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Farid Erkizia Bakht
WIkipedia “Indo-China” and it will refer to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and then onto the defeat of the French colonialists (so much for liberte, egalite e fraternite) and the ‘American anguish’ over defeat even though they killed 2 million Vietnamese, opened the path for Pol Pot and destroyed the jungles with Dow Chemical Agent Orange (soon to be seen at the London Olympics).
Geographically, it makes more sense to see Indo-China to the north west of this region.
Myanmar, Yunnan, the Seven Sister states, Bangladesh, West Bengal, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet and Kashmir.
And this area is the new fault line in much of our lifetime. A Venn Diagram of states, provinces and regions in a Nuclear Neighbourhood.
The great prize for Washington is the ‘containment’ of China by building up India, making inroads into Myanmar and sowing discontent in Tibet and Western China up to Chongking.
The great prize for Delhi? (I don’t say India as like I never subscribed to the idea of ‘whats good for General Motors is good for America’ I also don’t believe that the neo-imperial tendencies of South Block and neo-liberal ideologies of Mumbai-Delhi are any good for the state of India)…….. a fulfilment of the urge to be the Asian superpower (piggy-backing the US) putting China back in its cage.
A necessary condition for Delhi is therefore economic, political and military domination of South Asia, a version of the ‘Near Abroad’ to use post Soviet terminology.
This 21st century Indo-China is the next frontline. The ‘re-opening’ of Myanmar should be seen in this context.
Essentially, this has the makings of the ‘Balkan Question’ of the 1800s up to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and the onset of an epoch changing World War. This time it moves east, out of Europe into Forgotten Asia.
Minerals, Natural Gas, hydro-energy, cheap labour, a half a billion consumers, the gateway to the potential riches of Northern Indian gangetic plain and to South-east Asia up to Singapore and Hanoi as well as the untapped potential of Western China (a continent away from Shanghai and the Pacific Coast)…. added to the vital rare earths of Tibet and the perennial impasse (and half a million Indian troops) over Kashmir…… the armed national liberation movements in the Seven Sisters and the inexorable rise of the Maoist rebellion in the Strategic Corridor cutting the sub-continent in half from Nepal down to the Bay of Bengal.
In the next post in this series, we turn to a country in the middle of all this.. a population with a history of volatile politicisation, with a youth bulge and a desperate need for jobs, economic uplift to offset a looming environmental catastrophe…..
One of the biggest casualties of the Great Crisis (set to get worse over the next 3 years) could be the Westphalian system of nation states – this notion of nation states was solidified after the bloody Thirty Years War in Europe.
The outcome will not be just lurches to the Right or Left. It will lead to the biggest fragmentation of Europe since 1918 as empires collapsed after WW1 (Austro-Hungarian, German and Russian)
On top of financial and economic crises, we have a situation of permanent resource war in the Middle East, Africa and Asia including the ‘containment of China’, the war on Muslim states, the Maoist rebelion in India & independence movements in the Seven Sister states bordering China, the ‘opening up of Myanmar’, the battle between (and within) Latin America and the Yankee North…..
So, let’s prepare for a new World where the following states will fragment/break up (and while a rump may retain the name, it will be far smaller in size than today) and the ‘original’ will only exist in history, nostalgia and our imagination:
We have had a Thirty Years War in our lifetime – that of ‘Globalisation’ or as I see it ‘Amercanisation’ where borders were weakened in a free for all for multinationals and finance.
The casualties are everywhere: hollowed out industries in the Western economies, peoples and states bulldozed in petrodollar wars… a billion or is it two in urban slums… climate ravaged regions…
The result: this is the decade of fragmentation.
For obvious reasons, all eyes are focused on the Mediterranean or the Gulf. The former for economic turmoil on the northern coast of the Med, and war, coups and state fragmentation on the southern shores of the Med, and now the east with the imminent fragmentation of Syria. A recent article in the Jerusalem Post quoting a Kurdish Syrian gives us a clue.
