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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer.

He is a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram and a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeera and Turkish Weekly.

Eric is the author of the excellent Postmodern Imperialism Geopolitics and the Great Games

This week Sott Talk Radio spoke with Eric about the truth behind modern history and the forces that have created the current global Empire under which we all live.

History buffs won't want to miss this one.

Running Time: 02:07:00

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript:

Joe: Hi and welcome to SOTT Talk Radio. I'm your host Joe Quinn with my co-hosts Jason Martin.

Jason: Hey.

Joe: Niall Bradley and Pierre Lescaudron.

Niall: Hi everyone.

Pierre: Bonjour.

Joe: This week we're talking about the historical great games of the global elite. And to deal with that subject, we will be talking with Eric Walberg. Eric is a Canadian, an author and a journalist who specialises in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. He's a graduate of the University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics and he has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia and then Uzbekistan as a UN advisor, writer, translator and lecturer. He is a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper Al Ahram and a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Distant Voice, Global Research, Al Jazeera, etc.

Eric is also the author of two books. The one we'll focus on mostly in this show is Post-Modern Imperialism, Geopolitics and the Great Games. So Eric is with us here today and it sounds like the best opportunity to talk about the kind of things we want to talk about, specifically what's going on right now in eastern Europe and Russia. So welcome to the show Eric.

Eric: Thanks Joe.

Joe: Alright. I know your book and most of your research, at least in your books, deals with history over the past 100, 150 years, as the title of it suggests, Post-Modern Imperialism. But what is your take on what the world has been captivated by, or at least anybody who's been watching the news has been captivated by in recent weeks, i.e., the situation in Ukraine? What's your take on what's been going on there?

Eric: Yes, the Ukraine you said, which is an interesting slip because just like the Steppes of Central Asia used to be just a region within the Soviet Union, before that a region within the Russian empire. Or before that it was a region in a loosely connected group of eastern Slavic states, which included Belarus, Ukraine, which we call Ukraine as a state now, and Russia. So it's interesting that in the back of our minds we think of it not as a modern state, but as a region that is associated on many levels, culturally, politically, economically, with its neighbours. And it used to be generally a peaceful relationship with its neighbours, certainly with the Russian neighbours to the east.

Joe: I've actually been pulled up on that on facebook of all places, where I said the Ukraine, and a Ukrainian...

Niall: Came down hard.

Joe: ...gave me a hard time about it. Said it's Ukraine.

Eric: Well I bet it was a western Ukrainian.

Joe: Yeah, exactly.

Eric: We'll get right into the heart of this nasty little spat that's going on. But it's a tempest in a teapot in a way and this whole business of the Ukraine or Ukraine, what I mentioned that for wasn't to upbraid you. On the contrary, I still think in those terms because it's a less politicised term. By getting rid of the "the", what we're saying is Ukraine is an independent state as is France or U.S. or Russia. It's the surface view of what's going on. What you get in the mainstream media treats even the Seychellles Islands or something like that as an independent state, which is nonsense of course. These smaller states, in fact almost all the states today are not really states in the modern sense, modern meaning the 19th, 20th century where a country had its own foreign policy, where it had its own national bourgeoisie that was expanding, developing national industry, where its nationalism at times spilled over into racism and chauvinism, as we saw happened in Germany. And not just Germany, England is the classic chauvinist state that was oppressive, you, as a person with Irish heritage must certainly...

Joe: Don't get me started.

Eric: (laughing) aware of this. I was very fortunate, if I can explain my own background, I guess i instinctively rejected this whole world view from my early 20's and went and studied in Cambridge. And at that time I was still enamoured with Canada as part of a British empire, a kind of nice British empire. At that time it was the Labour government under Wilson. It was like the soft conservative [Edward] Heath, the so-called wet conservatives who weren't nearly as bad as what happened later. And there was Labour. So at that point Britain looked like it was not quite such a nasty imperialist power.

But I studied with Marxists there, Maurice Staub and Piero Sraffa and Joan Robinson at Cambridge. It was a very heady period. I remember fondly the liberation of Vietnam. I was celebrating at the cafeteria with my fellow students in 1975 on May 1st. It was a very fitting way to celebrate the workers' holiday.

But as I became more aware of what the real underlying reality was, I realised that Britain and the U.S. as the chief imperial powers, were very different kinds of states. They had their foreign policy, their independence, their national bourgeoisie, but countries like Canada had already lost whatever they had had and were becoming what was called post-modern state. It was a term coined by a British journalist/economist, I believe. But no one had really picked up on this difference, the post-modern meaning that they don't really have the attributes of a modern state. They have no independent foreign policy. The national bourgeoisie is now being replaced by multi-national corporations. Even the national currency is not a credible currency, it's something that fluctuates and can be destroyed very quickly by people like Soros. Or let's say the U.S. decides it doesn't like you, there can be a run on your currency and your whole economy will collapse.

So this is just a very brief overview and this is what became the basis of my book. How there's this surface view where we see Ukraine and then there is the real view, where we see the Ukraine.

Joe: Yes. Talking about states and the very idea of a state, most people listening will probably have heard of the term "the clash of civilisations" that was coined by an American political theorist, or I don't know what he'd call himself, Samuel P. Huntington. And he was a guy whose writings and ideas kind of informed U.S. policy over the past few decades. But he coined the term "clash of civilisations" and it has a lot of attention since he coined it, in terms of the modern world and Islam versus the west etc.

And he also coined the term "davos man" which described these elite who go to Davos, every year I think it is, Bilderberger type groups that get together and discuss how they're going to make more and more money this year. And Samuel P. Huntington, who seems to be quite well informed about these things, said that this global elite that meet every year at Davos, for example, all the Bilderbergers or anybody else you care to mention, "have little need for national loyalty. They view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing and they see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite's global operations". Now that's not a conspiracy theorist saying that. That's some guy who's very much in the policymaking camp of the American government. Would you agree with him Eric? That that's where we are in terms of statehood these days?

Eric: Absolutely. You could say the natural conclusion of that whole process of internationalisation was the creation of the European Union and to bring all of the states into one organisation where they can be monitored, to bring together all these post-modern states. Because even Britain has no independent foreign policy anymore, as we saw under Tony Blair when Britain became a very sordid and disreputable adjunct to the U.S. in its plots around the world.

I'm just looking for a very nice quote by the President of the EU, a Belgian, poor Belgium. The EU President Herman Von Rumpui who said that "The time of homogeneous nation states is over. The belief that countries can stand alone is a lie and an illusion." So often it's very important to know what these people are thinking because they often express the underlying logic of what's happening in the world today. So Huntington most definitely also put his finger on Islam as the new Soviet Union. He was writing this I believe in the 1980's.

Joe: We've just given two quotes here from people who are in the know and in a position to direct government policy and the policy of the American empire and the European Union for example. And they've just said that nation states are a thing of the past. Do you think that runs counter to the general perception of the average person in any of these nation states? My impression is that people would be quite alarmed if they thought that was really where they were trying to push this.

Eric: Another part of that quote from Huntington was that national governments are residue. And that's very true from the empire's point of view. And what is the surface view? We see nationalism. We have flags. We go to the Olympics. We like to think we're proud of being a Canadian or an Irishman. So all that we really have left of this modern state is this sense of entitlement, which generally in the past has been really just an excuse for racism or at best, just a kind of chauvinism.

Nationalism itself, the nation state itself was born in imperialism. Prior to the 16th century, there were kingdoms. There were shifting alliances, but there was no real national economy. There was no taxation. There was a king that was basically trying to rape and pillage other kingdoms or even his own subjects. But really when we think of the modern state, it's something that was born in the whole process of establishing a standing army, a navy, which would then launch wars of conquest around the world to basically steal and oppress other nations.

Joe: So you think it's not such a bad thing then?

Eric: Sorry?

Joe: You would say that it's not such a bad thing then, this move to abolish nation states.

Eric: Well I'm trying to just understand what's happening. Until we really understand all of that surface, what's happening underneath, the good and bad of industrialisation, development, globalisation, we can't really - but what I would say is that I came to understand this when I was writing my book Post-Modern Imperialism, that Hobson, if you know the great 19th century writer. He was the first to really coin terms like imperialism and to analyse them in a modern sense under capitalism. There's a wonderful quote, it would take me a minute to find it, so I can't quote it exactly from my book, but it's in my book. I urge people to - I think you will find lots of tasty morsels.

