FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Empire of Chaos

by

The best writers, the best recorders of historical information are those that are inside the arenas of conflict, whether it is military or economic.   The likes of Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb, Chris Hedges, Alex Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair have all entered into, witnessed, and written very strongly and effectively on many geopolitical problems that plague our era.  Within the group of contemporary writers that examine the hearts of darkness and illuminate a different possible path, the writings of Pepe Escobar need to be considered as among the top echelon.

Pepe Escobar’s most recent work, Empire of Chaos: The Roving Eye Collection, is a compilation of many of his articles published widely on various web sites, with the “Roving Eye” portion rising from his column title with Asia Times Online.   It is, as per Escobar himself, a procedure of “attempting first drafts of history.”  Because of that, while the observations are solid and well integrated, a few points of conjecture miss the mark – but no claim is made that his writing is infallible, and even the misses highlight the significance of some important geopolitical shifts within the “empire of chaos.”

The essential features of the empire of chaos, “where a plutocracy progressively projects its own internal disintegration upon the whole world,” are “a progressive drift towards not  conventional war but above all economic war – manifestations of Liquid War.”  The purpose of that chaos is “to prevent an economic integration of Eurasia that would leave the U.S. a non-hegemon, or worse still, an outsider.”

The book covers the era from early 2009 up to late 2014.  The central idea being the empire of chaos and its range of activities to thwart the Eurasian integration by way of pipelines (Pipelinestan), road, rail, and cyberlinks from China through various routes to western Europe, the “New Silk Road.”  Along the way it touches on what are considered by the western mainstream media to be separate topics, perhaps united by an underlying violence, but nothing of a unified geopolitical attempt at preventing the loss of western (Washington) hegemony.

It is a wonderful read, occasionally repetitive due to the nature of it being a series of compiled distinct articles into a whole, sometimes humorous – generally rather dark – accounting of modern history or current events.  It is sometimes whimsical when writing about a particular cultural aspect of his sojourns or when critiquing another author or activist.   If history could be written/read this way, there would be far more historians in academic circles – this is not the history of the dominant media, but that of an educated roving eye capable of putting ideas and actions together into a coherent, somewhat scary whole.

Most of what is written is still current and part of today’s geopolitical turmoil.  Two of his ‘misses’ are indicative of that.  Early in the work he writes, “no French or German government would even contemplate being hostage of a New Cold War between Russia and the U.S.”  This of course is not what is occurring at the moment as the U.S. and its western minions attempt to constrain the “New Silk Road” with economic sanctions (war by another means than diplomacy) that are having serious escobarchaosblowback on both France (think Mistrals and agriculture) and on Germany (think investments and energy).  Of course, the final outcome of this is not yet seen or written, as blowback may yet take events where Washington does not want them to go.

Again these misses are not critical faults of analysis but more a result of being blindsided by very unexpected turns of events, with most of the unexpectedness coming from Russia’s reaction to events.  The second miss that highlights a possible large geopolitical shift is Russia’s cancellation of the Southstream gas route through the Ukraine, and a new accord to build a major gas line through Turkey up to a transit point at the Greek border.  As recently as last May, Escobar had indicated that “cancellation [by Europe] was not in the cards.”  That of course is technically correct, in that Russia cancelled the project, not Europe/Washington, so perhaps not a miss at all.

The whole breadth of Eurasia is Pepe Escobar’s palette, with vignettes from south and east Asia, Central Asia (Turkmenistan plays a significant role for gas/oil and the New Silk Road), Iran, Pakistan,  Afghanistan (including the idea of Balochistan), India, obviously the north – Russia, on into all the problems of the Middle East and the violence and wars there are interconnected with attempts at oil resource control by the U.S. hegemon, and then on up to Europe and Germany in particular.

Some comments along the way highlight some ideas that do not come to light within western mainstream media.  For Turkmenistan, the pipeline agreements there “virtually guarantees Russia’s crucial geopolitical status as the top gas supplier to Europe and a crucial supplier to China as well.”  No wonder the U.S. wants to take Russia down!  The locals see it as “one of the key guarantees of global security,” which “is not what they [Washington] had in mind.”