The latter, with the Gulf, revolves around the drive to grab Iran’s fossil fuel as well as control Shia dominated oil regions (in ‘Iraq’ and ‘Saudi Arabia’) and Qatar too.
When Iran is put to the sword in 2013, we will not look elsewhere for our Daily News.
Or should it be called Old News.
The strategic direction for the US is to the East in Asia.
Today it’s about saving the US Dollar as a reserve currency and thus the debt-soaked US economy. How? Attack oil countries to a) grab the oil & gas and b) ensure everyone pays for it in US Dollars and not paper like the ‘Euro’…
Tomorrow, the game will be different once the above objectives have been secured.
South Asia is now the new region being prepared for a showdown.
So far, the instability has reached the Indus valley (Pakistan) as the Afghan war spills over into Pathan/Pashtun territory and more importantly to mineral & fuel rich Baluchistan – give the latter four years for independence.
India’s political frame is being being hollowed out on the eastern front as Maoists fight the Indian Army & paramilitary over resource rich states.
This will follow its logical conclusion. Not sure? Look at Nepal.
Myanmar or Burma is now in play. The target is China. It’s awful economic colonisation is set to be challenged as Western interests vie with India to restore the old British era order of reconnecting with South Asia.
The US wants China ‘contained’. Encircled. Kept at bay. New Delhi is being given an old song to sing. It’s the strategic ally par excellence of Washington. Islamabad is being ditched as NATO leaves Afghanistan (except for its permanent bases).
Delhi is eager to be top dog and craves recognition. It wants to win, once and for all in South Asia and then ‘challenge’ China.
To do that, it needs to secure the far flung Seven Sister states, led by gas-rich Assam and get into Mandalay.
In the way is Bangladesh, otherwise known as the Philippines of South Asia, i.e. a compliant ally of Washington.
The Pentagon wanted Sri Lanka but they went to the Chinese and Russians for weapons and ended that 3 decade long war, and guess who will be eager to invest and control that wonder island with its 99% literacy – a new TIger economy in the making.
Instead, the 7th Fleet is looking to Chittagong and the possibility of a base, giving it a few minutes flying time into Chinese airspace and ensuring a zone of control over Burma/Myanmar as well as India.
The writing is on the wall that there will be a hard military coup in Bangladesh in 2013, latest 2014. The democratic experiment will come to an end as will the two party dynasties of the Awami League and BNP.
The 165 million densely packed population will somehow be expected to accept continued and never-ending World Bank economic rule and then an overt US military presence on top. The plan is for Indian multinationals to pour in billions of rupees to build power plants and other infrastructure to get the buy in of the Bangladeshi business class as well get directand shorter communications through Bangladeshi territory, rather than around it.
Transhipment, in the local parlance.
The neglected Seven Sister states have been fighting for independence for decades. They are supposed to trade in freedom for economic prosperity, Delhi style. To which begs the question: why didn’t Delhi do this in 1972 rather than talk about it in 2012? Why were they solely focused on fighting over glaciers with the Pakistani army when they could have invested in their own people?
In other words, too little too late and too opportunistic.
Including Myanmar as well Yunnan and Western China beyond, this region is the NExt Economic Frontier. Its strategic importance is something the Robert Kaplan s of this world truly grasp. Clues to future /current US policy can be seen in his book (Monsoon) on the Indian Ocean.
Specifically, Eastern ‘South Asia’ is soon to be the new zone of disorder.
In this nuclear neighbourhood, aspiring superpowers and a declining hyperpower are going to take things to their logical conclusion.
The second decade of the 21st century is going to get even more dangerous.
Gold reaches a ‘nominal’ record price just shy of $1600 an ounce. Some predict it reaIching $2000 by Xmas, and anything up towards $5,000 in the next few years as Western governments print oceans of new ‘money’… launching QE3, QE4 and more.
Utah accepts Gold as legal tender. This week, there was talk of the Swiss planning a gold-backed Swiss Franc.
Linked to all this is the continuing debt crises on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Europeans have performed yet another joke ‘stress-testing’ examination of the banks. 9 failed, 16 nearly.
