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The Great Game

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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Great Game
    Posted: 13-Feb-2006 at 19:31
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The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (Kodansha Globe)

[/QUOTE]

 

I have read this book and own it.   THere is lots of good information in there about the British and Russian intrigue into Afghanistan.  It also has a very good account of the Anglo-Afghan Wars.

 



Edited by Afghanan
The perceptive man is he who knows about himself, for in self-knowledge and insight lays knowledge of the holiest.
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  Quote Alborz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Feb-2006 at 22:22

I will go back to the historical "Great Game", but I have to post this one out of responsibility for the New Great Game. I want to rather stick with the historical one after this. here it goes:

EMPIRE'S Last GREAT GAME

by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

As the U.S. continues to commit itself to the Great Game for Central Asia with the pre-emptive attack of Iraq, it is time to ask one question: Is the U.S. ready for a grass roots cultural challenge to the West that the world has not seen since the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity?

The Romans made it as far as Baku, cutting themselves a thin strip of territory through the Caucasus on their way to the Caspian. But by the 4th century A.D. the Empire had reached its furthest Eastern expansion and was faced with crisis. Any semblance of a true Republic had long since collapsed and even the system of strict military governorship that replaced it had fallen on hard times. Rotting from within, pressured from without, the Empire had lost its purpose. Something new was needed and with the help of Emperor Constantine and a militant ancient Persian philosophy known as Mithraism, Rome transcended its corrupted material form and found victory.

Turning the militarist, pagan Rome into an empire of the spirit was no simple process. But having been carried by its disciplined legions from the borders of Central Asia to the far reaches of Britain, Mithraism, the soldier's religion - laid the groundwork for the Christian holy war that remains as true to its original mission as it did when it began 2 millennia ago.

The process of conversion from secular to spiritual is no longer the monopoly of Rome. As Islamic states wrap themselves in what St. Paul called "the armor of light," a military victory in Iraq by the US will become a rallying cry for the complete radicalization of Islam. The U.S. may soon be faced with a global spiritual conversion in the heart of the Islam that will challenge the very core of US hegemony.

If successful this conversion could prove to be the equal to Constantine as the greatest act of unifying statecraft in the history of global politics. But this time, the beneficiary of this spiritual unity will not be the West. It will be the East and it will do for Islam what Christianity did for Rome.

History has proved more than once that assassinations can be a dangerous business for empires. Aside from its strategic value, the attempts on Saddam Hussain's life is having a profound symbolic effect that should not be overlooked. Completing a two millennium cycle that heralded the beginning of the Christian era, the high tech bombings used to target Hussain and his Republican Guard has raised his stature from reviled dictator to latest folk hero of the Islamic Jihad against the US. The same Mithraic holy warrior god of light that inspired Constantine to "conquer in his sign," is now activated for Islam..

As with the British before them, the whole U.S. involvement in the Great Game for Central Asia has been filled with holy warriors and sacred places without whose understanding the stakes and the nature of the game involved cannot be anticipated. Sitting as it does between Asia, Europe and the Middle East, the countries of Central Asia form a buffer between diverse cultures and beliefs and as such define the limits of conventional Western thought.

Hitler's entire strategy on the Eastern front during the waning days of World War II relied on reaching Azerbaijan and redirecting its oil to his own fuel starved fleet of Panzers. But the German defeat at Stalingrad demonstrated more than just the limits of Hitler's military strategy, it demonstrated how the Great Game can take more from its players than it gives back and as the Russian invasion of Afghanistan illustrated, it can be ruinous to Empires.

Although the game was coined by the British in the 19th century, the Great Game actually began millennia ago as a struggle over lucrative trade routes through Central Asia. Alternately, these routes served scores of invaders and as the Soviet's proved in December of 1979, the idea of a direct passage from northern Europe to the Arabian Sea is as desirable today as it was when 9th century Viking raiders plied the Volga to Itil on the Caspian.

The U.S. was a latecomer to the Great Game of Central Asia, inheriting the responsibilities and reaping the rewards of failed 19th century British attempts to secure the region. For awhile what the U.S. lacked in diplomacy was made up for with huge amounts of money and advanced military technology and through client states like Iran attempted to remold the politics of Central Asia to fit a manichaean U.S. anti-Soviet philosophy.

Beginning with Henry Kissinger's tenure as Secretary of State this Good v. Evil approach at first showed great promise for the U.S. as the Shah assumed the role of America's policeman in the Gulf. But as his new anti-Communist platform moved into Central Asia to challenge the Soviet Union, a very old breed of religious enemy re-appeared.

