The Secret War: Gladio and the Battle for Eurasia
by James Corbett
So what is this “Great Game” metaphor that is so upsetting to the Western establishment? The “Great Game” refers to the struggle for supremacy between the British and the Russians. The Game broadly took place from the signing of the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813 until the Anglo-Russian convention of 1907, but although the term was coined in the early 19th century it didn’t hit the popular imagination until Rudyard Kipling’s Kim was published in 1901.
The article was called “The Geographical Pivot of History” and was written by Sir Halford John Mackinder PC, the Director of the London School of Economics that was founded by the Fabian Society and folded into the heart of the British establishment in the University of London in 1900. (The cornerstone of the School’s Old Building on Houghton Street was laid by King George V himself). Mackinder is considered the father of the study of geopolitics.
“The Geographical Pivot of History” is the document that is often said to be the founding document of geopolitics and constitutes the first formulation of what would come to be called the “Heartland Theory.
“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;
Who rules the World-Island commands the World.”
Looking at the map of what Mackinder had in mind for the Heartland it’s apparent that the “heart” of this Heartland is indeed the Central Asia-Caucasus region. This is what Russia and Britain were so intent on wresting from each other in the 19th century Great Game: control of the region from which the building of a world empire would be possible.
But fast forward to 1997. In that year, Zbigniew Brzezinski released his book “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives” (evidently Brzezinski wasn’t so shy about calling world domination for what it is). Brzezinski does not mince words about the Eurasian Heartland and how important it is to American “global primacy”:
“For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia. For half a millennium, world affairs were dominated by Eurasian powers and peoples who fought with one another for regional domination and reached out for global power. Now a non-Eurasian power is preeminent in Eurasia—and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.”
He goes on to refine Mackinder’s “Heartland” notion down to a specific area he calls the Eurasian Balkans. This area is precisely the Central Asia-Caucasus region. He explains its importance thus:
“The Eurasian Balkans, astride the inevitably emerging transportation network meant to link more directly Eurasia’s richest and most industrious western and eastern extremities, are also geopolitically significant.
The use of the metaphor of the Balkans is doubly evocative for students of history; it represents not only the strife and ethnic conflict we saw in the “Balkanization” of Yugoslavia toward the end of the 20th century, but also the powder keg of tensions that ignited the First World War at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Old and New Great Game are similar in many ways. The Old Great Game sprang from British fears that Russian incursion into Central Asia would threaten to topple their hold over the crown jewel of the British Empire, India; the New Great Game springs from the fear that Russian and/or Chinese dominance over Central Asia and the Caucasus would prevent NATO from achieving its goal of “full spectrum dominance.