But he said that nationalism really just arose as a chauvinism based on this conquest. So the average Joe - excuse me (laughing) - the average Brit, Bruce or whatever, out in say Manchester or someplace in the 19th century, he would see the flag waving, he would hear Cecil Rhodes has just conquered another huge chunk of Africa in the name of Britain. And you would stand up at your schools and you would sing God Save the Queen. And this was when nationalism really arose, in the 19th century. And it was a way to dupe the poor, exploited working class, giving a false sense of self-respect because you're a Brit. You're a white and you are better than the wogs out there and if you want to and you've got a little bit of savvy, if you can read and write and are ambitious, you can join the navy. You can travel the world. You can go and meet people and kill them. That was the nice ad for the U.S. army. Someone had made a joking ad.

Or else you could join the foreign service. You could go and sleep with black women, have them as servants, even though you yourself are a nobody in Britain, you can go and become a somebody in the empire.

Jason: Ah, the white man's burden.

Joe: That's the white man's burden, yeah?

Eric: (laughter) Yes, it's a very hard thing to do but someone's got to do it, right? So once I started to realise what imperialism was all about, I became electrified and aghast that it's not the benign kind of imperialism that we were taught in school in Canada about the wonderful pink map where the sun never sets on the British empire, when I was growing up in the '50s and studying in the '60s. That was the way we were told. Imperialism was a good thing. Once I realised what imperialism was all about, it set my agenda for the rest of my life. I have to help expose what it really is and where it stands today and what kind of imperialist games are being played.

Jason: Well I have a little bit of a question because I was reading your book and you have this kind of separation of GGI and GGII, this great game. Getting back to the situation in Crimea, is this just a continuation of what's currently going on? Is it some sort of new move? Is it, as you described, this turning a pawn into a queen situation with Russia? Is Russia coming into its own? What's going on there? Is it just a big theatre with this so-called "grab" or "annexation" of Crimea? What is that all about?

Eric: Well you see, this would never have been a problem 30 or 40 years ago if we were still in the second great game. Just for listeners, just quickly, I came upon this categorisation because I realised there were very distinct periods in modern imperialism. The classical imperialism of late 19th century very quickly broke down. World War I was all these imperial powers, Germany, Britain, the U.S. sort of standing back a bit, but it was looking for its piece of cake, and Japan, Italy. All of these countries were fighting over the remaining colonies and they wanted to have as many as possible. Well, they bankrupted themselves in the process. They sparked a communist revolution in Russia. And what slowly came into being was a new kind of logic because it was no longer various imperialist powers fighting among themselves to divide up the world. All of them were basically defeated, including Britain, because it was bankrupted by the war. And the only one that survived was the U.S., who came in to pick up the pieces. That's when the U.S. became a real imperial power. And it was controlling all of the others eventually. By World War II the U.S. was in complete control and it was fighting the communist energy. So there was united imperialism. Before it was squabbling imperialists powers. Now you've got a united empire fighting the communists.

So when that was the case, Crimea was part of the Soviet Union. And that's why Khrushchev could so cavalierly give it - it looks nicer on a map to just say "Okay, that's part of the Ukraine" because it sits right on the underbelly of Ukraine. But in fact, it was always a part of Russia, culturally, strategically. Catherine the Great basically took over the Crimean Khanate in the late 18th century from Turkey, from the Ottoman Caliphate. At that time there was no such thing as Ukraine. There was the Ukraine. There was the area of the black soil where the kind of rural Slavs spoke a dialect that was perfectly intelligible to any Russian. In fact I need subtitles when I watch Scottish movies. I think Irish is generally more understandable to a North American. But if you get a Scottish brogue, I can't understand that at all, and I'm a quite literate person who's read a great deal.

So Ukraine was always part of the eastern Slavic - what would you call it? I don't want to call it a nation because it was - the Russian empire, so we'll just call it the Russian empire.

Jason: Demographically.

Eric: It's demographic, yes. Okay, so when the Soviet Union collapsed, all of a sudden, you could say that what we have now, which I call Great Game III, is in fact a revision to Great Game I in a sense. But it's so mixed up with other elements that because of that fight against the communism, all of these other countries were subsumed and became part of the American empire. They're not directly controlled. You don't have Obama phoning Merkel and saying "You have to do this". What you have is international institutions like the Monetary Fund set up after World War II, which were part of the second Great Game, World Bank, even the United Nations. These were institutions that were set up to stabilise a united world empire which was in a standoff against an alternative, which was socialism, communism at that time.
So you have these institutions now fully controlled by the empire and it's a very different ballpark, if you want, game, than that Great Game I. And with something like Ukraine and Crimea, it was obvious that if the U.S. moves in, which it did, and destabilised the Ukrainian government as part of its own expansion eastward, the EU and Nato, the U.S. are just waiting for the right opportunity to pursue these, of course when authority collapses in Ukraine, as a Crimean, I would have jumped at the chance to abandon that sinking ship and to make an alliance with my brothers, if you were a Slav.

Joe: Eric, just from a geographic point of view, maybe it's a bit confusing for people. Since as you said, Crimea sits on the kind of underbelly there of Ukraine, how can the Russians say that that part of Ukraine is Russian, when it's further away from Russia than the rest of Ukraine. Ukraine used to be part of the Soviet Union, so why isn't the rest of Ukraine also seen as part of Russia? Do you know what I'm saying? Just in terms of the distances? Crimea's further from Russian than Ukraine.

Eric: Well, not much. The Russians are busy completing a bridge, which has actually already started, a causeway across the narrow strait that joins Russia to the Crimea. There's the Sea of Okhotsk, so they are finishing that bridge now. And it borders on Russia and just the way you phrase that question, "part of the Ukraine", it was never part of something called Ukraine. It was the Khanate. It was an independent, autonomous region of the Ottman Caliphate until the late 18th century. And then it was incorporated. It was conquered by Catherine the Great, who was Czarina of the Russian empire and it was incorporated into the Russian empire. It had nothing to do with Ukraine. And in fact there are various pockets in the Ukraine, like Odessa, it was very much a Russian Jewish port. And also the eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Kharkov, these are all Russian cities primarily.

Joe: Right. They're on the border.

Eric: So I don't know what's going to happen with east Ukraine. It's very messy now because if the new Ukrainian government gets more and more chauvinistic and anti-Russian, I don't know. I wouldn't even know what to advise Putin at this point.

Jason: Do you think that that anti-Russian sentiment is really shared by the people, because it does sound like there's not so much a minority, but a large contingent of people in Ukraine who don't seem to be anti-Russian?

Eric: Oh yes, it's an east/west divide. In fact all of the elections over the last 20 years, there was this euphoria I suppose, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Most people regret that now, but at the time I was living there and I remember that people were excited at the idea of more goodies from the west or a glorified view of the west at that point. And of course west Ukraine was actually part of Poland. In the inter-war period between World War I and World War II, it was part of Poland. But prior to that it was part of the Russian empire. So you see these borders have changed and the allegiance of various people. It's a very confused situation.

So if you're a native Russian speaker, you're pro-Russia. If you're from the west Ukraine and you have a very thick Polish/Ukrainian dialect that you speak that's not really intelligible to a Russian, of course you have more sympathy with Poland or with the European Union. There's a chauvinism of that whole region that was under the Nazis. They were very pro-Nazi in this sense, with a chauvinism. I look at Nazism as a kind of racial doctrine that "we are the best". It was kind of that gone mad. And I think that they encouraged this. They encouraged it among the Croatians in Yugoslavia. They encouraged it in the Ukrainians in the western Ukraine, in pursuit of their own mini-fascist groups. And you can see that they're quite alive and well. They were the backbone of this coup in the Ukraine, or Ukraine, whatever you want to call it.

Joe: So basically really what you're saying is that the situation in Ukraine is quite complex and it's based on demographics and it's a big country. There's a history there of association with being part of the Soviet Union and even going back further than that. So it's much more complex than the simplistic rhetoric and propaganda that we're hearing in the press, which is that it's all about...

Niall: Ukrainians wanting to join Europe, the EU.

Joe: Or it's about Putin trying to re-establish the Soviet Union. That's what they're saying, that Putin is trying to re-establish the Soviet Union.

Eric: He is pursuing a Eurasian union to try and prevent the U.S. from just running roughshod over all of the territory. And of course the U.S. ultimately has in mind the break up of Russia itself because Russia's a big federation. And there are lots of ethnic groups, a lot of them Muslim too. About 15% of the Russian federation is Muslim. So the U.S. has lots of different levers that it can pull. And I just noticed in the news today, the State Department, whatever, said "We're now going to turn our attention more to central Asian republics, to protect them from Russia". That's what it says on the surface. What they're saying is "We're going to forget about the horrendous human rights atrocities of Uzbekistan and Karimov. We'll just go right back in and provide the necessary bribes to put our troops back in, to keep our snoops on the ground and waiting for further instructions.

