"What has happened in Crimea is a response to the format that made Ukrainian democracy collapse. And there is only one reason for this: the anti-Russian policy of the US and some European countries. They seek to encircle Russia in order to weaken and eventually destroy it... There is a certain transnational elite that has been cherishing this dream for 300 years."

~ Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, 19 March 2014

"History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

~ Attributed to Mark Twain
What's been happening in the Ukraine recently makes little sense without seeing it in broader geopolitical and historical contexts, so in my search for a firmer understanding of what's going on, I've been consulting the history books. First off, it needs to be said that the Ukraine is historically a part of Russia. It has been "an independent nation-state" in name since 1991, but has been completely dependent on external support ever since. And most of this "support" has not been in its best interest, to say the least.

The short answer to why the U.S. hatched its hare-brained scheme to overthrow Yanukoych last November is that its real target was Russia, which stands in the way of the plans for world domination by a banking elite whose empire is centered on the U.S. The longer answer is more complex, but in the process of working towards it we discover startling historical precedent for everything that is going on today, right down to the very rationales politicians give for why they do what they do.

The Western narrative says this is propaganda, but it was actually closer to the truth than the reverse propaganda about how evil Soviet Communism was.
Since Napoleon's disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812 (and perhaps earlier, if anyone can work out why Venezuela's Maduro refers to "300 years"), there have been repeated efforts by Western powers to "contain Russia". Where does this desire come from? Well, in today's Western narrative regarding Russia's "aggressive annexation of Crimea", it's necessary to "contain Putin's drive to recreate the Soviet Empire", and to "prevent Putin's Russia from behaving like Nazi Germany."

Central to this narrative is that the Soviet Union was an "Evil Empire" from which the Ukraine, other former Soviet Republics, Central Asia and former Warsaw Pact member-states in Eastern Europe, like Poland, broke free to join The Free World&trade around 1990 when "the Soviet Empire collapsed." And all this, of course, is based on the Western narrative that Soviet Communism was "the root of all evil", and that it had to be stamped out wherever in the world it mushroomed (or was suspected to have mushroomed) following the Second World War.

We can actually take it back further, but before we do so, let's first consider the IMF's recent quarter-century involvement in Eastern Europe. The IMF is not just now arriving on the scene with "much-needed cash injections" to the Ukrainian economy. Western economists, academics, bankers and industrialists have effectively been running Eastern European economies into the ground since they "won independence from Russia." Read this report from a Ukrainian parliamentarian to get an idea of the decimation that took place in the Ukraine during the 1990s - its population actually shrank by a greater number than were killed during WW2. IMF loans generally don't go into the coffers of countries signing up for "assistance": they go towards paying the interest accrued on nations' debts. In return, the signatories of these deadly loans receive "advice", which they must follow if they want this money - parcelled out in tranches - to keep going towards their debtors and thus prevent their debts from ballooning further. Such advice - "structural conditionalities" in technocratic terminology - essentially amounts to: "Sell everything... to us."

So it wasn't "the spontaneous chaos of the moment" that caused widespread economic slaughter in Eastern Europe in the 1990s. The disastrous outcomes were direct consequences of Western monetary and economic policy imposed on the region. Thus you had the barbaric cruelty of millions of Polish people suddenly unable to buy food that was being exported abroad in order to earn dollar$ that went towards paying off the country's debts - debts that were "called in" in exchange for the real wealth of these countries, particularly their natural resources and national industries.

Bonfire of democracy: Russia's Duma attacked by the IMF-controlled Yeltsin government in 1993
Russia too got this 'shock treatment'. See chapter 11 of Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine for the complete horror story of what happened there ('Bonfire of a Young Democracy: Russia Chooses the Pinochet Option'). The Russian people didn't take economic genocide lying down however. By 1993, they realized the only "freedom and democracy" they were getting was in fact a form of extreme right-wing "economic shock therapy". They occupied government buildings in Moscow in an effort to halt the looting of their country and restore order. In the midst of a tense stand-off, lo and behold, "unknown snipers" appeared out of nowhere and began shooting people in the head. Yeltsin thought the bullets were coming from a faction of the army holed up in Moscow's White House and ordered forces loyal to him to attack the building. Hundreds of people were killed, and along with them died Russia's first (and last) foray into Western Liberal Democracy™.

