The very vocal desire to maintain the global supremacy is perhaps the main feature of the ‘American exceptionalism.’
The American exceptionalism is composed of three related ideas:
- The history of the United States is inherently different from that of any other nation
- The USA has a unique mission to transform the world
- The history and mission of the United States give it a superiority over the other nations
Obviously, the world thinks differently, but that has never discouraged the American thinkers and politicians from making plans for the American supremacy that should last forever plus six months.
Some of the finest minds in the United States have devoted considerable time and thought in chasing this idea.
One such person, who created a believable model with very specific features for maintaining the American supremacy, was Zbigniew Brzezinski. He was a diplomat, a statesman, an author, a political thinker, but above all he was a teacher; a teacher par excellence.
Even in life, he was larger than life.
At the end of the Cold War he was of the view that it is the first time in history that a power that is not located in the Eurasian landmass is in a position to shape the economy and politics of Eurasia, and therefore, the world.
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Viewing from Central Asia, we always respect his courage to ignore the party lines for the sake of intellectual honesty.
His book ‘The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives’ is never out of our sight or our mind.
Published in 1997, it had already gained the status of a classic by the time Brzezinski passed away in 2017.
This book is especially relevant for us because two of the three countries he spotlights for the successful American strategy – Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan – are in this neighbourhood.
Brzezinski repeatedly said that the American supremacy in the Eurasian landmass cannot be taken for granted. He predicted that in a generation or two some serious contenders would appear from within the Eurasian continent.
‘The Grand Chessboard’ is more than just a book; it is a roadmap and plan to Keep American Great (for as long as possible.
He gave very precise recommendations on how to do that.
However, when we look at the performance of the Trump administration so far, a simple truth begs to be noticed – while all the intended objectives of President Trump are perfectly in line with the vision of Brzezinski, his actions at every step are exactly in the opposite direction.
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The purpose of the book, as described by Brzezinski in the Introduction: “The ultimate objective of American policy should be benign and visionary: to shape a truly cooperative global community, in keeping with long-range trends and with the fundamental interests of humankind. But in the meantime, it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America. The formulation of a comprehensive and integrated Eurasian geostrategy is therefore the purpose of this book.”
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The concluding chapter of the book where Brzezinski sums up his arguments, starts with a statement that may sound like bragging today but was, more or less, true at the time of publication of the book in 1997: “America is now the only global superpower, and Eurasia is the globe’s central arena. Hence, what happens to the distribution of power on the Eurasian continent will be of decisive importance to America’s global primacy and to America’s historical legacy.”
There was nothing humble about Brzezinski. Perhaps this is part of the price you pay for knowing that you are a genius, head and shoulders above everyone else.
If his statement just describes the factual position without boasting, another sentence a couple paragraphs down certainly sounds like boasting. He says, “America is now Eurasia’s arbiter, with no major Eurasian issue soluble without America’s participation or contrary to America’s interests.”
Brzezinski was of the view that at least for another generation or two “No nation-state is likely to match America in the four key dimensions of power (military, economic, technological, and cultural) that cumulatively produce decisive global political clout. Short of a deliberate or unintentional American abdication, the only real alternative to American global leadership in the foreseeable future is international anarchy.”
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Even the intellect of the highest magnitude has its limitations. That is what makes life very interesting. —– While planning ahead, it is just not possible to foresee all the variables that are going to shape the future events. As we move forward in time a point comes where the best planning of yester-years enters into the realm of wishful thinking unless adjusted to match the changing realities.
While Brzezinski departed with the message to Keep America Great, Trump arrived with the slogan to make ‘Make America Great Again.’
Brzezinski said in the concluding chapter, “How the United States both manipulates and accommodates the principal geostrategic players on the Eurasian chessboard and how it manages Eurasia’s key geopolitical pivots will be critical to the longevity and stability of America’s global primacy.”
This sentence is rather broad in scope, covering both the viewpoints – Keep America Great, and Make America Great Again.
It is mesmerizing to see that Trump promises to Make America Great Again (obviously admitting that it is not great any more) while taking every step in the opposite direction.
The distance between the vision of Brzezinski and the actions of Trump is increasing with the passage of time.
The ghost of Brzezinski haunts the Trump administration. /// nCa, 8 October 2019
To be continued . . .