Joe: I'm going to give you a quote here, something that the NATO secretary general Anders Faulk - a bad word (laughter) Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned on Sunday that "Russia's government was flouting the principle that every state is sovereign and free to choose its own fate". If you had a chance to respond to him, what would you tell him?

Eric: Well he's absolutely correct but he put it in a hypothetical. "If all these states were independent and sovereign, then Russia would be flouting their sovereignty. In fact as I said and as [Herman Van] Rompuy, and the quote from him, that the whole idea of independent states is a sham, that they're not independent. So you see, the weak post-modern Ukraine for the last 20 years, it's been a fighting ground for this post-modern Great Game. Let me just look.

Joe: Go ahead.

Eric: Okay. What I wanted to do is just quote from - okay, I can't find the actual quote. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the states became theoretically independent. And what that meant was that the U.S. could try and implant its version of democracy, which means that you have a private economy largely, so that you have open borders, a currency that is negotiable against the U.S. dollar. And you have free press. But free meaning privately controlled press as well. When the Soviet Union collapsed you had basically the powerful west moving in and you have NGOs, non-governmental organisations that come in and try and put pressure and provide funds and grants to different people and groups, to support the western agenda of electoral democracy. But elections western style are largely controlled by money and are within the rules of the game, the rules of the game meaning that there can be no attempt to buck the empire. You can't nationalise banks or any industry. You can't put exchange controls or you can't encourage your own local manufacturing, that all of this is taken out of any government's hands.

In fact governments are, as Huntington said, they're residual. National governments are kind of residual. They don't really control very much anymore. All they can do is agree with the empire or be quiet. They can abstain at the United Nations, let's say, if they're really brave. But otherwise you approve of the empire. And if you don't then you get subverted. See, Russia was supposed to become one of these post-modern states. Under Yeltsin it was moving in that direction but soon even the Russian oligarchs began to realise that they were giving away everything. And eventually that came to an end. It's interesting that Putin became a kind of symbol for that effort to resist this post-modern role that Russia is supposed to play.

Jason: So following that line, would you say that the governments of the world are kind of being affected by the same disease as just about everyone else, this sort of elite banker, moneymen, IMF type individuals, these power broker capitalists, that nations now have become infected? Governments and politicians and all this stuff, they've become infected with the same kind of disease. They are a residue, they're - I don't know what the word would be, puppet sounds a little bit too extreme, but perhaps a little bit apt. The governments now are just sort of functionaries.

Eric: Functionaries in the empire.

Jason: Yeah, to facilitate the corporatocracy or the financial-ocracy or whatever it is.

Eric: Uh-huh. And I think the Irish government showed this after the break-down. A country like Iceland was able to maybe because it's just enough removed or else its crisis was so extreme, and it's also smaller. It's interesting that a very small island population like that was able to retain some shred of its past-modern status whereas Ireland, as far as I understand, the government just bowed completely to the EU directives and the bankers' directives. And the Canadian government, it's pathetic to see how the current leaders of all three parties; the socialists, the liberals and the conservatives, are really all just variations on this theme of how can we best serve the empire.

Pierre: One question or two. In your book you describe those three Great Games, basically geopolitical games, I, II and III, attached to specific periods of time with specific objectives and a specific dominating force; empire. Although you show that there are some things that transcend these Great Games, for example this notion of rimland and heartland and the fundamentals of geopolitics, could you explain a bit more about that in particular?

Eric: Yes. Britain, being the first empire, was the rimland, meaning that it works around the edge and it's a naval power, or it's a maritime power. Whereas Russia was the classic heartland power that is at the centre of the Eurasian land mass and that it had a very different history of imperialism, because it was expanding in a more or less natural way, moving outward to what its natural limits would be, geographically the sea. So Britain was able to expand because of its navy and the technology that allowed the maritime expansion. And that's how it so rapidly became the world's imperial power, because it was able to move quickly all around the world. And through its military might, it basically captured most of the world in its grasp. Whereas Russia was a slower expanding power in the original Great Game.

So geopolitical emphasis was very important in the first Great Game. But as technology developed and with air power and satellites and now telecommunications that is so rapid, and once you have set up these international institutions in the post-World War II period, that all operate electronically, this geopolitical need for conquest abated, or it should have abated. When you look at the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it looks very much like what was going on 150 years ago. So it's puzzling in a way. And actually this is the great debate, if you could say, going on within the imperial establishment in the U.S. Someone like Obama represents a kind of liberal side of trying to use these institutions to use NGOs, to use American mass culture, to shape and mould the world opinion versus the more hard core flag-waving republicans, which was the Bush "Let's invade" or "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran", the famous McCain.

So you've got these two branches of the imperial establishment basically fighting it out. So that's the basis of today's Great Game. And again that's why it is different than Great Game I. With Great Game I there was the British culture and bringing the white man's burden, bringing culture to the natives. That was definitely there, but it wasn't nearly so important and it wasn't so highly developed, also with the financial institutions like the IMF as we have today. And the possibility that that's what people like Huntington and then Soros, their vision is a more liberal one of using the cultural soft power, as I talk about in my book, versus the hard power. You still need the hard power, but you just keep it inside a velvet glove and only bring it out when absolutely necessary.

Jason: Back to this heartland thing.

Niall: Yeah.

Jason: Niall's got something to say, sorry.

Niall: No, I'm glad you mentioned it. I just want to clarify something for listeners. The heartland theory was first brought up by Alfred McKinder and as Eric's just been describing, it's sort of a formula for the way the British empire 150 years ago would see the world and then take action, by taking it basically. And it was neatly summarised by the author himself, Alfred McKinder. He said "Who rules east Europe commands the heartland. Who rules the heartland commands the world island. Who rules the world island commands the world." Now two things strike me there. First, who rules east Europe, that as a primary geostrategic consideration. Now think of what's going on right now.

Jason: Exactly. That's where I was going.

Niall: The second thing is, who the hell thinks like that? A hundred and fifty years ago...

Jason: There's a precedent. These guys are playing chess, essentially. That's what they're doing. That's the basic strategy of chess, control the centre.

Eric: Although again, that is 150 years ago, or not quite that long ago, but more a 19th century mentality whereas today some of that logic is less compelling.

Joe: Applicable.

Eric: Well because of the extent to which the world already is united in terms of U.S. dollars, reserve currency, international banking system basically operating. You could say that the Iraq war and the invasion of Libya, these were mopping up operations where the world bankers still didn't have control of local currency. That's a very cynical view. There are other aspects of that too. Also the Palestinian issue, Palestinian struggle that Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was supporting. So again, it's complex and there still is a certain geopolitical logic but it's not quite so compelling as it was I would say 120 years ago.

Joe: But if we go back to 120 years ago, for example when McKinder was saying this and geostrategists were looking at the world, or even before that maybe, during the height or the heyday of the British empire, it seems to me that there were a certain group of people at a certain point in time probably starting with the British, who did look at the world at some point and say "We want to control it all." And they started to spread their empire and their influence around the world. And we today are living with that legacy because that control has remained. Obviously it's changed with the times, the technology, etc., but the fact is that the only reason there can be an American empire today really is because it's standing on the shoulders of the British.

Eric: Well and it's also very relevant today in the sense that the artificial borders that were created in this first Game, the way the squares were divided up on the chess board, they were often arbitrary. Sometimes they were very craftily made to encourage conflicts between tribes or else to pacify the French. The British were giving the French and the Italians that. So there were so many irrational factors involved in creating these borders that then became fixed and which are today causing problems into eternity. In a sense we have to move towards a more borderless world ultimately, because those borders that we have, unless they're sea coasts or mountain ranges, they're generally quite arbitrary and they were produced by the imperialists for arcane reasons which no longer have any logic at all except to create chaos.

Joe: Exactly. The British, when they kind of carved up countries, or invaded countries and then carved them up, then after the first world war they redefined borders, it could be said that they did it to make sure that there would never be any kind of unified power in any specific geographic region and therefore that facilitates the people who came after them, the Americans, to continue to exert their influence because these states are not viable essentially. And they're designed that way. The point is that they were designed that way at the very beginning.

Jason: Well there's a precedent to that. It's "if I can't have it, no one can" kind of mentality. When these people realise that they have a great deal of difficulty completely dominating the world, they just want to prevent anyone else from rising up.

