Artwork by Jennifer Faust. More can be found on her Facebook Page
By Patrick Brogan
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a coalition of Asian nations. This is part of a continuing theme of an Eastern bloc that is rising to challenge the supremacy of the US. After the collapse of the USSR, the Americans had no competition in terms of dominating geopolitics. Now a collection of nations is looking to disrupt the status quo.
What is it?
In its own words; “The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism” and now includes India and Pakistan.
What are its goals? They include “strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.”
The World Getting Smaller
Since the start of the 20th Century, and more so after WW2, the nations of the Earth have moved closer and closer through inter-governmental organisations like the EU, the African Union, the UN, NATO, Interpol, the IMF and so on, so forth. This is not uncommon. What makes the SCO different is that it is clearly fixed on removing the US off its perch whereas these other bodies are trying to it keep in place.
The SCO is just the tip of the iceberg. What gives the US a lot of its power over other nations is it controls most financial tools. Oil is a good example. Washington does this through the petrodollar. Nearly all the world’s oil is traded through this. Just this week, Karl wrote an article for this site about how the Chinese are taking on the petrodollar with their own Yuan, gold backed oil futures. This is huge. The ramifications are clear, this could weaken, and is designed to do so, America’s hegemony over oil. This has been tried a few times before. Saddam Hussein changed to Euro-based oil transactions and Libya under Gaddafi tried something similar with a gold-based dinar. For more on this, view the video below;
This follows on from Russia and China establishing an alternative to the dollar as the world’s reserve currency a few years back. The BRICS nations of Brasil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have long sought to establish their own organisations and alternatives to those set up in the Anglo-American world. This includes the New Development Bank, which will fund projects in the BRICS nations and developing countries, in essence, a rival to the IMF and World Bank. This is somewhat similar to the Asian Development Bank only without the influence of North American and European nations. Added to this is China’s One Belt, One Road, or new Silk Road, “mega-infrastructure project”. This will cost $1.3 trillion with the aim of linking China to Europe through land, sea and communications. India is also creating its own equivalent, called the North-South Transport Corridor that will link India to Iran, the oil-rich Caspian Sea, the Caucasus and on to Russia.
So, why the need to create such projects? There is a bit of one-upmanship going on between these countries, that is true, but the major reason is cutting the US out of the loop. None of these countries trust the US and this can be justified to some degree.
The US Empire
While numerous factors contributed to American dominance, factors like resources, population, education and geography are important, the reason they stayed there is more straight forward. Money. The US controls the global economy. The dollar is the de facto global currency. Agencies like the IMF and World Bank protect US business interests and manipulate lending to further enhance that. Then there are sanctions and the like that crush any opposition. Then there is the military.
The Americans do love a good invasion or intervention. The list of countries the US has had some military role in is huge. Countries like Argentina, Chile, Haiti, Nicaragua, China, Korea and Panama have all suffered in the far past. This has only gotten worse since WW2. Many of these military operations we know about, but there is also speculation about the CIA having hampered the natural process in other countries to suit the US. They have admitted to some of these.
In fact, according to this map, I counted 47 countries the US has invaded since 1890, many of these on multiple occasions. It must be added, that it could be argued there should be many more on the list. There was always a different reason for being involved. We all know about the fear of Communism and radical Islamic terrorists, but there have been many other excuses given. Protecting Christianity, royal succession, defeating oppressive empires, protecting American corporations, defeating Fascism, spreading Democracy… All of this without a hint of irony that most of these countries are thousands of miles away from the US and are clearly no threat. There is always a reason to go to war.
And the nations of the CSO are worried about the US presence in many surrounding countries. NATO has hemmed in Russia on one side. The US has troops in South Korea and Japan on the other. There are nearly 40,000 active at any one time in Japan alone. The US military is present in 70% of the world as explained below;
In short, this is a theory that the current wars in the Middle East are about weakening European dependency on Russian energy. The pipeline would go from Qatar to Turkey and then on to Europe. The catch is Iraq and Syria did not want the pipeline going through their countries and this is part of the reason we have seen conflict there. Russia, looking after its own interests, is backing the al-Assad regime for this very reason. It’s an interesting theory and has many critics. However, it might not be as ridiculous as its detractors make out.
