The term “Great Game” was coined in the nineteenth century to describe the rivalry between Russia and Britain. The ill-fated Anglo-Afghan war of 1839–42 was precipitated by fears that the Russians were encroaching on British interests in India after Russia established a diplomatic and trade presence in Afghanistan. Already by the nineteenth century there was no such thing as neutral territory. The entire world was now a gigantic playing field for the major industrial powers, and Eurasia was the center of this playing field.
The game motif is useful as a metaphor for the broader rivalry between nations and economic systems with the rise of imperialism and the pursuit of world power. This game has gone through two major transformations since the days of Russian-British rivalry, with the rise first of Communism and then of Islam as world forces opposing imperialism.
The main themes of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games include:
- US imperial strategy as an outgrowth of British imperialism, and its transformation following the collapse of the Soviet Union;
- the significance of the creation of Israel with respect to the imperial project;
- the repositioning of Russia in world politics after the collapse of the Soviet Union;
- the emerging role of China and Iran in Eurasia;
- the emerging opposition to the US and NATO.
As the critical literature on NATO, the new Russia, and the Middle East is fragmented, this work brings these elements together in historical perspective with an understanding from the Arab/ Muslim world’s point of view, as it is the main focus of all the “Great Games”. It strives to bridge the gap between Western, Russian and Middle Eastern readers with an analysis that is accessible and appeals to all critical thinkers, and at the same time provides the tools to analyze the current game as it evolves.
The Great Games of yore – Britain vs. Russia and their empires in the 19th century, and the US vs. the Soviet Union in the 20th century – no longer translate merely as the US vs. Russia or Russia/ China. A major new player is a collective one, NATO, which today is as vital as the emperor’s clothes to justify the global reach of US imperialism. Today, the “playing field” – the geopolitical context – is broader than it was in either the 19th or 20th century games, though Eurasia continues to be “center field”, where most of the world’s population and energy resources lie.
The existence of Israel is an anomaly which seriously complicates the shaping of the geopolitical game. Its roles in the Great Games as both colony and an imperial power in its own right, is analyzed in the context of the history of Judaism and its relations with both the western Christian and the Muslim worlds.
JIM MILES, Foreign Policy Journal and Palestine Chronicle –
“Eric Walberg’s treatise on the Great Games, on Empire, is an excellent read. It is not a blow by blow account of the rise and fall of empires involved with the Great Games, but an accounting of their methods and raison d’etre. It is a dense read, provocative, bold, touching on ideas that seldom appear in mainstream presentations. It is a significant and important addition to the geopolitical and political-military thinking of the global cultural environment of finance and wars.”
JIM MILES, Foreign Policy Journal and Palestine Chronicle
KEVIN BARRETT, Veterans Today –
“the best introduction to geopolitics that I have seen”
KEVIN BARRETT, Veterans Today
GILAD ALTZMON, Counterpunch –
“Walberg’s “Postmodern Imperialism” is a landmark text, written at a crucial moment in time. For the West, America and Americans, this may be a final wake-up call.”
GILAD ALTZMON, Counterpunch
RAMZY BAROUD, Al-Arabiya –
“In his brilliant and newly released book, “Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Game”, Eric Walberg astutely charts NATO’s role following the end of the Cold War. NATO “has become the centerpiece of the (US) empire’s military presence around the world, moving quickly to respond to US needs to intervene where the UN
won’t as in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya.””
RAMZY BAROUD, Al-Arabiya
JOHN BELL, AUTHOR OF CAPITALISM AND THE DIALECTIC (2009) –
“Walberg’s provocative work traces the transformation of the imperial world through the twentieth century. It is a valuable resource for all those interested in how imperialism works, and is sure to spark discussion about the theory of imperialism and the dialectic of history.”
JOHN BELL, AUTHOR OF CAPITALISM AND THE DIALECTIC (2009)
GAMAL NKHRUMAH, international editor, Al-Ahram Weekly, Cairo –
“Imperialism is as alive today as in the days of the original Great Game. Central Asia and the Middle East are as strategically important today for the US and Great Britain as they were in earlier games, if for different reasons. Postmodern Imperialismis a continuation of Kwame Nkrumah’s Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (1965) and carries forward the struggle of the pen against the sword.”
GAMAL NKHRUMAH, international editor, Al-Ahram Weekly, Cairo
PAUL ATWOOD, American Studies, University of Massachusetts –
“Those who think that the “Great Game” played for control of Central Asia is a superannuated relic of Europe’s imperial past must read Walberg’s epic corrective to their egregious error. In extensive, richly textured and carefully documented detail he reveals the evolution of this competition into the planetary quest for dominance it has become, as well as the imperatives animating its new “players,” among whom many will find, to their surprise or consternation, tiny Israel and its symbiotic liaison with America Inc. Prime imperial architect, Zbigniew Brzezinski actually called the blood-soaked playing field The Grand Chessboard, but like all his rapacious forebears omitted to mention the pawns. Walberg places them at the heart of this much needed remediation of the sinister falsehoods propagated in a political culture manufactured from above and offers hope that this anti-human playboard may yet be overturned.”
PAUL ATWOOD, American Studies, University of Massachusetts
and author of War and Empire: The American Way of Life (2010)
Muslim World Book News –
“as much of a sober analytical study of European history as any issuing from the worldview of Eurocentric modernism…”
Muslim World Book News
ZIAD MUNA, AL JAZEERA –
“The author has succeeded in describing the conditions and objectives of the post-modern imperialism and to clarify it as a continuation of classical imperialism; the book contains a wealth of information, and will be an important reference for understanding the historical and current events, and expectations for the future.”
ZIAD MUNA, AL JAZEERA
PEPE ESCOBAR, roving correspondent for Asia Times, –
“Walberg’s book is a sharp and concise energizer package required to understand what may follow ahead of the Great 2011 Arab Revolt and related geopolitical earthquakes. It’s a carefully argued—and most of all, cliche-smashing—road map showing how the New Great Game in Eurasia is in fact part of a continuum since the mid-19th century. Particularly refreshing is how Walberg characterizes Great Games I, II and III—their strategies and their profiteers. Walberg also deconstructs an absolute taboo—at least in the West: how the US/Israeli embrace has been a key feature of the modern game. It will be hard to understand the complex machinery of post-imperialism without navigating this ideology-smashing road map.”
PEPE ESCOBAR, roving correspondent for Asia Times,
author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is
Dissolving into Liquid War (2007)
European Journal of American Studies –
“Walberg’s volume is a bold attempt to make sense of the contemporary world we live in. His analyses and interpretations provide another and more critical way of seeing the events that have occurred over the century. For those who are searching for a critical perspective and stance towards US foreign policy and the role of Israel in global affairs, then Postmodern Imperialism is an ideal selection.”
European Journal of American Studies