From Peter Grimes

Subject: History, Hegemony, Capitalism


This is a compilation of the best contributions to an excellent

debate over the coherence between World-System Theory and history that

recently occurred on WSN (the World-System Network). Despite its length,

it is well worth the read--it is largely easy to read, informative,

stimulating, and addresses some very important historical questions.


>From Thu Jan 27 16:54:44 2000

Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 17:38:55 +0100

From: Dr. R.J. Barendse <>


Subject: Further comments on Chris Chase Dunn

Thanks - Arno Tausch and Chase Dunn here's finally an interesting

discussion on this list, which - I'm loath to say to the small in-crowd

presently only writing on this list - has been filled with utter rubbish

postings recently, or like the Bangladeshi posting is written in such

torturous jargon that I have no idea what the writer is trying to express.

To turn to Chase Dunn's piece and forthcoming book, the problems with

Chase Dunn's positions are IMHO many but these certainly ARE topics we

should discuss and once upon a time indeed discussed.

The basic problem is of course that by squeezing the `irrefutable'

historic facts enough you can derive virtually any position and any historic

prediction from them. A historic case being, for example, the conviction -

apparently firmly based upon the entire historic record since 1066 - of

members of the British elite (like the duke of Wellington) from 1815 right

up to the Crimean war and even after of a nearby future confrontation with

France. One reason why the idea of a channel-tunnel which was discussed in

France from 1780 onward was never considered in Britain. It would merely

pave the way for a French invasion. Again, the modern torpedo-boat was

invented by the French navy in the 1880's to fight British battleships

during the coming war!

However, even to start making such predictions one does first have to

have one's facts right and here I come up against at least two major

problems in Chase Dunn's contribution.

First (and here I can speak with SOME authority since I have at least

seen thousands and thousands of pages of Dutch diplomatic correspondence and

the others on this list or elsewhere have not) I have never understood the

idea of Dutch hegemony in the world-systems whether in Braudel's original or

in Wallerstein's or in Chase Dunn's / Tausch's later incarnations and the

notion of Dutch imperial over-extension I understand even less - the latter

seems merely a mechanic extension of Paul Kennedy to a totally different

context. As I understand it - and in this case this is not opinion but

fact - Dutch power in the mid-seventeenth century was very unequal - it's

absolutely not comparable to either the global position of Britain around

1830, let alone of the US in 1945, which, historically was a very unique

situation. Though American elites did not perceive it like that.

The Dutch fleets were very powerful in the Baltic but Sweden was the

main land-power there. In the North Sea the English and Dutch fleets more or

less balanced each other out. In Flanders Dutch were far overshadowed by the

French land-armies; as to the - still very important - Mediterranean: in the

western Mediterranean the Dutch were much weaker than France, while in the

Eastern Mediterranean they were merely humble supplicants at the Ottoman

supreme porte and far out-ranged by the Marseille trade.

Outside of Europe the massive trade of Brasil and Spanish America was

still totally dominated by the Iberian powers and the Dutch merely

interlopers while the Dutch were also not much more than interlopers in the

Caribbean. - The growth of a true Dutch Caribbean is a phenomenon of that so

much condemned `wig-period' (as you call it in Dutch): of the eighteenth

century -. In West Africa the Dutch dominated the Gold Coast but the - then

far more substantial - slave trade of Angola was a Portuguese affair and the

Portuguese still carried on a substantial gold trade in West Africa (from

Cacheu) too. As to Asia in the seventeenth century the power of the East

India company - VOC - was confined to a few islands in Insulinde and the VOC

was not more than a supplicant at the Mughal, Tokugawa, Safavid or Manchu

court; the VOC was certainly strong at sea but if we consider Portuguese

private shipping VOC and Portuguese power in Asia were around 1650 about


The VOC did eventually grow into a major territorial and military power

in BOTH India and Indonesia but that again is a development taking place

during that much maligned `wig-period'.

