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The West Fades. The Center Quietly Returns: The New Silk Road

The West Fades. The Center Quietly Returns: The New Silk Road

An image from the workshop on desalination and mineral extraction from seawater organized by Sharif University in Teheran this week. In the photo, you can see people from Oman (3), Iran (3), South Africa (1), India (1), and Bangladesh (1). It was not only a multi-ethnical group but also a Eurasia-centered one. It gave me some impression of the shifting balance of power in the world, from the West to the Center, and inspired this post.  

If you think about that, it is funny that we tend to define ourselves as “Westerners.” Most civilizations and cultures in history have tended to see themselves as the center of the world, just think of China: it is supposed to be “the Middle Kingdom”. This idea that we are on an edge is something that we’ve probably inherited from the ancient Greeks, when everything west of them was seen as a land of mystery, peopled with savages, monsters, and Gods. 

But the fact that we call ourselves Westerners doesn’t mean we think we are a periphery of the world, not at all. Most Westerners seem to cherish the idea that we are the real center, the most advanced, enlightened, and powerful area of the world. The rest of is, well, it is mostly inhabited by turban-wearing barbarians, savage tribes, or, at best, ancient and decadent empires on their way to dissolution. These Non-Westerners need our guidance if they have to attain the nirvana as defined here: democracy and economic liberism.

But the world is vast and things change. Empires are born, reach their pinnacle of greatness and then collapse while still claiming that they will last forever. That may be the destiny of that great world empire, the “Western Empire,” that started with the British and continues with the Americans.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russia-India-China will be the big G20 hit

Russia-India-China will be the big G20 hit

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) hug during their meeting before a session of the Heads of State Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: AFP / Grigory Sysoev / Sputnik

Russia-India-China will be the big G20 hit

India under Modi, an essential cog in US strategy, gets cozy with China and Russia

It all started with the Vladimir Putin–Xi Jinping summit in Moscow on June 5. Far from a mere bilateral, this meeting upgraded the Eurasian integration process to another level. The Russian and Chinese presidents discussed everything from the progressive interconnection of the New Silk Roads with the Eurasia Economic Union, especially in and around Central Asia, to their concerted strategy for the Korean Peninsula.

A particular theme stood out: They discussed how the connecting role of Persia in the Ancient Silk Road is about to be replicated by Iran in the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And that is non-negotiable. Especially after the Russia-China strategic partnership, less than a month before the Moscow summit, offered explicit support for Tehran signaling that regime change simply won’t be accepted, diplomatic sources say.

Putin and Xi solidified the roadmap at the St Petersburg Economic Forum. And the Greater Eurasia interconnection continued to be woven immediately after at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek, with two essential interlocutors: India, a fellow BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and SCO member, and SCO observer Iran.

At the SCO summit we had Putin, Xi, Narendra Modi, Imran Khan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sitting at the same table. Hanging over the proceedings, like concentric Damocles swords, were the US-China trade war, sanctions on Russia, and the explosive situation in the Persian Gulf.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Back in the (Great) Game: The Revenge of Eurasian Land Powers

Back in the (Great) Game: The Revenge of Eurasian Land Powers

What is left roaming our wilderness of mirrors depends on the mood swings of the Goddess of the Market. No wonder an effect of Eurasia integration will be a death blow to Bretton Woods and “democratic” neoliberalism, says Pepe Escobar.


Get ready for a major geopolitical chessboard rumble: from now on, every butterfly fluttering its wings and setting off a tornado directly connects to the battle between Eurasia integration and Western sanctions as foreign policy.

It is the paradigm shift of China’s New Silk Roads versus America’s Our Way or the Highway. We used to be under the illusion that history had ended. How did it come to this?

Hop in for some essential time travel. For centuries the Ancient Silk Road, run by mobile nomads, established the competitiveness standard for land-based trade connectivity; a web of trade routes linking Eurasia to the – dominant – Chinese market.

In the early 15th century, based on the tributary system, China had already established a Maritime Silk Road along the Indian Ocean all the way to the east coast of Africa, led by the legendary Admiral Zheng He. Yet it didn’t take much for imperial Beijing to conclude that China was self-sufficient enough – and that emphasis should be placed on land-based operations.

Deprived of a trade connection via a land corridor between Europe and China, Europeans went all-out for their own maritime silk roads. We are all familiar with the spectacular result: half a millennium of Western dominance.

Until quite recently the latest chapters of this Brave New World were conceptualized by the Mahan, Mackinder and Spykman trio.

The Heartland of the World

Mackinder

Halford Mackinder’s 1904 Heartland Theory – a product of the imperial Russia-Britain New Great Game – codified the supreme Anglo, and then Anglo-American, fear of a new emerging land power able to reconnect Eurasia to the detriment of maritime powers.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China Is Days Away From Killing the Petrodollar

China Is Days Away From Killing the Petrodollar

China Is Days Away From Killing the Petrodollar

Not long ago, there was a popular joke in China that went something like, “Who is Xi Jinping?”

The answer was, “The husband of Peng Liyuan,” the famous singer Xi is married to.

Today, Xi is China’s president. He leads 1.4 billion people. And he’ll likely be the most powerful person in the world soon.

As I mentioned last Wednesday, Trump’s new steel and aluminum tariffs are part of a larger, escalating battle between the US and China.

China is rapidly displacing the US as the dominant global power. This shift is inevitable. China’s economy will be twice as large as the US economy by 2030.

This leaves the US with limited options…

  1. It could kick back and let China displace it as the most powerful country in the world.
  2. It could start a military war with China.
  3. And it could push the current trade battle into an all-out economic war against China.

I think a full-blown economic war is the most likely. Under President Trump, it’s all but certain.

That said, the Trump administration seems to underestimate China’s position—in both the short and long term.

For decades, the US has been able to exclude virtually any country it wants from international trade. Right now, if one country wants to trade with another, it basically needs US permission first.

That’s because (for a short while longer) the US dollar is the world’s most important currency. The US Navy also dominates the world’s oceans, controlling most major shipping lanes.

But China is building a new international system. Eventually, it will let China and its trading partners totally bypass the US.

And, as I’ll explain shortly, a key piece is set to fall into place on March 26…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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