"In the long run, global politics are bound to become increasingly uncongenial to the concentration of hegemonic power in the hands of a single state. Hence, America is not only the first, as well as the only, truly global superpower, but it is also likely to be the very last."
~ Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard.
~ Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard.
I think a little update on global politics is in order. First, a prelude to the next National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is out in which a reduced dominance for the US is predicted by 2025:
An intelligence forecast being prepared for the next president on future global risks envisions a steady decline in U.S. dominance in the coming decades, as the world is reshaped by globalization, battered by climate change, and destabilized by regional upheavals over shortages of food, water and energy.
[ . . . ]
In the new intelligence forecast, it is not just the United States that loses clout. Fingar predicts plummeting influence for the United Nations, the World Bank and a host of other international organizations that have helped maintain political and economic stability since World War II. It is unclear what new institutions can fill the void, he said.
In the years ahead, Washington will no longer be in a position to dictate what new global structures will look like. Nor will any other country, Fingar said. "There is no nobody in a position . . . to take the lead and institute the changes that almost certainly must be made in the international system," he said.
The predicted shift toward a less U.S.-centric world will come at a time when the planet is facing a growing environmental crisis, caused largely by climate change, Fingar said. By 2025, droughts, food shortages and scarcity of fresh water will plague large swaths of the globe, from northern China to the Horn of Africa.
[ . . . ]
Energy security will also become a major issue as India, China and other countries join the United States in seeking oil, gas and other sources for electricity. The Chinese get a good portion of their oil from Iran, as do many U.S. allies in Europe, limiting U.S. options on Iran. "So the turn-the-spigot-off kind of thing -- even if we could do it -- would be counterproductive."
There's more on that from ComputerWorld, in which the upcoming NIE identifies six disruptive technologies that will emerge by 2025.
An example of reduced dominance by the US was seen in last week's visit by VP Dick Cheney to the Caucasus:
Cheney's Caucasus gambit is a desperate attempt to stir up trouble while making a last ditch effort for the oil and natural gas of the resource-rich Caspian Basin. So far, he and his colleagues in Big Oil have nothing to show for their 20 years of labor except a few under-performing puppets in Ukraine and Georgia. The whole plan has flopped leaving Cheney with another failure on his resume. Just this week, there was more news of Russia's progress in the Central Asia energy sweepstakes in an article by Paul Goble titled "Moscow Wins a Major Victory on Pipelines":
"With Iran’s declaration that it opposes the construction of any undersea pipelines in the Caspian on "ecological grounds" and thus will block any delimitation of the seabed that allows for them and Baku’s decision not to back the West’s push NABUCCO project, Moscow can claim its first major political victory from its invasion of Georgia.
These actions mean that the Russian government will now have full and uncontested control over pipelines between the Caspian basin and the West which pass through Russian territory and will be able either directly or through its clients like the PKK to disrupt the only routes such as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceylon that bypass the Russian Federation."
If Cheney is serious about catching-up to Russia, he'll have to act fast. Unfortunately, Cheney is more disliked in Central Asia than he is in the USA where his public approval ratings have been well below sea-level for the last 4 years. In fact, when Cheney arrived in Azerbaijan, neither President Ilkham Aliyev nor Prime Minister, Artur Rasizade, even bothered to meet him at the airport. Politicians everywhere know that its is political suicide to even be seen with him.
The PKK is hardly the "client" of Russia, but the Russian people, through their Duma, did unanimously call for political asylum for Öcalan so a cautious alliance would be completely reasonable.
For more on the Russia-US conflict, see the comments and analysis by the always brilliant Noam Chomsky:
In the background lie two crucial issues. One is control over pipelines to Azerbaijan and Central Asia. Georgia was chosen as a corridor by Clinton to bypass Russia and Iran, and was also heavily militarized for the purpose. Hence Georgia is “a very major and strategic asset to us,” Zbigniew Brzezinski observes.
It is noteworthy that analysts are becoming less reticent in explaining real US motives in the region as pretexts of dire threats and liberation fade and it becomes more difficult to deflect Iraqi demands for withdrawal of the occupying army. Thus the editors of the Washington Post admonished Barack Obama for regarding Afghanistan as “the central front” for the United States, reminding him that Iraq “lies at the geopolitical center of the Middle East and contains some of the world's largest oil reserves,” and Afghanistan’s “strategic importance pales beside that of Iraq.” A welcome, if belated, recognition of reality about the US invasion.
The second issue is expansion of NATO to the East, described by George Kennan in 1997 as “the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era, [which] may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations.”
[ . . . ]
[Former US ambassador to Russia Jack] Matlock is not alone in regarding Kosovo as an important factor. “Recognition of South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's independence was justified on the principle of a mistreated minority's right to secession - the principle Bush had established for Kosovo,” the Boston Globe editors comment.
Which, of course, also means that the mistreated Kurdish minorities of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria also have the right to secession not only according to UN Resolution 3103 but also according to the Bush administration's Kosovo criteria.
Chomsky's quotation of Zbigniew Brzezinski reminds me of a quote in Brzezinski's book The Grand Chessboard about Eurasia:
Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran, and "antihegemonic" coalition united not by ideology but by complementary grievances. It would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, although this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower. Averting this contingency, however remote it may be, will require a display of U.S. geostrategic skill on the western, eastern, and southern perimeters of Eurasia simultaneously.
The Grand Chessboard, p. 55.
While that contingency may have seemed "remote" in 1997 when Brzezinski wrote those lines, the contingency is up close and personal now with the existence of the SCO. Especially since the predictions seem to be that the power of the SCO is on the increase:
"The SCO should eventually start playing a new role both in and outside the Caucasus. What we see now is a real crisis of the idea of a unipolar world now that the US and its NATO allies pretend they are unable to get to the core of what’s been happening in the Caucasus. I believe that organizations like the SCO and BRIC, that brings Russia together with Brazil, India and China, should play an important role here. Many people already realize the need for the SCO and other international organizations to start focusing more on ensuring global stability and security…"
Anatoly Bolyatko also said that closer interaction between the SCO and such observer nations as Iran, India and Pakistan could make it a major new instrument of collective security both in the former Soviet Union and neighboring regions.
If we take Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice as the ones who are to "display [ ] U.S. geostrategic skill" in Eurasia, as described by Kissinger protege Brzezinski, it should surprise no one that the spooks are predicting a reduction in US dominance by 2025.
Look to the East.