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A Geostrategy for Eurasia Author(s): Zbigniew Brzezinski Source: Foreign Affairs, Vol. 76, No. 5 (Sep. - Oct.

, 1997), pp. 50-64 Published by: Council on Foreign Relations Stable URL: Accessed: 23/03/2010 21:23
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Zbigniew Brzezinski




the first issue of Foreign Affairs saw years ago, when the light of day, the United States was a self-isolated Western hemi spheric power, sporadically involved in the affairs of Europe and Asia. to

World War II and the ensuing ColdWar compelled theUnited States

a sustained commitment to Western Europe and the Far develop as the sole now makes East. Americas emergence global superpower an strategy for Eurasia imperative. integrated and comprehensive is home to most of the world s politically assertive and Eurasia to states. All the historical global power originated pretenders dynamic in Eurasia. The world smost populous aspirants to regional hegemony, China and India, are in Eurasia, as are all the potential political or eco nomic challengers to American States, the primacy. After the United next six largest economies and military spenders are there, as are all but one of the world s overt nuclear powers, and all but one of the covert ones. Eurasia accounts for 75 percent of the world s 60 per population, cent of its GNP, and 75 percent of its energy resources. Collectively, even Americas. Eurasia's potential power overshadows Eurasia is the world s axial supercontinent. A power that dominated three Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the worlds economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. a country dominant in Eurasia A glance at the map also suggests that most


rity Affairs tional Studies

to the President for National Secu Assistant Brzezinski, at the Center for Strategic and Interna in 1977-81, isCounselor and Professor

of Foreign Policy at the Paul H. Nitze School International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University. This of Advanced article is adapted from his forthcoming book, The Grand Chessboard.


A Geostrategy for Eurasia would almost automatically control theMiddle East and Africa. With Eurasia now serving as the decisive geopolitical chessboard, it no longer suffices to fashion one policy for Europe and another for Asia. What on the Eurasian landmass will be happens with the distribution of power of decisive importance toAmericas global primacy and historical legacy. A sustainable strategy for Eurasia must distinguish among the more immediate short-run perspective of the next five years or so, the medium term of 20 or so years, and the run these long beyond that. Moreover, must be viewed not as as part of a compartments but phases watertight continuum.

In the short run, the United States should consolidate and perpetuate the prevailing geopolitical pluralism on the map of Eurasia. This strategy will put a premium on political maneuvering and diplo a matic manipulation, preventing the emergence of hostile coalition that could challenge Americas the remote possibil primacy, not to mention one state to do so. By the medium term, the foregoing ity of any seeking should lead to the emergence of strategically compatible partners which, a more prompted by American leadership, might shape cooperative trans-Eurasian security system. In the long run, the foregoing could be come the core of global genuinely shared political responsibility. In the western periphery of Eurasia, the key players will continue to be France and Germany, and Americas central goal should be to con tinue to expand the democratic European bridgehead. In the Far East, China is likely to be increasingly pivotal, and the United States will not consensus is have a Eurasian strategy unless a Sino-American political nurtured. In Eurasia's center, the area between an enlarging Europe and a regionally rising China will remain a political black hole until Russia firmly redefines itself as a state. Meanwhile, to the postimperial south of Russia, Central Asia threatens to become a caldron of ethnic conflicts and great-power rivalries.




