Ways of looking at the geopolitical Shift
— both articles are attached (pdf-file) —
zerohedge, March 02, 2015 – http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-03-02/next-empire
The Next Empire zerohedge-The-Next-Empire150303
Jeff THOMAS, USA
Throughout history, political, financial, and military leaders have sought to create empires. Westerners often think of ancient Rome as the first empire. Later, other empires formed for a time. Spain became an empire, courtesy of its Armada, its conquest of the New World, and the gold and silver extracted from the West. Great Britain owned the 19th century but lost its empire due largely to costly wars. The US took over in the 20th century and, like Rome, rose as a republic, with minimal central control, but is now crumbling under its own governmental weight.
Invariably, the last people to understand the collapse of an empire are those who live within it. As a British subject, I remember my younger years, when, even though the British Empire was well and truly over, many of my fellow Brits were still behaving in a pompous manner as though British “superiority” still existed. Not so, today. (You can only pretend for so long.)
But this does suggest that those who live within the present empire—the US—will be the last to truly understand that the game is all but over. Americans seem to be hopeful that the dramatic decline is a temporary setback from which they will rebound.
Not likely. Historically, once an empire has been shot from its perch, it’s replaced by a rising power—one that’s more productive and more forward thinking in every way. Yet the US is hanging on tenaciously, and like any dying empire, its leaders are becoming increasingly ruthless, both at home and abroad, hoping to keep up appearances. (…)
China has emerged as a new contender for control over Mackinder’s “Heartland.”
Artyom LUKIN *, Russia
In 1904 the founder of geopolitics Sir Halford Mackinder famously pronounced the end of “the Columbian epoch” – that of the dominance of the Western sea power – and the advent of the age of land power, in which the Heartland of Eurasia, or “the pivot area,” would hold the key to the world domination. The pivot area largely corresponded to the territory of the then Russian Empire – occupying central and northern Eurasia.
Mackinder’s main concern was that a rapidly industrializing and expansionist Tsarist Russia could successfully challenge the West’s sea-power-based primacy, taking advantage of the Heartland’s geostrategic centrality and harnessing the huge potentialities of Inner Eurasia’s vast landmass. In actuality, Russia was never able to pull off such a feat – neither under the Tsar, nor in its Soviet reincarnation. It seems even less capable of achieving it now, being reduced to a rump of its former imperial glory and struggling with a shaky economy.
Nevertheless, it may be a little bit too early to write off Mackinder’s prophecies. For there has emerged another contender for the control over the Heartland: China. Although Beijing is making inroads in places as far away as Africa and Latin America, its main game is in Eurasia. We can only guess if Chinese leaders have read Mackinder, but the strategies they are pursuing are more or less in line with the British geographer’s theory.
For one thing, Beijing is aggressively seeking to (re)create the Silk Road that is envisioned as Eurasia’s superhighway – running through the Heartland and reliably linking China with other parts of the continent, such as Europe, the Middle East, Southeast and South Asia. In order to fund this grand design, new financial institutions are being created by China like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund.
In the new Silk Road, railways will play the key role. China is rapidly expanding its own railway network and has become the world’s leader in building high-speed lines, while also expanding into neighboring countries. Central Asia has so far been the main target of this multi-billion dollar push to upgrade and construct rail lines, roads, pipelines and other infrastructure. Another possible trunk of the twenty-first-century Silk Road will run from China further north. One section of it, a planned high-speed railway stretching some 7,000 kilometers, will connect Moscow and Beijing, cutting the travel time between the two cities from the current six or more days to about 33 hours. (…) LUKIN-Mackinder-Revisited150207
* Artyom Lukin is associate professor at the School of Regional and International Studies, Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia.