Book Review – Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics & The Great Games by Eric Walberg


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Walberg, Eric. Postmodern imperialism: geopolitics and the great games. SCB Distributors, 2011.

Recent history has introduced a period of heightened military conflicts, uprisings and contentions. This has resulted in many shifts in global patterns. Competitiveness between empires has intensified and further complicated the quest for understanding the global political dynamic. In his book, Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics & the Great Games, author Eric Wahlberg seeks to clear the air. The author’s main premise is to illustrate the shift from a bi-polar global dynamic, once dominated by the US on one end and the Soviet Union on the other, to a unipolar world, where the US is largely uncontested in its position as the global hegemony. Proxy wars, insurgent movements and radical militants have filled this void, which, as the author argues, has pinned the US and its main ally against anti colonial movements, Israel, against a loosely defined cooperative of movements and states, as well as a ambiguous enemy – the terrorist.

The author presents a historical backdrop from which he draws his assertions. This stretches from the earliest expression of the Great Games to their modern manifestations, as the Wars on Terror, and the neoconservative crusade for democracy. The consequence is increased exploitation of resources and the rise of untraceable insurgent networks that target their national governments as much as western societies. The double-dealings and inconsistencies of the West are evident here, which taints the reputation of western civilization. This is underscored by the author’s sympathies with the anti-capitalistic Soviet philosophical foundation.

The book is divided into five segments, organized chronologically, in which the author elaborates on the historical backdrop of the Great Game dynamic which has led to the current landscape. Wahlberg begins with the 19th century onset of the great games as played out between the British and Russian empires, followed by the communist revolution, WWII, the Cold War and the post 9/11 era. The author focuses on the British tactic of pinning forces against each other, a strategy which has been arguably adopted by the US in modern times, evidenced by its double-dealings with authoritarians and the radical insurgent movements threatening to depose them.

The three major sections in the book are categorized as GG I, II and III. GG stands for Great Games, and each numeric represents a period in time, in respective chronological order, beginning with the games as they panned out in the early 19th century, onto the WWII period, and finally, to GGIII, the post-cold war era. GGI refers to imperialism that took place during the nineteenth century until WWII. GGII covers the Cold War in which the two global superpowers, the USA and the USSR, competed for global influence.  GGIII is focused on the post-Cold War era beginning in 1989 to the present. Imperialism cannot be discussed without dissecting the role of the British Empire, a main focus of the author throughout the book. The British assumed hegemonic power by constructing a global economic network which would serve the interests of the core to the misfortune of the periphery, and where diplomacy failed, the use of military power was utilized.  The key focus of the book is the Middle East and Central Asia, “the heart of Eurasia”. It has been argued that the Eurasian heartland is a key geographic location; in other words, he who that controls the heartland controls the world.

The author suggests that in modern times, Islamic movements have replaced communism as the new anti-imperial force. The two primary agents of imperialism, argues Wahlberg, is an alliance between the US and Israel. The war on Iraq, and subsequent interventions in Libya and Egypt, are expressions of this new imperialism, and perhaps fall right into the hands of the main players in the global Great Games. The author suggests increasing tensions and growing insurgencies as a direct result of a stubborn imperial alliance between the US & Israel. Rising tensions in the Middle East and the growth of radical Islam in Central Asia are indicators of this reality. The US’ inconsistent foreign policy will only further retaliatory measures. The players of the great game must decide once and for all what is of greater priority; playing a fair game, or winning.

Saudi Arabia: Now What?


The King of Saudi Arabia is dead.

His successor? Crown-Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

This is an opportunity for Arabs to vent their frustrations; duly, since Saudi Arabia is one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, while the Arab people remain largely part of the third world.

This vast oil-wealth, coupled with the establishment of Israel in 1948, and generally speaking, Saudi’s negligence towards the plight of the Palestinian, pan-Arab cause has certainly made these criticisms legitimate.

Where are we headed?

It looks like not much can change. The system in Saudi Arabia is deeply rooted. It is the hotbed of ultraconservative Islam & ironically, it is responsible for exporting the ideology, funding & support of international terrorism. Remember, bin Laden was a Saudi. His family is still there.

But while this desire to criticize our fellow Arab leaders is tempting, it is important for us to remember that our aim as an Arab people is to unite, empower one another against our common oppressor.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has let down the Arab people. It’s concerns with economic & security interests, as revealed by WikiLeaks documents, take precedence over human rights.

How can Saudi Arabia juggle it’s economic interests & reconcile its relationship with the Arab world; namely the resistance—Palestine that is.

Regardless of our imperfections as an Arab nation we mustn’t forget that our fellow Arabs are not the causes of our misery. Terrorist organizations & extremist groups, & pro-Israeli agents are keen on exploiting our anger. Right now, groups like ISIS & Al Qaeda are working to taint the image of Islam & to distract Arabs from their actual oppression, Israel, and to direct it towards their own leaders. Such is the case with Syria & President Bashar al-Assad.

But not all Arab leaders & not all muslims are fanatic dictators. The erratic cases, such as Saddam Hussein & Gaddafi took care of themselves. But even now, what progress have these countries made? Very little, which goes to show that true change & justice in the Middle East has little to do with revolutions & overthrowing leaders as much as it does with unity, wisdom & loyalty.

May King Abdullah rest in peace. May justice be brought to the Arabian Peninsula & the rest of the Arab world. May the hypocrisies & extremes of few be exposed & distinguished from the light of many. May Palestine one day be free.

Solutions?

Introduce proper economic reforms in order to balance spoils of oil wealth in the region. Reconcile relationships between neighboring countries which have been divided by foreign colonialists; this includes relationship between Iran & Saudi, Syria & Turkey, Egypt & the rest of the Arab world. Essentially what we need is unity, and the greatest threat to this comes in two forms: religious/ideological fanaticism & foreign imperialism, which are in essence inseparable. Socio-economic & political unity are preconditions for improving living conditions for Arabs and most importantly, for focusing on the crux of the pan-Arab tradition; the liberation of Palestine.

