Thursday, December 22, 2011

When Giants Change Gears

When Giants Change Gears

It is undoubtedly factual as enunciated by history that the world is usually, as could be perceived somehow, in disguisable serene when there is one mighty superpower on the throne. But this is not often so if the situations do not align with the wishes of the empire. Otherwise, the world headed by the United States today would not have wars going on in it.  Just like the empires that have long gone, the superpower has some responsibilities in what goes on, either normally or abnormally.

The biblical empires’ periods of calmness indicate that throughout history, mankind had become accustomed to the presence of one mighty power in order to remain disciplined and governable. It was evident in the following biblical empires:

1st world power = EGYPT (in power to 1491 BC) 

2nd world power=ASSYRIA (1491 - 606 BC) 

3rd world power=BABYLON (606 - 538 BC)
4th world power=Medo/Persia  (538 - 333 BC) 

5th world power=GREECE (333 - 44 BC) 

6th world power=ROME (44 BC - 476 AD)[1]

These biblical periods were weird in many respects just like their heirs apparent namely:

The British Empire in the grips of the UK and then
The American Empire now headed by the USA.

These periods have been relatively unruffled due to the Mighty Power exercising its muscles when necessary to keep all and sundry under control, - hence world peace. Sheer miscalculations by the powerful can sometimes, as it had always been in history, put the world through periods of unrest and uncertainties. We all remember the WMDs, call them Weapons of Mass Destruction that were never found in Iraq. The unproven assumption by the United States and allies that Iraq was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, a situation which led to the invasion, was a miscalculation by the strongest. The resultant militancy by Al Qaeda and sectoral religious groups in Iraq was a reaction to an attack on their country which they knew was not justified. Many civilians have so far lost their lives in the wake of the war in Iraq and in the continuing militancy there.

In today’s United State superiority, the game of the period had been played differently but much the same as in all other empires that have gone before it.  Though absolute force is not often used but used excessively when needed, the game has continued to be played based on submissions or alliances, political and economic control through dissemination and enforcement of democratic ideals and practices. No one can misjudge the weapon of economic control in which the mightiest and richest power asks and coerces all countries to play by the rules of the game. Through the use of this powerful Market Nuke, weak third world will continue to be pushed down into the economic abyss.

On November 7, President Obama came to Australia and announced in the Australian parliament that ‘the United States is a Pacific nation’ and authoritatively laced his speech with a forceful intonation of a highly regarded rhetoric; ‘we are here to stay.’

It was a tone that would nerve any emerging nation with intention to prosperity without checks. No question the Chinese were not happy. They might have seen this as the US policy of containment of China in South East Asia. Remember ‘Chineseness’ drives the Chinese and the Chinese controlled economies of most countries in the region play the game of economic cultural attachment to mainland China. Some countries such as Singapore and Indonesia have Chinese with motherland attachments who are economically strong and control 90 percent of national economies. So what is America saying here? The East will always be yellow and this should be clear to any power at the helm.

Chinese reaction to American geographic assertion into the Pacific region was to denounce Washington-Canberra’s re-alliance in military cooperation closer to home, for this was the reason behind the rhetoric. Many nations, America included,  might see Chinese uncontrollable advance in economic progress as the reason why the US is literally disconcerted. America could be right. Chinese developmental advance in the past decades had been marvelous. The speed at which they overtook Japan and became the second most powerful economy in the world still mesmerizes the Western world. 

The worry, however, is the evidence we have in history when two or more strong powers engage in sort of national or multinational interests. For instance, when America, USSR, and China swirled in a military confrontation over Korea in the 1950s, it resulted in the fragmentation of the Korean society and led to an eventual division of the country into two separate nations - with one country going wildly nuclear. Millions of relatives were stranded on either side of the border and the two countries, thereafter, became sworn enemies for eternity. Could the same situation be repeated in this disguised war of economic control? If the tactics applied in this economic supremacy become so serious leading to proxy skirmishes, as it is evident in the case of China and the US, the probability is zero that least strong and friendly countries gawping on both sides may end up caught in the mix of war and muscular exhibition.

Who should then worry if this scuffle ensues? South Sudan will be among those who should need to worry. In the same week that America made her intention in the Pacific, China declared it was boosting military ties with Khartoum. Sudan accepts one China policy, which threatens war if Taiwan declares independence and also denounces Tibetan fiddling around with demands of more autonomy in China than they have now. China is a major trading partner of Sudan purchasing at least one-fifth of its industrial oil through and from Sudan. It also fears the American eye of providence in South Sudan where most of the oil wells it depends on are situated and owned. China sees America in South Sudan as a potential threat to her source of oil. 

Had Sudan put one Sudan policy on the table of friendship with China? No one knows. But it would be clear Sudan needs Chinese support to control South Sudanese oil.

The assurance Sudan got from China in establishing military ties was the reason that led to  Khartoum stepping up its military incursions in Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains, South Sudan and Southern Khordufan. It was a conspicuous demonstration that Sudan's actions were consequences of guaranteed support and backing of the giant: China. Sudan further exploited this opportunity and commenced forceful nipping of South Sudanese oil for payment in kind. Who was going to buy that oil? It would be awe for all to see the justifiable conditions under which South Sudanese national commodity would be traded without the consensual approval of the owner.

The truth is that Khartoum will not shut down South Sudanese oil flow, for China, the big partner would not like it. South Sudan can’t shut down the oil flow either for the wrath of the biggest buyer, which in this case is China, would be hard to bear. But the latter has the sole decision over her resources and would surprise the world in the scenario in which its national pride and independence appear to be at stake.

China and Russia have always been agitated where America appears to have an interest. American interests in South Sudan, though not so significant, may cause the young nation some snags. With Chinese in the north and American influence in the South, the situation is symptomatic to Afghanistan in 1979 where Afghans suffered under the feet of Americans and Soviets; Vietnam in 1955 where Vietnamese became the undergrowth between Soviets and Americans and Korea; a country that was split up willy-nilly and China and America saw eye to eye and nose to nose with the Koreans paying the price. Today the world may risk paying the ultimate price because one of the Koreas has Nukes!! These guns are awful. Whose making is it? Perhaps the empire can answer that.

Will South Sudan suffer the same fate? We pray not. But we must be careful.

[1] The Chronology of World Empires,

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