Empire of Chaos: The Roving Eye Collection
By Pepe Escobar
I have been arguing that Washington's number one objective now is to prevent an economic integration of Eurasia that would leave the US as a non-hegemon, or worse still, an outsider.
We are slouching towards Cold War 2.0, which will be even more dangerous, because it will be unopposed—by the US government, Congress, the media, university circles and think tanks. And that brings us to the concept of Empire of Chaos.
Little did I know that later in life I would be following, on a daily basis, the machinery of the Empire of Chaos; total power founded on dissuasion, security obsession, absolute control—and the odd “humanitarian” bombing.
Now allow me to take you on a tour of Chaos-istan.
Washington cannot admit that its only real interest in Afghanistan is as a transit corridor for a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India (the TAPI pipeline).
The only other realistic possibility for the US/NATO to have a new supply route would be by courting Iran. Practically, that would mean a very long route from Turkey through Turkish/Iranian Kurdistan, Iran and then Kabul. A very convenient, shorter route would be from an Iranian port, say Bandar Abbas, and then into Afghanistan.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)—the Eurasian answer to NATO unites Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, with Iran and Pakistan.
This is what it's all about in Eurasia—the inexorable march of Asian integration.
What happens on the immense battlefield for the control of Eurasia will provide the ultimate plot line in the tumultuous rush towards a new, polycentric world order, also known as the New Great Game.
Our good ol' friend the nonsensical “Global War on Terror,” sports a far more important, if half-hidden, twin—a global energy war.
Never reading the words “Afghanistan” and “oil” in the same sentence is still a source of endless amusement for me.
The rising world order of the twenty-first century will be significantly determined by a quadrangle of BRIC countries plus the future Islamic triangle of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Add in a unified South America, no longer in thrall to Washington, and you have a global SCO-plus.
In Central Asia, some of the biggest stakes revolve around the monster Kashagan oil field with reserves of as many as 9 billion barrels.
It all comes down to which routes will deliver Kashagan's oil to the world.
Welcome, then, to Pipelineistan! Whether we like it or not, in good times and bad, it's a reasonable bet that we're all going to be Pipeline tourists. So, go with the flow.
Think of this as a door opening onto a future in which what flows where and to whom may turn out to be the most important question on the planet.
One key reason the Central Asians love to do business with China is that the Middle Kingdom, unlike both Russia and the United States, carries little modern imperial baggage. And of course, China will never carp about human rights or foment a color-coded revolution of any sort.
In the ever-shifting New Great Game in Eurasia, a key question—why Afghanistan matters—is simply not part of the discussion in the United States.
In part, this is because the idea that energy and Afghanistan might have anything in common is verboten.
Rest assured, nothing of significance takes place in Eurasia without an energy angle.
In the end, however, as in any game of high-stakes Pipelineistan poker, it all comes down to the top two global players. Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets: will the winner be Washington or Beijing?
The “prize”—from President Bill Clinton to Bush and now Obama—is still the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline, then known as TAP and now known as TAPI, with the inclusion of India - a key pipeline to bypass both Iran and Russia.
The pipeline is an absolutely key plank of Washington's Central Asia strategy.
Meanwhile, Balochistan, the biggest prize in the region remains totally under the radar of the frenetic US news cycle.
Balochistan has very attractive assets: natural wealth, scarce population, and a port, Gwadar, which is key for Washington's New Great Game in Eurasia Pipelineistan plans.
Washington is focused on Balochistan like a laser.
The New Great Game in Eurasia rules that Pakistan is a key pivot to both NATO and the SCO.
Balochistan de facto incorporates Pakistan as a key transit corridor to Iranian gas from the monster South Pars fields, and not to a great deal of the Caspian wealth of “gas republic” Turkmenistan.
The ideal Pentagon scenario is the US controlling Gwadar—in yet one more prime confluence of Pipelineistan and the US Empire of Bases.
Iran is world number two both in terms of proven oil reserves (11.2%) and gas reserves (15.7%), according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2008.
It goes without saying that the end of the petrodollar—which won't happen tomorrow, of course—means the end of the dollar as the world's reserve currency; the end of the world paying for America's massive budget deficits; and the end of an Anglo-American finance stranglehold over the world that has lasted since the second part of the 19th century.