Eric: And you see, there's the transition. That was Great Game I. And then with the collapse of most of the empires, the U.S. taking control, they were able to basically move their currency into all of the countries, all of the colonial world, except that part which was socialist and looking to the Soviet Union. And with that collapse, now in a sense we do have a borderless world. Borderless for businessmen and bankers, but not borderless for actual people. It's very difficult, as I realise now, it was much easier for me to travel and live in another country 30 years ago. Today, it's almost impossible for someone that just wants to understand the world or that has altruistic motives. You can't really travel and live abroad unless you're a banker or working for a multi-national corporation or working in embassies abroad, protecting the interests of those multi-national workers, which is what embassy workers unashamedly do. They do very little for people like you or me who might be caught - I know some Canadians that were in jail in Egypt and the Canadian government did virtually nothing except when they were screamed at loudly and became embarrassed and tried to help a little bit.

Joe: Eric, I'm going to check. We might have a caller on the line here.

Eric: Okay.

Joe: High, do we have a caller?

Charles: Yes hello.

Joe: What's your name and where are you calling from?

Charles: My name is Charles from Missoula, Montana.

Joe: Hi Charles. Welcome. Do you have a comment or question?

Charles: I just wanted to inject what I hope you guys will cover in this conversation. Hello Eric, a fellow Canadian.

Eric: Hi.

Charles: But anyway, I just hope that you cover where this is all going because I just heard an interview, golden mule or gold jackass or something, I forget his title, but he was talking about where this is going with the Russians, the Chinese, the IMF money is crashing with all their derivatives and everything. And a critical part of what's going on now is the energy deal. And the Soviet Union of course supplying Europe and what have you. And it sounded like from this guys' talk, that eventually Russia and China are going to get together with the Yuan, and it's going to get out of the U.S. petro dollar and the whole game's going to change. And I just wanted to interject that and hoped you guys cover that to some degree.

Eric: That's a good point. That's exactly where things are headed. And the U.S. is walking a tightrope. The more it pushes Russia and China, in terms of trying to control their own - they are modern states like the U.S. They still have their foreign policy. They still have a currency that means something. They still have a national bourgeoisie to some extent although it's very much internationalised and both are very much prey to pressures from international bankers. But they're not completely under imperial control. So the U.S. is playing a very dangerous game. They can push Russia and China. Let's just focus on them, Russia and China although this goes for Iran and Brazil.

Jason: India.

Charles: Exactly.

Eric: Yeah, and India as well. But if we take Russia and China as the kind of examples. The more the U.S. pushes them, the more it pushes them to undermine this international system. Now it's not quite so cut and dried because China has trillions of dollars of U.S. government securities and if the U.S. dollar collapsed overnight, then China would be severely hurt but its own economy would not crash completely because they still have a lot of national control. They still have a national economy. And the same with Russia. Both of those countries have, to a certain extent, the remnants of a socialist planned economy that could maintain their economies and allow a rebuilding. But it would be a huge transition. So no one really wants the U.S. dollar to collapse completely, except perhaps Iran. Even Iran certainly has huge debts and dollar holdings and it needs to sell its petrol. There's a lot of dancing around delicately, these issues. We would like the dollar to collapse perhaps, but that's because we see through it completely and we don't have much to lose. But these other countries, if their officials or their billionaires or oligarchs who are controlling the shots, they're not quite so keen.

So you're right, that is where things are headed and the more chaos the U.S. encourages, the more likely it is to precipitate its collapse. But you see that's the whole role of someone like Obama, to move in and reassert U.S. imperial power as a just soft power. And Russia and China, everyone likes Obama. It was a brilliant choice to put him there because it's slowing down this disintegration.

But something like Ukraine and Crimea, you can see how a crisis can erupt, or Egypt. Things aren't going the way the U.S. would like in Egypt either. So no one's controlling all the moves. This is where the analogy with the chess game does break down because nothing's cut and dry. The playing board shifts and even some of the players change. So the analogy only goes so far.

Charles: I think that it's definitely these two pinnings of the IMF derivatives awash in the world, and energy and also that Russia's close to Europe. Europe needs Russia's energy, Iran's energy or whatever. And it just seems this is the way it's going. And the only thing that scares me is a wounded animal, which I see the U.S. being now. They have no real economy. The only thing they have is weapons. I'll listen off the air. Thanks guys.

Joe: Okay Charles.

Eric: Good point. I agree with you fully. It's a very dangerous time that we live in.

Charles: Thanks. I'll listen off the air. Thanks guys. Bye-bye.

Jason: Not many of those weapons are completely produced in America. The chipboards bought from so-and-so in Taiwan and stuff like that. So even the mass weapon producing situation in America is not really such a strong point for them because they outsource so much of their mechanical production. So in the end...

Joe: Yeah. Well that kind of ties it up in a such a way that that's the result of empire where America isn't producing anything of much value. It's assembling things in terms of weapons, it's buying a lot of stuff from Asia for component parts for its weapons. So the result of that kind of globalisation is that we're all in it together. If we go down, everybody goes down. That's the kind of version of MAD, which is your destruction, except it's not nuclear weapons anymore, it's economies.

Jason: Yeah. Basically.

Niall: And Eric explains that in his book, very well, in simple terms. It's not as simple as Russia and China make a deal and then scheme to bring down the U.S. dollar. Why? Because they realise that bringing it down brings them down too.

Jason: Right. We're basically talking about a Mexican standoff, John Wu style, where neither person can do anything about pretty much screwing up themselves and everyone else around them. But in that situation, the fact that Russia and China do have some sort of economy does make it look like they might be left standing should somebody like Obama, or whoever, or one of the warmongers in the joint chiefs of staff pulls the trigger on something, economically speaking, Russia could weather it.

Joe: Yeah. They are kind of getting pretty desperate, would you say Eric? I've noticed that in the media over the past few weeks with this Ukraine thing and Russia, that the American politicians, specifically Obama and Biden and their lackeys, they're really exposing themselves in terms of the kind of justifications they're coming out with for what they're doing. Even the average person in the street I find, is kind of going "What?!? Did he really say that?!? What a lying beep." You know what I mean?

Eric: Well and what puzzles me is that they don't learn from their mistakes because we went through all of this four or five years ago with Georgia. In fact it was during the last Olympics. It was the summer Olympics in China. With the Olympics every two years. I think it was 2008, the Olympics once removed, when during the Olympics - and of course Putin, he's a little bit of a jock and he was in Beijing for the Olympics. I remember that moment when the tin-pot dictator of Georgia, elected...

Niall: Saakashvili.

Eric: Sorry?

Niall: Saakashvili.

Eric: Yes, Saakashvili. Was that it?

Niall: Yeah.

Eric: Okay. He invaded a disputed area and Russia responded and then basically set up two independent states that were formerly divided between Georgia and Russia in the mountains Aspasia and Ossetia. So again, it's the same kind of scenario as with Crimea. These were traditionally part of Russia and now when you've got these pretend states, these faux independent states acting under U.S. hegemony, Russia's going to react very much in a Great Game I way, so as to say "This is traditionally ours and we're not going to have any part of the game that you're playing now with all these NGOs and pretend independent states anymore. We know what you're up to with NATO, etc. etc." So it's funny that they don't learn because this is just a complete re-enactment of that. But you see, Obama doesn't control everything. The U.S. is a big, complex place. And Nuland, who is the secretary of state for eastern Europe. Is that right?

Joe: Yeah.

Eric: Wikipedia's very useful. I just googled her name and it turns out her husband is Kagan, who's one of the big ones behind...

Joe: PNAC.

Eric: Project for a New American Century. I think it's been renamed now to take the edge off. So you're up on all of these connections. There is a hard core neo-liberal, perhaps he was involved in 9/11, who knows. We haven't really pinned that down yet. But is Obama part of that hard core neo-liberal conspiracy? I don't know. I think he was. What do you think?

Joe: I think he's a puppet really, isn't he? He's kind of a spokesman. He's a front man by definition. He's out there shaking it.

Jason: I would make one point about him. When he first got elected, and I was in LA at the time and I saw him on TV, he looked really vivant, you know, kind of alive and a young looking gentleman.

Joe: He could dance.

Jason: He could dance. And then I was watching his speech where he was talking right after the NSA leaks. He was saying you can't have absolute freedom and security, stuff like that, and it looked like he had his life sucked out of him. He had turned grey and was kind of a Carteresque kind of image. I think that it is entirely possible that he may have actually thought that he was the President at one point.

Eric: When he came in.

Jason: He thought he had some power.

Joe: He thought he was the decider.

