America’s Plans and Geopolitics

18:27, 23 iulie 2019 | Actual | 255 vizualizări | Nu există niciun comentariu Autor:

Although the term geopolitics was introduced in political theories at the end of the nineteenth century, the study of the discipline itself was considered fundamental only after the Second World War. Named at its origins as “geographic policy,” geopolitics brings into focus the geographic, spatial factor, seen as essential underlying international strategies and policies.

In the contemporary era, geopolitics became synonymous with great strategies and it is very closely related to political realism. Its principles were followed by all of America’s major strategists, including Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Colin Gray or George Friedman. In 2015, George Friedman, for example, said, “the overwhelming geopolitical interest of the United States for over a century in World War I and II and in the Cold war was the relationship between Germany and Russia because united, they may be the only force that can threaten us and we must be sure this will not happen.” [1] Likewise, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in his book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives that despite numerous major policy mutations that took place on the “chessboard” of the world at the end of the second millennium, “the power in Eurasia remains the central concern for America’s ability to exercise their global supremacy.” [2]

Friedman or Brzezinski’s statements may seem surprising at first glance, but in reality they accurately reflect the basic principles of geopolitics. Therefore, given the particular relevance of these principles in American politics, I will briefly highlight some of the fundamentals of geopolitics. First of all, it is crucial to understand that geopolitics is a science, a method of analysis, a political mathematics. The one who stated the basic axioms of this science for the first time was Halford Mackinder (1861-1947), a scholar and political expert. His fundamental model underpinned all subsequent geopolitical and geostrategic calculations. In 1904, Mackinder published the famous article The Geographical Pivot of History [3], in which he noted that by the arrangement of the continents and the oceans one might consider there is a kind of central continental pivot of the world, which he calls Heartland and which corresponds to Eurasia area. Mackinder notes that through the locations of the countries, they can develop mainly two types of military power: continental power and maritime power. Geopolitics shows that the two types of power are in permanent competition for supremacy. The central pivot area, however, has the advantage that it is much harder to access by sea power. Hence the fundamental principle of geopolitics that is, after Mackinder, that who holds control over the central pivot holds the key to achieving global hegemony. Fourteen years later, in 1919, Mackinder explained in a more elaborate paper that in order to control the central continental area, the most sensitive area is Eastern Europe. He summarized his principles in the following statements:

Whoever dominates Eastern Europe dominates the Heartland;

Whoever dominates Heartland controls the World. [4]

Let us note that in the recent history (after 1900) the largest maritime power has become the United States (allied with the United Kingdom), and the Eurasian continental power was divided into two main poles: Germany and Russia. At the end of the 19th century, Mackinder was aware of the danger of Eurasian consolidation, that is, alliance between Germany and Russia. It is worth noting that this alliance was actually made in August 1939 by the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, which aroused a strong concern and a reaction of adversity from the sea power (Atlanticist Alliance). As George Friedman pointed out, the United States did everything to destroy this alliance. In this sense, it is significant that—as military historians [5] noted—the United States and the United Kingdom applied in the Second World War a tactic that led (challenged) Germany and the Soviet Union to destroy each other, although it could have intervened to help Russia.

Based on Mackinder’s geopolitical principles, political theories later found that the main continental area (Heartland/Eurasia) could be controlled by dominating not only Eastern Europe but also Rimland (meaning the land between shores), that is, the strip connecting Europe, Africa and Asia. For geopoliticians, this area has a highly strategic stake, being the largest, the most inhabited and the richest of all possible land combinations.

Nicholas Spykman, former director of the Institute of International Studies at the University of Yale, followed in Mackinder’s footsteps and continued to develop the principles of geopolitics. It is he who introduced the concept of balance of power that became a foundation of geopolitics. In his book, The Geography of Peace, Spykman also synthesizes geopolitics, paraphrasing Mackinder:

Whoever dominates Rimland area dominates Eurasia;

Whoever dominates Eurasia controls the destinies of the World. [6]

It is worth noting that, during the Cold war, Spykman’s theory was applied by the United States as part of the “containment” strategy of the Soviet Union. Most armed conflicts occurred in the Rimland area: the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the Israeli-Arab conflicts, the Russian-American proxy war in Afghanistan, etc. Also, as I will describe in detail, US strategists planned immediately after the Cold War an invasion of seven Middle East countries (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Sudan and Somalia), also part of the Rimland area.

Colin Gray, director of the University of Reading’s Strategic Studies Center, highlights that “from Harry Truman to George Bush, the overall view of US national security was explicitly geopolitical and directly pursued Mackinder’s core theory. Mackinder’s relevance for isolation of occupying Soviet Union in the Cold War was so obvious that it is almost similar to a cliché.” [7]

Zbigniew Brzezinski, as well, considered Eurasia the main area of concern for all the foreign policy strategies he conceived while working in the Pentagon, constantly warning of the advantages (dangerous to America) that Heartland has over the west. In this respect, his works Game Plan: A Geostrategic Framework for the Conduct of the U.S.-Soviet Contest [8] and The Grand Chessboard. American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives [9] are significant. In this second book, published in 1997, Brzezinski made a comparison between the power the United States gained after the unipolar moment and that of the old empires that dominated the world. Focused on geopolitical considerations, its description is triumphalist, but very realistic:

”In contrast to previous empires, the scope and pervasiveness of American global power today are unique. Not only does the United States control all of the world’s oceans and seas, but it has developed an assertive military capability for amphibious shore control that enables it to project its power inland in politically significant ways. Its military legions are firmly perched on the western and eastern extremities of Eurasia, and they also control the Persian Gulf.  American vassals and tributaries, some yearning to be embraced by even more formal ties to Washington, dot the entire Eurasian continent. American global supremacy is woven by an elaborate system of alliances and coalitions that literally span the globe”. [10]

Here is also a transposition in geopolitical language of strategies correlated with NATO’s activity during the Cold War and beyond. According to analyst Srdja Trifkovic, member of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation in Paris, the principles developed by Spykman constituted the “support point for Harry Truman’s policy of strategic defense of the United States, the reason for NATO’s creation in 1949 and later the US foreign policy strategy during the Cold war.” Trifkovic adds that from the point of view of the neoconservative liberal policy, “there is no better way to ensure the US’s domination over the European Rimland, than to pull Europe into NATO’s (more precisely US) security orbit, and to undermine the telurocratic Russian-German closeness.” [11] According to Trifkovic, especially Halford Mackinder’s geopolitical principles related to Eastern Europe contribute to explaining the essence of the Ukrainian crisis as well as to understanding the reason behind the continuing ambition of US politicians to expand American influence in the Middle East.

Interestingly, on 1st January, 2015, the Eurasian Union was set up—a kind of European Union replica that is aimed at strengthening the central core of Eurasia. Until now, Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan were integrated into this union. The Eurasian Economic Union is one of Vladimir Putin’s main projects. It is noteworthy that the first Eurasian agreements were signed in 2009.

A brief, up-to-date review of United States geopolitical principles was provided in February 2015 by George Friedman, founder and president of Stratfor [12], then founder and president of the Geopolitical Futures [13] magazine. The presentation took place within the works of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. In a very direct way, Friedman explained that the United States were just aiming at that time, in 2015, to deliver weapons to the Baltic countries. He admitted, amused, that the delivery would be made unofficially, outside the NATO framework, to avoid any veto vote because in NATO decisions are made only through the unanimity of the members. “The purpose of these US maneuvers is to create a sanitary cordon around Russia, and Russia knows it”, Friedman said. [14]

Evoking the principles of geopolitics, he continued by explaining that “the United States have a fundamental interest … we control all the oceans of the world. No other power has ever done that. That is why we can invade people (other states), and they cannot invade us. This is very good for keeping control over water and space, is the foundation of our strength.” [15]

Coming back to the plan to create a belt around Russia, Friedman underlined Ukraine’s stake for the two sides: “In the event that Russia continues to move forward to Ukraine, then they must be stopped. This is why the US are starting these actions (…) to pre-position troops in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and the Baltic Sea.” [16] The US strategist explained more exactly how the US want to achieve this plan: “the preferred solution for the US is the Pilsudski Plan named after the the one who developed this plan.” Friedman showed the area very clearly on a screen: “It is the area that unites the Black Sea with the Baltic Sea.” The aim is to control the states that are between the two water bodies, i.e. to make a continental barrier between Germany and Russia. This is because “the United States cannot occupy Eurasia,” and the plan therefore aims at separating the two great powers of Eurasia at least. In Friedman’s words: “For the United States, the overriding interest is to prevent German technology with German capital from uniting with Russian natural resources and labor. This is the only combination that has scared the United States for centuries.” [17]

This is therefore a very transparent decoding of the current American policy in Europe. Germany is the largest economic power on the continent, but it has an acute need for resources. Russia has full resources, but it needs market outlets. The combination of the two would go perfectly, with substantial reciprocal benefits. But who opposes these agreements so forcefully? Indeed, the United States! The US administration is doing everything possible to block, for example, the Nord Stream II project, whereby Russia is preparing to offer a very good gas price to Germany. Washington has launched all its arsenal of threats, sanctions and alternative proposals on both Moscow and Berlin. The Russian gas pipeline is described by Americans as having a subversive potential for Germany. An offer that can create, they say, “political dependence” on Russia and that is why it must be refused for strategic reasons. America’s strategy, of course.

In more detailed and specific terms, Friedman explained what method he recommended as the most appropriate and which was previously applied by the United States in the 1980s. “The policy that I recommend is the policy that Ronald Reagan adopted on Iran and Iraq. He funded both parties to fight each other, not to fight with us. It is cynical, it is certainly not moral, but it worked.” [18] We have to admit that George Friedman is not much concerned about saving the appearances that officials and media present in a totally different light.

There are also extreme situations, but they were foreseen: “In extreme cases, we do what we did in Japan, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan by spoiling attacks. Spoiling attacks have no intention of defeating the enemy. They intend to get them out of balance. The United States cannot intervene constantly over Eurasia.” [19] The United States cannot constantly intervene in Eurasia because it would be glaringly obvious. But we recognize the other methods very well, for example in Ukraine: the local rebels were financed, trained and armed to fight against Russia. Also, very determined negotiations were initiated concerning Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova—countries in the belt dividing Eurasia—to be integrated into NATO and the European Union, with the main motivation to protect them against “the Russian danger.”

Like Zbigniew Brzezinski, George Friedman does not hesitate to admit that the United States became an empire that wants to consolidate its power. He says that, despite the American ideals of peace and freedom, the policy of force must continue: “We represent a very young empire; we never thought we would be an empire. We would like to go home and dream of freedom—believe it is over—but that will not happen.” [20]

Friedman said everything very nicely, smiling, even in a funny way. If he were not a geopolitical and international strategy personality, we might think that a joking man had just expressed his opinions. But his allegations are very much correlated with countless other sources and—most eloquently—with the events we are witnesses to. It is worth noting that the “young empire” no longer has time for “the dreams of liberty.” It is very preoccupied with gaining ascendance and reaching maturity.

Referrences

  1. George Friedman, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs 2015, harald fankie, 14 July 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fatq03kBs44
  2. Zbigniew Brzezinski, The grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its geostrategic Imperatives, New york: Basic Books, 1997, p. 14
  3. Halford Mackinder, The Geographical Pivot of History, The Geographical Journal, vol. 170, no. 4, december 2004, pp. 298-321, https://www.iwp.edu/ doclib /20131016_mackinderthe geographical Journal.pdf
  4. Halford Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality (New York: w.w.Norton, 1962, [original publication 1919], p. 106, 150
  5. Angelo del Boca, The Ethiopian War, 1935-1941, trans. p. d. Cummins (Chicago: University of Chicagoo Press, 1969); J.F.C. Fuller, The First of the League Wars: Its Lessons and Omens (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1936); and Thomas M. Coffey, Lion by the Tail: The Story of the Italian-Ethiopian War (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1974)
  6. Nicholas J. Spykman, The Geography of Peace (New York: Harcourt & Brace, 1944), p. 43; also see Nicholas John Spykman, America’s Strategy in World Politics: The United States and the Balance of Power, transaction Publishers, 1942; Institut de la democratie et de la Cooperation, The geopolitics of new multipolarity, may 27, 2014, http://www.idc–europe.org/en/–the-geopoliticsof-new-multipolarity–
  7. Colin S. Gray, The Continued Primacy of Geography, Orbis, 40 (Spring 1996), p. 258
  8. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Game Plan: A Geostrategic Framework for the Conduct of the U.S.-Soviet Contest, Boston, the Atlantic Monthly Press, 1986
  9. Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, New York: Basic Books, 1997
  10. Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Perseus Books, New york, 1997, p. 23
  11. Srdja Trifkovic, The Geopolitics of New Multipolarity, IDC, Paris, May 27, 2014, http://www.idc-europe.org/en/-the-geopolitics-of-new-multi polarity
  12. Stratfor is one of the largest geopolitical analysis and intelligence platforms in the US
  13. Geopolitical Futures is an online publication that analyzes and forecasts the evolution of global political events
  14. George Friedman, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs 2015, 4 februarie 2015, https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=fatq03kBs44
  15. Idem, George Friedman, The Chicago Council
  16. Idem, George Friedman, The Chicago Council
  17. Idem, George Friedman, The Chicago Council
  18. Idem, George Friedman, The Chicago Council
  19. Idem, George Friedman, The Chicago Council
  20. Idem, George Friedman, The Chicago Council

Calistrat M. Atudorei