The crucial fact remains that Iran is a key peon for Russia to manage its relationship with the US and Europe. No matter how nasty the overtones, all evidence points to “stability” at this vital artery in the heart of the New Great Game.
For China, a strategic alliance with Iran is above all about Pipelineistan, the Asian Energy Security Grid and the New Silk Road.
Washington may be reluctant to admit it, but in the New Great Game in Eurasia, the Tehran-Beijing axis spells out the future: multipolarity.
The New Great Game of the twenty-first century is always over energy and it's taking place on an immense chessboard called Eurasia.
If, in Asia, the stakes in this game are already impossibly high, the same applies to the “Euro” part of the great Eurasian landmass—the richest industrial area on the planet.
Europe desperately needs to get a handle on Central Asian energy resources, which is easy to say but has proven surprisingly hard to do.
Brussels, predictably, is in its usual multilingual policy mess. Most bureaucrats at its monster, directive-churning body, the European Commission, publicly bemoan the “pipeline war.”
Why is everyone so damn hooked on Central Asian oil and gas? “This is the place where there is oil and gas in abundance. It is not Arab, not Persian, not Russian, and not OPEC.”
Whatever Washington thinks, the Europeans know that energy independence from Russia is, in reality, inconceivable. Bottom line when it comes to natural gas: Europe needs everything.
Russia seems to have virtually guaranteed its status as the top gas supplier to Europe for the foreseeable future. But that brings us to Turkey, a key regional power for both the US and the EU.
The Turkish leadership draws ever closer to Iran, which provides 38% of Turkey's oil and 25% of its natural gas.
Pragmatically, most EU leaders know very well that they need excellent relations with Turkey to one day have access to the Big Prize, Iranian gas; and that puts Europe's energy and EU membership inclinations at loggerheads.
One of their key reasons to unleash the war on Iraq in 2003 was to seize control of its precious oilfields and thus shape a great deal of the New Great Game in Eurasia.
Instead of US Big Oil getting the lion's share, strategic competitors Russia and China turned out to be big winners.
Twenty-eight percent of the world's total proven oil reserves are in the Arab world. China badly needs this oil.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China will account for more than 40% of the increase in global oil demand up to 2030.
China will get increasingly more oil from Iraq starting from 2013 or 2014.
But it's the Iranian equation that's really complex.
From Beijing's point of view, both the US vs Iran conflict and the simmering US vs China strategic competition boil down to what could be called “escape from Hormuz and Malacca.”
China sees Kazakhstan as a key alternative oil supplier—with Pipelineistan linking Kazakh oilfields to Chinese refineries.
China's first transnational Pipelineistan adventure was the China-Kazakhstan oil link. But this does not detract at all from China-Russia Pipelineistan—in both oil and gas.
Meanwhile, China is accelerating moves to bypass high-intensity carbon-emitting technology. The country spends $9 billion a month on clean energy. The first affordable, global electric car is bound to be made in China.
Beijing's strategic priority has been to develop an extremely meticulous energy supply policy—with sources in Russia, the South China Sea, Central Asia, the East China Sea, the Middle East, Africa and South America. As masterly as China may be able to play Pipelineistan, it will stride ever more confidently into a green future.
Only the powerful pro-infinite war lobby in the US is capable of framing a first step towards a full nuclear agreement with Iran as a disaster. That includes the largely discredited pro-Iraq war New York Times.
“for the first time in all of human history mankind is politically awakened—that's a total new reality—it has not been so for most of human history.”
And then uninformed Americans keep asking themselves “Why do they hate us?”
Is there a strategy? Yes—infinite war; but the Pentagon won't allow it to be spelled out. It's been a long time since the immense, absurdly expensive, the-road-goes-on-forever American war obsession bore any relation whatsoever to politics and reality.
Future historians may well agree that the twenty-first century Silk Road first opened for business the day a crucial stretch of pipeline officially went into operation linking the fabulously energy-rich state of Turkmenistan (via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) to Xinjiang Province in China’s far west.
When the Bush administration’s armchair generals launched their Global War on Terror, this was not exactly what they had in mind.
