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Table of contents :
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
The Threat of Geopolitics to International Relations
The Threat of Geopolitics to International Relations: Obsession with the Heartland By
William Mallinson and Zoran Ristic
The Threat of Geopolitics to International Relations: Obsession with the Heartland By William Mallinson and Zoran Ristic This book first published 2016 Cambridge Scholars Publishing Lady Stephenson Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2PA, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Copyright © 2016 by William Mallinson and Zoran Ristic All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9738-8 ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9738-9
To the victims of geopolitics
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Foreword .................................................................................................... ix Pavel Kanevskiy List of Abbreviations .................................................................................. xi Entree........................................................................................................ xiii Chapter One ................................................................................................. 1 The Political Poisoning of Geography Chapter Two .............................................................................................. 15 Fifty Shades of IR Theory Chapter Three ............................................................................................ 25 Geohistory Chapter Four .............................................................................................. 35 Geobusiness: Anatomy of Greed Chapter Five .............................................................................................. 65 Globalisation, Speed and Greed Chapter Six ................................................................................................ 73 Geopolitical Victims: Cyprus, Diego Garcia et al Chapter Seven............................................................................................ 93 The Obsession with Russia, and her Reaction Chapter Eight ........................................................................................... 113 Conclusions Bibliography ............................................................................................ 121 Index ........................................................................................................ 129
We are living in a world where geopolitics has become a universal term. By looking at maps, politicians, experts, journalists and academics use it to explain the latest processes in international relations, no matter how complex and multilayered they appear to be originally. Geopolitics has entered the mass consciousness of public opinion, resembling peoples’ views of the world order and national interests. Every new political crisis, be it domestic or international, revolution, regime change, an international or regional conflict, intervention, hybrid war, business interests of transnational and multinational corporations, establishment of oil and gas routes, or fluctuations of the global markets is explained through the lens of geopolitics. Voters in the United States believe that America’s interests are best preserved if the country accomplishes its strategic goals in the Middle East or in the Asia-Pacific region. Russian citizens approve of military operations in Syria and the nation’s efforts to join the war on terror, while the media keep publishing maps of the battlefields, involving their readers in discussions on the balance of power in the region. The influence of geostrategic scenarios developed by think tanks and policy makers cannot be underestimated. It is largely the geopolitical mentality that stands behind today’s most dangerous crises and tensions in the Middle East, Ukraine or the South China Sea. Geopolitics serves as a very attractive model, offering an understandable and logical structure of international relations, that can be regarded as a game field (Brzezinski’s chess board) where actors are easily identified and scenarios are understandable. Some argue that geopolitics is a heritage of empire, and of a colonial and Cold War past, when massive parts of the world were understandably divided between the great rival powers. But the contemporary world is more complicated, because it is more diverse than ever before, including an enormous number of actors, and ruled by the logic of the market. Therefore, geopolitics has evolved in rhythm with global trends, so naturally such terms as geoeconomics and, largely inspired by Immanuel Wallerstein, geoculture have been coined. At the same time, even though geopolitics may sound attractively simple in its ability to explain the complexity of international relations, very few
serious efforts have been made to give a deeper insight into what stands behind this grand narrative. This book by William Mallinson and Zoran Ristic is a great attempt to get into the core of geopolitics, to analyse the roots and history of its evolution both as a term, as a strategy, as an ideologisation and, using the title, as an ‘obsession’. Armed with systemic knowledge of history and incisive language, the authors try to deconstruct the very meaning of geopolitics and show its real nature. For Mallinson and Ristic, history is a self-repeating continuity; in this sense their reference to Florentine statesman Francesco Guicciardini can be seen as a leitmotif – ‘the same things return, but with different names and colours’. Historical periods and events are mixed in a very postmodern way to give a feeling of a general logic that stands behind the geopolitical mentality, which is much older than the word itself. Seeing international relations primarily through the territorial distribution of power by leaders and strategists has led the world to many disasters, recurring throughout the history of humanity; these disasters have served as lessons that were never learnt, although there probably never was enough will to learn them. Hence the authors’ attempt to see international relations through geohistory rather than geopolitics is a remarkable effort to escape from the oversimplifying geographic determinism. International affairs is a complex system of state interlinks that have developed through time and been influenced by culture, ideology, religion, ambitions, rivalry, behaviour, economic interests and trade, political ambitions and intersocietal relations, all of which stretch far beyond differences between the land and the sea and drawing border lines in Prime Ministers’ offices. In many ways, geopolitical vision derives from military-security strategies that probably explain its attraction to decision-makers, but this vision per se does not help us to understand the structure of states, their societies and system of relations between them. Mallinson and Ristic are absolutely right when they say that ’clarifying international relations theory has never proved possible’. Battles between realism, liberalism, constructivism, institutionalism, Marxism and behaviourism are here to stay, because the world will always be unequal in terms of distribution of power and resources. But it does not mean that we should accept at face value such ‘universal’ approaches as that of geopolitics, which in the end does not serve as an explanation tool, but rather as a very concrete method to justify claims for power. Pavel Kanevskiy, Professor of Political Science, Associate Dean, Faculty of Sociology, Lomonosov Moscow State University
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
AKEL CO EAM EDES EOKA FO FCO GDP MOD NATO SACEUR SBA TMT UN UNFICYP
Cypriot Progressive People’s Working Party Colonial Office National Liberation Front National Republican Greek League National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters Foreign Office Foreign and Commonwealth Office Gross Domestic Product Ministry of Defence North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Supreme Allied Commander Europe Sovereign Base Area Turkish Defence Force United Nations United Nations Forces in Cyprus
Geopolitical Correctness The fashionable term ‘geopolitics’ is used willy-nilly these days, and increasingly so, mainly by international relations academics, think-tankers, politicians and foreign affairs officials, in the belief that the term adds respectability to what they are propounding. Sometimes, they confuse the word with ‘geostrategy’. More than sometimes, they even tend to use it to explain and justify illegal military attacks. Certainly, the term has entered the hegemonolinguistic terminology of globalisation, along with such simplistic terms as ‘shared values’, ‘shoulder to shoulder’, ‘going forward’, and the like. Some speakers can often be likened to autobrainwashed humans who no longer properly understand what they are saying: in Orwellian terms, the right noises come out of the larynx, but the speaker is in a reduced state of consciousness, which is of course favourable to political conformity.1 Many of those using the term have not studied its origins, let alone its meaning and implications. Once some of them do begin to try and understand it, they are attracted by world maps, simply because looking at maps is easier and less painstaking than reading words. As such, they remain trapped, albeit unknowingly, in a simplistic view of the world, a world where only the woods matter, while the trees become boring irrelevancies, let alone the branches and twigs. Geopolitics has – insidiously for many – been affecting the lives we lead to an increasing extent, aided by the so-called phenomenon of globalisation. Let us begin to define the term.
What is it? According to The Penguin Dictionary of International Relations, geopolitics is ‘a method of foreign policy analysis which seeks to understand, explain and predict international political behaviour primarily in terms of geographical variables, such as location, size, climate, topography, demography, natural resources and technological development and potential. Political identity and action is thus seen to be more (more or
Orwell, George, ‘Politics and the English Language’, Horizon, London, 1946.
less) determined by geography’.2 That may sound fine as far as it goes, although it does not mention behavior within nations. Nor is space given to the human characteristics that give rise to political behaviour. More succinctly, the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it thus: ‘the politics of a country as determined by its geographical features; the study of this.’3 One alleged academic of geopolitics views it as ‘an X-ray of reality and thus the study of the distribution of power internationally, the four kinds of power being military, economic, political and cultural/informational.’ ‘This,’ he says, ‘implies the existence of geostrategy’ or, as he puts it, ‘political intervention to transform or intensify the results of geopolitical analysis.’4 Again there is no mention of human characteristics, unsurprising, perhaps, given his academic qualifications in rural engineering and economic geography. Morality and people rarely figure in geostrategy, or, indeed, in its theoretical friend political realism. In direct contrast to the above, we believe that the prime focus in understanding international political behaviour, in line with geohistory5 (see Chapter Three), should be human characteristics. Indeed, we go further, positing that geopolitics, unlike neutral and dispassionate geohistory, actually restricts free analysis, constrained as it is by its obsession with the control of resources, which we believe to be one of the causes of war. Here we clash with the likes of Hegel, who appeared to believe that war brought progress.6 Like several German philosophers, Heraclitus’ famous saying ‘strife is justice’ seems to have been accompanied by a Teutonic excess of logic. The contention that war can bring progress seems to us too
Evans, Graham and Newnham, Jeffrey, The Penguin Dictionary of International Relations, Penguin, London etc., 1998, p. 197. 3 Eighth Edition, 1990. 4 Ioannis Mazis, interview with William Mallinson, Athens, 30 May 2006. 5 William Mallinson believed that he had first coined the term ‘geohistory’, until he trawled the Internet, and found that it already existed. Two precise definitions were: ‘The geological history of the Earth or of a region; history as studied in the context of geography or the earth sciences.’ He found only one serious paper on the term, in the form of a paper by Jose Luis Orella Unzué of the University of San Sebastian, written in 1995. Perhaps because of the hegemonolingual situation of English, and the fact that the paper is in Spanish, it does not appear to have had any great impact on current international relations thinking. His approach differs from ours, in that his paper concludes that geohistory is a new geography. Thus his emphasis appears to be on geography, whereas ours is on history. See Lurralde, no. 18, San Sebastian, 1995, ISSN 1697-3070. 6 Gat, Azar, The Origins of Military Thought, Oxford University Press, UK, 1989, pp. 242-243.
The Threat of Geopolitics to International Relations
simplistic and misguided: it may be true that land is sometimes burnt for agricultural reasons, to improve the next crop; but people are hardly to be equated with crops. In a materialistic sense, destruction of a large amount of Europe’s infrastructure in the last world war may well have led to faster trains, while in Britain, with less damage, the trains remained slower. But slower trains can hardly be taken as an example of lack of progress. To put the point more strongly, does owning an I-phone imply progress? Not if one juxtaposes it with giving knives and forks to cannibals. The point here is that advanced technology cannot have any serious effect on the basic human characteristics, other than inducing humans to move faster, with all the concomitant adverse effects, such as lack of space to properly reflect on one’s actions. To put it yet more succinctly, even if seemingly cryptically: in order to think, one needs the space not to think. So much for the ‘technological development’ aspect of geopolitics. The increased speed of communications today, allied to the dumbing down of education and a lack of analytical and evaluative knowledge of history, has led many to automatically assume that they are at the forefront of progress, without understanding what progress really means. Many of those in positions of responsibility have been brought up on a diet of violent computer games, that tend to anaesthetise their sensitivity towards killing and death. Thus it is that Mankind learns from what little of the past he knows, how to repeat his mistakes. To return to our definition, let us consider the words of the US Air Force, since they represent ‘geopolitical thinking’ par excellence: American airmen are ‘engaged defending US interests around the globe, supporting Combatant Commander requirements in response to growing challenges from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran […] The United States Air Force continues to be the world’s finest Air Force across the spectrum of conflict, but our potential adversaries employ increasingly sophisticated, capable, and lethal systems. The Air Force must modernize to deter, deny, and decisively defeat any actor that threatens the homeland and our national interests. […] Our sister services and allies expect the Air Force to provide critical warfighting and enabling capabilities. We remain focused on delivering Global Vigilance, Reach and Power, through our core missions of Air Superiority, Space Superiority, Global Strike, Rapid Global Mobility, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and Command and Control. We look forward to working closely with the
committee to ensure the ability to deliver combat air power for America when and where we are needed.’7 The above represents what many would consider to be ‘imperialistic geopolitics’, or what many now refer to as ‘meta-imperial’, since to admit that imperialism still abounds in our ‘advanced’ world is not politically correct. It is clear that the US armed forces still consider that America is the world’s only superpower, and that they believe that US interests are worldwide. If interests are to be measured by having over one thousand military bases worldwide (many of them taken over from former British colonies), then the US does indeed have worldwide interests, but mainly of a military nature. We shall discuss this in more depth later. Let us now introduce more precision to what geopolitics is, by looking at the history of the term, its early proponents, its temporary demise, and its resuscitation.
Presentation to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Airland Forces, United States Senate, 8 March 2016. Reported on Russia Today, in an article entitled ‘Russia and China closing in: US fears losing air dominance to more capable adversaries’, 12 March 2016.
CHAPTER ONE THE POLITICAL POISONING OF GEOGRAPHY
Introduction In Ancient Greece, geography (a Greek word, meaning ‘earth-writing’) was fairly unpolemical, given that it dealt mainly with the physical characteristics of our planet. Several ancient Greeks are credited with works on geography, including even Homer. As mapping became increasingly sophisticated with the circumnavigation of the world, so the study of geography was taken more seriously as an academic subject, being taught at European universities by the Eighteenth Century. The German van Humboldt gave a big impetus to the subject, with his Kosmos: A Sketch of a Physical description of the Universe, published in 1845. Although the physical description of peoples was a necessary part of geography, the subject was still fairly unsullied by political ideology. In Britain, the first full chair for geography was not established until 1917, although the Royal Geographical Society had been founded in 1830, when the term ‘geopolitics’ was still unknown. So what happened? Tracing the origin and meaning of geopolitics can be a thankless task, if one restricts oneself only to the plethora of clashing academic theories vying for prominence in explaining and propounding the term. We shall therefore adopt a simple geohistorical approach, to avoid the danger of trying to put human affairs into exact formulae, which only betrays a lack of wisdom.1 We go yet further, by suggesting that the lazier the mind, the greater the tendency to categorise, and sub-categorise, ideas and thoughts, by creating so-called ‘conceptual frameworks’, with facts being cherrypicked and crammed, or stretched, into a Procrustean model, which thus becomes a mental prison. We shall use the detachment gained from the deep study of history, the past, per se. Our geohistorical method will
Yutang, Lin, The Importance of Living, William Heinemann Ltd., London, 1938, p. 5.
manifest itself by default as we proceed through the labyrinth, before we set it out in Chapter Three. Detecting facts form our basis, facts free from theory or ideology: in The Origins of the Second World War, A.J.P Taylor wrote: ‘A historian must not hesitate even if his books lend aid and comfort to the Queen’s enemies […], or even to the common enemies of mankind.’ 2 Taylor goes on to write that destroying popular conceptions and legends should not be seen as a vindication of individuals and states, but as a service to historical truth, and that records of history should be challenged only on this basis, not for the political morals which people choose to draw from it. This is highly germane to geohistory.
The First Doses of Poison It was not to be long before the Industrial Revolution, the economic growth mentality and the concomitant politicisation of the term ‘geopolitics’ were to have their deleterious effect on the world. For linked to this came new technologies, as the scramble for Africa and other parts of the world not yet subjugated by Europeans, was beginning, all of which, allied to economic rivalry and ‘resource-hunting’, was to culminate in the Great War. Although two world wars had already taken place (the Seven Years’ War and the Napoleonic War), the term ‘geopolitics’ – as opposed to greedy imperial thinking – had not yet entered the vocabulary. An American naval officer, Alfred Mahan (1840-1914), although he did not specifically use the term, is considered to be one of the earliest exponents of the modern geopolitical mentality. He emphasised sea-power as the best method of projecting a country’s power worldwide, thus influencing a naval arms race.3 His way of thinking still influences the American navy, as we have just seen above. Like Britain, he also considered it necessary to resist Russia, thus continuing the former’s preoccupation with that country, when William Pitt the Younger had denounced Russia in 1791 for
Taylor, A.J.P., The Origins of the Second World War, Penguin Books Ltd., London, 1964, pp. 8-9. 3 Mahan, Alfred Thayer, The Problem of Asia and the Effects upon International Politics, Kennikat Press, Washington and London, 1920, pp. 25-27, 167-168 and 172.
The Political Poisoning of Geography
wishing to dismember Anatolia.4 The Cold War began earlier than most people think. Mahan influenced a German geographer and zoologist, Friedrich Ratzel (1844-1904), who also believed in naval power, but concentrated his writings more on land: ominously, this follower of Darwin’s theories was the first person to coin the term ‘Lebensraum’ (‘living space), in an essay on ‘biogeopolitik’. This term led to the use of the term ‘geopolitik’: the Swede Rudolf Kjellen (1864-1922), influenced in turn by Ratzel, used the term. By now, the German approach laid particular emphasis on the state being an organic entity, thus implying that strong and growing states could break down borders in the quest to grow. War was thus on the backstage agenda. We think that it still is. To add to the imperialist elements of geopolitics, and to lend an AngloSaxon flavour to Mahan’s work, the Briton Halford Mackinder (18611947) threw his hat into the ring. This geographer certainly politicised geography, mainly through his near obsession with Russia. Although he himself did not use the term geopolitics in his famous essay ‘The Geographical Pivot of History’ 5 , he clearly injected British imperial thinking into his ideas. He was obsessed with German and Russian power and feared an alliance between those two countries. For him, Russia constituted the pivot area of the ‘world island’ of Eurasia. He referred to the importance of teaching the British masses, who were of ‘limited intelligence’, to think imperially. 6 The sharp end of his views can be summarised in the following: The oversetting of the balance of power in favour of the pivot state, resulting in its expansion over the marginal lands of Euro-Asia, would permit the use of vast continental resources for fleet-building, and the empire of the world would then be in sight. This might happen if Germany were to ally herself with Russia.7
Wallbank, T. Walter et al (eds.), Civilization, Past and Present, vol. 2, Harper Collins, New York, 1996, p. 721. 5 Mackinder, Halford, ‘The Geographical Pivot of History, Geographical Journal, vol. 23, no. 4, London, April 1904, pp. 421-437. 6 Ó Tuathail, Gearóid, Dalby, Simon and Routledge, Paul, The Geopolitics Reader, Routledge, London and New York, p. 16. 7 Op. cit., Mackinder, ‘The Geographical Pivot of History’.
and Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; who rules the World-Island commands the World.8
The very title of the book from which this latter quote is taken – Democratic Ideals and Reality- , when taken together with Mackinder’s imperial ideas, shows how the study of geography was being infected with politics. It was of course the application of geopolitics – geostrategy – that was to lead to the two dreadful world wars. In this sense, geostrategy often becomes synonymous with military action. Although Mackinder’s emphasis on land power was not adhered to early on, since naval power was considered to be of a higher priority, his ideas became increasingly influential, particularly when allied to those such as Ratzel. The idea of the Drang nach Osten9 of the Middle Ages was back with a vengeance: the superior German race, with its natural attachment to the soil, would thrust eastwards, while the superior Anglo-Saxons would teach the world true civilisation with their superior naval power. The clash between British and German economic interests that was a chief cause of the Great War had as part of its backcloth the British fear of a GermanRussian alliance, especially after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in early 1918, when Germany and Russia made peace. Let us now look at some of the less savoury aspects – at least for today’s politically correct pundits – of the imperial and racial underpinnings of the modern origins of geopolitics.
Superiority One does not need to read Kipling and others to suspect that the English establishment felt somewhat superior to many foreigners, just as the German establishment tended to. Perhaps, in a perverse fashion, the nationalism that grew out of the French Revolution had subtly affected even some of the phlegmatic English, notwithstanding their having been instrumental in Napoleon’s defeat. For example, Sir Francis Younghusband
8 Op. cit., Ó Tuathail, Gearóid, ‘Introduction’, The Geopolitics Reader, pp. 17-18. He refers to Mackinder’s Democratic Ideals and Reality: a Study in the Politics of Reconstruction, Constable and Company Ltd., London, 1919. 9 The push eastwards.
The Political Poisoning of Geography
(famous for having led the invasion of Tibet in 1904) wrote: ‘Our superiority over them [Indians] is not due to mere sharpness of intellect, but to the higher moral nature to which we have attained in the development of the human race.’10 Not to be outdone, a Liberal Member of Parliament, Sir Charles Dilke, considered America as the agent of AngloSaxon domination, predicting a great racial conflict from which ‘Saxendom would rise triumphant’ with China, Japan, Africa and South America soon falling to the all-conquering Anglo-Saxon, and Italy, Spain, France and Russia ‘becoming pygmies by the side of such people’.11 Of particular interest is the fact that Dilke did not mention Germany. He could hardly do so since, bluntly put, the English are mainly descended from the Angle, Saxon and Jute tribes which invaded Southern Britain after the Romans left, destroying the prevailing Romano-Celtic culture. Thus, at least to people of Dilke’s ilk, England and Germany were closely connected in terms of superiority. Here lies the paradox, contradiction, even: this whole way of thinking was to pit the English against their German blood brothers in two of the most devastating wars known to Mankind. But before focusing on the German brand of geopolitics, let us develop our English imperial theme, so dear to Mackinder. We see the origins of the emotional side of the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and America, the latter being run by an Anglo-Saxon élite or, in more familiar modern terminology, White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs). While the American establishment had their indigenous ‘red vermin’ and imported Negroes as whipping boys, the British had their disdain for those south of Calais. Those readers of this book who happen to have attended English Prep Schools up to at least the late Seventies may well remember not only simplistic history books such as Little Arthur’s History of England or Our Island Story, but fellow schoolboys using in a derogatory fashion such terms as ‘Philistine’, ‘Jew’, ‘yid’, ‘frog’, ‘wog’, ‘dago’, ‘hun’, ‘slit-eye’ and the like. Winston Churchill himself wrote about the ‘schemes of the International Jew’, referring to a ‘sinister confederacy’, and describing them as a ‘world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society’.12 It is not of
Huttenback, Robert A., Racism and Empire, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, p. 15. 11 Ibid., p. 16. 12 Irving, David, Churchill’s War, vol. 1, Arrow Books, London, 1989, p. 20.
course only the English who were somewhat supercilious vis-à-vis foreigners: the French were to have their ‘Croix de Feu’ to compete with Mosley’s Blackshirts, while the American Henry Ford’s book The International Jew is too well known to merit further elaboration. We shall see later how these racial/imperialistic factors (that, oddly, were spawned by the Enlightenment) are still with us today, albeit in different colours, with the Arabs, as well as the Jews, being targeted, and how the likes of George Bush Junior, Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney have stoked the fire. But let us now turn to Germany, that other member of Saxendom.
An Excess of Teutonic Logic As we have already intimated – and shall expand on in Chapter Three - , geohistory is predicated on human characteristics. The tactile Italians Guicciardini and Vico are, as we shall see later, closer to our views on relations between states than are some of the most well-known German philosophers, who appear to lay inordinate emphasis on German racial superiority and, in particular, power, the latter appealing to political realists. Nietzsche’s thinking hinges on the idea of the Übermensch (superior being), much exploited by the Nazis. Hegel’s view of history, approached in a coldly logical and intensely rational manner, promotes the idea of divine German perfection. Like some other German philosophers, he latched on manically to some of the pre-Socratic philosophers, Heraclitus in particular, who had written that ‘strife is justice’. Interpreting rather literally, Hegel tended to glorify war. Marx, who was more bent on Democritus, and therefore believed in materialism, replaced God and religion with society and economics, the fight being for the control of the means of production. We mention these political thinkers because, unlike Guicciardini, they politicised history, just as Ratzel et al politicised geography. The ideas of these ‘geographical and historical’ thinkers were to influence those interested in power, to the detriment of peace, culminating in the Great War. Thus we turn to the next (the fourth one) war and Haushofer, as the last of our ‘early geopoliticians’, and to the Nazi connexion.
The Political Poisoning of Geography
Mackinder’s Disciple Karl Haushofer13 believed in Mackinder’s heartland theory,14 and, perhaps forewarned by the latter’s ideas, therefore argued for an alliance between Germany and Russia. He was impressed by Japanese expansionism when a German army officer in that country. Promoted to major-general by the end of the Great War, he devoted himself to Germany’s regeneration, studying political geography, becoming a professor, and directing the Institute of Geopolitics at Munich University. His closeness to Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, a former student of his, meant that his influence in military circles was enormous, and he was instrumental in forging Japan’s alliance with Germany. Above all, his ideas were used to justify Germany’s territorial expansion. It is here that we see the merging of Ratzel’s, Kjellen’s and Mackinder’s ideas into a potent translation of geopolitics into geostrategy, that was to contribute to the Fourth World War. 15 Given the strong association between Nazi ideology and geopolitics, one would have expected that after the war geopolitics would be discredited and perhaps replaced by a less rumbustious approach to the world. Indeed, British and American academic circles, claiming – perhaps with a hint of hypocrisy – that Haushofer and the Institute of Geopolitics were using geography for power-political purposes, preferred the term ‘political geography’. But this was more a matter of semantic pirouetting. For a time, at any rate, the term ‘geopolitics’ went into hibernation. Yet, perhaps bizarrely, it was to come back with a vengeance.
Resuscitation of the Geopolitical Monster As so often in US academic life, it was immigrants, believing in the necessity of American power, who built up the study of geopolitics. Nicholas Spykman, an émigré from the Netherlands, who taught at Yale University, was an early pioneer of the continuation of geopolitical ideas, basing most of his thinking on Mahan’s and Mackinder’s ideas. He
His later life was somewhat unfortunate. He was upset over Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union, since that went entirely against his advice. His having a halfJewish wife may also have caused him some embarrassment. He and his wife committed suicide in 1946. 14 Encyclopaedia Britannica. 15 We consider that the first two world wars were the Seven Years’ War and the Napoleonic War(s).
slightly adapted Mackinder’s definitions, for example by re-naming Mackinder’s ‘inner or marginal crescent’ as ‘rimland’. To the unity of sea and land, he also added the air. He argued strongly that the balance of power in Eurasia affected America, and that the latter therefore needed influence in Europe. Most significantly, he was concurrently one of the most influential founders of the realist/power politics school. Had he not died in 1943, he would undoubtedly have had a yet greater impact than he did, but he nevertheless made his mark with the publication of The Geography of the Peace 16 in the year after his death. Like virtually all geopolitical people, he was obsessed with Russia, and can thus be viewed as an early Cold War instigator. It was political realists such as Zbigniev Brzezinski17 and Henry Kissinger who took over the anti-Soviet/Russian Cold War baton. The former was unashamedly dedicated to containing the USSR, and worse, even advocating in 1986 the possibility of a nuclear strike on the USSR against ‘its imperial great Russian component’, 18 thereby introducing an ethnic factor into geopolitics to the extent of transmogrifying parts of geostrategy into ‘ethnopolitics’. Kissinger, with his alleged policy of détente, was more subtle. Both academics served, inter alia, as National Security Advisers, Brzezinski taking over from the controversial Kissinger in 1977. Well before their political heyday, the concept of geopolitics had become inextricably intertwined with political realism/power politics. After all, the more emphasis one lays on the use and projection of power in theorising about or practicing international politics, the more attractive the term becomes to those who wish to use force. In this sense, the phrase ‘power projection’ is simply a euphemism for force and war. As the Cold War progressed, the geopolitical mentality again came to the fore, coming into its own with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Spykman, Nicholas John, The Geography of the Peace, Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1944. 17 See Brzezinski, Zbigniev, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geopolitical Imperatives, Basic Books, New York, 1997. The title says it all. For a masterly critique of Brzezinski’s ideas, see Fouskas, Vassilis K., Zones of Conflict, Pluto Press, London, Sterling, Virginia, 2003. 18 Malashenko, Igor, ‘Russia: the Earth’s Heartland’, International Affairs, Moscow, Issue 7, July 1990, p. 52. Malashenko quotes from Brzezinski’s ‘Game Plan: a Strategic Framework for the Conduct of the U.S.-Soviet Contest’, Atlantic Monthly, Boston and New York, 1986, p. XIV.
The Political Poisoning of Geography
Paradoxically, it was ‘the arch-priest of the rational use of power’, 19 Kissinger (see above), a German Jewish immigrant of all people, whom one would have assumed to dislike Haushofer’s Nazi-connected ideas, who ‘almost single-handedly helped to revive the term ‘geopolitics’ in the 1970s, by using it as a synonym for the superpower game of balance-ofpower politics.’ 20 One can indeed argue that Kissinger, realising how controversial the term ‘geopolitics’ was, simply disguised his extreme realist agenda in the clothes of the ‘balance of power’, a balance of power that of course had many sides, one being that it could provide the US with a blank cheque to pursue its own balance of power, regardless of the aims of less powerful countries.
Some Criticisms It was undoubtedly a combination of imperialist ambition and a geopolitical mentality that led to the (mis)drawing of many of the world’s current borders. An obvious example is the secret Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, which led to all manner of future tensions and wars in the Middle East, which continue to this day. Needless to say, oil interests came to the forefront, and the Gulf States of today can be seen as Sykes’ and Picot’s children, just as the mistimed and clumsily implemented creation of the State of Israel can. Another example is the partition of India, which led to the killings of up to a million people, and mass migration, on the part of Hindus, Sikhs and Moslems. Today, the Kashmir problem is the sting in the tail of the geopolitical mentality. It is thus hardly surprising that some of the most respected experts in international relations are caustic about geopolitics. Christopher Hill, for example, describes it as ‘a primitive form of International Relations theory’,21 while Ó Tuathail reduces it to the level of being ‘about contested claims to knowledge’.22 To obtain some of the critical flavour, let us quote Hill at more length: The military balance and the economic league tables are intimately connected to a society’s physical patrimony. In the first half of the twentieth century some influential academic work on geopolitics, which we may recognize as a primitive form of International Relations theory,
Hill, Christopher, The Changing Politics of Foreign Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2003, p. 133. 20 Op. cit., Ó Tuathail. p. 1. 21 Op. cit., Hill. P. 168. 22 Ibid., p. 312.