This is how the "Mafia State" of "Yeltsin's Family" of oligarchs came about. They were entirely a creature of Western financial interests. There were no billionaires in Russia pre-1991. And throughout it all, Western media sang Russia's praises as it implemented the "tough but necessary reforms" that slashed its welfare state, industrial base, and population. Russia then was 'free and liberal' and awesome. Alas, now that Putin has turned the ship around, and Russia is again in a position to thwart the spread of Freedom and Democracy™ Russia is once again 'authoritarian and undemocratic' i.e. just-'plain-evil'.

When we look back through history, we find a series of abrupt shifts in the West's attitude towards Russia, whereby Russia goes from being 'friend' to 'foe', almost overnight. We saw it clearly at the end of WW2 when Stalin's Soviet Union went from being 'our amazing ally' to 'the new Hitler', even though East and West European spheres of influence were thoroughly discussed and agreed upon by the Allied Powers throughout the war (see Douglas Reed's Controversy of Zion). Pre-WW1, Russia was 'our ally' in the 'Triple Entente' alliance with Britain and France: by the end of the war, it was 'the Bolshevik menace'. And understandably so; Russia was now vehemently anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist. But less well-known is that the Bolsheviks too were entirely a creature of Western financial interests (see Anthony Sutton's Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution).

In the broad sweep of 20th century history, all or most of Russia's actions were defensive in nature. Now, I don't mean to understate any of their leaders' crimes - of which there were many, to neighbouring peoples and their own - but in terms of 'comparative imperialism', so to speak, I don't recall the Russian military ever doing 'shock-and-awe' 8,000 miles away and in the process slaughtering a million foreign people - people who had no connection whatsoever to Russia.

Soviet soldier waving the Red Banner over the central plaza of Stalingrad in 1943.

Mackinder and the Heartland Theory

Before the American Empire there was the British Empire, and before Zbigniew Brzezinski there was Halford Mackinder. This Oxford academic-turned-policy guru was ostensibly a 'geographer', but he also possessed a certain 'industriousness' that led to him being Britain's king-maker on behalf of the Eastern European states carved out of Europe's fallen empires after WW1. In 1904, Mackinder submitted an article to the Royal Geographical Society titled 'The Geographical Pivot of History', in which he formulated the 'Heartland Theory', which he himself later boiled down to this:
"Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;
who rules the World-Island controls the world."

~ Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality, p. 194
What on Earth do those archaic terms refer to, you might be wondering? "East Europe" is obvious enough: the Balkans, the Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, 'European' Russia and the Baltic states. The "Heartland" stretched from the Volga to the Yangtze rivers and from the Himalayas to the Arctic Ocean. The "World-Island"... wait for it... is the entire contiguous landmass of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa - so, basically everywhere except the Americas and Australia. Have a look at his world map:

© Royal Geographical Society
In labelling the Americas as "outlying islands", and the British Isles "outer islands", Mackinder was highlighting that they were peripheral to the "center", the "pivot area", which just happens to be Russia. This is where Mackinder's contribution as a geographer ends, and his contribution as a servant of empire begins. He understood 100 years ago that it was (and is) a pipe-dream for the stewards of empires like today's U.S. - E.U. 'Atlantic Alliance' to gain outright dominance over the "World-Island" by conventional means, simply because the combined populations and resources of that vast, interconnected and mutually dependent landmass dwarfs their 'outlying islands' like the UK and North America. So, what to do?