In the New Great Game in Eurasia, China had the good sense not to send a soldier anywhere or get bogged down in an infinite quagmire in Afghanistan.
While the West has been slamming Iran with sanctions, embargos, and blockades, Iran has been slowly evolving as a crucial trade corridor for China—as well as Russia and energy-poor India.
Despite the simmering tensions between China, Russia, and the U.S., it’s too early to be sure just who is likely to emerge as the victor in the New Great Game in Central Asia.
Washington places all its chips on pipelines meant to bypass Russia and China antes up big time for its Central Asian future.
In a nutshell, if the unprecedented energy cooperation between Iran, Pakistan, and China goes forward, it will signal a major defeat for Washington in the New Great Game in Eurasia, with enormous geopolitical and geoeconomic repercussions.
NATO pledged to hand over security in Afghanistan to Afghans by the end of 2014. But, just in case, it also pledged to keep occupying it indefinitely.
NATO's self-described “mission” since 2001 has been to fight against “international terrorism.” Even low-level CIA operatives know there are no “al-Qaeda” in Afghanistan.
On the other hand, Pashtuns comprise 42% of Afghanistan's population.
The Pentagon/NATO “strategy” has been essentially to take out mid-level Taliban or guerrilla commanders. Problem is, most are Pashtun tribal leaders.
The bottom line: Afghanistan is nothing but a Western war against Pashtuns.
So a bunch of angry Pashtuns are in fact the ultimate threat to NATO and its global, non-stop expansionist drive from the Balkans to the former Soviet Union—instilling supreme fear in NATO's 36 divisions, 120 brigades, 11,000 tanks, 23,000 artillery pieces and 4,500 fighter jets (and that's only what's stationed in Europe).
Few in the West may know that Libya—along with Egypt—sits over the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer; that is, an ocean of extremely valuable fresh water.
So Yes, this war is a crucial water war. Control of the aquifer is priceless—as in “rescuing” valuable natural resources from the “savages.” This Water Pipelineistan—buried underground deep in the desert along 4,000 km—is the Great Man-Made River Project (GMMRP), which Gaddafi built for $25 billion without borrowing a single cent from the IMF or the World Bank (what a bad example for the developing world).
The amount of water is estimated by scientists to be the equivalent to 200 years of water flowing down the Nile.
Compare this to the French companies that control over 40% of the global water market. From shock doctrine to water doctrine.
No one knows who'll get the oil—and the natural gas—in the end. There's no business like war business.
Bin Laden was never charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as guilty of perpetrating 9/11; there was never any direct evidence. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney admitted that Bin Laden was not connected to 9/11.
It took Washington no less than 3,519 days since 9/11 to find Bin Laden “dead or alive,” only 240 kilometers east of the mountains of Tora Bora, his last confirmed location in December 2001.
It's in fact Khalid Sheikh Muhammad—arrested by Pakistani intelligence, and who will spend the rest of his life in Guantanamo—who has claimed total responsibility for 9/11; and he never accused Bin Laden of anything.
The whole reason for the US to invade Afghanistan in 2001 was to get Bin Laden “dead or alive.” He's now dead and in the bottom of the Arabian Sea. Yet the US won't leave Afghanistan, saying the war on al-Qaeda, as in “war on terror,” goes on forever.
NATO itself can be interpreted as a professional mercenary neo-colonial army, ready to intervene anywhere from Central Asia to Northern Africa.
Think of the new Libya as the latest spectacular chapter in the Disaster Capitalism series. Instead of weapons of mass destruction, we had R2P (“responsibility to protect”).
But the target is the same: regime change. And the project is the same: to completely dismantle and privatize a nation that was not integrated into turbo-capitalism; to open another (profitable) land of opportunity for turbocharged neoliberalism.
Gaddafi's chief of protocol defected to Paris in October 2010. That's when the whole regime change drama started to be incubated.
Most estimates place oil reserves at 46.4 billion barrels.
The Russians—from Gazprom to Tafnet—had billions of dollars invested in Libyan projects; NATO will prevent them from doing business in Libya.
Increasing numbers of experts agree that Asia is now leading the way for the world, even as it lays bare glaring gaps in the West’s narrative of civilization.