Jason: And then the corporations or whatever, the moneymen and the lobbyists and all that came along and kind of read him the "This is the way it is". And you've seen that he's basically reversed every single promise that he's made, or he's turned around on it. Did he really want to? Who knows. Did he really intend to do good? I think that anybody who becomes President who wants to be remembered, except for George Bush who was just a total frat boy, I think that they actually want to be remembered as being a great President. And he's really being made into a patsy right now because when he finally comes out of office, he is going to be remembered by history as being the greatest liar that ever got elected. Everything that he's said has turned out to be a lie because he hasn't done a single thing that he promised.

Joe: Well just on your point Eric, about PNAC and Victoria Nuland, her leaked telephone conversation and husband being Robert Kagan who was a PNAC guy, he's also up there in the Brookings Institute.

Eric: Yeah.

Joe: And the fact that she's married to him and just looking at the Brookings Institute which is a think tank, which is just another way of saying that this is a group of individuals who are the real policymakers who then give their decisions or their policies to the government to implement. And even the supposed underlings in the state department have more power. Like you see Victoria Nuland as Assistant Secretary of State, actually on the ground orchestrating - how did she say it? "Getting the deets to stick on Ukraine". She's the one who's there with the ambassador in Ukraine, working with the CIA or whoever else, actually making these things happen on the ground. And she references Biden, who is supposedly her boss and the Vice President, referring to him as "Let's get Biden in for an atta boy" which means, "Biden, get in there and slap them on the back. Just smile for the cameras" type thing. So for me, that showed the real face of it, as in these guys are just the faces.

Jason: It's like with movie stars. The agents are the ones really making the moves.

Eric: So you say they have more power, but in fact I would say that - I call them handmaidens. How much power does a handmaiden have? She can raise her hand or dress up beautifully and put a rose in behind her ear, but these are kind of cosmetic changes. And in fact there's a logic that you could say the great god of capitalism can just sit back and watch the people carrying out the logic. In a way it's like 9/11. I don't know if that's too much of a red herring. But whether or not it was actually carried out by Cheney and whatever, as the truthers insist, there's a logic at work there that would culminate. The fact that a lot of people cheered when the towers went down, or saw it as some kind of miracle, it's because it is a fitting end. It's like an opera or something. There's a logic to the storyline that's carried forward.

Jason: Can I make a comment on the handmaiden thing?

Eric: Yes.

Jason: Well when I saw that term somewhere, I think you say that in the book I looked at it and for a split second, I had a slightly different impression. I thought of these Victoria Nuland characters and these various other different people who are involved in this more as midwives. Yeah, they didn't knock the person up, but they are kind of very integral to the delivery.

Joe: Well that's exactly what she says in her leaked telephone call, along with she's...

Jason: Maybe that's where I got it from.

Joe: ...she's getting the deet to stick, to midwife this thing and we'll get Biden in for an atta boy.

Jason: Exactly.

Joe: That's how you create in the new American kind of century. (Jason laughing) That's how you create a new country and a new government in the future by getting millions of people...

Jason: It makes me sick.

Joe: get the deets to stick and the midwife to slap some politician on the back and push...

Eric: I don't understand that. Get the deets to stick? What does that mean?

Jason: The details.

Eric: Oh, the details!

Joe: That's what she was saying.

Jason: It's netspeak.

Joe: What struck me about the conversation was just the cavalier and arrogant way that she was saying "Yeah, let's do this and let's do this. Wham, bam. We'll get Biden in. Deets'll stick. We'll midwife it. Boom! There's a new country. Let's move onto the next one baby!" That was the kind of tone of her voice. Such arrogance. I just wanted to boot her.

Jason: Again, the analogy of the Hollywood agent and the star.

Joe: They're all playing James Bond, right?

Jason: Yeah, they're all just basically in there making deals.

Joe: With people's lives.

Jason: Making deals and putting on a show and making money. To them it's this casual affair. She probably doesn't even give a crap that people actually died or that there was violence. People were set on fire.

Joe: All for the better.

Jason: All for the better.

Eric: But who were the snipers? This has never been cleared up. People were asking me here, in this village in Canada "Poor Ukraine. What about the snipers, that nasty government!" Well it looks like the snipers were like the snipers in Egypt over the past three years, that they were basically military government, CIA, who knows?

Joe: And in Venezuela.

Eric: It's hard to get the goods on them.

Jason: Well there was evidence released that they were hired by the...

Joe: Well there was the other leaked telephone call from the Estonian foreign minister talking to her highness Catherine Ashton of the EU, and he said to her that the evidence was point to that it was the members of the protestors of the right sector, of the Maidan, that they were shooting policemen and their own people, essentially. But that got buried in the news.

Jason: And that never happened. There's no historical precedent whatsoever for anything like that every happening. It's totally new. (sarcasm)

Joe: Eric, I just wanted to take it back a little bit. We were talking about PNAC earlier on, the Project for a New American Century and this is again a quote from your book. This is fairly well known; "They called for a new Pearl Harbour" - this is just prior to 9/11 - "and that the U.S. must discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role because the U.S. is the world's only superpower. America's grand strategy must aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possible." If those guys are the guys dictating policy or were, and still are to some extent, then they're very clear about it. Nobody is allowed...

Eric: Yeah. Often from the mouths of babes comes truth or, I don't know, maybe they're drunk in vino veritas, but they've made it quite clear. It's just like when I've been researching 9/11 in this context of how it would fit into the Great Games, I suggest to download the 9/11 report which is well written and there's a lot there that put me on the fence. I can't come down hard without really clear evidence about actually who did what. It's a very flawed report but again, I think the people that were running it did want to know what happened. Maybe they didn't want to tell us and I think that they really don't know either, not completely. Though it's interesting that the PNAC people, they're quite clear. But then they're just setting out their agenda. They're not actually investigating who started World War II or some kind of historical event. It's a slightly different situation.

And Nuland, with her frothing at the mouth, yes, she's quite disgusting the way she joked about the whole thing, but you can tell from this that these people are living in a fantasy world. You can take the Great Game motive too far and just see it strictly as a game. But it's much more complicated and as you were saying, people die and there is a reality. And these Nuland types, they don't think in terms of people dying or that the Game motive breaks down and that some of the players might not follow the rules and that there might be more serious players. Someone like Putin is not just playing a game. He's concerned with the very survival of Russia and his nation, his modern nation. So there's different motives in people's minds. And I hope I made that clear, that it's not just a game, it's much more than that.

Jason: Well I think it was - did you want to say something Joe?

Joe: Yeah, I was going to quote again from your first book and ask you a question and maybe take us back a little bit further, back to the first Great Game. In your first book you say "The neocon program is merely the American version of the political process in Israel and Palestine, where the Israeli victory against the peace agreement with Egypt in 1967 did not lead to a real political peace with Israel's neighbours, but on the contrary, to more Israeli aggression. Neither did U.S. maximalism, as practiced from Reagan onwards, lead to any peaceful world." And then you say something that's kind of a bit strange which is "This underlying logic, the logic of Lenin's imperialism is at the very heart of U.S. and Israeli strategies." So I want to know how or why you...

Eric: Can you give me the page number?

Joe: No, but I mean it's a general question. You make a reference to basically Lenin's imperialism and you're going back there to the Bolshevik revolution and the origins of the Soviet Union. And you're saying that it's similar to the kind of ideology that we're seeing today among the supposed enemies, or the people who were and are the enemies of the Soviet Union and Russia, but you're saying that Lenin and them share a similar ideology.

Eric: I think what I meant there, I should look at the quote, but Lenin analysing imperialism. When I say the logic of Lenin, I mean Lenin's logic in exposing the Great Game and what was going on, which was that imperialism can only lead to war. The British, even Hobson would agree with Lenin. Lenin was deriving his analysis from Hobson. But the official version, you could say Disraeli or the people that were carrying out the policies, they were saying "We want to unite the world" and there was Cecil Rhodes. His whole idea with the British empire was to unite the world under British hegemony and war. It's very simple. It's very beautiful, this idea, but of course it's nonsense because by expanding and aggressively murdering and pillaging and creating war, what you do is you just encourage other nations to be just a ruthless and just as underhanded, and they'll fight you if they get strong enough. So the whole logic of imperialism is towards more war.

Now the U.S. was kind of dusting off the Disraeli version and say "Oh, we'll just unite the world around the U.S. dollar and there'll be no more war." It's wonderful watching Hollywood movies. I love to watch the World War II and the post-war early movies because there's very much this excitement about creating a peaceful world. Of course it was all a conspiracy to make it not peaceful. But what happened is there was more war by trying to create this united world. And by collapsing, destroying the Soviet Union, they produced even more tension and more war. You conspire and people are going to conspire against you.

