ISBN:  9780-9833539-3-5     300 pp.
June, 2011   $17.95


    The term “Great Game” was coined in the nineteenth century to describe
    the rivalry between Russia and Britain. The ill-fated Anglo-Afghan war of
    1839–42 was precipitated by fears that the Russians were encroaching on
    British interests in India after Russia established a diplomatic and trade
    presence in Afghanistan. Already by the nineteenth century there was no
    such thing as neutral territory. The entire world was now a gigantic playing
    field for the major industrial powers, and Eurasia was the center of this
    playing field.

    The game motif is useful as a metaphor for the broader rivalry between
    nations and economic systems with the rise of imperialism and the pursuit
    of world power. This game has gone through two major transformations
    since the days of Russian-British rivalry, with the rise first of Communism
    and then of Islam as world forces opposing imperialism.

    The main themes of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great
    Games include:
  • US imperial strategy as an outgrowth of British imperialism, and its
    transformation following the collapse of the Soviet Union;
  • the significance of the creation of Israel with respect to the imperial
  • the repositioning of Russia in world politics after the collapse of the
    Soviet Union;
  • the emerging role of China and Iran in Eurasia;
  • the emerging opposition to the US and NATO.

    As the critical literature on NATO, the new Russia, and the Middle East is
    fragmented, this work brings these elements together in historical
    perspective with an understanding from the Arab/ Muslim world’s point of
    view, as it is the main focus of all the “Great Games”. It strives to bridge the
    gap between Western, Russian and Middle Eastern readers with an
    analysis that is accessible and appeals to all critical thinkers, and at the
    same time provides the tools to analyze the current game as it evolves.

    The Great Games of yore – Britain vs. Russia and their empires in the 19th
    century, and the US vs. the Soviet Union in the 20th century – no longer
    translate merely as the US vs. Russia or Russia/ China. A major new
    player is a collective one, NATO, which today is as vital as the emperor’s
    clothes to justify the global reach of US imperialism. Today, the “playing
    field” – the geopolitical context – is broader than it was in either the 19th or
    20th century games, though Eurasia continues to be “center field”, where
    most of the world’s population and energy resources lie.

    The existence of Israel is an anomaly which seriously complicates the
    shaping of the geopolitical game. Its roles in the Great Games as both
    colony and an imperial power in its own right, is analyzed in the context of
    the history of Judaism and its relations with both the western Christian and
    the Muslim worlds.


    Chapter 1 The Great Games: Imperialism in Central Asia and the Middle East
    Geopolitics of Central Asia and the Middle East
    The games as variants of imperialism

    Chapter 2 GGI: Competing empires
    Beginnings of GGI and goals
    Rules of the game and Strategies
    Finance Strategies
    Military-political Strategies
    Hard power
    Soft power
    Control of world resources
    Endgame 1914–45

    Chapter 3 GGII: Empire against Communism
    Beginnings of GGII and goals
    Rules of the game and Strategies
    Finance Strategies
    Military-political Strategies
    Decolonization, institutions (UN, EU, NATO, pactomania, CFR, Bilderberg,
    Trilateral Commission),
    Hard power (war, black ops, arms race, MAD),
    Soft power (aid, culture, Islamists, drugs)
    Control of world resources
    Endgame 1979–91
    Appendix: GGII imperial doctrines

    Chapter 4 GGIII: US-Israel – Postmodern imperialism
    The struggle to establish the new GGIII goals
    Rules of the game and Strategies
    Financial Strategies
    Military-political Strategies
    GGIII Imperial Doctrines, institutions (UN, NATO, pre/ postmodern
    Hard power (wars, military bases, missile defense, cyber warfare,
    arms production, nuclear weapons, proxies)
    Soft power (aid, NGOs, colour revolutions, co-opting regimes, anti-
    piracy, drugs, domestic repression)
    Control of world resources
    Appendix: Critique of ‘New NATO’ literature

    Chapter 5 GGIII: Israel – empire-and-a-half
    Judaism and Zionism
    Jews and the state through history
    Ideology – from diaspora ghetto mentality to nationalism, liberalism, communism and
    Rules of the game and Strategies – GGII&III
    Financial Strategies – Money and Finance – GGI, Mafia – GGIII
    GGIII Military-political Strategies
    GGIII doctrines,
    Hard power (wars, arms production, nuclear weapons, terrorism/
    mercenaries/ mafia)
    Soft power (politicide and co-opting the PLO, use of Islamists, spies/ assets/
    sayanim/ gatekeepers, Israel lobby, media manipulation, culture wars)
    Penetrating US imperial strategic thinking
    Control of world resources
    Appendix I: The Israel lobby and ‘Dog wags the tail’ debate

    Chapter 6 GGIII: Many players, many games
    Major players
    Appendix I: Critique of ‘New Great Game’ literature
    Appendix II: GGIII Alliances
    Appendix III: The ex-Soviet Central Asian republics in GGIII

Geopolitics and the Great Games

/ Eric Walberg

Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle
East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in
economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s. He has lived
in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer,
translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper,
Al Ahram,
he is also a regular contributor to
Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research,
Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.
His articles appear in Russian, German, Spanish and Arabic and are accessible at
his website Walberg was a moderator and speaker at the Leaders
for Change Summit in Istanbul in 2011.