Europe now in deep financial crisis will be “in decline” as long as it remains inextricably intertwined with and continues to defer to “the West”- that is, Washington.
The new American century was swiftly throttled in three hubris-filled stages: 9/11 (blowback); the invasion of Iraq (pre-emptive war); and the 2008 Wall Street meltdown (casino capitalism).
The facts on the ground spell out something that goes well beyond the decline of the West: it’s the decline of a system in the West that, in these last years, is being stripped to its grim essence.
In a landscape in which politics is being reduced to a (broken) mirror reflecting finance, and in which producing and saving have been superseded by consuming, something systemic comes into view.
“the center cannot hold”—and it won't either.
Capitalism was “civilized” thanks to the unrelenting pressure of gritty working-class movements and the ever-present threat of strikes and even revolutions.
A complex social contract was forged, and it involved capital making concessions. No more.
That system started breaking down as soon as neoliberalism became the only show in town.
If neoliberalism is the victor for now, it’s because no realist, alternative developmental model exists, and yet what it has won is ever more in question.
Though the West unified the world—from neocolonialism to globalization—that shouldn't imply it’s bound to rule forever in material or intellectual terms.
“Isolated” Iran happens to be a supreme matter of national security for China.
Iran already supplies no less than 15% of China’s oil and natural gas. It is now more crucial to China, energy-wise, than the House of Saud is to the U.S.
That Iranian isolation theme only gets weaker when one learns that the country is dumping the dollar in its trade with Russia.
As for India, an economic powerhouse in the neighborhood, its leaders also refuse to stop buying Iranian oil.
War porn took the limelight on the evening of September 11, 2001, when the George W Bush administration launched the “war on terror”- a subtle legitimization of state terror against, predominantly, Muslims.
The leak of the 2005 Downing Street memo confirmed that the Bush administration wanted to take out Iraq's Saddam Hussein by linking Islamic terrorism with (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction. So, as the memo put it, “The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
Iraq may indeed be seen as the Star Wars of war porn.
It was Allawi who “asked” the Pentagon to bomb Fallujah. In Fallujah there was no distinction between civilians and guerrillas
Fallujah was reduced to rubble, at least 200,000 residents became refugees, and thousands of civilians were killed, in order to “save it”.
Washington was a very enthusiastic supplier of chemical weapons to Saddam, who used them to gas thousands of Kurds.
In the US, most of the population was already immune to war porn when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke out in the spring of 2004. Everybody I spoke to either attributed the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners to “a few bad apples,” or defended it on patriotic grounds.
When the bogus links between al-Qaeda and the non-existent WMDs were debunked, Washington began to justify the invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq via... R2P; “responsibility to protect” Iraqis from Saddam, and then to protect Iraqis from themselves.
General Stanley McChrystal admitted, bluntly, “We've shot an amazing number of people” who were not a threat to the US or Western civilization.
Expect to see this war porn extravaganza celebrated in an orgy of upcoming, joint Pentagon-Hollywood blockbusters.
From the minute a UN resolution imposed a no-fly zone over Libya under the cover of R2P, it became a green card to regime change. Plan A was always to capture and kill Gaddafi. That was the Obama administration official policy. There was no plan B.
Only the hopelessly naïve may have swallowed the propaganda of NATO's “humanitarian” 40,000-plus bombing which devastated Libya's infrastructure back to the Stone Age.
As for the concept of international law, it was left lying in a drain as filthy as the one Gaddafi was holed up in. Saddam at least got a fake trial in a kangaroo court before meeting the executioner (he ended up on YouTube as well).
Syria is yet another declination of war porn narrative. If you can't R2P it, fake it.
Over a decade after the beginning of the war on terror, this is what the world is coming to; a lazy, virtually worldwide audience, jaded, dazed and distracted from distraction by distraction, helplessly hooked on the shabby atrocity exhibition of war porn.
The multitrillion-dollar global question remains: Is the emergence of BRICS a signal that we have truly entered a new multipolar world?
There are four main reasons: the slow erosion of the US dollar, the “paralysis of the European project,” Asia rising and the decrepitude of the United Nations.
