Part 2 of 2
Translated by Greg Johnson
Karl Haushofer’s Kontinentalblock
It was in Germany, under the decisive influence of Karl Haushofer (1869–1946), that geopoliticians, diplomats, and National Revolutionary and National Bolshevik theorists (the Jünger brothers, Ernst Niekisch, Karl-Otto Paetel) would oppose thalassocratic pretentions with greatest force.
A Bavarian artillery officer and professor at the War Academy, Karl Haushofer was sent to Japan in 1906 to reorganize the Imperial Army. During his return to Germany on the Trans-Siberian railroad, he became vividly aware of the continental vastness of Russian Eurasia. After the First World War, he earned a doctorate and became professor of geography in Munich, where connected with Rudolf Hess. In 1924, Haushofer founded the famous Zeitschrift für Geopolitik (Journal of Geopolitics). He was the direct intellectual heir to his compatriot Friedrich Ratzel and the Swede Rudolf Kjellén.
To begin, let us set aside the black legend of Haushofer as fanatical Hitlerist who used geopolitics to justify the territorial conquests of the Third Reich, a legend based in “American propaganda efforts,” according to Professor Jean Klein. This diabolization will astonish only those who are ignorant of the anti-thalassocratic orientation of Haushofer’s geopolitics . . .
Haushofer wished to rise above petty nationalisms. Thus, beginning in 1931, in Geopolitik der Pan-Ideen (Geopolitics of Continental Ideas), he advocated the constitution of vast continental spaces as the only means to go beyond the territorial and economic weakness of traditional States. The first stage could be the sub-continental gatherings theorized in 1912 by the geographer E. Banse, who recommended 12 large civilizational regions: Europe, Greater Siberia (Russia included), Australia, the East Indies, Eastern Asia, the “Nigritie” (the “black lands,” i.e., Africa), Mongolia (with China, Indochina, and Indonesia), Greater California, the Andes, America (Atlantic North America), and Amazonia.
Haushofer’s radically continentalist and anti-thalassocratic thought came into focus in 1941, when he published Der Kontinentalblock-Mitteleuropa-Eurasien-Japan (The Continental Bloc Central Europe-Eurasia-Japan). Written after the Germano-Soviet pact, this work argued for a Germano-Italo-Soviet-Japanese alliance that would radically reorganize the Eurasian continental mass. He stressed that the permanent fear of the Anglo-Saxons is the emergence of a Berlin-Moscow-Tokyo axis, which would completely escape the influence of the commercial thalassocracies, which, he writes, practice the policy of the anaconda, which consists in gradually encircling and slowly suffocating its prey. But a unified Eurasia would be too large for the Anglo-American anaconda. Thanks to its gigantic mass, it could resist any blockade.
The idea of a tripartite alliance first occurred to the Japanese and Russians. At the time of the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, when the British and Japanese united against the Russians, some of the Japanese leadership—including Hayashi, their ambassador in London, Count Gato, Prince Ito, and Prime Minister Katsura—desired a Germano-Russo-Japanese pact against the English seizure of global sea traffic. The visionary Count Gato recommended a troika in which the central horse, the strongest one, flanked by two lighter and more nervous horses, Germany and Japan. In Russia, the Eurasian idea would be incarnated a few years later by the minister Sergei Witte, the creative genius of the Trans-Siberian Railroad who in 1915 advocated a separate peace with the Kaiser.
Needless to say, Haushofer disapproved of Hitler’s wars of conquest in the East, which went against his historical project of creating a Eurasian continental bloc.
The Anaconda Strategy of Spykman and Brzezinski
The fundamental idea, posed by Mahan and Mackinder, to prohibit Russia’s access to the open sea, would be reformulated by Nicholas John Spykman (1893–1943), who insisted on the pressing need for controlling the maritime ring or Rimland, the littoral zone bordering the Heartland and which runs from Norway to Korea: “Whoever controls the maritime ring holds Eurasia; whoever holds Eurasia controls the destiny of the world.”
Interpreting this maxim at that onset of the Cold War, the United States tried by a policy of “containment” of the USSR, to control the Rimland by means of a network of regional pacts: NATO in Europe, the Baghdad Pact then the Organization of the central treaty of the Middle East, SEATO and ANZUS in the Far East.
With the collapse of the Soviet bloc, one might have expected a strategic redeployment of the USA and a break with Mackinderite orthodoxy. But that was not to be. So much so that still today, the (semi-official) foreign policy adviser most heeded by President Obama proves to be a dedicated disciple of Mackinder: none other than Zbigniew Brzezinski, a friend of David Rockefeller, with whom he co-founded the Trilateral Commission in 1973, and Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1980. His major theoretical work, The Grand Chessboard, appeared in 1997, at the time of the wars in Yugoslavia undertaken mainly under his initiative, under the aegis of the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Brzezinski’s strategic analysis cynically reprises Anglo-Saxon geopolitical doxa: Eurasia, which comprises half the planet’s population, constitutes the spatial center of world power. The key to control Eurasia is Central Asia. The key to control Central Asia is Uzbekistan. For this Russophobe of Polish origin, the objective of the American Grand Strategy must be to fight against a China-Russia alliance. Considering that the principal threat comes from Russia, he recommends its encirclement (the anaconda, always the anaconda) by the establishment of military bases, or, in the absence of friendly regimes in the former Soviet republics (Ukraine included), insisting in particular on the necessary utilization of Islamists. Paradoxically, it is in the name of the fight against these same Islamists that American forces were deployed Uzbekistan after September 11th, 2001 . . . Machiavelli is not dead!
1. Jean Klein, Karl Haushofer, De la géopolitique (Paris: Fayard, 1986).
2. N. Spykman, The Geography of the Peace (New York: Harcourt-Brace, 1944), p. 43.
Edouard Rix, Terre & Peuple, No. 46 (Winter Solstice 2010), pp. 39–41.