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America, Russia and the New Balance of Power

febbraio 3, 2017




Ripubblico qui in inglese, con variazioni e aggiunte,  un articolo che scrissi qualche tempo fa sulla  nuova “Balance of Power” internazionale che si profila all’orizzonte. Le pezze d’appoggio sono prestigiose, e vanno dalle osservazioni di Zygmunt Bauman, propugnatore dell’ipotesi di un “mondo liquido”, a quelle di Alain de Benoist; con un rinvio interessante, a mio avviso, a una figura, quella di Nicholas Spykman,  che ebbe un peso notevolissimo  nello sviluppo della visione geopolitica degli Stati Uniti nei primi anni ’40, la cui strategia è stata studiata con molto acume da  Francis S. Sempa nel suo esemplare The Geopolitical Realism of Nicholas Spykman. Non meno fondamentali le osservazioni di Alexandros Petersen e Katinka Barysch sull’argomento.



It is true that today the United States  have no absolute  control  over the international scenario, as had happened after the World war II  until the demise of the Soviet Union. It is also true that, as has been rightly pointed out by Zygmunt Bauman, we now live in a liquid modern world  where today’s superpowers are more streamlined than in the past by the raise of new powers  like China, India,  Brazil & others. Now everything is boiling,  or does not seem to have  secure horizons. However, experience shows that what is liquid turns usually into solid, and that sooner or later (that is to say, over the next ten or twenty years) the international political situation will have much more defined contours.



A first step of the future  world politics trend and solidification is the renewed presence of Russia on the international chessboard. President Putin really gives rise to a new scenario, where Russia is accommodated within  the center of a new strategic alliance that inevitably one day will  collide with that of the United States:


“The extreme acumen of Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov against Barack Obama’s indecisiveness and Francois Holland naivety, has been symptomatic. With its intervention in the Syrian affair, Russia has regained its role as a major world power and thus showed that it (Russia) is not a negligible party in international affairs, but that it will have to be reckoned with in the future.” (Alain de Benoist).


Central Asia presents problems


“Today the […]  US influence in Central Asia  is associated again with Russia, China and Iran, three different countries, yet forming a real community of interests which represents 1.5 billion people, ” Alain de Benoist  said. Besides, he added that  Americans are perfectly aware of the development of this particular scenario:


“Americans may have many faults but there is something we cannot deny them, they are aware of the global stakes.” In fact, since the early 1940s they knew and appreciated the  geopolitical writings of Nicholas Spykman who stressed that,


‘The United States must recognize once again, and permanently, that the power constellation in Europe and Asia is of everlasting concern to her, both in time of war and in time of peace.’ And  Adam Garfinkle recently observed that  ‘Spykman’s views were universally known and widely appreciated’” in the United States (Francis S. Sempa).


In this connection, Alain de Benoist  firmly continued:


“Who controls Eurasia, controls the world, Brzezinski said. To control Eurasia, means, first of all, adopting a strategy of encirclement of Russia and China. The encirclement of Russia strategy includes the installation of new military bases in Eastern Europe, the establishment of anti-missiles defense systems in Poland, Czech Republic and Romania, supporting the accession of Ukraine and Georgia to Nato, and pursuing an aggressive policy aiming to dislocate Russia’s influence in key regions around the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus. In terms of energy supply, this strategy leads to the control of Central Asia’s pipelines, Central Asia being transformed into an American protectorate encouraging the development of pipelines in the Caspian to bypass Russia and to reach Turkey, as well as limiting as much as possible the access of Russian tankers to the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits.” (Alain de Benoist).


Russia’s  pragmatic President, Vladimir Putin, is called on to measure himself against Donald Trump, an equally pragmatic man  who (at least it seems to me)  is perhaps more helpful than others in dealing with the issue of a new division of the liquid world in favor of both America and Russia.


But really Central Asia will be “transformed into an American protectorate?” I doubt it.  China’s relationship with Russia will be “inevitable, ” Alexandros Petersen & Katinka Barysch  said:


“From an energy perspective, the relationship between Russia and China should be straightforward. Russia is the world’s biggest hydrocarbon producer. China one of the world’s biggest and fastest growing energy market […] A long-term strategic energy relationship between the two looks not only commercially viable but almost inevitable.”


In Alexandros Petersen & Katinka Barysch’s magnificent work (Russia, China and the Geopolitics of Energy in Central Asia), the problems of the triangular relations among China, Russia and United States are posed as follows:


“In the immediate post-Cold War period China took a passive approach to Central Asia, staying on the  sidelines  of the Russia-American struggle for influence in the region. More recently, however, with economic and energy considerations rising into to the fore and China more self-confident in its foreign policy, this has changed dramatically.”


But  Americans’ “interests in Central Asia are political and strategic, ”  Richard Morningstar, the Obama’s administration special envoy  stressed, and,  “The US position was and still is that Russia should not have a monopoly on pipelines.”. Furthermore, “The Chinese used the global financial crisis to further expand their influence in Central Asia, offering cash-strapped local regimes large scale loans for economic stimulus and energy investments.”


Thus, both Russia and America  will divide equally Central Asia among them for making their business, but China will play gooseberry. So, the Russia and the United States need to have a cordial   relationship for effectively opposing the Chinese presence in Central Asia.


But the drama is open to different interpretations and implications.




“The world I call liquid because, like all liquids, it cannot stand still and keeps its shape for long.” Zygmunt Bauman, 44 Letters From the Liquid Modern World, Polity Press,  2011, p. 1.


Alain de Benoist,  The End of the Present World: The Post-American Century and Beyond Conference. From a speech delivered by Alain de Benoist in Central London, UK, 12 October 2013.


Francis S. Sempa, “The Geopolitical Realism of Nicholas Spykman,”  Introduction to  Nicholas Spykman, America’s Strategy in World Politics: The United States and the Balance of Power, Transaction Publishers, 2008, p. XXVIII, and p. XXXII, footnote 69.


Alexandros Petersen & Katinka Barysch, Russia, China and the Geopolitics of Energy in Central Asia, Published by the Center for European Reform (CER), November 2011, p. 2, 39, 32,  42.



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