And the same with Israel. It conspired to take over all of Palestine and it just created a monster that most Israelis would be happy to dispense with, I think. But there's a grim logic there that they can't expose. So does that clear up that point about Lenin?

Joe: Yeah, and just to follow on from what you're saying, I think if you look at the way their ideology and how they're being explicit about what they intend, I don't think that we can just say that their real intent is to have a peaceful world. I think they're pretty clear that they have to break some eggs to make this particular omelette. They're not behind the door about saying that there's going to be some conflicts here, but they just pass that off as necessary, in this blithe kind of way that "Well, if people die, it's for the greater good." It's almost like a capitalist, communist bizarre monstrous mix. But ultimately I think ideology for these people don't really matter. It's whatever works. They'll say anything if it gets them ultimately what they want. And I think what they want is just control, domination and that's pretty much it. I don't know about you Eric, but I can't think of any other reason, when trying to analyse what motivates these people. I can't come up with anything other than just pure unfettered greed and desire for control.

Eric: I think that's fair enough.

Joe: Okay.

Jason: I watched a documentary on prisons, various different prisons and seeing the efficiencies. And some of them of course are quite bad and some of them of course are quite good. And I was interested in the fact that despite a few exceptional circumstances, most well-run prisons are very peaceful places. The inmates are completely prevented and locked up in cells and they're totally trapped in the prison. They have no opportunity to do anything. And so I think that ultimately the empire's goal is to obtain peace by way of an absolute submission and enslavement and basically imprisoning of everyone and everything everywhere. And at some point if they were allowed to continue without any obstruction, they may obtain that now. The question is, do we as human beings want to live in the American prison that's going to be designed to achieve that total peace. I don't think so.

Eric: Yeah. And prisons as you say, can be relatively nice. You can have them painted slightly or have soft music or even have education. When I think of the EU, I think in a way it's a kind of prison now of nations because you're basically forced to follow certain monetary policies or even environmental. And some of it's good. It's good to restrain certain negative social features but nonetheless, you've got to accept the banker logic that is motivating that EU. That's not the EU that we would like to see. And there's no way out of it. You can't reform that EU to get rid of that kind of banker logic. It's embedded in the whole foundation. Something like that would have to collapse before it could be rebuilt.

Jason: Yeah. On the topic of American imperialism though, Hanna Arendt in her Origins of Totalitarianism talks about the white man's burden, especially in Africa and the British philosophy of sending out these people and setting up these bureaucracies that were actually basically like prisons for the population, preventing them from ever being able to do anything or have anything beyond just simply existing as some sort of subservient vassal entity for the British empire. So there's this kind of white man's burden that comes from that. And now we have the Americans' burden which is the amazing burden as leader of the free world, imposing American style democracy and capitalism on the world to civilise the natives. And it seems to me that Americans as a general rule, they still have a lot of trouble with understanding that there might be other ways of living or seeing or experiencing the world and that maybe some of these countries don't want to be American clones. And so they lend their support to this whole democratising of America simply because they really think that their way is the best way. That was my comment. I didn't really have a question in there unfortunately, but I just wanted to say that.

Eric: That's a good point. I don't really know what to suggest to people, say in Egypt where I worked for six years, and wrote. There are positive aspects to modern "civilisation", like technology. But how to structure your society politically and culturally to avoid the pitfalls, that's very difficult. And that's where I was very excited by the possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood taking power because they're very aware of the culturally negative aspects and also economically, the negative role of bankers and the loss of control. They wanted to reassert Egypt as a modern economy with its own currency and with its own national bourgeoisie, not a bourgeoisie that is completely spiriting its money abroad and working with the IMF hand-in-glove.

Joe: Yeah. I think that's the problem and that's the lie that's inherent within the whole idea of the American civilising influence bringing freedom and democracy. And it gets back to this guy Samuel Huntington. He wrote another paper, I can't remember the name of it. But he talked about modernising societies and it was basically an apology for the way America goes about what it does. And he said that "As societies modernise, they become more complex and disordered. If the process of social modernisation that produces this disorder is not matched by a process of political and institutional modernisation, the result may be violent." So he's talking here about bringing other countries, let's say Muslim or Islamic countries in different places around the world, into the modern world and imposing the U.S. model of modernisation on them and they're saying unless you have the political systems in place there to deal with the modernisation of these countries. But the question is what is this modernisation that they're bringing in? Is it a 60 hour week for no pay and bad social welfare. No kind of social net and all that stuff?

That's the kind of modernisation under the IMF that he's talking about and he glosses over that. He doesn't mention that. He just says "These people need to be modernised. They need to have their countries and their cultures modernised and there's going to be a backlash against us because these people are just inherently anachronistic and backwards and they can't deal with it and we need to have the modern political structures in place to essentially force this modernisation on them, because for some reason they just won't get with it." And people in the west are saying "Yeah, it's great. We've got our iphones and our twitter accounts" and all that kind of stuff. People in the west support that and say "Yeah, they should have what we have" but people in the west don't even question whether or not their modern society is actually good, or there's anything negative about it, or why they would want to impose that on other people.

And there's also the modernisation that other countries in the east, let's say Africa would be very different from the modernisation that we have here, in the sense that they'd be working a lot longer. China's a modern country, right? But you have Chinese people working 80 hours a week for a dollar a day type thing.

Jason: To bring it kind of parallel then, the white man, the missionaries and different "civilising" forces in the world were very big on bringing, for instance, medicines and wheat flour and all this different stuff, into native populations and then decimating them with things like the common cold. So while there are obviously beneficial things about modern culture - is it so bad to have an ipod or whatever? But the point being is these two not necessarily mutually exclusive, but I think mutually exclusive elements, which is there is modern technology and modern life and modern possibilities and then there's the kind of cancerous growth that has infested the American system that also gets transmuted over there. And these guys who are writing that don't realise - the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. They're going in thinking they're doing something good and then certain aspects of the government and the corporatocracy are coming in and raping and pillaging all around and they have their blinders on.

Joe: Yeah, they don't recognise that because it doesn't fit with their idea of their culture and who they are.

Jason: But they're upper middle class. Most of them are upper middle class, educated people that have never been a part of the society that they're "liberating". They've never been on that spectrum so they don't even know. They come in. They fiddle around with stuff. They reorganise stuff and then they...

Joe: They walk away.

Jason: ...shag off and somebody else comes in and says "Hey! Candyman!"

Eric: Going back to the Muslim alternative here because as you were saying, Huntington talks about the need for modern political reforms. Well what that means is secularism, that you now push religion completely out of the realm of political life or that politics now is governed only by money. That's what that reduces them to, because by taking religion or any sense of ethics out of public life and replacing that with control by money, you have this I guess the 20th century disease, the corruption that invaded public life and is endemic to public life. So secularim is one thing that the west implies because that's a way for the west to control its post-modern neo-colonial governments.

But some of the cultural things that the west criticises something like the Muslim Brotherhood for, is trying to reduce the commercialisation of sex and making women sex symbols, which is the essence of western culture, that women are portrayed as sex symbols. And of course women might want to fight that, but the commercialisation is so overpowering that there's not much they can do.

Joe: Right.

Eric: And also when I come back to Canada after spending time in even Egypt, which is quite moderate, there are lots of westerners, lots of drinking, but when I look at western movies even, they all focus around people getting plastered. Drinking is celebrated as the great liberation and the great way of achieving personal joy or whatever. Eastern culture's so completely different. And these are things that are very important in rebuilding our own culture here, to make it more human and to take away the power. And by being drunk all the time, by making sex something that is cheap and commercial by refusing to allow morality within our public lives, that's I would say the basis of the weakness or even the disaster of western society these days.

Niall: Eric, that's a very good point. Something I've been thinking about for a while now regarding Russia and how it portrayed in the west. I look at some of the things Putin has said and I can't help but think that he's actually taking the moral stand...

Eric: Yes, yes.

Niall: ...when he says, with some passion, "Who does NATO think they are bombing Libya like that?" And then with Syria he goes a step further and I think he actually thwarts the war. He should have won the Nobel Peace Prize, by the standards they use. And then here we go again. And he's actually using physical force to defend people this time. It seems to me that it's more than a case of the Great Game between this empires and that empire and who's going to get on top and get what. There's a moral conflict going on here. Is there something about Russia? Something about the Slavic mentality perhaps? Is it not so much a statement on the eastern oriental and Islamic mentality; is it a statement about the mindset of certain people within the white western mentality?

