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Silk Roads, Night Trains, and the Third Industrial Revolution in China
The U.S. is transfixed by its multibillion-dollar electoral circus. The European Union is paralyzed by austerity, fear of refugees, and now all-out jihad in the streets of Paris. So the West might be excused if it’s barely caught the echoes of a Chinese version of Roy Orbison’s “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” And... Read More
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How China and Russia Are Running Rings Around Washington
Let’s start with the geopolitical Big Bang you know nothing about, the one that occurred just two weeks ago. Here are its results: from now on, any possible future attack on Iran threatened by the Pentagon (in conjunction with NATO) would essentially be an assault on the planning of an interlocking set of organizations --... Read More
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New Silk Roads and the Chinese Vision of a Brave New (Trade) World
BEIJING -- Seen from the Chinese capital as the Year of the Sheep starts, the malaise affecting the West seems like a mirage in a galaxy far, far away. On the other hand, the China that surrounds you looks all too solid and nothing like the embattled nation you hear about in the Western media,... Read More
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As Washington “Pivots” to Asia, China Does the Eurasian Pirouette
November 18, 2014: it’s a day that should live forever in history. On that day, in the city of Yiwu in China’s Zhejiang province, 300 kilometers south of Shanghai, the first train carrying 82 containers of export goods weighing more than 1,000 tons left a massive warehouse complex heading for Madrid. It arrived on December... Read More
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The Future of a Beijing-Moscow-Berlin Alliance
A specter haunts the fast-aging “New American Century”: the possibility of a future Beijing-Moscow-Berlin strategic trade and commercial alliance. Let’s call it the BMB. Its likelihood is being seriously discussed at the highest levels in Beijing and Moscow, and viewed with interest in Berlin, New Delhi, and Tehran. But don’t mention it inside Washington’s Beltway... Read More
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Russia and China Do Pipelineistan
HONG KONG -- A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass -- at the expense of the United States. And no wonder Washington is anxious. That alliance is already a done deal in a variety... Read More
Two Nations, Two Dreams, One Pacific
Yes, the predictions are in. By 2016 (or 2030?), China will have economically outpaced the U.S. So say the economic soothsayers. And behind them lie all those, in the Pentagon and elsewhere in Washington, who secretly fear that, if nothing is done to contain it, China will within decades be dominant in the Pacific, the... Read More
Washington’s Iranian Future
Imagine, for a moment, a world in which the United States is a regional power, not a superpower. A world in which the globe’s mightiest nation, China, invades Mexico and Canada, deposing the leaders of both countries. A world in which China has also ringed the Americas, from Canada to Central America, with military bases.... Read More
Neoliberal Dragons, Eurasian Wet Dreams, and Robocop Fantasies
Last December, a super-secret RQ-170 Sentinel, part of a far-reaching program of CIA drone surveillance over Iran, went down (or was shot down, or computer-jacked and hacked down) and was recovered intact by the Iranian military. This week, an Iranian general proudly announced that his country’s experts had accessed the plane’s computer -- he offered... Read More
Following the Money in the Iran Crisis
These days, with a crisis atmosphere growing in the Persian Gulf, a little history lesson about the U.S. and Iran might be just what the doctor ordered. Here, then, are a few high- (or low-) lights from their relationship over the last half-century-plus: Summer 1953: The CIA and British intelligence hatch a plot for a... Read More
The Decline and Fall of Just About Everyone
Pepe Escobar, that ever-energetic, globetrotting correspondent for Asia Times, has long been on the Pipelinestan beat for TomDispatch, covering the skeletal geography of energy that girds the planet. Today, however, he leaves pipelines behind to consider the planet they service -- or is it we who service them? His topic: if the West is going... Read More
So Many Ways to Strut Your Democratic Stuff in a New World
They can’t help themselves. Really, they can’t. Like children, the most monstrous of secret police outfits evidently come to believe themselves immortal. They lose all ability to imagine that they might ever go down and so keep records to the very moment of their collapse. Those records, so copious, damning, and unbearably detailed (which doesn’t... Read More
Future historians may well agree that the 21st century Silk Road first opened for business on December 14, 2009. That was the day a crucial stretch of pipeline officially went into operation, linking the fabulously energy-rich state of Turkmenistan (via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) to Xinjiang province in China’s far west. Hyperbole did not deter the... Read More
Iran and the Pipelineistan Opera
Back before email, a world traveler who wanted to keep in touch and couldn't just pop into the nearest Internet café, might drop you a series of postcards from one exotic locale after another. Pepe Escobar, that edgy, peripatetic globe-trotting reporter for one of my favorite on-line publications, Asia Times, has been doing just that... Read More
Pipelineistan in Conflict
Back in March, Pepe Escobar, that itchy, edgy global reporter for one of my favorite on-line publications, Asia Times, began laying out the great, ongoing energy struggle across Eurasia, or what he likes to call Pipelinestan for its web of oil and natural gas pipelines. In his first report, he dealt with the embattled energy... Read More
The bloodstream of the global energy war is the pipelines that crisscross the planet’s potential imperial battlefields.
Introduction by Tom Engelhardt At one point last week, the price of a barrel of crude oil—which had risen as high as $147 last July and, with the global economic meltdown, hit a low of $32 in 2009—rebounded above $51. Prices at the local gas pump are expected to rise as well in the coming... Read More
Five Ways to Think about Iran under the Gun
It's like old times in the Persian Gulf. As of this week, a second aircraft carrier battle task force is being sent in -- not long after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Michael Mullen highlighted planning for "potential military courses of action" against Iran; just as the Bush administration's catechism of charges against the... Read More