Tuesday, October 25, 2016
(Note: Please reference the conversation broadcast 10/24/2016 on the radio program OnPoint <https://disqus.com/home/discussion/wburfm/garry_kasparov_is_watching_russia_move_on_election_2016/#edit-2966574554>. Note also that this post regarding the Kasparov/Cohen conversation bookends nicely to the immediately preceding post "ROSH HASHANAH - YOM KIPPUR 5777".)
VIEWPOINTS BY GARY KASPAROV AND STEPHEN COHEN NEED NOT BE PERCEIVED TO BE CONTRADICTORY; AND, THEIR COMBINED VIEWS MAY COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER AND ALLOW FOR A GREATER SENSE OF THE DEPTH OF THE REALITY.
Stress, be it personal stress or mass stress, may lead to xenophobia. Both Mr. Kasparov and Prof. Cohen have evidenced the existence of xenophobia in the context of the present issues under discussion, even though the word "xenophobia" was not itself under discussion.
Xenophobia may have both religious and political manifestations and consequences, especially when national, ethnic, racial, and economic factors are germane to stress and conflict. Such rampant xenophobia has obviously raised it's head above ground in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. And, while the world has it's eye's "over there", it is also true that xenophobia has it's constituencies in the USA, Europe, and Russia. The figureheads of these xenophobic constituencies are Putin, Trump, and (arguably) Clinton, and in Europe there are equivalent figureheads and equivalent constituencies.
There is no shortage of Superpower aggression, be it American, European, Russian, Chinese, and so on. Nor is there any shortage of aggression by proxy nations. So at issue, given the brinksmanship that may lead to war between the US and Russia, is whether or not these tensions may be released and relieved in ways that may trend to peace and not war.
The oil and gas wars in the Ukraine and in the Middle East represent the flip side of the coin that is the religious-political-national-ethnic-racial stew of currency that has been cooked too long and is burnt to the point that the entire oven may catch fire. Can the stew be saved?
Who in his or her right mind would expect Russia to sacrifice it's vital strategic control of Crimea? Is it too naive to suppose that Russia's xenophobia -- which is reflected by it's internal affairs and also by it's aggression in the Middle East, the Ukraine, and along the borders of the Baltic States -- may begin to ratchet down, if and only if the West comes to an agreement with Russia about the Ukraine?
If a glance at the map is at all suggestive, it is that the entire region of Baltic States, Belarus, and Ukraine (less Crimea) should be one larger political entity capable of common economy, common defense, and common economic and political ties with Russia to the east and Europe to the west. Only in this way may the constant game of the Cold War truly come to an end (reference the map below). Negotiating to bring the Cold War to it's final end may then coincide with bringing the Middle East War to an end.
Assad may or may not remain in power; but, the geography over which any Syrian regime rules may necessarily shrink in order to accommodate the rightful needs of Assad's enemies. Still, the future may see four Middle East oil and natural gas pipeline routes capable of supplying Europe: (1) Iran --> Iraq --> Syria -- Europe (2) Iraq --> Turkey --> Europe (3) Iraq --> Syria --> Europe (4) Qatar --> Saudi Arabia --> Jordan -- > Syria --> Turkey --> Europe (reference the maps below). Syria is a pathway for three of these routes and a distribution center for two of those routes. Oil politics reflects the balance of power in the Middle East. Rational minds should perceive that multiple players and multiple routes would be a win-win all around. The sooner that hostilities cease and peace is negotiated, then the sooner it will be that the devastated areas of the Middle East may be rebuilt, and that the majority of refugees may either return to their former homes or resettle to new homes.
It is likely that in redrawing the map of the Middle East, Syria may shrink and much of eastern Syria may be absorbed by into Iraq and Iraq may become a Confederation comprised of an Arab-Sunni Province, a Kurdish Province, and a Shiite Province (success would be contingent upon a Western supported "Marshall Plan" modeled after the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe subsequently to WW2).
Failure to accomplish peace in the manner described above may prove both Gary Kasparov and Stephen Cohen to be equally correct beyond their worst nightmares.