Chapter One produced largely 23 by geographers, suggested that this matrix had a decisive effect on a state’s foreign policy, and indeed on the global balance of power. Various factors were identified at different phases of this intellectual fashion; when taken up by policy-makers they became semifulfilling prophesies, ultimately with disastrous results. All revealed the obsession of the times with a neo-Darwinian view of international relations as struggle and survival, which reached its nadir in fascism. Of the main variants of geopolitical theory, Alfred Mahan was the first to influence policy, through his stress on the importance of seapower and President Theodore Roosevelt’s subsequent decisions to build up the Navy and to ensure US control of the new Panama Canal (in the Hay-BunauVarilla Treaty of 1903). The most malign, if scarcely intentional influence, was exerted in combination by the Englishman Halford Mackinder and the German Klaus Haushofer, whose contrary belief that power had shifted to those controlling great land masses, and in particular the ‘heartland’ of the ‘world-island’ of Eurasia, provided Hitler with some of the conceptual architecture which he needed for the policies of lebensraum and world domination. The madness of 1939-45 then discredited overtly geopolitical theories but it did not prevent ideas like the ‘iron curtain’, ‘containment’ and the ‘domino theory’ perpetuating the belief that foreign policy had to follow strategic imperatives deriving from the territorial distribution of power across the earth’s surface.24
Having put the term geopolitics into a chronological context, let us now consider where it is today, and why we consider it to be inadequate academically, and indeed in terms of ensuring stability in our world.
Then is Now While Hill is superbly succinct and incisive in his description of geopolitics above, he appears to be mistaken when he goes on to write that geopolitics in the old sense (until the end of the Cold War), will soon be a mere curiosity. His book was published just before the US-led attacks on Iraq and Libya, and the attempt to attack Syria, the latter thwarted only by incisive action by Russia. Unfortunately for many, geopolitics still seems to be all the rage. Nothing has really seriously modified since the alleged end of the Cold War: indeed, there is scant evidence that it has ended,
But certainly not exclusively; Mahan, for example, was primarily a naval strategist. 24 Op. cit., Hill, p. 168.
The Political Poisoning of Geography
unless one considers the end of the Berlin Wall and chaotic Yeltsin years as a temporary lull, bearing in mind, nevertheless, that the Cold War was/is more about interests than ideology, the latter being a convenient excuse to feed to the masses. As for Syria, very much in the world limelight as we write this, John F. Kennedy’s nephew and namesake has said that the US decided to remove President Assad because he had refused to back a Qatari gas pipeline project.25 The pipeline would have originated in Qatar, crossed Syria (sucking in its offshore reserves), and continued through Turkey to the EU, thereby competing directly with Russia’s Gazprom. Thus the West’s attempt to attack Syria was simply a continuation of politics by other means (to coin a phrase from von Clausewitz), or, more fashionably put, an attempt to apply geostrategy. Shades of the above-mentioned Sykes-Picot agreement return here, to remind us that certain Arab states were created because of oil interests. Saudi Arabia, for example, which regularly beheads men and women (in public, into the bargain) and forbids women from even driving, is a child of the Sykes-Picot agreement. The fact that the closeness of this country to the West can be explained geopolitically (thanks to oil or, as we call it, black blood) demonstrates that geopolitics today has little to do with people or morality, but merely with interests. People become geostrategic fodder.
Conclusions We can now make a number of valid observations about geopolitics and how it is practiced. First, we need to bear in mind that although the term is little more than one hundred years old, its practice - geostrategy and the application of geopolitics - is as old as Mankind. What geopolitics seeks to describe, analyse, evaluate and advocate is not in the least new. It is simply politically motivated geographers and military people re-inventing the wheel by stating the obvious in new terms. Take Thucydides, for example: although he was more of a recorder of history than a geopolitical man, some of what he describes in his History of the Peloponnesian War is germane, particularly regarding geographical position:
Kasli, Shelley, ‘Great Game and Partitioning of Syria’, Oriental Review.com, 19 March 2016.
Chapter One […] Athens herself would be stronger in relation to Corinth and to the other naval Powers. Then, too, it was the fact that Corcyra lay very conveniently on the coastal route to Italy and Sicily.26
Since the invention of maps, strategic geopolitical considerations have been increasingly important in relations between states (whether pre-or post-Westphalian), especially in war. Although many wars were dynastic or religious, it was land, resources and trade that often lay behind the overt causes: the Crusades, theoretically fought for religious reasons, degenerated into land-grabbing, while Bush’s ‘humanitarian’ and ‘moral’ attack on Iraq (he even mentioned a ‘crusade’) was to a large extent about oil. There is nothing new about geopolitics, other than the term. Over two hundred years ago, Napoleon Bonaparte stated the obvious, when he said that any state makes its politics to suit its geography.27 What is new is the word and its various semantic refinements and sub-divisions, to take into account modern technology and new resources. Its cold and mechanistic way of approaching relations between states may be accurate and a reflection of the outcome of human characteristics and motives, but those motives and characteristics themselves are swept under the carpet; thus it ignores the true ingredients of relations between states, namely the human factor. Pure geography has been wrenched from the hands of geographers by political scientists. The boundaries between military strategy and geostrategy are becoming increasingly blurred, particularly within the context of power politics/political realism. Geopolitics is rooted in military strategy, with an emphasis on dominating areas of the world, which can be seen as imperialism by another name. Using the geopolitical mindset marches in tandem with the dark and selfish side of business and financial interests, which in turn further feeds the pursuit for power and domination. Nowadays, it attracts a fair number of lazy minds. After all, looking at maps is simpler than spending hard mental hours planning, surveying, hunting, locating, ravishing, analysing and evaluating original documents, and then trying to understand and write history. The lazier the mind, the greater the tendency to categorise and create models. Thus, before we set out our ideas on geohistory in Chapter Three,
26 Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, translated by Rex Warner with an introduction by M. I. Finley (advisory editor Betty Radice), Penguin Books, London etc., 1954, revised 1972. 27 Op. cit., Malashenko, note 1, p. 54.
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we now turn to the quagmire of international relations theory, in order to see where geopolitics fits.
CHAPTER TWO FIFTY SHADES OF IR THEORY
Introduction ‘Man’s love for words is his first step towards ignorance, and his love for definitions the second. The more he analyses, the more he has need to define, and the more he defines, the more he aims at an impossible logical perfection, for the effect of aiming at logical perfection is only a sign of ignorance.’ 1 Harsh words, maybe, but nevertheless with an underlying message that simply theorising per se through ever increasing attempts to define and sub-define can be fruitless and even dangerous. In this chapter, we shall aim to briefly describe and comment on the various international relations theories that abound, bearing in mind that many of these theories were acquired from political science by international relations theorists. We shall then see where geopolitics fits into the equation, if indeed it does.
Realists versus Behaviouralists Once upon a time, the study of international relations as a discrete subject was reasonably unpolemical. Its formal study began at the University of Aberystwyth in 1919, and given the emotion following the death of millions in the Great War, it was approached in a hopeful, almost idealistic style. Plus ça change: it was not long before the theorisers put their finger in the pie, thereby politicising what could have been a tight area of study based on international history, the mechanics of diplomacy, and law. But then normative theory,2 essentially the study of ethical values, began to
Op. cit., Yutang, Lin, p. 404. Rengger, Nicholas, ‘Political Theory and International Relations: Promised Land or Exit from Eden?’, International Affairs, vol. 76, no. 4, Blackwell, Oxford, October 2000, pp. 755-770, in Mallinson, William, Cyprus, Diplomatic History and the Clash of Theory in International Relations, I. B. Tauris, London and New York, 2010, p. 18. 2
politicise, so to speak, the study of international relations, which became so closely linked to international politics, as to be virtually synonymous with it. Although some of the social sciences were themselves embryonic as academic subjects when international theories were beginning to come off the American academic conveyor belt, they began to make inroads, much to the chagrin of classical realists. Classical realism is simply the name given a posteriori to realism, which lays emphasis on the state as the key ingredient of human organisation; its starting point is that human behaviour determines the state of the world (in this sense Hobbes was correct in writing that Man’s life was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short). Neo-realism (or structural realism), while also seeing the state as the key ingredient of human organisation, lays more emphasis on what it considers to be the anarchy of the world, while the more recent neo-classical realism attempts to combine the two, by bringing in systemic pressures and the distribution of power. At a general level, the practice of realism is considered to be synonymous with power politics. It is not surprising that politicians, and IR theorists themselves, sometimes get slightly confused when trying to define and sub-define, particularly since political science has infiltrated the study of international relations, increasingly affecting the theory and practice of realism. To muddy the waters a little more, many people use the term realpolitik as a synonym for realism, when it is in fact an approach based on achieving limited but realistic state objectives, and is often used to describe and explain Bismarck’s approach. At any event, it is easy to see why geopoliticians such as Henry Kissinger are attracted to realism, given the tendency of power-politics towards the ‘might is right’ principle, and the emphasis of geopolitics on resources. The behaviouralist, or social science approach, differs radically from original classical realism, in that it uses political science, sociology and psychology, but also models from the natural sciences, applying them to the study of international relations, which thus becomes a ‘parasitic discipline’, a sponge, or even a sponge’s sponge, given social science’s use of natural science models, particularly from chemistry. Needless to say, it does not see the state as its starting point. Its origins lie in the United States. Classical liberals and realists alike have attacked social science. Friedrich von Hayek, for example, considered the word ‘social’ to be one of those ‘weasel words which drain the meaning from the concept
Fifty Shades of IR Theory
to which they are attached’, referring to the term ‘social science’ as the application of untested speculations to political topics, 3 while an international relations professor at the London School of Economics likened social scientists to ‘peasants who believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, despite their repeated failures to track it down.’4 The renowned ‘English School’, with its emphasis on international society, dismisses the behavioural approach of what it terms ‘the American School of scientific politics.’5
Intellectual Confusion With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the accompanying international euphoria, hard-nosed realism/power politics temporarily went backstage, giving way for a while to more idealistic views. But the harsh reality of the dark side of human behaviour did not take long to reassert itself. Rather than indulge in a bout of good old Bismarckian realpolitik, the USA decided that it needed to use its power. The likes of Leo Strauss, although supporters claimed that he was more academic than political, influenced the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, one of the chief architects of the illegal war against Iraq. For all its intellectual bombast, the Strauss school of thinking, highly attractive to political realists, is not averse to overinterpretation and even misrepresentation in the quest for power projection, which can be a euphemism for unilateral military attacks. And even Strauss himself wrote some pretty rum things, for example that Machiavelli ‘ostensibly seeks to bring about the rebirth of the ancient Roman Republic’, and that he was a restorer of ‘something old and forgotten’. 6 This could be viewed as intellectual chicanery, whether intentional or inadvertent, since Machiavelli’s essential aim was simply to unite Italy, and not reconquer Gaul, Britain et al. Even if political realists often avoid behavioural tendencies and methodologies, they tend to put words into the mouths of respected classical writers, such as Thucydides,
Daily Telegraph, 25 March 1992, ‘Obituary’, in Mallinson, Bill, Public Lies and Private Truths: An Anatomy of Public Relations, Cassell, London and New York, 1996, and Leader Books, Athens, 2000, p. 66. 4 Strange, Susan, ‘States, Firms and Diplomacy’, International Affairs, vol. 68, no. 1, January 1992, Royal Institute of International Affairs, p. 15. 5 Op. cit., Evans, Graham and Newnham, Geoffrey, p. 148. 6 Strauss, Leo, ‘Niccolò Machiavelli’, in Strauss, Leo and Cropsey, Joseph (eds.), History of Political Philosophy, University of Chicago, 1987 (first published in 1963), p. 297.
Machiavelli and Hobbes, three key figures for political realists. Hobbes, particularly because of his book Leviathan, is often referred to, despite the fact that he was more concerned with the internal organisation of the state in justifying his view of absolutism, rather than indulging in powerpolitics at the international level, to which he makes but scant reference.7 As for Thucydides, two Greek authors absurdly and jejunely virtually transmogrify Thucydides into an international relations theorist on military strategy, rather than someone setting out (as Thucydides himself wrote) to ‘help those who want to understand clearly the events that happened in the past’.8 It is only rarely that Thucydides passes judgement, unless it comes through in the words of those whom he quotes. As for the argument that Thucydides believed in power politics and the use of force per se, it is equally, if not more, likely, that he bewailed its use. It must by now be clear that even the clash between political realists and behaviouralists is a mental maze at the least, and lacking in clarity. The subject of international relations has been enriched or infected – depending on your point of view – by various theories, many of them overlapping and/or clashing with each other. Let us give a potted version of some of the main ones. Structuralism lays more emphasis on overall structure than on individual states, and has influenced neo-realism; modernisation theory argues that all states eventually pass through the same stages; dependency theory – which can also be considered as a sub-theory of structuralism – challenges modernisation theory’s assumption that all states pass through similar stages, by emphasising the exploiter-exploited relationship; world systems analysis views the world as consisting of three categories of states: core, semi-peripheral and peripheral; positivism, a derivative of empiricism (i.e. knowledge comes from sensory experience), posits that society operates on the same criteria as the physical world; anti-positivism argues the opposite; constructivism aims to demonstrate that ideas and preferences are fundamental factors in shaping the way in which the world is organised; objectivism claims that the purpose of life is the pursuit of individual happiness, and that individual rights and laisser-faire capitalism are the key answer; normative theory (see above) introduces specifically
Berridge, G. R., International Politics, Pearson Education, Harlow, 2002, p. 2. Platias, Athanassios G. and Koliopoulos, Constantinos, Thucydides on Strategy, Hurst and Company, London, 2010. 8
Fifty Shades of IR Theory
moral and political content to the study of international relations; pluralism maintains that the state is only one of the elements that form the world, and thus clashes with realism’s obsession with the state as the prime element; functionalism attempts to show that what really matters is international co-operation. Let us end our potted account of some of the main theories that have beset international relations, with post-modernism. We do this because, perhaps understandably, this body of theory, connected to critical theory, questions the fundamental assumptions of most international relations – and other – theories. It is strongly connected to the Frankfurt School, which has strong Marxist tendencies; it is also connected to deconstructivism. One difficulty of deconstructing (a euphemism for destroying) is that it is difficult to know how to replace what has been putatively destroyed. Needless to say, all the above have been flavoured with the main ideologies of conservatism, liberalism and socialism. And to further flavour an already somewhat confusing collage, we have the English School’s categorisation of international relations thinking into three traditions: the Hobbesian, which stresses the power of sovereign will; the Grotian, which advocates the application of strong international rules in an anarchic state system; and the Kantian (much loved by extreme freemarketeers), which stresses the power of the individual, and has influenced objectivism, whose main proponent was Ayn Rand, a highly anti-Soviet American immigrant. All the above approaches – and we use the term broadly – have their variants, sub-variants, and differing interpretations. Many clash with each other, and even with themselves, as well as overlap with each other. Picture to yourself a heaving mass of Venn diagrams, each section saying something sensible, but also disputable. None is perfect: for example, are there not states that have not passed through the same stages as other states? It may, for example, be true that Greece passed into the Industrial Revolution far later than Britain, but was there ever an Industrial Revolution in Greece? Was it not more a case of importing foreign manufacturing methods, rather than going through what Britain went through? And was not Britain’s power based on its empire, while modern Greece had no empire whatsoever? A few years ago, an academic seminar took place to try and resolve the questions raised by international relations theory. Part of its conclusions
read: ‘Historically, international relations as a discipline has come to view dialogue and synthesis as incompatible objectives. […] As a community of scholars, however, we are equally compelled to compete, - an important reason why we prefer debate over dialogue and pluralism over synthesis.’9 This was really an honest, if subtle, admission that a single all-embracing theory of relations between states is a chimera. The question even arises as to whether international relations is a discipline, or a parasitic subject that sucks in disciplines. As regards its theories, there are so many books on each, and so many interpretations, as to detract from intellectual stability. One is permitted to wonder whether international relations, whether as a subject or a discipline,10 can be considered to be a science at all. Many subjects have been labelled as sciences, simply to position them as academically respectable. A certain, if not precise, parallel can be drawn with public relations, the allegedly academic study of which began in America, at New York University, in 1923. In the attempt to elevate it from being a government and business propagandistic activity to a serious subject, communications theory was ‘lifted’ from other disciplines, just as happened with the study of international relations. The result was that a fair number of practitioners and theorists preferred the word ‘communications’ to ‘relations’. Communications theory, which itself had sponged on various scientific theories, was used by many teachers of public relations: the five main communications perspectives were the mechanistic, pragmatic, psychological, interactionist and dramatist. We write this, because just as public relations is considered by many practitioners to be public communications, so could the subject of international relations end up being described as ‘international communications’. Such are the vagaries of trying to create academically respectable theories out of what were originally intended to be simple, or at least comprehensible, activities. We can now better understand what Lin Yutang wrote (see above) about Man’s obsession with words and definitions. The confusion does not end here: one expert writes that there are three contending approaches to the field of international relations: realism, pluralism and structuralism.11 On the other hand, the Penguin Dictionary
Hellman, Gunther (ed.), ‘Are Dialogue and Synthesis Possible in International Relations’?, International Studies Review, Blackwell, Malden, USA and Oxford, 2003, pp. 123-153. 10 Op.cit., Berridge, p. 2. 11 Ibid.
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of International Relations states that with the end of the Cold War (we add the word ‘alleged’), there are four competing paradigms: neorealism, neoliberalism, critical theory and post-modernism,12 while the renowned Stephen Walt writes of three traditions: realism, liberalism and radicalism. Then, self-confusingly, he adds a diagram (model?), listing realism and liberalism, but adding constructivism.13 Is the reader intended to think that a paradigm is a tradition, and radicalism is constructivism?
Attempt to Clarify An international historian, Alan Sked, tries to hack through the Gordian Knot, referring to three schools, the realist, behaviouralist and structuralist, but then refers to them as paradigms. He nevertheless sensibly states that they all overlap, and that it is not therefore easy to choose, since one needs to be acquainted with a host of disciplines such as history, politics, sociology, economics, law, psychology, anthropology and philosophy, ‘to name but a few’.14 Here we see the beginning of some common sense. But then we turn to some recent ideas: it seems that the attempt to clarify is being bedevilled by further contradictions, in that the study of international relations appears, according to an expert, to have moved from the emphasis placed on biology by social Darwinism (appreciated by many political realists and fans of geopolitics) to physics, and recently back to biology. 15 The expert explains this by arguing that Francis Fukuyama, having realised that his contention that the ‘end of history’ had been reached with Western liberal democracy’s victory over fascism, absolutism and communism was mistaken, changed his tune, emphasising ‘masculine values rooted in biology’, going on to say that ‘female chimps have relationships’, while ‘male chimps practice Realpolitik’.16 Fukuyama is quoted as adding that because (he claims) the line from chimp to
Op. cit., Evans, Graham and Newnham, Geoffrey, p.417. Walt, Stephen, ‘International Relations: One World, Many Theories’, Foreign Policy, Washington, Spring 1998, pp. 30 and 38. 14 Sked, Alan, ‘The Study of International Relations: A Historian’s View’, Dyer, Hugh C. and Mangasarian, Leon (eds.), The Study of International Relations, Macmillan, Basingstoke and London, 1989, p.91. 15 Bell, Duncan, ‘Beware of False Prophets: Biology, Human Nature and the Future of International Relations Theory’, International Affairs, vol. 82, no. 3, Chatham House, London, May 2006. 16 Whether or not Fukuyama understands the difference between political realism/power politics and realpolitik must remain a moot point. 13
modern man is continuous, this has significant consequences for international politics. 17 We think that Fukuyama’s contention enters the realm of farce. Or perhaps Fukuyama sees himself as the missing link.
Conclusions Although we have pointed to the confusion reigning in international relations theory, and suggested reasons for this, it is important to understand that we are not trying to debunk all theory, but trying to advocate a simpler, more reliable and less controversial method of understanding relations between states. Were it not for the very efforts in understanding the theories that we have considered, we would have some difficulty in explaining geohistory, since it is through the very fact that matters need clarification that in turn will lead us to geohistory as a method. Clarifying international relations theory has never proved possible, although a certain amount of distilling can be done. The essential problem is the floppy thinking, and obsession with definition, which, far from clarifying, lead to confusion: the theories, ideas, paradigms, schools, traditions, perspectives, approaches, most with their divisions and subdivisions, many being interpreted and re-interpreted owing to often unforeseeable events, all enrich thinking about international relations, or international politics (depending on one’s viewpoint), but do not clarify. Perhaps this explains why political realism is the most attractive to geopoliticians: there are less Procrustean models, less cherry-picking to fit the model, and less ‘interference’ from other academic areas. But claims by some political realists that their approach is based on human behaviour ring false, since they are thinking about mass human behaviour. All that being said, theory can at least stimulate the brain, but also addle it, if one sinks too deep into the quagmire. Interestingly, an expert begins to approach some of what we shall be arguing in connexion with human behaviour, by drawing on Socrates, inventing a ‘new’18 theory – he then calls it a ‘paradigm - based on fear, interest and honour. But he then
Op. cit., Bell, Duncan, p. 501. ‘New’, because little is really new: theorists have been re-inventing the wheel for millennia. Nevertheless, the positive side is that ancient experts still have enormous influence.
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slightly confuses the issue by mentioning spirit, appetite and reason as ‘fundamental drives’.19 Yet many would dispute this, since spirit does not necessarily have much to do with reason. This is where we now turn to our geohistory. It is neither a theory, idea, approach, paradigm, school, tradition nor perspective, let alone a science. It is a neutral method, unsullied by ideology, of seeing our Earth through the prism of the past.
Lebow, Richard Ned, ‘Fear, interest and honour: outlines of a theory of International Relations’, in op. cit., International Affairs, vol. 82, no. 3, pp. 431448.
CHAPTER THREE GEOHISTORY
Introduction Our starting point is to reduce the definition of history to its simplest form, namely the past, and, concomitantly, the study of the past, bearing in mind that we need to differentiate between the recording of events as they occur, and the interpreting of what has been recorded. Far from enslaving thoughts into paradigms, conceptual frameworks and models, geohistory sees geography at its most basic, namely the study of the physical earth. By adding the word ‘history’, we then have the study of the Earth’s history, with history as a neutral continuum that remains unaffected by any theory. Just as geography has been infected by politics – hence the term ‘geopolitics’ – so can geography be infected - but benignly - by history. This latter proposition is far more realistic and acceptable than the former, since it excludes any ideology, being simply geography as it has been affected by past events per se. And if any of those events occurred as a result of ideology, the naturally neutral geohistorian will treat them dispassionately. As such it is not polemical, as are the many international relations theories that have succumbed to all manner of political ideologies. Geopolitics, whether one calls it a science or not, has itself succumbed to a worldview based on the acquiring of resources to maintain and increase the power of a state. Competing terms are geostrategy and geoeconomics, equally affected by ideology. The geopolitical approach, so attractive to political realists, has led to strife, accentuating greed. In this chapter, we shall develop our method. But what of history per se?
No Present or Future We contend that, strictly speaking, only history/the past exists. The future cannot exist except in our minds, while the present is always moving into the past, and cannot be grasped. As Heraclitus wrote, ‘everything flows’. As for what we term ‘events’, they are merely our view on something that we believe has happened. When we try to interpret, analyse and evaluate
events, as is natural to us, different interpretations, often in the form of theories, models, and indeed our own views, can create dispute. For some common sense, we must turn back some five hundred years to Francesco Guicciardini, diplomat and historian, who wrote in Ricordi Politici e Civili that ‘past things have always thrown light on the future, because the world has always had the same fate; and everything that is and will be has already been in former times, and that the same things return, but with different names and colours; but some do not recognise them, only those who are wise, and observe and consider them diligently.’ In a connected vein, Giambattista Vico, writing some two hundred years later, argued that perfection could never exist on Earth. Science could never explain the essence of a thing, but only how it is made. His Christianity and criticism of Descartes’s rationalism must be anathema to many of the behaviourist, and even, in some cases, to the structuralist realist schools, with their parasitic attachment to the methodologies of natural science to explain behaviour. For Vico, the study of history was necessary to understand Mankind. 1 Such simplicity of wisdom is difficult to find in modern international relations theory, let alone in geopolitics. The well-known adage that history repeats itself is itself inaccurate, since things can never replicate themselves precisely. Rather, the same kind of events occur, but raise their heads every so often, with different colours. What many theorists and geopoliticians learn from history is simply how to repeat mistakes, rather than how to avoid making them. In a sense, we are but bipedic memories, only rarely considering the implications of our memory in order to avoid strife. We are ourselves history. This is where the crucial ingredients of geohistory come in: human characteristics.
Human Characteristics It is not, as we have said, that history repeats itself, but that the same things return with different colours. To this we can add – even if it sounds simplistic – that history is itself humanity, or mass bipedic memories. Human characteristics determine humanity’s fate, just as they do an individual’s. It is to individual characteristics that we must first turn, as the sole earthly criterion of physical human existence. This clashes with the
See Vico, Giambattista, New Science: Principles of the New Science Concerning the Common Nature of Nations, Penguin Books, London, New York etc., 1999, reprinted with corrections 2001, taken from the third edition of 1744; translated by David Marsh.
cold and inhuman way in which geopolitics approaches relations between states. While paradoxically it is humans who have invented the term ‘geopolitics’, the latter nevertheless tends to ignore the human factor, without which real – as opposed to theoretical - relations between states cannot exist. Like so much international relations theory, geopolitics appears as an escape route from the only true ingredients of any sort of human relations, international included. These true ingredients are based on individual, and only by extension, on mass, human behaviour. Geohistory is indeed the very antithesis of geopolitics, while theory can bedevil the clear understanding of relations, whether between states or individuals. International relations theories are condemned to remain but theories, necessary perhaps as an intellectual tool of academic respectability, used by think tanks to justify various government actions, just as political realism and geopolitics have been used to justify illegal and unilateral attacks. It is quite legitimate to describe the world as consisting of the weak, the weaker and the weakest.2 Such an idea, despite its slight hint of humour, would attract the out-and-out political realist, even if it were only coined cynically and critically. Yet it may also be true: after all, the first thing that cows usually do when let into a field, is to line up. The vast majority of humans tend to form, or join, groups, as the case may be. Hence the creation of borders and states. Perhaps this is part of what Aristotle meant when he wrote that Man is a political animal. The problem comes with how one interprets human self-organisation, borders and states. We advocate ideology-free geohistory as the method. The characteristics that cause strife are manifold. Let us look at some of the basic ones. First must come insecurity. When individuals or groups feel insecure, they sometimes resort to desperate actions. A feeling of insecurity can stem from various factors, perhaps the most basic being a lack of the resources that one needs to survive. A person or group that is in danger of dying through lack of food will automatically tend to put morality on the back-burner when it comes to survival. The instinct for survival tends to forget morality, at least when it comes to life or death. At the most basic individual level, this can mean a mother or father stealing for their children, while at the most extreme group level it can mean invading another country to settle on its territory, or at least to somehow
Andrew Apostolou, 17 July 2009, interview.
grab its resources. In the latter case, greed is of course a factor. But, natural disasters and drought apart, countries can often find ways of feeding their inhabitants through, for example, belt-tightening, inventiveness and improved organisation, or even imposing high taxation on the very rich, without having to attack other countries. When insecure, some countries turn to larger ones (it can work both ways!). For example, Syria turned to Russia, and Israel to America. This is where fear comes in. Fear is obviously connected to insecurity, in the sense that the more secure one feels, the less likely it is that one will succumb to fear, and thus to aggression, which is connected to greed. At an individual level, greed can be the result of insecurity, which then gets out of control, and the habit of acquiring goods and/or money becomes an unstoppable monster. At a state/corporate level, greed translates itself into the selfish part of ‘national interests’, often in the shape of shareholders’ interests. Oil, which we term ‘black blood’, is the most obvious example of mass/state/corporate greed, as we shall see in the following chapter. At the geopolitical level, the secret Anglo-French Sykes-Picot agreements (see above) are a prime example of the artificial creation of undemocratic and dictatorial Middle Eastern states in the interests of their ruling families and of British and French shareholders in oil companies. The borders drawn were imposed more by business interests than those of common ethnographic sense. It is hardly surprising that the Middle East is a combustible (no pun intended) mess today. This leads us to atavism, an oft-ignored factor in international relations theory, and one almost completely ignored by political geographers. Yet it is vital in understanding people and the states in which they live. Faith can play an important rôle here: within the Yugoslav context, for example, the Bosniaks, who were simply Slavs converted to Mohammedanism, differentiated themselves from their Christian brothers, and were attacked by both Catholic Croatian Slavs and Christian Orthodox Serb Slavs when the Cold War went into temporary hibernation in 1989. Au comble de malheur, the atavistic tendencies of old, namely the clash between Roman Catholics and Christian Orthodox, went into top gear in the Nineties, culminating in NATO’s illegal bombing of Serbia in 1999. Had the Vatican itself not atavistically recognised Croatian independence prematurely in 1992 (it was the first state to do so), much subsequent blood-spilling might have been spared. This was the dark side of atavism with a vengeance. Apart from faith – and its exploitation through politics – , race and language are also important factors in atavism. Individual and
national characteristics are based on it. Take Germany and the Germans: both individually and at state level, it is said that an excess of logic, and a concomitant lack of tactility, often prevails. In contrast, Italy and the Italians are more flexible and humane. Comparing Nazism and Fascism is akin to comparing beer to wine. As for the Greeks, again at both individual and corporate level, they tend to cut corners and cheat a lot. These particular atavistic characteristics have their roots in the Ottoman occupation, which lasted for hundreds of years. The whole Greek state is a product of clientelism, which covers all manner of corruption, particularly bribery. Yet Greece looks like a girl-guides’ tea-party compared to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, an artificial state with an artificial language, the existence of which is based on geopolitics. Pride, both individual and state, is also a vital and often overlooked factor in international relations theory. Yet it is vital, since face-saving matters in international crises. Often, when faces are not saved, war results. One example was the pride of the governments of Austro-Hungary and Serbia in 1914, following the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife. Although the Serb government agreed to nearly all Vienna’s demands, it was not prepared to yield vital areas of sovereignty, such as giving Austro-Hungarian officials free rein on Serbian territory. In the same connexion, the Rambouillet accord of 1999 was unacceptable to Belgrade precisely because it would have allowed NATO to operate on Serbian territory. The same things return with different colours. Sometimes, swallowing one’s pride can prevent war. Consider Russia’s intervention in Syria. The US was undoubtedly embarrassed – and furious – when Russia exposed American ineptitude, and worse, in Syria. Had a gung-ho John McCain 3 been in power, we may well have witnessed a dangerous escalation leading to a nuclear war. Pride is of course a multifaceted characteristic, and can often be connected to insecurity, which can in turn be connected to the problem of identity. Consider the following perceptive comment about Turkey by a British ambassador: Leaving aside Istanbul and Izmir and the Aegean littoral, for my money Turkey is more of the Near East and Asia than Europe. Not just physically, with 97 per cent of its territory in Asia, but temperamentally. […] Perhaps this deliberate cultivation of a Western outlook, with all that it means in education, has led the ruling circles and intellectuals and industrialists to
Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Republican presidential candidate in 2008.
Chapter Three regard themselves as truly European, and Turkey in general as Western. Admittedly there are European ethnic strains in the people, but not so strong as the Asian. And their singular language is Central Asian in origin. There is no natural reason why the Turks should be so insistent on their European connexion. […]. Although to speak of an identity crisis would be rather strong, it is certainly arguable that the younger the state, the more the quest to seek an identity.4
Nor can Greece escape from this identity quest. Although its modern state is about twice as old as Turkey’s, and although, unlike the Turks, the Greeks were established as a people in the same area about two thousand years before the Turkish tribes even came to Anatolia, the Slavic invasions5 and the subsequent Ottoman occupation created a modern sense of insecurity, connected to identity. Let us juxtapose Turkey with Greece, again with the help of an ambassador: In all its years since modern independence, the Greeks have never quite known where they stood in relation to Europe. They have had a problem of identity. 1980 may well be regarded in the future as a crucial year in that long search for definition in their relationship with the West; and also for the West’s perception of this relatively small and still, in European terms, relatively under-developed country, so often clouded by visions of its historic past.6
To add to Greek sensitivities, we can add the question of race. Many Greeks are sensitive to suggestions that only a few are descended from ancient Greeks (whether Minoans, Mycenaeans, Dorians or Macedonians et al). Even there, there is still debate about whether the Minoans were exclusively Greek-speaking.
Phillips to Secretary of State, 31 May 1977; Diplomatic Report no. 215/77, NAFCO 9/2669, file WST 014/1, part B, in Mallinson, William, Thrice a Stranger: Penelope’s Easter Mediterranean Odyssey, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2016, p. 71. 5 The Slavs were however fully incorporated into the Greek Christian Orthodox way of life. 6 Sutherland to Foreign Secretary, 23 January 1981, Greece: Annual Review for 1980, BNA-FCO 9/3175, file WSG 014/2, in Mallinson, William, Behind the Words: the FCO, Hegemonolingualism and the End of Britain’s Freedom, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2014, p. 59.
To make our point yet more clearly, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – recognised by many countries as ‘The Republic of Macedonia’, to the fury of Greece and Greeks, with their own province of Macedonia, is an example of a new state without an identity. Its two main groups are Slavs (Bulgarised Serbs), and an almost one third minority of Albanians, many of whom would like to join Albania. Incredibly, they desperately claim to be descended from the Ancient Greeks of Macedonia. This is a farcical claim, since the Slavs arrived in the area around fifteen hundred years after the Greek-speaking Macedonians, who had arrived with the tail-end of the Dorians. As regards the artificial attempt to create a Macedonian language (which is of course Greek), a British Special Operations Executive officer wrote in 1944 that the language was corrupt and debased, without a literature or a fixed grammar’. 7 Its language is essentially a form of bastardised Slavonic, and has nothing to do with historical Macedonia.8 We are simply making the point that as regards geohistory, the younger the state, so the more human characteristics of insecurity, fear and greed come to the fore. When that state is not homogenous, and when a majority part of it, in the quest for recognition, feels the need to try and acquire the identity of part of a larger neighbour, we descend to the level of farce. Now we must bite the bullet, and attempt to explain the link between individual and corporate/state characteristics.
The Link When individuals get together, for whatever reason, whether via blood, language, faith or, more dangerously, interest, individual habits tend to become customs, which in turn become traditions, all underpinned by characteristics. Many moons ago, it was the shared traditions of tribes, and then groups of tribes, that led naturally to the creation of entities, which by modern times had led to what we now term ‘states’. Borders were obviously the essential way of demonstrating that a people formed an organisational unit with laws. Whether that state/unit was an oligarchy, plutocracy, monarchy, democracy, tyranny et al, or a combination of some
7 (Secret) Report on the ‘Free Macedonia Movement’, BNA-FO 371/43649, file R 232039/1009/67. 8 However, the language used today was codified and standardised in the Fifties by Blaze Konevski, who published the first dictionary in 1961.
or all of these, is not something with which we need concern ourselves, as our quest is to find the link(s) between individual and corporate/state characteristics. The older and more established the state, the more entrenched will be the characteristics of its people, since the institutions established hundreds of years ago are part and parcel of those states. Such states (and we are thinking here of France and England) have a certain linguistic continuity and an unbroken line of literature going back to even before the state was formed. We do not wish to delve too much into precise characteristics of a people, especially since recent world developments are leading to a blurring of traditional ideas of homogeneity. But, at the risk of sounding trite, we can nevertheless say the English, and the Welsh and Scots to a lesser extent, tend towards insularity in their mentality. History explains why: apart from being an island, England (later the United Kingdom) built up the biggest known empire. As a result, the English language began its march around the world, and the English did not bother, as a rule, to speak other languages. Generally, the English are poor linguists. But their history has made them pragmatists par excellence, as reflected in their way of shying away from the abstract, and tendency towards utilitarian philosophy. Here, it can be argued that this pragmatism comes from the individual, who has a tendency not to commit himself too much, eschewing grandiose ideas requiring commitment. This has translated itself to a national level, particularly regarding Britain’s attitude towards European integration, which is far more coy and circumspect than that of the French: Mr. Schuman and his colleagues were in effect starting with a broad conception, not lacking in nobility and grandeur, requiring a commitment of principle from the outset. This was inimical to British practice and mental habits.9
9 Dilks, David, ‘Britain and Europe 1948-1950: the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Cabinet’, Poidevin, Raymond (ed.), Histoire des débuts de la Construction Européenne, mars 1948-mai 1950, Brussels, Milan, Paris, BadenBaden, 1988, in Mallinson, William, From Neutrality to Commitment: Dutch Foreign Policy, Nato and European Integration, Tauris Academic Studies (imprint of I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd.), London and New York, 2010.
The French, on the other hand, tend to be more abstract (notwithstanding Cartesian rationalism), with a penchant for grandiosity and expressing themselves in the street, en masse. These admittedly trite observations can however be made reasonably accurately, thanks to our geohistorical prism of the past, which is with us as we write. The same things return: Thatcher’s policy on Europe reflected that of Bevin years earlier, while the French mini-revolutions of 1830, 1848 and 1968 were based atavistically speaking on the events of 1789. Trite yet true. We are confident that if any of you readers start to look at your own countries geohistorically, you will understand matters, without your understanding being polluted by geopolitics and its accompanying pseudo-theoretical baggage. Here geography per se enters the scene: if one considers Germany geohistorically, one sees that this powerful area of Europe has always been surrounded, and felt itself to be surrounded, by hostile, and potentially hostile, neighbours, which in turn partly explains one of the deep causes of the Third and Fourth World Wars, and a subsequent tendency towards the logic of aggression, justified to some extent via geopolitics à la Haushofer. While it is tricky and indeed exhausting to attempt to find precise links between individual characteristics and national ones, they exist in the individual and mass consciousness of any reasonably old system, and are a crucial ingredient of geohistory. It is through a recognition of atavism as a vital ingredient of geohistory that we can find the links, as we have intimated above, with our simple examples.
Conclusions In this, our foray into explaining geohistory, we can establish that it is the very antithesis of geopolitics, with the latter’s emphasis on resources, land-grabbing, and its attempt to pollute pure geography with politics. While it may be true that people and groups of people are a product of their geographical environment (climate and location are indeed crucial in the development of peoples), geohistory allows us to look at matters dispassionately without such geopolitics-related terms as ‘geostrategy’, which is simply a linguistically bulimic term for ‘strategy’, and often synonymous with ‘geokilling’. Geohistory also frees us from using the numerous clashing international relations theories and models; it uses original documents to a large extent, à la Guicciardini and Ranke. The
documents are themselves history. By way of contrast, the likes of Nietzsche, Hegel, Marx and others, despite their rarefied intellectual and occasionally over-logical approach - often based on a pedantic overinterpretation of pre-Socratic, as well as post-Socratic, philosophy -, appear to relate their accumulation of facts to their particular concept of history, thereby raising history to an unreal philosophical pedestal, in turn implying by default that history is itself a philosophy, rather than what it really is: the past, which is with us as we write. History can never be the slave of any theory. It is per se entirely separate from theory. Historiographers, in their desperate attempts to put history in a philosophical, or at least theoretical, cage, do little more than stimulate thought processes, but so many, that clashes and disputes occur. Better to use geohistory to understand the way that the perpetrators of history think, and how they have influenced so many into behaving barbarically, often because the ideas were taken out of context, and even twisted beyond recognition of the original. Geohistory does not use a theory to attack another theory, as is the wont of many a theory. It is far above any theory or model. History shows us that the same basic characteristics, whether individual, corporate, racial, nationalistic or institutional, tend to remain remarkably constant, modifications notwithstanding, even if they often remain submerged before reasserting themselves. Apart from the corporate characteristics which we have mentioned, it is clear that they are underpinned by the basic ones of insecurity, fear, pride, aggression and greed. Greed has in our view a close relationship with the dark side of business, to which we now turn.
CHAPTER FOUR GEOBUSINESS: ANATOMY OF GREED
Introduction Men of business who are used to a high percentage of profit in their own trade despise 3 or 4 per cent, and think that they ought to have much more. In consequence there is no money so often lost as theirs; there is an idea that it is the country clergyman and the ignorant widow who mostly lose by bad loans and bad companies. And no doubt they often do lose. But I believe that it is oftener still men of business, of slight education and of active temperament, who have made money rapidly, and who fancy that the skill and knowledge of a special trade which have enabled them to do so, will also enable them to judge of risks, and measure contingencies out of that trade; whereas, in fact, there are no persons more incompetent, for they think they know everything, when they really know almost nothing out of their little business, and by habit and nature they are eager to be doing.1
Iraq provides us with an effective example of the dangers of an unbridled geopolitical approach. The Iraqis nowadays consider themselves to be more Shia, Sunni or Kurdish than simply Iraqi. This chapter sets out to demonstrate that the situation is being exploited by certain great powers of today, who are acting in a self-interested, and not altogether altruistic, fashion, with geopolitics as a reason or excuse, depending on one’s viewpoint. When personal/business interests are endangered, the selfsame economic interests might, depending on their power of influence in the country of origin, set off a chain reaction of events that may have an effect at the global level and can be felt by many.
Bagehot, Walter, The Postulates of English Political Economy, Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1885, pp. 73-74.
The way in which geopolitical considerations have influenced the economy of Iraq has had a tremendous impact on the political and economic landscape we see today in the region. In our view, the Middle Eastern region shares, and will continue to share, one important characteristic in relation to the great powers, namely the twin goals of economic control and profit. Connecting and analysing politics and profit is invariably a thankless task, especially since the corporate business world in particular, and those who support unbridled free market economic concepts, often accuse certain academics of being in the clouds at best, or of being rabid out-and-out Marxists at worst. Such accusations do little to help serious analysis, however. Nor can President Eisenhower reasonably be said to have been close to either of the above epithets, when he warned the world about the military-industrial complex (having deleted the word ‘congressional’ at the last minute, for fear of antagonising a large number of members of Congress). Whether interests are purely strategic (which today can be virtually synonymous with military, under the euphemistic semantic guise of ‘geostrategy’) or simply economic (often a more high-sounding word to use than ‘commercial’), there has been a good deal of debate about what looks to some like an increasing tendency to merge strategic, business and military interests, to the point where it is sometimes difficult to clearly distinguish between the three. The phenomenon of ‘globalisation’ (or at least its fuzzy modern version) has surely contributed to this possible merging of interests. Let us now become more specific, as we turn to the region in question. In the case of Iraq, its birth in a geopolitical arena of interests coincided with the fall of the Ottoman Empire. One might say that Iraq was one of the many reasons for the destruction of the Empire. During the beginning, and especially after the end of the Great War, a new element was served at the table of great power strategies, namely oil. The decree issued in 1907 by Winston Churchill, First Lord of the British Admiralty, replaced the use of coal as the driving fuel for the British Navy (the biggest navy of the biggest military power at the time) with oil.2 This marked the beginning of
Myrianthis, Michael L., ‘Oleaginous Geopolitics in SW Asia and the BurgasAlexandroupolis Oil Pipeline’, occasional research paper no.10, Institute of
Geobusiness: Anatomy of Greed
a gold rush-like race for the control of the then known oil supplies, mainly between Great Britain and Germany,3 with France and the US joining soon after. This battle has continued to this day, with few changes with regard to the main players in the ‘oil game’. In this chapter we will try to give a brief historical background to Iraq and to the significance of its natural resources to the superpowers during the Cold War and after. The Soviet Union’s involvement in Iraq was not so much governed by the spread of Communist ideology as by pure business and economic considerations, as well as to create a disturbance within the West by attempting to cut the oil supply. The Iraq invasion, coined ‘Iraqi Freedom’ was more about gaining control over the country’s natural resources than deterring Iraq from becoming a ‘Jihadist sponsor’. Our analysis will attempt to demonstrate the rôle of personal and corporate interests in the decision to invade Iraq. As we shall see, Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction nor have any links with the radical Islamists of Al Qaeda. Finally, we shall criticise the current analysis of the political economics of war and conflict and its correlation with the Iraq invasion, and the downplaying and even omission of the external interests in analysing the conflicts of today.
Ideology or Arms? The Middle East has always been of strategic importance to external powers, whether for connecting Europe and the Far East for trade or, more recently, providing a significant portion of the world’s oil production and reserves. For the Soviet Union, though, according to Galia Golan, it has never been a region of primary interest, but has upon occasion played a rôle of unorthodox significance for Soviet foreign policy-makers. The Soviet leadership, she adds, in terms of Soviet foreign policy priorities,
International Relations, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens, December 1996. 3 The battle for the rich oil fields of the Ottoman Empire began with the construction of the railway link between Berlin, Baghdad and Basra, built by Germany in 1903, that enabled Germany to exploit the oil fields of Mosul. The battle for control continued, with Great Britain gaining the upper hand with the establishment of the Turkish Petroleum company in 1914, granting Great Britain 50% control of the company and the oil wealth of the Ottoman Empire, leaving Germany with only 25%.
had two constant priorities. The first was the protection and defence of the Soviet Union, and the second the East-West (communism versus capitalism) struggle. The significance and importance of these two priorities varied, depending on circumstances and events, as well as on the nature of other priorities. The defence policy of the Soviet Union had as its highest priority the protection of Soviet borders, and protection from outside attack. That policy led to the creation of a security belt or buffer zone just beyond the border, the most obvious example being the East European states’ compliance with Soviet wishes after the last world war. Being historically the traditionally chosen route of invasion, particularly of major European powers, Eastern Europe was considered the highest priority, followed by the borders in the Far East, then the southern borders in south-west Asia, and finally the Middle East. What began as a continental approach, Golan continues, eventually became both a power projection, accompanied by a doctrine of nuclear deterrence suited to continental as well as global aspirations.4 The Soviet Union’s interest in Iraq was primarily military in nature, focused more specifically on the naval facilities Iraq could offer to the Soviet navy in the Gulf and on preventing its defection to the Western umbrella. The country’s bordering a number of traditionally pro-western states, namely Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and Iran (up until the overthrow of Shah Pahlavi of Iran in 1979), further heightened the country’s strategic as well as political interest for Moscow. The move away from the West during the Cold War provided an opening for Moscow to become Iraq’s new arms supplier. In the 1960s, the antiwestern ideology of Iraq’s ruling Ba’ath Party made the country a logical partner for Moscow. According to Lederer and Vucinich, Iraq was viewed at the time as both ‘strategically important and ideologically promising’.5 Iraq’s need for military assistance for its internal as well as external conflicts made it a favourable client, while its regional power, due to oil
Golan, Galia, Soviet Policies in the Middle East from World War II to Gorbachev, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1990, p.1. 5 Lederer, Ivo J. and Vucinich, Wayne S. (eds.), The Soviet Union and the Middle East: The Post-World War II Era, Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, California, 1974, p. 97.
Geobusiness: Anatomy of Greed
wealth and strong leadership from the late Sixties, offered some advantages for Soviet policies in the area. Throughout the Cold War era, Soviet objectives in Iraq generally focused on keeping the country out of the western sphere of influence. Moscow also sought to make Iraq dependent on Soviet arms for both strategic as well as economic reasons as a way to obtain ‘hard currencies’. The lack of foreign currencies on the part of the Soviet Union was one of the main reasons Iraq sought alternative markets for its oil exports. In economic relations, aside from arms profits, the Soviets had also an interest in Iraqi oil. Although they did not need this oil, they encouraged nationalisation of western oil companies as a way to further limit the western presence in the Gulf as well as to try to get a stranglehold on its oil supplies. To this end the Soviets in the early 1970s provided an alternative market for Iraqi oil, as well as development aid and production assistance for the oilfields. Following export diversification as well as Iraq’s greater demand for ‘hard currencies’, export of Iraqi oil to the Soviet Union declined. According to one expert, oil concessions represented in the Soviet view the foundation of the entire structure of Western political influence in the Middle East. If the foundation cracked, the entire structure of Western political influence would come tumbling down.6 In the political sphere, the Soviets saw a special rôle for Iraq in the Gulf, that of helping Moscow to obtain a political foothold and bases. Although there were many societal instruments, the Soviets, much like other foreign powers, manipulated matters to their own benefit, for example by involvement with the Iraqi Communist party and the Kurdish independence movement; but military strategic relations and arms deals prevailed over ideological support and the spread of socialism.7 To any country, and especially to those which do not possess the technology or the capacity to compete with industrialised countries, arms supplies are of considerable importance. Since most of the countries that
Laqueur, Walter, The Struggle for the Middle East: The Soviet Union and the Middle East 1958-68, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1969, p.118. 7 Op. cit., Golan, pp. 157-160.
procure weapons from their suppliers also depend on them for maintenance and spare parts, their dependence on their supplier increases. The Soviet Union’s avoidance of a policy of conditionality in its arms supplies in the Middle East made it a more favourable partner for certain Arab countries. The lack of sympathy towards the Communist ideology and in some cases outright antagonism by most Arab countries was not however a deterrent for military cooperation with the Soviets. Egypt’s President Nasser’s statement while opening a Soviet-funded spinning mill at Damietta gives a good glimpse of the Arab view at the time of the Soviet approach towards the Middle Eastern countries: In spite of the clouds that have, at times, loomed over our relations, the economic agreement [of January 1958] was never affected. At no time did the Soviet Union utter one single word threatening to boycott us economically and on no occasion did the Soviets reproachfully remind us of the economic aid they extended to us or the loans they provided for our industrialization schemes.8
Divergence The Soviet Union played a geopolitical game, stimulated by its rivalry with the USA and the West, and sought client states for its arms exports to the Middle East. A policy of ideological expansion and intervention was meticulously followed, but only when circumstances allowed. One expert argues that Soviet gains in the Middle East have more often than not resulted from Western blunders or from the West’s inability to resolve conflicting interests and commitments in the area.9 The Soviet Union had more than enough of its own oil. The only instance where oil was a significant factor in its involvement in the Middle East was during the postwar occupation of Iran by the Soviet Union. The occupation ended after considerable pressure and guarantees for oil concessions, but the commercial and strategic relationship was annulled by the Iranians as soon as the Soviet army left Iran.10
Ismael, Tareq Y., International Relations of the Contemporary Middle East: A Study in World Politics, Syracuse University Press, New York, 1986, pp. 171, 172. 9 Smolansky, O. M., ‘Moscow and the Persian Gulf: An Analysis of Soviet Ambition and Potential’, Orbis 14, no. 1, Spring 1970, pp. 106, 107. 10 Op. cit., Ismael, Tareq Y., p. 169.
Geobusiness: Anatomy of Greed
In the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s, the Gorbachev administration initiated a reform movement within the Communist Party that hastened the end of the Cold War, thus eliminating communism as a global threat to the United States. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall the United States for a brief moment seemed to shift its focus towards the economic dominance of Japan, and it seemed as though ‘geopolitics’ would be replaced with ‘geoeconomics’. Two experts argue that this brief affair with geoeconomics came to an unexpected halt when on 2 August 1990, Saddam Hussein’s army marched into Kuwait and was positioned to threaten the huge oil fields of Saudi Arabia. The invasion of Kuwait, they continue, was a vivid reminder that the most elemental components of geopolitical power are still very much a part of the international system, especially in the Middle East. 11 Though their argument may still have merit, some might argue that like politics, economic or geoeconomic confrontation can be considered as continuation of war by other means. The terminology may change as well as the arena, but the adversaries, as well as the goal for domination and power, remain unchanged. The Middle East was the secondary external battlefield for the US of the Cold War era, second to Europe, much as for the Soviet Union. The United States’ involvement in this area had two main objectives: to contain the Soviet Union and secure oil supplies. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, tried to avoid encirclement and secure its access to the area’s waterways.12 The reasons why we have given a brief historical background was to examine recent developments in Iraq in the light of earlier trends, to emphasise the importance of Iraq’s natural resources for the industrialised countries and especially the USA, which after the fall of communism saw herself as the sole superpower, and tended to pursue policies with scant regard for rivalry or opposition. The usage of the ‘oil weapon’ throughout the Cold War in the Middle East was as prominent as other political tools in the superpower rivalry.
Kemp, Geoffrey and Harkavy, Robert E., Strategic Geography and the changing Middle East, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Brookings Institute Press, Washington D.C., 1997, pp. xi, xii. 12 Hansen, Birthe, Unipolarity and the Middle East, Curzon Press, Richmond, Surrey, 2000, p. 23.
The Balkanisation of Iraq Iraq has been in the sphere of interest of the great powers since the time of the Ottoman Empire. Its vast oil fields have been an area of dispute since the early 1900’s. Evidence of this is the Red Line Agreement of 1928 that divided the territory of today’s Iraq into spheres of influence among Great Britain, France, Germany and later the US, each gaining a proportion equal to the power they had at the time. There have been many changes on the geopolitical scene since then, but one thing has remained unchanged: the interest in, and need for, oil. With the war in Iraq, the USA wanted to achieve two objectives, economic hegemony over the vast oil fields of Iraq, and political control, by toppling a ‘defiant dictator’ who bullied his neighbours and had made the region unstable. Saddam may have been the most important reason, since before the Gulf War of the early 1990s, his country was on the way to becoming a regional power that would have threatened the security of Israel, the US’s most reliable ally in the Middle East, as well as that of Saudi Arabia and the ruling monarchy, the US’s strongest Arab ally. It was a case of a ‘breakaway country’ that had been sponsored and armed by the US during the Iran-Iraq war of 1985-1988.13 The war against Iraq did not start in 2003. It started under the presidency of George Bush Senior in 1991, and was waged at various levels of intensity until the coup de grâce was administered by George Bush Junior in 2003. The Bush Senior Administration’s main concern, according to two experts, was the possibility of Saddam hegemonising the oil reserves of the Arab peninsula, a region which contains 65 per cent of the world’s known oil reserves. Although the Gulf Crisis of 1990 was never solely about oil, oil infused every aspect.14 The preparations for the 2003 US adventure were made well before. Halliburton, a company involved in oil and gas exploration, was asked to prepare a forecast for the worst case scenario regarding the oil infrastructure and oil wells of Iraq, should Saddam decide to destroy them
Polk, William R., Understanding Iraq, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2005, p. 140. 14 Karsh, Efraim, Freedman, Lawrence, The Gulf Conflict, Faber and Faber, London, 1994, p. 180.
Geobusiness: Anatomy of Greed
while retreating from the US Army’s advance.15 It is interesting to note that Halliburton’s CEO in the early 1990’s was Dick Cheney, the Vice President under George Bush Junior, who was scrutinised by the press and the opposition in the US for his ties to the company and for the lucrative contracts he granted to Halliburton. According to The Economist, some investment bankers maintained that the ‘likeliest scenario is a short, successful war’ which ‘might actually be good for the world economy: it will eliminate today’s mood of uncertainty, boost government spending, and push oil prices lower in the medium term as new Iraqi production comes on stream.’16 This view was followed by the US administration and various political analysts who supported the Iraq War. 17 It was correct in its short term forecast that the war would boost government spending and improve the economy. This can be seen from the economic effect it had on the companies that supply the US Army, the oil companies and their supportive businesses. Halliburton’s stock price, for instance, rose substantially after the invasion of Iraq, from 15.8 dollars per share in 2004 to 38.69 in 2008,18 which can also be seen with the arms companies which constitute the military-industrial complex of the US.19 But recent events show that it is not so good for the world economy, and especially the US economy, 20 in the long run. What this forecast has shown is that the invasion of Iraq has proven very lucrative in the short
An Oversight Hearing on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in U.S. Government Contracting in Iraq, Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing, Bunnatine Greenhouse U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, June 27 2005. 16 ‘The Economic Risks’, The Economist, 22 February 2003, p. 69., noted in Epstein, Rachel A., Vennesson, Pascal (eds.), Globalization and Transatlantic Security, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, Florence, Italy, July 2006. 17 Byman, Daniel, ‘After the Storm: US Policy Toward Iraq Since 1991’, Political Science Quarterly, vol. 115, no. 4, Winter 2000-2001, pp. 493-516. 18 Halliburton website, historical price lookup, http://ir.halliburton.com/phoenix .zhtml?c=67605&p=irol-stockLookup&t=HistQuote, [Accessed 20 June, 2009]. 19 See, in particular, Ioannis Mazis’ book The Geopolitics of the Greater Middle East and Turkey (in Greek), Livanis, Athens 2008, pp. 149-152, where he lists some corporations, including Halliburton, with major interests in Iraq. 20 The US economy has faced recession and slow growth in recent years, and this trend is expected to continue.
term for the companies involved in oil exploration and those comprising the military industrial complex of the US.21 In calculating US involvement in Iraq, some aspects have not been considered. The Iraq adventure has proven costly, both economically and in relation to the casualties suffered by the US Army. To reduce some of the criticism and minimise the effect the invasion was having on public opinion back home, the State Department decided to use mercenaries, euphemistically known as Private Military Companies (PMC’s), instead of army personnel, for some of the ‘dirty jobs’ involving high risks. 22 An example of this is the involvement of Blackwater (now known as Academi), and Brown and Root in the operations in Iraq, providing protection to the various diplomats and the oil fields and pipelines.23 Faced with a chronic budget deficit, the US government in recent years has resorted to outsourcing both positions and products needed for the military. 24 Under the US Federal Acquisition Regulation, the term ‘acquisition’ refers to acquiring supplies and services under contract through purchase or lease.25 This practice has been stretched to such an extent that the line between procurement and national security operations has become blurred. Blackwater’s involvement in sensitive CIA intelligence operations has given rise to concerns as regards accountability and security of operations conducted in Iraq.26 An expert refers to these
The Investment Column: ‘Military pyrotechnics supplier Chemring shows plenty of fizz’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/theinvestment-column-military-pyrotechnics-supplier-chemring-shows-plenty-of-fizz772353.html. 22 Bianco, Anthony, Forest, Stephanie A., Crock, Stan and Armistead, Thomas F., ‘Outsourcing War, An Inside Look at Brown and Root, the kingpin of America’s New Military Industrial Complex’, Business Week, 15 September 2003, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/03_37/b3849012.htm. 23 ‘Blackwater ties to the Bush administration and the Republican Party’. Shows a good analysis and exposes Dick Cheney’s connexion to the Prince family, which owns Blackwater and is a major contributor to the Republican Party. www.salun.com. 24 Franck, Raymond, and Melese, Francois, ‘Defense Acquisition: New Insights from Transaction Cost Economics’, Defense & Security Analysis, June 2008, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 107-128. 25 Federal Acquisition Regulation, vol. 1, Pt 2, p. 101b. 26 Mazzetti, Mark, ‘C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadist’, The New York Times, 19 August 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/20/us/20intel.html?th&emc=th.
