The geopolitical factor...Europe and America: Sharing the Spoils of War
The “Pivotal Area” Discovered: Defining Geo-Strategic Boundaries
The “pivotal area” was used in Sir Halford J. Mackinder’s “Heartland” to describe the area of Eurasia that formed the pivotally important core of the global geo-strategic and geo-political environment. We now find that through geo-political realities and necessity the area in question must be redefined. Halford Mackinder coined the term to define an area within the Eurasian landmass, but it is apparent that the “pivotal area” in the truest sense of the word and possibly the “Heartland” itself is a much broader and diverse area that not only lies in Eurasia, but extends into Africa. The global environment is not static. It seems that this area is anchored by geographic reality, but is shifting because of socio-economic, demographic, and political factors. To define the pivotal area, we must look at the area(s) in which — in the course of the post-Cold War era — the U.S. military has been heavily involved in, from low spectrum to high spectrum warfare and operations. This also includes hostile economic actions and covert intelligence operations.
After pinpointing these areas one can set a conceptual boundary. This subject area is of vast geography, it includes the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa. These regions, arguably, together form the tectonic plate that holds the globe together in a geo-political sense. It is this geographic stretch that has been, and continues, to be a geo-strategic chessboard for competitions of expansion and repulsion. These areas are also some of the most important cultural bridges on the face of the earth. The cultures and knowledge of different civilizations have interacted here for thousands of years. Intense cultural diffusion has also taken place within this geographic stretch as a global cross-road.
Zbigniew Brzezinski has also stipulated that an area roughly corresponded in geographic boundaries to the area that has just been defined is pivotal to global power and Eurasian security. Henry Kissinger has also more or less made similar statements by explaining the importance of neutralizing Iraq and Afghanistan (before its pro-Soviet government was overthrown), both Soviet allies, and containing an Iran fresh with revolutionary fervor in 1979. This was according to Henry Kissinger because of the pivotal importance of the area.  Global security encompasses this vast and “pivotal” area as a singularity and it is the Middle East that is the focal point of this geographic stretch.
From “Pivotal Area” to “Arc of Instability”
An arc of uncertainty and instability has been generated by Britain, Israel, the U.S., and their partners, including their intelligence apparatus, from East Africa and the Balkans to the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Decades of American-led military confrontations, low-intensity warfare, sanctions, economic manipulation, and intelligence operations have undermined the nation-states of the subject area. From the remains of the former Yugoslavia, Sudan, war-torn Somalia, and Anglo-American occupied Iraq to Afghanistan, Kashmir, and the South Federal District of the Russian Federation where Chechnya is located the U.S. has fomented instability. This area roughly corresponds to what Zbigniew Brzezinski calls the “Eurasian Balkans” an area that the U.S. must seek to manipulate and ultimately control should it continue to be a superpower.  The pivotal area has also synthetically been manufactured into a zone of instability that can be called the “Arc of Instability.”
In 1993, Zbigniew Brzezinski stated that, “The tragedies of Lebanon of the 1980s, or of Kurdistan and the former Yugoslavia of the early 1990s are previews of things to come within the Eurasian oblong of maximum danger.”  What was implied by Brzezinski was balkanization ranging from sectarianism to ethnic clashes. The situation in Iraq is part of this process, as are the tensions in Lebanon, Kosovo, Turkey, and Caucasia. A classical “divide and conquer” strategy is at play. The underlying objective is to provoke ethnic clashes across the Middle East and Central Asia. This venture, which is linked to Bzezinski’s forecast, is part of an agenda which consists in literally redrawing the map of this broader region. Moreover, there have also been attempts at sparking sectarian and ethnic differences in Iran from adjoining areas in Anglo-American occupied Iraq and NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan that implicate America and its allies.
CENTCOM and the Rimland: Encircling Russia, China, and Central Asia
CENTCOM more or less corresponds to what Brzezinski calls a “large geographic oblong that demarcates the central zone of global instability” which runs from the Balkans through the Middle East and Central Asia to Kashmir and East Africa.  This “central zone of global instability” is also linked to the central area of Nicholas Spykman’s “Rimland.” It must be noted that, during the Cold War, Nicholas Spykman was also known as a master of containment theory. The Rimland is the concept of a geographic area adjacent to the “Heartland” that is comprised of most of Europe, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, Southeast Asia, and the Far East. This area forms an enveloping geographic ring around Mackinder’s “Heartland.” In other words, the Rimland essentially surrounds the central, core region of Eurasia. CENTCOM lies in the axis or midpoint of Spykman’s Rimland. This area, the Rimland, was central to Cold War containment theories in regards to the Soviet Union and China, the “Red Giants.” The concept of this area was also used in geo-strategic planning in regards to Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. This is an important fact to remember, because it deeply influences American geo-strategy in regards to the Iraq-Iran War and the Soviet-Afghan War. The encirclement of the Eurasian core, which was where the Soviet Union was geographically placed, is still a U.S. objective after the end of the Cold War. Containment theory it appears may really have been more about “penetration.”