There’s much to be done. The reform of the UN Security Council, and above all, the reform of the Bretton Woods system, especially those two crucial institutions, the IMF and the World Bank.
The BRICS know perfectly well that Washington and the European Union (EU) will never relinquish control of the IMF and the World Bank.
BRICS cohesion, to the extent it exists, centers mostly around shared frustration with the Masters of the Universe-style financial speculation that nearly sent the global economy off a cliff in 2008.
For the moment the key problem they face is this: they don't have an ideological or institutional alternative to neoliberalism and the lordship of global finance.
Increasingly, the BRICS are betting on the yuan as their monetary alternative to a devalued US dollar.
Washington won't apply its sanctions to BRICS members because these days, economically speaking, the US needs them more than they need the U.S.
Which brings us to the dragon in the room: China.
China is smack in the middle of a tectonic, structural shift from an export/investment model to a services/consumer-led model.
hey have also left the country’s richest 1% controlling 40%-60% of total household wealth.
There is a new, growing Great Wall of Mistrust between the US and China.
Influential Chinese see their country’s development model providing “an alternative to Western democracy and experiences for other developing countries to learn from.
Put it all in a nutshell and you have a Chinese vision of the world in which a fading US still yearns for global hegemony and remains powerful enough to block emerging powers—China and the other BRICS—from their twenty-first century destiny.
Now, how does the US political elite see that same world?
Turkey can help Europe, and so the U.S., in far more practical ways to solve certain global energy problems by facilitating its “unimpeded access across the Caspian Sea to Central Asia’s oil and gas.”
America’s best shot is to try to bring Turkey and Russia into the fold.
Against the guns and the gunboats, the missiles and the drones, there is economic power.
BRICS members China and Russia have cordilleras of cash. South America is uniting fast.
Iran is planning to sell all its oil and gas in a basket of currencies, none dollars.
Even Australia may eventually refuse to be forced into a counterproductive trade war with China.
So this twenty-first century world of ours is shaping up right now largely as a confrontation between the U.S./NATO and the BRICS.
The danger: that somewhere down the line it turns into a Full Spectrum Confrontation. Because make no mistake, unlike Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi, the BRICS will actually be able to shoot back.
Bashar al-Assad hath martially spoken - blaming the Syrian civil war on “terrorists” and “Western puppets.”
Facts on the ground though spell that Assad is not going anywhere anytime soon.
This whole thing started just as the US$10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline had a chance to be implemented. This would represent a major economic boost to an independent Syria, an absolute no-no as far as Western interests are concerned.
There are two fronts to be carefully observed in the near future. So let's follow the gold, and let's follow the uranium.
That's where Mali fits in - beautifully. Mali - along with Ghana - accounts for up to 8% of global gold production. So if you're desperate for the genuine article -physical gold - you've got to control Mali. Imagine all that gold falling into the hands of... China.
Now follow the uranium. Niger is the world's fourth largest producer of uranium. Its biggest customer is - surprise! - France.
The uranium mines in Niger happen to be concentrated in the northwest of the country, very close to the Mali border.
Gold accounts for roughly 70% of reserves held by the US and Germany - and more or less the same for France and Italy.
But China's percentage of gold among its whopping US$3.2 trillion reserves is only 2%.
What Beijing actually wants is to get rid of the US dollar peg. For that to happen, it needs vast gold reserves.
Northwest Niger is the site of all those uranium mines supplying the French nuclear industry. And it's very close to Mali's gold reserves. Imagine all that gold in an “unstable” area falling into the hands of... Chinese companies.
Beijing's moment of finally having enough gold to dump the US dollar peg would be at hand.
What is really happening in Europe?
The EU project was never about a political ''union'' - but essentially about the euro as a common currency. No wonder the most important mechanism of European unification is the European Central Bank.
Abandon all hope of European politicians asking their disgruntled citizens about a real European union. Does anybody still want it? And exactly under what format?
Absurdistan will become a model to Europe and the world—where 1% of the population will control 99% of the national wealth.
All hell is breaking loose in the EU.
Brussels and Berlin simply don't care about a Plan B; it's austerity or bust.
