ago. We have spent ourselves into penury. Not just because we have $22T in debt, but more importantly because we no longer have the economic engine to generate enough wealth to support $22T in debt and counting. Yeah, go ahead and print more money. Every dollar will be worth less and less.
Not to mention the gorilla in the room, the trillions of dollars going into our over-extended military, which doesn’t get us anything but the reputation as global terrorists and bullies. :(
Uh oh. I see that the two pieces were deleted. Lets try again:
Well, I had a comment here, agreeing and enlarging on Jeff’s, but it it gone. I’ve never had that happen before on CN. If CN did not do it, who did? Just asking.
It’s not ‘we’ that did all that, plenty of ‘us’ have been screaming for decades about foreign deaths, wars for profit, and looting of treasure BY the insiders. The elites did it, including buying the propaganda. ‘We’ always get stuck with their bill. I’d like a few necks stretched.
It’s fundamentally about expansionism. Expansionism is about growth: expansion of markets (lands for natural resources and outlets for over-production). Growth always provides a “skim” to the rulers, while motivating the masses with various forms of delayed gratification (heaven; the next political actions will address etc. etc.).
The West/US could have achieved “permanent” (nothing is really permanent- figure a longer duration here) control of Eurasia if it had not been so greedy. Short-term profit thinking resulted in disenfranchising the masses, which has led to various revolts (which have been addressed fairly effectively, until now, via overwhelming military force). China and Russia know that this is not the way; that is, as They enter into positions of increasing influence they are not going to be wielding clubs (the courting suitor isn’t going to look attractive wielding clubs): what happens in the longer-term is another story; when the model enters into a more “stable” mature mode it then starts feeling the inevitable pressures of greater sharing and the ruling class will look to protect Their system, their scheme of skimming (meet the new boss, same as the old boss).
Debt is based on perpetual growth. I long ago came to see “interest” as being a parallel to growth: that’s how the current economic system, global, operates; I see no significant deviation coming along (whether China, Russia or whoever/whatever). World growth flatlined back in 2008: well, it was 2008 when the US banking system finally couoldn’t hide it any longer. For the US it was 1972 that marked the highwater: Gold Standard jettisoned and US conventional oil production peaked. Since 2008 interest rates have been, effectively, below zero (for the majority of the western central banks). Banking parlor games have been in effect playing “hide the books:” such stupid notions as “good bank and bad bank,” and “quantitative easing.” Nothing new in the life cycle of empires: ALL empires rise and fall, and it’s quite well documented what happens with debt and currencies.
Always question the premise. And the premise that is always hidden from such questioning: growth is good/necessary. ANY call for growth is one that asks to set the path toward increasing debt and devaluation of currencies.
BINGO: “Not just because we have $22T in debt, but more importantly because we no longer have the economic engine to generate enough wealth to support $22T in debt and counting. Yeah, go ahead and print more money. Every dollar will be worth less and less.”
Generating wealth distributed in any equitable manner (e.g., recognizing the varying merit of various contributors, etc) is key to a sustainable economic model.
See: “Deflation In The Casino: Central Banks Play Their Last Chips To No Avail”
Originally published March 2016; Revised December 5, 2016
This is not your grandfather´s capitalism
A global $US short squeeze
Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP): a perverse incentive to hold non-productive yield free cash
Central banks approach end-game while fighting the last monetary war
Deflation today is a consequence of debt piled on more debt accompanied by failure to generate sufficient wealth, growth and employment resulting in an inability to service the debt. The dollar has risen against other currencies, not because it is strong, but because the lack of global economic growth has exposed the weakness of a petrodollar money-as-debt monetary system. The gaming of the monetary system by all the controlling players is the essence of 21st century capitalism. The failure of this capitalism will mark the end of the American century.
This would all be fine if we were still dealing with Mandarins and Tzars but we are not and it is hard to escape from the fear that having watched Baron Rothschild build a new Kingdom quite close to China, that we are simply watching the construction of ever more ‘private’ Unions, which will, of course, be run by hidden controllers.
“No wonder Exceptionalistan elites are starting to get the feeling of a silk rope drawn ever so softly, squeezing their gentle throats.” – Thank you for that closing Pepe. I needed that very satisfying visual.
