Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stability

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby svinayak » 29 Apr 2009 21:49

Mackinder mentions the river in his book to describe the heartland

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby ramana » 30 Apr 2009 02:11

Op-Ed in Pioneer
EDITS | Thursday, April 30, 2009 | Email | Print |


Winning the Great Game

G Parthasarathy

Located at the crossroads of Central, West and South Asia, the people of Afghanistan have been victims of great power rivalry and foreign occupation ever since the Afghan state was founded by Ahmed Shah Durrani in 1747. The Persians, Imperial Britain, Czarist Russia, Nazi Germany, the US and the Soviet Union have played out their great power rivalries on the hapless Afghans.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Pakistan sought to assume the role of a neighbouring hegemon by waging a proxy war for control of Kabul. Pakistan’s ambitions now face a barrier, with an American and NATO presence in Afghanistan fighting Pakistan’s proxy, the Taliban. But, the ‘unilateralism’ of the Bush Administration evoked suspicions in important regional players like Russia, China and Iran that the American presence was also motivated by a larger geopolitical desire to control access to Central Asian oil and gas.

With its own territory now the epicentre of terrorism, Pakistan itself is seen as a fragile state, unwilling to forego its ties with the Taliban and its Punjabi allies like the Jaish-e-Mohammed. American policies are changing, as the Obama Administration seeks to deal with an escalating insurgency in Afghanistan. The most notable change that has emerged is American recognition that it shares a common interest in working with Iran, Russia, China, India and Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbours in meeting the Taliban challenge in Afghanistan. I was surprised to be told by an Iranian diplomat last week that the Americans should retain a presence in Afghanistan for 10 to 15 years and not talk of an ‘exit strategy’ now.

Russia has agreed to arm the Afghan National Army and is promoting the involvement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in emerging developments. More importantly, Taliban attacks on supply routes through Pakistan and the latter’s propensity to use its role to bargain for ever-increasing assistance and accommodation of the Taliban, are forcing the US and its NATO allies to look for new supply routes to Afghanistan, with Russian collaboration. Arrangements been finalised to source petroleum and oil supplies from Kazakhstan, bypassing Pakistan.

Moreover, new supply routes for non-military supplies through Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have been negotiated. Uzbekistan has agreed to provide land, air and rail facilities for the US and NATO. The Russians have now agreed to permit use of their territory even for military supplies to Afghanistan. Some NATO countries may even approach Iran to use the road built by India linking Afghanistan with the Iranian port of Chah Bahar bypassing Pakistan. With alternate supply routes in place, Pakistan’s present strategic salience will be eroded. Its capacity to blackmail the international community will no longer be credible.

Changes are also envisaged on how the international community deals with Afghanistan. There is realisation that operations in populated areas by foreign forces promote public resentment in Afghanistan, thereby strengthening the Taliban. There are now moves to increase the strength of the Afghan National Army from 80,000 to 134, 000 and thereafter to over 200,000 men. With Russia expressing readiness to equip the Afghan National Army, the aim appears to be to allow internal security against Taliban depredations to be transferred increasingly to Afghan hands.

Also, there is recognition that American and other Western aid programmes have been woefully inadequate, inefficient and wasteful. Shortly after the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, the donor countries pledged $ 40 billion for assistance to Afghanistan. This amount came down soon to $ 25 billion and ultimately barely $ 15 billion was disbursed for reconstruction and development. Worse still, over 40 per cent of this assistance went back to the donor countries as payments for their contractors and consultants. US President Barack Obama has indicated that measures will be taken to make assistance programmes more people-oriented and cost-efficient.

India has a vital stake in peace and stability in Afghanistan, especially given the pernicious role of the Taliban in hosting terrorist groups like the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, colluding with the hijackers of IC 814, killing Indian workers in aid projects and conducting a terrorist attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul. Both the NDA and UPA Governments deserve high credit for having fashioned a most imaginative aid programme in Afghanistan, which has resulted in India being seen as benevolent all across Afghanistan.

Amid personal threats to their safety and security around 4,000 Indian nationals are running hospitals, building roads, hydro-electric projects and transmission and telephone lines in Afghanistan. India’s involvement extends from solar energy projects and bus services to food preservation facilities and high protein biscuits for Afghan school children. Hundreds of Afghans are receiving training in diverse fields in India. It is no exaggeration to say that India today runs the most cost-efficient aid programme in Afghanistan — an effort that has won our country widespread international acclaim.

While a firm posture by India has persuaded the US that its ‘AfPak’ strategy should not seek to venture into bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, New Delhi cannot remain unconcerned about Beijing’s efforts to persuade the international community to dabble in India-Pakistan relations. While the Americans have made no secret of their determination to limit arms supplies to Pakistan to items for counter-insurgency, China has proceeded with its policy of unrestricted transfer of fighter aircraft, naval frigates and un-safeguarded plutonium production for Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

These unrestricted Chinese supplies, together with substantial balance of payments support, have undermined international efforts to persuade Pakistan to end its support for the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. It is in this background that Mr Richard Holbrooke visited Beijing for high level diplomatic contacts, perhaps with the hope that given the current Sino-American honeymoon, China would back, and not undermine, American diplomacy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mr Obama’s ‘AfPak’ diplomacy has also been undermined by heavy-handedness in dealing with political developments in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Public criticism of Mr Hamid Karzai has led to increasing his public popularity in Afghanistan, prompting Russian support for the beleaguered Afghan President. Similarly, public criticism of Mr Nawaz Sharif has now been replaced by assertions that he may be America’s ‘best bet’. There is little realisation of the reality that a public American embrace is the proverbial kiss of death for any embattled politician in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby MurthyB » 01 May 2009 07:37

BTW, sorry if this the wrong thread to post this query on, but I was wondering the following:

Somewhere I saw that 40% of "British India" was in fact in the princely states. A look at the map shows that most of these princely states were in what is India today. Does anyone know the percentage area of princely states in the land that is India today?

