Pipelineistan and the New Silk Road(s) By Pepe Escobar
This is a version of a paper presented this week at the annual conference of the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore.
SINGAPORE - Ask Western elites - oh, those were the days, in the 17th century, when the rise of European sea powers led to the collapse of the caravan trade and the end of the Silk Road as Europe found a cheaper - and safer - way of trading between East and West.
Now, centuries after Tang armies establishing nodes all over
Central Asia as far as Khorasan in northeast Iran, the 21st century Silk Road(s) are back. The camels now wear iPads, with the Persian Gulf as a high-tech caravanserai.
Si chou zhi lu ("Silk Road" in Mandarin). What's in a name? Trouble. A lot of trouble. At least if you ask the Pentagon, which places most of these roads - from the Persian Gulf to Central Asia and even the South China Sea - smack in the middle of its famous "arc of instability". In parallel, in rising Eastern latitudes, it's Dream Team time: and the name of the game is Eurasian integration.
Who's the real Iron Man in this picture? It has to be Beijing Man, expanding his economy at a dizzying pace, securing all the resources he needs - not only oil and gas but by being the world's largest consumer of aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, zinc, tin, iron ore - and breathlessly moving global power tectonic plates.
So no wonder Beijing is appalled by the carnage/civil war forced upon Syria by foreign actors; that's bad for business. The PRC has historically viewed Syria as aning jiu li - a cohesive force in the Arab world - in many aspects the epicenter of the Arab world, and much more progressive, socially, than the Persian Gulf. And while Beijing always praised Syria's stability, the Syrian establishment had been in thrall to China's economic miracle.
When the saints go marchin' in What we are experiencing now could be described as The Long March West (from the point of view of Beijing) versus The Short March East, as in Pivoting to Asia (from the point of view of Washington). READ MORE