Sunday, July 5, 2009

Obama's Visit To Russia: The Great Game Is Still On

I ran into this minor article about Obama's visit to Russia:

Obama assured of a chilly Russian welcome despite first signs of thaw (7/4/09

The article is about this week's visit by the U.S. president to Russia, one of the few countries that seem to be immune to the charm and charisma of the president that so many people talk about.

But what caught my attention was the following passage, and I couldn't let pass the ignorance of the writer on the subject:

"Washington also sees Russia as playing a pivotal role in the diplomatic chess game Mr Obama has launched in the Middle East and Asia.."

The diplomatic chess game Mr. Obama has launched in the Middle East and Asia? He has done no such thing. Give me a break. He is merely continuing where his predecessor had left off, who in turn was merely continuing what his predecessor had left off.

Have you heard of The Great Game? It's been played across Eurasia and Middle East for nearly two centuries, mainly between the British Empire and the Russian Empire. Even after both were no longer empires, the game continued. Iran has always been one of the central interests. The United States seems to have joined the game in 1950's by installing Shar of Iran, and gotten increasingly active in late 1970s under Jimmy Carter, whose national security advisor was Zbigniew Brzezinski, who has been advising Obama.

Mr. Brzezinski's book, "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives" published in 1998, spells out strategies for U.S. dominance in Eurasia and seems to follow what he and President Carter did in Central Asia.

It is indeed a grand old game. And Russians have been playing this way longer than Americans. Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev would chuckle at the idea that "Mr. Obama has launched the chess game".


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