Similarly, the population figure is 25% for princely states in undivided India; is it similar for current India?

I vaguely remember that the Maharaja of Mysore is credited with the meter guage railways this area had, the KRS dam, roads, and colleges. In general, were the princely states responsible for infrastructure and administration of their territory? Howe much did the Brits do here?

Finally, is there some study that looks at the development of India today in terms of whether it was a princely state or not? There have been allusions to Kerala's progressive kings and their rule for largely endowing it with high HDI today. Is there such a study in general?

Thanks

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby ramana » 06 May 2009 09:51

This is book written in 1948 from Karachi

Pakistan and Middle East

It confirms a lot of our thinking on TSP origins.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby ramana » 06 May 2009 23:24

One more achievement of MMS.

From Deccan Chronicle, 7 may 2009

Great Game gets new players: Turkey, Iran
May 7th, 2009
By S. Nihal Singh A “Great Game” was once played between Great Britain and Czarist Russia, but the “Great Game” has now moved further north to the southern Caucasus, and it involves not merely Russia and the West but important regional actors — Turkey and, up to a point, Iran. Indeed, with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vigorous “neighbourhood policy”, the pace of the battle has picked up considerably evoking the times of the Russian and Ottoman Empires jostling for greater influence.

The most significant recent development was the agreement between Turkey and Armenia on “a road map” towards normalisation of relations after a yearlong series of secret negotiations in Switzerland initiated by Ankara. The borders between the two countries were closed after the 1992 war over the Armenian-majority enclave of Nagorno-Karabak in Azerbaijan and Armenian troops remain there since the ceasefire declared in 1994. Azerbaijan is an ally of Turkey and is linguistically close to it.
Historical memories run deep in southern Caucasus, and Armenians have never forgiven the killing of an estimated million Armenians in 1915 in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire, classed as a genocide by Armenia and much of the West. Turks consider it as a consequence of the turmoil in those unsettled times in which Turks were killed as well. But those killings have remained a symbol of the enmity between the two countries, with closed borders making Armenia dependent upon Russia for its trade and commerce.
As long as the Army controlled the Turkish state, Ankara used the genocide charge as a foil to its ultra-nationalism, and it is an indication of Mr Erdogan’s resolve and confidence that he sought to change the equations in the Caucasus by standing traditional attitudes on their heads by initially encouraging the formation of a joint reconciliation commission with Armenians. Russia, of course, supported Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabak war. The Russian Federation has now entered the field, initiating moves to resolve the contentious enclave problem by becoming the peacemaker. If Armenian troops could be withdrawn from the enclave in exchange for Russian peacemakers, Moscow would emerge the winner.
The opening of the Turkish-Armenian border would change the contours of the region, with neighbouring Turkish provinces gaining in prosperity and giving Ankara speedier access to Central Asia. And Azeri nervousness would be assuaged by the return of Azeri refugees to the enclave and an end to Armenian occupation of one-eighth of its territory.
These are, of course, not the only games being played in the region. The European Union (EU) has called a meeting of Plus Six — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine — ostensibly to promote regional stability and prosperity without offering the promise of membership. Despite the thaw in Belarus’ relations with the EU, it has made it clear that it would not choose between the EU and Russia while Ukraine is frustrated that EU membership is ruled out as an agenda of the grouping’s forthcoming meeting. Russia, on its part, is looking askance at the EU’s activism, believing it to be an attempt to extend Brussels’ influence beyond its eastern membership.
A few days before the scheduled Nato’s military exercises in Georgia — a provocation in Russian eyes — Moscow signed security treaties with the two breakaway Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia it had earlier recognised, provoking Nato’s “deep concern”. The United States had been doing its own geopolitical engineering by encouraging the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum oil and gas pipelines bypassing Russia. The prize catch, of course, is Azeri gas and Gazprom remains a suitor. If Azerbaijan remains less than satisfied with the terms of a future Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, it could divert gas supplies to Russia.
Two new agreements have been signed: the opening of a 515-mile pipeline to carry Caspian oil from the Caucasian basin to west Ukraine, Georgia and Bulgaria and a treaty creating a new Black Sea train ferry route that would give Baku direct access to the West. And in a symbolic defiance of Russia, a midget military exercise of 100 soldiers from Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine was held east of Tbilisi.

On its part, Iran has improved its relations with Azerbaijan.
It is becoming an increasingly crowded field, but Turkey is playing a key role. It has the option of the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline to transit Turkey. Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party suffered its first major reverse in seven years in recent local elections, but instead of nursing his wounds, he has responded by a sweeping revamping of his Cabinet, bringing in his foreign policy adviser, Ahmet Davutoglu, as foreign minister. In fact, the adviser’s regional activism focusing on closer ties with West Asian neighbours earned him the sobriquet of “neo-Ottoman” from critics.
However, the moving spirit of Turkey’s foreign policy initiatives remains Mr Erdogan, who has been undeterred by his troubled relations with the European Union on his country’s membership prospects to pursue what he believes is Ankara’s mission. This is defined as Turkey’s uniqueness in straddling Europe and Asia, being a democratic Muslim-majority nation and being singularly qualified to be the peacemaker between a largely Christian West and a predominantly Muslim West Asia. Until the Gaza killings temporarily changed the equation between Ankara and Tel Aviv, Turkey was conducting indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Until the advent of the AK (Justice and Development) Party, the dominant power in the land, the Army, had played on secularism and nationalism and close alignment with the United States as its main themes in exercising power. Although Mr Erdogan believes in the value of close relations with the US, he has altered the focus of foreign policy goals to a more pragmatic stance in accenting the country’s own interests. These, in the AK Party’s eyes, lie in its immediate neighbourhood and in amplifying the country’s assets in the region at a time of mounting tensions fuelled in part by Islamic fundamentalism and the Western response to it.