Another excellent article from Escobar. I always appreciate his ability to summarize the huge geopolitical transformation that is under way. I also find the response of Western elites to be remarkable. Rather than work toward accommodation and cooperation they will bankrupt themselves in a futile attempt to maintain hegemony. Galbraith was correct when he said that those in power will bring about their total destruction rather than give up any part of their advantage.
I love the Galbraith sentiment – perfect.
A very long railway cannot support continental-scale trade and integration. That requires what does it now, 100,000-ton container ships in constant flow. It is a question of volume first, and of cost per container second. Ships are so far ahead it is absurd to compare.
China is developing the necessary commercial ports to use for this. That is the only real challenge, if there is one. That means the sea, the rim, for both the continent and its rivals. China’s real progress is on that.
However, the US and allies are the other end of that sea route. It can’t be maintained except by some level of cooperation. There can be no great game, not combined with the integration of world trade. That is a neocon fantasy, they promote as cover for their schemes to dominate with US state power to gain private profit.
I’m not an expert in logistics…but your comparison of ship vs rail sounds a little over the top…
This source gives typical modern railcar capacity of 125 tons, moving in trains of 100 cars or more…which gives 12,500 tons per train…so it takes just eight trains to match that 100,000 container ship…
What also needs to be considered is that ships only get your cargo part of the way to the destination…from the sea port [which are not that numerous for ships of that size] the freight needs to go by other means…that means cost…
A railway can get you much closer to the final destination…the issue of loading and unolading multiple times etc…
The ‘last mile’ now is mostly by truck, which is very problematic on many levels..including traffic, road costs for taxpayers, pollution etc…this mass migration to truck transport over the decades has been a capitalist strategy to decrease the costs of the big producers, since they can more easily dictate terms to small trucking outfits than to big rail operators…
Lots to consider here…
Exactly! Water-based shipping is the cheapest form of transport. But, the number one trade commodity is oil, and pipelines (something that Pepe is quite well versed in) are the real determinants of who has the greatest influence in Eurasia. The West’s game (US’s) was to assert control over the oil production in the middle east and to establish pipelines into Europe to displace Russia’s energy influence/dependencies. The fall of the Soviet Union was managed to produce a pliable Russia, but with Putin this did not happen. The Russiagate saga is all about lashing back at this (superficial elections meddling storyline is proving to be the fiction that it is).
One thing to keep in mind with regards to China’s rise is that it is due to US consumerism (and, of course, cheap energy). With US consumers now essentially a collapsed burro one has to ask just where China’s consumers are to come from. Careful if you say “China.” As it currently stands Chinese industries are debt-laden and are still pushed to produce growth (albeit at a significantly less frenetic pace- did anyone really understand what the projected 10% YoY demands meant?). The Chinese government has been trying to bring the countryside in from the cold (refer to the 10% YoY growth objectives), but that’s a HUGE countryside and there’s just no way industry is going to be able to absorb all the masses: the various ghost cities are a testament to this very thing- people that can afford to live in these cities are NOT there. Madison Avenue on one side, State propaganda on the other- BOTH are pitching the impossible (ruling classes’ pitch for their skimming operations).
ALL will come down to the essentials, eventually. There are but three current countries (nation states) that have a semblance of continued operation that approximates the shape of current affairs: Canada, US and Russia. All three have significant energy reserves and arable land. Again, keep in mind that I’m saying “approximate shape of the current affairs;” operations could continue with the outline of normalcy, but the growth projections/pitches would be completely gone: ruling class will put forth a rationing scheme under the sell of “for national security.” Europe will be spending dwindling wealth on energy and will have diminishing capacities to produce exportable items with which to pay for energy imports. China will differ little from Europe in this regard, though, with a close relationship with Russia, it’ll be able to keep afloat a bit longer. What we’re talking about here is the great unwinding of globalism (Russia & China’s actions cannot replace globalism). A clear product of this is the strong movements toward nationalism (both good and bad). Globalism could only happen with [positive] growth: endless mantra of “economies of scale.” Now that [positive] growth is pretty much gone we’re under contractionary forces [negative growth]: we now learn that we never thought that “economies of scale” could reverse. This points toward nationalism. A retreat if you must.