Penetration of the Eurasian core is underway. NATO is a bridgehead from Europe that is pushing towards Russia. An Asiatic sister-alliance of NATO is being forged against China. The axis of the Rimland, which includes the Middle East and Afghanistan, is being militarily infiltrated and mobilized by NATO and its allies. CENTCOM indeed is an appropriate and suitable name for this mid-area that is crucial and “central” to connecting the Asiatic and European flanks of any trans-Eurasian military network surrounding Russia and China. Furthermore, this area can also be used for creating a wedge between the European portion of Russia, which is the nerve of Russia, and China. Additionally, if one also examines the geographic position of U.S. and NATO military bases they are concentrated in the Rimland.
The Geo-Strategic Importance of the Middle East in regards to Eurasia
The Middle East, formerly called the Near East, is an abstract geographic concept that has been shifting with geo-strategic, political, and socio-economic policy. For example, there was a time when academics, map makers, and geographers considered the Balkans as a part of the region. In the mind of many the Middle East is a synonym for Arab World or for Southwest Asia, but both terms are different. The Middle East includes non-Arab countries like Iran, Turkey, and Cyprus. The term Southwest Asia also excludes Egypt, the European portion of Turkey in Thrace and even Greece, depending if you categorize it as a part of the region. The Middle East is a region that embraces three continents (two if you look at Europe and Asia as Eurasia); Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is from here that Anglo-American geo-strategists believed they could establish global hegemony by controlling Eurasia.
Three important maritime passages and five important bodies of water also are located or embrace the area around the Middle East. The important maritime passages and straits can be used to manipulate, cut, and control global navigation, international trade, maritime traffic, and energy supplies. Theses strategic maritime passages are the Suez Canal of Egypt, the Bosphorus/Bosporus of Turkey, and the Gate of Tears (Bab al-Mandeb) located between Djibouti and Yemen at the southern tip of the Red Sea. The five important bodies of water in this area are the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Control over these maritime passages would have grave ramifications for Russia, China, Iran, and any adversaries of NATO in regards to trade, naval movements, and energy supplies.
It is safe to say the post-Cold War objective of the United States in Eurasia is penetration. The different geographic regions of Europe and Asia are important, but they are not as pivotal in geo-strategic value as the Middle East and its geographic periphery (including Central Asia), which are also important energy hubs. If one scrutinizes a map of the earth or Eurasia they will notice that Indo-China or Japan or the Korean Peninsula cannot lead to any meaningful “penetration” of Eurasia. The Russian Federation also acts as a barrier to any drive from Eastern Europe that would be meaningless unless Ukraine fell into NATO’s orbit and Russia lost its Caucasian territories. Due to political realities India, the giant of the Indian sub-continent, can only be used as a counter-weight to China or to spoil the formation of a Eurasian alliance led by Russia, China, and Iran. Whatever value these geographic areas have in regards to containment theory is lost in regards to penetration, aside from India and Ukraine under the proper circumstances. It is from the Middle East and the area that has been mandated to the U.S. military under CENTCOM that Eurasian penetration can commence. Thus, it is by way of instability and war in this region that the U.S. and NATO have a pretext and justification for their military presence. It is also this area that will be the linkage between the military flanks being created against Russia, China, and their allies on the outer edges of Eurasia.
The Outer Peripheries of the “Arc of Instability” are manned by NATO
The hub of the “Arc of Instability” is where Iraq, Iran, Eastern Syria, and portions of Anatolia are geographically situated. This area is the most dangerous and volatile section of the “Arc of Instability.” Should a crisis with Iran and Syria be lit then the whole “Arc of Instability” can be lit ablaze like a powder keg. Iraq and the Persian Gulf are currently active and tense military zones of operation. This hub within the “Arc of Instability” is distinctly Anglo-American in its characteristic. It is the Anglo-American alliance that manages and oversees this war zone. Several European countries had initially posted their troops in Anglo-American occupied Iraq, but gradually reduced and removed their military contingents. Italy and Spain were amongst these countries. The European troop movements were publicly correlated to political changes in national governments within the respective capitals of these European countries. The aim of the troop movements was to portray the departures as acts of opposition to the war in Iraq. Angry European populations were misled into believing that a shift in foreign policy was underway, but this was an act of public deception. These nations compensated the broader war effort and agenda by deploying or re-shuffling their troops to Afghanistan or to Lebanon. Their actions were almost inconsequential to the broader war effort.
NATO members, such as Germany, are also involved and present in military operations in the Horn of Africa. The military activities of NATO and its members, including their almost perfectly coinciding military operations in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Arabian Sea, discloses advanced insight about a larger war agenda. The whole “Arc of Instability” is manned by NATO and close NATO allies, such as Australia and Israel. NATO as a whole is involved in the war project and American, British, Polish, Danish, Czech, and Romanian troops are present in Anglo-American occupied Iraq. Moreover, NATO is also responsible for certain aspects of military training inside Iraq. Additionally, there is a Franco-German presence in the Persian Gulf and NATO also has made security arrangements in the Persian Gulf with nations such as Kuwait.