Very heady mix of politics, energy and ethnic rivalry.
However the writer mistakes- everything in Central Asia is not the Great Game.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby ramana » 07 May 2009 22:21

A few x-posts from TSP thread....
NRao wrote:The failed (US?) policy is to see Pakistan as a single and a positively contributory entity.

As long as it is single it cannot contribute to anything positive. And, if it cannot contribute to anything positive, why keep it single?

We also need to move on. Enough theory.

Single - geographically, not on an Islamist platform.


and


surinder wrote:We can write reams of "TSP is a sinkhole", and read articles posted by bahdada till the cows come home, but the very elementary facts need to be rmemebred that TSP is supported because it fulfills core amerikhan objectives. Secondly, the alternatives to its destruction hurts core amerikhan objectives.

That is the essential core reason why US, Bhest, PRC will support TSP to survive.

Indian opinion is of course different. If it wants it views to prevail, then it must change the cost-benifit calculus of amerikhaans. That requires courage & pluck and cost of its own blood & money. It cannot happen by itself.



and
Anujan wrote:
surinder wrote:We can write reams of "TSP is a sinkhole", and read articles posted by bahdada till the cows come home, but the very elementary facts need to be rmemebred that TSP is supported because it fulfills core amerikhan objectives.

surinder-saar
Agreed. But the real debate here is whether TSP *despite* world's best effort to prop it up will go down the tubes. There are two things that sounded the deathknell for TSP IMHO

1. Jihadis are no longer fashionable after 9/11, public opinion in US is against supporting jihadis *in their current form* no matter what the geostrategic objectives are

2. The west has run out of money to write a blank cheque to keep TSP afloat.

These two factors have an interesting interplay in TSP, and we are interested in following the tamasha.

For example, due to (1), will jihadis acquire a new set of clothes so it is acceptable for unkil to support them once more ? will the idiots who run TSP understand the west's takleef vis-a-vis the jihadis *in their current form* and adopt a different posture for gubo and Taqiyya? can TSP, in fact, do anything to change their position-e-gubo or will the idiots in the TSP society view it as a sellout to the great satan and overthrow the establishment ?

Due to (2), how long can Saudis, Cheenis, Unkil, Londonistan swallow their personal takleef to give TSP baksheesh ? What will happen to the baksheesh -- will it cause fissures among the jernails and civvies to see who gets the bigger cut ?

surinder-saar, more than a little glee in this dhaaga can be attributed to the fact that inspite of everybody's best efforts, TSP is going down the tubes. Everybody making their best effort is not lost upon us.

As shiv the hakeem once said "Jo lahore mein g*ndu, woh pure pakistan mein g*ndu", we are just sitting by and enjoying the g*ndu-ism.


and
surinder wrote:Dear Anujan,

You ask a lot of questions. Let me comment:

But the real debate here is whether TSP *despite* world's best effort to prop it up will go down the tubes.


Most observers of TSP agree it will eventually go down. No one can agree on when, nor can they agree on how.

Then you ask:

Jihadis are no longer fashionable after 9/11,


J's are divided in two camps: one against the West, one against India. The 2nd group is not considered a problem per se. There is hardly any real effort to stop that by the amerikhaans. In fact the TSP problems have started when the J's against India joined hands with J's against ameriakans. TSP knows this and if it is able to make the genie go back into the bottle and go back to the halcyon days of India-centric atankvaad, things will go back to pre-9/11 for it.

how long can Saudis, Cheenis, Unkil, Londonistan swallow their personal takleef to give TSP baksheesh ?


Actually for a pretty long time. I hate to say it, the amount of money needed to give alms to TSP is not that high. You can compare the costs of Afghan or the Iraaqi campaign to the amount given to TSP. (add to it the cost of troop casualties.) It is basically peanuts. For Saudis, it is fairly cheap too. For PRC it is a very cost-effective option. TSP is not an expensive whore, by any means.

I am afraid the TSP policy to pimp itself for the sake of hurting India can continue for a very long time. It is not going to end because of the sub-prime crisis or Talibum threat. What is really in question is the ability of TSP to keep enough order in the mad-house of TSP to continue its game.

Now here comes the rub: India wants to eath the cake without making any effort. That is going to be an illusive goal. If India really means business it can raise the cost of supporting TSP to unimaginable levels. Sadly India has not risen to the challenge; it is addicted to getting things without a cost.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Paul » 11 May 2009 07:00

x-post

Britain’s Faustian pact

Premen Addy

At the time of India’s independence, the standard-bearers of the British Raj scoffed at the idea of ‘Hindu India’ surviving as a nation. Instead, they put their faith in ‘Muslim Pakistan’ which they predicted would be stable and prosperous. Along with Jinnah’s dream, that prediction lies in tatters

Swine flu hypochondria dominates the airwaves in London; after the financial meltdown nothing has so concentrated the mind on either side of the Atlantic and beyond. An irate caller from Kolkata told of a Communist CITU-led strike at the city’s airport, but one didn’t have the heart to ask if it was the virus or the swine that was to blame.

More immediate and infinitely more troubling are the continuing Taliban and Al Qaeda irruptions along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and the greater frequency of their depredations in the former’s Punjabi heartland. The Obama Administration is at its wit’s end mixing dollars with admonitions to its client in Islamabad, the British are witless, with an economy that sinks ever deeper into an abyss and a Prime Minister floundering from one PR disaster to another. Labour MPs and the party hoi-polloi fear a rout in next year’s general election.

Against such depressing news came Mihir Bose’s New Statesman meditation on the closing years of the British Raj in India. Mr Bose, the BBC sport’s editor, has had two stabs at a biography of Subhas Chandra Bose (no relation), so his knowledge and understanding of the region’s history and politics demand respect.

“It may be hard to credit now,” he writes, “as 700 million (Indian) voters go to the polls in the world’s biggtest elections, but back in the 1940s the wise men of the British Raj predicted that while Pakistan would prosper, India would soon be Balkanised. Pakistan, it was thought, would become a vibrant Muslim state, a bulwark against Soviet Communism. India’s predominantly Hindu population, however, was presumed to be a source of weakness and instability.”