In sum, what I find the more interesting the more I ponder about it is

how well the Dutch were able to consolidate themselves during their supposed

period of decline in the eighteenth century. By 1780 the Dutch Republic had

flourishing colonies in the Caribbean; a secure territorial hold over the

vast riches of Java; dominated the Gold Coast, still dominated the Baltic

trade and even still conducted busy commerce in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Now - the reason why the Dutch were able to thus consolidate themselves was

precisely because the Dutch regenten `plutocracy' did NOT fall into the trap

of imperial over-stretch pace Kennedy. If a colony or branch of trade was

threatening to become unprofitable they wisely withdrew. On a small scale -

which I happen to have studied in detail - that's true for the Dutch

withdrawal from the unprofitable colony of Maurice, on a very large scale

that's true for the Dutch strategic withdrawal from Brasil and North


Yes, my dear US-colleagues New York/New Amsterdam was badly guarded and

in turmoil in 1672 and could well have been conquered by coup de main by the

Dutch fleet. And, yes, my American colleagues the Dutch had the power to

hold out in New York in which case the US might well not have existed -

ponder on that for a moment. Yet the Estates General chose not to stage an

expedition to New York in order to achieve a future lasting peace with the


So, Dutch hegemony was at the very least a very patchy affair and really

existed by the force of the previous exhaustion of a truly global Empire.

Namely the Habsburg Empire Spain, Austria and their welter of colonies,

allies and possessions. For in 1600, unlike Dutch power, Spanish/Austrian

power WAS truly global. If you look at the deliberations of the council of

state in Madrid you'll find the councilors discussing matters ranging from

Hamburg to Buenos Aires, from Rio de Janeiro to Prague, from the Persian

Gulf to Florida, from Guam to Flanders, from Vienna to the Gold Coast.

However, you'll also find - and here I come to my second main objection -

that the central foreign policy concern of the councilors is - up to 1618 -

not with the `local' Flanders-troubles (as they called it) but is with the

OTHER global power of the sixteenth century namely the Ottoman Empire.

Logically enough for the Spanish possessions in Sicily, Calabria or the

Baleares were only a few hours or days sailing from the Ottoman Empire. (And

in 1600 `Ottoman' corsairs were a severe threat to settlements from Iceland

to Sicily). And, of course, Vienna was perhaps two days removed from the

Ottoman border.

Thus, my second main objection is that rather than being truly global

Wallerstein, Chase Dunn, Boswell, Tausch, or what other `grand

theoreticians' have you, mistake what is really only a very small segment of

even the European world-system (really only Northwestern Europe, not even

the Mediterranean, not even Eastern Europe) for `global dominance'. It seems

Boris Porshnev or Korpetter for the sixteenth century, Ingram for the

eighteenth/nineteenth century have written totally in vain (and of course

none of them are ever quoted).

For what the first two writers bring out for the late sixteenth/early

seventeenth century is that the `Flanders troubles' and the Thirty Years'

war are really part of a vast struggle between a shifting Habsburg-led

coalition on the one hand (encompassing powers as different as the Ethiopian

Empire, Safavid Persia, Austria and Mataram - Java - as much as Venice and

the Pope with Muscovy as a lose associate) as against an

anti-Habsburg/Ottoman/French coalition (encompassing powers as different as

Bohemia, the Crimea Khanate, the Uzbek Khanate, the Gallas of Ethiopia,

Mingrelia, Atjeh or the city-state of Mogadishu.) Now, that these latter

names are not very familiar is because the anti-Habsburg coalition initially

lost the struggle, but at the price of the total exhaustion of the means of

both Spain and Portugal by 1600 allowing the Dutch and the English to move

into their vacated territory in Asia and to some extent the Mediterranean.

And this mainly because Spain and Portugal concentrated on keeping their

all-important positions in America. While the Ottoman Empire after 1600 gave

up its Mediterranean positions to concentrate on keeping its all-important

Arab possessions against Persian attacks. Now, all of this is surely totally

new to Chase Dunn, Boswell c.s. - ever heard of Mingrelia? - but it merely

proves that the `facts' are not so `certain' as they seem because as Gunder

would say Dunn c.s. prefer to stay under the European streetlight.

Again, Ingram appears to have written totally in vain on the British

Empire - for what is still habitually overlooked by our `grand

theoreticians' is that British power and diplomacy had two legs: Britain AND

INDIA. The `second British Empire' was first and foremost India based and,

therefore, any explanation of the rise of the British Empire after ca. 1780

should also, first and foremost, consider the situation in India and by

extension the Middle East and Central Asia. But this is as yet totally

ignored by the grand theory.