The message from Brussels, Berlin and Frankfurt remains the same: if you don't cut, cut and cut, you're on your own.
Germany, for its part, has only a plan A. This means closer integration with Eastern Europe (and further on down the road, Turkey). A free trade deal with the US. And more business with Russia - energy is key - and the BRICS in general.
What Europe is living today is a direct consequence of the 1990s, when financial capital hijacked the European model and calcified it under neoliberalism.
The financial Masters of the Universe used the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis to turbo-charge the political disintegration of the EU via a tsunami of salary cuts, job precariousness for the young, the flattening of pensions and hardcore privatization of everything.
Most of Europe is watching, impotently, the death of the welfare state,that runs parallel to Europe slouching towards global irrelevance.
The Fall of the House of Europe might turn into a horror story beyond anything imagined by Poe - displaying elements of (already visible) fascism, neo-Dickensian worker exploitation and a wide-ranging social, civil war.
The rape of Iraq is the biggest, man-made humanitarian disaster of our times.
There was never a “project”; only a dizzying maze of lies—including a posteriori justifications of bombing the Greater Middle East into “democracy.”
After over 1 million Iraqis killed directly or indirectly by the invasion and occupation, the maze of lies still engulf us all like a giant Medusa.
With the fall of the USSR, Washington was free to develop Full Spectrum Dominance. Those who did not fully abide were branded “rogue states”
But then, slowly but surely, the Global South began to rise.In parallel, China was booming.
Fast forward to China now helping to develop Africa.
Which brings us to the BRICS, created as a group in 2009. They are “allowing a breath of fresh air to oxygenate the stagnant world of neoliberal imperialism.”
They are already evolving as a powerful geopolitical actor stressing multipolarity. They are bound to be joined by the next BRICS—the MIST (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey). And don't forget Iran.
The fall of neoliberalism will be bloody—and it will take time.
What is definitely known by now by the best minds in Asia, Africa and Latin America, is that there was never an end of history
The Global South's intellectual liberation from the North is finally on. And it's irreversible.
Margaret Thatcher was in power from May 4, 1979 to November 28, 1990. Her path to 10 Downing Street was mostly paved by millions of pounds courtesy of businessman hubby Denis.
She was the ultimate frugal housewife responsible for creating a nation of homeowners. If you were in a council tenancy you could - for the first time ever - buy your home at a huge discount, and run straight into mortgage hell.
During the Thatcher 1980s median household income grew by 26%. But for families at the bottom 10%, it grew by only 4.6%. Child poverty almost doubled—reaching 3.3 million. Thatcher even privatized milk for children. The number of poor pensioners exploded to 4.1 million.
She was an enthusiastic supporter of apartheid; branded Nelson Mandela as a “terrorist”; detested “alien cultures,” was so cozy with Chilean mass murderer Augusto Pinochet that she hosted him when he was trying to flee.
Thatcherism's trademark class struggle - Divide and Rule the disparate tribes - ended up fragmenting Britain's social tissue beyond repair.
For Marx the end of history was a classless society. How romantic. Instead, in the second half of the 20th century, capitalism married Western liberal democracy till death do them part. Well, death is now upon them both.
Yet the PR was so good that this is what legions in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America aspire to.
But it's still not enough for the geoeconomic Masters of the Universe.
We have history repeating itself as cloning; neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics beating the West in its industrialization game while at the same time repeating the same mistakes, from the mindless excesses of an acquisition mentality to no respect for the environment.
Superimposed, we have the politics of fear - which essentially rules Fortress America and Fortress Europe; fear of The Other, which can be occasionally Asian but most of the time Islamic.
What we don't have is a political/philosophical vision of the future. Or a historical political program; political parties are only worried about winning the next election.
Financialization's ultimate goal is unlimited accumulation of profit - a system where the wealthy get much wealthier and the poor get literally nothing.
Both Left and Right have submitted to the original myth of capitalist thinking that makes Man an egoist by nature.
How could the institutionalized Left have abandoned the ambition of a just, decent society - the neoliberal wolf has wreaked havoc among the socialist sheep.