Halford Mackinder
While their propaganda constantly projects "the ever-present threat of Russia" (and, at times, other Eurasian powers, but usually Russia) as a global menace that is poised to break out of its 'containment' and take over the "World Island" followed by the "Outlying Islands", the true purpose of their 'Great Game' is to "counter those physical and technological factors which favoured the formation of great continental empires on the Eurasian landmass."1 In other words, realizing that they were naturally excluded from the center of the action because of their position on the peripheral 'outlying islands', they figured the only way they could ever hope to establish a global empire was to periodically organize a wrecking party by maneuvering the countries on the landmass into slaughtering one another, then before anyone could recover from the shock and become economically and militarily strong enough, they step in to 'reset' relations between peoples in a way they calculate will be favourable to the maintenance and advancement of Anglo-American hegemony.

Mackinder, by the way, was directly involved in redrawing the map of Eastern Europe as we know it today. Participating in the Paris Peace Conference at the end of WW1 on behalf of the British Foreign Office, he directly oversaw the break-up of the four losing Eurasian empires (German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and Russian) into arbitrary statelets "in order to close the gates of the Eurasian heartland to Britain's enemies and maintain an international status quo favourable to the interests of the Anglo-Saxon nations."2 This is exactly the same 'logic' being followed today.

Of course this 'logic' precedes Mackinder's Heartland Theory, and new formulations have since been 'invented', but the mind in which such thinking arises remains as barren and alien to normal human perception as ever. William Engdahl suggests in Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order that the Heartland Theory was simply the clearest explication of the 'balance of power' concept that was dear to the British elite in the 19th century:
British diplomacy cultivated [the] cynical doctrine [of balance-of-power], which dictated that Britain should never hold sentimental or moral relations with other nations as sovereign respected partners, but rather, should develop her own 'interests.' British alliance strategies were dictated strictly by what she determined at any given period might best serve her own 'interest.'
This paramoralistic and psychopathic way of seeing the world informs the dominant language of international relations and 'diplomacy' - 'Great Games', 'Grand Chessboard', 'balance-of-power', 'special interests', etc. This does not mean that all countries and alliances in the world perceive the world in such terms. They certainly have to respond, at times, as if they were involved in a game of geopolitical chess, but that is only because 'the Game', as such, is foisted upon them by the dominant West. Take note, for example, of Putin disparaging diplomatic-speak and describing his amazement at Western mind-games at a press conference following the armed coup d'état in Kiev in February:
"Diplomats' tongues, as we know, are there to hide their thoughts. [...] I sometimes get the feeling that somewhere across that huge puddle, in America, people sit in a lab and conduct experiments, as if with rats, without actually understanding the consequences of what they are doing. Why did they need to do this? Who can explain this? There is no explanation at all for it."
What we get from the 'Heartland Theory' and similar formulations of 'Game Theory' devised by psychopathic minds is a sense of the perennially insular complex of Western elites. It shines through clearly when they accuse Eurasians and others of the very things they themselves do, and which they themselves suffer from: this insatiable drive to dominate everything. The very fact that there are in existence certain people on this planet who see the world in such a fundamentally megalomaniacal way is what gives rise to these 'Great Games' and the methodical effort to dominate and control the whole Earth. Yes, it is psychopathic, and it is driven by blind greed and whatever way the wind is blowing at the time, but there is also a method to their madness. If they could, they'd colonize other worlds too.

But don't take my word for it...
The world is nearly all parcelled out, and what there is left of it is being divided up, conquered and colonised. To think of these stars that you see overhead at night, these vast worlds which we can never reach. I would annex the planets if I could; I often think of that. It makes me sad to see them so clear and yet so far.

~ Cecil Rhodes
In the meantime, you might want to check out our radio show with Eric Walberg on SOTT Talk Radio last Sunday. Author of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games, I think Walberg has done a fine job making sense of 'geopolitics' and how this global empire took form in the last 150 years or so.


1. 'Geopolitics, Federalism, and Imperial Defence: Halford Mackinder and Eastern Europe, 1919-20', paper presented at 'Central and Eastern Europe in World Politics after Versailles: Towards a New International History', University of Oxford, Faculty of History, 4-5 October 2013

2. Ibid.