Yet for Whitehall in 1790 the internal politics of Mysore, Afghanistan

or Hyderabad were as important a consideration as those of Hannover and

France. In 1806 with Napoleon at Boulogne the bulk of the British army was

IN INDIA and the major land-battles by the British army in the revolutionary

wars were - Waterloo excepted - in India (and many naval fights in the

Caribbean). Thus, as Frank puts it the `decline of the east' preceded the

`rise of the west' (the British, French and Dutch Empire in Asia) though -

in India and Java - this was not an economic decline but a crisis of the

state brought about precisely BY rapid economic growth. (I support Gunder's

intent but am not a `dogmatic Frankian' I guess.)

Precisely because of this overwhelming importance of India for the whole

existence of the British Empire Britain perceived Russia, France and even

the Kingdom of the Netherlands as potential threats. The last may seem very

odd nowadays but dear readers in Australia remember, for example, that the

first British settlement in northern Australia was mainly intended to

forestall the establishment of a possible Dutch settlement there during the

diplomatic tensions between the two states in the 1820's regarding

Indonesia. And, because of its Indian interests throughout the nineteenth

century Britain was deeply involved in the obscure politics of Afghanistan,

Iraq and Iran (even Bukhara !) to forestall Russian influence there. A

policy the British - as some of you may know - called the Great Game. The

great game was not nearly all fancy - as it sometimes seems nowadays - but

was instead quite vital to British imperial strategy. That the Great Game

may seem an odd sideshow for `grand theorist' from Kennedy to Chase Dunn is

merely because they continue to study `global politics' only from a European

angle. If India is perceived as vital instead we get a very different

perspective on British foreign politics in which the Middle East or

Afghanistan are as important as Helgoland or Schleswig Holstein.

Now - since, briefly, the deposition of Musadeq in Iran and the Suez

crisis in 1956 the position of Britain as prime conductor of the `Great

Game' with Russia (and since the 1960's increasingly China) has been assumed

by the USA. The difference being merely that from India the interest has

shifted to the Persian Gulf. My point is that if we perceive the US-policy

from the Persian Gulf rather than from Europe we get a very different

perspective, just as in the case of British and Dutch `hegemony'.

Basically US-policy was until 1980 to build up - as the British before

them - a complex of buffer-states between the Persian Gulf and America's

paramount ally - Saudi Arabia - namely Turkey, Iran and Pakistan - involving

the USA in a kind of Great Game in miniature with India -.This buffer

collapsed in the eighties because of three developments: the Iranian

revolution, the failure of the intended US-policy to build up Iraq as a

reliable new buffer with the invasion of Kuwait and, first and foremost, the

collapse of the Soviet Union.

It is often stated that the `Cold War' was merely window-dressing. This

may be true or Europe but the US/Russian Great Game of the 1970-80's was a

horrible reality in the Middle East/Central Asia with up to 2 million people

killed in Afghanistan, at least 500.000 in the `first' Gulf war, up to

100.000 in the second. While the `Cold War' was to an extent `rhetoric' in

Europe, it was a very hot war outside of Europe in which more people were

killed than in World War I and in the Middle East, Central Asia (and Korea)

the `cold war'; never ended and the Great Game in Central Asia and the

Caucasus is now again a very hot war.

For since the collapse of the USSR the `great game' has entered a new

phase - somewhat comparable to the most romantic initial phase of the

Anglo/British rivalry of the early nineteenth century – up to about 1840 -

when any commander in Peshawar or Teheran could completely decide his own


Responsibility has now again shifted from states and governments to the

`men on the spot' and fronts are now no longer fixed. And this in a very

literal sense for the border of the USSR in the Caucasus was the most

heavily guarded one of the whole USSR and the USSR had up to 600.000

soldiers there, precisely because the USSR - rightly - feared subversion

from both Turkey and Iran. With the collapse of that heavily fortified

border, any local Russian commander can decide his own policy. Thus the

Russian army in Ossetia four years ago or the colonels of the garrisons in

Tajikistan two years ago - yes, there are still sizeable Russian armed

forces present in Central Asia and the Caucasus, since, for example,

Tajikistan has delegated the guarding of its borders to the Russian army.

And it is probably likewise for officials of the CIA; I suspect not even the

CIA head office has any idea what their `men on the spot' are doing or who is

linked to whom in the Central Asian quagmire.

Likewise the collapse of the borders has given unrivalled opportunities

for smuggle giving rise - in the true traditional central Asian pattern

since 2000 B.C. - to new political or rather tribal formations. The Taliban,

for example, really arose as exploiters and armed protectors for the

smuggle of heroine through Russia and Iran to the West. The rebels in

Tajikistan are mainly heroine-smugglers, while the struggle in Chechnya is

IMHO mainly about whom controls the oil-pipeline to Russia and is to control

the proposed new pipeline from Baku through Turkey. I think the Chechen

invasion of Dagestan was intended as a `warning sign' to put forward a stake

of the Chechens on the protection-racket on the pipeline through Dagestan.

