November 6, 2008

The Grand Chessboard : American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives by Zbigniew Brzezinski


I just finished reading The Grand Chessboard : American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives by Zbigniew Brzezinski.

What I got out of reading this book is that as an Earth Emperor you got to treat the world as a chess game on a chessboard. He calls this book The Grand Chessboard, but it’s mainly about Eurasia.

Some people recommended I check this Brzezinski dude out. I asked the librarian and she said that this guy is good. There were a few books by this dude at the library. I picked this book cause the book cover looked nice. It’s like a blue and green color.

I don’t really like playing chess. I’ve never really played it. I like playing Rock Band more.

So this book is like a passing down of knowledge to his students, cause at the beginning of the book Brzezinski says:

For my students–to help them shape tomorrow’s world [1]

That is cool. I wish my textbooks in high school said stuff like this.

So this is about Eurasia. Like he says:

Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power. [2]

. . . it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America. The formulation of a comprehensive and integrated Eurasian geostrategy is therefore the purpose of this book.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
Washington, D.C.
April 1997

So this book is copyright 1997 and a first edition.

Eurasia, I looked it up in my dictionary, is a big land mass of Europe and Asia.

The land mass comprising the continents of Europe and Asia. [4]

He talks about Eurasia:

For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia. [5]

. . . how America “manages” Eurasia is critical. Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent . . . About 75 percent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about 60 percent of the world’s GNP and about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources . . . [6]

Then he goes talking about the resources there:

. . . [The Eurasian Balkans] are of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and more powerful neighbors, namely, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, with China also signaling an increasing political interest in the region. But the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold. [7]

. . . the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea. [8]

Then he talks about oil there:

Once pipelines to the area have been developed, Turkmenistan’s truly vast natural gas reserves augur a prosperous future for the country’s people. [9]

For Pakistan, the primary interest is to gain geostrategic depth through political influence in Afghanistan–and to deny to Iran the exercise of such influence in Afghanistan and Tajikistan–and to benefit eventually from any pipeline construction linking Central Asia with the Arabian Sea. [10]

Turkmenistan, for much the same reason, has been actively exploring the construction of a new pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea, in addition to the energetic construction of new rail links with Kazakstan and Uzbekistan to the north and with Iran and Afghanistan to the south. [11]

Then it talks about how you stay in Eurasia:

. . . the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America’s status as a global power. [12]

. . . focusing on the key players and properly assessing the terrain has to be the point of departure for the formulation of American geostrategy for the long-term management of America’s Eurasian geopolitical interests.
Two basic steps are thus required:

– first, to identify the geostrategically dynamic Eurasian states that have the power to cause a potentially important shift in the international distribution of power and to decipher the central external goals of their respective political elites and the likely consequences of their seeking to attain them . . .

– second, to formulate specific U.S. policies to offset, co-opt, and/or control the above . . . [13]

. . . it is in America’s interest to consolidate and perpetuate the prevailing geopolitical pluralism on the map of Eurasia. That puts a premium on maneuver and manipulation in order to prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition that could eventually seek to challenge America’s primacy. [14]

The most immediate task is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitrating role. [15]

So that’s about enough of that.

Some other cool stuff is that he talks about China:

China’s growing economic presence in the region and its political stake in the area’s independence are also congruent with America’s interests. [16]

Other stuff . . . I don’t know when the European Union was formed, it could have been in 1955, but he talks about the European Union here:

Sir Roy Denman, a former British senior official in the European Commission, recalls in his memoirs that as early as the 1955 conference in Messina, which previewed the formation of a European Union . . . [17]

I have never heard of Breton Woods, but he talks about it:

. . . one must consider as part of the American system the global web of specialized organizations, especially the “international” financial institutions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank can be said to represent “global” interests, and their constituency may be construed as the world. In reality, however, they are heavily American dominated and their origins are traceable to American initiative, particularly the Breton Woods Conference of 1944. [18]

Something cool that got me thinking was where he says:

Rome’s imperial power, however, was also derived from an important psychological reality. Civis Romanus sum–“I am a Roman citizen”–was the highest possible self-definition, a source of pride, and an aspiration for many. Eventually granted even to those not of Roman birth, the exalted status of the Roman citizen was an expression of cultural superiority that justified the imperial power’s sense of mission. It not only legitimated Rome’s rule, but it also inclined those subject to it to desire assimilation and inclusion in the imperial structure. [19]

So I was thinking, rather than just having Roman Citizenship, you could have World Citizenship. You could give World Citizenship to celebrities, like how fashion works where you get celebrities to wear clothing like Von Dutch and Ed Hardy and Affliction and then you get all these regular people wearing it thinking that they’re cool, then you would have regular people wanting to be World Citizens.

There is also where he talks about using fear to get power:

The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported America’s engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. [20]

Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat. [21]

. . . the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of domestic well-being. [22]

So I was thinking. It reminded me of a show I watched where cowboys would get wild horses so that they could profit off of them. They would go out into the wild, find wild horses, scare the wild horses, the cowboy would have a pawn horse that would lead the wild horses into a fenced cage trap and then the cowboy would profit off those wild horses.

That’s it.

Daniel Kemp


1. Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard : American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (New York : BasicBooks, c1997), v

2. Ibid., xiii

3. Ibid., xiv

4. “Eurasia.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 4th ed. 2006.

5. Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard : American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (New York : BasicBooks, c1997), 30

6. Ibid., 31

7. Ibid., 124

8. Ibid., 125

9. Ibid., 132

10. Ibid., 139

11. Ibid., 145

12. Ibid., 55

13. Ibid., 39-40

14. Ibid., 198

15. Ibid., 198

16. Ibid., 149

17. Ibid., 42

18. Ibid., 27

19. Ibid., 11

20. Ibid., 24-25

21. Ibid., 211

22. Ibid., 36

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  • Remy

    My friend bought this book after watching this.

  • Daniel Kemp

    @Remy: Ask your friend when they are done reading it if I missed anything else that was cool in the book.