Afghanistan on the Grand Chessboard
Pipelines had been suggested before and after the US invasion of the country back in 2001. Turkmenistan started work on a pipeline that will go through Afghanistan and on to Pakistan and India. Indeed, Afghanistan is a very important country in terms of its location and resources. The British and Russians long had eyes on this prize. With over $1 trillion in untapped mineral wealth is it any wonder why?
Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former National Security Advisor, in his book The Grand Chessboard described America’s interest in the region thusly; “For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia… America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasia continent is sustained.
“About 75 per cent of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world’s known energy sources.” So, its importance in the “grand chessboard” cannot be understated.
The Genesis of SCO
What gave birth to this organisation? Eastern paranoia. Eastern culture is not like the fast pace living of English speaking countries. Families and tribes have long memories. They have been in their areas for thousands of years. Whilst each of these nations is very different to the others, they do share one trait in common; they are in each of those regions so long it is almost like they are part of the soil. As they were in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Korea…
We must look at a country that will not be joining the SCO anytime soon; Japan. Let’s not forget that America’s most important ally in the region was the only place that had an atomic bomb dropped on it in an act of war. With friends like that… Hiroshima and Nagasaki had untold damage done on to them. Enola Gay; such a harmless sounding name.
Critics and historians often say that dropping the bomb was necessary as it ended the war and saved many millions in the long term. How do people appoint themselves to make such decisions? Playing God.
The Power of Japan
The reality was the Japanese were on the rack. Although they would not surrender, they were completely surrounded and had no way of winning the war. The response by the Americans was overkill, literally. The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the Americans telling the world we are in charge now. Step out of line and you’re next.
Japan was the perfect country to target for this. They had developed an Empire on the back of its industrial and military might. Japan was also an isolationist country for most of its history. They had a very different culture from the rest of Asia. If they could break Japan, they could break anybody. And, it did just that to anyone that stood in their way. Korea; flattened. Libya; destroyed. Vietnam; obliterated. Here is a short, but entertaining video about Japan;
This is not an attempt to bash the people of the US, far from it. In fact, most Americans are unaware of what is done in their name. Why is this? The people that are supposed to inform the US public are not doing that. Not only is war good for ratings, but there is evidence to suggest that they are very much invested in war. Also, the CIA has a long history of interfering in journalism and even to this day, The Washington Post is heavily linked to the CIA.
Winston Churchill described it as the Cabal. The real rulers of the world. And they have America embroiled in never ending wars. You have to ask the question; if America is so unwilling to compromise then are they possibly the bad guy? Empires; evil. Communism; evil. Islamic extremists (who they initially funded); evil. Then, they replace each of these with something clearly worse. Gaddafi, Hussein and al-Assad. I’m no apologist for any of these men. They were tyrants and human rights abusers, but are ISIS really a better solution? The attacks on the Kurds were given as one reason for ousting Saddam. If that is so, why is there no Kurdistan still?
The reality is none of the SCO countries are a paradise, they’re nearly the opposite. The people suffer under brutal regimes. The socioeconomic conditions are appalling and the lack of basic freedoms are difficult for a Westerner to get their head around. The SCO is certainly not the answer. A demilitarised world where everyone respects each other, but cooperates is. What the SCO is is just a knee-jerk reaction. Sometimes a knee-jerk reaction is all that is needed to create an avalanche.
There is uncertainty enveloping the world. America appears to be totally isolationist. While Australia and Britain may, in theory, support US foreign policy, once the mushroom clouds start appearing it will be a different story. Not least because the ordinary citizens of these countries would not stand for it.
The SCO is not a counter to power but a means of taking it for themselves. The Grand Chessboard is back in play. Although some of these countries have not been major players in global affairs for a while, this is no longer the case. They are all on the ascendancy and certainly stronger together. However, for those that are hoping this will be a counter to American hegemony and thus making the world a better place you will be sorely disappointed. All of these countries have a dubious record when it comes to human rights and corruption. How can China move “towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order” when it has not done so in its own nation? May be some good will come of this, but looking at each of these countries, I’m not sure what exactly they can offer to a liberal and democratic Western society.
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