Now - contrary to any pious declaration of president and State

Department, but I frankly think Clinton or Gore are unaware or prefer to be

unaware of what their own Intelligence Agency is doing - US-policy in

Central Asia and the Middle East - totally unlike in Europe where it is in

the USA's best interest to strengthen Russia - has had two components. (And

here the parallels with the British policy in the nineteenth century

emerges - for Britain had one policy in Europe, another in the Middle East

and the Balkans too and policy was very much decided by `men on the spot'

rather than by Simla, let alone Whitehall).

Component one is to get control of the Caspian oil reserves (a big price

for conceivably they are the largest of the world). Component two - and

here's where things get really difficult - is to weaken Russia. Of course,

this is perfectly in the national interest of the USA. But the Clinton and

Bush administration have always been denying their own factual policy. For,

again, this is not in the US-interest in Europe but it IS in Asia. They are

doing that, not only by building up buffer states (and defusing the old

Syria/Israel conflicts) - up to that far the State Department is perfectly

willing to acknowledge its own policy - but also (and here's where the State

Department prefers NOT to be informed) the `men on the spot' are doing that

by building up subversive movements within Russia. I know everybody in the

US-administration prefers not to be informed about this and denies it but

the Chechens have the most modern of weapons and communication-devices upto

Stinger-missiles - how in God's name do you obtain sophisticated weapons

like that in a landlocked, dirt-poor, mountain enclave without aid from some

direction? It is more clear the Taliban (and hence the Tajik rebels) have -

until very recently - consistently been armed and supported by Pakistan and

Pakistan can do very little without US-blessing. So have the Kashmir rebels

which again is perceived as a threat by India. Now, Russia is perfectly

aware of this and I think the activities of the US-men on the spot are an

important factor contributing to the successive deterioration of the

US/Russian relations recently. Is Russia to believe US acts or US words ?

It's much like Westminster was also constantly pushed into trouble with

Russia because of the `men on the spot' in India, Afghanistan

and Persia, leading to real fighting between Russian and Indian troops in

Afghanistan in 1886. Westminster then commonly denied any knowledge much

like Washington does nowadays.

So, basically, what I'm trying to say is that the Cold War has only

ended in Europe and after Kossovo has reemerged in Europe too. Now, the US

may tamper with the GNP-statistics, to comfort itself, as much as it may

like in order to prove Russia is not a great power anymore but sadly there

are lies, there are big lies and there are statistics. Does the US really

think Russia's massive industries, mineral resources and armed forces -

which made the USSR into a super-power in the first place - have somehow

suddenly miraculously disappeared off the face of the earth if they don't

show up in statistics? Of course not - the US has made itself appear more

powerful than it is by a statistical trick in which Russia dropped from

second industrial power of the world to twenty-fifth but, statistics or not,

Russia's productive capacity, brainpower and armed forces are simply still


And, furthermore, Russia is in some ways stronger now than it was in the

1970's. For, first, even apart from `strong' allies like Mengishtu's

Ethiopia even its European allies (GDR perhaps excepted) weakened rather

than strengthened the USSR. After all in COMECON the USSR was to `exchange'

to a favorable rate its valuable oil with shoddy products from Eastern

Europe. The USSR made a net loss on its satellites. The same is true for

the republics (Ukraine, Kazakhstan and sometimes the Baltic states excepted)

which had to be heavily subsidized from Russia. Since most republics have

nowhere to go but Russia in the future instead of the `losing' Union of

Socialist Republics we will probably witness a more profitable

`neo-colonial' arrangement in which Russia only invests in the republics if

it's profitable and in a few republics - notably Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan

and Uzbekistan - who really cares for Kirgizistan or Tajikistan ? As the

Russian say: "What has Asia ever done for US ?". Second, in the 1960's the

USSR was faced with a hostile 1 billion Chinese on its southern border -

this situation has meanwhile changed completely. Since both Russia and China

(not to speak of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) rightly fear US- and so called

Muslim terrorist subversion (But in substance that's not really `Muslim

fundamentalism' but armed smuggle which is why equally fundamentalist Iran

has concentrated almost 300.000 soldiers on the Afghan border). Both

have to collaborate if only to safeguard their southern/western border. A

common threat has united them. Thus - although it was not considered

`news' in the media - immediately after Kossovo (mind you !) Russia and

China staged military maneuvers together for the first time.