Let us not forget the Irish banks passed with flying colours last year and then promptly went under, and had to be bailed out.
It looks like a choice between the European Central Bank printing €3 trillion to buy the bonds of the PIIGS or accept that Greece, Portugal and Ireland will default.. and then Spain and Italy will revert back to the Peseta and Lira.
Despite all the political capital invested in the Euro project by the Spanish elite, they will have no choice but to leave the Euro.
It is likely that the ultra right of the Partido Popular will win handsomely in the next general elections (latest by March 2012 but could be earlier) while the nationalists (an
d increasingly to the left of the spectrum in the Basque country) will win in the Iberian periphery.
You can see where this leads. A sullen, right wing elite in Madrid unwilling or unable to accept that the post-1975 road to European milk and honey is at an end and then facing disintegration of the Spanish state by the middle of the decade.
When the Euro collapses, it will inevitably lead to the rolling back of the European project. Forget Lisbon. It will be over.
Remember the Hanseatic League? Vaguely.
Picture a new 21st century variant something like this:
Germany, Walloonia, Holland, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Norway will become a new Deutch Mark dominated economic zone. The richest region on the planet.
Everyone will want to trade and ally with them.. Russia, the Swiss, the new rich ‘states’ of Northern Italy, Catalonia, Euskalherria, Scotland, Eastern Europe and of course the Chinese and Japanese.
The centre of gravity is set to shift from Western Europe into Central/Northern Europe. Economically, it has already happened.
What is left is monetarily, politically and culturally.
Paris and London: eat your heart out. Enjoy your colonial wars in places like Libya…. while you still can.
The Brazilians will buy up Portugal in a reverse of five centuries of colonialism and turn Lisbon into southern Europe’s Sao Paolo as industrialisation arrives in a big way.
Europe’s Politics stand on a knife-edge.
The old institutions look ripe for dissolution.
To divert people from daylight robbery (i.e. austerity for the majority, honey for the rich minority) and flirting with radical ideas of the Greens and the Indignados, there will be shift to semi-fascist ideologies… watch Le Pen in France, the continuing rise of the Freedom Party in Austria, its equivalent in Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Hungary.
Is any of this possible?
If we look back at European history upto the 30 years war and the Treaty of Westphalia, then why not?
Twenty years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a new generation is seeing politics in a new light. The worldview of Central/Northen Europe is no longer bound by the necessary ‘payment’ by Germany for its ghastly crimes of WW2. It no longer has to seek US support against the Russian collosus.
The US and English may still have tanks and missiles in Germany, but they are just relics from the Cold War. Elites find it impossible to move on and accept the world has changed.
London, as a Trojan horse for Washington, can no longer pursue the centuries old scheme of preventing the rise of a dominant ‘continental power’. It has happened.
There are no ideological, political or economic barriers for Central/Northern Europe to forge strong relations with a reviving Russia, even in its present callous form.
If the Chinese cannot save the Euro, then they will accept a new Deutsch Mark 2 (or whatever it is called.. EuroCor or Euro-Mark?).
Follow the Money, as they say.
In this background, the Green and Indignado movements have their work cut out. How to convince the peoples of these new states and region that ecology and equality have a central role in this new World?
Greens have won a notable victory over Big Nuclear in this new heartland: Germany. This paves the way to a ramp up in use of Russian natural gas while a vast new infrastructure for renewable energy is laid out, a more energy & waste-efficient industrial system is put in place.
But the war for equality is the key.
The intellectual and political challenge is how to construct and continental (and ultimately global) movement on the following premise:
Eco-Socialism through National Liberation.
A marriage of Green & Left with the desire for national freedom, with nationalism.
If Greens and the Left remain wedded to a universalist framework, they will be outfought by the Right, riding on sentiment about nations and race.
One can be Nationalist as well as Left (the Basques prove this).
And one can be Green as well as Nationalist. That is a right-wing Green nationalist as well as a Left Wing Green Nationalist.
The monumental challenge is to ensure we get the latter not the former.