Eric: Well I think part of the case with Russia is its Christian orthodox is less "reformed", is less secularised. And it's actually closer in many respects to Islam. We're getting into the territory of my second book now which is From Post-Modernism to Post-Secularism, Re-emerging Islamic Civilisation. And I'm trying to make the case there that rather than trying to subdue Islam and incorporate it into the western model, we should look to the differences and to see where Islam has something it can teach us. We can also look to Christian orthodoxy. And also of course Putin is very much building on the legacy of the Soviet Union which again, there was a moral component there. It wasn't just cynically trying to expand to make more profit. Why did the Soviet Union collapse? It was because it was helping its east European allies with cheap gas and subsidised goods. It was also providing central Asia - if you ever go to Uzbekistan where I lived for almost 15 years, the Uzbeks have no use for this faux independence. They all would, in a flash, return to the freedom and the openness and the prosperity of the Soviet Union. For them it was a golden period, especially the last 20 years where there was certainly no overt religious persecution as there had been for about a 10 or 15 year period under Stalin. By the mid-'60s it was quite possible to lead a life and to have some faith.

So you see that Soviet Christian orthodoxy and Islam are moral forces, contrary to the way they're portrayed in the west where we're taught that the Soviet Union was evil, the empire of evil, that Islam is evil. No one really pays much attention to Christian orthodoxy in the west.

Joe: Just on Uzbekistan, I can well believe that people in Uzbekistan would be looking back to the Soviet Union as a golden era because Uzbekistan is essentially a dictatorship right now that has for many years been supported and propped up by the British and the Americans. The Americans have a base there. You probably know Craig Murray who was the former ambassador.

Eric: Oh yes.

Joe: He wrote a book about his experiences there, Murder in Samarkand and the treatment that the Uzebeks get. They live in the most horrible kind of dictatorship there is in the modern world. And it's fully supported by western powers.

Eric: Well not fully supported because in fact it was, until about 2006, I believe that was the year...

Joe: Right, yeah.

Eric: ...of the massacre of probably about a thousand people. They were just demonstrating in a square and because they were actually trying to implement some Islamic traditions in their own business practices. There was nothing subversive, or a little subversive. Who knows? There certainly is an underground movement of Uzbek independence that is militant and is actually in Afghanistan too. But of course it's a chicken and an egg. Where did they come from? Karimov, right from the start, got the most vicious KGB types to be his personal guards. And it's quite a nasty history right from 1990 when he took over.

Joe: Although as Craig Murray said, during the war on terror, the post-9/11 years, Uzbekistan was used as one of their...

Eric: Uh-huh. The Americans actually did pull out in Europe. After the massacre they did reduce their direct work. But never completely. And now after Crimea, it's like that's their excuse to forget all - the Germans are particularly obnoxious, paying little attention to human rights issues when they can develop some of their own business practices, or who knows. Maybe they're itching to be the modern state again. Certainly I guess within the EU, they do control most of the shots. So in a sense they do have more power than appears.

Joe: I'm just going to check to see if we have a caller on the line here. Do we have a caller on the line?

Charles: Yes, it's Charles again. May I enter the fray once more?

Joe: Sure Charles. Go ahead.

Charles: Well since it's the Great Games of the Global Elite, the title, and since Eric's I believe originally from Canada, by the way thanks for standing up for Islam because the way I kind of read it, it was like the western expansion, where if America and Canada, well I think Canada did more than America frankly, but if they had allowed the Native Americans to have their culture, how much richer we would have all been, if we could have learned from them. And Islam I feel like the western expansion attack against Islamists, you can't have Allah before them all. You've got to take them all. Hey, take it. Anyways, Eric, since you're Canadian - am I right?

Eric: Yes.

Charles: And you're writing this book The Global Elite, I'd like to know what the hell has happened to Canada. I heard someone say one time and I believed this as well. I was born in Toronto. But Toronto was New York made in Switzerland. And there's this wonderful part of Canada that is like the EU, it's very smart in a lot of ways. But when I worked in Toronto in 1972, you never saw people on the street begging. I saw a guy in 2000 washing a window like Tijuana.

Eric: Yes.

Charles: And my cousin had to quit his job. He worked for the government and he had to lie to people because they were saying, like politicians do "This is what's going on". But it wasn't what was going on. I'm not going to go on with that anymore. I'm curious, what has happened to Canada? Is it all oil? Does oil control the whole world? And Stephen Harper, he's pitiful. Anyways, that's my question.

Eric: Well all I can say is you're absolutely right. What's happened is I guess in one word, Mulroney. You could say that's the beginning of the end, really, was when he slipped in back in the 1980s and pursued NAFTA. And this Harper is just an extreme version of Mulroney now with his oil sands and a massive pipeline across Canada. And the fracking as well. The most environmentally harmful ways of creating energy and he's gung-ho on it. But I guess it's because the conservatives were taken over by this kind of radical right. Harper is the first of these new reform conservatives that destroyed the old - there was a sense in Canada, if you go back even 40 years or to Stanfield, or the earlier conservatives, the red Tory, that there was a kind of aristocratic sense that workers should have some rights, within limits of course, but you look after your peons. That kind of mentality. Now that's been lost completely. And now Harper is the biggest lap dog in terms of Ukraine or Syria or wherever. Israel of course, completely.

Joe: As well.

Eric: So we haven't really got into that whole messy issue of just how Israel fits into this empire because that's another reason why you really have to talk about Great Game III because Israel is a major player in its own right whereas Great Game I of course there was no Israel. There was no Jewish state. Jews were very much incorporated within the various empire elites as bankers primarily. But now they have their own issue. And it's Canada as a post-modern state that is easily manipulated by the empire. In this case it's manipulated by both Israel and the U.S. in a very complex way. So Charles, yes your point, I agree with you totally. It's very depressing to be a Canadian these days, having had some credibility in the past, as you said, a Swiss New York. Now we're just more like a Manchester Detroit.

Niall: And now you have Rob Ford as a Mayor.

Eric: (laughing) Yeah, cocaine.

Niall: That guy is disgusting.

Eric: Or was it meth. Meth apparently is his big...

Niall: Well perhaps we should broach the question then about Israel. Pierre had something to bring up there. I think he's been waiting to bring something up.

Eric: Go for it.

Pierre: Well I'm just quoting you Eric about Israel. You're describing the beginning of Great Game III around the end of the '70s where the U.S. is controlling everything, militarily speaking, media, finance, the economy, etc. And you're right, "The fly in the ointment was the fundamentally anachronistic nature of Zionist plans. They had not changed either. Israel was still a secular colonial regime in a neo-colonial era, a recipe for permanent war." So maybe you can elaborate on this quote?

Eric: Yes, Israel was born with McKinder who - actually it goes back to Lord Shaftsbury, 1948. There's a great quote that I have in my book about the need to create this Jewish state in the Middle East as a link in the British empire, as a necessary link. That was even before the Suez Canal. This idea of a Jewish state and then who's going to finance the Suez Canal? Of course Rothschild and then you put them together in the same spot, you have a very powerful motive to create a colony. It was conceived as a colony but then it came about, ironically as a neo-colony, as an independent state. The Palestinian authority from 1921 to '47 was British controlled. But it was only temporary and it was clear that it would become independent.

So you could say the logic of the first Great Game led to this creation of Israel which then became - in fact Israel has much more to do with Nazi Germany as a concept, because it was born out of a racial chauvinism. It was supposed to serve British interests, and it did to a certain extent, but by '56 with the Suez crisis and the collapse of the British empire completely by that point, Israel then starts to morph into something very different. And as I outline in my book, in '56 it was a very small, modest Israeli, Jewish lobby, whatever you want to call it, in Washington. And Eisenhower was able to ignore it and to threaten Israel and say "We'll stop arming" - I don't have the exact details at my fingertips, but he basically told Israel "out of Sinai". So Israel still had to obey at that point.

And then the Israeli politicians looked at what went wrong and realised they only had one or two lobbyists at capitol hill. So over the next ten years there was a very powerful effort to infiltrate and to control all the congress and senate either directly through assistants in the offices of the congressmen or just through these organizations like APAC and other ones. There's quite a few of those I detail. There's a lot of very good research by people like Petrus that I was able to call on to pull together that whole development of the Israeli lobby and how powerful it became by '67. So Israel was able to keep its Sinai conquest in '67 and then to start to proceed to colonise the areas that it previously had no claim to, not even in its wildest dreams.