While discussing China, Escobar looks at the contrast of China’s peaceful emergence with the U.S.’ “full spectrum dominance,”   discusses how low interest rates (ZIRP) are “seriously impacting global asset prices and encouraging speculation,” at the same time that the U.S. is attempting military encirclement versus China’s independent and integrative economic policy.  Ironically, China is the “banker of the current global superpower,” but is in full stride towards making a “yellow BRIC Road” where “everybody else in the Global South is.”  The BRICs have “a common agenda…not to antagonize Washington…that, with the exception of military hegemony, is largely impotent,” while the G7 countries are “reduced…to irrelevancy.”

Europe on the other hand, part of the irrelevancy, “now exists primarily as a forward operating base for war around the globe.”  It “will be in decline as long as it remains inextricably intertwined with and continues to defer to…Washington.”   With Europe currently not supporting “capital making concessions” to workers and employees, “at similar crossroads in the past, you are as likely to find…outright fascism.”   With the EU “slouching toward irrelevance” and the U.S. in decline, Escobar concludes, “When capitalism hits the intensive care unit, the ones paying the hospital bill are always the most vulnerable – and the bill is invariably paid in blood.”

Other countries attract notice.  Iran is not isolated. Japan, “as long as it is occupied by Wall Street and the Pentagon, it will live in eternal recession.”  Syria is “a Western proxy war, with the GCC acting as a ‘vanguard’ for NATO,” all “with exponential inbuilt blowback.”   Mali’s dirty little war, supposedly again about terrorism, is once again about resources – oil, gold and uranium.   Neo-naziism is supported in Ukraine, jihadists in Syria. The “Grand Chessboard” is “drenched in blood.”

The more recent articles are more centred – for obvious reasons – on Syria and the Ukraine, both seen as means of dividing Russia from Europe, and Germany in particular, while retaining/regaining control of oil/gas routes, and thus the protection of the petrodollar as global reserve currency.

Empire of Chaos is not a pleasant read in the sense that it is about the current madness and mayhem caused by the “exceptionalist” hegemony of the globally military dominant power.  It does provide hope while critically examining events that have not necessarily transpired as desired by the U.S./NATO alliance.   Some of the blowback to come will be of the sensationalized variety that is good for the ability of the twenty-four hour mainstream news channels to maintain the ‘fear’ factor domestically.  Much of the blowback will be of the form of a gradual increase in the economic relationships of China, Russia, (all the BRICS), and the majority of the nations of the ‘global south’.

In the meantime, Empire of Chaos is an essential and entertaining if severe read that will bring you up to date on the actual impacts of U.S. geopolitical policy.  From there, it is easy to follow and stay abreast of the side of the issues as seen by the majority of the world by continuing to read “The Roving Eye” as written as the first drafts of history in motion.

Jim Miles lives in Vernon, British Columbia.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
Mike Whitney
Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo
Ellen Brown
“We’ll Look at Everything:” More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
John Stauber
The Rise and Fall of Obamacare: Will the Inside Story Ever be Told?
Ted Rall
Ameri-Splaining
Michael J. Sainato
Mainstream Media Continues Absolving Itself From Clinton, Trump Election Failures
Ralph Nader – Mark Green
Divest or Face Impeachment: an Open Letter to Donald Trump
Gareth Porter
US Airstrikes on Syrian Troops: Report Data Undermine Claim of “Mistake”
Martha Burke
What Trumponomics Means for Women
Ramzy Baroud
Fatah, Hold Your Applause: Palestinian Body Politic Rotten to the Core
Steve Horn
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Introduced First Bill Exempting Fracking from Drinking Water Rules
Joe Ware
The Big Shift: Why Banks Need to Stop Investing Our Money Into Fossil Fuels
Juliana Barnet
On the Ground at Standing Rock
Franklin Lamb
Aleppo Update: An Inspiring Return to the Bombed Out National Museum
Steve Kelly
Hidden Harmony: on the Perfection of Forests
December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail