Tag: the grand chessboard

Is the U.S heading towards military conflict in the South China Sea?

Famously, Albert Einstein defined common sense  as  “the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.” When viewed from the prism of the perspective of the apologists for capitalism, Einstein’s condescending approach to conventional wisdom belied much of the Western prevailing orthodoxy up to the events in New York on September 11, 2001.

The prevailing view, particularly among a large swath of intellectuals, was one in which capitalism was seen as the bedrock of society underpinned by an economic booster model of globalization that supposedly limited the scope for war and conflict. Intellectual proponents of this worldview understanding of capitalism included Third Way ideologues such as Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck. For them, globalization was reshaping liberal democracies into states that transcended the need for “enemies”.

The limitations of this thinking was brought sharply into focus following George W Bush’s proclamation of a global state of war on September 20, 2001: “Americans should not expect one battle”, he said , “but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.” To accept the notion that the capitalist system is shaped purely by economics that under the guise of globalization ameliorates the pressures among states to go to war with one another, is to grossly misunderstand the nature of the beast and what the main catalyst is that drives the war machine forward.

In truth, the system is underpinned by “competitive processes that involve not merely the economic struggle for markets, but military and diplomatic rivalries among states.” In other words, capitalism embraces geopolitics as well as economics. This was first understood during the early 20th century when the expansion and intensification of capitalism began to make its mark. It was during this period that economic rivalries among firms began to take the form of conflicts which spilled over national borders.

Consequently, combatants called upon the military support of their respective states to protect them. Thus, the close and complex interweaving of economic and security competition became geopolitical in nature which was to develop into the tragic era of inter-imperialist war between 1914 and 1945.

The notion that diplomatic and military conflicts among states reflect the more general process of competition that drives capitalism on, is the basis of the classic theory of imperialism formulated by Nikolai Bukharin during the First World War. It’s a theory that provides the best framework for understanding the contemporary American war drive and, pertinent to this article, its ongoing South China Sea dispute with China which the staging of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in the U.S a few days ago is implicit.

The main purpose of the summit, from a U.S perspective, is to advance what the Obama administration calls its Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific, popularly known as the Asia Pivot which reflects a shift in U.S policy towards China which intimates more of a belligerent approach as opposed to one based on constructive rationality. This is highlighted by the projected deployment of 60 percent of U.S submarines to the region, the purpose of which is to undermine Chinese economic development by limiting its maritime access to markets.

Much has been made about how the U.S wants to “cooperate” with China and to maintain friendly relations. But at the same time, President Obama proposes to undermine bi-lateral relations in the region while China wants to enhance them on an individual basis in much the same way that it would with any other country outside the region.

Another indication that the U.S is not prepared to cooperate, was the summit agenda’s domination by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This was in addition to the dispute regarding contested maritime territorial claims and so called “freedom of movement” issues. What the U.S has sought to do is to stifle the development of the South East Asia region in relation to China and therefore seek to undermine the trade agreements China already has in place with various other S.E Asian countries in the bloc – agreements that were formulated at an international level through the auspices of forums like ASEAN.

The crux of the conflict between the U.S and China essentially revolves around the contenting claims and the influence each player is able to exercise in relation to ASEAN. The U.S is attempting to use economic and political leverage to isolate or economically encircle China as a way of counteracting what they perceive to be the expansion of China’s political influence.

The false impression given in much of the Western corporate media is that sovereign nations in the region are under threat from an expansionist and belligerent China and that these nations are necessarily looking to the United States for assistance. How the U.S would likely respond if China were to build military bases throughout the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean or the Pacific coast off California is not a question the Western media seem to want to ask.

By reversing the roles, we can begin to understand the situation from the Chinese perspective, particularly given the painful and tragic history it has had over the last two centuries in relation to Western colonial domination of its territory. The contextual reality that underlies the Chinese position is that having emerged from a very dark period in their history, they are looking to assert their sovereignty by creating a regional sphere of influence.

Contrary to Western media propaganda, this doesn’t necessarily involve the domination of their neighbours. The perspective coming from Beijing is an insistence that the U.S respect China’s growing influence as a major political and economic power. This call, however, appears to be largely falling on deaf ears, particularly among the decision makers in Washington that really matter. What  A. J. P Taylor  called “the struggle for mastery” among the Great Powers is understood by Realists within the sphere of international relations in America. However, their views don’t hold significant enough sway within the corridors of power to influence policy.

The signing of the TPP to the exclusion of China, as well as the arm twisting by the U.S administration, appears to be intended to prohibit its European partners from joining the Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) which arguably has the potential to rival the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The dominant force in Washington is one which remains orientated towards greater competition which entails the possibility of greater conflict, not because the U.S wants war with with China, but because they are pushing the envelope which potentially can lead to unintended consequences.

While on the one hand, America pushes for its control of the regional trade and commerce framework through ASEAN, on the other, China is pushing to expand it’s so-called One Belt, One Road policy. This is predicated on growing Chinese economic penetration throughout the entire Eurasian land mass stretching from the Chinese coast on the South China Sea all the way to the Atlantic coast of Europe.

China is increasingly moving towards land-based commerce through Russia and central Asia and into the European space. This must be alarming to many of the strategic planners and paid-for corporate politicians in Washington. Underpinning the conflicts in the China Sea regarding disputed territory and the fomenting of others by the U.S involving China and its neighbours, is the larger geopolitical chess match, what Zbigniew Brzezinski famously referred to as The Grand Chessboard.

In exposing the real motives behind the Clinton administrations stated multilateralist strategy, Brzezinski who was one of the main architects of Nato expansion, presented The Grand Chessboard as one facet of a much broader approach to maintain American dominance over Eurasia through a continent wide policy of divide and rule. Brzezinski openly used the language of imperial power:

“America’s global supremacy is reminiscent in some ways to earlier empires, notwithstanding their confined regional scope. These empires based their power on a hierarchy of vassals, tributaries, protectorates, and colonies, with those on the outside generally viewed as barbarians. To some degree, this anachronistic terminology is not inappropriate for some of the states currently within the American orbit.”

The hosting by the U.S of the latest ASEAN summit, their TPP agenda and their attempts to contain China through the Asian Pivot, represents a worrying trend akin to the clash of imperial interests which led to the conditions from which the carnage of the First and Second World Wars emerged.

 

Israeli Terrorism In International Waters: Explaining Obama’s Silence

In the early hours of Monday May 31 Israeli forces attacked a flotilla of ships carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza strip. Dubbed the Freedom Flotilla, the ships were aiming to break Israel’s illegal 3-year blockade of Gaza.

At least 15 people were killed and dozens injured when Israeli troops attacked the lead ship in the convoy–the Turkish “Mavi Marmara”. The attack happened in international waters, 75 miles off the coast of Israel and Gaza.

The media were quick to depict the atrocity as one that was of the activists making by repeating various official Israeli government statements suggesting that the Israeli military – the IDF – after having descended on the lead ship, reacted in self-defence to the violent actions of those on board. The media aligned these official pronouncements with Israeli edited video footage that purported to show activists repeatedly striking members of the IDF with rods and batons.

But as the dust has begun to settle, a different reality has slowly started to emerge. Witnesses on board have stated that it was the IDF who initiated the violence firing live bullets prior to embarking the vessel and then continuing with what is described as “disproportionate” and “indiscriminate” acts of violence against unarmed activists.

“The ship turned into a lake of blood,” Turkish activist Nilufer Cetin told reporters in Istanbul. She had been seized after the attack on the convoy, held in Israel and then returned to Turkey because she had a child with her. She said Israelis attacked at around 4am on Monday, using “smoke bombs followed by gas canisters. They started to descend onto the ship with helicopters” (http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=21412).

More detailed eye-witness accounts can be accessed here: (http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/conte…0/s2916676.htm) and here:(http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/06/20106193546785656.html).

The victims interpretation of the sequence of events that unfolded on the vessel was almost completely absent from media analysis. Further, media parroting of Israel’s staged version of events which inverted blame for the violent actions of the perpetrators onto the victims, followed Israeli claims that they had uncovered a weapons cache on board the impounded ship.
In fact, the so-called cache consisted of chains, knives and an assortment of tools of the kind usually found on similar vessels (see photograph below).

The supposed cache of weapons – grenades, pistols and rifles which the Israeli’s accused the activists of hiding – did not in fact exist. The Turkish authorities confirmed as much prior to the ship setting sail after they undertook routine checks (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=who-the-hell-does-israel-think-she-is-2010-06-01).

Needless to say, the ludicrous Israeli claims and the related accusations of guilt by association went unchallenged by the media.

More importantly, journalists failed to mention the ‘elephant in the room’ – the significant question as to why it was that a ship containing humanitarian supplies intended for starving and impoverished people, was attacked in international waters.

Israel justified this illegal attack by claiming that “terrorists” were aboard the vessel. But if this was indeed the case, why was it that the Israeli’s had in the past given permission for similar vessels to dock in Gaza unhindered? And why if the Israeli’s believed “terrorists” were aboard as they claimed, did they not wait until the time the boat either reached Israeli territorial waters or alternatively wait until it arrived at its destination before apprehending it?

In addition, the Israeli government has rejected requests for an international investigation of its conduct (www.focus.de/politik/ausland/…id_515363.html) and its army has been criticised by the Foreign Press Association for what it called “a selective use of videos confiscated from journalists on the ships to justify its deadly raid at sea” (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100603/…tleWhvbm9ycw–).

All this strongly points to Israel’s guilt, and suggests that the official Israeli line is a smokescreen.

So what were the real reasons for the attack? And why, given the near universal international condemnation of Israel, did US president, Barack Obama, remain silent – particularly as the rest of the permanent members of the Security Council not only condemned the attack, but explicitly called for Israel’s three-year blockade of the Gaza Strip to be lifted?

For the answers we need to examine what is widely considered to be a “special relationship” between the two countries. It is a relationship that can be characterized as one in which Israel acts as a “bulldog” and proxy for the US as a means to cement the latters geopolitical and economic strategic interests throughout the middle east. This is a situation, in other words, where the US dog wags the Israeli tail as a method of divide and control (http://www.newdemocracyworld.org/War/Why%20Politicians.htm).

The current situation—not only but especially in the Middle East—is defined by the imperialist offensive mounted by the United States and its closest allies (notably Israel and Britain) since 11 September 2001. Carried out under the slogan of the “war on terrorism”, the real aim of this offensive is to perpetuate the global domination of US capitalism (hence the title of the neocon ‘Project for the New American Century’) (http://www.isj.org.uk/?id=241).

Domination in this way requires the control of the world’s land, air, maritime and space – a military concept known as “Full-Spectrum dominance” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full-spectrum_dominance). In return, Israel by virtue of its strategic importance, receives favoured nation status by way of preferential “aid” amounting to 3 billion dollars annually, effectively allowing Washington de facto control.

What began with Ben-Gurion’s Plan D – the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian’s – is now in its final stages, termed “Operation Cast Lead”. The F-16 jet fighters, the 250-pound “smart” GBU-39 bombs supplied on the eve of the attack on Gaza during December 2008, which killed 1,4oo Palestinian’s, is part of the wider grand US imperial control of countries’ resources in the region.

Lord Curzon, viceroy of India in 1898 likened this imperial coming together as “pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world” (http://revcom.us/a/089/iran-en.html).

Brzezinski, adviser to several presidents, has written virtually those same words. In his book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives, he writes that the key to dominating the world is central Asia, with its strategic position between competing powers and immense oil and gas wealth (http://sandiego.indymedia.org/media/2006/10/119973.pdf).

In 2001, the authoratitive Janes Weekly revealed that Israel needed a “trigger” of a suicide bombing to attack the West Bank with the aim of adhering to this strategic game (http://www.iags.org/n0124051.htm). On 23 November, 2001, Israeli agents assassinated the Hamas leader, Mahmud Abu Hunud, and got their “trigger”; the suicide attacks resumed in response to his killing.

Something uncannily similar happened seven years later on 5 November 2008 when Israeli special forces attacked Gaza, killing six people. Once again, they got their propaganda “trigger”. A ceasefire initiated and sustained by the Hamas government – which had imprisoned its violators – was shattered by the Israeli attack and home-made rockets were fired into what used to be Palestine before its Arab occupants were “cleansed”.

On 23 December, Hamas offered to renew the ceasefire, but Israel’s charade was such that its all-out assault on Gaza had been planned six months earlier (http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article1146).

The seven years to 2008 have resulted in the deaths of 14 Israeli’s by mostly homemade rockets fired from Gaza as against 5,000 Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks (www.guardian.co.uk/ commentisfree/2008/dec/30/israel-and-the-palestinians-middle-east).

Washington was fully aware of the nature, as well as the likely consequences of the IDF naval operation in international waters, including the killings of civilians (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19447).

There are indications that the decision was taken in consultation with Washington. Indeed the Obama administration had given the green light to the deadly raids in international waters (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19447).

As with the previous examples highlighted above, this current Israeli atrocity will likely provide the catalyst for the “trigger” for further Israeli incursions into Gaza.

The killing of unarmed civilians was part of the mandate of the Israeli naval commando. It was an integral part of the logic of  Dagan’s “Operation Justified Vengeance”, which presents Israel as the victim rather than the perpetrator and uses civilian deaths “on both sides” to justify a process of military escalation.

Operation “Cast Lead” was part of a broader military-intelligence operation initiated at the outset of the Ariel Sharon government in 2001. But it was under Sharon’s “Operation Justified Vengeance” that F-16 fighter planes were initially used to bomb Palestinian cities.

The strike on the Freedom Flotilla is part of the logic of transforming Gaza into an urban concentration camp. “Operation Justified Vengeance” was also referred to as the “Dagan Plan”, named after General (ret.) Meir Dagan, who currently heads Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=1868).

It should be understood that the raid on the Flotilla also coincided with NATO-Israel war games directed against Iran. According to the Sunday Times “three German-built Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf near the Iranian coastline” (http://www.zerohedge.com/article/israel-deploys-three-nuclear-cruise-missile-armed-subs-along-iranian-coastline).

Meir Dagan, in coordination with his US counterparts, had been put in charge of various military-intelligence operations. It is worth noting that Meir Dagan as a young Colonel had worked closely with then defense minister Ariel Sharon in the raids on Palestinian settlements in Beirut in 1982.

The 2009 ground invasion of Gaza, in many regards, bear a canny resemblance to the 1982 military operation led by Sharon and Dagan.

Dagan as head of Israeli intelligence, no doubt also took part in the decision to launch the strike on the Freedom Flotilla. Moreover, it seems inconceivable that Obama did not personally authorize the strike also(http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=1868).

Copyright: Daniel Margrain