Reprinted from Asia Times
Move over, Cold War 2.0. The real story, now and for the foreseeable future, in its myriad declinations, and of course, ruling out too many bumps in the road, is a new, integrated Eurasia forging ahead.
China's immensely ambitious New Silk Road project will keep intersecting with the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EEC). And that will be the day when the EU wakes up and finds a booming trade/commerce axis stretching from St. Petersburg to Shanghai. It's always pertinent to remember that Vladimir Putin sold a similar, and even more encompassing, vision in Germany a few years ago -- stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.
It will take time -- and troubled times. But Eurasia's radical facelift is inexorable. This implies an exceptionalist dream -- the U.S. as Eurasia hegemon, something that still looked feasible at the turn of the millennium -- fast dissolving right before anyone's eyes.
Russia pivots East, China pivots West
A few sound minds in the U.S. remain essential as they fully deconstruct the negatives, pointing to the dangers of Cold War 2.0. The Carnegie Moscow Center's Dmitri Trenin, meanwhile, is more concerned with the positives, proposing a road map for Eurasian convergence.
The Russia-China strategic partnership -- from energy trade to defense and infrastructure development -- will only solidify, as Russia pivots East and China pivots West. Geopolitically, this does not mean a Moscow subordinated to Beijing, but a rising symbiotic relationship, painstakingly developed in multiple stages.
The BRICs -- that dirty word in Washington -- already have way more global appeal, and as much influence as the outdated G-7. The BRIC New Development Bank, ready to start before the end of 2015, is a key alternative to G7-controlled mechanisms and the IMF.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is bound to include India and Pakistan at their upcoming summer summit in Russia, and Iran's inclusion, post-sanctions as an official member, would be virtually a done deal by 2016. The SCO is finally blossoming as the key development, political/economic cooperation and security forum across Asia.
Putin's "greater Europe" from Lisbon to Vladivostok -- which would mean the EU + EEC -- may be on hold while China turbo-charges its New Silk Road in both its overland and maritime routes. Meanwhile, the Kremlin will concentrate on a parallel strategy -- to use East Asian capital and technology to develop Siberia and the Russian Far East. The yuan is bound to become a reserve currency across Eurasia in the very near future, as the ruble and the yuan are about to rule for good in bilateral trade.
The German factor
"Greater Europe" from Lisbon to Vladivostok inevitably depends on a solution to the German puzzle. German industrialists clearly see the marvels of Russia providing Germany -- much more than the EU as a whole -- with a privileged geopolitical and strategic channel to Asia-Pacific. However, the same does not apply as yet to German politicos. Chancellor Angela Merkel, whatever her rhetoric, keeps toeing the Washington line.
The Russian Pipelineistan strategy was already in place -- via Nord Stream and South Stream -- when interminable EU U-turns led Moscow to cancel South Stream and launch Turk Stream (which will, in the end, increase energy costs for the EU). The EU, in exchange, would have virtually free access to Russia's wealth of resources, and internal market. The Ukraine disaster means the end of all these elaborate plans.
Germany is already the defacto EU conductor for this economic express train. As an export powerhouse, its only way to go is not West or South, but East. Thus, the portentous spectacle of an orchestra of salivating industrialists when Xi Jinping went to Germany in the spring of 2104. Xi proposed no less than a high-speed rail line linking the New Silk Road from Shanghai to Duisburg and Berlin.
A key point which shouldn't be lost on Germans: a vital branch of the New Silk Road is the Trans-Siberian high-speed rail remix. So one of the yellow BRIC roads to Beijing and Shanghai boasts Moscow as a strategic pit stop.
That Empire of Chaos ...