    "Walberg’s volume is a bold attempt to make sense of the contemporary world we live
    in.  His analyses and interpretations provide another and more critical way of seeing the
    events that have occurred over the century.  For those who are searching for a critical
    perspective and stance towards US foreign policy and the role of Israel in global affairs,
    then Postmodern Imperialism is an ideal selection."
                                                                  European Journal of American Studies

    “Walberg’s book is a sharp and concise energizer package required to understand what
    may follow ahead of the Great 2011 Arab Revolt and related geopolitical earthquakes.
    It’s a carefully argued—and most of all, cliche-smashing—road map showing how the
    New Great Game in Eurasia is in fact part of a continuum since the mid-19th century.
    Particularly refreshing is how Walberg characterizes Great Games I, II and III—their
    strategies and their profiteers. Walberg also deconstructs an absolute taboo—at least in
    the West: how the US/Israeli embrace has been a key feature of the modern game. It
    will be hard to understand the complex machinery of post-imperialism without
    navigating this ideology-smashing road map.”
                          PEPE ESCOBAR, roving correspondent for Asia Times,
                                          author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is
                                                                       Dissolving into Liquid War (2007)

    "The author has succeeded in describing the conditions and objectives of the post-
    modern imperialism and to clarify it as a continuation of classical imperialism; the book
    contains a wealth of information, and will be an important reference for understanding
    the historical and current events, and expectations for the future."  
                                                                                                  ZIAD MUNA, AL JAZEERA

    "as much of a sober analytical study of European history as any issuing from the
    worldview of Eurocentric modernism..."
                                                                                    Muslim World Book News

    “Those who think that the “Great Game” played for control of Central Asia is a
    superannuated relic of Europe’s imperial past must read Walberg’s epic corrective to
    their egregious error. In extensive, richly textured and carefully documented detail he
    reveals the evolution of this competition into the planetary quest for dominance it has
    become, as well as the imperatives animating its new “players,” among whom many will
    find, to their surprise or consternation, tiny Israel and its symbiotic liaison with America
    Inc. Prime imperial architect, Zbigniew Brzezinski actually called the blood-soaked
    playing field The Grand Chessboard, but like all his rapacious forebears omitted to
    mention the pawns. Walberg places them at the heart of this much needed remediation
    of the sinister falsehoods propagated in a political culture manufactured from above
    and offers hope that this anti-human playboard may yet be overturned."
       PAUL ATWOOD, American Studies, University of Massachusetts
    and author of War and Empire: The American Way of Life (2010)

    "Imperialism is as alive today as in the days of the original Great Game. Central
    Asia and the Middle East are as strategically important today for the US and Great
    Britain as they were in earlier games, if for different reasons. Postmodern
    Imperialism is a continuation of Kwame Nkrumah’s Neocolonialism: The Last Stage
    of Imperialism (1965) and carries forward the struggle of the pen against the sword."
                             GAMAL NKHRUMAH, international editor, Al-Ahram Weekly, Cairo

    "Walberg’s provocative work traces the transformation of the imperial world
    through the twentieth century. It is a valuable resource for all those interested in
    how imperialism works, and is sure to spark discussion about the theory of
    imperialism and the dialectic of history."
                                           JOHN BELL, author of Capitalism and the Dialectic (2009)

    "In his brilliant and newly released book, “Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and
    the Great Game”, Eric Walberg astutely charts NATO’s role following the end of the
    Cold War. NATO “has become the centerpiece of the (US) empire’s military presence
    around the world, moving quickly to respond to US needs to intervene where the UN
    won’t as in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya.”"
                                                                                           RAMZY BAROUD, Al-Arabiya

    "Walberg's "Postmodern Imperialism" is a landmark text, written at a crucial
    moment in time. For the West, America and Americans, this may be a final wake-up
                                                                                     GILAD ALTZMON, Counterpunch

    “the best introduction to geopolitics that I have seen”
                                                                                    KEVIN BARRETT, Veterans Today