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‘new phenomena, in terms of private security companies, often recruited from retired soldiers from Britain or the USA who are hired both by governments and by multinational companies and are often interconnected.’27 In the years following the invasion, the US-led coalition had difficulties controlling the whole country. The human casualties proved too costly for some of the US allies, who gradually reduced their military presence. This led to an exploration of other scenarios for the resolution of the situation. A possible scenario that has already taken root in the planning of the US administration is the division of Iraq into ethnic and religious regions. A paper produced by the Armed Forces Journal in 200628 suggests that Iraq should be divided according to the ‘new reality on the ground’. What can be concluded from all the events and developments is that a major ‘geopolitical play’ is at hand and the stake is the control of oil and gas resources and supplies to both the European and US markets. The division of Iraq, as stated in a paper presented at the NATO War College in September 2006, shows that an independent Kurdistan,29 at Turkey’s territorial expense, could prove to be a way out for the US from a troublesome political situation. It would also provide a possible solution for the problematic region of the Middle East in general and strengthen the US’s grip on the countries in the region, following the old doctrine of divide and conquer. The importance of this paper is verified by the military actions of the Turkish government, which initiated attacks on the KPP in Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as in Syria.30 The autonomous region of Kurdistan in Iraq already poses a threat to the region’s security. Turkey’s attack on the Kurdish rebels in Iraq may be taken as a sign that the Turkish government is not all too happy about the possibility of losing a chunk of its territory. In fact, the declaration by
Kaldor, Mary, New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK, 2001, pp. 90-111. 28 Peters, Ralph , ‘Blood Borders- How a better Middle East would look’, Armed Forces Journal, June 2006, www.armedforcesjournal.com/2006/06/1833899, [Accessed 20 November, 2007]. 29 Mallinson, William, Cyprus: Diplomatic History and the Clash of Theory in International Relations, I.B. Tauris, London and New York, 2010, p. 137. 30 Fraser, Suzan, ‘Turkish Forces attack Kurds’, Independent, 17 December 2007, http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article3258074.ece, [Accessed 15 June, 2009].
Turkish President Demirel that the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 had left a bitter taste in Turkish mouths and that the borders are disputable (meaning the borderline that separates Turkey and oil-rich areas of Kirkuk and Mosul populated and controlled by the Kurds in Iraq) signals a strong desire by the Turks to be among the planners rather than victims of the divisions. 31 The deployment of Turkish troops in northern Iraq in December 2015 under the guise of training Iraqi militia to fight Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh as they are also known) terrorists, in the face of the Iraqi government’s opposition, confirms that Demirel’s view is also held by his successor Erdogan. A division of Iraq would be the best solution for the USA. It would reduce the number of its military personnel in the country and strengthen the control of its vast oil fields, since small countries are much easier to control and might prove grateful to the US for their independence. It would also provide the US with the opportunity to strengthen the block of regionally dependent countries (which it already controls)32 to counterbalance the Russian influence in the region via Iran.33 But in order for this division to be made, the world has to be ‘prepared to accept’ this outcome. A parallel can be drawn with the situation of the Balkans, regarding in particular the possible final step in the break-up of former Yugoslavia, in other words the Kosovo and Metohija issues. The continuing policy of many of its sponsors to view the province as a ‘newborn state’ has seriously eroded the concept of the nation state and
Although the statement was later retracted under considerable pressure by President Demirel, it still leaves the Mosul issue unresolved and could develop into a possible crisis. See Pipes, Daniel, ‘Hot Spot: Turkey, Iraq, and Mosul’, Middle East Quarterly, vol. III, no. 2, September 1995. 32 Mahmoudi, Prof. Said, ‘The Passage of ships through Straits’, Conference Proceedings, Athens, October 23, 1999. The passage of foreign (US and British) warships and their presence during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war and 1990-1991 Kuwait-Iraq war in the Persian Gulf had no authorisation from the countries controlling the straits of Hormuz for the passage of their ships through Omani territorial sea. 33 Russia has used the negative US-Iranian relations to improve its relations with Iran. This can be seen from Iran’s recent acceptance of observer status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), called by some the new Warsaw Pact, and from Russian-Iranian nuclear cooperation.
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sanctity of state borders, that are protected under the UN charter. A sui generis could become international law and practice.
Belgrade on the Tigris There is a common link between the Middle East and the Balkan region, besides the devastating effect outside influence has caused for their inhabitants. The common strand of political and key economic interests of superpowers and international corporations is intertwined with the development of these two regions, where the connexion between the personal financial and business interests of individuals and corporations is obvious.34 The involvement of Halliburton both in Iraq and the Balkans has proven very lucrative for Vice President Cheney’s former company. 35 Its estimated contracts for Iraq alone had reached 18 billion US dollars by 2009, with additional substantial income gained from the construction and maintenance of the US bases in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia (Kosovo and Metohija),36 estimated at around 2 billion US dollars. The corporation’s close ties to the previous White House administration leads to speculation about the extent to which corporate interests and the pursuit for profit influence the political and military actions of the US administration. Its disregard for the rule of law and procedures within the USA is clearly shown in the case brought to the US Congress by the former top Senior Executive Service official of the US Army responsible for army procurement and for granting the LOGCAP (Logistics Civil
34 For a more detailed account of great power interests in the Balkan region see Ristic, Zoran, ‘The Balkans: Geopolitics on a Small Scale’, The South Slav Journal, vol. 29, no. 1-2, Spring 2010, pp. 108-114. 35 http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/21/1085120125524.html. The ‘beauty’ of the set-up of the economic system in the US allows one to be virtually unknown regarding one’s fortune and investments. Although Cheney stated that he no longer held stocks from his previous company, the authors could not verify this, due to the unavailability of information from the investment firm Alliance Bernstein L.P. 36 Halliburton’s Kellogg Brown and Root division received about 200 million US dollars for its activities and construction of camp Bondstil in Kosovo and Metohija, the biggest American base built since the end of the Vietnam War.
Augmentation Program) contracts to private companies from the US Army, Bunny Greenhouse.37 The transfer from corporate CEO to a highly influential political figure and vice versa is not only characteristic of Vice President Dick Cheney. Several of the former US and EU representatives during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990’s have capitalised on their connexions and knowledge of the situation in this region for their personal, corporate and party gain. Wesley Clark, the former commander-in-chief of NATO for Europe, and a Democratic Party candidate for the presidential elections in 2004, has substituted his uniform for a corporate suit. As Chairman of the Canadian energy firm Envidity, Clark returned in 2012 to the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija in search of drilling rights for synthetic oil. 38 Another member of President Clinton’s administration, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, followed a similar career path postpolitics, investing through her Albright Stonebridge Group in the telecom industry in Kosovo and Metohija.39 Both Clark and Albright have strong ties with the Democratic Party in the USA and held high positions during Clinton’s presidency. Not to be outdone by the Democrats, the Republican Party’s ties to the Balkans have manifested themselves under George Bush Junior, ranging from Halliburton’s involvement with US operations and bases in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo and Metohija, to the involvement of various US officials, close to the Republican Party, in business deals in Kosovo. An example of this is the former US general and Deputy Chief of UNMIK in Kosovo and Metohija, Stephen Shuck, who tried to cut a deal involving
Tucker, Neely, ‘A Web of Truth, Whistle-Blower or Troublemaker, Bunny Greenhouse Isn't Backing Down’, Washington Post, 19 October 2005, http://www. washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/18/AR2005101801796.html. Bunny Greenhouse’s accusations about preferential treatment of Halliburton by the US Army reveal the connexion that the company has with the US Defense Department. 38 Collaku, Petrit, and Aliu, Fatmir, ‘Wesley Clark seeks license for oil in Kosovo’, Balkan Insight, 08 June 2012, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/wesleyclark-seeks-licence-for-oil-in-kosovo. 39 Brunwasser, Matthew, ‘That Crush at Kosovo’s Business Door? The Return of U.S. Heroes’, The New York Times, 11 December 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/12/world/europe/americans-who-helped-freekosovo-return-as-entrepreneurs.html?_r=0.
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the American Company AES, in winning a contract worth 2.5 billion Euros for the construction of a thermo-electrical plant in Kosovo. 40 Shuck’s previous boss at New Technology Management Inc., Lurita Doan, was cited as having close ties with the Republican Party, to which she has made some substantial financial contributions.41 The political aspect of the two regions’ connectivity can be seen in the interest of the great powers in controlling them militarily. However, the previously mentioned border change cannot happen so easily. There has not been such a case since the end of the last war and the establishment of the UN.42 One can conclude that the current Balkan situation regarding Kosovo and Metohija is related to the situation in Iraq: if the independence of that Serbian region is granted and supported by the great powers of today, it will be a clear breach of international law and the UN Charter, and will provide momentum for proceeding with border change in the Middle East, as suggested in Peters’ paper above.43 Once a superpower of today diminishes the importance of the UN and the established international rules and laws, it may well try to alter borders wherever and whenever it sees fit. As we can see from the Georgian crisis in August 2008, the Russians are following the same strategy as NATO did in Kosovo and Metohija, using
Retired General Shuck’s position as a Deputy Chief of the UN Administration in Serbia’s breakaway province was not renewed following a UN investigation into his alleged ties with Kosovo businessmen and suspicious dealings with Kosovo’s energy minister Ethem Ceku in connexion with a multimillion dollar project to build electric power plants in Kosovo. See ‘Kosovo: Deputy chief administrator resigns under a cloud’, http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Politics/?id=1.0.1687351243; and Morris, Harvey, ‘Russian stance ends UN talk on Kosovo’, Financial Times, 20 December, 2007, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fc250bc2-ae9c-11dc-97aa-0000779fd2ac.html#a xzz48rnEDkIC. 41 Higham, Robert O'Harrow Jr., ‘GSA Chief Is Accused of Playing Politics: Doan Denies “Improper” Use of Agency for GOP’, Washington Post, March 26 2007.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/25/AR200 7032501048.html. 42 One could of course agree that the establishment of East Timor has a certain parallel. The whole background was however completely different, geopolitically, to that of Kosovo and Metohija. The case hardly qualifies as a replica of the Balkan situation. 43 Op. cit. Peters, Ralph.
the Kosovo issue as an excuse for their adventure in Georgia. An occupation and division of a country by outside power, whether under the excuse of humanitarian intervention, ‘reality of the situation’ or any other excuse, has proven to be an increasingly common practice, disregarding the rule of international law and universal practices. It is not the case, as previously claimed by the US administration, that the Kosovo issue is sui generis. If this pattern of recognition becomes common practice and is legitimised, there would be no obstacle to the dissolution of Iraq, and recognition of the newly independent countries that might emerge out of post-war Iraq. The Kurdish region of northern Iraq is the first viable candidate. The Kurdish autonomous government in Iraq has already established state and national elements such as an army and flag, and controls its entire territory with little regard for the Baghdad government. Its dispute with Baghdad over the oil-rich territory south of the Kurdish administrative border, Nineveh, resembles more an interstate conflict than an intrastate dispute.44 The Kurdistan regional government, which in many respects functions as an independent entity in northern Iraq, has concluded a number of oil contracts without the consent of the authorities in Baghdad. Hunt Oil Company of Dallas, for example, signed a productionsharing agreement with the regional government, though its legality is questioned by the central Iraqi government.45 Due to the chaotic situation in Iraq, especially as regards its military, the government in Baghdad cannot force its jurisdiction over the entire country.
The Spoils of War Examining the recent history of foreign powers’ relations with Iraq, one can conclude that the main determining factor driving attitudes towards, and relations with, Iraq, is its natural resources. The ideological confrontation between East and West during the Cold War period was nothing but a smokescreen for the domination of both powers. Ideology was often exerted as a means of achieving domination and hegemony over certain countries, as is the case of Iraq.
Dagher, Sam, ‘Tensions Stoked Between Iraqi Kurds and Sunnis’, The New York Times, 17 May, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/18/world/middleeast/18nineveh.html?th&emc=th. 45 Kramer, Andrew E., ‘Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giant Back’, The New York Times, June 19 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/19/world/middleeast/19iraq.html.
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The bickering between the two superpowers over Iraq was nothing more than a fight for its natural resources or economic dependence. Just as the Soviet Union used the Communist Party of Iraq and the leftist elements within the Ba’ath Party to reach better economic agreements, so did the West, with its flagbearers the USA, UK and France. As Yezid Sayid stated in his book The Cold War and the Middle East,46 the two economic systems collided in their values and methods of economic governance and development. That was accompanied by expansion of their system to other states. ‘Converting means subjecting’, as Sayid so succinctly puts it. If one country accepts its master (the leader of each subsequent system), the subdued state will depend on the leader. This dependency is ideological, military and, particularly, economic. Sayid’s view reflects the ‘neorealist/neocon’ Manichean view of the world, which to an extent was pushed by the USA in its invasion of Iraq. The constant cry from various US diplomats to broaden their coalition and support the 2003 invasion was ‘you are either with us or against us’. What neorealists describe as an anarchic self-help model, in which states seek survival above all else, was the case with most of the countries supporting the invasion, particularly those from the Middle East. There was a perception that Saddam’s regime would bring destruction to their countries and to the world, as shown in Colin Powell’s UN address before the invasion, which was used as an excuse for the toppling of the regime in Baghdad. The main objective of the US’s decision to invade Iraq in March 2003 was, as stated, to topple a defiant dictator who was threatening the whole region with a supposedly fearsome army and great quantities of weapons of mass destruction, although the latter has never proven, and was indeed a lie.47 The real purpose of the invasion was and still is, as can be seen after the invasion, the securing of the largest possible share of the unexploited or imperfectly exploited natural resources of the country.
46 Sayid, Yezid and Shlaim, Avi (eds.), The Cold War and the Middle East, Oxford University Press, UK, 1997, pp. 1-6. 47 Dr. Hans Blix, the executive director of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) from 2000 to 2003, claimed in his book that there was not sufficient evidence for the US invasion of Iraq. Hans Blix, Disarming Iraq, Pantheon Books, New York, 2004.
Black Blood The discovery of oil brought a major change in the strategic significance of the Middle East region, which was no longer, as previously, of interest mainly for the transit routes between Europe and Asia, but became a major asset in its own right, its value increasing steadily with the rise of its oil output and the growing dependence of the advanced world, in war and peace, on oil supplies. Some of the most decisive battles of the last war were fought on Middle Eastern soil. The goal was control of the oil supplies, which Nazi Germany desperately needed. In the aftermath of that war, the British and Americans spearheaded the drive for integrating the economies of the Middle Eastern countries. That integration, which was to be economic and political in nature, should have been accomplished through the Arab League. The reasoning was to create a framework for pacifying the region, thus making it safer for investments and exploitation. This soft diplomacy approach was a significant change from Britain’s former imperial policy. What drove this shift in policy was, according to one expert, the outbreak of violence and unrest in most Arab countries in the 1920s, that proved that the established policy of direct colonial rule in Asia and Africa would not work. The new policy, which some might still construe as imperial, led to the creation of new Arab states, which received greater independence, albeit attached to multiple treaties safeguarding the privileged position of the imperial powers, and giving them the right to maintain armed forces in the newly established states. 48 With the decline of British influence following the last war, the USA seized the moment and took control, in one way another, of most of the British Empire’s dominions around the world. Despite claiming special relationship status, the rôle of the UK has been downgraded to that of a mere follower and obedient ally. Much of the oil produced in the Middle East region is destined for the markets in industrialised, developed countries in Europe and Japan, with most of that oil being pumped by US and British companies. By removing
Lewis, Bernard, The Shaping of the Modern Middle East, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, 1994, pp. 138-139.
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Saddam Hussein from power, the US and UK not only freed oil production from the country, previously constrained by the UN’s food for oil programme, but also gained access to the control of Iraq’s vast oil reserves. Such an advantageous situation granted the US leverage over OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), and provided an opportunity to decrease its dependence on the cartel. The cartel-like character of OPEC stipulates that members agree on a quota of oil to keep the price high enough to make a profit, but not so high that the West has to go elsewhere. Research conducted by Petrolog and Associates in 2004 gives an initial estimation of the possible oil and gas reserves in Iraq. They estimated that Iraq’s oil reserves are on a par with those of Saudi Arabia. Its low discovery and development costs, according to the research, provide high income at all levels of oil prices.49 In view of Iraq’s desperate need for oil development, up-to-date technology transfer, personnel training, and large capital investment, at a time when the country is in dire need of capital income, it is logical to permit a wise degree of international oil companies’ involvement, as Shafiq suggests. Following the devastating consequences of the Iran-Iraq war, coupled with years of sanctions, Iraq’s oil and gas infrastructure deteriorated substantially. Under the ‘oil for food’ programme, Iraq could only derive funds sufficient to simply survive. U.S. oil reserves (at production levels before the financial crisis and not taking into account its shale oil capacity) would only last a decade if the U.S. were cut off from all other oil sources. Iraqi oil reserves (at their current use level, which is under its possible output level) would compensate for the US’s shortage in supply. With Saddam Hussein removed from power and the country burdened with a weak central government, the Iraqi oil industry is up for grabs. The history of oil exploration in Iraq begins with the formation of the Iraq Petroleum Company. The manner in which the ownership structure of the company was organised, with shares distributed between British, French, Dutch and American companies, is evidence of the rôle of politics in the Middle East in acquiring oil concession rights during and after the Great
Shafiq, Tariq, ‘Iraq: Oil Plans and Policy’, Middle East Economic Survey, vol. xlviii, no. 31, 1 August 2005.
War. 50 The major oil concessions were characterised by a common ownership, which allowed for effective control. As a result of a series of agreements concluded in the 1920s and 1930s, the Iraq Petroleum Company held concessions to develop and export virtually all the oil in Iraq. These agreements granted the company monopolistic rights over all oil and gas production over a long period, with limited control and regulation at the expense of vital government rights on tax and royalties.51 At the dawn of worldwide oil exploration expansion, the international oil companies were able to set their own terms at the beginning of the investment. This was due to their control over certain production factors such as capital and technology, but also because host country élites benefited from their presence. The companies themselves sought greater control over the conduct of their operations independent of host country interference, as well as high returns that were justified by the size of investment and uncertainty.52 Many of these contractual features of the oil agreements changed during the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, mostly due to collective pressure from the host countries through OPEC. OPEC’s clout enabled some member countries in the early Sixties and Seventies to nationalise their oil industries. 53 Iraq alone negotiated outside OPEC, nationalising its oil industry in the early Seventies.54 State monopoly over the oil industry became the rule in many countries in the Middle East, and few allowed partnerships with international oil companies. In Saudi Arabia, for example, the international oil companies were limited to the exploration and development of gas, while in Iraq from the Nineties international oil companies were mostly allowed to cooperate through production-sharing agreements. 55 Due to UN-enforced sanctions
Richie, Ovendale, The Longman Companion to The Middle East Since 1914, 2nd Ed., Longman, London, New York, 1998. 51 Silverfarb, Daniel, The Twilight of British Ascendency in the Middle East: A case study of Iraq 1941-1950, Macmillan Press, 1994, p. 215. 52 Goodman, Louis W., Small Nations, Giant Firms, Holmes and Meier Publishers, New York, 1987, p. 119. 53 See also Little, Douglas, American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945, I.B. Tauris, London, 2003, pp. 58-65. 54 Op. cit., Shafiq, Tariq. 55 Op. cit., Shafiq, Tariq.
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no company was able to carry out exploitation in Iraq, despite many signing draft accords with the Iraqi government. Following Saddam’s overthrow and the occupation of Iraq by the US and its allies, the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP, flocked to the country, seeking to regain their concessions for Iraq’s oil fields. The exploitation contracts under the auspices of the US occupation would be the very first commercial operation since the four major oil companies had been evicted from Iraq by Saddam Hussein thirty six years previously. It is no surprise that these companies, rather than any other of the oil companies competing for the concession agreements, obtained the initial rights to oil and gas exploitation in Iraq: it was a form of corporate business atavism. For an industry whose exploitation ventures had been halted in some of the world’s dominant oil-producing countries, like Russia and Venezuela, Iraq offered a rare and prized opportunity, and an example of a country that many experts consider to be the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production. Despite the high oil prices that increased the revenues of the oil majors, they are faced with depleting reserves in the countries they operate in. The nationalisation of the oil industry in many countries, coupled with the desire of many oil-producing countries for a greater share of the profits for their national budgets, restrict the profits and scope of operations of the international oil companies. For the US government, the increase in oil output in Iraq, as elsewhere, serves the foreign policy goal of increasing and diversifying oil production globally, which might alleviate potential instability in the oil market. Iraq is one of the few countries that have considerable potential to rapidly increase production within several years and narrow the gap between the insufficient supplies and increasing demand for oil. 56 And given the obsession with the Heartland, the US is keen on reducing Russia’s markets.
Kramer, Andrew, E., ‘Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back’, The New York Times, 19 June, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/19/world/middleeast/19iraq.html?_r=1.
The Business of Politics – Corpocracy, the New World Order? The usual definition of a resource war is that of an armed conflict waged to control valuable natural resources. While resource control may be the main factor driving a conflict, wars are too complex to be attributed to a single motive. The term ‘resource war’ is used to define an armed conflict in which the control and revenue of natural resources are significantly involved in the economy of the conflict and/or the motivation of the belligerents. 57 The Iraqi war of ‘Freedom’ may well be defined as a resource war following the end of the invasion. It is a quintessential example of pure geostrategy. The more internal forces are involved in the exploitation of natural resources for continuation of their existence,58 so the more involved are the international actors exploiting the situation and feeding the market, apart from personal involvement in areas of conflict, as is the case of Iraq. War is a continuation of politics by other means, as Clausewitz pointed out.59 It represents a clash of interests which in most cases are of a political nature. Political interests are often motivated by, or rooted in, the economy, distribution or redistribution of various resources, money and territory. 60 An expert argues that conflicts and wars that are fought for economic reasons represent a blend of private and public interests, perhaps even with a prevalence of the former over the latter. This has historically been the case of many international wars, and some authors have argued that such ‘resource wars’ are reappearing.61 With depletion of most of the resources located in relatively safe areas, companies in the extractive industry have moved operations to areas
Le Billon, Philippe, ‘The political Economy of Resource War’, http://www.iss.co.za/PUBS/Books/Angola/3LeBillon.pdf. 58 Le Billon Philippe, Fueling War: Natural Resources and Armed Conflict, The International Institute for Strategic Studies, Routledge, 2005. 59 Von Clausewitz, Karl, On War, Penguin Group, London, 1968, p. 119. 60 Alexander, Nikitin, Political and Economic Causes of War, paper prepared for 50th Pugwash Conference On Science and World Affairs: ‘Eliminating the Causes of War’, Queens' College, Cambridge, UK, 3-8 August 2000. 61 Møller, Bjørn, ‘Privatisation of Conflict, Security and War’, DIIS Working Paper, No 2005/2, Danish Institute for International Studies.
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characterised by instability and conflict. The resources over which many of today’s internal and international conflicts are fought are the same that attract international companies, thus increasing their rôle in these conflicts, sometimes even in ‘fuelling the conflict’. Companies operating or involved in a country of turmoil may a have positive or negative effect on the conflict dynamics, whether accidental or not, but they are never neutral.62 Some may recall the Biafran War in the late Sixties, which some even labelled a fight between British and French oil interests. The importance of transnational corporations’ strategies and policies are very much related to the strategic and national interests of the countries and governments in which they are based. Influencing the local managers operating in the subsidiary of major corporations is a crucial factor for the security of the corporation’s country of origin. Local managers sympathetic to the ‘source-country’ may exert their influence on the senior management level in the country of origin and vice versa. For a strategyrelated business such as oil extraction, this poses a security risk for the host country. It assumes the marriage of interests of both transnational corporations and their country of origin. 63 This interdependence and interaction between business and security, as an expert states, is not a new feature in human activity. The relationships between business and defence involve both parallelism and complementarity.64 Throughout the Twentieth Century, the interests of oil companies and national governments were closely linked, 65 especially as regards the Middle East. This collision of interests led to the development of a symbiotic relationship, where foreign ministries lobbied on behalf of the oil companies owned by their nationals. Demirmen gives a good example of this type of relationship. The Turkish Petroleum Company, founded in
62 Heiko, Nitzschke and Ballentine, Karen (ed.), Profiting from Peace: Managing the Resource Dimension of Civil War, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, London, 2005, p.185. 63 Buckley Peter J. and Casson, Mark, The Future of the Multinational Enterprise, 2nd ed, Macmillan Press, London, 1991, pp.105, 106. 64 Bailes, Alyson J. K. and Frommelt, Isabel (eds.), Business and Security: PublicPrivate Sector Relationships in a New Security Environment, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004, p.1. 65 See also Uche Chibuike, ‘Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War’, Journal of African History, No. 49, 2008, pp. 111-135, on the involvement of oil companies’ interests and British foreign policy.
1911 to exploit Mosul oil, was reorganised in March 1914 at a meeting held at the Foreign Office in London, where British and German diplomats sat next to executives of British and German banks and British and Dutch oil companies.66 This type of symbiotic relationship continued well into and following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As an expert argues, the powerful oil lobby, through individuals in President Bush’s administration, with a background in, or connexions to, the oil industry, is responsible for the aggressive push for US control of the world’s oil reserves. For example, former US President George W. Bush had a background in the oil business; Vice President Dick Cheney was, as we have seen, the Chief Executive of Halliburton (a US oil services and engineering/construction multinational); and Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, was on the board of directors of the US oil multinational Chevron (1991-2001), which named one of its Oil Super tankers after her. The influence of the oil lobby is also manifested in the immense material support that oil multinationals provide to the political campaigns of the Republican and Democratic parties, the profits from oil investments by American oil companies overseas, and the jobs they generate back home.67 The symbiotic relationship between home governments and transnational corporations (TNCs)68 has existed since the 1500s69 (with, for example, the East India Company later coming to govern the entire Indian subcontinent on behalf of the British Empire), and still exists today. As in every war since the use of oil as a fuel for the British navy in the early 1900s, the need and interest in oil has remained until today. ‘Our paramount national security interest in the Middle East is maintaining the unhindered flow of
Demirmen, Farruh, ‘Oil in Iraq: The Byzantine Beginnings’, Global Policy Forum, 25 April 2003, http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/185/40548.html. 67 Obi, Cyril, ‘Oil, US Global Security and the Challenge of Development in West Africa’, CODESRIA Bulletin, Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden, nos 3&4, 2005, p. 38. 68 Behrman, Jack N. and Grosse, Robert E., International Business and Governments: Issues and Institutions, University of South Carolina Press, South Carolina, 1990, p.65. 69 Barnet, Richard J., and Müller, Ronald E., Global Reach: The Power of the Multinational Corporations, Lowe and Brydone Ltd., Norfolk UK, 1975, pp. 7277.
Geobusiness: Anatomy of Greed
oil from the Persian Gulf to world markets at stable prices’, a 1995 US Department of Defense report stated.70 The Iraqi oil fields, with suspected reserves that might surpass the ones in Saudi Arabia, may serve as a contingency plan, to diversify away from the dependence on Saudi oil. If the prognostications of some oil experts come true, and Iraq leaves the OPEC consortium, it may provide the country with some freedom in price and production manipulation, a control strongly exerted by the OPEC countries led by Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer with the largest proven oil reserves so far. As for the fragile Iraqi society, divided by sectarian violence, it will be left, under US President Obama’s plan, to patch itself up with possible minor assistance, to prevent disruption in the oil and gas flow out of Iraq. In the post-Cold War era,71 the question remains, as Edward Said puts it: ‘Is the US and its sordid military-economic policy, which knows only profit and opportunism, to rule the world, or can there develop a sufficiently powerful intellectual and moral resistance to its policies? For those of us who live in its sphere or are its citizens, the first duty is to demystify the debased language and images used to justify American practices and hypocrisy, to connect US policies in places like Burma, Indonesia, Iran and Israel with what it is now doing in [Iraq] – making it safe for US investments and business – and to show that the policies are basically the same, thought they are made to seem different.’ 72 This thought prevails throughout most of the Middle East in its view of the US. ‘Most Westerners’, according to Wilfred Cantwell Smith, ‘have simply no inkling of how deep and fierce is the hate, especially of the West, that has gripped the modernising Arab.’73 One of the reasons for this hatred stems from the mishandling of the Arab world by the Western powers, who squander their natural resources. The US’s support for various autocratic and theocratic regimes in the Middle East for the sole purpose of safe exploitation of oil runs contrary to the democratic ideals that it states it wishes to export to the world. These actions and behaviour lead the
Op. cit., Fouskas, Vassilis K., p. 18. This phrase is beginning to sound rather hollow nowadays, given the sanctions on Russia and the fighting in Syria et al. 72 Said, Edward, ‘The Treason of the Intellectuals’, in Ali, Tariq (ed.), Masters of the Universe? NATO’s Balkan Crusade, Verso, London-New York, 2000, p. 344. 73 Cantwell Smith, Wilfred, Islam in Modern History, Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey, 1957, p. 159. 71
inhabitants of the Middle East to view the US involvement in the region as neo-colonialism, with oil companies and mercenaries acting as proxies.74 The root of the general problems burdening the Middle East is the actions of foreign powers in the region, especially regarding fair distribution of oil income and support for democratic civil forces in each country. The Iraqi intervention has proven to be more damaging than beneficial to US interests. It created a perception across the Arab world that US actions are imperialistic in nature, and that the United States is the new imperial power, solely interested in pursuing its own national interests more often than not to the detriment of others.75
Conclusions […] the benefit occasioned by war is not a national benefit, diffused vertically through every class of the belligerent nation; but a class benefit diffused as it were horizontally through the commercial strata of all nations within supplying distance of the centre of disturbance. On the other hand, of course, the immediate local demand is stronger than the demand communicated to remoter markets and more easily supplied; in other words the commercial class of the belligerent nations are [sic] more immediately and more intensely benefited by the state of war than the same classes of neighbouring nations, although in war as in peace the commercial classes of every nation are one. Also the outbreak of war, even if it does not entirely sever a country from foreign sources of supply, is bound to cause a certain dislocation; if communications are not altogether interrupted they are more difficult and uncertain than in normal times; so that the trade of the belligerent country is always given a greater impetus than that of its neutral neighbours, and in such cases a particular industry which has been threatened by the competition of foreign imports may be actually rescued from extinction. Even the temporary dislocation of trade is a benefit to trade in the nation at war; for it enables existing stocks to be sold at exaggerated prices.76
Francis, David, J., ‘Mercenary Intervention in Sierra Leone: Providing National Security or International Exploitation’, Third World Quarterly, vol. 20, no. 2, 1999, pp. 319-338. 75 ‘Iraq in Transition: Vortex or Catalyst?’, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Middle East Programme, BP 04/2, September 2004. 76 Mavrogordato, John, The World in Chains. Some Aspects of War and Trade, Martin Secker, London, 1917, p. 71.