Who are the greatest agents of religious extremism & global imperialism? Well let’s just say it comes largely from the West; mainly conservative branches of government; and it just so happens to be their most crucial interest in the region happens to be Israel.

Before accusations of anti-semitism are leveled against me let it be known that the assertion that Judaism & Zionism are indistinguishable is downright incorrect, firstly because Arabs are semites too, and also because criticism of Israeli expansionism has nothing to do with hatred of a group of people as it does with voicing the struggle of an occupied people…as a matter of fact, the irony is that Palestinians are the ones suffering from the racist ideology of Zionism; which is essentially the relentless justification of expansionism & the insistence on the need for an ethno-religious political, ‘Jewish’ entity to exist…despite the terrible consequences & violations of human rights which it entails. Sounds like religious stubbornness to me. And that is precisely what it is.

Here is a quote via The Associated Press, referencing Crown-Prince of Saudi Arabia Salman himself, who will be crowned King on this evening:

In discussions w/ U.S. diplomats in 2007, Salman added that Jewish and Christian extremism has fed Islamic extremism, even warning that the United States will one day see a threat from Jewish and Christian radicals. He told Americans key 2 bringing stability to ME is 2 resolve Israeli-Palestinian conflict, adding Israel is “a burden on the U.S.”

With President Obama & John Kerry snubbing Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the US; there is no telling how much longer the strained relationship will endure.

On Saudi Arabia & the Roots of Arab Elitism


Kingdom Centre

1.  A sense of entitlement and exclusiveness emanates from the Arabian peninsula, namely from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen & the UAE, which has its roots embedded in a version of an Islamic narrative that ties the Arabs of this region to ancient jewish and semitic tribes.

2. This has concentrated wealth in the particular tribe of Al Saud, leaving the spoils of the Middle East’s vast oil reserves in the hands of this family, tribe and what has become a political ‘cult’.

3. The Arabian peninsula was a series of loosely ruled mandates and kingdoms, until the Saudi defeat of the kingdom of Hejaz. Al Saud would refer to this as the unification of Saudi Arabia while in reality it was a conquest of land, likely supported by colonial agents such as the British and the Americans, who saw the economic and political gains of a religiously zealous and feared, imperial and unquestioned authority such as the House of Saud.

4. This contrasts with the culture that formed the modern nation-state of Syria, which sits on the other side of the political spectrum of Middle Eastern politics. Circumstance, geography and history carved a different fate for the Syrian nation-state. Diversity and a constant foreign threat dictated the politics of Syria, and focus on collective justice pinned the country against their neighbors, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey & Kuwait as pawns of global powers, namely the West (US, UK, France, Germany).

5. The establishment of Israel by the UK and with the help and support of the vast majority of Western countries, further exasperated and intensified the exclusivist culture of bigotry, racism, hypocrisy and fundamentalism. Like the Saudis, Israelis have used prejudiced narratives to horde semitism as their own.

6. History suggests however that semitism has roots in Syria, bilad al-Sham having linguistic ties to Shem, one of the sons of Noah, a prominent biblical figure in the religions of Islam & Judaism (amongst others).

7. In Saudi Arabia, (and in Israel, and in parts of the West) where capitalism has taken hold, a culture of ownership of other human beings and of natural resources has turned rampant and has led to the theft of basic human rights; rights to expression, freedom & dignity.

8. The emphasis on paranoias of individual power-hunger has led tribes and cults like al Saud to prey on their opponents and to garner support. Saudi Arabia is among the most destabilizing forces in the world, largely veiled by their luxurious lifestyles. They’ve successfully pinned all opponents and contentious movements as anti-freedom, similar to the American strategy as pinning foes as freedom-haters.

9. One man’s freedom is another man’s slavery. Saudi Arabia is a victim of the Western capitalist machine. Even America is a victim of the Capitalist machine. America is the bastard daughter of imperialism. In today’s world, it is battling itself. In America, war is fought between democrats and republicans and independents and etc. But the rest of the world is also fighting America’s war. In Iraq, pro-west vs anti-west groups split the nation. In Syria, Libya and Egypt, similar scenarios unfold.

10. Communism was portrayed by politicians and ideologues of the 19th and 20th centuries as a threat to the capitalism of the West when in reality it was merely a guised reflection of the same ideology bent on ownership of human beings and natural resources. This is what happens when ideas become our Gods. The ‘authentic’ resistance to Western imperialism turned out to be a hoax, a farce, a deception, carefully orchestrated.

11. Imperialism is the umbrella idea, and all other ideas are expressions of it. The enemy of imperialism is national sovereignty. Germany, America, Syria, the actual would-be nation-state of the Gulf, Japan, China, etc – these are all nations that are threatened by imperialism. Imperialism, the ideology that takes over nations, owns humans, and resources, is expressed in today’s world through Zionism, American Republicanism, Chinese Communism, Russian Oligarchy, Saudi Wahhabism, Lebanese Phalangism.

12. Once imperialism is rooted out, national & global criminals will be exposed. The world cannot afford such power-hunger. The crime is not desire. The crime is not excess. The crime is power-hunger. Anyone who says different is using it as a distraction. All men deserve freedom, dignity and the right to expression and prosperity – and the only barrier to these ambitions is the kind of ideology that seeks to justify suppressing them – imperial dogmatic religions.

13. The great evil is not atheism. It is not theism. It is both. Together, because ultimately the roots of both of these is a desire for power. The true believer is not held hostage to either vanity.

14. God save the Middle East and bring the world to justice.