The Green movement has to grow up. It has to get its hands dirty. It has to choose sides. It has to recognise that it is a minority or even non-existent in most of Asia, Russia, Eastern Europe, Iberia, Africa and the Americas. Forget conferences. Forget the Big NGOs. Forget ‘winning’ arguments on barely read journals (such as the Guardian in the UK).
It has to link up with wider forces from below as well as the Left. Most of all, it must seek to influence the nationalist dialogue. To help define ‘national liberation’. To wrest the argument away from Berlusconi, Sarkozy, Le Pen and the ultra-rightists.
That political war will be fought in the Iberian peripheries, parts of France and Italy and most of all in Germany. I would like to say Scotland but there are no signs of it. Yes, Scotland is going solo this decade but it’s not too different from CIU of Catalonia or PNV of the Basques. It has to shift much more towards the ideology of equality and ecology within its present nationalist framework.
If the Chinese cannot save the Euro, then they will accept a new Deutsch Mark 2 (or whatever it is called.. EuroCor or Euro-Mark?).
Follow the Money, as they say.
In this background, the Green and Indignado movements have their work cut out.
Whichever side prevails in Europe, the end of this decade will be unimaginable to its start.
Aftter decades of disappointment and anguish, that’s a start.
German troops beyond the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan? Who would have thought it in the days before the fall of the Berlin Wall…. but nowadays no one bats an eyelid… who isn’t in Afghanistan, playing imperial games?
Now Berlin decides to sell 200 Leopard battle tanks, one the world’s most lethal, to that pillar of democracy….. wait for it…. Saudi Arabia.
It needs oil like every other fossil-fuel addicted economy… but then, it can always go to Russia for more..
At least Berlin isn’t running behind the invaders of Libya but that’s not saying much.
Being the economic powerhouse of Europe, Germany has unparalleled influence these days.
It will make or break Europe this decade.
Pity, the current right wing regime is meddling in sensitive regions in the worst possible way.
While I am happy to see the likely end of the ‘Christian’ democrats in the next elections (2013) and the entry of a Green-led coalition, the fact that the German Greens actually support the war in Afghanistan (in some misguided idea about democracy or women rights), it will be an improvement but it won’t be earth-shattering.
The two rising stars China and Germany haven’t worked out they need to change their foreign policy…….
The ongoing war in Libya looks like a comedy of errors, once we ignore the deaths and injuries.
There seemed to be more technology on the ground when Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Korps were running rings round numerically superior British Desert Rats until the Alamein, than shown by that lunatic Gaddafi and the Western backed ragtag of pseudo-Taliban and Facebook inspired ‘guerillas’.
Even US & NATO 21st century bombers, fighters and drones don’t seem to have turned the battle. though they prevented a rout of the secessionists by Gaddafi.
What we have now is stalemate and partition. Anyone care about Iraq? Or Afghanistan/Pakistan?
Obama escalates the war in Afghanistan and the ‘progressive Left’ still love him. Now Obama starts a war in Africa against the wishes of the African Union. So much for a black President being different.
And the progressive Left in London ‘agonised’ over whether to send in the bombers to Libya …. in the end, not a lot has changed….. for all the talk about a rising Asia and a changing world, both the Right and Left in Western Europe still cannot let go dictating the affairs of the world.
There is no strategic need for the UK or France to be embroiled in a war. They are sending ‘advisers’… just like in Vietnam…… they will then send troops to basically carve out a state in Cyrenaica on the borders of Egypt….. all those revolutionaries in Cairo & Alexandria will soon have NATO armies to its West, a corrupt US-vassal Egyptian Army in the middle and the Israeli Army & bombers to the East…….
….. Obama, Cameron & Sarkozy are pale imitations of the war leaders they aspire to be… no Roosevelt, Churchill or De Gaulle here then…..
The Germans have signalled their disapproval of this war…. They are at one with the Russians and the Turks…. this is the most significant realignment of this episode……. London & Paris will never want Berlin to link arms with Moscow or Ankara……. their stupid escapade in Libya has helped that speed up……..
Meanwhile, the low intensity, low capability war continues…… We live in an age of Permanent War……