    “Eric Walberg’s treatise on the Great Games, on Empire, is an excellent read.  It is
    not a blow by blow account of the rise and fall of empires involved with the Great
    Games, but an accounting of their methods and raison d’etre.  It is a dense read,
    provocative, bold, touching on ideas that seldom appear in mainstream
    presentations.  It is a significant and important addition to the geopolitical and
    political-military thinking of the global cultural environment of finance and wars.”
                                           JIM MILES, Foreign Policy Journal and Palestine Chronicle


    To young people today, the world as a global village appears as a given, a ready-made order, as if human
    evolution all along was logically moving towards our high-tech, market-driven society, dominated by the
    wealthy United States. To bring the world to order, the US must bear the burden of oversize defense
    spending, capture terrorists, eliminate dictators, and warn ungrateful nations like China and Russia to
    adjust their policies so as not to hinder the US in its altruistic mission civilatrice.
    The reality is something else entirely, the only truth in the above characterization being the
    overwhelming military dominance of the US in the world today. The US itself is the source of much of the
    world’s terrorism, its 1.6 million troops in over a thousand bases around the world the most egregious
    terrorists, leaving the Osama bin Ladens in the shade, and other lesser critics of US policies worried about
    their job prospects.

    My own realization of the true nature of the world order began with my journey to England to study
    economics at Cambridge University in September 1973. I decided to take the luxury SS France ocean
    liner which offered a student rate of a few hundred dollars (and unlimited luggage), where I met American
    students on Marshall and Rhodes scholarships (I had the less prestigious Mackenzie King scholarship), and
    used my wiles to enjoy the perks of first class. The ship was a microcosm of society, a benign one. The
    world was my oyster and I wanted to share my joy with everyone.
    But I was in for a shock. Cambridge was also a microcosm of society, but a very different one. My friends
    at Cambridge included many Latin Americans, and the tragic events of that September 11 – the US-
    orchestrated coup against Salvador Allende in Chile – were what I was to cut my political teeth on. The
    look of despair on the face of a Chilean friend, suddenly a refugee whose friends and family were now in
    peril, was etched in my memory. That began my path of study and activism, and drove home to me the
    essence of the world political and economic system. Imperialism was not an abstraction, but a
    devastating force that destroyed good, idealistic people, whole peoples. Enemies of imperialism must be
    reconsidered, in the first place, the Soviet Union, which until then I had accepted as a dangerous and
    evil force in the world.
    I immediately began studying Russian and was determined to experience Soviet reality from the inside.
    The “Soviet threat” was the pretext for Nixon’s undermining the Chilean revolution. It was the pretext for
    the blockade of Cuba. It was the pretext for the horrors the US was inflicting on the Vietnamese. Was it
    really the evil empire which I had been indoctrinated into fearing and loathing my entire life? I had to
    find out for myself.

    Looking back on this turning point in my life, I can only marvel at the few slight breathing spaces in the
    Cold War that allowed people to reject the capitalist paradigm, to realize who the real enemy is. As
    opposed to Thatcher's TINA (There Is No Alternative) – There Was An Alternative (TWAA)! Fear of this
    ‘enemy’ quickly evaporated among intelligent mainstream people in the West during the periods of
    detente (1941–48, 1963–68, 1973–79). These brief respites were tactical retreats in the long-term fight by
    imperialism, biding its time.
    My studies were framed by the coup in Chile in September 1973 and the liberation of Saigon in the
    spring of 1975. Celebrating the latter moment with my friends in the university cafeteria is also etched in
    my mind. The world belonged to us. The low point for US imperialism, the high point (the last, it turned
    out) for the Soviet Union. I studied with Marxists such as Maurice Dobb, and neo-Ricardians such as Piero
    Sraffa, Luigi Pasinetti, and Joan Robinson, and suddenly saw the twentieth century through new lenses.

    Upon my return to Toronto, I sought out what I learned were called “fellow travelers”. There weren't so
    many as I expected. In desperation, I looked in the phone book under USSR, but there was not even a
    Soviet Consulate in Canada’s largest city (though there was a Bulgarian, a Czech, even a Cuban one). I
    eventually stumbled across the Canada-USSR Friendship Society, a motley collection of primarily Slavic
    and east European immigrants, Jews, with a smattering of WASP peaceniks. A friendly if doctrinaire
    group, with no sign of any super spies like Kim Philby. In retrospect, I see that the peacenik contingent
    was more conspicuous in its absence.
    With great difficulty, I got to Moscow in 1979 to study Russian at Moscow State University (MGU) through
    the Friendship Society, a bizarre and memorable experience to say the least. I fell sick and became sicker
    after a short stay in a filthy hospital, but managed to stick it out till we were peremptorily shunted to
    unfinished Olympic accommodations in order to make room for newly revolutionary Ethiopian students at