The first official sign that the U.S. had entered the complex web of intrigues for Central Asia came in 1973 when a little noticed palace coup in Iran's neighbor Afghanistan prompted U.S. Ambassador Robert Neuman to signal that a "limited Great Game" was back on. And when in 1978 a group of Marxists assumed power in a bloody coup, the limited game Neuman had spoken of only five years before, became the only game in town.

The U.S. responded by sending a seasoned diplomat, Adolph "Spike" Dubs to wean the Marxists away from Moscow and return them to a neutral buffer state. But Washington's signals were split between detente minded Cyrus Vance and virulent anti-communist Zbigniew Brzezinski and as tensions rose between Russia, China and Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Dubs stood defenseless.

Kidnaped by a splinter group of Afghan Maoists, the U.S. Ambassador was killed in the rescue attempt and within days the policy that now sees the U.S. playing the Great Game for control of Central Asia was born.

Given a license by the death of Dubs, Zbigniew Brzezinski was as free as a Roman governor to push again towards the Caspian and unleashed the floodgates of support for rival Islamic factions fighting the Marxists and their Soviet advisors in the mountains. Within months the chaos had drawn the Russians in and 20 years later the war still rages. But lost in the shuffle were the obscure Afghan Maoists that triggered the event that led the ascetic Taliban warriors to emerge from the ruins of what was Afghanistan To understand the Taliban's role is necessary to grasp what may be the next crucial phase of the Great Game.

In what is viewed by some Islamic Scholars as the most important intellectual and ideological trend in the Arab and Islamic world, the Afghan Maoists known collectively as the Sholah Jawed (Eternal Flame) have merged with Islam to form a hybrid, grass roots revolutionary movement that if successful could change the face of half the world. Known as the party of Islamic Unity, the Sholah up until now have been known to spread their hybridized political philosophy of unifying the nations of Islam.

2000 years ago, nothing was more unlikely than the marriage of pagan Rome and the Jewish cult of Christianity. But a Roman governor named Pontius Pilate sealed the fate of the next two millennium and an American national security advisor acting like a Roman governor, may have sealed the fate of the next.

Zbigniew Brzezinski's policies fostered the destabilization of Central Asia that cost the Soviet

Union its Empire, but at the same time it empowered radical elements in Islam to fight the Soviet Union and now the world must face Brzezinski's creation.

Saddem Hussain is only the latest "friend" turned enemy. Now as the target of Washington's anti-terrorist campaign, he has become a legend in a region known for world conquerors. Armed with this new recognition and open to a powerful new philosophy that merges the grass roots attraction of revolutionary Maoism, Islam stands to become a deciding factor in a region the U.S. is vitally dependent on for its future survival.

Will Saddam become the next catalyst by uniting Islam with a grass roots political system that brought China into the hands of Mao Tse-tung. The answer to this next and final phase of the Great Game may lie in the word "Taliban" itself which in the Arabic means seeker and as the Prophet Mohammed was said to have urged his followers, knowledge must be pursued even if it means traveling to China.

Copyright 2003 Gould & Fitzgerald
http://www.grailwerk.com/newsletter.htm

another related article:

Uzbekistan concludes "show trial"; signs defense pact with Russia

http://www.ww4report.com/node/1294



Edited by Alborz
"Who so shall worship Ahura Mazda, divine blessing will be upon him, both while living and when dead" Darius The Great
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  Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Feb-2006 at 18:08
I've read that book. It is really good. Puts the Cold War into perspective, its just a contunation of the Great Game
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  Quote Alborz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Feb-2006 at 04:48

This is my 100th post in AE ... anyway here is a good book about the Great Game:

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (Kodansha Globe)

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (Kodansha Globe)
by: Peter Hopkirk

Editorial Review:

In a phrase coined by Captain Arthur Connolly of the East India Company before he was beheaded in Bokhara for spying in 1842, a "Great Game" was played between Tsarist Russia and Victorian England for supremacy in Central Asia. At stake was the security of India, key to the wealth of the British Empire. When play began early in the 19th century, the frontiers of the two imperial powers lay two thousand miles apart, across vast deserts and almost impassable mountain ranges; by the end, only 20 miles separated the two rivals.