America's contested


as the world's challenger

state is likely tomatch theUnited States in the four key dimensions

of power?military, confer global political

by any single

premier for more

power is unlikely to be than a generation. No and cultural?that the only


economic, technological, clout. Short of American




Zbigniew real alternative ident Clinton toAmerican


"indispensable Americas global stewardship will be tested by tension, turbulence, and periodic conflict. In Europe, there are signs that the momentum for is waning and integration and enlargement that nationalisms may reawaken. Large-scale The only alternative to even in the most suc American leadership is unemployment persists cessfiil European states, breeding xenophobic international anarchy. reactions that could cause French or German to lurch toward extremism. politics Europe's aspirations for unity will be met only ifEurope and occasionally prodded, by the United States. Russia's future is less certain and the prospects for its positive evo lution more tenuous. America must therefore shape a political context to Russia's assimilation into a larger framework of that is congenial of its newly European cooperation, while fostering the independence or Uzbekistan sovereign neighbors. Yet the viability of, say, Ukraine if Ajnerica will remain uncertain, fails to support their especially at national consolidation. efforts is encouraged, with China could also of a grand accommodation a crisis over Taiwan, be threatened internal Chinese by political or a downward in Sino-American relations. dynamics, simply spiral Sino-American could strain the United States' relation hostility The chances

leadership is international anarchy. Pres is correct when he says America has become the world s nation."

in Japan itself. Asian Japan, perhaps causing disruption then be at risk, and these events could even affect stability would the posture and cohesion of a country like India, which is critical to ship with

stability in South Asia.

task is to ensure that no state Eurasia, the immediate or combination States of states gains the ability to expel the United or even diminish of a stable its decisive role. However, the promotion balance should not be viewed as an end in itself, transcontinental In a volatile as a means in toward shaping genuine strategic partnerships only must still the key regions of Eurasia. A benign American hegemony not its others from posing a challenge, only by making discourage costs too high, but also by respecting interests of the legitimate Eurasia's regional aspirants. [52] FOREIGN AFFAIRS Volume76No.5

A Geostrategy for Eurasia More goal requires fostering gen specifically, the medium-term uine partnerships with amore united and politically defined Europe, a a and Europe-oriented postimperial regionally preeminent China, Russia, and a democratic India. But itwill be success or failure in forging that shapes and China broader strategic relationships with Europe Russia's future role and determines Eurasia's central power equation.




in Eurasia. bridgehead geopolitical stake in democratic Europe is enormous. Unlike Americas Americas entrenches American links with Japan, nato influence and political on the Eurasian mainland. With the allied European military power on U.S. nations still highly dependent any expansion of protection, an of U.S. scope is automatically expansion Europe's political the United influence. Conversely, States' ability to project influence ties. and power in Eurasia relies on close transatlantic an nato will serve the short-term A wider Europe and enlarged Europe essential interests of U.S. policy. A larger Europe will expand and longer-term a influence without the range of American simultaneously creating so Europe politically integrated that it could challenge the United States on matters of East. importance, particularly in theMiddle geopolitical A politically defined Europe is also essential to Russia's assimilation into a system of global cooperation.
America cannot create a more united Europe on its own?that is a

is Americas

task for the Europeans, But especially the French and the Germans. can obstruct the emergence of amore united America Europe, and that could prove calamitous for Eurasian stability and America's interests. Unless Europe becomes more united, it is likely to become more dis must work united again.Washington and France closely with Germany United States, and widens

in building a Europe that is politically viable, remains linked to the

the scope of the democratic international between France and Germany is not the issue. system. Choosing Without both these nations, there will be no Europe, and without never be a system. Europe there will cooperative trans-Eurasian accom In practical terms, all this will eventually require America's to a shared in nato, modation of greater acceptance leadership FOREIGN AFFAIRS 1997 September/October [53]

role inAfrica and theMiddle East, European for the European Union's eastward expansion and continued support even as the eu becomes politically and economically more assertive. A transadantic free trade agreement, already advocated by a number of the risk of a growing economic rivalry Western leaders, could mitigate success in States. The eu's progressive between the eu and the United a antagonisms would be well worth European burying centuries-old inAmerica's role as Europe's arbitrator. gradual diminution of nato and the eu would also reinvigorate Europe's Enlargement to the benefit sense of a larger vocation while consolidating, waning won the democratic and Europe, of both America through the gains successful end of the Cold War. At stake in this effort is nothing France's [54] FOREIGN AFFAIRSVolume76No.s