Nobody expressed these dark sentiments more forcefully than Lt Gen Sir Francis Tucker who had seen service with the Indian Army in North Africa in the Second World War. His memoirs, While Memory Serves, was published in 1950, the year India became a republic. Mr Bose quotes from Tucker’s text: “Hindu India was entering the most difficult period of its whole existence. Its religion, which is to a great extent superstition and formalism, is breaking down. If the precedents of history mean anything... then we may well expect in the material world of today, that a material philosophy such as Communism will fill the void left by the Hindu religion.”

The departing good and great of the Raj were fixated by what they saw as the sly malevolence of the Brahmins and their Indian National Congress. Mahatma Gandhi’s remarkable success with Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his Red Shirts in the Pashtun NWFP was quite irrational, pronounced Sir Olaf Caroe, scholar-governor of the province and a Russophobe reactionary. This unnatural liaison would end as Pashtun martial ardour came to the fore, he predicted.

I recall a photograph of Mohammed Ali Jinnah addressing a Pashtun crowd near Peshawar in English, with a translator at hand to make his words intelligible. The chord of hatred struck by the sainted Quaid-e-Azam — “Islam in danger from the Hindu infidel” — transcended the barrier of language. Contemporary Pakistan is surely his truest monument.

We would, however, do well to broaden the historical canvas to include the first half century of the British presence in the subcontinent. It was age of the enlightenment in Europe, when scepticism leavened belief and social Darwinism was still a distant fantasy. So William Jones presented his path-breaking linguistic studies on the common origins of Indo-European speech to scholarly acclaim, and Charles Wilkins published the first English translation of the Gita, with a foreword by his patron Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of British India and a notable Orientalist himself.

“I hesitate not to pronounce the Gita a performance of great originality,” wrote Hastings, “of a sublimity of conception reasoning and diction almost unequalled; and a single exception, amongst all the known religions of mankind, of a theology accurately corresponding with that of the Christian disposition, and most powerfully illustrating its fundamental doctrines…”

The Governor-General observed that “Not so long ago, the inhabitants of India were considered by many as creatures scarce elevated above the degree of savage life.” Of the body of Sanskrit works that were being revealed to the European world, he ended on a high note of prophecy: “These will survive when the British dominion in India shall have long ceased to exist, and when the sources which it once yielded of wealth and power are lost to remembrance.”

This early Indo-British encounter became a period of seed-time and remedy. The New Learning in India, particularly in Bengal and Bombay, led to a second modern revelation of India’s classical past, the researches of British (and European) scholars being of seminal importance. When, deeper into the 19th century, the Oxford-based German academic Max Müller published his first edited volumes of the Veda, the Bengali Sanskritist Radha Kanta Deb wrote thus to him from Calcutta: “Accept therefore my most grateful and sincere thanks, which, in common with my countrymen, I owe to you.” Swami Vivekananda was equally fulsome in his praise.

The Indo-British interaction of these years seeded Hindu social reform, cultural renewal and eventually gave rise to the movement for political emancipation, with the foundation of the Indian National Congress in Bombay on December 28, 1885, thanks principally to the endeavours of the Briton Allan Octavian Hume. Britons of the previous generations were loath to accept that the British Raj was cast in stone. It was only with the expansion and consolidation of the empire and its supremacist culture that suspicion of and aversion to Hindus gained currency. For Sir Lepel Griffin, the blimpish Governor of Punjab, the prospect of Indian self-determination (which he attributed to the machinations of ‘Bengali Baboo’ agitators) was as distasteful as the suffragette call back home in Britain.

India’s democratic and pluralist culture took shape in the 19th century. Rammohun Roy, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, the Tagores, Keshub Sen and Vivekananda in Bengal and such kindred spirits in the west of the country as MG Ranade, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and many others established the Servants of India Society. Mahatma Gandhi was a social reformer even as he became his country’s foremost liberator from British colonial rule, and Jawaharal Nehru took this forward after independence.

British Imperialism, fearful of the loss of power through an anathemised partnership, made its Faustian pact with the All-India Muslim League. Theirs was a poisoned chalice, of which Pakistan today is the emblem.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Paul » 11 May 2009 09:42

ShauryaT, I will reply to your question after reading up on Sarila and Brobst's writings.

I was reading Gen Sinha's book on J&K 1948 ops last night.

I am puzzled as why the IA generals like SK Sinha etc. have not commented on the british perfidy. Sinha was the ADC to Gen Russell and in charge of arranging logistics for the Ranjit Rai's 1st sikh airlift to srinagar. Kalkat is the only one to have done so yet.

I hope someday a film producer makes a magnum opus like the "Bridge too far" or "The longest day" on the airlift and the subsequent action to Srinagar. The heroic acts of the 1st Sikh under the Ranjit Rai's superb leadership needs to be recorded for all future generations to behold.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby SSridhar » 11 May 2009 17:48

Paul wrote:The chord of hatred struck by the sainted Quaid-e-Azam — “Islam in danger from the Hindu infidel” — transcended the barrier of language.


The Pir of Manki Sharif had been especially commissioned by the Muslim league to cause mischief there much before Quaid-e-Azam set his foot there. The same Pir created the attacks on Nehru's cavalcade when he went there too.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby SSridhar » 11 May 2009 17:52

Paul wrote:The heroic acts of the 1st Sikh under the Ranjit Rai's superb leadership needs to be recorded for all future generations to behold.


Please read, "Operations in J&K 1947-48", an authoritative volume brought out by MoD, GoI. This is a must read for anyone to understand what India was up against and how the IA planned and executed its operations. The maps leave a lot to be desired, and the narrative is monotonous as only a GoI publication can be, but is absolutely comprehensive and extensive.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby SSridhar » 13 May 2009 10:19

A New Game

n the heyday of expansionist Imperialism in the 19th century, the big powers actively pursued a policy of territorial acquisition and establishing ‘spheres of interest’. Such policies inevitably and often brought two or more such Imperial powers into conflict on the outer fringes of their empires. Tsarist Russia had brought Central Asia under its direct control, and was knocking on the northern doors of Persia.