Peter Hopkirk, a former reporter for The Times of London with wide experience of the region, tells an extraordinary story of ambition, intrigue, and military adventure. His sensational narrative moves at breakneck pace, yet even as he paints his colorful characters--tribal chieftains, generals, spies, Queen Victoria herself--he skillfully provides a clear overview of the geographical and diplomatic framework. The Great Game was Russia's version of America's "Manifest Destiny" to dominate a continent, and Hopkirk is careful to explain Russian viewpoints as fully as those of the British. The story ends with the fall of Tsarist Russia in 1917, but the demise of the Soviet Empire (hastened by a decade of bloody fighting in Afghanistan) gives it new relevance, as world peace and stability are again threatened by tensions in this volatile region of great mineral wealth and strategic significance. --John Stevenson

http://www.ezfolk.com/cgi-bin/ae.pl?asinsearch=1568360223

Edited by Alborz
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  Quote Alborz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jan-2006 at 20:22
anybody else??? come on.
"Who so shall worship Ahura Mazda, divine blessing will be upon him, both while living and when dead" Darius The Great
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  Quote Alborz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Jan-2006 at 00:24

here is a background story which is related to Iran for those interested:

The playing fields of Persia
 

Philip Hensher DIPLOMACY AND MURDER IN TEHRAN: ALEXANDER GRIBOYEDOV AND IMPERIAL RUSSIA'S MISSION TO THE SHAH OF PERSIA by Laurence Kelly L. B. Tauris, L25, pp. 314, ISBN 1869646662

Pushkin once said, with characteristic irony, that the difference between Russian writers and foreign ones was that `there, they write for money, and here (except for me) they write from vanity'. Perhaps a more striking distinction of 19th-century Russians is their impressive knack of dying grotesque and dramatic deaths: Pushkin in a duel; Tolstoy at a railway station in a doomed attempt to escape his family; Tchaikovsky deliberately contracting cholera to erase a debt of honour. Griboyedov, however, takes the biscuit. He is remembered as the author of an early classic of the Russian theatre, Woe from Wit, but his extraordinarily dramatic and violent life would make an enthralling story even if he had never written a word. He was one of the first victims of what has come to be called `the Great Game', murdered in Tehran, and the tumultous sequence of daring deeds, duelling, conspiracies and revolts which led to that point reads rather like the most extravagant Russian novel ever written. This is a terrific biography, and sensationally thorough, and it is not Lawrence Kelly's fault if his story seems absolutely incredible on every page.

Griboyedov came from one of those Russian families which had irreproachable nobility on its side, but not much money. From the start, he had to make his way with not much more than wit, great charm, a lot of confidence and some fairly impressive connections. Pushkin was a great friend, and he knew Turgenev. One aunt was married to the famous Razumovsky. Another relation and patroness of Griboyedov's had married one of the Rimsky-- Korsakovs, which even before the birth of the great composer was a cultured and influential family. Griboyedov himself, born in 1795, was effortlessly able. Apart from proving an excellent, dry writer, he was a fine pianist and even a composer two waltzes survive, rather in the manner of the Irish composer John Field whose nocturnes enchanted all Europe and Russia, and who may actually have taught Griboyedov as a boy. (There is an interesting book, incidentally, to be written about the Scots and Irish in Russia - apart from Field and Lermontov, who was descended from Learmonts, not many people know that the duel, which one thinks of as quintessentially Russian, was not native, but conducted according to the Clonmel Code, first established in Ireland in the late 18th century).

Griboyedov first recommended himself with a couple of sycophantic articles about the military triumphs of 1812, which had the desired effect of obtaining an official diplomatic post. Acquiring languages and working the salons with, apparently, effortless ease, his rise was only interrupted by the obligatory but illegal duel of honour. His opponent died, and the affair could not be hushed up. Griboyedov was offered two overseas postings; Philadelphia, rather tantalisingly, or Tehran. He took Persia.

The first Persian expedition is fabulously bizarre from beginning to end. Saddled with a German travelling companion with the enchanting name of Amburgherr (`His sausages infuriate me,' Griboyedov reported), he spent much of his journey writing a brilliantly evocative journal, explicitly written against the purple tendencies of more conventional travelogues. Alas, he had got no further than the recently annexed Tiflis before getting into yet another duel; this time he came off worse, wounded in his little finger. `At least he will have to stop playing the piano,' his long-suffering friend Yakubovich remarked.

After this mild diversion, they set off for Tehran, at Tabriz picking up an English translator who, most improbably, had been a London cab driver. To cap the generally dreamlike nature of the expedition, the Persians were so vague about the difference between their British and their Russian visitors that the party was greeted, on their entry into Tehran, with a no doubt memorable rendering of `God Save the King' by the imperial orchestra.