So Israel has become much more of a headache than a help to the U.S. these days.

Joe: Just on the big kind of question of the commie threat during the Cold War, post-World War II until 1991, to what extent was that threat real? To what extent was the American use of the communist threat, to go around the world and protect against it; was that real and to what extent was it just a justification?

Eric: Well I would say it was really a hoax.

Joe: Generally speaking.

Eric: The Soviet Union under Stalin was never expansionist. Look at Franco's Spain. Franco's Spain was not expansionist. It was a dictatorship. It was not a nice dictatorship, but it was basically very cautious and self-preservation was the essence of both Franco's Spain and the Soviet Union. I don't like to idolise it because of course there were great, horrible repressions under Stalin and there were horrible environmental disasters. There was very crude planning in many ways that caused serious problems. And the borders. This Ukraine problem would not be nearly so bad if Stalin hadn't shifted the borders and taken part of Poland. Maybe that's a red herring, but there's many things to criticise. But there was never any intent to invade western Europe. That's complete nonsense. That was a hoax. It makes me very angry to think how people were conned into believing that. And the French communist party, or the Italian communist party, they would never have been - let's say they came to power. They wouldn't have joined the Soviet Union. These were very independent, very credible parties with a longer tradition than even the Russian parties. So I can't go along with that.

The whole problem with eastern Europe, with Czechoslovakia in 1968 and all of that, that was purely balance of power, real politic, and Russia was just afraid with Czechoslovakia that it would be like pulling the plug and the whole thing would collapse. And that's exactly what would have happened. And that's exactly what did happen 20 years later with the very naïve Gorbachev. So it's not that it was a beautiful system, but it should never have collapsed. It was a great tragedy that it collapsed rather than having someone like Andropov. There were no leaders at that point. That was a political weakness, that it hadn't renewed itself and wasn't capable of producing a reform that would work.

It's kind of chicken and egg though because when I look back now on the Soviet Union, right from 1917 it was attacked, invaded, undermined constantly. People don't seem to realise that in the '50s CIA quite openly was infiltrating, sending right-wing émigrés back in that could speak their German or Czech or whatever language, and they were blowing up factories. There was sabotage going on. It was part of the standard policy. I checked this and I urge people to - I've got the material, the quotes, to back me up that whatever Soviet spies were in the U.S. were totally ineffectual and mostly they were there just to try and find out what was happening. There was no subversion. There was no policy of people infiltrating to blow up factories, which is what the U.S. and Britain were doing in eastern Europe and in Russia.

So part of what motivated me to write Post-Modern Imperialism was to just get this clear because after the collapse of the Soviet Union, all you hear is how evil it was, how horrible, how stupid, how wonderful the west was. There's this whole agenda of propaganda that we're being brainwashed with. In fact I just watched Michael Palin of Monty Python fame. He did a series called The New Europe, a seven-part series, where he goes to all the different - he's a nice fellow but he is a total brainwasher, a complete toady to this post-modern world. He has no political understanding and no interest in socialism or no sense of anti-imperialism, nothing. It's very sad because there's a very smooth, witty person basically blessing the whole imperial agenda. I was quite appalled at that. So I'm not urging you to watch it (laughing) unless you watch it with a critical eye.

Joe: Eric, you lived in Russia, or in the Soviet Union, right?

Eric: Yes, yes. I went over to study in '79. I was there during the invasion of Afghanistan. It was quite a surreal experience. And then I went back in '89 and lived in Moscow for another four years.

Joe: And you found life there okay?

Eric: Read the introduction or the prologue. I give a brief account of my experiences there. It was bizarre and surreal at times. And as a young person who likes to be free to do whatever you want, I found it frustrating in many ways. But I understand it much more clearly now as basically a benign dictatorship. It morphed into that. In the Stalin period it was pretty nasty, but by the mid-'50s it was over that really serious negative period. And I had wonderful times. I look back, I would say those were perhaps some of the best times in my life in terms of human relations, travel. It was a huge area. I was able to travel freely. People were wonderfully friendly, well educated. There wasn't a lot of crime. Life was cheap and easy as long as you didn't want a lot of luxuries, you could live quite happily.

Joe: Okay. One more quick question before we bring an end to the show. I know you probably explained this in your second book From Post-Modernism to Post-Secularism, but just on the Iraq thing, a major aspect of the years after the invasion was that life in Iraq was marred by claims of civil war and the appearance of civil war. And fingers were always pointed at the natural Suni/Shia divide in Iraq, that this was always going to happen. It was just brewing, bringing to the surface. Do you have any comment on that? Do you know whether or not that vaunted claim of underlying religious tension between Suni and Shia in Iraq is true?

Eric: Well we get back to the borders. Where did Iraq's borders come from? They were set up. Britain undermined and basically took over the Ottoman Caliphate and then created these state lets and called them independent states. Of course this was back in the '30s. They were not modern states then. They were the early post-modern states that eventually all of the British empire was turned into, post-modern states which could be manipulated. So it was made up of three completely different areas of the Ottoman, Kurdistan, the Shia part and the Suni part of Mesopotamia. And they were lumped together and this was originally done that by this British woman. I forget her name, but she said "We have to do this because we don't want to let the Shia have their own state. That would be the very devil." That's a quote from the British foreign office lady.

Joe: Who'd then align with Iran.

Eric: Well yes. I have grown to have great respect for Shia for many reasons. They have a political savvy and they have a militancy and also have a great tradition of scholarship and so it's very interesting - again, the Suni/Shia divide, the U.S. has been very keen to make it worse and there's lots of evidence that CIA types were sent in after 2003 to actually create some of the violence and to help it. So I don't know. I hate to paint the U.S. completely black because I'm sure there are U.S. people that went in there to be nice and to try and help Iraqis.

Joe: I don't believe it.

Eric: You know, some of the NGO people.

Joe: I don't believe it. I'm sorry. I'm too cynical.

Eric: (laughing)

Joe: I kind of wrote about it. It's something that I looked into and it seems to me that after the invasion from 2003 onwards, that there were basically U.S. funded and sponsored death squads in there running around, inciting.

Eric: Yes, and at the same time there are NGOs, perhaps they're just cover ones, but I know some of these Americans. There are nice Americans. They really want to help people. Some of these Peace Corp people, I've met many Peace Corp people and some of them are just genuinely really nice people. Some of them hate their government's policy. It's not completely black and white.

Joe: No, but those people can't do anything really.

Eric: Yeah. They're not running the death squads.

Joe: Well exactly. Even if they're well-intentioned in Iraq, if there's an overarching higher level policy to do the exact opposite...

Eric: Yes.

Joe: ...of what they're trying to do, and they're not aware of it, what's the point? They're just naïve and misguided.

Eric: Okay. Fair enough.

Joe: That's what I think. It doesn't say they're evil. Sure I agree that they're not so bad. But if you don't understand - for example those kind of people would need to read your books first.

Eric: Yes.

Joe: Before they joined some NGOs.

Niall: Yeah. They'd need to figure out that they're actually part of the soft power tactics.

Joe: Yeah, they're being manipulated, largely.

Pierre: Post-Modern Imperialism, Geopolitics and the Great Games by Eric Walberg. This is a very good book. Very interesting reading.

Eric: Well thank you Pierre.

Joe: All our listeners definitely should read this book if they want to understand it in a broad scale going back 100, 150 years, to understand the world that we're living in today. And your second book, which I haven't read yet, but it's called From Post-Modernism to Post-Secularism and I get the impression that it's basically a good explanation of Islamic culture and civilisation and where it came from and where it is today and where it might be going.

Eric: And how it is definitely a threat to imperialism, but it's not a threat to people like us. And an appreciation of Islam is essential to move out of our present dead end.

Joe: Yeah. Absolutely. Okay Eric, we're going to leave it there for this week. Thank you very much for being on. It's been great. You've been a fount of wisdom and information. And maybe we'll have you on again.

Eric: Well thank you so much for having me Joe. And I just encourage people, if you'd like to see more of my writing, just my name-dot-com,

Joe: Yeah, Eric W-A-L-B-E-R-G.

Eric: Just put that in.

Joe: Absolutely. There's two books available on your website there. Okay Eric, thanks again and thanks to our listeners and to our callers.

Niall: Next week we're going to be interviewing journalist and author Greg Palast. We're going to have him on to talk about the Exxon Valdez disaster, billionaire bandits and Chavezmo. So make sure you tune in for that.

Eric: Okay, bye-bye.

Pierre: Bye-bye.

Joe: Bye Eric.

Eric: Keep in touch.

Joe: We will.