On the other hand, India was ‘the jewel in the crown’ of a British Empire that also had ‘vital interests’ in the Middle East to protect. A possible clash between these two powers could not therefore be ruled out, though the forbiddingly difficult terrain of an Afghanistan that separated the two empires strongly argued against such a possibility.

Ironically enough, there is no historical evidence whatsoever that Tsarist Russia was either worried about a British expansion northward, or had any intention itself of extending its influence southwards. But British military strategists took the reverse possibility much more seriously. Their idea was to control both sides of the Khyber Pass by either subjugating Afghanistan or bringing it under its sphere of interest to create a ‘buffer’ between the two empires.

To this end the bogey of Russia wanting ‘access to warm waters’ was assiduously promoted, even though there is not a shred of evidence from Russian historical archives of such intentions. These assumed and actual machinations soon came to be known in Britain (thanks in large part to Kipling) as the ‘Great Game’, with Afghanistan as the playing field. Frankly, it was never much of a game, let alone a ‘great’ one!

But this bogey of ‘access to warm waters’ came in handy for General Zia and the Americans when Russia did finally intervene in Afghanistan in the Cold War era. By suggesting an imminent threat to Pakistan, it justified our involvement as a frontline state. Only, no one bothered to ask why, what may well have been true a century ago, should the Russian fleet be now so desperate for a warm water port. Is this not the age of ballistic missiles and nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines that need not return to port for servicing for a long time?

The next sighting of the ‘Great Game’ genie followed the break-up of the Soviet empire. This time, allegedly, it was an all-American game (with the Russians as essentially helpless spectators) where the prize supposedly up for grabs was the rich natural resources of Central Asia. There was supposedly an additional bonus. By pre-empting the Chinese out of these resources, the US could keep in check Chinese ambitions to be a world power.

Such thoughts again reflect pre-globalisation thinking. Then, trade and political hegemony often went hand in hand. Today, the relationship between the two is much more tenuous. Why should simple business deals for mutual benefit be always given sinister geo-political overtones? Is the rest of the world not happy currently to satisfy the voracious appetite of the Chinese economy for raw materials? Is not the US a major investor in China and, along with Europe, a big supplier of capital to Russia?

Actually, the efficient exploitation of their natural resources by the Central Asian Republics (with the help of American capital, technology, and know-how) will, in due course, help, not throttle, the Chinese economy next door.

With the arrival of US forces in Afghanistan after 9/11, and the increasing instability in the region thanks to militant Islamic forces, coupled with closer US-Indian ties, new twists were added by conspiracy theorists to the ‘Great Game’ concept to update it and give it greater plausibility. Now everything — from the obscure China angle, to encircling Pakistan and stripping it of its nuclear weapons by bringing it under Indian hegemony — has been thrown into the ‘Great Game’ pot.

What is the factual reality? Can a country that totally ignored Afghanistan for 20 years after the Russian defeat, be really said to have a geo-political strategic interest in it? The correct perspective is that the US is only in Afghanistan as a direct consequence of 9/11 because of a real or perceived security threat from Al Qaeda.

Of more direct interest to us is this ‘Indian hegemony’ and ‘stripping us of our nuclear assets’ business that are part of the alleged Great Game now. Let me first deal with the latter in a commonsense way.

Nuclear capability is about know-how. Once you have it, you have it. Yes, you can destroy existing stockpiles and the related infrastructure but these can always be replaced in due course. So any effective ‘stripping’, if it has to come about at all, has to be voluntary rather than coercive.

What worries the world is not that we have nuclear weapons. India and Israel have them too. What worries the world is what might happen if they are controlled by a radical Pakistani state. The world is not so much anxious to strip us of our nuclear assets as it is to see that we reform ourselves into a responsible, non-radical state.

Now you may rubbish such fears as wholly unfounded. But I have heard many a supposedly educated and responsible person flatly state (in the Indian context) that, “why have we developed these weapons if we don’t plan to use them?” Who twenty years ago could have predicted that our country would become the global epicentre of a special kind of terrorism and that today the state is under serious threat from extremists?

As for an American-Indian plot to sandwich us between India and an India-leaning Afghanistan, and destabilise and break up Pakistan before imposing Indian hegemony upon us, again consider the matter from a commonsense point of view.

Is there a Pakistani who will disagree that an unstable Afghanistan is a great danger to us, and that, conversely, a stable Afghanistan is in our great interest? Now why should India think any differently about us? It stretches my credulity, as it should yours, to believe that Indian policy makers would love nothing better than a nuclear-armed unstable country as a neighbour.

No, let us not live in the fool’s paradise of conspiracy theories and ‘great games’ but set our own house in order instead of looking for scapegoats. For, the ‘great game’ today is not geo-strategic conflict but trade.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Samay » 13 May 2009 13:53

can someone prove that the nuke program of pigs is actually supported by unkil in a round about manner?? and why??

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Aditya_V » 13 May 2009 14:16

Samay _> to your question, China is happily buliding and supplying Plutonium for a couple of reactors in Pakistan, there is not even a ruse of a Powergrid. Pakistan is not a NPT member. China is clearly violating NPT. US if funding Pakistan billions of dollars with which these plants are being built. If say Russia was building a couple of plants in India for making weapons grade plutonium, would the US be giving a plenthora of freebees and cash? Simple only

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby SSridhar » 13 May 2009 14:27

Samay, I don't know why you asked that question in this thread unless you want to explicitly link up that with the Great Game. I also don't know if your question relates to the situation as it exists now. Otherwise, there is an enormous wealth of information on how the US not only 'supported in a roundabout manner', but positively helped it.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Samay » 13 May 2009 14:49

SSridhar wrote:Samay, I don't know why you asked that question in this thread unless you want to explicitly link up that with the Great Game. I also don't know if your question relates to the situation as it exists now. Otherwise, there is an enormous wealth of information on how the US not only 'supported in a roundabout manner', but positively helped it.

sir,i would say that this thread is my favourite in forum as it links up all whats happenning in subcontinent, but I thought that only a little post from me who knows little ,was required to have a perfect view of the situation, and that's why I asked that question
we talk about what happened then ,what's happening now, about how these great powers are playng a great game,
but we aren't talking bout how they are going to end it ,of course every game started has to be finished :!: someone has to win and some will lose
my post above is in series to this thought.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby SSridhar » 13 May 2009 16:20

Samay wrote:. . . but I thought that only a little post from me who knows little ,was required to have a perfect view of the situation, and that's why I asked that question we talk about what happened then ,what's happening now, about how these great powers are playng a great game, but we aren't talking bout how they are going to end it ,of course every game started has to be finished :!: someone has to win and some will lose my post above is in series to this thought.


Samay, don't get me wrong. You are at liberty to ask questions. I was just trying to see how you wanted to link up. We are all here to learn together. One doesn't need to be effusive. Fire away all your questions and post your thoughts and analyses.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Pranav » 13 May 2009 16:39

Take a look at

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 368174.ece
"How the West summoned up a nuclear nightmare in Pakistan".

Behind this desperately worrying state of affairs lies a grand deception. For three decades, consecutive US administrations, Republican and Democrat, as well as governments in Britain and other European countries, allowed Pakistan to acquire highly restricted nuclear technology. Key US agencies were then misdirected and countermanded in order to disguise how Pakistan had sold it on.

Intelligence gathering in the US was blunted while the departments of state and defence were corralled into backing the White House agenda and forced to side-step Congress and break federal laws. Officials who tried to stop the charade were purged.

The deceit began under President Jimmy Carter; but it burgeoned under Ronald Reagan, who used Pakistan as a springboard for American aid to the antiSoviet jihad in Afghanistan.

US officials converged on Islamabad carrying cash and the message that America would ignore the growing nuclear programme – while Reagan publicly insisted that nonproliferation remained a primary policy.

A flavour of the duplicity comes from Robert Gallucci, who was director of the bureau of near eastern and south Asian

affairs at the State Department in 1982 at a time when the Reagan administration was desperately struggling to suppress evidence that Khan was designing a bomb.

After British intelligence caught the Khan network shopping in the UK for reflective shields made from beryllium, which could boost the power of a nuclear device, Reagan sent General Vernon Walters, a former CIA deputy director, to see President Zia in Islamabad.

Gallucci, who accompanied him, remembers: “Our evidence was incontrovertible. ‘This is what your experts have been up to’, we said, as politely as we could, giving Zia a get-out.

“However, the president rejected our briefing, saying our information had come from the Indians.”

Gallucci was not privy to a secret agenda. Walters confided to a senior State Department colleague on his return that, far from demanding a rollback in nuclear trading, he had been asked to warn the Pakistanis to do it more discreetly.

“He came in looking miserable,” the colleague recalled. “He said, ‘I was told [by the White House] to tell Zia to get that nuclear problem off our radar’.

“I was shocked. It was the antithesis of what we were supposed to be doing. Instead of giving it to them with both barrels, Walters had told the Pakistanis they had better hide their bomb programme, lest it humiliate Reagan.”

But Zia did not heed the warning and, as the months passed, the intelligence mounted. It was augmented by a US data-collect-ing operation made possible by a high-tech surveillance device secreted in the arid area surrounding the heavily guarded Kahuta hills outside Islamabad, where the nuclear installation had been built.

The device, a resin “boulder”, was capable of transmitting intelligence through an array of recording and air-sampling technology hidden inside.

A freak accident exposed the operation. Somebody fell on the “rock”, exposing the whirring and blinking components.

While knowing what was going on, Washington pursued a deception that bloomed into a complex conspiracy. Evidence was destroyed, criminal files were diverted, and Congress was repeatedly lied to.

The obfuscation concealed from the world Pakistan’s “cold-testing” of a nuclear bomb in laboratory conditions in 1983 and the intelligence that it had “hot-tested” – exploded – one in 1984 with the help of China.

By the time Reagan’s presidency came to an end in 1989, Pakistan possessed a deployable and tested nuclear device. Much of the programme had been funded using hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid diverted by the Pakistan military.

The bomb could be mated to a missile or dropped from Ameri-can-supplied F-16 fighter jets, also given by Reagan in the mid1980s, and the nuclear weapons programme had become a shop window for the world’s most unstable powers.

The US deceit lapsed in the 1990s when President George Bush Sr cut Pakistan adrift after the fall of the Soviet Union; but this increased Islamabad’s need to develop and sell nuclear technology in place of aid.

Under Bill Clinton an ever more detailed picture was pieced together of Pakistan’s dangerous liaisons: Iran in 1987, Iraq in 1990, North Korea in 1993, and by 1997 Libya, too. In 1998 both India and Pakistan held publicly announced nuclear tests.

By the time George W Bush became president in 2001, there was a mountain of precise intelligence portraying Pakistan as the epicentre of global instability: a host of and patron for Islamist terrorism, ruled by a military clique that was raising capital and political influence by selling WMD.

Yet even when American spy satellites photographed missile components being loaded into a Pakistani C-130 outside Pyong-yang, the North Korean capital – and intelligence analysts concluded that the cargo was a direct exchange for Pakistani nuclear technology – Washington did not react.

It was in this dangerous condition that Pakistan was clutched back into the American bosom after the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. And the deception continued.

Samay wrote:can someone prove that the nuke program of pigs is actually supported by unkil in a round about manner?? and why??

