great games...?

So Jeff Vail thinks we need to be watching events in Georgia and Azerbaijan. Read all about it. Congruent to his post is yet another good background article from the eXile.
Taking these two sources at their word paints a different portrait of international affairs, one where Iraq is a gory sideshow that enables America's rivals to make strides in controlling oil wealth. Putin is one sneaky fucker, and being the underdog seems to prioritize one's ambitions. You get the feeling that the Bush regime has been on top for so long, they don't really take international jockeying for power very seriously. Or at least, they're not very good at it. Now American power is effectively hamstrung in Iraq for the forceseeable future, and look at just how quickly the political universe has shifted. John Perkins wrote a very good book called Confessions of an Economic Hitman (very highly recommended, btw) in which he bleakly predicts a coup against Chavez. Of course, we saw how that turned out. Suddenly, with its power and attention directed elsewhere, an entire continent has swung out of American influence.
I tend to look at these developments, yeah even the ascension of an execrable spook like Putin, as a positive development. Any shift in international politics that gets us away from such a harmful power imbalance such as the once that has existed will hopefully open pockets of opportunity for genuine change.

I think that there's far too much attention paid to visions of a 'great game' in international politics. Self-described 'realists' tend to revise history as the rich man's parlour game: all world events are seen as nothing more than the gambits of world leaders. There's definitely something happening in Central Asia, however. If you want to characterize it as a game, I recommend that you always bet on the hungrier human.


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