over a

long-range new Europe. A relationship is still taking shape, and Europe if that Europe is to remain part of the "Euro-Atlantic" space, the is essential. of nato expansion nato and eu en Accordingly, should move forward largement a in deliberate stages. Assuming sustained American andWestern here is a commitment, European speculative but realistic timetable with for these stages: By 1999, the first three Central European members into admitted will have been nato, although their inclusion in not take the eu will probably 2002 or 2003; by 2003, place before accession Baltic talks with all and nato three


than America's

the eu is likely to have initiated


2005; between significant domestic

will republics, forward on likewise have moved aswell as that of their membership Romania and Bulgaria, with their to be completed accession likely it has made 2005 and 2010, Ukraine, provided as a Cen identified reforms and has become

tral European country, should also be ready for initial negotiations with the eu and nato. has been made, Failure to widen nato, now that the commitment would shatter the concept of an expanding Europe and demoralize it could reignite dormant Russian pol the Central Europeans. Worse, in Central Europe. Moreover, it is far from evident itical aspirations that the Russian political elite shares the European desire for a strong in Europe. Accordingly, while American political and military presence a fostering cooperative relationship with Russia is desirable, it is impor to send a clear message about its global priorities. If a tant for America FOREIGN AFFAIRS 1997 September/October \.5$\

Zbigniew choice must be made between a


better relationship with Russia,

system and a larger Europe-Adantic the former must rank higher.





and the eu, formalized by the Joint NATO-Russia Council, may encourage Russia tomake its long-delayed decision in favor of Europe. Formal membership in the post-imperial the policymaking of Seven (G-7) and upgrading of Group machinery Russian

ties with


the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe?within which a special security committee composed of America, Russia, and several key European countries could be established?should encourage constructive Russian cooperation. Coupled in communication infrastructure investment, networks, especially these steps could bring Russia significandy closer to Europe. on But Russia's role in Eurasia will depend longer-term largely its self-definition. in European engagement political and military with ongoing Western financial assistance and

and China have increased Although Europe their regional influence, Russia still remains in charge of the world's ten time zones and largest piece of real estate, spanning dwarfing the or an United Territorial States, China, enlarged Europe. deprivation is not Russia's central problem. Rather, Russia must face the fact that more are already economically Europe and China powerful and that Russia is falling behind China on the road to social modernization. In these circumstances, Russia's first priority should be to modernize itself rather than to engage in a futile effort to regain its status as a global the country's size and diversity, a decentralized power. Given political system and free-market economics would be most likely to unleash the creative potential of the Russian people and Russia's vast natural re sources. A of a European Rus loosely confederated Russia?composed also find it sia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic?would easier to cultivate closer economic relations with its neighbors. Each of the confederated entities would be able to tap its local creative potential, a stifled for centuries byMoscow's heavy bureaucratic hand. In turn, de centralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization. Russia is more likely to make a break with its imperial past if the states are vital and stable. Their vitality newly independent post-Soviet [56] FOREIGN AFFAIRS Volume76No.s

A Geostrategy for Eurasia Political and temper any residual Russian imperial temptations. a new states must be an economic support for the integral part of transconti broader strategy for integrating Russia into a cooperative is a critically important component nental system. A sovereign Ukraine of such a policy, as is support for such strategically pivotal states as and Uzbekistan. Azerbaijan in an increasingly accessible investment international Large-scale of the new the independence Central Asia would not only consolidate countries, but also benefit a postimperial and democratic Russia. Tapping increase prosperity and prompt a greater the region's resources would sense of conflicts. Regional stability, reducing the risk of Balkan-type would also radiate to the adjoining Russian provinces, development which tend to be economically The region's new underdeveloped. conse leaders would gradually become less fearful of the political relations with Russia. A non-imperial quences of close economic Russia could then be accepted as the region's major economic partner, no although longer its imperial ruler. will