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby SSridhar » 13 May 2009 17:29

Pranav & Samay,

The most comprehensive book is by Adrian Levy & Catherine Scott: Deception, Pakistan, USA and the Global Nuclear weapons Conspiracy, Penguin Books, 2007

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Chellaram » 13 May 2009 23:16

didnt see this posted

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/200 ... oes-af-pak

too long to post in full, but a worthwhile read...
excerpt:
Now that's as classic as the New Great Game in Eurasia can get. There's NATO vs. the SCO. With either IPI or TAPI, Turkmenistan wins. With either IPI or TAPI, Russia loses. With either IPI or TAPI, Pakistan wins. With TAPI, Iran loses. With IPI, Afghanistan loses. In the end, however, as in any game of high stakes Pipelineistan poker, it all comes down to the top two global players. Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets: will the winner be Washington or Beijing?

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby ramana » 15 May 2009 01:31

X-posted from book review thread....

Acharya wrote:Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present
by Christopher I. Beckwith (Author)


# Hardcover: 496 pages
# Publisher: Princeton University Press (April 5, 2009)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0691135894
# ISBN-13: 978-0691135892


Empires of the Silk Road is a major scholarly achievement. This is the first book to provide a comprehensive account of the history of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the present. But it is much more than a simple narrative of events in what is arguably the most important region for the development of civilization during the past four or five millennia. It is an intellectually ambitious undertaking that attempts to account for essential transformations in the cultural, economic, and political life of societies situated both within the Central Eurasian heartland and on its periphery. Beckwith achieves the radical feat of demonstrating how Central Eurasia is actually key for understanding the dynamics of human history and progress throughout antiquity, the medieval period, and the recent past. Above all, and for the first time, he convincingly shows that Central Eurasia was not a sump of poverty-stricken, unremittingly vicious subhumans, but a wellspring of vibrant, energetic, resourceful, enterprising peoples who facilitated communication and change in all directions. In other words, Beckwith turns conventional wisdom on its head and makes Central Eurasia the core of human history, rather than the embarrassing backwater which it is usually portrayed as. Perhaps his greatest contribution is in the powerful, sustained epilogue, where he shatters a whole galaxy of misconceptions about the dreaded 'barbarians.'




It is colonialism and the rise of the Oceanic West that gave rise to this myth that it is the backwaters of human history and is far from the truth.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby svinayak » 15 May 2009 01:41

ramana wrote:


It is colonialism and the rise of the Oceanic West that gave rise to this myth that it is the backwaters of human history and is far from the truth.

This book needs to be discussed and may give a clue to what is the thinking of the western countries.

This is a psy ops book but it is trying to understand the region which is going to determine the fate of the world in the 21st century.

It talks about Aryan invasion theory but avoids the use of the word AIT. Quotes Rigveda as if it their property. Talks in brief about all countries, linguistics, migration, Iran-indic split, China, Russia, India blah blah.
Then he also mentions "Hindu Fundamentalism" in India and how India will play a greater role in the new century

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Samay » 23 May 2009 17:33


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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby svinayak » 28 May 2009 23:53

Image

See how the Indian influence has been reduced to the lowest level in current times compared to recent centuries

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby RamaY » 29 May 2009 00:44

^^^

Thanks Acharya-ji. A picture is worth more than 1000 words.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby ShyamSP » 29 May 2009 01:07

RamaY wrote:^^^

Thanks Acharya-ji. A picture is worth more than 1000 words.


Yes. Everybody worried about China encircling India by itself. It is actually US encircled India. Now US is outsourcing some of that to China as part of Afpak strategy.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Gerard » 29 May 2009 01:31

What pretty lines on that map.

Why does Indian territory (Andaman Islands) have a yellow dot? The warships and fighters there don't count?

Why do they not show the Indian facilities in Madagascar? Or in Tajikistan? Or Indian influence in Mauritius? Or Sechelles? Or the facilities there? Or influence in say Mozambique? Or Oman? Or the ties with Israel? etc etc
What about Singapore? Training of Singapore military in India doesn't count?

Because they break the so called "control line" ? Because 'encirclement' doesn't look so convincing otherwise?

In trying to find conspiracies and secret alliances everywhere, one risks becoming gullible for all sorts of psy-ops and exaggerating the influence and power of others.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Atri » 29 May 2009 01:39

ShyamSP wrote:
RamaY wrote:^^^

Thanks Acharya-ji. A picture is worth more than 1000 words.


Yes. Everybody worried about China encircling India by itself. It is actually US encircled India. Now US is outsourcing some of that to China as part of Afpak strategy.


Great picture, Acharya ji...

IMHO, for time being, we should not bother about USA's Vyuha-Rachana around India... The immediate concern is how to break the outsourcing move.. Myanmar-Vietnam-Taiwan has to be the Indian string of pearls to undo that out sourcing..

If Myanmar-Vietnam proves to be time consuming or difficult, the other alternative thrust should be Indonesia-Vietnam-Taiwan. In either case, Vietnam should be made more friendly with India than it is with China.. The Sino-Vietnamese relations are usually strained.. The coastline of Vietnam gives tremendous leverage and control on the trade-routes and the south-China sea.

I did not understand why Acharya ji showed Andaman & Nicobar under strong Chinese influence though..... Same with Mauritius and other Indian ocean Islands...
Last edited by Atri on 29 May 2009 01:49, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby RamaY » 29 May 2009 01:49

^^^

Acharya-ji, is this your pic? If so, could you pls share the original file so we too can play out the scenarios?

thanks

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby svinayak » 29 May 2009 02:50

RamaY wrote:
Acharya-ji, is this your pic? If so, could you pls share the original file so we too can play out the scenarios?

:D - This is not my pic. I did not draw it. I will post another one which needs discussion.



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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Rudradev » 29 May 2009 07:04

My take: the first map represents the US moves or options to contain China by (chiefly maritime) encirclement.

