by F William Engdahl
Perhaps they had a chance back during the Obama days when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed her amusing “Reset” in USA-Russia relations to the new Medvedew Presidency following Putin’s rotation to the seat of Prime Minister in March 2009. Had Washington been a bit more perceptive and offered serious alternatives, it is conceivable that Washington would today have a geopolitical isolation of their second major problem on the Eurasian Continent, namely, the Peoples’ Republic of China. Recently the US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, Wess Mitchell, testified to the Senate where he candidly revealed the true reasons for current Washington and London campaigns and sanctions against Russia. It has nothing to do with faked allegations of US election interference; it has nothing to do with poorly-staged false flag poisoning of the Russian Skripals. It’s far more fundamental and takes us back to the era before the First World War more than a century ago.
In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 21 August, Wess Mitchell, the successor to Victoria Nuland, gave an extraordinarily honest statement of real US geopolitical strategy towards Russia. It revealed a bit more honesty apparently than the US State Department wanted, because they quickly sanitized their published version on the department website.
In his opening remarks to the Senate committee members Mitchell stated:
The starting point of the National Security Strategy is the recognition that America has entered a period of big-power competition, and that past US policies have neither sufficiently grasped the scope of this emerging trend nor adequately equipped our nation to succeed in it.
Then he continues with the following extraordinary admission:
Contrary to the hopeful assumptions of previous administrations, Russia and China are serious competitors that are building up the material and ideological wherewithal to contest US primacy and leadership in the 21st Century. It continues to be among the foremost national security interests of the United States to prevent the domination of the Eurasian landmass by hostile powers. The central aim of the administration’s foreign policy is to prepare our nation to confront this challenge by systematically strengthening the military, economic, and political fundaments of American power.
In the State Department’s later sanitized version, the original text, “It continues to be among the foremost national security interests of the United States to prevent the domination of the Eurasian landmass by hostile powers”. And the sentence, “The central aim of the administration’s foreign policy is to prepare our nation to confront this challenge by systematically strengthening the military, economic and political fundaments of American power”, mysteriously were deleted. Because it was formal testimony presented to the Senate, however, the Senate version remains true to his original text, at least of 7 September 2018. The State Department has been caught in a huge blunder.
If we pause to reflect on the meaning behind the words of Wess Mitchell, it’s pretty crude and wholly illegal in terms of the UN Charter, though Washington today seems to have forgotten that solemn document. Mitchell says US national security priority is to, “… prevent the domination of the Eurasian landmass by hostile powers”. He clearly means powers hostile to efforts of Washington and Nato to dominate Eurasia, ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than a quarter century ago.
But, wait. Mitchell earlier cites the two dominant powers who combined, he says, are the current prime foe of US global control. Mitchell states explicitly, “Russia and China are serious competitors that are building up the material and ideological wherewithal to contest US primacy and leadership”. But US control of Eurasia then means US control of Russia, China, and environs. Eurasia is their land space. The Wess Mitchell Senate declaration is a kind of obscene global rollout of the 19th Century USA Monroe Doctrine: Eurasia is ours and “hostile powers” such as China or Russia who try to interfere in their own sovereign space, become de facto “enemy”. Then the formulation “building up the material and ideological wherewithal …” What’s that supposed to mean as justification for Washington policy to prepare a military response? Both nations are energetically moving, despite repeated Western economic warfare, to build their economic infrastructure independent of Nato control. That is understandable. But Mitchell admits it is for Washington Casus Belli.
To realize what a strategic blunder the Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs made with that one careless sentence and why the State Department rushed to delete his remarks, a brief excursion into basic Anglo-American geopolitical doctrine is useful. Here, discussion of the worldview of the godfather of geopolitics, British geographer Sir Halford Mackinder is essential. In 1904 in a speech before the Royal Geographical Society in London, Mackinder, a firm advocate of Empire, presented what is arguably one of the most influential documents in world foreign policy of the past two hundred years since the Battle of Waterloo. His short speech was titled “The Geographical Pivot of History”.
Russia and Eurasian Pivot
Mackinder divided the world into two primary geographical powers: Sea power versus Land power. On the dominant side was what he termed the “ring of bases” linking sea powers Britain, USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and Japan in domination of the world seas and of commerce power. This ring of dominant sea-powers was inaccessible to any threat from land powers of Eurasia or Euro-Asia as he termed the vast continent. Mackinder further noted that were the Russian Empire able to expand over the lands of Euro-Asia and gain access to the vast resources there to build a naval fleet, “the empire of the world might then be in sight”. Mackinder added, “This might happen if Germany were to ally herself with Russia”.
Mackinder noted the enormous geopolitical implications of the then-new Russian Trans-Siberian Railway linking the vast territory of Russia from in Moscow at Yaroslavsky Vokzal, across all Russia some 6,000 miles to Vladivostock on the Pacific. He warned his select British audience, “the century will not be old before all Asia is covered with railways”, creating a vast land area inaccessible to the naval fleets of the British and later, Americans.
What the world has experienced since that prophetic 1904 London speech of Mackinder is two world wars, primarily aimed at breaking the German nation and its geopolitical threat to Anglo-American global domination, and to destroy the prospect of a peaceful emergence of a German-Russian Eurasia that, as Mackinder and British geopolitical strategists saw it, would put the “empire of the world” in sight.
Those two world wars in effect sabotaged the “covering of all Eurasia with railways”. Until, that is, in 2013 when China first proposed covering all Eurasia with a network of high-speed railways and infrastructure including energy pipelines and deep-water ports and Russia agreed to join the effort.
The Washington-orchestrated coup d’etat in Ukraine in February, 2014 was explicitly aimed at driving a bloody and deep wedge between Russia and Germany. At the time, Ukraine was the prime energy pipeline link feeding the German industry with Russian gas. German exports of everything from machine tools to cars to high-speed locomotives to build the rapidly-recovering Russian economy was transforming the geopolitical balance of power in favor of an emerging German-Russian-centered Eurasia to the detriment of Washington.
In an interview in January, 2015 following what he called “the most blatant coup in history”, the USA coup in Ukraine, Stratfor founder George Friedman, a student of Mackinder, stated,
… the most dangerous potential alliance, from the perspective of the United States, was considered to be an alliance between Russia and Germany. This would be an alliance of German technology and capital with Russian natural and human resources.
At this point Washington is becoming more than a little desperate to bring the genie back in the bottle that their clumsy 2014 Coup d’etat in Ukraine caused to get out. That coup forced Russia to take more seriously its potential strategic alliances in Eurasia and catalyzed present Russia-China cooperation as well as the Russian engagement with key Eurasian neighbor states in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Wess Mitchell’s predecessor, Victoria Nuland, with her cocky hubris in Ukraine, when she was caught telling her Kiev Ambassador, “F**k the EU”, was noted across Eurasia. She gave the Washington game away. It’s not about principled diplomatic partnership. It’s about power and empire.
Now Wess Mitchell’s admission that the US strategic policy is to “prevent domination of Eurasia by hostile powers” tells Russia and tells China, had they had any doubts, that the war is about a fundamental geopolitical contest to the end over who will dominate Eurasia – it’s legitimate inhabitants, centered around China and Russia, or an imperial Anglo-American axis that has been behind two world wars in the past century. Because Washington mismanaged the Russian “Reset” that was meant to draw Russia into the Nato web, Washington today is forced to wage a war on two fronts – China and Russia – war it is not prepared to win.
F William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.