Geopolitics defined in multi ways is also ‘war politics among nations!’ When major powers clash, it leads to a great war. Ironically, the Clausewitzian notion of ‘war being the continuation of policy’ appears to be turned upside down. As detractors and peace advocates lament ‘policy is the continuation of war’! Again Clausewitz interjects ‘if policy is grand so will war be!’ The so called globalists (left over Neo Cons plus new converts) whisper aloud that they want another ‘Grand War’ as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya were not enough. War with Iran was aborted or delayed and has left them heartbroken.
So now Geopolitics is leaning towards a new rumored war against Pakistan and possibly Iran, as is being projected by some US think tanks. This includes the Huttington, ‘clash of civilization theorists’ plus propagandists and balkanists as appearing in the Huffington Post. Even Henry Kissinger the ever green American Geostrategic sage has talked of the ‘Balkans of the next World War’. This war if ever fought would be the most tragic – suicidal war. Without aim and end, with little to gain and a lot to lose by all. Besides peaceful alternatives are available. The futility of a ‘Great War’ or the ‘Reign of Total Chaos’ needs to be understood before understanding the value of peace. The world needs an era of peaceful prosperity; therefore let us dwell on the ‘Geopolitics of Peace’.
First the global geopolitical environment must be grasped pragmatically. The Western World’s dominance in world affairs appears to be fading. At least the global economics balance is tilting away from the Western World. Much before 2020, China may rival the US economy. America today faces a serious debt default. If the US economy has slowed down the EU has its own ailments. In a nut shell, Western monopoly on global wealth stands challenged and rebuked by Eastern and other global economies. Strategically – militarily, Russia has made a comeback. Though there can be no invasion Soviet fashion, post Georgia, Moscow has drawn the Rubicon. Heart land Russia is confident, tactically cooperative yet strategically hostile to the West.
By contrast US – NATO spent a decade chasing elusive, asymmetrical Islamic antagonists. Bogged down in protracted war, US – NATO, after facing resilient Taliban in Afghanistan and stoic Iraqi resistance, forayed into the Libyan adventure. US unilateral raid in Abbotabad, Pakistan has surged Anti Americanism. But Anti Americanism is not confined to Pakistan, but shared in Iran, Turkey, Arab World and a large global swathe.
The Western world’s decline and rise of the rest (Farid Zakriya) has been further compounded by the Middle East revolutionary fervour. Yet US hyper war military remains pre-dominant, even as Robert Gates “avoid land war in Asia” warning must be heeded. American Geo Strategy is at a turning point. Pakistan – Iran – Afghanistan – Turkey – Saudi Arabian Peninsula – India are all Rim land players. A new contest may be starting. If the Bush Neocon era symbolized the –‘encirclement of Russia’, a new era may be on the horizon. The Obama Admistration cajoled by left over Neocons, friendly India, and persuasive Israelis is in a bind over Pakistan – China. The Geopolitical question is to relent or escalate? Yet Saudi Peninsula – North Africa also beacons Western – American attention. Post Osama period marks a defining moment for America. Logic, US economic malaise and war weary American public want the troops back home. The globalists want ‘perpetual war’. Peaceful deinduction is the logical step from Afghanistan. Still hubris, miscalculation, greed and ill advice can lead to a Cold War with China and Hot War in the region. Though the global environment may not replicate a century earlier but still Mark Twain was apt ‘history may not repeat but it does rhyme’.
First World War (1914 to 1919)
The final spark was the murder of Arch Duke Ferdinand. Yet the real cause of the ‘Great War’ was intra European Geopolitics. The power plays of many nations and empires but finally the rise of Germany and Britain’s avowed ‘policy of confronting rising powers on the continent’, all led to this catastrophic world event. The roots of the ‘Great War’ may have gone a hundred years to the fall of France after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in June 1815. The European War turned into a World War, bleeding the youth of Europe and destroying a generation. European empires fell, societal and revolutionary upheaval followed. Who gained, not the direct contestants. In any event, the seeds of the next World War were laid.
Second World War (1939 to 1945)
After twenty years of uneasy peace and turbulence in Europe, the Second World War began lasting from 1939 to 1945. The Treaty of Versailles and Hitler’s proclivity for brinkmanship were not the only reasons, for the Second World War. Hitler despite being the great propagandist did not have a flair for Geopolitics. The Western World was saved more due to Hitlerian blunders than its own prowess. In any event, from the ruins of Berlin and millions dead rose the Cold War.
Cold War till 1991 and beyond
Practically, the Soviet Union contest lasted from 1945 till 1991, leading to the demise of the Soviet Union and victory for Washington’s Alliance. Still Francis Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ was to prove illusionary and he was forced to rewrite ‘After the Neo Cons’. The Bush Administration and Neo Con Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq led to a global human disaster, besides Geopolitical remaking. Neither did it benefit the image or treasury of the United States to put it mildly. (Some claims figure in terms of 2,25000 total fatalities and $4 trillion direct and indirect expenditures – losses).