Ships only go where water can carry them. And only load/unload where ports can be built. There is a massive territory which is land-locked and directly under the BRI plan…. did you see this ? Rail can handle continuous containerized freight. What are you trying to say?
The Eurasian Integration Project , OBOR> One Belt One Road, and the SCO are also interested and planning on building interlocking highway systems as well and adding on so to speak , country by Country region by region. . I will also add that a benefit of global Warming for the Russians, China and Northern Euro ports is that the Northern Passage over Russia is open now most of the year , longer every year. China is building a huge Seaport on their Northern Border. Implications: South China Sea struggle, long term , is more about Oil and natural Gas than shipping lanes. The US wants it under the control of the US Navy and Western Big Oil of course. Not really our call without war and rockets and submerged missiles make the use of Naval Power problematic. This could be very much a part of a future shift in the balance of power internationally..
While the Chinese plan then implement for a long term infrastructure strategy for interconnected markets, we skip the planning piece and go instead for yet another drone base in yet another foreign country. Our long term strategy is apparently to blow up what ever the Chinese-Russia-Euro alliance builds. This has certainly been our expression of ‘defending our national interests’–the Kissinger-Brzezinski doctrine of endlessly repeating stupidity until we are completely bankrupt as a nation. When the global corporations abandon the USA for more vibrant and inherently stable infrastructure the USA empire can retire into its apparent destiny as the model for late 21st century failed states.
I hope I’m not expected to share Mr. Escobar’s article with others. While I think important points were made and one can link easily to more information, I did think my eyes were going to glaze over with all the jargon and post-Westphalian modal references. Which is to say I might well have missed his most salient points. I’m not intellectual enough to know for sure. :-)
TomG, You make an excellent point.
Indeed the Chinese agree as seen from this opinion piece in Global Times: http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1117108.shtml
The money quote is:
“Considering that sea transportation is comparatively cheap and safe, China must attach great importance to the construction of the south route of the Silk Road, that is, to connect the CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) with the Silk Road Economic Belt, and to make supporting the economic and social development of Pakistan as the top priority of the Silk Road strategy.”
“There are pros and cons to the development gap between eastern and western China. On the one hand, it poses a serious challenge to the government’s efforts to support the development of Xinjiang and Tibet and to eliminate poverty. On the other, it sustains China’s demographic dividend and provides a historical opportunity for the “second reform and opening up.” The vast central and western regions have got their advantages in terms of labor cost, land supply and natural resources. Therefore, on the basis of access to the Indian Ocean and China-Pakistan Railway, the Kashgar special economic zone, and other western towns are expected to become “inland ports” connecting the oceans, thus re-creating the Shenzhen miracle and becoming the engine of China’s second great opening up and development.”
In sum the land route goes from the Kashgar region of Xian in China through Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. In this way China becomes a two-ocean power in a way. But it is a long way to Kashgar from the rest of China even the western part and another long haul through Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. Can this work?
On the other hand, although transport via a land route across all of Eurasia by train is more expensive than by rail, rail is quicker and not as prohibitively expensive as air transport. Will it all work?
I believe MacKinder saw rail transport as the vehicle of Eurasian integration and felt that the trans-Siberian railway was the first attempt at it, if memory serves. Was he right?
In general the Belt and Road must not only be a good idea, it must make sense economically. Does it? Hope so because it holds out hope for the development of the Asian interior, including western China and for spreading China’s successful poverty alleviation and development model across Asia and even into Africa. Not to mention it spells the end of the unipolar world which is becoming a worse nightmare every day.
Geopolitics is endlessly fascinating as we see here again with thanks to Pepe Escobar. Now we hear of yet another geo-arrangement from Glenn Diesen. I havn’t read Mr. Diesen’s book but I don’t doubt that he offers up many insights for would be World Managers. Those managers, both in the past, and those yet to advise, have generally caused much serious chaos to the general populations affected by their thoughts, neither Henry Kissinger or Zbigniew Brzezinski have done America much good for their theories. I’m convinced that the American People are not now and never were, interested in any concept of Empire. We’ve been Marketed or Propagandized into a coordinated responses, usually an inappropriate ones. This time we actually have an opportunity to re-evaluate our recent lost history and rebuild better more appropriately eco-friendly local economies and to become a better World Neighbor or Partner as the Diplomats say.
A good previous article is here: https://consortiumnews.com/2016/09/07/old-cold-warriors-cool-to-new-cold-war/
“…we actually have an opportunity to re-evaluate our recent lost history and rebuild better more appropriately eco-friendly local economies and to become a better World Neighbor…”
Oh, how my hope lies in doing just this!
One thing I’ve observed again and again living beside the Amish, they are kind to those of us ‘outside their community’ and will help if any help is needed. Kindness and neighborliness go hand in hand–and they us show it can be done.
Another good thought.
BUT the future is no longer in our hands – it is in the hands of the Eurasian powers, China, Russia, Iran AND India. They have to do something new for humanity that goes beyond the old imperial ways to look at the world. Escobar AND Kissinger are both fond of citing Zheng He as evidence that genuine Empire as oppose to border disputes is not in the Chinese culture – or in their DNA as Xi puts it.
The best we can do here in the US is to make sure that the US ruling Elite does not blow us all up, the Samson option, as it tries to come to terms with the new realities. That means supporting all peaceful overtures to Russia and China. One example is the recent Helsinki Summit which deserves our support and had the approval of a majority of Americans. So did the idea of a follow-up. Unfortunately amongst organized progressives there was nary a word of praise or support with very few exceptions, one of them being CodePink which is much to be commended. Otherwise Trump Derangement Syndrome prevailed. And so we drift toward oblivion.
Good point about the ‘organized progressives’ and their increasing irrelevance to REAL progressivism…
The “future” is in Nature’s hands. And, hint, Nature is only offering up finite bounty (of which I hear no projections of anything other than the opposite to/of- whenever the word “growth” gets pitched you’ll know that it’s just more of the same-ole (Nature defying operation).
Heading off the Samson option by the wounded hegemon US Empire will be a major concern for all global players from now on. As well as factoring in the inevitable collapse of industrial civilization. There is not any way for all this to end well in sight at this time. Human extinction seems by far the most likely outcome for us. Too bad – we have probably screwed up our world, and ourselves, beyond the possibility of recovery.
I don’t believe we’ll become extinct. And, not matter how the future progresses Nature has a climate reset appointment scheduled. Think of the various, ancient cave drawings (and then there’s the odd ones that have things resembling rocket ships?). Then think of the various bunkers and the Seed Vault. For sure, however, we all ain’t going to survive this, though it’s remotely possible that the cryogenics crowd might (and wake up to find themselves in caves? yee-haw!).
Holy smokes> Nature didn’t create Radiation and we are all radiated now. More so daily. What about the growing mass of depleted nuclear waste. There’s a story we don’t touch. It’s not nature that did it. Nukes are the by product of man’s evil genius. And we aren’t even bringing out the heavy hardware anymore. But we’ve got it and so do the Russians. Now weapons are shifting ( Being Planned and models and prototypes built) that employ other fuel for fire. Like light, lasers, there are all sorts of crowd control weapons that use noise, heat waves, microwaves ,weather, yes, it’s true and let’s not forget AI. And we have to gain control of our upper atmosphere and space right away before the Soviets, I mean those damned Russians do. Don’t be too sanguine about the long term survival of our species. . We’ve killed off plenty of others and are killing off more every year. . Why not ourselves? Pockylips future,.?., Moving underground, growing food in high rises , etc. It’s not viable long term because of disease and plagues/epidemics. But hey, Whoever won the human race? Nobody ever got it the way they want yet. Maybe things will work out if humans can just quit breeding so much , and eating so much and what to do with the nights, the long, cold nights…..
Here is a more detailed look at how both Russia and China are putting a mechanism in place that will allow them to work around future trade problems with the United States:
The sanctions and tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration against Russia and China will become increasingly ineffective as the old unipolar global order continues to fade away.