America’s New Reality: The Second Cold War Has Already Begun

Posted: February 26, 2012 in Geopolitics

“America is now the only global superpower, and Eurasia is the globe’s central arena. Hence, what happens to the distribution of power on the Eurasian continent will be of decisive importance to America’s global primacy and to America’s historical legacy.” ~ Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard

Dr. Brzezinski, probably best known today for being the father of Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, is also considered the father or American grand imperial strategy in Central Asia.  In his text, The Grand Chessboard, the good doctor explains the advantages of a post-Cold War, post-Soviet Union Central Asian landmass dominated by the world’s last hegemonic power, the United States of America.

The rationale behind this need to dominate Central Asia is clear.  It was clear in 1998 (when the work was published) that with the Balkanization of Europe and Asia through the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the continued consolidation of power in Europe under the auspices of the European Union, and the continued development of China’s economic and military power, that the 21st Century was not going to be dominated by a bipolar arrangement, where two super powers aligned against each other and all the minor actors in the world chose a side.  The 21st Century was shaping up to be a multi-polar demonstration, where the United States would be competing with multiple centers of power for the only thing that really matters: resources.  Yes, power matters, money matters, military strength matters, but only to the extent that those things increase your ability to access and harvest resources.  Brzezinski explains how, geostrategically, Central Asia is important because it was sort of the crux of two of the world’s three largest power centers, and was axial to the world’s primary resources, including oil.  North America, for example, was already dominated by the United States.  Ditto for South America.  No one’s sweating Antarctica or Australia.  Europe, Asia, and Africa were where the game would play out.  According to Dr. Brzezinski’s thinking, not only would controlling Central Asia give a nation access to the resources they would need to maintain power, but would also position that nation strategically to prevent the rise of any rival (he labeled these nations “Eurasian challengers”) that could compete for the same resources on any kind of global scale.

Where does that leave us today?  I think its safe to say that our interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia have increased since Dr. Brzezinski penned his book.  And I think the title of his work–The Grand Chessboard–helps us understand that there is far more going on in U.S. foreign policy than the public in this country realizes, certainly more than the government or mainstream media care to explain.  After all, Dr. Brzezinski is playing chess in his tale.  He is not playing checkers.  Chess is a game of immense strategy, where victory is plotted dozens of moves ahead and players often make short-term decisions that don’t seem advantageous, only to reveal much later how their sacrifices put them in a position to win.  Its a game, incidentally, from which this blog–American Endgametakes its name.  And if we make the mistake of believing that the United States government–or any of the other actors around the world–is playing checkers, we will miss the point of what is happening.

Consider the two wars we’ve fought in Iraq.  Both conflicts were different in cause.  We can see how the invasion of a foreign state is different than the application of a preemptive doctrine.  However, the two wars worked together in a fascinating way.  The ultimate accomplishment of the first Gulf War was the containment of a former ally nation (Saddam Hussein’s Iraq) which no longer served U.S. interests and a legitimate excuse to inject U.S. troops in the Middle East.  Recall that the United States stayed in the region after the war, complete with air bases and everything.  The second war was clearly crafted to finish the coup against Iraq and–when combined with the war in Afghanistan–went a long way toward meeting Dr. Brzezinski’s dual goal of accessing resources and preventing the rise of rival powers.  After all, containing Iran and having access to the oil-based resources of the Caspian Sea are both long-term interests of the United States.  The current escalation of hostilities with Iran represents the U.S.’ metaphorical attempt to capture the opponent’s queen.  Iran represents the most powerful non-aligned nation in the region, and therefore the only real threat in the Middle East to U.S. hegemony in the area.

There is a problem, though.  The United States isn’t playing chess against Iran.  The United States is playing against China and our old friends, the Russians. AE plans to delve into this topic more deeply in the coming days and weeks, but for today, understand this one thing: the United States, when it comes to resources, is in a fight for its life.  As I said before, don’t miss the point of what’s going on here.  The United States isn’t trying to control the world’s oil supply just so secret cabals of oil execs can get rich.  We’re doing it so our nation can survive the 21st Century.  We’re doing it because Russia and China have decided that this period of American dominance needs to come to an end.  Currently these two nations are actively engaged in undermining American hegemony in the most effective way possible: by attacking the U.S. Dollar.

I’ll give you a preview of where we go from here with this topic: How are we able to maintain a $1.3 trillion deficit year after year?  Yes, we borrow money.  Which nations have a large enough economy to support our spending habit?  Yes, China comes to mind.  Wouldn’t we be in trouble if China stopped buying our debt?  People have been saying that forever.  Well, is it happening?  Yes, it finally is.  Those who research the topic will find China is slowly positioning itself to divulge itself of U.S. Treasury bonds.  The fact that Russia and China are signing bilateral currency agreements–through which the use of the USD as a reserve currency is abandoned–should be particularly concerning to all of us.  Ultimately, we will find that there is more going on here than meets the eye, and those who believe we are sitting in the catbird seat might not see the checkmate coming until the game is already over.

Cheery Sunday.

~ DS

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