1991 was in a sense the high point of American power and prestige. 1991 to 2011 is ironically again a twenty year gap like between First and Second World War. Another Great War or even Cold War does not make sense. This time there is no Hitler not even Saddam, Bin Laden or even Gaddafi as sparks to a larger conflagration. Merely, successful politicians! Like President Zardari and his friend President Karzai, both democratically elected!
So where are the Balkans of Mr. Kissinger? Where does the new war start? And for what -- Afghanistan – Pakistan – Kashmir – Iran. Instead of US withdrawal from Afghanistan, it is being goaded in the ‘denuclearization scenarios’ of Pakistan by some US globalists and Indian extremists. Even as good hearted, charity giving Americans are seeking withdrawal of their forces to end Afghanistan’s endless war and its outrageous expenses. Any American attempt to denuclearize Pakistan would also extend to Iran, which is considered a greater existential threat by Israel. This would result in a larger war against Pakistan and Iran.
Similarly, any attempt at Baluchistan balkanization would again involve Pakistan and Iran as the Iranian part is called Seastan bordering Pakistani Baluchistan. This would bring Pakistan and Iran in a holy alliance of national survival, something which American Geopolitics is loath off. Some extremists in India and so called globalists think tanks want Baluchistan Balkanized or Pakistan cut into four pieces. So Indian hegemony and American presence can share common borders in West Asia – South Asia! Apart from the moral and international, legal question of advocating cutting a country into pieces, this does not look like Geo strategy but ‘naive hallucinations’. Forced into a corner, Pakistan and Iran will defend themselves and probably combine their assets; it will lead to a radical realignment not suited to American Geopolitical interests. Those who are pushing the ‘war agenda’ are not Geo politicians or Geo strategicans, but merely propagandists. Hitler was the best propagandist but naive at Geopolitics – the world knows his fate and the suffering of the world.
If Pakistan is squeezed by US – India nexus, it would logically be forced into a new Geopolitical arrangement. In the event, Pakistan would fully embrace China, Iran, SCO – Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in a maximalist mode. The low intensity war with prospects of converting in hot war would include the Geopolitical space of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Kashmir – India. This could lead to an extended /all out war – nuclear war.
A New Cold War?
The Geopolitical realignment might see SCO with new members, Pakistan and Iran or linked to SCO as a strategic new entity. It could lead to a Cold War between America and NATO on one side and China and Pakistan, Iran on the other side. SCO and Russia would most likely join China. South Arabia and Turkey both close to Pakistan would oppose US/NATO conflict with Pakistan. India though a strategic partner of USA may not confront China, more so, if Russia and SCO were aligned with Beijing. The great Chinese in their eternal wisdom already talk of a ‘new security architecture for Asia’. NATO rather EU is not keen on confrontation/Cold War with Russia – China. An extreme version of this scenario in future could be a new SCO vs. old NATO. Such a Cold War spreading would convert the world again into the Bi Polar World. With a difference, that a declining Western World faces China – Russia combined. Heart land Plus supported by many Rim land powers, no longer allied and controlled by the Americans. Such a contest would hasten America’s own decline, regardless of the damage American power can inflict on others.
Even if the contest is focused on a smaller region that is Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan and by extension India, Saudi Peninsula and Turkey, it would not be in America’s Geopolitical interest. These vast geographic spaces, exploding demography, military resistance, asymmetrical potential and nuclear destruction would create a giant black hole for America. War and radicalization would extend to the Middle East and to some parts of Africa. If the American cause in Afghanistan was a few thousand militants, radicalizing hundred of millions may prove counterproductive in Central – Southern Eurasia and Africa. This may even prove overwhelming for US and NATO in the medium to long term. Dealing with a few thousand Yemeni militants is one thing and confronting millions in Pakistan – Iran is another. Asymmetrical war has no front, flank or center. This war could well extend to Europe and America itself which is in nobody’s interest.
In such a war scenario, US/NATO would sink in a deepening quagmire in Southern Eurasia. After ten years long war in Afghanistan, it would be a much greater geopolitical disaster. With the US economy in severe recession, it could be termed as not misadventure but simply absurd. Direct American military intervention would confront the numerous demography of these vast regions. The losers would be the direct contestants (US and NATO) besides the nations of these regions, as happened in both First and Second World Wars. The winners would obviously be Russia and China – SCO.
So what is the solution? The answer is ‘Geopolitics of peace’. A new Geopolitical paradigm is the solution. Numerous state actors some non state actors and lobbies are involved in this affair. Still the minimalist -- doable aims of US, China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, EU and even Israel have to be factored in to achieve consensus for peace. Not only in Afghanistan but the regions around. Pakistan cannot be expected to compromise on its national interests nor China on its global rise. Still there is everything to gain and nothing to lose from a negotiated, durable, peace settlement. Not only for the regional countries but the world at large. The Geopolitics of peace is the way forward. A civilized and prosperous world and not the prospects of another World War or even a New Cold War.
Retired army officer, Nadir Mir is author of the book “Gwadar on the Global Chessboard.”
posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, October 08, 2011,
Great book to understand the Geopolitics......and whats the truth........Good job Nadir....keep the great work going.When is the next book coming!
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