    The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan took place as we trudged through the freezing mud to our new
    residence in December, the subsequent collapse of détente playing out on an international stage my own
    frustrations with “real existing socialism”, a system that left no room for criticism or doubt in the face of
    much nonsense and cruelty.
    My former enthusiasm for Soviet-style communism* was gone; however, on returning to North America, I
    was faced with the mindless propaganda and belligerence of Reagan America, and I realized that my
    love affair with the ornery Soviet beast was not over – TWAA. When Gorbachev dismantled censorship
    (glasnost) and began his ill-fated economic reforms (perestroika), I landed a job at Moscow News. My
    sense of urgency in getting there ASAP was not ill-founded, as it turned out.
    The brief respites from the Cold War and this final crazy attempt to create a ‘nice’ socialism were indeed
    remarkable. The US actually feared and respected another country, and that country held out its
    diplomatic hand in friendship, only to find itself subverted by its new ‘friend’. The Bushes and now Obama
    have all vowed since never to let another country challenge the US militarily again. How ironic, now that
    military superiority has lost all meaning in an age of dirty bombs and anthrax.
    The Soviet Union produced environmental disasters, notably the death of the Aral Sea. Collective
    farming enforced at gunpoint destroyed a vibrant peasant tradition. The gulags and Stalinist repression
    were a terrible tragedy. But colonialism and fascism killed far more innocent people, and both were
    aggressive, starting wars with other countries. The Soviet Union was a one-party system, a dictatorship, but
    not an aggressively expanding empire, contrary to what we were and are indoctrinated into believing.
    For all its political flaws, it showed the viability of a non-capitalist way of organizing technologically
    advanced urban society. Its economic flaws – inefficiency, sloppiness, low standards, ecological
    disregard – were countered by its pluses – guaranteed employment, free public services, encouragement
    of modest material needs, broad access to culture, security for the individual, a less competitive more
    egalitarian lifestyle. This is how it was understood in the third world, where its passing is still mourned.
    Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, the main foe of Israel, I hadn’t paid special attention to the Middle
    East, assuming that as the anti-imperialist forces grew, Israel would be pressured to make peace. The
    assassination of Yitzak Rabin in 1994 and the ascendancy of the neocons made it clear that this was not
    going to happen.
    The defeat of communism meant that the only remaining anti-imperialist cultural force was Islam, and I
    was drawn to Uzbekistan in Central Asia, with a vibrant Muslim heritage. This culminated in another major
    turning point for me – watching the twin towers collapse 28 years after the “9/11” coup in Chile, on that
    more familiar “9/11” of 2001, in bleak post-Soviet Tashkent.
    My immediate reaction was that their collapse simply could not be the work of a band of poorly trained
    Muslims orchestrated by someone in a cave in neighboring Afghanistan. Subsequent study has confirmed
    to me that the events of 2001 had far more to do with US imperialism – and Israel – than Islam.
    I am fortunate to have lived my life on both sides of the “Iron Curtain” and now in the heart of the
    supposed enemy today – the Islamic world. This has given me the opportunity to experience alternative
    realities, to step back from my western heritage and see more clearly how the western world confronts and
    plays with other countries and cultures. There are many such journeys of discovering by people coming of
    age politically. I hope my reflections provide readers the opportunity to step back from their frame of
    reference, and help them understand the games we are forced to play.

    *A note on the use of the term communism, capitalism and imperialism: communism refers to both the
    theory as proposed by Marx and the attempts to realize the theory as embodied in the social formations of
    post-1917 Russia and post-WWII eastern Europe. While the latter strayed far from the theory, they were
    nonetheless inspired by Marx. Critics may replace “communism” with “failed workers’ state” or “state
    capitalism” as they like. This does not undermine the overall thesis about communism made here. I treat
    the terms capitalism and imperialism as scientific terms as used by Marx and Lenin. The Soviet Union
    became a ruthless dictatorship under Stalin, but the logic of it and its relations with eastern Europe was
    not imperialist. To use such terms cavalierly to refer to noncapitalist social formations would reduce any
    analysis to rubble -- a kind of intellectual 9/11, an apt metaphor for how US capitalist mind-control
    prevents any real opposition from taking root.

Eric with protesters in Tahrir Square at
the statue of General Abdul Munim Riad
who died in the War of Attrition 1967--1970
photo : Mahmoud Shaban)
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