« Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island » », that is to say Eurasia. The geographer Halford Mackinder became famous because of this shock-phrase taken from his book Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919). But the idea had already been expressed in his article “The Geographical Pivot of History” published in 1904 in the Geographical Journal (No.4, April 1904, Vol.XXIII). In fact, if we look at the map published in this article the Heartland (Pivot Area) matches with today’s Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Iran.
In the September/October 1997 issue of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote an article entitled « A Geostrategy for Eurasia » in which he wanted to implement the hegemonic thinking of his predecessor.
According to him, Russia is now living shut off in the nostalgiaof its imperial past, a nostalgia that prevents it from contemplating the future with pragmatism. Instead of being realistic, Russia is regularly tempted by engaging “in a futile effort to regain its status as a global power”. But Russia must stop living in the contemplation of its golden age. The Russian bureaucracy has had a negative effect on the development of “the world’s largest piece of estate spanning ten time zones and dwarfing the United States, China, or an enlarged Europe” and, in a near future, it won’t be able to resist the pressure of its neighbors. Brzezinski’s conclusion is final: Russia has to modernize and decentralize or die. And then, putting his money where his mouth is, he takes the map of Russia and divides it into three equal parts, creating what he calls “a loosely confederated Russia, composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic and a Far Eastern Republic”. This solution, if applied one day, would allow the newly created states to engage in “closer economic relations with [their] neighbors”, disconnected from “Moscow’s heavy bureaucracy”. And seven years later, in a book entitled The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership (2004), he goes further pretending that a transnational effort to develop and colonize Siberia could stimulate genuine European-Russian bonding”. In his opinion, Siberia is a new “Alaska”, a new “California”, “an El Dorado for [Europe’s] more adventurous settlers”, a source of “immeasurable natural wealth”, “an occasion for profitable investments”. Caught in the rapture of geopolitics, he contemplates the transformation of Siberia into “a common Eurasian asset exploited on a multilateral basis”. For him, this change would have the advantage of “challenging the satiated European society with an exciting new frontier”. You thought the good old times of colonization were gone? Then you’re wrong, because they aren’t. Thanks to Dr. B., a “Drang Nach Osten for development” is on its way. Nevertheless, he points out that things won’t be easy since the Russians won’t accept this “geopolitical pluralism” right away. Opposing “the residual imperial ambitions of much of its political elite” that could turn the regime to dictatorship will be “the major task of the Euroatlantic policy”. How will this be done? Simply by “creating enduring obstacles to any attempt of imperial restoration”. An idea that is deeply rooted in the doctor’s mind since he wrote, seven years before, that “a decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization” (Foreign Affairs).
But let’s summarize the Doctor’s central belief:
- First, Russia must stop being a challenger to the US and let itself get absorbed by NATO and the European Union. By doing so, it will stop being a threat to the US and the US will have ample opportunity to apply a military pressure for example on… China.
- Second, Russia must become a democracy, but only according to the definition that reduces Democracy to the western system of universal suffrage. We European and American citizens know what this kind of democratization is leading to. It will bring to power a bunch of opportunistic and understanding technocrats who will launch a Barbarossa operation on the citizen’s freedom and completely ignore the most urgent environmental issues. Those agents will act in accordance with the local and western oligarchs’ diktats and will be compensated by political lobbies or end up being members of some corporation’s board of directors. Of course, they will turn a blind eye to the deregulation of the financial market, welcome the outsourcing of western factories and apply a permissive labor code that will authorize the exploitation of workers all over the country. They will also make it easier for those who don’t want rigorous fiscal policies to keep their immense profits. In short, those politicians will spread corruption in order to increase the profits of those who have always benefited from the neoliberal and capitalist economic system.
- Third, Russia must agree to be dismantled and become the promised land of a new generation of pioneers who will be able to run the subsoil of these regions that will soon become, given that men are brothers in oil and gas extraction, a middle ground, an area of collective and shared economy, some kind of international kolkhoz maybe. And, what a coincidence, the Siberian Republic, the central part of the new division of Russia, perfectly matches with the Western Siberian Basin which is, according to a 2003 USGS report (Petroleum, Geology and Resources of the West Siberian Basin, Russia, by Gregory F. Ulmishek), “the largest petroleum basin in the world covering an area of about 2.2 million km2” between the Ural Mountains and the Yenisey River, and the Kara Sea. “The basin contains several tens of giant and supergiant oil and gas fields”, “produces over the three-quarters of both oil and gas in Russia” and “remains moderately explored (…) in spite of large volumes of drilling”. If we take a look at the BP Statistical Review of World Energy of the year 2015, we realize that today, Russia holds 6.1% of total proven reserves of world oil (2.9% only for the US) and 17.4% of proven reserves of world gas (only 5.2% for the US). Let’s say by the way that Iran holds 18.2% of proven reserves of world gas, 9.3% for Turkmenistan. Needless to say that those two countries are unfortunately located in Mackinder’s Heartland.
One can smile at the list of renunciations demanded of Russia by the optimistic Dr. Brzezinski: at a political level (renunciation of the regime that allows the country to remain independent to replace it by a so-called democratic regime in fact only based on elections and therefore easily influenced by corporate lobbying and corruption), at an economic level (renunciation of its sovereignty over hydrocarbons-rich territories) and at a strategic level (loss of military bases, of nuclear missiles bases, of the biggest part of its coastline).
That’s why it’s really too difficult to remain serious before a joke so seriously expressed and directed at readers who worry only about getting richer and more powerful, pioneering-minded readers who view Siberia as a new Alaska, as a new California, as the opportunity of a new gold rush, of a new Drang nach Osten that will not be peaceful at all but will be, on the contrary, one more plundering, a bigger one, the Technicolor plundering of a Heartland once and for all submitted to the big money and whose submission will mean, for those who still believe in it, the end of History.
Let’s remember what president Obama said about the Doctor: that he “has, over decades framed some of the most prominent foreign policy specialists” in both parties, that as an outstanding scholar, an outstanding thinker, and an outstanding friend, he himself has learnt “an immense amount from”.
It seems consistent that this particular Obama, not the one who made promises on two electoral occasions, but the real one, shaped and brought to presidency by the powerful group of people of whom Dr. B. is the representative, has decided to wage a war against Russia, a war that began with a fascist coup in Ukraine, followed with a series of sanctions against Russia and an attempt to destabilize the Syrian ally, using the pretext of a terrorist organization called ISIL whose actions justified – what a divine surprise – the American interventionism in a sovereign state, through a series of inefficient bombings and the financial and military support given to a liberation army of “moderate Islamic fundamentalists”, maybe not as moderate as they say but very useful, as the ones the Doctor provided with weapons back in 1979 in Afghanistan to give the Russians their own “Vietnam War”.
The goal of Obama’s America, which is Brzezinski’s America and the one of the elite who controls the foreign policy from the Council on Foreign Relations, is to make Russia move backwards, to lock it up in its own borders, to besiege it, to defeat it and to smash it into three blocks easier to crush under the legs of the dinosaurs of globalization.
I just hope these remarks will enable the hesitant reader to better understand Mr. Putin, his protection of Assad’s Syria, his resistance in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, his invasion of Georgia in 2008 and his political moves against the “Islamic” fundamentalist movements whose funding source should be investigated before drawing definitive conclusions.
Photo: Eurasia map divided by Zbigniew Brzezinski in his article « A Geostrategy for Eurasia » Foreign Affairs, September/October 1997.
Thanks to Mary Byrne for fixing my translation of this article into English.