a stable southern Caucasus and Central Asia, America To promote an must be careful not to alienate Turkey, while exploring whether inU.S.-Iranian relations is feasible. IfTurkey feels like a improvement it will become more Islamic and less likely to outcast, European in integrating Central Asia into the world cooperate with theWest should use its influence in Europe to encourage community. America to the eu, and make a point of treating Turkey's eventual admission as a state, provided internal Turkish politics do not Turkey European take a dramatically Islamist turn. Regular consultations with Ankara regarding the future of the Caspian Sea basin and Central Asia would foster Turkey's sense of strategic partnership with the United States. to have a America should also support Turkish aspirations pipeline on its own Mediterranean to coast from Baku, Azerbaijan, Ceyhan serve as a sea basin energy reserves. major outlet for the Caspian interest to perpetuate U.S.-Iranian In addition, it is not inAmerica's should be based on both countries' hostility. Any eventual reconciliation recognition of their mutual FOREIGN strategic interest in stabilizing [57] Iran's


1997 September/October



volatile regional environment. A strong, even religiously motivated? but not fanatically anti-Western?Iran is still in the U.S. interest. American interests in Eurasia would be better served by long-range economic abandoning existing U.S. objections to closer Turkish-Iranian in the construction of new pipelines from especially and Turkmenistan. In fact, American financial participation Azerbaijan in such projects would be toAmericas benefit. a an currently passive player, India has Although important role in scene. Without the Eurasian the political support it received from the cooperation,

Soviet Union, India is contained geopolitically by Chinese-Pakistani

is in itself important, cooperation. The survival of Indian democracy in that it refutes better than volumes of academic debate the notion are that human India rights and democracy exclusively Western. "Asian values," propagated by spokesmen proves that antidemocratic are to China, from Singapore and not neces simply antidemocratic India's failure would be a blow to democracy's prospects sarily Asian. balance, China's rise. India should be engaged in discussions especially given to not to mention the promotion of more pertaining regional stability, bilateral connections between the American and Indian defense


and would


a power

that contributes

to Asia's





will There be no stable equilibrium of power in Eurasia without a between America and China strategic understanding deepening a clearer definition and of Japans emerging role. That poses two the practical and definition determining as the dominant emergence scope of China's regional acceptable and managing restlessness over its de facto status as an power Japans excessive fears of China's American protectorate. rising Eschewing ascension and Japan's economic should infuse realism into a power must be based on careful strategic calculus. Its goals should policy that dilemmas for America: be to divert Chinese power into constructive regional accommodation and to channel Japanese energy into wider international partnerships. in a serious strategic dialogue is the first step in Beijing Engaging with America that its interest in an accommodation stimulating [58] FOREIGN AFFAIRS Volume76No.5

A Geostrategy for Eurasia in northeast Asia and to eliminate any uncer Central Asia. It also behooves Washington to the one-China its commitment tainty regarding policy, lest the issue fester, especially after China's Taiwan of Hong Kong. Likewise, it is in digestion reflects countries' shared to demonstrate that even a Greater China can safeguard diversity in its internal political arrangements. the Sino-American To make progress, China's interest strategic discourse serious. Through even contentious human the two concerns




litical influence is not

necessarily at odds with Americas strategic should be sustained and such communication, interests.
like Taiwan and


can be addressed need to be rights persuasively. The Chinese is not a purely domestic affair, told that China's internal liberalization since only a democratizing and prosperous China has any chance of at forcible reunification would peacefully enticing Taiwan. Any attempt relations and hobble China's ability to attract jeopardize Sino-American to and foreign investment. China's aspirations regional preeminence status would be diminished. global China is emerging as a regionally dominant power, it is Although one for a not to become a likely global long time. The conventional wisdom that China will be the next global power is breeding paranoia in China. outside China while fostering megalomania It is far from certain that China's explosive growth rates can be maintained for the at the current next two decades. In fact, continued long-term growth rates would require an unusually felicitous mix of national leadership, inflows social discipline, high savings, massive political tranquillity, of foreign investment, of all of these factors Even if China and regional is unlikely. stability. A prolonged combination