However, what gives a particular NATO characteristic to the outer peripheries (tiers) of the “Arc of Instability” (in reality the area of military operations) is that greater numbers of NATO countries are involved in the military operations in these zones. Also NATO has an official mandate in these areas and has a role in the so-called “post-conflict” phase of operations in these areas. This phase in reality is the occupational and restructuring phase of the conflicts ensuing in the “Arc of Instability.” This form of “post-conflict” participation could also be linked to the low tolerance the populations of many of these NATO states would have in regards to casualties or supporting the war effort. The bulk of NATO troops have been positioned within the eastern and western outer peripheries of the military theatre of operations. Once again, the war zones almost precisely correspond to what is defined by the U.S. military as CENTCOM. It is only the former Yugoslavia that falls outside CENTCOM’s borders. It is from the Balkans that academics get the geo-political term “balkanization,” meaning to divide. The Balkans constitutes the westernmost periphery of the “Arc of Instability.”
“Velvet Revolutions” Backfire in Central Asia
Central Asia was the scene of several British-sponsored and American-sponsored attempts at regime change. The latter were characterised by velvet revolutions similar to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia. These velvet revolutions financed by the U.S. failed in Central Asia, aside from Kyrgyzstan where there had been partial success with the so-called Tulip Revolution. As a result the U.S. government has suffered major geo-strategic setbacks in Central Asia. All of Central Asia’s leaders have distanced themselves from America.
Russia and Iran have also secured energy deals in the region. America’s efforts, over several decades, to exert a hegemonic role in Central Asia seem to have been reversed overnight. The U.S. sponsored velvet revolutions have backfired. Relations between Uzbekistan and the U.S. were especially hard hit. Uzbekistan is under the authoritarian rule of President Islam Karamov. Starting in the second half of the 1990s President Karamov was enticed into bringing Uzbekistan into the fold of the Anglo-American alliance and NATO. When there was an attempt on President Karamov’s life, he suspected the Kremlin because of his independent policy stance. This is what led Uzbekistan to leave CSTO. But Islam Karamov, years later, changed his mind as to who was attempting to get rid of him.
According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Uzbekistan represented a major obstacle to any renewed Russian control of Central Asia and was virtually invulnerable to Russian pressure; this is why it was important to secure Uzbekistan as an American protectorate in Central Asia. Uzbekistan also has the largest military force in Central Asia. In 1998, Uzbekistan held war games with NATO troops in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan was becoming heavily militarized in the same manner as Georgia was in the Caucasus. The U.S. gave Uzbekistan huge amounts of financial aid to challenge the Kremlin in Central Asia and also provided training to Uzbek forces. With the launching of the “Global War on Terror,” in 2001, Uzbekistan, an Anglo-American ally, immediately offered bases and military facilities to the U.S. in Karshi-Khanabad.
The leadership of Uzbekistan already knew the direction the “Global War on Terror” would take. To the irritation of the Bush Jr. Administration, the Uzbek President formulated a policy of self-reliance. The honeymoon between Uzbekistan and the Anglo-American alliance ended when Washington D.C. and London contemplated removing Islam Karamov from power. He was a little too independent for their comfort and taste. Their attempts at removing the Uzbek President failed, leading eventually to a shift in geo-political alliances.
The tragic events of Andijan on May 13, 2005 were the breaking point between Uzbekistan and the Anglo-American alliance. The people of Andijan were incited into confronting the Uzbek authorities, which resulted in a heavy security clampdown on the protesters and a loss of lives. Armed groups were reported to have been involved. In the U.S., Britain, and the E.U., the media reports focused narrowly on human rights violations without mentioning the covert role of the Anglo-American alliance. Uzbekistan held Britain and the U.S. responsible accusing them of inciting rebellion.
M. K. Bhadrakumar, the former Indian ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998), revealed that the Hezbut Tahrir (HT) was one of the parties blamed for stirring the crowd in Andijan by the Uzbek government.  The group was already destabilizing Uzbekistan and using violent tactics. The headquarters of this group happens to be in London and they enjoy the support of the British government. London is a hub for many similar organizations that further Anglo-American interests in various countries, including Iran and Sudan, through destabilization campaigns. Uzbekistan even started clamping down on foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) because of the tragic events of Andijan.
The Anglo-American alliance had played its cards wrong in Central Asia. Uzbekistan officially left the GUUAM Group, a NATO-U.S. sponsored anti-Russian body. GUUAM once again became the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldava) Group on May 24, 2005. On July 29, 2005 the U.S. military was ordered to leave Uzbekistan within a six-month period. Literally, the Americans were told they were no longer welcome in Uzbekistan and Central Asia. Russia, China, and the SCO added their voices to the demands. The U.S. cleared its airbase in Uzbekistan by November, 2005.
Uzbekistan rejoined the CSTO alliance on June 26, 2006 and realigned itself, once again, with Moscow. The Uzbek President also became a vocal advocate, along with Iran, for pushing the U.S. totally out of Central Asia.  Unlike Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan continued to allow the U.S. to use Manas Air Base, but with restrictions and in an uncertain atmosphere. The Kyrgyz government also would make it clear that no U.S. operations could target Iran from Kyrgyzstan.