Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why Are We In Libya? To Remain The Global Hegemon, Stupid.

Yesterday, I quoted George Will about the folly of our 'humanitarian interventionism' in Libya.  My only disagreement with that would be the word 'humanitarian', because I seriously doubt that our motivations and purposes in Libya are humanitarian.  We don't invade or bomb countries for less than our greater national interest and/or geostrategic goals.  Our intervention (in the form of NATO bombing and covert teams on the ground) is not to the save the lives of the Libyans, but to gain for ourselves something very important (whatever that might be).

For decades now since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the bipartisan Washington Establishment consensus, as set forth in a variety of documents and statements, is to remain the 'dominant global hegemon', intervening wherever necessary--with economic, diplomatic, covert, and if necessary military power--around the world to prevent the rise of a competing global power and to preserve our unhindered access to the resources we need to operate, ie. first and foremost, oil. 

We clearly saw this in the 'Project for a New American Century', an organization formed by hawks from both political parties, that advocated for the invasion of Iraq years before the events of 9/11.  We saw this in Zbigniew Brzezinski's important book from 1998, called The Grand Chessboard (which can be read online in PDF form here), where he stipulates the importance of Central Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the 'Stans of the former Soviet Union) and the Caucausus (the countries between Russia and Iran, like Azerbaijan and Georgia) for American global primacy.

[For those who haven't yet grasped it, President Obama is basically a disciple of Brzezinski's, having studied with him at Columbia University in college.]

Here's a sample of the kind of thinking that guides our foreign policy and military deployment, from The Grand Chessboard:
Despite its limited size and small population, Azerbaijan [just west of Afghanistan], with its vast energy resources, is also geopolitically critical. It is the cork in the bottle containing the riches of the Caspian Sea basin and Central Asia. The independence of the Central Asian states can be rendered nearly meaningless if Azerbaijan becomes fully subordinated to Moscow's control. Azerbaijan's own and very significant oil resources can also be subjected to Russian control,once Azerbaijan's independence has been nullified. An independent Azerbaijan, linked to Western markets by pipelines that do not pass through Russian-controlled territory, also becomes a major avenue of access from the advanced and energy-consuming economies to the energy rich Central Asian republics. Almost as much as in the case of Ukraine, the future of Azerbaijan and Central Asia is also crucial in defining what Russia might or might not

Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran, an "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, though 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. [pp. 47, 55 of The Grand Chessboard]
Of course, Azerbaijan did become independent, thanks to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which in turn was at least partially caused by our support for the Islamist Mujihadeen [Osama Bin laden et al] in the late 70s and 80s, opening up its oil riches to the West. And that 'grand coalition' of China, Russia, and Iran has been occurring over the last ten years, just as 'Bzig' predicted. And "U.S. geostrategic skill", such as it is, is currently being applied to what we've been doing around 'Eurasia', including our invasion of Iraq and our surge in Afghanistan.  Here's another quote:
Whatever the future, it is reasonable to conclude that American primacy on the Eurasian continent will be buffeted by turbulence and perhaps at least by sporadic violence. America's primacy is potentially vulnerable to new challenges, either from regional
contenders or novel constellations. The currently dominant American global system, within which "the threat of war is off the table," is likely to be stable only in those parts of the world in which American primacy, guided by a long-term geostrategy, rests
on compatible and congenial sociopolitical systems, linked together by American-dominated multilateral frameworks....

The traditional Balkans represented a potential geopolitical prize in the struggle for European supremacy. The Eurasian Balkans [meaning the Caucasus and Central Asia], astride the inevitably emerging transportation network meant to link more directly Eurasia's richest and most industrious western and eastern extremities, are also geopolitically significant. Moreover, they are of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and more powerful neighbors, namely, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, with China also signaling an increasing political interest in the region. But the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural
gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold....

The world's energy consumption is bound to vastly increase over the next two or three decades. Estimates by the U.S. Department of Energy anticipate that world demand will rise by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2015, with the most significant increase in consumption occurring in the Far East. The momentum of Asia's economic development is already generating massive pressures for the exploration and exploitation of new sources of energy, and the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.  Access to that resource and sharing in its potential wealth represent
objectives that stir national ambitions, motivate corporate interests, rekindle historical claims, revive imperial aspirations, and fuel international rivalries. [pp.59, 124-125]
Question: do you ever hear such language on the evening news or the cable news networks?  No, of course not.  The Washington foreign policy Establishment does not want the average American to worry their silly little heads over such matters of great importance!!  It would be too distracting for us, you see.  They would rather that we think of our military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya as 'humanitarian' in nature, or to promote 'democracy' or simply chasing Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in the mountains and valleys of North Wazirastan.  In other words, we the average Americans, who vote for our elected leaders and pay the bills, are kept in the dark by our government and the main-stream media about the real reasons we are involved in Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.  (And truth be told, many Americans probably don't want to know!  Ignorance is bliss, you know.)

For all I know, this global geostrategy may be necessary and something we've got to do.  We may have gotten ourselves so 'painted into a corner' with our excessive use of fossil fuels, that we can't stop occupying nations that have it, short of national collapse.  But we'll never get the chance to decide that, because they never tell us.  It's not really open to debate.  "It's a secret", as we used to say as kids.  Our leaders treat us as children, not adults.

Just remember this the next time you're listening to Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

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