The second represents Chinese countermoves against Western domination by (a) pushing forward its sphere of influence to south and west on the "Asian" front upto the Middle East and (b) increasing its influence on the Pacific front through such proxies as Venezuela and Ecuador, sowing the seeds for future encirclement of America.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby shiv » 29 May 2009 08:38

Image

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby John Snow » 29 May 2009 08:48

As usual our guru Acharya ji does not credit the source, unless ofcourse by not doing so he is credited. Phew

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby John Snow » 29 May 2009 08:54

ANybody read A tournament of Shadows?

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby svinayak » 29 May 2009 10:59

Rudradev wrote:My take: the first map represents the US moves or options to contain China by (chiefly maritime) encirclement.

The second represents Chinese countermoves against Western domination by (a) pushing forward its sphere of influence to south and west on the "Asian" front upto the Middle East and (b) increasing its influence on the Pacific front through such proxies as Venezuela and Ecuador, sowing the seeds for future encirclement of America.


The first one is correct as you have described. It is actual response from all the forward bases to China conflict zone. THis map is by me with inputs from web.

The second is a fault line which is showing up from the history of conflict across the fault zones in the last 100 years. This fault line has been described in Z Brzezinski book - The Grand Chess Board written in 1997.
2001/2003/2005 had never happened when the book was written. Brihaspati had put this map before. I have redone this with a political map.

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby svinayak » 29 May 2009 11:00

John Snow wrote:As usual our guru Acharya ji does not credit the source, unless ofcourse by not doing so he is credited. Phew

Credit is yours only :mrgreen:

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Samay » 30 May 2009 00:50


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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

Postby Samay » 30 May 2009 00:59

Acharya wrote:
Rudradev wrote:My take: the first map represents the US moves or options to contain China by (chiefly maritime) encirclement.

The second represents Chinese countermoves against Western domination by (a) pushing forward its sphere of influence to south and west on the "Asian" front upto the Middle East and (b) increasing its influence on the Pacific front through such proxies as Venezuela and Ecuador, sowing the seeds for future encirclement of America.


The first one is correct as you have described. It is actual response from all the forward bases to China conflict zone. THis map is by me with inputs from web.

The second is a fault line which is showing up from the history of conflict across the fault zones in the last 100 years. This fault line has been described in Z Brzezinski book - The Grand Chess Board written in 1997.
2001/2003/2005 had never happened when the book was written. Brihaspati had put this map before. I have redone this with a political map.

THE BRITISH STRATEGY FOR GLOBAL CONQUEST
U.S, following 100 year old British Strategy

The military strategists of the British Empire have long had an actual plan for the military conquest and enslavement of the entire planet, and this plan for global conquest was based on the military realities which they believed any would-be world conqueror would encounter. The British strategic plan for world conquest and the military perspective which it is based upon both predate World War One, and both probably existed long before that. The earliest known statement of this plan for world conquest was expressed by imperial strategist Halford Mackinder, who outlined the central global strategic problem in 1904 in a letter to the British Royal Geographical Society. The letter was entitled, "The Geographical Pivot of History." The most pertinent part of this letter is quoted later on, and requires only a minimum of reading between the lines.

The most recent significant restatement of this plan for world conquest was made by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who asserted that world domination would require the conquest of the center of the Eurasian landmass. They also believed that if they did not seize the Eurasian interior, whoever was in possession of it would have the global strategic edge, and would thus likely ultimately go on to conquer the world.

Here’s why they formed this military perspective. Britain was a naval power, and therefore, as a rule of thumb, they could apply military force with relative ease near the shores of the oceans anywhere on the globe. That was the good news. The bad news was that the further from the coast their military objective was, the harder it was to apply force to it. The invading British armies were tethered to their fleets, because their armies needed the re-supply and the firepower support of their navy.

Look at a map of the world. You will see that the area furthest from any ocean is the deep interior of the Eurasian land mass. The British reasoned that if they could conquer the Eurasian interior, they would then be able to apply force from this region against the neighboring countries while the British fleet would attack as usual against their coastal regions. Thus Russia, China, India and all of Europe would be forever under British military dominance, and thereby be eliminated as competitors in the struggle for world conquest. They reasoned that the remainder of the globe was a far lesser military challenge, which could be managed with relative military ease by the British fleet, and thus easily accessible coastal regions of the remainder of the world were not the focus of their military plans as was the absolutely vital Eurasian interior.

One of the agenda items of the British Empire is the culling of most of the people on the planet Earth. They also intend that the mass of the remaining population will be reduced to peasant social status, and kept in perpetual ignorance so that any revolt against their overlords will be impossible. By these means they intend to establish a global empire which will rule the world for all time without any possibility of being overthrown, either by any competing empires, which will all have been eliminated, or by the peasants, who will be held in perpetual bondage and therefore likewise unable to rise up against the oligarchs.

The following quoted passage is from a letter written by British imperial strategist Halford Mackinder to the British Royal Geographical Society. The letter was entitled, "The Geographical Pivot of History."

"As we consider this rapid review of the broader currents of history, does not a certain persistence of geographical relationship become evident? Is not the pivot region of the world’s politics that vast area of Euro-Asia which is inaccessible to ships, but in antiquity lay open to the horse riding nomads, and is today about to be covered with a network of railways. There have been and are here the conditions of a mobility of military and economic power of a far-reaching and yet limited character. Russia replaces the Mogul empire. Her pressure on Finland, on Scandinavia, on Poland, on Turkey, on Persia, on India, on China replaces the centrifugal raids of the steppe-men. In the world at large she occupies the central strategically position held by Germany in Europe. In conclusion, it may be well expressly to point out that the substitution of some new control of inland area for that of Russia would not tend to reduce the geographical significance of the pivot point. Were the Chinese, for instance, organized by the Japanese, to overthrow the Russian Empire and conquer its territory, they might constitute the Yellow Peril to the world’s freedom."

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Re: Understanding the Great Game and role of India & Asian stabi

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