Geobusiness: Anatomy of Greed
Mavrogordato’s analysis of the cost and benefits for countries’ economies during and after the Great War can be similarly applied to all consequent wars. ‘War is good for the economy’, as one academic states, judging war’s effect on the economy, like many other economists, as being based on its effect on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).77 GDP growth during war is not however the best indicator of growth in welfare. As another academic points out, GDP growth is a lost output, due to the fact that the majority of GDP is spent on war materials and soldiers, which is a lost output.78 While this analysis makes sense in relating to the greater welfare of the country, it neglects to take into account the specific sector industries supporting the war, i.e. the weapons and material suppliers. The loss output for the country does not assume a loss in profit for the suppliers. In this connexion, the last war was particularly beneficial to the oil industries providing oil supplies and services to the Allied military. Henderson’s analysis looks at the greater good for the economy of the US entering a war, and although his analysis may be accurate, it does not conclude correctly when stating that there were no gains. If one looks at the unemployment problem that was temporarily solved due to the massive mobilisation of U.S. military forces and extensive employment in the war industry, it brought ‘social peace’ and economic growth for the duration of the war. For the time of the war, from 1941 until 1945, unemployment was solved and, although only temporary, it did provide real growth for the US’s GDP. Nowadays states sometimes display plutocratic tendencies (hardly a modern phenomenon!),79 and are in danger of succumbing to the interests and will of international corporations. Within the US, the regular battles between business and government on monopolies come to mind, as does, at a supranational level, the stand-off between the European Commission and the Microsoft corporation, as well as large European pharmaceutical
Poast, Paul, The Economics of War, McGraw-Hill Irwin, New York, 2006, p. 3. Henderson, David R., ‘The Economics of War and Foreign Policy: What's Missing?’, Defense & Security Analysis, March 2007, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 87-100. 79 For more information on the historical connexion of business and government, see for example Adam Smith’s ‘An Inquiry into the nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’, vol. 2, Book IV, Chapter VII, explaining the marriage of interests between governments and companies in controlling their colonies and pursuit for profit. 78
companies. In Russia, we hear much about the skirmishes between state and business interests. The importance of oil as a driving fuel of the economies and military machineries of every state in the world increased drastically throughout the 20th century. This is obvious in examining the German attack on the Soviet Union during the last war, the Barbarossa plan. In its essence, the plan was to gain control of the Soviet oil fields and provide the necessary ‘juice’ that should have kept the German war machinery running. One of the many reasons (in our opinion the main one) why the Germans lost the war was the lack of oil supplies. The Ploesti oil fields in Romania, heavily bombarded by the allies, responsible for 80% of oil used by the Wehrmacht, were not enough to sustain the status quo in relation to the German occupation of Europe, let alone for further conquests.80 Military supplies in times of war are crucial for victory. The world’s economy depends, to a great extent, on oil, to develop and grow. That is why so many companies are interested in getting a piece of the cake (Halliburton and Blackwater are just a few, but not the biggest ones we can mention)81. The afore-mentioned companies are but a small example of the influence of big business, especially in the case of Iraq. They can be caricatured as cronies of the two parties responsible for filling the parties’ coffers (and individual pockets as well). The real players behind the scene, the big oil consortia and military industrial giants, are not often mentioned. Eisenhower’s above-mentioned forewarning about the military industrial complex82 was diluted and expressly ignored. Now we are experiencing the reality of his fear, as big military and corporate interests are controlling developments in the world today, playing with the fate of many people and countries, as if they were pieces on a chess board, easily sacrificed and manipulated. What can be said about the future of Iraq? Perhaps its people’s future is blurred and uncertain, while outside forces play on their weaknesses. The
Op. cit., Kemp and Harkavy, pp. 41-48. For detailed information on the oil and gas companies competing for the oil and gas concessions in post-war Iraq, see Gallardo, Christina, ‘Iraq’s oil bidding for oil contracts push on concession list’, Portengineering, 1 September, 2009, http://www.portengineering.info/20090901938/asia/middle-east/iraqs-oil-biddingfor-oil-contracts-push-on-concession-list.htm. 82 Op. cit., Mallinson, William, Cyprus Diplomatic History etc., p.88. 81
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unscrupulous search for short-term individual, corporate and national profit, and for power, risks driving the region back into darker ages of economic and social development. More thought is needed, to establish a more reasonable balance between purely business and human interests. More geohistorical method is required. Correctly identifying the actors who are engaged in war for profit, according to two academics, may help in identifying opponents to, and spoilers of, peace settlements, which may help in devising more effective policies of conflict regulation and prevention.83 In analysing the political economy of intra- and inter-state wars and conflict, one needs to understand the driving motives behind them. All modern wars, with very few exceptions, have been waged for economic benefit, whether through occupation of a territory or ideological domination. Economic motives and objectives cannot be attributed to intra-state actors alone; outside actors have similar interests in ‘maximizing the use of violence to manage their own economic environments.’84 As Fawaz Gerges correctly points out, the inter-Arab dynamics, with their affairs and rivalries, cannot be understood without focusing on their relations within the sub-system and relations with extra-regional powers.85 Thus we have seen how the geopolitical approach, with its warlike geostrategy, focuses essentially on resources and profit, but ignores the fate of human beings. It also appears to thrive, perhaps paradoxically, on a measure of chaos and, more recently, on the globalisation obsession, where speed and greed are having an increasingly symbiotic relationship.
83 Ballentine, Karen and Sherman, Jake (eds.), The Political Economy of Armed Conflict: Beyond Greed and Grievance, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, London, 2003, pp. 5, 6. 84 Arnson, Cynthia J. and Zartman, William I. (eds.), Rethinking the Economics of War: The Intersection of Need, Creed, and Greed, Woodrow Wilson Center Press, Washington D.C., 2005, p. 9. 85 Gerges, Fawaz A., The Superpowers and the Middle East: Regional and International Politics, 1955-1967, Westview Press, Colorado, Oxford, 1994, p. 15.
CHAPTER FIVE GLOBALISATION, SPEED AND GREED
Introduction Where is the wisdom lost to knowledge, where is the knowledge lost to information, and where is the word we lost in words?1
Having seen in the previous chapter the deleterious effects of the selfish yet thoughtless application of geopolitical principles by the greedier side of big business, usually in the form of multi-national companies,2 we shall explore here the connexions between geopolitics and globalisation. Both terms tend to be laden with linguistically bulimic phraseology, such as ‘global world’, that must have George Orwell spinning in his grave. We shall consider the effects of globalisation within the context of geopolitics, given its close connexion to international business. We think that the socalled ‘information explosion’ also has a rôle to play, given the speed with which people have to move, which naturally detracts from thinking of the implications of their hurriedly, deadline-driven actions, and, in particular, from the lessons to be drawn from geohistory.
Globalisation and Information It is hardly a secret that the phenomenon of globalisation and the much publicised and discussed ‘information revolution’ appeared in tandem - in the wake of the reintroduction of geopolitics - , and were presented by the international business machine as new and positive phenomena, even if
Eliot, T.S., The Rock, Faber and Faber, London, 1934, in Menzeniotis, Dionisis, ‘Demystifying Knowledge Society and its alleged ‘Education’, Cosmothemata, vol. 2, no. 2, New York College, Athens, July 2005. 2 The term ‘multinational companies’ (MNCs) is often a misnomer, since the majority of shares are often held by the citizens of one particular country. ‘Transnational Corporations’ is perhaps a less inaccurate term.
globalisation, in fact if not in name, began almost five hundred years ago, with the ‘Magellan circumnavigation.’3 Well before the advent of the Internet, the Marshall Plan’s slogan ‘Prosperity makes you Free’4 accompanied the expansion of giant multinationals into western Europe, accompanied in turn by the marketing of American business ideas. Later on, the advent of the Internet, and the possibility of instant communication and access to information that would have taken days or even weeks to ascertain, led to a rapid acceleration of the pace at which people lived, with increasingly packed agendas and one deadline after another. Global marketing and communication became the new catchwords, with large multinationals sometimes cleverly disguising their agendas with the phrase ‘think local’. An enormous push came with the so-called ‘Third Way’, an attempt by President Clinton and Prime Minister Blair to distract people from the ‘extremes’ of the two dominant philosophies of the Cold War divide, by using a ‘third way’, a sort of ‘new centre’ born of the ‘New Left’, promoted in Anthony Giddens’ book:5 in short, a form of meta-Marxism. The ‘Third Way’ speeches and pamphlets defined the new approach by what it was not, rather than describing precisely what is was. It contained many references to globalisation, hardly ever mentioned the word ‘liberty’, but did use the word ‘fraternity’. In this, it can be seen as an attempt to merge politics and business. For Ralph Dahrendorf, that famous educationalist, the ‘Third Way’ betrayed an absence of historical awareness and ‘an unfortunate need to have a unified, or at least uniquely labelled, ideology, at a moment when the age of systems should have passed.’6 Perhaps the last word should lie with de Gaulle, who said, well before the ‘Third Way’ hit the streets, that he saw three paths for civilisation: totalitarian communism, capitalism and participation, explaining the latter by saying that priority should be accorded to the human condition.
Although Magellan didn’t make it (he was killed in the Philippines). Carruthers, Susan L., ‘Not like us? Europeans and the Spread of American Culture’, International Affairs, vol.74, no. 4, London, October 1998. 5 Giddens, Anthony, The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy, Polity Press, Cambridge (UK) and Malden (USA), 1998. 6 Dahrendorf, Ralph, ‘The Third Way and Liberty - An Authoritarian Streak in Europe’s New Centre’, Foreign Affairs, vol. 78, no. 5, New York, September/October 1999. 4
Globalisation, Speed and Greed
In our view, de Gaulle was being geohistorical. At any rate, the ‘Third Way’, although it disappeared in name, nevertheless epitomises the tendency towards global sloganising as a way to promote globalisation. So much for this brief ‘macro-view’ of the background. If we look more closely, we can see that education also played a vital rôle. We need to remember here that many of those in executive positions (or ‘managerial’, depending on what that means) are the very people who are now advocating globalisation and geopolitics as the world panacea.
The Seduction of the Many It was somehow naïvely – or more likely, ingeniously ingenuously – claimed that natural market forces would solve any potential problems with the manic expansion of Higher Education that took place from the Nineties onwards, and is still taking place in distance-learning, to save money. This was the age of the surge in MBAs. Inexorably they found their way from the US, via Britain, onto the European continent and further afield. They helped to spread the English language, or, rather American business English, around the globe,7 just as the (alleged) end of the Cold War was being heralded, in the wake of the resurgence of geopolitics as a subject worthy of academic study. The humanities (the protectors of the academic study of history) were to some extent considered passé and not relevant in the brave new world of customers and clients. Mistakes were made, and still are. For example, in Britain, in 1997, only about half the public relations consultancies took on PR graduates. 8 This was because graduates in, for example, cognate disciplines such as English literature, history and philosophy tended to be better at research, analysis, evaluation, and communicating ideas clearly and cogently. Many employers complain today that many graduates cannot write properly, despite our brave new world. There is a sneaking feeling in some quarters that the flashy and bromidic language that now characterises, and claims to improve, standards, in fact reflects a lack of substance, and is a mere marketing ploy that has adversely affected the traditional subjects of the humanities. ‘Knowledge management’, ‘total quality management’, ‘benchmarking’, ‘management by objectives’ and
See op. cit., Mallinson, Behind the Words. Mallinson, William, ‘Whither PR Graduates?’, Journal of Communication Management, vol. 3, no. 1, London, August 1988. 8
‘key performance indicators’ are the order of the day, along, of course, with ‘the global world’. While such language is that of competitive business, it sits rather uncomfortably in the strictly academic world, which is being adversely affected by the bureaucratisation of scholarship, a word strangely absent from much of the new ‘global’ terminology.
Steppenwolf Today, many universities have transmogrified from places of research, thinking and learning into professional training centres. There is nothing wrong with professional training, of course; indeed, it is vital. But the flip side comes with the ‘Steppenwolf effect’: side-by-side with the new training-oriented degrees are traditional disciplines such as history and literature. The humanities are now included in the new business approach. Thus, in apparent efforts to improve quality, the humanities have to justify their existence through Research Assessment Exercises (RAE), through which certain quantitative research criteria have to be met to attract state funding: for example, the number of publications, the name of the publisher, the number of citations and number of pages. In practice, it is virtually impossible to monitor in any serious fashion the actual quality of work produced, given tight deadlines and a limited number of evaluation staff. The system also forces academics to rush their research and writing to meet market objectives. So tough luck for the serious scholar who needs to spend ten years researching and writing a serious magnum opus, and who is not capable of churning out paper after paper. At a recent conference entitled ‘Education and Innovation in the 21st Century: Opening Frontiers for the Business Market’ (is there any market that is not a business market?),9 Microsoft’s Vice-president of Worldwide Public Sector Education kept emphasising the importance of re-inventing the way we learn. As common sense suggests to us that humanity has been learning since Adam and Eve, one is inclined to wonder what he meant by ‘learn’ and ‘re-invent’. But he did not explain. One can assume that he meant that information technology is perhaps synonymous with reinventing, although he did not actually say that. In this connexion, and to introduce the thoughts of another speaker at the same conference, let us remember a few words attributed to Confucius:
Sixth International GUIDE Conference, Athens, 3 and 4 October 2013.
Globalisation, Speed and Greed
If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what ought to be done remains undone.
The above examples of sloppy thinking and, therefore, speaking and writing, are partly the result of the dumbing-down of education and the rush away from the teaching of grammar. Yet without a clear understanding of sentence structure and word-forms, accurate expression is thrown out of the window. This also applies to much of the jargon used by international relations academics. At the above conference, the British Council representative, of all people, managed, in the space of only a few minutes, to come up with phrases and expressions such as: ‘we all live in a global world’, ‘intercultural skills’, ‘global citizenship’, ‘shared future’, ‘knowledge workers’, ‘knowledge creation’, ‘shared values’, ‘cutting edge English language’, ‘education as a force for change’ and, of course ‘innovation’. This free and automatic use of American – and now English and global – business phraseology seems to now be a sine qua non of all budding modern educationalists who see education as a measurable and expandable business market, whether public or private. The problem is that their bromides lack intrinsic meaning, even if they sound erotic and seductive. In this context, globalisation really means homogenisation, since the more uniform the customers, the simpler and cheaper the production, promotion and selling of educational goods. The next step from the simplistic but seductive bromide ‘managing change’ is managing, or rather, controlling, thought, as we glide blindly into an Orwellian state of mass auto-lobotomisation, induced both from outside, but also by our own lack of independent thought. By using another trendy word, ‘empowerment’, the marketeers have also sold us the idea that we are strong and independent. In fact, we are becoming the opposite, since in this case, ‘empowerment’ is a euphemism for ‘authorisation’. In other words, the authorisers are allowing us to buy their products. This new simplistic approach is shared to some extent with the geopolitical mentality, which is so closely connected to resources, and thus big business, hence our delving into Higher Education.
The End of Meaning While this is not the place for a deep analysis of the linguistics, semantics and semiotics of business education à la de Saussure and Eco, we must permit ourselves some brief observations on the terminology used, simply
because it does seem that there is a lack of precision. What, for example, is a ‘knowledge worker’? Is it a meta-Marxist term for teachers working in the field of knowledge? Is it someone trying to create knowledge? Is it a teacher? And if so, on whose terms? The obsession with the word ‘knowledge’ knows no bounds. Unlike data/information, knowledge cannot be quantified. As we have intimated, putting human affairs into exact formulae shows a lack of wisdom.10 In other words, you cannot catch the human mind, on which the very existence of knowledge depends. It is quite possible that, bored with the bromide ‘knowledge management’, the slogan-sellers will soon start using the catchphrase ‘wisdom management’. Dead fish swim with the current. The whole question is already catapulting itself out of serious debate. And what is ‘managing change’? Could it mean ‘manipulating events’? For that matter, what is meant by ‘change’? Innovation? Substitution? Development? To borrow from, and paraphrase, George Orwell slightly, is there not a danger that the sellers of products and of geopolitics who use the above phrases are turning themselves into machines? Certainly, the appropriate noises come out of their mouths, but their brains are not as involved as they would be if they were choosing words for themselves, rather than using catchphrases. And if they are repeating the same speeches, they can even become unconscious as to what they are saying. This reduced state of consciousness naturally encourages conformity among the purveyors of this kind of language, the hegemonolinguistic terminology of globalisation. These creators of ‘shared values’, by autolobotomising themselves into a state of utter conformity, naturally influence the customers, who can themselves eventually be seduced into automatic acceptance that their values are shared by everybody else. In short, independence of thought goes down the drain. The link between the market and geopolitics is patent. At the end of the day, the inappropriate use of technology actually means that communication is destroying communication, ironically in the name of communication. ‘What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?’11
Op. cit., Yutang, Lin, p. 5. William Davies.
Globalisation, Speed and Greed
Conclusions We have attempted to demonstrate that there are inextricable links between what we consider to be the simplistic aspects of globalisation, international relations, geopolitics and the information explosion, even looking piercingly at Higher Education, to show how our new generation of international theorists and ‘geopolitical animals’ are being educated. We consider that there is a strong link between the speed that the misuse of technology has imposed on working people, and the characteristic of greed. The world is considered by both big business and geopoliticians as a mere market. Resources must be obtained, often through geostrategic means (in some cases entailing war). And then they must be sold at a global level. A look at a global geopolitical map of oil and gas pipelines can often reveal a direct geohistorical correlation with war, a reflection of the establishment of the business borders of some Middle Eastern states, created with resources in mind, rather than people. It is worth remembering that Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait on the grounds that the Kuwaitis were siphoning off Iraqi oil. And few would dispute that the subsequent Western attacks on Iraq were not strongly connected to black blood. And as we write, there is a vicious backstage battle of gas pipelines centered on the Caspian Sea, where geopolitical greed has come into its own, with Western interests doing their utmost to thwart Russian plans to promote their own pipelines.12 Let us now look at two examples of the dark side of the geopolitical mentality, both with their roots in geostrategy and greed.
Younkyoo, Kim and Blank, Stephen, ‘The New Great Game of Caspian energy in 2013-14: “Turk Stream”, Russia and Turkey’, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, February 2016, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 38-55.
CHAPTER SIX GEOPOLITICAL VICTIMS: CYPRUS, DIEGO GARCIA ET AL
Introduction Before the spread of the term ‘geopolitics’, the term ‘strategy’ was used a great deal to justify war. We have all heard politicians speaking of strategic interests. Up to about the Fourth World War, ‘strategical’ was used. Today, ‘geostrategic interests’ are all the rage in the vocabulary of realist politicians and geopoliticians. History is laden with examples of how various areas and countries have become victims of their location, once that location is considered by alien powers to be ‘strategically important’. Cyprus provides us with a fine example of how an island can become hostage to geostrategy. By the end of this chapter, we may well conclude that Aristotle was correct in writing that something can be understood more fully, if seen in the course of time. So to Cyprus, a victim of geopolitics and greed par excellence, and in many ways a microcosm of big power rivalry, that harks back, at least in terms of modern history, to the Nineteenth Century.
‘Key of Western Asia’ Before we begin our analysis and evaluation, we shall allow ourselves to give the reader a theory-free potted history of the divided island state and EU member, since we realise that not all our readers will necessarily be acquainted with Cyprus. In 7,000 BC, nine thousand years ago, the precise ethnic mix of the inhabitants is a bit of a moot point, and we shall have to suffice with the term ‘Pelasgian people’, who used Neolithic farming methods. Between then and the island’s qualified independence in 1960, it had only been its own master, under a despotic type, Isaac Comnenus, for a pretty brief period, 1185 to 1191. England’s Franco-Norman King, Richard Coeur de Lion, on the Third Crusade, then captured the island after a spat about the mistreatment of his shipwrecked wife. Before
Comnenus, it had been controlled successively by Myceneans (who established themselves towards the end of the Bronze Age), Phoenicians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians. Macedonians, Romans and Eastern Romans (later called Byzantines); when Richard snatched it, he almost immediately proceeded to sell it to the Knights Templar who, under attack by the local population, resold it to Richard, who in turn sold it the following year to the Frank Guy de Lusignan. The Franks were turfed out in 1489 through a dynastic tour d’adresse by the Venetians, whom the Ottomans then ousted in 1571, rather unpleasantly: the commander of the garrison at Famagusta, Bragadino, surrendered on condition that the garrison would be given safe conduct. Instead of safe conduct, however, the Turks killed the garrison, cut off Bragadino’s nose and ears, and then skinned him alive for good measure. Apart from an influx of Turkish soldiers, many janissaries1 settled on the island. They had been taken from the Balkans (they were not Turks) as boys, made into Moslems, and then trained to become the élite guards of the Sultan. At any event, when Britain stepped into the strategic fray in 1878, largely because of its fear of Russia, only about 18% of the island’s inhabitants were Turkish-speaking, with the rest Greek-speaking, bar a minute Maronite community, who spoke both Greek and an Arabic dialect. That the island’s character was Greek is indisputable: when the Greek War of Independence broke out in 1821, the Ottomans, worried about outside efforts to incite the Greeks of Cyprus to revolt, murdered almost five hundred elders, also beheading or hanging the archbishop and a number of leading churchmen. And when the British Commander, Wolsey, arrived in Cyprus to establish British control, the Bishop of Kition referred in his welcome speech to how the British had ceded the Ionian Islands to Greece (some fourteen years earlier), thus putting down a marker for enosis (union) with Greece. Given the above, we can reasonably state that the history of Cyprus was characterised by the strategic considerations of big powers/empires biting their fingernails of strategic ambition. To quote Henry Kissinger’s ugly phrase (see later), the island was a ‘piece of real estate’. But however one views the island, its character was unmistakably Greek; and importantly in geohistorical terms, in 488 its Church had been granted autonomous status by the emperor in Constantinople, thus initiating a tradition of Church involvement in the island’s political affairs, an involvement that had been replicated on the Greek mainland after most of the ancient country had
From the Turkish for ‘new soldier’, ‘yeni çeri’.
Geopolitical Victims: Cyprus, Diego Garcia et al
been divided up by the so-called Crusaders in 1204,2 and later occupied by the Ottoman Turks.
Strategic Rivalry As so often in the past, it was great power rivalry and strategic ambition that led to Cyprus changing hands yet again, in 1878. It is a pretty rum story, into the bargain. Benjamin Disraeli, for whom the geopolitical ‘arch-priest of the rational use of power’, Henry Kissinger, 3 had a soft spot,4 wrote to Queen Victoria in 1878: If Cyprus can be conceded to your majesty by the Porte, and England at the same time enters into defensive alliance with Turkey, guaranteeing Asiatic Turkey from Russian invasion, the power of England in the Mediterranean will be absolutely increased in that region and your Majesty’s Indian Empire immensely strengthened. Cyprus is the key of Western Asia.5
Here we see power politics/political realism at its most blatant – and most secret: following Russia’s defeat of the Ottomans in 1877, and the treaty of San Stefano, whereby a large and independent pro-Russian Bulgaria would have been created, Britain moved in with its ‘geodiplomacy’, backed up by gunboats, and the Congress of Berlin took place the following year; Russian ambitions were cut down to size, and Bulgaria was sliced into three pieces, only one of which had a measure of semiserious independence. The wily Disraeli grabbed the opportunity to grab Cyprus, in a secret deal with the Ottomans, which infuriated France. In return for protecting Asia Minor against Russia, Britain would rent Cyprus, which meant that Britain would merely write off some of the
Michael VIII Paleologos did however restore some measure of self-respect for the Eastern Romans by defeating the Franks at the Battle of Pelagonia in 1259. But the Eastern Roman Empire – the protector of Western Christendom (even if Roman Catholic) had been fatally weakened, and in 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottomans, who were to continue their manic expansion to the very gates of Vienna by 1683. 3 Op. cit., Hill, p.133. 4 Kissinger, Henry, Diplomacy, Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 1994, p. 39. 5 Buckle, B. E., The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl Of Beaconsfield, John Murray, London, 1920, p. 291.
Ottoman debt. Britain, realising that the Ottoman Empire was no longer a ‘genuine reliable power’, needed a place d’armes to watch over Anatolia and keep it independent of Russian pressure.6 The idea was to ‘prop up some sort of Turkish state in Asia Minor – much the arrangement, in fact, which still existed in the middle half of the twentieth century’,7 and today. At any rate, Britain now controlled the entrance to the Mediterranean, through Gibraltar, the middle, through Malta, and the East, through Cyprus. With Turkey’s entry into the Great War on the side of Germany and AustroHungary, Britain annexed Cyprus, which became a Crown Colony in 1925. In contrast, Crete, approximately the same size as Cyprus, with a far greater proportion of Muslims, and a former Ottoman possession, did not suffer the same fate as Cyprus: after the Cretans revolted in 1897, the great powers sent a peacekeeping force, and forbade enosis, but the island was nevertheless united with Greece after the Balkan Wars. Many Muslims left for Anatolia, while the rest were forcibly sent to Turkey in 1923, following a controversial international agreement on the exchange of populations.8 It is tempting to think that had Britain had an exclusive military stake in Crete, then the latter would have suffered the same fate as Cyprus. As it is, there is a large American naval base in Crete, at Souda Bay, with the agreement of the compliant Greek government. The heritage of Nineteenth Century power politics, so admired by Kissinger, is still very much with us today. Turkey is still considered important to Britain, and especially to its imperial successor, the US, within the context of NATO. Britain’s guarantee to the Ottoman Empire to protect it from Russia has simply been replaced by Turkey’s membership of NATO. In power politics, matters have not changed. Cyprus is merely an asset. Let us sum up by quoting Kissinger’s words: But for the foreseeable future we should be able to count on […] Cyprus or Libya as staging areas for the Middle East, and on Great Britain as a staging area for Europe.9
Taylor, A. J. P., The Struggle for the Mastery of Europe, 1848-1918, Oxford University Press, 1971, p. 249. 7 Ibid. 8 Mallinson, William, Cyprus: a Modern History, I. B. Tauris, London and New York, 2005, 2009 and 2012, pp. 2-3. 9 Kissinger, Henry A., Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1957, p. 165.
Geopolitical Victims: Cyprus, Diego Garcia et al
Why, then, if Cyprus is now an allegedly independent state, is it still a mere strategic asset of the UK and US partnership, with over one third of the island illegally occupied by Turkey? Some more recent history is required to even begin to see why. Like Crete, the vast majority of Cypriots, Greek speakers, wished to be united with the motherland of Greece, just as Crete had been, with a smaller proportion of non-Muslims. Even Churchill had said (in 1907): It is only rational that the Greek people who are of Greek descent should regard their incorporation with what can be called their mother country as an ideal to be earnestly, devoutly and fervently cherished. Such a feeling is an example of the patriotic devotion, which so nobly characterises the Greek nation.10
The Cypriots (or at least the large majority) continued the pressure for enosis, with the increasing support of their Church. There were even riots in 1931, when Government House was burnt down, and the colonial constitution was suspended. Owing to the Greek leader, Venizelos’, proBritish stance, enosis then went underground, but returned with a vengeance at the end of the Fourth World War. There was a logic to Greek and Cypriot demands for enosis: the Atlantic Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; impending decolonisation, for example in Transjordan, India, Burma and Ceylon; Italy’s handing over of the Dodecanese Islands to Greece (via the British Military Administration); but above all, the feeling of Greek Cypriots that, just like their Cretan brothers, they were essentially Greek. But the efforts of the Greek government and the vast majority of Cypriots were to be frustrated, and end in bloodshed, clashing with the rigid colonial-geopolitical approach of the British. Within the Foreign Office, there was a measure of considerable inconsistency of argumentation, based on the desire to control Greece, and connecting her strategic position to the Soviet Union: on the one hand, although the Foreign Office admitted as early as June 1944 that the Soviet Union had agreed to ‘give Britain the lead in Greece’, and that Britain was to blame for the most powerful elements in Greece (and Yugoslavia) being communist-led, Britain blundered on, supporting Tito’s communists, but then, inconsistently, turning against the Greek left-wing National Liberation Front, which it had
Hunt, David (British High Commissioner to Cyprus, 1965-67), Montague Burton Lecture, University of Edinburgh, 28 October 1980.
previously supported. Britain was instrumental in causing the Greek Civil War, ending up supporting those movements that had been closest to the German occupiers. Churchill’s emotional support for the return of the king to Greece also added fuel to the fire, since the majority of Greeks did not want him.11 Churchill’s policy appeared particularly hypocritical since, as we shall see later, Britain had turned against a previous Greek monarch in 1916, in order to force Greece into the Great War. A quote from a famous British philhellene sums up Britain’s rôle in the Greek Civil War, a war used by the Foreign Office Cold War warriors to justify hanging onto Cyprus: Instead of making Greek resistance more moderate, more democratic, more truly representative of the mass of Greek opinion, we drove it to extremes. Instead of helping to strengthen EAM [National Liberation Front] by encouraging non-communist elements to join, we tried to weaken its influence, to prevent it ‘monopolising’ the liberation movement, by aiding its political opponents. The ‘nationalists’ we tried to use were just those people with whom German propaganda was most effective. And Goebbels was working day and night to prove that all resistance was communist-inspired. Little wonder that so many of our ‘nationalist’ friends turned frankly quisling.12
Strategic Inconsistencies One part of the Foreign Office now used the argument that enosis would strengthen the communists in both Greece and Cyprus, and that Britain must therefore hang on to the island, despite the international trend towards decolonisation. A Member of Parliament, Francis Noel Baker, stated that enosis was necessary, on the other hand, since it would weaken the communists, while a senior Foreign Office official wrote a long and reasoned plea for enosis.13
For a longer and more analytical exposée of Britain, the Greek Civil War and Cyprus, see op. cit., Mallinson, Cyprus: A Modern History (Chapter One); Cyprus, Diplomatic History and the Clash of Theory in International Relations (Chapter Four); and Britain and Cyprus, Key Themes and Documents since World War II (Chapter Two), I. B. Tauris, London and New York, 2011. 12 Noel-Baker, Francis, Greece, the Whole Story, Hutchinson & Co., London, 1946, p.43. 13 Ibid., Mallinson, Cyprus: a Modern History, pp. 13-14.
Geopolitical Victims: Cyprus, Diego Garcia et al
The pro-enosis arguments clashed however with the strategic approach, which was synonymous with the geopolitical one. The Foreign Office now began to use the Greek civil war as the excuse to hang on to Cyprus: In more normal circumstances, the early cession of Cyprus to Greece might well be a wise policy, justified by considerations not only of justice, but also of expediency. But present circumstances are not normal […] so long as the internationally supported bandit way continues on its present scale, Greece’s independence must remain to some extent doubtful […] control of the island by a foreign power would be a danger to us. Various telegrams from Athens in recent weeks have given very pessimistic estimates of the Greek Government’s chances of victory.14
This could easily be interpreted as semantic hogwash, given that the massive US military support of the gung-ho anti-Soviet US President Truman was being planned, and that, as we have seen, the USSR had ‘given’ Greece to Britain. Moreover, Stalin and Churchill had agreed at Yalta that Greece would be ninety per cent British. When the Greek civil war ended in 1949, with the defeat of the Left, geohistorical logic dictated that enosis could now be effected. This was strengthened by the results of a plebiscite in Cyprus, conducted by the powerful church, in which ninety six and a half per cent of Greek Cypriots voted in favour of enosis. But geopolitical rigidity on Britain’s part won the day, allied, as we shall see in the next chapter, to Britain’s ‘Russian paranoia’.
Elginism By ‘elginism’, we mean the tendency to take something, and then hang on to it, as per the cunning actions of Elgin, whose workmen hacked away barbarically at the Parthenon some two hundred years ago, following a dubious and unspecific agreement with the Ottoman authorities, an agreement the original of which has never been found. Elgin, like Richard Coeur de Lion, sold his brutally acquired property not to a Crusading family, but to the British Museum, at a large profit.
Wallinger, 24 October 1947, memo on file jacket, BNA-FO 271/67084, file R 13462/9.
On Cyprus, Britain elginistically dug in its heels, despite international pressure, including from the US. In 1951, Britain’s Prime Minister, Eden, brusquely refused even to discuss Cyprus with the Greek Foreign Minister, Averoff. British intransigence was reflected in Eden’s words: ‘No Cyprus, no certain facilities to protect our supply of oil. No oil, unemployment and hunger in Britain. It is as simple as that.’15 Britain was also worried about the brewing crisis in Aden, and Nasserism,16 and was already planning to move its Middle Eastern Headquarters to Cyprus. A Cabinet paper concluded: We must, therefore, act on the assumption that deterioration in our relations with Greece is the price we must pay if we are to keep Cyprus. A point may even come at which we should have to decide whether Cyprus is strategically more important to us than Greece.17
To rub salt into the wound opened in Brito-Greek relations, the British now began to collaborate secretly with Turkey, by co-ordinating its policies, and coaching Turkish diplomats in the art of propaganda. In early 1955, the British ambassador in Ankara suggested various ways of bringing Turkey fully on board.18 On 1 April 1955, the struggle for independence began, when bombs went off across the island, orchestrated by Colonel (later General) Grivas’s19 EOKA. Britain’s next ploy was to invite Greece and Turkey to a tripartite conference in London on ‘political and defence questions, as concerning the Eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus’. Turkish involvement in Cyprus was in fact expressly forbidden by Article Sixteen of the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, which stipulated that Turkey ‘renounce all rights and titles of any kind’ outside the frontiers agreed in the treaty, meaning that
O’Malley, Brendan and Craig, Ian, The Cyprus Conspiracy, I. B. Tauris, London and New York, 1999, p. 7. The quote is taken from Reddaway, John, Burdened with Cyprus: the British Connexion, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1986, p. 11. 16 President Nasser was threatening to get the British out of Egypt. The British were indeed eventually forced to leave, following the Suez crisis in 1956. 17 Secretary of State for the Colonies, July 1954, BNA-CAB 129/69. 18 Bowker to Young, 15 February 1955, letter, BNA-FO 371/117625, file RG 1081/120. 19 A very anti-communist officer, who had been in the notoriously cruel ‘X’ organisation during the Greek civil war, but whose love of enosis transcended his anti-communism.
Geopolitical Victims: Cyprus, Diego Garcia et al
Turkey had no locus standi whatsoever in Cyprus. Hence the semantic chicanery in the title of the conference, the idea of which had, inter alia, been to ‘seriously embarrass the Greek government’, and to ‘define a Greek-Turkish deadlock.’ 20 The Greek government acted extremely stupidly in accepting the invitation, given the outcome. Apparently the Greek ambassador in Washington believed the American Secretary of State, when he told him the Turkey was only being invited as a witness.21 The secret reality was different, as just a few quotes from the run-up to the conference, for which invitations were sent on 2 July 1955, amply demonstrate: Dear Tony, On Ankara telegram number 479, the Prime Minster has minuted: Foreign Secretary – Turks are behaving well. If we keep friendly with them, the Greeks will have to come along in the end. Therefore we must not be parted from Turks, though we need not be ostentatious about this – A.E.22
Yet more cynically, a few days later, the Foreign Secretary told the Cabinet: Throughout the negotiations, our aim would be to bring the Greeks up against the Turkish refusal to accept enosis and so condition them to accept a solution, which would leave sovereignty in our hands.23
The result was indeed that Britain was able to hang on to Cyprus. A late Greek ambassador succinctly summed up the situation: The Cyprus question began in 1955. In the summer of that year the British Government convened a conference in London with Greece and Turkey on the subject of Defence of the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus. It was the first time Turkey was brought into the Cyprus affair, contrary to article 16 of the Lausanne Peace Treaty with Turkey in 1923, by which Turkey waived all rights in territories ceded to other countries, including, of
Kirkpatrick to Nutting, 26 June 1955, memorandum, BNA-FO371/17640, file RG 1081/535. 21 Mallinson, William, Portrait of an Ambassador: the Life, Times and Writings of Themistocles Chrysanthopoulos, Athens, 1998, p. 27. 22 Prime Minister’s private Secretary to Rumbold, 17 July 1955, letter, BNA-FO 371/117644, file RG 1081/692. 23 Op. cit., O’Malley and Craig, p. 21.
Chapter Six course, Cyprus. To the Greek objection to involving Turkey in Cyprus the British side replied that Turkey was being invited as a witness. During the conference, Turkey demanded that, were the United Kingdom to withdraw from Cyprus, the island should of course be returned to its former owner (Turkey). This claim, of course, blew up the conference. The terrible riots24 in Istanbul and Izmir followed on 6 September, as ‘proof’ of the interest of the Turkish people in Cyprus. Consequences: 1) The end of Greek-Turkish friendship25 dating from 1930. 2) Turkey became an active party in the Cyprus question.26
As the struggle in Cyprus continued, Britain intensified its secret proTurkish activities. One quote explains: Our attitude to this question is that we wish to assist the Turks as much as possible with the publicity for their case, but must at the same time be careful not to appear to be shielding behind them and to be instigating the statements.27
The Failed Geopolitical Settlement The 1960 qualified independence that Cyprus managed to obtain, thanks to American pressure on Britain, Archbishop Makarios’s skill and charisma, and Grivas’s EOKA fighters, was a geopolitical solution, but little more. Let us look briefly at the chief factors that led to the alleged settlement. First and foremost, even if backstage, was US pressure on Britain to give way, essentially because of American concern that hostilities might break out between Greece and Turkey, thus damaging NATO’s southern flank.28 In this connexion, the US now wished that Britain retain a military capability on Cyprus, even after independence. It needs to be borne in mind here, that after the Suez debâcle of 1956, the US now called the shots in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, with Britain very much the second fiddle. Thus, to facilitate a solution, the US pressurised Britain to
There were vicious anti-Greek riots, which were clearly co-ordinated by the authorities. 25 ‘Friendship’ is perhaps too strong a word, but following the Greek-Turkish Friendship Treaty of 1930, relations had been on a reasonably even keel, apart from some nasty tax measures taken against non-Turkish residents in Turkey during the Fourth World War. 26 Op. cit., Mallinson, Portrait of an Ambassador, pp. 26-27. 27 Cox to Fisher, 13 July 1956, letter, BNA-FO953/1694, file G11926/23. 28 Greece and Turkey had joined NATO in 1952, to some British consternation.
Geopolitical Victims: Cyprus, Diego Garcia et al
release Makarios from captivity in the Seychelles, although he was not allowed back to Cyprus, at least not yet. In the meantime, however, the damage had been done, and before the Greek and Turkish Prime Ministers agreed to find a solution, anti-Greek rioting broke out in Cyprus in summer 1958, organised and fanned by Ankara and Turkish Cypriot leaders. Although the Turkish Cypriot leaders admitted privately to the Governor, Hugh Foot, that they had themselves planted the bomb against themselves – in order to blame the Greeks - that led to the rioting, the British government only released the papers in 2014.29 The story of the negotiations that led to Cyprus becoming theoretically independent has been well covered in various books, and does not need to be scrutinised again here for the purposes of this book. Rather, let us make a number of pertinent points. First is the fact that enosis and partition were forbidden. Second, Britain would keep nearly three per cent of the island in perpetuity, as British sovereign territory; Britain had wanted even more, but Makarios, allowed in to the conference late in the day, managed to whittle down the area demanded. Third were various British military rights of overflying, freedom of military movement and mini-military posts that seriously detracted from the rights of a ‘sovereign’ island. Fourth, the arrangement was based on separate groups of voters, with the Turkish Cypriots having far more than their numbers merited. Fifth, there would be a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice-president. The arrangement was divisive in nature, ignoring one of the fundamental principles of democracy, namely ‘one man, one vote’. It was based on three treaties: that of Alliance (between Cyprus, Greece and Turkey); of Establishment (between Britain and Cyprus) – with fifty three out of its one hundred and three pages devoted to Britain’s military facilities - ; and of Guarantee (between, Britain, Greece and Turkey), of which article four stated that in the event of a breach by one of the parties, an individual
Mallinson, William, ‘Britain knew about the Turkish Provocations which occurred in 1958’ (author’s translation from the Greek), ĭȚȜİȜİȪșİȡȠȢ, Nicosia, 4 and 5 May 2014.
party had the right to intervene should concerted action not prove possible. This actually breached articles 2.3 and 103 of the United Nations Charter. In short, the whole 1960 arrangement was a mish-mash of the conflicting aims of outside powers, whose main aim was to ensure that Cyprus could never have the independence to go its own way, in particular towards the Soviet Union; and that NATO would have a de facto presence. Worse, it was an extremists’ paradise, with strong movements in Athens and Ankara, with their extremist organisations in Cyprus champing at the bit. Trouble was not long in coming: when, at the end of 1963, Makarios, with the help of the Foreign Office, announced thirteen amendments to the constitution, all hell broke loose, and the majority of Turkish Cypriots went into enclaves, while the Soviet Union threatened intervention should Turkey invade. This frightened the Americans sufficiently to abandon their plans for partition and double-enosis, and to pressurise both Athens and Ankara not to intervene. As for the British, documents released show that they recognised that the Treaty of Guarantee was incompatible with the UN Charter, but also that they were now embarrassed at their possession of two chunks of Cyprus, even stating that the Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) would be regarded as increasingly anachronistic by world public opinion. 30 As for a frustrated Turkey, unable to invade Cyprus, its government chose to force out nearly the whole of the sixty thousand Turkish citizens of Greek stock and twelve thousand Greek nationals of Turkey. Few are left today. On Cyprus, the feeling of insecurity was palpable, combatted only by Makarios’s charisma and his attempts to balance his wounded island between NATO and Soviet interests. In 1967, following the coming to power of the anti-communist and antiMakarios junta in Athens, another crisis occurred, when Turkish Cypriots fired on a Greek patrol in a mixed village. 31 Grivas’s EOKA reacted furiously. Again, the US feared a Greek-Turkish war, and a compromise was reached whereby Grivas returned to Athens, while his twelve thousand irregular troops withdrew.
British High Commission, Nicosia, 18 June 1964, brief for High Commissioner’s visit to London, BNA-DO/220/170, file MED 193/105/2, part A. 31 See United Nations Security Council Document 5/8248 of 16 November 1967, BNA-FCO 9/164/CE 3/8; and Mirbagheri, Farid, Cyprus and International Peacekeeping, Hurst, London, 1998, p. 54.
Geopolitical Victims: Cyprus, Diego Garcia et al
The clock was now clearly ticking ever louder: when, in July 1974, dark forces in the junta teamed up with anti-Makarios Greek Cypriots, and Makarios escaped, Turkey took its chance. Although the junta and the putschist ‘president’ of Cyprus fell from power almost immediately, Turkey landed troops. Then began a farcical round of negotiations in London, when Britain refused to meet its treaty obligations, and then in Geneva, during which Turkey consolidated its military position, then invading full-scale, taking over one third of the island, and expelling nearly all the 180,000 Greek Cypriots to the south of the island, in what must have been one of the largest ethnic cleansing operations since the Israelis had forced 750,000 Palestinians from their land in 1948. The malign rôle of Henry Kissinger, the American Secretary of State, National Security Advisor and Head of the Forty Committee32 - the very person who had re-introduced geopolitics to Europe, by cloaking it in his combination of ‘balance of power politics’ and hidden political realism – now came very much to the fore. The documents show that he condoned the Turkish invasion, was happy for Turkey to keep over one third of Cyprus, refused to allow Britain to give up the SBAs (‘because of the Arab/Israel problem’), rebuffed British efforts to fight Turkey in Cyprus, procrastinated to allow Turkey the space it needed, and fought to keep Turkey supplied with weapons.33 He also claimed that the Americans had at the Geneva negotiations not asked Turkey to accept a multi-regional solution for Cyprus,34 when in fact the Americans had induced the Turkish negotiation team to table a multi-cantonal proposal.35
Responsible for covert operations. These criticisms can be further studied in op. cit., Mallinson, William, Cyprus, Diplomatic History and the Clash of Theory in International Relations and Britain and Cyprus. Mallinson’s forthcoming book Kissinger and Cyprus: Diplomacy in the Eastern Mediterranean also reveals yet more. 34 British Embassy, Washington to FCO, 16 November 1974, telegram, BNA-FCO 9/1947, file WSC 3/304/2. 35 ‘British Policy on Cyprus, July to September 1974’, paragraph 11, 14 January 1976, paper, BNA-FCO 9/2379, file WSC 020/548/1. When the proposal was tabled, the Greek Cypriot delegation asked for some time to consider the proposal, whereupon Turkey went ahead with its invasion, even though constitutional order had been restored with the appointment of Clerides as interim president. 33
A nasty sting in the tail of the story of the invasion of Cyprus is that the British Foreign Secretary, Callaghan, did not tell the truth about his knowledge of both the first Turkish invasion of 19 July 1974, and its explosive continuation on 14 August. He denied, with three FCO minders, any foreknowledge of either, when in fact he knew.36 But then, he was loth to embarrass the Americans, and was also being groomed to take over from Harold Wilson as Prime Minister.
Then is Now Different colours apart, the same geopolitical characteristics of greed and insecurity are manifesting themselves in the Cyprus problem today. The US dictates matters regarding keeping the SBAs, while Cyprus is de facto partitioned. All that matters in the continuing Cold War is military power. Thus, the abortive Annan Plan37 of 2004 was predicated on re-affirming the 1960 treaties that had proven to be so ineffective. The underlying aim was of course to ensure the continuation of the SBAs. Needless to say, at the UN, Russia voted against enhanced security measures introduced at the last minute. Had the Cypriots accepted the plan, the measures could well have proven as meaningless as the 1960 arrangement, which the plan was trying to resuscitate, albeit in different colours. As you read this, attempts are still underway to come to an arrangement on Cyprus that will keep Russia away. On that note, we now move to Diego Garcia, another example of the dangers of geopolitics, and one in which Kissinger was also involved. Today, it has achieved some notoriety for American socalled rendition flights. But there is more to it than that. Again, the geohistorical method explains.
Geopolitical Fodder The story of the Chagos Islands, of which Diego Garcia is the most wellknown, is one of Britain’s nastiest revealed skeletons in the cupboard. When Mauritius gained its independence from Britain in 1968, Britain had already seen fit to hive off part of its colony, renaming it the British Indian Ocean Territories,38 an archipelago of several thousand islands, of which
36 Op. cit, Mallinson, Cyprus, Diplomatic History and the Clash of Theory in International Relations, pp. 104-105. 37 Introduced to allegedly re-unify Cyprus. 38 Currently claimed by Mauritius.
Geopolitical Victims: Cyprus, Diego Garcia et al
Diego Garcia is the largest. In a deal with America in 1966, the latter leased the islands for fifty years, renewable in 2016 for a further twenty. This involved the Americans building military facilities, and asking the British to clear out its two thousand inhabitants, which they duly did, expelling them forcibly to Mauritius and the Seychelles, gassing their animals for good measure. Since then, the islanders have been using various courts to try to return to their homes. At this very moment, their case is with the European Court of Human Rights. Despite the fact that even the British High Court has ruled in their favour, they have still not achieved satisfaction, owing to a rarely used constitutional ploy known as an ‘Order in Council’, which has thus far enabled the British government to simply ask the British monarch to overturn a court decision with her signature. In effect, and however embarrassing it may be to write this, Queen Elisabeth II appears to have betrayed her subjects in allowing them to be deported in the first place, and then continuing to betray them through ‘Orders in Council’. Even she has been dragged into geopolitics. The saga is worth comparing to the case of the Malvinas/Falkland Islands: Britain expelled some two thousand brown-skinned subjects, but used virtually all its armed forces to save some two thousand white-skinned subjects. Of course, it was not so much racism, but oil rights, that tipped the scales in the latter case. Before concluding, let us take a look at Kissinger’s malign involvement in the case of Diego Garcia, a case that has parallels with Cyprus, in that both the latter and Mauritius lost territories on independence in legally questionable deals, with the US then exploiting those territories in equally legally questionable military ‘arrangements’. For Kissinger, individual people were simply an annoying hindrance to his geopolitical plans, hence, for example, his involvement in the secret bombing to death of hundreds of thousands of South-East Asian civilians. With Diego Garcia, his backstage approach was quintessentially geostrategic. A meeting was held at the State Department in April 1974, between Kissinger and his officials, and the Secretary to the Cabinet, John Hunt, accompanied by the British Ambassador to the United States. The British government had been put on the defensive thanks to a parliamentary
initiative by Tam Dalyell, even saying that it was reviewing the matter.39 The US was planning to develop its military facilities in the archipelago, including the creation of a deep port on Diego Garcia to accommodate nuclear submarines, and was obviously worried by Dalyell’s speech. Hence the meeting at the State Department. Here we see Kissinger at his most threatening and blunt. Extracts from the record of the meeting are: In response to Dr Kissinger’s enquiry about when he could expect to hear from Her Majesty’s Government about Diego Garcia Sir John Hunt said that the new Government had not really had time to think about the matter yet. But Her Majesty’s Government had had representations from a number of Indian Ocean states and there were strong feelings at home also. He could not forecast the Government’s decision but his personal advice was that it might be easier to deal positively with the American request in a few months rather than now. He wondered if Dr Kissinger could say how much importance the Administration attached to expansion of the facilities at Diego Garcia, and how urgent the matter was from their point of view. Dr Kissinger said that he was bound to tell us that the United States Navy was so eager to go ahead on Diego Garcia that anything which might be perceived as foot-dragging on the part of Her Majesty’s Government would cause a great deal of ill-will. Mr Sonnenfeldt said that it might prove difficult to secure the necessary funds from Congress. Dr Kissinger said he thought the Navy would get its way. It might be that once the budgetary category was established there would be less pressure for an early decision on the part of Her Majesty’s Government provided the Americans had an informal indication that there would be a positive outcome in the end. Sir John Hunt said he was not on a position to give any assurance on the outcome. He could only reiterate that the Prime Minister wished to be helpful, but that the chances would be better if a decision could be delayed for a few months. Dr Kissinger said he feared that Her Majesty’s Government might pay a price out of all proportion to the importance of the issue if the eventual decision was negative. The Department of Defense had invested a great deal on Diego Garcia. However, he would be prepared to give an assurance that he would prevent the Department of Defense from putting too great a pressure on Her Majesty’s Government in the next two months on two conditions: first that there should not be statements by members of Her Majesty’s Government which cast doubt on the ultimate decision; and second that he could receive some assurances that the Ministers directly concerned would work for a positive outcome. Sir John Hunt said that he did not think that United Kingdom Ministers would wish to comment on the matter until they had reached a decision and that it would be a pity if the
Hansard, 20 March 1974.
Geopolitical Victims: Cyprus, Diego Garcia et al
impression got out that the United States and the United Kingdom were in a confrontation on this issue. Dr Kissinger agreed. An appearance of confrontation would not help the Administration, indeed it might prevent them from getting funds. Mr Schlesinger40 would certainly wish to talk to Mr Mason41 about it, and he would speak to Mr Schlesinger first saying that the matter should not be rushed too much. The real problem would arise if the Administration was unable to get Congressional approval for the necessary funds until they had secured British approval. Sir John Hunt observed it was a chicken and egg situation since United Kingdom Ministers would also be anxious to know whether the Administration would be able to go ahead if they gave their agreement. Mr. Sykes42 said that in recent weeks the aspect of British agreement had not received much attention in Congress. Sir Peter Ramsbotham asked whether Dr Kissinger saw any attraction in Senator Kennedy’s resolution proposing, in effect, a self-denying ordinance on the part of both super powers in the Indian Ocean. General Scowcroft said the Russians had indicated some interest in this, but only under pressure from the Indians. Sir John Hunt asked whether Dr Kissinger thought that there would be any advantage in arranging some sort of Indian Ocean Conference. Dr Kissinger said he saw no advantage in this. He believed the Indians would soon calm down on the issue of Diego Garcia and that the other countries concerned would accept the decision once it had been taken. Mr Sonnenfeldt referred to the forthcoming Anglo-United States talks on the Indian Ocean and said that in view of what Sir John Hunt had said the American side would be instructed not to raise Diego Garcia. He hoped that the British side would not raise it either. […]43
We see above a good example of the backstage of relations between states, and how Kissinger could on occasion be pretty direct when he wanted something. His reference to foot-dragging and ill-will are, at least in diplomatic terms, somewhat brusque, and possibly threatening, as is his statement that he ‘feared that the British government might pay a price out of all proportion to the issue if the eventual decision were negative’. In the
US Secretary of State for Defense. UK Secretary of State for Defence. 42 British Embassy in Washington. 43 Record of Conversation between the Secretary of the Cabinet and the American Secretary of State, 26 April 1974, BNA-PREM 16/26. 41
event, we know today that the US got its way. It was Kissinger who played a central rôle in militarising the Indian Ocean, and dismissing the idea of a conference which the Russians could well have supported. It seems that he could be pretty incisive and direct when he wanted something. In the above story, we see geopolitics and geostrategy in full swing.
Conclusions The example of Cyprus and Diego Garcia serve as pertinent and pithy examples of the damage to people that geopolitics can do. For Kissinger they were just staging areas or geostrategic strongpoints to perpetuate and even exacerbate the Cold War. In the case of Cyprus, he even told the British that he was ‘anxious that Britain continue to occupy this square of the world chessboard.’44 As for the FCO, it wrote, within the context of the Cyprus question: […] in the final analysis Turkey must be regarded as more important to Western strategic interests than Greece and that, if risks must be run, they should be risks of further straining Greek rather than Turkish relations with the West.45
One cannot help but think that there is a certain element of detached cynicism when those of a geopolitical mentality gain positions of power. In the case of those such as Kissinger and others interested in power, havoc can result. To make our point, let us quote two senior diplomats: Frank46 regarded Kissinger with considerable misgivings. He thought he was far more in the mould of Metternich than a man with a full understanding of the inter-dependence of a modern world. He was interested in where power resided and the exercise of power. Frank clearly feared that that this 19th century approach was affecting White House thinking and perhaps the attitude of the President in particular.47 It is rather his manner of conceiving and conducting foreign policy without reference to, or knowledge of, the State Department or anyone else which
‘British Interests in the Eastern Mediterranean’, draft paper prepared by the FCO, presented on 11 April 1975, BNA-FCO 46/1248, file DPI/516/1. 45 Ibid. 46 German State Secretary. 47 Jackling to Wiggin, letter, 8 December 1971, BNA-82/63/AMU 3/548/10.
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is most worrying. It leaves one with the fear that any day something could go seriously wrong because the normal sources of advice, restraint and execution are by-passed.48
We have seen, thanks to our geohistorical method, based, inter alia, on the hunting, scrutiny, analysis and evaluation of documents, how geopolitics, with its cold sub-category ‘geostrategy’, is used in formulating and executing foreign policy, a policy that is essentially military in nature. And military assumes killing. Both political realism and geopolitics can be seen to be damaging to human beings. We have also seen how damaging it can be when the truth is suppressed for too long: damaging, because when people accept a falsehood which they think to be true, they are likely to act according to their reason, and, therefore, often wrongly. On that perhaps slightly pessimistic note, we turn to our penultimate chapter, about the obsession with Russia, and her reaction to this obsession.
Ibid., Tebbit to Wiggin, letter, 30 December 1971.
CHAPTER SEVEN THE OBSESSION WITH RUSSIA, AND HER REACTION
Introduction The obsession with the heartland is essentially the obsession with Russia. As we have seen, the Eastern Mediterranean, more than any area, has proven to be a focal point of this obsession, hence our having used Greece and Cyprus as the quintessential historico-atavistic examples of AustroHungarian, British, and now also American obsession, with Russia. We have seen how, perhaps unwillingly and unwittingly, Russia has nevertheless played the central rôle in the whole modern concept of geopolitics, conceived mainly by Germans, British and a Swede, taken to America by a German escaping the antipathy towards Jews, and then reexported to Europe. Let us turn briefly back to see the geohistorical context.
Geogreed While Russia was growing from strength to strength territorially, in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, first into Siberia, and then defeating the Ottomans and pushing southwards, the British Empire began to get worried, particularly when Russia gained navigation rights in Ottoman waters and the right to protect Christian Orthodox in the Ottoman Empire, by the Treaty of Kücük Kainarji in 1774. In 1791, William Pitt the Younger even denounced Russia for its supposed ambitions to dismember Anatolia. 1 By the time of Napoleon’s defeat, Britain was focusing on Russia as the main hindrance to its wish to control the Eastern
Wallbank, T. Walter et al (eds.), Civilization, Past and Present, vol. II, Harper Collins, 1996, p. 721.
Mediterranean. It is no exaggeration to say that throughout the whole of the Nineteenth Century, one of Britain’s main preoccupations was with Russia, owing to the latter’s usually defensive attitude towards the Ottoman Empire. The Greek struggle for independence should be seen within the context of Britain’s obsession with Russia, and also partly explains why Britain supported the Austro-Hungarians, who were Ottoman-friendly. One has only to think of Metternich and Castlereagh, and later on, Disraeli. To understand the obsession with Russia, Greece again comes into the picture. Geogreed was all the rage.
Greece’s Qualified Independence A myth abounds that in 1832, a new and sovereign monarchical Greece was created. Sovereign it was, up to a point, but as a protectorate of the major powers, the very powers involved in agreeing to its existence. Let us look briefly at how this came about. By the time of the struggle for Greek independence, Greece had become a mere geohistorical tool of the British empire, the latter even owning some Greek lands, the Ionian Islands. It is to Russia, not Britain, that Greece owes its qualified freedom (although revolutionary and Napoleonic France also have an intellectual claim), and it was despite, not because of, Britain, that the 1821 revolution ended in a form of independence. It was the Anglo-Russian Protocol of 4 April 1826 that did the trick: it stated that Britain would mediate to make Greece an autonomous vassal of the Ottoman Empire, but that if this proved impossible, Britain or Russia could intervene jointly or separately. Russia intervened, and by 1829, Greece, or at least some of it, was free. When the philhellenic Admiral Codrington and his French and Russian homologues sank the Egypto-Ottoman fleet at Navarino, the Foreign Secretary, Wellington, is well known for having described the battle, in typical English understatement, as an ‘untoward event’, while his ally Metternich described it as a ‘dreadful catastrophe’. Somewhat arrogantly and cynically, the latter had also, when speaking of the Greeks, said: ‘Over there, beyond our frontiers, three or four hundred thousand individuals hanged, impaled, or with their throats cut, hardly count.’2
Sked, Alan (ed.), Europe’s Balance of Power, 1815-1848, Macmillan, London, 1979, p. 7. Sked quotes de Bertier e Sauvigny in Metternich and his Times, Darton, Lonman and Todd, 1962, p. 251.
The Obsession with Russia, and her Reaction
The Don Pacifico Affair of 1850 is an example of Britain’s continuing supercilious attitude, when she actually threatened Greece with gunboats, while during the Crimean War, Britain, with its then French poodles, blockaded Piraeus. In 1916, Britain and France even interfered militarily in Greece, being beaten back by the Greek king’s forces, but then getting their revenge by backing the controversial and Britain-friendly – although perhaps Lloyd-George-friendly would be more accurate – illegal government of Venizelos, who favoured war: he blindly led Greece into a fight which was to lead to the famous catastrophe, when almost one and a half million Greeks were turfed out of Anatolia, following various massacres and forced marches, a result of Venizelos’ manic ambitions as much as of Turkish nationalism.3 Venizelos, through his general, Plastiras, then sent Greek forces to fight the Bolsheviks in the Ukraine, perhaps hoping that doing as the British wished would ensure British support for Venizelos’s attempt to capture large swathes of Anatolia. This was a serious mistake, since the victorious Bolsheviks then supplied the Turkish nationalists with arms, helping Ataturk to defeat the Greek forces, and expel nearly all those of Greek stock from Anatolia, in the infamous ‘catastrophe.’ Venizelos’s and Lloyd George’s grand designs also lost the support of the Italians and French, and even of the British Foreign Office. The next war is another example of Britain’s disdain. Despite the fact that Greece stood alone with Britain against all the odds, for several months, the help that Britain sent was minimal, and the British were not therefore able to engage in too much hard combat with the Germans, confusing many of the tough Greek fighters, who had already earned their spurs against the Italian invaders. The Greek civil war is an even worse story, as we have intimated in Chapter Six. Let us reiterate some aspects now, as they are particularly germane to the atavistic obsession with Russia. Having supported ELAS - the strongest anti-German resistance - Britain then turned against it, ending up supporting those Greek forces which had been closest to the German occupiers, and fuelling a destructive civil war. As Francis Noel-Baker wrote: ‘Instead of making Greek resistance more moderate, more democratic, more truly representative of the mass of Greek opinion, we drove it to extremes.’4
See Chapter One of Mallinson, William, Thrice a Stranger, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2016. 4 Op. cit., Noel-Baker, Francis, p. 43.
Extracts from a Foreign Office paper prepared for the Foreign Minister, Anthony Eden, in June 1944, show how Britain betrayed their main antiGerman Greek resistance allies, essentially because of her obsession with, and distrust of, the Soviet Union (which was for them Russia) Let us repeat them: […] Nor can any accusation be levelled against the Russians of organising the spread of communism in the Balkans. […] The Soviet Government’s support of the Communist-led elements in these countries is not so much based on ideological grounds as on the fact that such elements are most responsive to and are the most vigorous in resisting the axis. […] Furthermore, if anyone is to blame for the present situation in which the Communist-led movements are the most powerful elements in Yugoslavia and Greece, it is we ourselves. Russia’s historical interest in the Balkans has always manifested itself in a determination that no other Great Power shall dominate them, as this would constitute a strategical threat to Russia.[…] whereas in the nineteenth century we had Austro-Hungary as an ally to counter these Russian measures there is no one on whom we can count to support us this time. […] As a result of our approach to the Soviet Government, however, the latter have now agreed to let us take the lead in Greece.5
Apart from the clear evidence that the British obsession with Russia and the Eastern Mediterranean had not changed, we see here that Churchill’s and Stalin’s infamous ‘percentages agreement’ at Yalta a few months later, whereby Greece would be ten per cent Russian and ninety per cent English, already existed in essence. Greece was merely a geotool for Britain, which was soon to replace Austro-Hungary with the United States of America to counter Russia. Some of the main ingredients of the Greek civil war were Churchill’s obsession with the return of an unpopular Greek king, Britain’s obsession with Russia, and thus the way in which Britain helped, whether by default or design, to polarise the forces in Greece. In this sense, the Cold War began in the Balkans, since, as we can see, the Foreign Office was already doing its utmost to keep the Soviet Union well away from Greece, well before the struggle for Germany had begun. Indeed, the Allies had only just landed in Normandy. The Joint Planning Staff wrote in December 1945:
Op. cit., Top Secret Foreign Office Memorandum for Secretary of State, 7 June, 1944, BNA FO 371/43646, file R 9092.
The Obsession with Russia, and her Reaction
Our strategic interest is to ensure that no unfriendly power, by the acquisition of Greek bases, can threaten our Mediterranean communications. On the other hand, we wish to liquidate our present military commitment as soon as possible.6
In 1947, Britain handed Greece to America, thus introducing US and future NATO power into the Balkans. The Truman Doctrine and massive deliveries of military hardware – as well as the Tito-Stalin disagreement put an end to the civil war by 1949, and a bitter and exhausted Greece was now free to join NATO, as it did in 1952. But the divisions caused by the civil war lived on in the party-political system. Shades of it still exist today. It was Cyprus that brought into relief Britain’s continuing Russian obsession, as we have seen in the previous chapter. Let us now consider how British officials viewed Soviet policy on Cyprus, which serves as a microcosm of Soviet/Russian views on its general international interests.
Views of Russian Views As we have seen, in 1960 Cyprus was granted a form of independence, at least in theory. The treaties that established the new republic were an extremists’ paradise, built around maintaining two British territories amounting to almost three per cent of the republic’s territory, and to maintaining various rights for Britain. The territories housed British military bases and electronic spying stations that were de facto NATO bases, and that the US also needed. Although the arrangement provided a theoretical centripetal cloak, this covered the centrifugal nature of the new polity: Britain’s divide et impera policy had already sown the seeds of bitterness: Our attitude to this question [Cyprus] is that we wish to assist the Turks as much as possible with the publicity for their case, but must at the same time be careful not to appear to be shielding behind them and to be instigating the statements.7
Report by Joint Planning Staff, 3 December 1945, FCO 371/48288, file R 21028/G. 7 Op. cit., Cox to Fisher, 13 July 1956, FO 953/1694, file G11926/23, letter.
When the Zurich talks between Greece and Turkey concluded in agreement in February 1959, Cyprus’ future as a Cold War asset of the West was sealed, and the Soviets were critical. The Soviet press made a number of points, reported as follows by the British Embassy in Moscow: The first substantive Soviet press comment on the Zurich talks appears in a press article by “Observer” entitled “Imperialists’ Compact” in today’s Pravda. The main points are i)
the imperialists view the national liberation movement in Cyprus primarily as a threat to the strategic position of the island as a spring-board for aggression in the Middle east;
the United States became intensely anxious to eliminate AngloGreek-Turkish differences in order a)
to preserve the position of N.A.T.O. in the Eastern Mediterranean;
to revive the Balkan Alliance;
for the above reasons the United States brought decisive pressure to bear on Greece to come to terms with the United Kingdom and Turkey over Cyprus in order to achieve a speedy solution (Izvestia, of February 14, in a review of Greek press comment, quoted “Vima” as saying that the United States had exerted such pressure by threatening to cut off economic aid to Greece);
the proclamation of a republic in Cyprus will not materially affect the Cypriots since the United Kingdom is to retain the right to keep military bases there in perpetuity, and the island will remain shackled to N.A.T.O;
the decisions taken behind the backs of the Cypriot people ignore their just demands and represent a colonialist plot directed against Cypriot interests and against peace and international security;
the Greek Government has abandoned its former position and capitulated to United States pressure. The reason for this is that “certain circles” in Greece are seeking a way out of their internal difficulties and aim to distract attention from their persecution of progressive forces in their preparation of increasing anti-democratic terror;
the Soviet public stands for the right of all peoples to decide their own future and condemns the Zurich “plot” as a threat to peace and a dagger in the back of heroic Cypriot patriots;
The Obsession with Russia, and her Reaction viii)
in Greece, public hostility towards these new imperialist manoeuvres in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans is increasing.
2. Other articles in the Soviet press today and yesterday have supported this general line, mostly by using selected quotations from the Greek newspapers “Avgi”, “Vima” and “Eleftheria”.8
Four years later, when the first explosion on Cyprus came, the Foreign Office wrote: The most serious consequence of all would be that our withdrawal would led to the ultimate establishment of Soviet influence on the island. Though this is perhaps not very likely, it is not impossible that an independent Cyprus Government, deprived of the economic benefits of our bases, might bring it upon themselves by seeking Soviet aid.9
The British were privately pressing for the union of Cyprus with Greece as a way to create a stronger front against the Soviet Union, which had announced its intention to involve itself more closely in Cypriot affairs. An extract from a Cabinet meeting throws the British view into full relief: But it was becoming increasingly urgent that some political solution should be found; and it was therefore very desirable to ascertain whether the Greek Government still adhered to the assurance, which they had recently given us, that their objective was to ensure Enosis and that they would be prepared, if necessary, to supplant Archbishop Makarios for this purpose or whether they had now capitulated in effect to the Archbishop’s own view that Cyprus should become a unitary and independent state.10
The Soviet view was of course to prevent anything that would strengthen NATO, such as enosis, hence their support for an independent, demilitarised and unitary Cyprus which, they thought, would not be a threat to them. They were even prepared to go as far as threatening Turkey with military action, as they did in summer 1964, 11 were it to invade
British Embassy, Moscow, to Foreign Office, 17 February 1959, telegram no.18 Saving, FCO 371/ 144616, file RGC 10338/2. 9 Foreign Office paper, 13 March 1964, DO 220/170, file 2-MED 193/105/2. 10 Conclusions of a Cabinet meeting, 18 August 1964, CAB 128/38. 11 Foreign Office Research Department Memorandum, ‘Soviet Policy towards the Middle East’, 1965, DO 220/11, file 2-MED 14/38/1, pt. B.
Cyprus, since they believed that an invasion would lead to Cyprus being carved up between Greece and Turkey, thereby strengthening NATO. But their position altered subtly thereafter, as they did not wish to burn their boats with Turkey, and saw some advantage in NATO-weakening tension between Greece and Turkey. Thus they hosted a visit by the Turkish Minister in autumn 1964, and referred, in a joint communiqué, to the lawful rights of both national communities, thus lending some succour to the separationists.12 Almost a year later, the Soviets were sticking to the same line, in another joint statement, when the Turkish Prime Minister visited Moscow.13 In their dealings with the Cypriot Progressive People’s Working Party, AKEL, the Soviet Communist Party were not quite so specific, referring simply to the ‘benefit of the whole Cypriot people, Greeks and Turks’. 14 In 1965, the Foreign Office made a particularly perceptive comment on Soviet policy on Cyprus, which has some resonance today: A new trend, which has revealed more clearly the Russians’ lack of interest in promoting any immediate solution of the Cyprus problem and their intention of playing off the parties directly involved one against another, was initiated by the renewed invitation to the then Turkish Foreign Minister, M. Erkin, to visit the Soviet Union in the autumn of 1964. The communiqué on his visit stated concerning Cyprus: “Both sides express themselves as in favour of the peaceful settlement of the Cyprus question on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the republic of Cyprus, on the basis of the observance of the lawful rights of both national communities, ensuring their peaceful life, and of the recognition of the fact of the existence of two national communities in the island.” Since then the Soviet Union has regularly defined its attitude with reference to this cautious formula, which affords little encouragement to any of the parties involved.15
Another perceptive Foreign Office comment, in 1966, was: What is beyond dispute, I am sure, is that the Russians are showing considerable skill in keeping all parties in play. Their word-juggling is curiously similar to the sort of dexterity which we ourselves have had to
Ibid., ‘Soviet Policy towards the Middle East’. British Embassy, Moscow, to Foreign Office, 17 August 1965, telegram no. 1726, DO 220/11, file 2 MED 14/38/1, pt. B. 14 DO 220/11. File 2 MED 14/38/1, pt. B. 15 Op. cit., Soviet Policy towards the Middle East. 13
The Obsession with Russia, and her Reaction
use in the past two years in framing answers to Parliamentary Questions etc. which mean to the Turks that we uphold the 1960 Treaties and to others that we would willingly see some new settlement.16
Unlike in 1964, when they had been prepared, at least presentationally, to intervene militarily to prevent an invasion, the Soviets were now rather more circumspect, mainly because of their distaste for the overtly anticommunist Greek junta, which had grabbed power in April, occasioning them to make the British government officially aware of their opposition to an invasion and/or enosis. During the 1967 crisis, they did however at least warn Turkey not to intervene militarily.17 The British ambassador in Athens thought that the Soviets had been critical of the Greek Cypriots for not doing more to avoid the crisis. Generally, the Foreign Office was not far off the mark in its assessment that Soviet policy was to keep Cyprus formally independent but internally divided.18 By mid-1968, however, the Soviet position, at least in private, was not as nice to Turkey as their bilateral diplomacy made it appear, as the following suggests: His [Zavazov’s, Counsellor at Soviet Embassy, Nicosia] government had made their position clear: they wanted a peaceful settlement and the withdrawal of all foreign troops, including the bases, and direct talks between the parties on the island. If Britain insisted on maintaining the Zürich and London Agreements, talks could not begin. He suggested that we were using Turkey to maintain these agreements. He […] understood that we, and particularly the Americans, were giving very substantial aid to Turkey. Why, he asked, should Turkey go, from her own meagre resources, spending so much on aid to the Turkish Cypriots? Mobilisation had cost them a lot. They could not afford this without our aid .[…] He laughed at the idea of Turkey having any really sincere regard for their minority, and seemed convinced that Turkey would abandon them if she were not ‘kept up to it’.19
Lewis, FO, to Lewis, British High Commission, Cyprus, 16 February 1966, letter, FO 371/185624, file CC 103138/2. 17 British Ambassador, Athens, to Commonwealth Office, 22 December 1967, letter, FCO 27/82, file MF 2/1. 18 Foreign Office to British Embassy, Moscow, 16 September 1967, telegram no. 8156, FCO 27/82, file MF 2/1. 19 Daunt to Tyler, 5 April 1968, letter enclosing extract of minute by Jenkins on his lunch with the Soviet Counsellor, FCO 27/83/MF2/1.
By 1970, the Soviets were again worried about a Greek coup in Cyprus. Rumours abounded, in early 1970, of a plan by Greek junta officers to arrange a coup in Cyprus and get rid of Makarios, which appear to have been confirmed by the British Embassy in Moscow, which wrote: […] it seems clear that the Soviet Government did indeed have prior warning of what has turned out to be the common denominator of intelligence from almost all sources on the Cyprus affair: that Greek mainland officers of the National Guard were involved in the preparation of a move against Makarios. We see this, on the evidence available to us here, as the only reasonable explanation for the Soviet role. 3. Assuming that the foregoing is correct, it seems clear that the Russians really did fear that the consequence of the coup, if it succeeded, would be either Enosis or (worse still) Double Enosis, which would have led to the suppression of AKEL and the de facto incorporation of the island into NATO […] We therefore think it most unlikely that the Soviet role was “a further attempt to assert Soviet claims to be a Mediterranean power and to use the Cyprus situation as a potential means of distracting attention from their problems in the Middle East” […] The Soviet Union is already a major Mediterranean power by virtue of both her naval presence and her relationship with the Arab states, and it is not easy to see who would be distracted, or how, from the crucial problems of the Middle East – certainly there has been little attempt here to divert the Soviet public’s attention from them. 4. In short, we see the Soviet role as one aimed not so much at the enhancement of the Soviet position, as at the defence of the Cyprus status quo which, if upset, would have done serious damage to Soviet interests both in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East as a whole. […]20
The Soviets continued to follow events closely, and made a series of démarches not long before the actual Turkish invasion on 20 July 1974. They were aware of the links between the junta in Athens, EOKA B21 and the Cypriot National Guard, which Makarios – correctly, in view of subsequent events - viewed with considerable suspicion. When the Turkish invasion took place, the Soviets were however surprisingly compliant, perhaps having been persuaded by Kissinger that Turkey would merely restore constitutional order, and then withdraw. Although they went through the motions of the UN resolution calling, inter alia, for the
Edmonds to Bendall, 16 April 1970, letter, FCO 9/1158, file WSC3/303/2. National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters. The ‘B’ was added after Grivas’ death. 21
The Obsession with Russia, and her Reaction
withdrawal of foreign forces, the Turkish Prime Minister was happy with their conduct.22 Although the coup failed, Turkey had nevertheless found a good pretext to invade, since the Treaty of Guarantee had purportedly been breached; but, controversially, the Turkish army remained, and made no attempt whatsoever to re-establish the state of affairs established under Article Four of the Treaty of Guarantee, preferring instead to consolidate its invasion and partition the island, as it had clearly planned to. Thus, an intervention became an occupation of over one third of the island, which continues to this day, with nearly all the Greek Cypriots in the occupied area having been forced to the unoccupied part, while many Turkish Cypriots have left the island, and been swamped by illegal Anatolian settlers, who have radically altered the demographic make-up of the island. The operation was not wholly dissimilar to that of the Zionists in Palestine in 1948, when they replaced the expelled Palestinian population with Jewish settlers. Turkey was able to go it alone, because of its knowledge that it had the tacit support of the US, in the shape of Henry Kissinger,23 and because Britain did not live up to its treaty obligations and enforce the immediate removal of the Greek putschists. In fact, Britain succumbed to US pressure. Her first reaction was to try and give up the bases, but the US Secretary of State, Kissinger, who considered the bases vital to the ArabIsrael dispute, simply told Britain to keep them. 24 Britain, for its part, remained pro-Turkish: We must also recognise that in the final analysis Turkey must be regarded as more important to Western strategic interests than Greece and that, if
FCO Information Research Department paper, August 1974, FCO 9/1945, file WSC3/303/1. 23 Mallinson, William, ‘Cyprus, Britain, the USA, Turkey and Greece in 1977: Critical Submission or Submissive Criticism?’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 44, no. 4, October 2009, p.740. See also op. cit., William Mallinson, Cyprus, Diplomatic History and the Clash of Theory in International Relations, p.85. 24 For a fuller account of Cyprus’ background, events leading to the Turkish invasion and Britain’s attempts to give up its bases, see op. cit., Mallinson, William, ‘Cyprus, Britain, the USA, Turkey and Greece in 1977: Critical Submission or Submissive Criticism?’, ibid., Cyprus, Diplomatic History and the Clash of Theory in International Relations, and Britain and Cyprus: Key Themes and Documents since World War Two.
Chapter Seven risks must be run, they should be risks of further straining Greek rather than Turkish relations with the West.25
British attempts to give up the bases had petered out by 1980, and the bases continued to cloud and muddy Britain’s rôle in the intercommunal negotiations. In 1981, in a dramatic shift in policy, Britain, realising that the Turkish occupation helped the continuation of the bases, decided to put maintaining its bases before a settlement: The benefits that we derive from the SBAs are of major significance and virtually irreplaceable. They are an essential contribution to the AngloAmerican relationship. The Department have regularly considered with those concerned which circumstances in Cyprus are most conducive to our retaining unfettered use of our SBA facilities. On balance, the conclusion is that an early ‘solution’ might not help (since pressures against the SBAs might then build up), just as breakdown and return to strife would not, and that our interests are best served by continuing movement towards a solution – without the early prospect of arrival.26
Thus, then as now, it was the British bases, established for Cold War geopolitical reasons, that were again sacrosanct. Just as in 1878, Britain (today on behalf of America) had its geostrategic (military) strongpoint, to watch over an unstable Anatolia and keep out the Russians.
Soviet and Russian Views It is perhaps a bit strong to say that the Soviet Union condoned the invasion and occupation, but perhaps more accurate to suggest that she rolled with the (impending) punch, in order to keep in the game. As long as there was no danger of NATO being strengthened, through enosis, whether double 27 or single, and as long as tension remained between Greece and Turkey, she could continue to pursue her aim of demilitarisation and a united, non-aligned Cyprus. The continuation of the Turkish invasion, and its transmogrification into an occupation, does seem to have caught her on the hop to some extent, but none of her ‘red lines’, for example a strengthening of NATO through enosis, was crossed. In
Op. cit., ‘British interests in the Eastern Mediterranean’. Fergusson to Private Secretary, 8 December 1980, FCO 9/ 2949, file WSC 023/1, part C., minute. 27 That is, a Cyprus divided between Greece and Turkey. 26
The Obsession with Russia, and her Reaction
1963/4, she had been far more forceful, as she saw an immediate danger of enosis in one form or another. As for Britain, she was of course also caught on the hop as regards the sudden consolidation of the Turkish invasion on 14 August: on 2 August, the FCO’s Deputy Under Secretary of State wrote, in indecent haste: The change of government in Athens simultaneously removed an embarrassing mole from NATO’s cheek and opened the door to a round of successful diplomacy from which the Soviet Union was excluded. The activity lay in London and Geneva, and the credit went to Britain, the United States, Greece and Turkey – in fact to everybody except the Soviet Union itself, and its favoured leader, Makarios.28
If temporarily halting a military advance that in fact was continuing even as the Geneva negotiations themselves continued, and if keeping Makarios, the legitimate president, out of the decision-making, is successful diplomacy, then so be it, while keeping the Soviet Union out of the negotiations simply reflects paranoia. When the Turkish army then promptly took over one third of the island, this can hardly equate with successful diplomacy. That Killick did not at the time know of Kissinger and Eçevit’s true agenda suggests that he was jumping the gun, by writing as he did. He was particularly critical of the Soviets, writing: In the circumstances, it is depressing but not surprising that Soviet behaviour has been opportunist, unscrupulous and unhelpful. They emphatically did not like the spectacle of a major crisis developing in an area of keen political and strategic interest to the Soviet Union. Still less did they like this crisis being handled through channels in which the Soviet Union played no part whatever. This situation of powerless concern brought out all that is worst in Soviet diplomacy.29
Yet, inconsistently, he then wrote: Their general objective will be to restore, to the extent that this is still possible, the situation as it was a month ago, ie a unitary but non-aligned Cyprus having only weak links with members of NATO and no connexion with NATO itself.30
Killick to Minister of State’s Private Secretary, minute, 2 August 1974, FCO 9/1945, file WSC/303/1. 29 Ibid. 30 Ibid.
This really was a bit rich: Killick now seemed to believe that the Turkish invasion was better for Cyprus than what had existed before. But he was also contradictory in pointing to the importance of Cyprus’s links with NATO, since in 1960, the British government had been against Cyprus’ putative NATO membership, on the grounds that the left wing AKEL was a strong party, which would be bad for security, and because any dispute between either Cyprus or Turkey and Britain could be represented by the Soviets as dissension within the alliance.31 The aftermath of the invasion and occupation of over one third of Cyprus led the Soviets to change tack slightly, and try to water down NATO and UN Security Council influence, by pushing for an international conference.32 When, in 1976, the Soviet ambassador in London discussed the issue of an international conference on Cyprus with the Minister of State, Mr. Hattersley, the latter stonewalled, saying that the intercommunal talks were the best way.33 The story since then has been essentially one of Anglo-Saxon lip-service to the idea of re-uniting Cyprus, but only in a NATO-friendly solution, which means that true independence in foreign and defence policy could never be granted, since an independent Cyprus could easily offer Russia a naval base. Russia, for its part, will not countenance a NATO-friendly solution, or union with Greece or Turkey (or with both, in a double-union) and, perhaps understandably, prefers to call for an independent Cyprus, free of foreign troops and NATO influence. That explains why Russia did not support the abortive ‘Annan Plan’ in the Security Council. Well before Russia’s rejection of the plan, she had tested the waters by selling Cyprus a sophisticated ground-to-air missile system, the S-300, in 1995. Following massive pressure from Turkey, Britain, the US and EU, the missiles system ended up in Crete. One is tempted to question whether, if Vladimir Putin had been at Russia’s helm, the missiles would have ended up in Greece. Clearly, the Eastern Mediterranean is a useful gauge from which to gauge-!- the obsession with Russia, an obsession which transcends even the Cold War, unless one takes the view that Napoleon’s stupid attack on Moscow, with an army of which over half consisted of
See op. cit., Mallinson, William, Cyprus, A Modern History, pp. 39-40. IRD paper, August 1974, FCO 9/1946, file WSC/303/1. 33 Record of Conversation, 23 June 1976, FCO 9/2378, file WSC 020/303/1. 32
The Obsession with Russia, and her Reaction
non-French Europeans, was a sign that the Cold War had already started, even if Britain was not yet in that particular loop. Whatever the outcome of the tactical-strategic dancing around Cyprus, Russia was and is quite happy to sit and watch amusedly while NATO ‘allies’ Greece and Turkey weaken NATO’s southern flank, just as she is happy to watch the erosion of NATO’s credibility in Afghanistan. It seems that Russia is today fully aware of the ‘West’s’ obsession. Russia certainly understands, even if bemusedly, the Anglo-Saxons’ geopolitical approach, and has therefore begun to adopt its own version of how to ward off what it sees as a serious threat to its integrity and security. This threat to Russia’s security and integrity has increased, rather than diminished, since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, despite a ‘naïve period’, when, during the Yeltsin years, so many pundits insisted that the Cold War was over. However, NATO’s illegal bombing of Yugoslavia and simultaneous expansion to the East, the illegal attack on Iraq, and then on Libya, and NATO’s continuing expansion, certainly nonplussed Russia. The attempt to attack Syria proved to be a red line for Moscow, which saw its immediate interests threatened, since, had Moscow stood idly by, Iran would have undoubtedly have been the next target, followed by further attempts to destabilise Russia itself, through its soft underbelly, the Caucasus. Apart from this, Washington’s underhand attempt to bring the Ukraine into the NATO fold was a parallel development. Let us now look at Russian ‘geopolitics’.
The Russian Reaction to Geopolitics The concept of geopolitics has its origins, as we have seen, in what we can safely call the anti-Russian elements of Europe, namely Britain and Germany, with proto-Germanic Scandinavia getting a strong look-in with Kjellen. Russian strategic thinking, unlike British and German, has never been based on dominating either the world or even western Europe, particularly after Stalin put a stop to Trotskyism. Unlike Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain and, later, Germany, Russia’s expansion was organic, operating from the centre outwards, fighting and defeating hostile powers such as the Ottoman Empire, rather than trying to grab parts of the world far from London, Paris, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Madrid, and later Brussels and Berlin. In this sense, Russia’s expansion was based on protecting its borders, which naturally meant that those states on its perimeter should be friendly, or failing that, at least neutral. One can pose the question as to whether the US would ever allow
a strong and anti-American Mexico, or, indeed, a strong and hostile Canada. At any rate, Russia played virtually no part in overseas imperialism. As such, it did not follow the dictates of geopolitics, a West European invention. Modern Russian geopolitics, in fact, comes across as an understanding and concomitant adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon obsession with Russia, the Heartland. Although the crude science of geopolitics had not been a subject of serious study in Russia or the Soviet Union (particularly since the vast nation has more than enough resources of its own, and did not feel or entertain the need to go around the world taking other people’s resources), by the heady emotional days of the fall of the Berlin Wall, serious Russians were looking closely at the ‘science’. One leading academic put the thinking world of Russia in the picture, with a seminal article, from which it is worth quoting, and then commenting on, as it reflects serious late-in-the-day Soviet thinking, and is valid today. The author begins by informing his – obviously educated – audience, that ‘Geopolitics, as the term suggests, is the politics of a country as determined by its geographical features.’ He then refers to Mackinder’s reference to Russia as occupying a central position on the world’s map, lying in its key region, the Heartland.’ 34 After quoting Zbigniew Brzezinski’s simplistic statement that ‘those who control Eurasia control the world’, he then states, rather more thoughtfully than a typical mapmaniac: The confrontation of the continental power which controls the heart of Eurasia and the coalition opposing it is by no means confined, geopolitically, to a contest between East and West, socialism and capitalism (or “totalitarianism” and “liberal democracy”, in Western parlance), as it has quite often been made out over the last few decades, but is an element of genuinely global politics. Properly speaking, the very terms “East” and “West” also reflect in a way, if inadequately, the fact that it is not only ideological rivalry or even a clash of social-political systems but also a “deideologized” geopolitical confrontation. Of course, genuinely global politics is a historically recent phenomenon. However, attempts at establishing control over the whole oecumenical world were made more than once in ancient times as well.
Op. cit., Malashenko, p. 46.
The Obsession with Russia, and her Reaction
For centuries Russia was beating off the West’s numerous attempts at establishing control over Eastern Europe, as through the expansionism of Lithuania, Poland, France or Germany. There appeared to be only one way to assure the security of Russia and the key region belonging to it: it was by raising a well-defended geopolitical barrier around it, brick by brick, block by block. This task arose over and over again before various rulers, dynasties and even geopolitical systems. The creation of the Empire was a response to the geopolitical challenge of the West.35
Thus we see here a realisation, based on geohistorical analysis and evaluation, that to combat what Russia has always seen as attempts by its western neighbours to threaten it (Poland, France and Germany are the most obvious examples), Russia has had to understand the western mentality, in order to survive various onslaughts. Western geopolitics clearly keeps her on her guard, and perhaps understandably so, given the history of attacks on Russia, let alone the around thirty million deaths resulting from the last war. Much of the rest of the article discusses the problems engendered within Russia and indeed within the dying Soviet structure, but also criticises the exponents of geopolitics for bringing in a national dimension. It finishes with the words: ‘The cold war ended with the defeat of the empire. The defeat of the empire has been the starting point of the regeneration of Russia and a new geopolitical round.’ Since then, in the last quarter century, Russia has indeed regenerated, albeit after a period in the doldrums, while the geopolitical obsession to control the Heartland has continued. As NATO has expanded to Russia’s borders, and set up a ring of missile defences, allegedly to defend Europe from Iran and whoever else is considered inimical, Russia has realised that it has to defend itself. Geopolitically, the Ukraine crisis encapsulates America’s efforts to ensure that Europe stays in the Cold War Western camp. The result has been what we can describe as a ‘neo-geopolitical’ approach by the Kremlin, but more specifically by academic advisers such as Alexander Dugin, who have incorporated and adapted western geopolitics to react to US/NATO threats, through a concept known as ‘Eurasionism’. Some Dugin quotes set the scene: Various terms lose their original meaning through daily use over the course of many years. Such fundamental notions as socialism, capitalism, democracy, fascism have changed profoundly. In fact, they have turned
Chapter Seven banal. […] Globalization is the imposing of the Atlantic paradigm […] This means new architecture of a world system with no opposition and with only one pole – the pole of Atlanticism. […] Eurasianism absolutely rejects the universalism of Atlanticism and Americanism. The pattern of Western Europe and America has many attractive features that can be adopted and praised, but, as a whole, it is merely a cultural system that has the right to exist in its own historical context along with other civilizations and cultural systems. The Eurasian Idea protects not only anti-Atlantic value systems, but also the diversity of value structures. It is a kind of “poliversum” that provides living space for everyone, including the USA and Atlanticism, along with other civilizations, because Eurasionism also defends the civilizations of Africa, both American continents, and the Pacific area parallel to the Eurasian Motherland.36
While some academics rather simplistically connect Dugin’s ideas with the work of Carl Schmitt,37 the former’s ideas seem to be a continuation of the work of the Eurasian movement of the early 20th century. Its major proponents were Nikolay Sergeevich Trubetskoy, Georgy Vasilievich Florovsky, P.P. Suvchinsky and Pyotr Nikolaevich Savitsky. All were members of the white émigrés who fled from the Bolshevik-ruled USSR, and though they formed a complex and diverse ideological movement of policies, theories and agendas, they all agreed on the uniqueness of Russia as a ‘specific cultural-historical type’.38 Dugin, like many a man dealing with geopolitics, has his opponents in Russia and elsewhere, since he seems to intimate that Moscow will be at the centre of his system. He uses a host of maps. One divides the world into four zones, each running from North to South. The British Isles are firmly placed in the Anglo-American zone (which includes Australasia), thus separating Britain from Europe. Perhaps strangely, given its close cultural, historical and religious affinity with Russia, Greece is part of the Euro-African zone, rather than of the Pan-Eurasian zone. The fourth zone
Dugin, Alexander G., Eurasian Mission, Moscow, 2005. Snyder, Timothy, ‘Fascism, Russia and Ukraine’, The New York Review of Books, vol. 61, no. 5, March 20, 2014 Issue, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2014/03/20/fascism-russia-and-ukraine/ [Accessed 25 May, 2016]. 38 Smith, Gerald Stanton, D.S. Mirsky: a Russian-English life, 1890-1939, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000, pp. 137-142. 37
The Obsession with Russia, and her Reaction
is the Pacific-Far East zone. Crucially, to back up the idea that Moscow is the centre of this whole new multipolar world, we have the North-Eurasian interzonal axis, between Moscow and Berlin, and Moscow and Tokyo. One gains the feeling that Dugin is simply giving western geopoliticians a taste of their own medicine, even using their own ‘conceptual frameworks’ to hit back, by saying that they have no right to try and control the Heartland, since Moscow is at the centre. Many of his ideas are developed from his book of eight years earlier, The Foundations of Geopolitics.39 The geopolitical game of controlling the heartland has never ceased. Despite Fukuyama’s argument of an end to the bipolar world and liberal democracy as humanity’s final socio-cultural evolution at the beginning of the Nineties, events at the end of the century and the beginning of the 21st century proved that not only was the battle of the heartland still persisting in the eyes of the so-called West, but that it signalled an intensified battle to come, leading some to speculate whether the Cold War had ever stopped. For its part, Russia believed, following the fall of the Berlin wall, that it might find its place in this new constellation of powers as a friendly collaborator with its former adversary. Under Yeltsin, it even went as far as opening up to the idea of implementing a liberal economy, which proved to be disastrous and ended with most of the wealth being siphoned out of the country either by domestic or foreign companies and entities. It might seem surprising, but it was not the declining economic conditions that alerted the Kremlin that something was wrong in its relations with the West. According to Alexey Meshkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, the ‘first serious wake-up call was the 1999 crisis around Kosovo, when NATO countries grossly violated key provisions of international law, the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, the NATORussia Founding Act, and the norms of humanitarian law’.40 To sum up on the Russian reaction to western geopolitics, we can say that, finally, Russia feels sufficiently provoked and threatened to have decided to act unilaterally on occasion, as with the Crimea. In that connexion, which was used to impose sanctions on Russia, even Henry Kissinger, of all people, said:
Moscow, 1997. Meshkov, Alexey, ‘Russia and Europe: What Next?’, International Affairs: Summary, no. 6, Moscow, 2015, p.8. 40
Chapter Seven But if the West is honest with itself, it has to admit that there were mistakes on its side. The annexation of Crimea was not a move towards global conquest. It was not Hitler moving into Czechoslovakia.41
Reading between the lines, Kissinger was recognising that Russia has its red lines. One is inclined to wonder whether even he is beginning to question his own subtle anti-Russian credentials, perhaps to appear as all things to all men.
Conclusions It is hardly a revelation to state that geopolitical considerations, with geostrategic (military) ones, predicated on a rigid view that Russia was a danger, prevailed, and that they still do. In foreign policy terms, Soviet and Russian foreign policy are identical, at least since Trotsky’s murder. Despite the alleged end of the Cold War, manic western geopolitical considerations, whether by default or design inimical towards Russia, have led to a counter-reaction. At the centre of this lies Europe, which, through NATO and its European ‘Trojan Horse’, Britain, the US wishes to continue to keep within its geopolitical-strategic-military ambit. Let us now move to our concluding chapter, where we shall look at this whole book geohistorically, and demonstrate that geohistory is a saner, less frenetic and more thoughtful method of understanding and, therefore, advocating, solutions to the world’s problems.
Interview with Der Spiegel, 13 November 2014.
CHAPTER EIGHT CONCLUSIONS
Borders are scratched across the hearts of men by strangers with a calm judicial pen.1
Introduction We have tried to demonstrate in this book that geopolitics, attracting as it does the crudest side of political realism/power politics, mainly through geostrategy, is not only an inadequate way of understanding and improving the lot of humanity, but has been thoroughly discredited. We have attempted to replace it with geohistory, as the best method of comprehending and improving the lot of the human race, since, in direct contrast to geopolitics, it deals with people and their individual and mass characteristics as a starting point, rather than polluting geography with political ideology and promoting greed. Let us now drive home our arguments, and then set out some key points of geohistory.
The Human Factor Geopoliticians such as Henry Kissinger inevitably reduce morality to a mere concept, preferring to put politics on a pedestal. For example, he praises Metternich for transforming the Greek insurrection from a moral into a political issue.2 As for the Cypriot people, he reduces them to a mere ‘square on the world chessboard’, while the British people are transmogrified into ‘a staging area for Europe’. As with many geopoliticians, he has an obsession with vacuums, meaning that the lack of an alliance is equal to a vacuum. Thus he writes that if the US does not ‘bolster the EU to prevent
Marya Mannes, in Christopher Hitchens, ‘The Perils of Partition’, The Atlantic, Boston, March, 2003. 2 Kissinger, Henry, A World Restored, Echo Point Books and Media, 2013 (first published in 1957 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson), p. 302.
it drifting off into a geopolitical vacuum, then Europe could turn itself into an appendage to the reaches of Asia and the Middle East (and America an island off the shores of Eurasia)’.3 This is hypothetical, presumptuous and insulting to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and even to America. Before the explosion of the Internet, media communication tools and platforms, and the constant strive to appease and often manipulate the electorate and one’s allies with sensationalist claims and statements, diplomats and state dignitaries confined their rhetoric to the language of diplomacy, with its intricate sense of tactility. Exceptions to this rule were times of crisis where one needed to rally support and inspire. Serious historians and researchers of politics and international relations had to be knowledgeable and versatile in language, history, philosophy, archival records and the intricacies of diplomacy to decipher and interpret the meaning of statements and actions. Nowadays one need not be an expert in those disciplines, nor a psychologist, to understand the frame of mind of current or former statesmen -and women. Take, for example, the statement of former U.S. Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, regarding Russia.4 Commenting on Russia and comparing it to a ‘Bangladesh with missiles’, she managed to insult both Russia and Bangladesh. One might infer that her views are not much different to those of former colonial powers who viewed the rest of the non-Western world as mere ‘savages’. It is surprising that such sentiments should be expressed, especially by someone who was herself, along with her people, persecuted by the Nazis; but it goes to show how power and greed can corrupt. Geopolitics attracts those who prefer to see the wood, rather than involve themselves in the difficult detail of what actually makes up the wood, namely, trees, branches, twigs and leaves; hence geopoliticians’ obsession with maps. In a sense, they are blinded by the wood, which obscures the detail. Globalisation, with its dividing up the world into business areas, also attracts geopoliticians. Perhaps unwittingly, they claim that borders are
Kissinger, Henry, World Order, Allen and Unwin, London, 2014, p.95. O’Neil, Robert, ‘Albright on negotiating’, Harvard Gazette, 3 April 2015, http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/04/albright-on-negotiating/, [Accessed 20 April, 2016].
being broken down, when in fact they are merely creating unnatural business borders, based on physical resources more than on historicocultural boundaries. In short, the human factor is studiously ignored. To recognise that it is the geohistorical study of human individual and mass characteristics that will answer questions, and suggest solutions based on experience, is simply an inconvenience for the ‘mapmaniacs’. Insecurity, fear, greed and pride play no serious rôle in their mechanistic calculations. They shy away from rubbing their noses in human reality. In ignoring this, they give free rein to the worst side of human nature.
The Importance of Cycles Many disciplines deal with the cyclical nature of human development. In economics we have several prominent theories of the cyclical nature of things, such as Kuznets’ waves of economic swings of boom and bust, and Branko Milanovic’s work based on the former’s waves on the cyclical nature of the rise and fall of inequality.5 It seems as if it is in human nature to repeat actions of the past, as if unaware of history, or as if as generational changes occur, people lack personal experience of past events, and thus repeat similar actions. Some consider the challenging and questioning of the rationale of the Bretton-Woods order to be a descent into chaos, simply because it puts them in the awkward position of not knowing what might lie ahead. But mostly, they fear losing power, prestige and influence. What in fact is happening is a reshuffling of the pack, a move towards multipolarity in world affairs whereby old and new players are gaining prominence and pushing for their own seat at the table of world affairs. If one looks at economic power or GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as a determinant of a country’s power and influence, then surely China and India deserve much more prominence in world affairs. This is hardly news; yet to some geopolitical pundits it apparently comes as a surprise. However, if one looks at the historical record, one will see that during the
For more details, see Milanovic, Branko, Global Inequality, A New Approach for the Age of Globalization, Belknap Press, USA, 2016.
Song Dynasty (960-1279), for example, China was a global economic leader with substantial global trade driven with innovative progress such as the world’s first printed paper money, a unified tax system and development of a unified national market. One should not be surprised to see the atavistic connexion to the recent rise of some regional and world powers, as it strongly relates to countries’ history, national pride and ethnicity. Turkey’s neo-Ottoman policy is a good example, and an even more poignant one the Zionist-Jewish centuries-old determination to return to the land of Israel. This further confirms our commitment to the study of geohistory as a discipline that will enable scholars to better understand and study current and future developments.
Geohistory We recognise that our method is as yet embryonic, but have tried to set out some basic ground rules. First is the fact that geohistory uses no preconceived ‘conceptual frameworks’. Such frameworks simply serve as lazy self-imposed cages to enable an allegedly scientific and rational approach to be used. Indeed, attempting to describe too closely the problems of humanity can actually destroy the very object of the description, particularly when it is based on a theory or model. A photograph, for example, although graphically accurate, can never capture the process of thought and feeling in a person’s eyes, in the way that a painting can. Munch’s painting ‘The Scream’, for example, even if open to interpretation, conveys far more depth of reality than any photograph of a screaming person could. Second is that ideology plays no rôle whatsoever in the geohistorical method, since history is simply an eternal continuum of human behaviour that needs to be studied and, perforce, acted upon to maintain sanity in human affairs. This behaviour is based on human characteristics, which are remarkably constant. Third, this implies that no analysis and evaluation should be based purely on reason, since, while science can explain the composition of a thing, it can never explain its essence, as Vico believed. For him, the mysteries of Nature and God played a vital rôle in the fate of Mankind. Anathema this may be to an atheistic and purely materialistic approach, but such an
approach, appealing as it does to geopoliticians, has not been seen to provide an answer to the ills of Mankind, but may well have exacerbated them. Fourth, human characteristics are mainly immutable. To understand them through the geohistorical method, the close scrutiny of documents covering, at the least, some hundreds of years, is vital. Through this, one sees that things have indeed always been the same, and that the same things really do return in different colours. It goes almost without saying that the characteristics of the writers of the documents, and the reasons and motivation for their having been produced, need to be thoroughly understood, just as the very ‘conceptual frameworks’ and theories which they follow, need to be known, notwithstanding the need for dispassion. Fifth is a recognition that new technology does not necessarily represent progress or an improvement in human behaviour. Here our earlier analogy of giving cannibals knives and forks comes to mind, as does the stultifying speed that humanity continues to impose on itself day by day, resulting in less time to consider life, or ways on how to improve ourselves. Sixth is the recognition of the importance of atavism: geohistory is to a great extent based on that recognition. No amount of political correctness can disguise the fact that peoples and nations are by nature themselves history, and that their behaviour is inevitably predicated on the past, which is, after all, all that exists in our minds. Seventh is the importance of studying art, whereby one can feel, as well as see, how people and places have been through the ages. A serious visit to the Uffizi in Florence can induce more understanding about Italy today, particularly when allied to a look at the development of Italian painting. Only history exists. Eighth, and allied to painting, is reading the literature of one’s own and foreign nations, even in one’s own language, since this can help to understand different peoples more than can any number of theories. One can even come across incipiently geohistorical ideas in some great writers, such as Tolstoy, with whom we now begin to end this book.
Nations and Humanity Leo Tolstoy shows us how much mental rigour is required to adopt a geohistorical approach, one that does not depend on maps, jejune bromides and models. Let us quote: History is the life of nations and humanity. To seize and put into words, to describe directly, the life of humanity or even of a single nation appears impossible. […] For history, lines exist of the movement of human wills, one end of which is hidden in the unknown but at the other end of which a consciousness of man’s will in the present moves in space, time, and dependence on cause. The more this field of motion spreads out before our eyes, the more evident are the laws of that movement. To discover and define those laws is the problem of history. […] And if history has for its object the study of the movement of the nations and of humanity, and not the narration of episodes in the lives of individuals, it, too, setting aside the conception of cause, should seek the laws common to all the inseparably interconnected infinitesimal elements of freewill.6
These deep thoughts display, we think, a serious attempt to begin to understand human behaviour through the study of history. If one reads through the whole thirty odd pages, one also sees that Tolstoy criticises different approaches to history. We can also add that history is however a neutral continuum, separate from analysis per se. Tolstoy does however alert us, perhaps by default rather than design, to the oft ignored fact that those writing about history are themselves subject to human frailty. As such, we think that he does not depart from our view of geohistory as a method. Perhaps, most tellingly, he writes a few pages later: Why did millions of people kill one another when it has been known since the world began that it is both physically and morally bad to do so? Because it was such an inevitable necessity that in doing it men fulfilled the elemental zoological law which bees fulfil when they kill one another in autumn, and which causes male animals to destroy one another. One can give no other reply to that terrible question.
Tolstoy, Leo, War and Peace, (translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude), Wordsworth Editions Limited, Ware, Hertfordshire, 2001; Second Epilogue pp. 929-958. First published its entirety in Moscow in 1869.
This truth is not only evident, but is so innate in every man’s consciousness that it would not be worthwhile proving it were there not another sentiment in man which convinces him that he is free at each moment that he commits an action. Taking a wide view of history we are indubitably convinced of a sempiternal law by which events occur. Looking at it from a personal point of view we are convinced of the opposite. […] The contradiction seems insoluble. […] The strongest, most indissoluble, most burdensome and constant bond with other men is what is called power over others, which in its real meaning is only the greatest dependence on them.7
Tolstoy is not of course writing directly about the obsession with the Heartland, as we are, although in his novel, it can be inferred that this factor is there, even if only by default, given Napoleon’s fatal obsession with wishing to conquer Russia. But Tolstoy certainly displays an uncanny understanding of humanity, through his totally historical perspective. History per se, in its purest form the past, as geohistory posits, remains untouched. Significantly, Tolstoy refers to chance8 as an important factor in understanding the history of humans, just as Vico refers to fortune. Just as Tolstoy attacks the German habit of believing in one’s own theories as the absolute truth, 9 so Vico crticises Descartes for his emphasis on the rational, since science can only explain the composition of a thing, but never its essence.10 We are, at any event, merely bipedic memories. What, however, about the current obsession?
Clash of Souls It is thanks to the likes of Tolstoy, and perhaps fitting and apposite, that we can now refer again to the obsession with Russia, and its current nemesis, America. Geohistorically, to compare the US and Russia is
Ibid., ‘Some words about War and Peace’, pp. 963-4. We admit that Tolstoy’s idea of ‘chance’ may not necessarily be precisely synonymous with Vico’s ‘providence’; but we do see a connexion, that transcends simple scientific theory. 9 Ibid., p. 505. 10 For an interesting analysis of Vico’s criticism of Descarte’s ideas, see Hueglin, Thomas O., ‘Descartes v Vico: Some Observations about the Importance of the Method of Enquiry in the History of Political Thought’; paper prepared for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, University of Saskatchewan, 30 May-1 June 2007. 8
absurdly difficult, since Russia is far older as a nation and state, and has a deep spirituality and religion, which make up its soul; whereas the United States was a recent phenomenon of Europeans, and then others, emigrating for a whole host of reasons, to create a spirit built up on the idea of financial freedom, where in this sense, the US’s soul is focussed more on material things than on a deep-seated and continuous sense of spiritual religious togetherness (around forty per cent of Americans belong to a religious sect). Unlike any country that we have found, the US even invokes God on her currency (‘In God we Trust’). Hence we see the blending of money and morality, which is generally antithetical to the Russian soul and psyche. Geohistorically, it is this struggle for material gain, at both an individual and corporate level, that was and is a crucial element of the US fear of, and obsession with, the Heartland of Russia. This is why geopolitics has proven so attractive to the US and, today, again, Europeans, as it is based on the acquiring of resources.
The End and the Beginning of the Past As we have written, the past is occurring as we write. Within this, we think that the geohistorian is a detective, seeking to uncover facts, in order to better understand the past, whether thousands of years ago, or now. He does not seek to change the past, unless he is a charlatan seeking to put a theoretical or ideological spin on events to achieve a political objective. In contrast to the detective mentality, geopolitics appeals to the baser and greedier side of human nature. A geopolitical decision to go to war will usually be connected to the political reasons over the legal ones, with ‘political’ often a euphemism for ‘illegal’. It is almost devoid of deep thinking and reflection, depending essentially on material interests. History, the past and, by extension, geohistory, should begin to be seen as a valid starting point for helping to improve our ills; it will never be a panacea, but could well turn out to be the least bad thing. But may Heaven forbid any attempt to destroy our embryonic geohistory, by trying to place it into a ‘conceptual framework’ and imprisoning it in more theory and models. And let geography return to being the simple study of our Earth. Geohistory is but a method, a method that we nevertheless hope will finally bury the danger of geopolitics to international relations, and thus to Mankind.
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A Academi 44 Afghanistan 107 Africa 2, 5, 52, 110 Air Force xv al-Assad, Bashar 11 Albright, Madeleine 48, 114 Anatolia 3, 30, 76, 93, 95, 104 Anglo-Russian Protocol 94 Annan Plan 86, 106 Aristotle 73 Asia Minor 75, 76 Asia-Pacific ix Atlanticism 110 Austro-Hungary 29, 76, 96 Averoff, Evangelos 80 B Balkan 46, 47, 48, 49, 74, 76, 96, 97, 98, 99 Barbarossa 62 Bases (military) xvi, 39, 47, 48, 97, 98, 99, 101, 103, 104 Battle of Pelagonia 75 Behaviouralism/behaviouralist 15, 16, 18, 21 Berlin Wall 8, 11, 17, 41, 107, 108, 111 Biafran War 57 Biogeopolitik 3 Bismarck, Otto von 16, 17 Blackwater 44, 62 Blair, Tony 66 Bolsheviks 95, 110 Bosniaks 28 Bretton-Woods 115
Britain/United Kingdom xv, 1, 2, 5, 17, 19, 32, 37, 42, 45, 52, 67, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 110, 112 British Council 69 Brzezinski, Zbigniev ix, 8, 108 Bush, George Junior 6, 12, 42, 43, 48, 58 Bush, George Senior 42 Burma 59, 77 C Canada 108 Capitalism 18, 38, 66, 108, 109 Castlereagh, Robert Stewart 94 Caspian Sea 71 Caucasus 107 Ceylon 77 Cheney, Richard (Dick) 6, 43, 47, 48, 58 China ix, xv, 5, 115, 116 Churchill, Winston 5, 36, 77, 78, 79, 96 CIA 44 Clark, Wesley 48 Clausewitz, Carl von 11, 56 Clinton, Bill 48, 66, 114 Cold War ix, 3, 8, 10, 11, 21, 28, 37, 38, 39, 41, 50, 51, 59, 66, 67, 78, 86, 90, 96, 98, 104, 106, 107, 109, 111, 112 Comnenus, Isaac 73, 74 Communism 21, 38, 41, 66, 96 Confucius 68 Constructivism x, 18, 19, 21 Communications Theory 20
130 Congress of Berlin 75 Constantinople 74, 75 Coeur de Lion, Richard 73, 79 Crete 76, 77, 106 Crusade/Crusaders 12, 73, 75 Cyprus 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 90, 93, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107 D Dalyell, Tam 88 de Gaulle, Charles 66, 67 de Lusignan, Frank Guy 74 de Saussure, Ferdinand 69 Deconstructivism 19 Dependency theory 18 Descartes, Rene 26, 119 Diego Garcia 73, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90 Dilke, Charles 5 Disraeli, Benjamin 75, 94 Domino Theory 10 Doan, Lurita 49 Dugin, Alexander 109, 110, 111 E Eco, Umberto 69 Eden, Anthony 80, 96 Egypt 40, 74, 80, 94 Eisenhower, Dwight D 36, 62 ELAS 95 England 5, 32, 73, 75 English School 17, 19 Enlightenment 6 Envidity 48 EOKA 80, 82, 84, 102 Euro-Asia/Eurasia 3, 8, 10, 108, 110, 111, 114 Eurasian Movement 110
Index FCO/Foreign and Commonwealth Office/FO/Foreign Office 58, 77, 78, 79, 84, 86, 90, 95, 96, 99, 100, 101, 105 Foot, Hugh 83 Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 29, 31 France 5, 32, 37, 42, 51, 75, 94, 95, 107, 109 Francis-Baker, Noel 78, 95 Frank, Paul (German State Secretary) 90 Frankfurt School 19 French Revolution 4 Fukuyama, Francis 21, 22, 111 Functionalism 19 G Geoculture ix Geohistory x, xiv, 2, 6, 12, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 31, 33, 34, 65, 112, 113, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120 Geostrategy xiii, xiv, 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 25, 33, 36, 56, 63, 71, 73, 90, 91, 113 Germany/Germans 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 29, 33, 37, 42, 52, 62, 76, 93, 95, 96, 107, 109 Gibraltar 76 Globalisation xiii, 36, 63, 65, 66, 67, 69, 70, 71, 110, 114 Greece/Greek/Greeks 1, 18, 19, 29, 30, 31, 74, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 90, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 110, 113 Grivas, Georgios 80, 82, 84, 102 Guicciardini, Francesco x, 6, 26, 33 H
F Far East 37, 38, 111 Fascism 10, 21, 29, 109
Halliburton 42, 43, 47, 48, 58, 62 Haushofer, Karl 6, 7, 9, 10, 33 Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty 10
The Threat of Geopolitics to International Relations
Hayek, Friedrich von 16 Heartland 4, 7, 10, 55, 93, 108, 109, 111 ,119, 120 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich xiv, 6, 34 Heraclitus xiv, 6, 25 Hess, Rudolph 7 Hill, Christopher 9, 10 Hobbes, Thomas 16, 18, 19 Homer 1 Hunt, John 87, 88, 89 Hussein, Saddam 41, 42, 51, 53, 55, 71
Kurd/Kurdish/Kurdistan 35, 39, 45, 46, 50 Kuznets’ waves 115 Kuwait 38, 41, 46, 71
Imperialism xvi, 12, 108 India/Indian 9, 58, 75, 77, 86, 88, 89, 90, 115 Indonesia 59 Iran xv, 38, 40, 42, 46, 53, 59, 107, 109 Iraq 10, 12, 17, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 58, 59, 60, 62, 71, 107 Israel 9, 28, 42, 59, 85, 103, 116 Italy 5, 12, 17, 29, 77, 117
Machiavelli, Niccolo 17, 18 Mackinder, Halford 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 108 Mahan, Alfred 2, 3, 7, 10 Makarios, Archbishop 82, 83, 84, 85, 99, 102, 105 Mallinson, William x, xiv Malvinas/Falkland Islands 87 Marshall Plan 66 Marx, Karl/Marxism x, 6, 19, 34, 36, 66, 70 Mauritius 86, 87 Meshkov, Alexey 111 Metternich, Klemens von 90, 94, 113 Mexico 108 Middle East/Middle Eastern ix, 9, 28, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 45, 47, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, 57, 58, 59, 60, 71, 76, 80, 82, 98, 102, 114 Microsoft 61, 68 Milanovic, Branko 115 Modernisation theory 18
J Japan/Japanese 5, 7, 41, 52 K Kashmir 9 Kennedy, John F 11 Killick, John 105, 106 Kipling, Rudyard 4 Kissinger, Henry 8, 9, 16, 74, 75, 76, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 102, 103, 105, 111, 112, 113 Kjellen, Rudolf 3, 7, 107 Kosovo and Metohija 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 111
L Lebensraum 3, 10 Liberalism x, 19, 21 Libya 10, 76, 107 Lin Yutang 15, 20 Lloyd-George 95 Lord Elgin 79
N Napoleon Bonaparte 2, 4, 12, 93, 94, 106, 119
NATO 28, 29, 45, 48, 49, 76, 82, 84, 97, 99, 100, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 111, 112 Navarino 94 Nazism/Nazis 6, 7, 9, 29, 52, 114 Neo-colonialism 60 Neo-realism/neo-realist 16, 18 Netherlands 7, 107 Nietzsche, Friedrich 6, 34 Noel Baker, Francis 78, 95 North Korea xv
Romania 62 Roosevelt, Theodore 10 Rumsfeld, Donald 6 Russia/Russian ix, xv, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 28, 29, 46, 49, 55, 59, 62, 71, 74, 75, 76, 79, 86, 89, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 100, 102, 104, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 114, 119, 120
Saudi Arabia 11, 38, 41, 42, 53, 54, 59 SBA/Sovereign Base Areas 84, 85, 86, 104 Seychelles 83, 87 Shia 35 Siberia 93 Slav/Slavic/Slavs 28, 30, 31 Socialism 19, 39, 108, 109 Socrates 22 Sonnenfeldt, Helmut (Hal) 88, 89 South China Sea ix Soviet Union/Soviet/Soviets 7, 8, 19, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 51, 62, 77, 79, 84, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 108, 109, 112 Spain 5, 107 Spykman, Nicholas 7, 8 Stalin, Joseph Vissarionovich 79, 96, 97, 107 Strauss, Leo 17 Structuralism 18, 20 Suez 80, 82 Sunni 35 Sykes-Picot Agreement/Red Line Agreement 9, 11, 28, 42, 89 Syria ix, 10, 11, 28, 29, 45, 59, 107
Objectivism 18, 19 OPEC 53, 54, 59 Orwell, George xiii, 65, 69, 70 Ottoman 29, 30, 36, 37, 42, 74, 75, 76, 79, 93, 94, 107, 116 P Paleologos, Michael VIII 75 Palestine 103 Panama Canal 10 Pitt, William, the Younger 2, 93 Pluralism 19, 20 Positivism 18 Post-modernism 19, 21 Powell, Colin 51 Private Military Companies 44 Putin, Vladimir Vladimirovich 106 Q Qatar 11 R Radicalism 21 Ramsbotham, Peter 89 Ratzel, Friedrich 3, 4, 6, 7 Realism/realist x, xiv, 6, 8, 9, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 73, 75, 85, 91, 113 Rice, Condoleezza 58
T Taylor, AJP 2 Teutonic xiv, 6 Tibet 5
The Threat of Geopolitics to International Relations Tito, Josip Broz 77, 97 Tolstoy, Leo 117, 118, 119 Transnational Corporations ix, 57, 58, 65 Treaty of Alliance 83 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk 4 Treaty of Establishment 83 Treaty of Guarantee 83, 84, 103 Treaty of Kücük Kainarji 93 Treaty of Lausanne 46, 80, 81 Treaty of San Stefano 75 Trotsky, Leon/Trotskyism 107, 112 Truman Doctrine 97 Thucydides 11, 17, 18 Turkey/ Turkish/Turks 11, 29, 30, 37, 38, 45, 46, 57, 74, 75, 76, 77, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 90, 95, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 116 U UN/United Nations 47, 49, 51, 53, 54, 84, 86, 102, 106 USA/America/American ix, xv, xvi, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 16, 17, 19, 20, 28, 29, 40, 41, 42, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 58, 59, 66, 67, 69, 76, 81, 82, 84, 85, 86,
87, 88, 89, 93, 96, 97, 101, 104, 109, 110, 114, 119, 120 USSR 8, 79, 110 Unzué, Orella, Luis, Jose xiv V Vatican 28 Venizelos, Eleftherios 77, 95 Venezuela 55 Vico, Giambattista 6, 26, 116, 119 W Wallerstein, Immanuel ix Walt, Stephen 21 Western 21, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 59, 66, 71, 73, 75, 90, 103, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112 Wolfowitz, Paul 17 World Island 3, 4, 10 World systems analysis 18 Y Yalta 79, 96 Yeltsin, Boris Nikolayevich 11, 107, 111 Younghusband, Francis 4 Yugoslavia 46, 77, 96, 107