When we mix the obsession with regime change in Iran; the fear of Western elites with the ascension of China; young generations who want political participation but without being constrained by religious fundamentalism; Muslim resentment against what is perceived as a New Crusade against them; the growth of neo-fascism in Europe; and the advanced pauperization of the Western middle class, it's hard to think about love.
The larger-than-life geopolitical-economic question of our time, arguably, is not Syria, Iran, or even NSA spying. It's all about China; how on Earth the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will be successful in tweaking Beijing's economic growth model, and how China will manage its now slowed-down ascension.
There are plenty of Pipelineistan gambits to implement, and a lot of mineral resources to be exploited. And, crucially - considering there's also the prospect of an Afghan revival as a privileged bridge between Central, East and South Asia. Not to mention speeding up China's land access to both Europe and the Middle East.
China has now established strategic partnerships with all five Central Asian “stans.”
Turkmenistan's economy now virtually depends on natural gas exports to China.
Beijing's ultimate strategy is to use its Turkmenistan leverage to extract better gas deals from Gazprom.
Observing all this frenzy, we have to come back to the ultimate adage of the times; while the (Washington) dogs of war bark, the (Chinese) caravan does deals.
Every sentient being with a functional brain perceives the possibility of ending the Wall of Mistrust between Washington and Tehran as a win-win situation.
Everybody knows why the Israeli right will fight an US-Iran agreement like the plague—as Iran as an “existential threat”is the ideal pretext to change the debate from the real issue; the occupation/apartheid regime imposed on Palestine.
Everybody now knows that shadow master Bandar bin Sultan was appointed Director of National Intelligence by his uncle, Saudi King Abdullah.
The House of Saud's “policy” on Syria is regime change, period, and imprinting Saudi will on Syria, Iraq, in fact the whole, mostly Sunni Levant.
As for the Bigger Picture, the real “international community” may always dream that one day Washington elites will finally see the light and figure out that the US-Saudi strategic alliance makes absolutely no sense.
China has had enough. The (diplomatic) gloves are off. It's time to build a “de-Americanized” world. It's time for a “new international reserve currency” to replace the US dollar.
Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
After the Wall Street-provoked financial crisis, after the war on Iraq, a “befuddled world,” and not only China, wants change.
With no foreseeable social, economic and political progress the US slide is as inexorable as China, bit by bit, spreading its wings to master 21st century post-modernity.
In the wider world, Turkish foreign policy is now on overdrive. And inevitably, it's all related to energy.
The question is what does Ankara want from Washington for so eagerly supporting a US-Iran normalization?
The key is Iraqi Kurdistan. Ankara wants Washington's blessing for the oil pipeline from northern Iraq, bypassing Baghdad.
That's just another instance that everything of consequence happening in Southwest Asia nowadays involves Iran.
Turkey's number one foreign policy aim is to position itself as a critical energy crossroads for any oil and natural gas coming from Russia, the Caspian, Central Asia and even the Middle East to Europe.
Faced with tremendous political, economic and security barriers, Turkey may only fulfill its wish of becoming the privileged East-West energy transit corridor with Iran by its side.
Turkey also welcomes a comprehensive agreement with Iran. Turkey's trade with Iran has nowhere to go but up.
More than 2,500 Iranian companies have invested in Turkey. Ankara cannot possibly support Western sanctions; it makes no business sense.
Logically the endgame would be no more sanctions in exchange for close supervision of Iran's nuclear program.
Tehran wants - and badly needs - investment in its energy industry (at least $200 billion) and other sectors of the economy. Western Big Oil is dying to invest in Iran.
For Western turbo-capitalism this is a must; a market of 80 million largely well-educated people, with fabulous location, and swimming in oil and gas.
Whatever the spin in Washington, there's no possibility of a serious solution for Syria without involving Iran.
If a real consequence of the current shift is that Washington will not fight wars for Saudi or Israeli sake anymore, that's already a monumental game changer.
And Washington could always march towards regime change in Tehran led by the next White House tenant after 2016.
It's fair to argue Putin has identified the Big Picture in the whole chessboard, which spells out an increasing Russia-China strategic partnership as crucial as an energy-manufacturing synergy with Europe; and most of all the titanic fear of US financial elites of the inevitable, ongoing process centered on the BRICS-conducted drive to bypass the petrodollar.