Griboyedov was there to play one of the early gambits of the long Great Game of the 19th century, the rivalry between Russia and England for domination of Central Asia. It is an enthralling subject which has been covered elsewhere, notably by the excellent Peter Hopkirk. Griboyedov's Persian missions, however, haven't been explored much; Maurice Yapp's superb and exhaustive Strategies of British India only mentions him in passing, and Laurence Kelly has filled an important gap. It was all doomed to failure, of course; the Russians were so obviously bent on expansion and annexation that their Persian counterparts were constantly mindful that they might meet the same fate as the recently annexed Georgia. The whole history of Persian-Russian relations is a story of double-crossing, lies and mutual suspicion.

Still, the journey more or less cleared Griboyedov's reputation in St Petersburg, and, returning to Russia, he set about his favourite occupation of sailing very close to the wind. Woe from Wit, which he was writing on his return journey, was bluntly refused by the official censor, but, circulating in an extraordinary number of manuscript copies - by 1830 more than 30,000 - it quickly attained classic status. The fascination and brilliance of the play are not quite apparent to the non-Russian reader; its concise wit and elegance are, everyone says, impossible to translate but are attested to by the fact that many of its lines have turned into proverbs in its native language. The play went on influencing Russian literature, and the long line of disaffected Russian heroes - Eugene Onegin, Oblomov, Gogol's Chichikov, and even Pierre Bezukhov, whose infatuation with freemasonry echoes Griboyedov's own are essentially variations on the hero of Woe from Wit, Chatsky. Before Griboyedov, Russian literature is a series of antiquarian curiosities; after, it begins to move and to sing.

A scandalous play was one thing, but Griboyedov came much closer to catastrophe with the Decembrist plot of 1825. He was intimate with most of the conspirators, and it is hard not to conclude that he was to some degree a supporter of their aims. But his manoeuvring was so masterly that a biographer can only produce a surmise of his guilt. From the beginning, he skilfully avoided any solid proof that he knew of the plot, and the subsequent interrogations had to let him go when all the other conspirators were hanged. So thorough was he that still no concrete evidence has come to light. The balance of probability, however, is overwhelmingly against him.

He met his end on a subsequent mission to Persia; the long-running issue of the repatriation of the Shah's Christian slaves quite suddenly escalated from diplomatic discussions into violence, and a mob broke into the Russian embassy and slaughtered the entire mission. It was all just about containable - I can't resist passing on the information that `in the absence of Amburgherr Captain Ronald Macdonald travelled to Tehran to receive apologies' but Griboyedov's death at 34 was a tragic loss to Russian culture. The final act in an extraordinary life of consistent implausibility came when his friend Pushkin, travelling in the Georgian mountains, came across a cart bearing Griboyedov's body. As they say, you just couldn't make it up.

The best thing about Laurence Kelly's biography is that, unlike most historians of the Great Game, he has investigated the sources from every angle. It isn't unusual to read books about the subject by authors who haven't gone anywhere near the Russian archives, let alone an oriental library. Russian historians, conversely, have rarely been able to present a fair picture; they were not permitted access to official British sources during the communist period, and the conclusions of Soviet historians were invariably driven by contemporary ideology - they all assert, for instance, that the murder of the Russian mission in 1829 was orchestrated by British plotting, which is absurd. Discussing so gigantic and secretive an episode, and one which looked entirely different when considered from London, St Petersburg, Tehran or Calcutta, this partiality is always a handicap.

Kelly's industry, on the other hand, has been enormous, going deep into Russian commentators and having a decent stab even at Persian sources, and the results, presented with a light touch, are absolutely fascinating. There is not much on Griboyedov outside Russian, he hasn't attracted the attention of Great Game historians, so this must be regarded not just as a gripping story, but an important book. Griboyedov's life sounds like a tall story, a heroic myth. Here, it has been investigated with exemplary thoroughness, retold with a fine sense of tact and restraint.

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3724/is_200201/a i_n9065904



Edited by Alborz
"Who so shall worship Ahura Mazda, divine blessing will be upon him, both while living and when dead" Darius The Great
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  Quote Alborz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Jan-2006 at 00:11

Lets talk about the history of THE GREAT GAME.

EDIT: I CHANGED THE TITLE TO BROADER ONE SO WE CAN DISCUSS MORE THINGS ON THIS.



Edited by Alborz
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