avoids serious political disruptions and sustains its economic growth for a quarter of a century?both rather big ifs? China would still be a relatively poor country. A tripling of gdp would leave China below most nations in per capita income, and a significant access to tele portion of its people would remain poor. Its standing in let alone consumer goods, would be very low. phones, cars, computers, In two decades China may qualify as a global military power, since its economy and growth should enable its rulers to divert a significant FOREIGN AFFAIRS 1997 September/'October [59]

gdp to modernize the armed forces, including portion of the country's a further if that effort buildup of its strategic nuclear arsenal. However, is excessive, it could have the same negative effect on China's long-term economic growth as the arms race had on the Soviet economy. A large scale Chinese buildup would also precipitate a countervailing Japanese response. In any case, outside of its nuclear forces, China will not be able to project itsmilitary power beyond its region for some time. A Greater China becoming a regionally dominant power is another matter. A de facto sphere of Chinese regional influence is likely to be part of Eurasia's future. Such a sphere of influence should not be con fused with a zone of exclusive political domination, like the Soviet Union had in Eastern Europe. It ismore likely to be an area inwhich weaker states pay special deference to the interests, views, and antici a Chinese pated reactions of the regionally dominant power. In brief, can be defined as one inwhich the first sphere of influence question in the various capitals is, "What is Beijing's view on this?" A Greater China is likely to receive political support from its in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, wealthy diaspora Bangkok, to and Jakarta, not to mention Taiwan and Hong Kong. According [60] FOREIGN AFFAIRS Volume76No.5

A Geostrategy for Eurasia the aggregate assets of the 500 leading in Southeast Asia total about $540 billion. Chinese-owned companies to defer at countries The Southeast Asian already find it prudent sensitivities interests. A times to China's and economic political China that becomes a true political and eco nomic power might also project more overt Japan should not be influence into the Russian Far East while Yazhou Zhoukan (Asiaweek),

Americas unsinkable sponsoring Korea's unification. influence is aircraft carrier in the Greater China's geopolitical not necessarily incompatible with America's Far East. in a stable, pluralistic interest strategic Eurasia. For example, China's growing inter est in Central Asia constrains Russia's ability to achieve a political r?in control. In this connection and t?gration of the region under Moscow's in regard to the Persian Gulf, China's growing energy needs means it has a common interest with America inmaintaining free access to, and pol itical stability in, the oil-producing regions. Similarly, China's support to subordinate for Pakistan restrains India's ambitions that country,
to cooperate with Russia in to offsetting India's inclination regard in and Japanese involvement and Central Asia. Chinese Afghanistan can also enhance the development of eastern Siberia regional stability. The bottom line is that America and China need each other in Eura a natural sia. Greater China should consider America ally for historical aswell as reasons. Unlike or Russia, the United States has political Japan never had any territorial designs on China; compared to Great Britain, a viable without it has never humiliated China. Moreover, strategic with America, China is not likely to continue to attract the relationship enormous foreign investment necessary for regional preeminence. a Sino-American as strategic accommodation Similarly, without in Eurasia, America will the eastern anchor of America's involvement lack a geostrategy for mainland Asia, which will deprive America of a geostrategy as well. For America, for Eurasia China's regional into awider framework of international cooperation, power, co-opted an can become more to strategic asset?equal important Europe, than Japan?in assuring Eurasia's stability. To recognize this weighty annual summit, especially fact, China could be invited to the g-/s since an invitation was recently extended to Russia. while
FOREIGN AFFAIRS September/October 1997 [6l]





a democratic on Eurasia's eastern mainland will Since bridgehead not soon emerge, it is all the more effort to important that America's on nurture a strategic relationship with China be based acknowledg ment that a democratic and successful Japan isAmerica's economically but not an offshore Asian ally against China. Only on global partner that basis can a three-way accommodation?one that involves Amer ica's global power, China's regional tional leadership?be constructed. be threatened by any significant military cooperation. Japan should craft carrier in the Far East, nor and Japan's interna preeminence, Such an accommodation would of American-Japanese expansion not be America's air unsinkable should it be America's