The BRICS are already at work on their alternative to the IMF and the World Bank.
A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass—at the expense of the United States.
Now, it looks like the ultimate Pipelineistan deal, worth $1 trillion and 10 years in the making, will be inked as well. In it, the giant, state-controlled Russian energy giant Gazprom will agree to supply the giant state-controlled China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) with 3.75 billion cubic feet of LNG a day for no less than 30 years.
That’s the equivalent of a quarter of Russia’s massive gas exports to all of Europe.
If you want to know why no key country in Asia has been willing to “isolate“ Russia in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis in defiance of the Obama administration, look no further than Pipelineistan.
And then, talking about anxiety in Washington, there’s the fate of the petrodollar to consider, or rather the payment for the Gazprom-CNPC deal not in petrodollars but in Chinese yuan.
Along with it goes the future possibility of a push, led again by China and Russia, towards a new international reserve currency that would supersede the dollar.
For Beijing especially, it’s a win-win situation. After all, between energy supplied across seas policed and controlled by the US Navy and steady, stable land routes out of Siberia, it’s no contest.
Don't think that this is the death knell of Western capitalism, however, just the faltering of that reigning economic faith, neoliberalism, still the official ideology of the United States, the overwhelming majority of the European Union, and parts of Asia and South America.
China has proven that there is a result-oriented alternative to the Western “democratic” capitalist model for nations aiming to be successful.
Keep in mind that China is about to become and remain the number one global economic power, a position it enjoyed for 18 of the past 20 centuries.
But don't tell London, they still believe that US hegemony will last, well, forever.
The recent flurry of China-Russia energy and trade agreements, an essential part of their strategic partnership; the progressive integration and concerted economic/financial strategy of the BRICS; and even the slow moving process of Latin American integration all point towards a multipolar world.
Now for the all-encompassing Iranian angle, because the whole drama, as usual, is mostly about “containment” of Iran.
When everything fails - to the tune of trillions of dollars - the neocon playbook always resets to default; regime change.
It's no secret in the Levant that ISIS Men in Black were trained in 2012 by US instructors at a secret base in Safawi, so they would later fight as Western-approved “rebels” in Syria.
Sunnis will keep accusing Shi'ites of being Iranian pawns, and Shi'ites will keep accusing Sunnis of being the House of Saud's fifth column.
The US government will keep weaponizing Sunnis in Syria against Shi'ites and (perhaps) conducting soft “targeted military strikes” for Shi'ites against Sunnis in Iraq. Welcome to Divide and Rule run amok.
The BRICS Development Bank will be not only BRICS-oriented, but invest in infrastructure projects and sustainable development on a global scale.
With extra funding especially from Beijing and Moscow, the new institution could leave the World Bank in the dust.
Way beyond economy and finance, this is essentially about geopolitics - as in emerging powers offering an alternative to the failed Washington Consensus.
The strategy also happens to be one of the key nodes of the progressively solidified China-Russia alliance, recently featured via the gas “deal of the century” and at the St. Petersburg economic forum.
Putin’s writing off $36 billion in Cuban debt could not have had a more
meaningful impact all across Latin America.
It’s the BRICS's strategy that is pointing the way further on down the road. And still the multipolar wheel keeps rolling along.
In Europe, everything hinges on Germany. The key debate in Berlin is how to position itself geopolitically bypassing the US. And the answer, lies in a strategic partnership with Russia.
A specter haunts the fast-aging “New American Century”: the possibility of a future Beijing-Moscow-Berlin strategic trade and commercial alliance.
The $400 billion “gas deal of the century,” signed by Putin and the Chinese president represents just the beginning of a turbocharged, energy-based strategic alliance between the two countries.
The SCO is slowly but surely shaping up as the most important international organization in Asia. It’s already clear that one of its key long-term objectives will be to stop trading in US dollars.
In the meantime, think of China as a magnet for a new world order in a future Eurasian century. The same integration process Russia is facing seems increasingly to apply to India and other Eurasian nations, and possibly sooner or later to a neutral Germany as well.
Place your bets soon. They’ll be called in by 2025.