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Our World: The Contest for the Big Prize PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 24 May 2014 18:41

For the last three months, the world has been spun into a very serious crisis, an East West confrontation reminiscent of the standoffs between the Soviet Union and the West, a cold war which ended in 1991 following the demise of the Soviet Empire.  The recent crisis between the West and the Russian Federation [the name Russia was given after the dissolution of the Soviet Union], the crisis resulted from the latter’s annexation on March 18 of the Crimean peninsula, the Russian move was rejected by the United States the EU and Ukraine who reacted to it by imposing a series of sanctions, which included visa and travel bans and the freezing of bank accounts of some of the most senior Russian officials, but it exempted Putin himself, who in fact he responded to it to it by prompting rebellions in two very important provinces in the south eastern part of Ukraine [Donetsk and Lugansk] which are  populated by a majority of Russian speaking people who started with Putin’s help to arm themselves and began occupying official buildings and government offices, gaining increasing influence and power in their areas, who later on conducted referendums in their areas that showed an overwhelming preference by the people to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.  As of now the situation is stalled, but there is no doubt that Russia would ultimately absorb them.  This is not the final end of the game, this is only the first round in the war between Russia and the west for the control of Eurasia, because whoever controls Eurasia will be supreme in the world, Eurasia is the big prize.

Eurasia is the combined continental landmass of Europe and Asia.  From a physical-geography point of view Eurasia is a single continent, the concepts of Europe and Asia as distinct continents date back to antiquity but their borders are geologically arbitrary, with the Ural and Caucasus ranges being the main delimiters between the two.  Eurasia is inhabited by almost 5 billion people, more than 72.5% of the world's population: 60% in Asia and 12.5% in Europe it is located primarily in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Arctic Ocean on the north, and by Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean to the south, Eurasia is the largest of five or six continents, it covers around 20,460,000 square miles or around 36.2% of the Earth's total land area. Humans first settled in Eurasia from Africa, between 60,000 and 125,000 years ago and ever since the continents started interacting politically some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power, in that context Eurasia’s place in the worlds geopolitics is very critical, a power that dominates it would control most of the world’s physical wealth present in enterprises and underneath its soil, it accounts for about 60% world’s GDP  and about three fourth of the world ‘s known energy resources, this makes Eurasia the chief geopolitical prize, and who ever controls it would be dominant, and would rule supreme and for that reason its history has been a series of contests between various world powers to fulfil their quest for global supremacy.

Eurasia is thus the chessboard on which the struggle for global supremacy continues to be played.  Adolf Hitler realized the importance of it in his ambitions regarding global domination, it was very clear to him that it was the center of the world and that he who controls Eurasia controls the world, and thus he started World War II, which was in all respects a global war.  Had the war ended with a clear victory for Nazi Germany, a single European power might have enjoyed a global dominance, but its defeat propelled the  victors, the United States and the Soviet Union into very prominent positions, who became the successors to Europe’s unfulfilled quest for global supremacy.  Eurasia was such was such an exceptional prize they were unable to agree about sharing it, so almost immediately after the end of the war they started to clash about it and launched what came to be known as the cold war.  The cold war lasted for fifty years which ended with the defeat of the Soviet Empire and resulted in the dismemberment and fragmentation as a result of very serious economic and social strain which left the United States and for the first time as the only world’s single supper power.  This supremacy lasted for about a dozen of years and then the United States position was becoming increasingly challenged by the Russian federation’s strong minded and very assertive president Vladimir Putin.

On December 8, 1991, the presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, signed an accord, which declared the Soviet Union dissolved and established the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in its place, on December 21, 1991, the representatives of all Soviet republics except Georgia signed a Protocol, which confirmed the first accord.  On December 25, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev yielded to the inevitable and resigned as the President of the USSR, declaring the office extinct. He turned the powers that had been vested in the presidency over to Yeltsin.  That night, the Soviet flag was lowered for the last time, and the Russian tricolor was raised in its place.  The following day, the Supreme Soviet, the highest governmental body of the Soviet Union, voted both itself and the Soviet Union out of existence.  This is generally recognized as marking the official, final dissolution of the Soviet Union as a functioning state.  The Soviet Army originally remained under overall CIS command, but was soon absorbed into the different military forces of the newly independent states.  Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991, Russia was internationally recognized as its legal successor on the international stage.  To that end, Russia voluntarily accepted all Soviet foreign debt and claimed overseas Soviet properties as its own.  Under the 1992 Lisbon Protocol, Russia also agreed to receive all nuclear weapons remaining in the territory of other former Soviet republics.  Since then Russia began to be known as the Russian Federation has assumed the Soviet Union's rights and obligations.

Vladimir Putin, born October 7, 1952 has been the President of Russia since May 7, 2012.  He previously served as President from 2000 to 2008 and as Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012.  For 16 years Putin served as an officer in the KGB, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before he retired to enter politics in his native Saint Petersburg in 1991.  He moved to Moscow in 1996 and joined President the first administration of what was now the Russian Federation where he rose quickly, becoming Acting President on December 31, 1999 when president Yeltsin resigned unexpectedly.  Putin won the subsequent 2000 presidential election and was re-elected in 2004.  Because of constitutionally mandated term limits, Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive presidential term in 2008.  Dmitry Medvedev won the 2008 presidential election and appointed Putin as Prime Minister.  In September 2011, following a change in the law extending the presidential term from four years to six, Putin announced that he would seek a third term as President in the 2012 presidential election, an announcement which led to large-scale protests in many Russian cities.  He won the election in March 2012 and is serving a six-year term.

During Putin's first premiership and presidency (1999–2008), incomes increased by a factor of 2.5, wages more than tripled; unemployment and poverty more than halved, and the Russians' self-assessed life satisfaction rose significantly.  As a Prime Minister, Putin oversaw large scale military and police reform.  His energy policy has affirmed Russia's position as an energy superpower, he supported high-tech industries such as the nuclear and defense industries.  A rise in foreign investment contributed to a boom in such sectors as the automotive industry.  Putin has cultivated a strongman image and is a pop cultural icon in Russia with many commercial products named after him, he is intelligent, strong willed and a very good tactician.  Putin is driven by a powerful dream of restoring Russia to its old glorious imperial days, those of Peter the great and Empress Catherine, after the humiliation which Russia suffered which followed the collapse of the Soviet Union and he knows that to control Eurasia or at least to have a commanding influence there is the first step in the fulfillment of his dream, which makes the current Ukraine crisis a very serious business, but this is only the first scuffles in what is going to be a long and a very menacing contest for the big prize.

Najeeb Hanoudi

Wednesday, May 20, 2014

Southfield, Michigan

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