principal Asian military partner. Efforts to promote these Japanese roles would cut America off from the Asian mainland, vitiate the prospects for a consensus with China, and frustrate America's strategic reaching to consolidate ability stability in Eurasia. not have a major political role to play inAsia, given the Japan does to evoke because of its behavior before regional aversion it continues II. Japan has not sought the kind of reconcil and during World War iation with China and Korea that Germany sought with France and is seeking with Poland. Like insular Britain in the case of Europe, irrelevant to the Asian mainland. However, Tokyo Japan is politically can carve out a influential role by cooperating globally closely with on the new concerns to the United States agenda of global pertaining and peacekeeping while avoiding any counterproductive development efforts to become an Asian regional power. American statesmanship should steer Japan in that direction. a true In the meantime, reconciliation would Japanese-Korean to a stable eventual contribute setting for Korea's significantly the international that could mitigating complications the end of the country's division. The United States should promote this cooperation. Many specific steps, ranging from to combined that formations, programs joint university military were taken to advance the German-French and later reconciliation, and Poland, could be adapted to this case. A between Germany reunification, ensue from comprehensive [62] and regionally FOREIGN stabilizing AFFAIRSJapanese-Korean Volume76No.5 partnership

A Geostrategy for Eurasia in the Far in turn facilitate a continuing American presence might East after Korea's unification. a It goes without saying that close political relationship with Japan is inAmerica's global interest. But whether Japan is to be America's on the and vassal, rival, or partner depends ability of Americans to define common to separate the international Japanese goals and in the Far East from Japanese aspirations for U.S. strategic mission a global role. For Japan, in spite of the domestic debates about foreign remains the beacon for its inter policy, the relationship with America sense of direction. A disoriented national Japan, whether lurching or a separate accommodation toward rearmament with China, role in the Asia-Pacific would spell the end of the American region, the emergence of a stable triangular arrangement for foreclosing America, Japan, and China.

A disoriented Japan would be like a beached whale, thrashing helplessly but dangerously. If it is to turn its face to theworld beyond
incentive and a special status Asia, Japan must be given ameaningful so that its own national interest is served. Unlike China, which can a can seek global power by first becoming regional power, Japan gain influence only if it first eschews the quest for regional power. global That makes it all the more important for Japan to feel it isAmerica's a as that is as politically special partner in global vocation satisfying it is economically beneficial. To that end, the United States should consider the adoption of anAmerican-Japanese free trade agreement, economic space. Such a step, creating a common American-Japanese the growing link between the two economies, would pro formalizing a solid vide for America's continued presence in the Far underpinning East and for Japan's constructive global engagement.



long term, Eurasia's stability would be enhanced by the emer gence, perhaps early in the next century, of a trans-Eurasian security Such a transcontinental involve an system. security arrangement might linked by cooperative security agreements with Russia, nato, expanded China, and Japan. But to get there, Americans set in motion a triangular political-security FOREIGN AFFAIRS and Japanese must first that engages dialogue [63]


Zbigniew China. Such

Brzezinski security talks and later lead to a

in and Security in turn, could eventually pave the way for a series of Europe. That, states on security issues. A conferences and Asian by European transcontinental security system would thus begin to take shape. the substance and institutionalizing the form of a trans Defining Eurasian security system could become the major architectural initiative of the next century. The core of the new transcontinental security of the major could be a standing committee framework composed Eurasian powers, with America, Europe, China, Japan, a confederated and India collectively addressing critical issues for Eurasia's of such a transcontinental emergence system could stability. The of some of its burdens, while perpetuating gradually relieve America a its decisive role as Eurasia's arbitrator. generation beyond success in that venture would to be a fitting Geostrategic legacy as the first and America's role only global superpower.? Russia,

three-way American-Japanese-Chinese could eventually involve more Asian participants, the Organization for Cooperation dialogue with

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