Long term trends notwithstanding we can not predict the distant future

for there are simply too many imponderable factors and then - as I wrote

before - Germany may very well again emerge as a rival to the US. For the

foreseeable future though - partly as a result of Kossovo but more because

of Middle Eastern and Central Asian entanglements, which are perhaps rightly

perceived as a threat by both Russia and China - the `Cold War' between the

US and Russia/China has recommenced. A Cold War in which the favorable

factors to some extent compensate for unfavorable changes to Russia in

the last decade. Russia is certainly much weaker but it has much less to

protect too. For example, just today I read Poland expulsed half the staff

of the Russian embassy in Warsaw for spying on which even Dutch radio

commented it pretty much seemed like good old cold war redividus. It is

always possible this may lead to an all-out war but the more likely prospect

are further regional conflagrations, which still - because of the extreme

destructive power of even a modern submachine gun - will involve millions

of casualties.

By the way, speaking to the present in-crowd of this list: many World

System theorists are avowedly perhaps `progressives' but not Marxists, let

alone Leninists, so I'm not even sure all this

Maoist/Marxist/Leninist/Gramscian/Althusserian/Spivakian/what other

generally `Marxisant' folklore have you belongs on this list at all.

R.J. Barendse


>From Thu Jan 27 16:58:55 2000

Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 17:03:44 -0500

From: christopher chase-dunn <>


Subject: Prof Barendse's Discussion

Thanks to Prof. Barendse for his cogent comments on the Baltimore Sun

article that summarized my book with Terry Boswell, The Spiral of

Capitalism and Socialism.

I am off for a trip and do not have time for a complete response, but

would like clear up a couple of apparent misunderstandings.

The first is regarding the mention in the Sun article of hegemonic

Over-extension. Apparently Michael Hill, the excellent journalist who

wrote the article, had been influenced by Paul Kennedy's work. I did not

discuss my explanations of hegemonic decline with Mr. Hill. It is a big

topic that is discussed in detail in Chapter 9 of my Global Formation.

Secondly, Prof. Barendse questions the idea of Dutch hegemony in the

seventeenth century. Professor Barendse knows much more than I do about

the history of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. But some of his

criticisms are based on a misunderstanding of what Boswell and I think

about the role of the Dutch in the history of the European-centered

subsystem, and in world history.

We do not claim that the Dutch state was hegemonic over the globe in the

17th century. Important other core regions had not yet been incorporated

into the expanding European-centered system. In this we agree with

Gunder Frank.

Remember that we are talking about a regional system that is expanding.

Europe was undergoing a long process of core formation even while it

remained peripheral and semiperipheral in the larger Afro-Eurasian

world-system.(See C. Chase-Dunn and T. Hall, Rise and Demise 1997).

The significance of the Dutch revolution and subsequent economic and

political/military leadership was as an agent of the development of

capitalism. Here we disagree with Frank, who claims there was no

transition to capitalism.

As Peter Taylor (The Way the Modern World Works, 1996) has said, the

United Provinces were half way between a capitalist city state and a

modern capitalist nation state. There had been semiperipheral capitalist

city states in the interstices of the tributary empires at least since

the emergence of the Phoenicians. (Indeed ancient Dilmun may have been

one - see Chapter 6 of _Rise and Demise_). But the reemergence of

commodity production the context of feudal Europe, an exceedingly

decentralized form of the tributary mode of accumulation, created first

a number of rather strong and adjacent capitalist city states in Europe,

and eventually the capitalists of Amsterdam took effective control of

the Dutch state.

This was the first capitalist core state on Earth. It acted to use state

power at the behest of the accumulation of profits rather than to tax

peasant or extract tributes. And it did this on an intercontinental

scale. True it was not the largest military power in Europe. But it was

a significant naval power with intercontinental reach. In this regard it

was truly transitional between the earlier capitalist city states and

later British hegemony of the 19th century. So the Dutch hegemony was

an important part of the development of capitalism as well as of the

expansion of European power.

Important research that supports this approach has been published by

Joya Misra and Terry Boswell 1997 "Dutch hegemony: global leadership

during the age of mercantilism" Acta Politica 32:174-209 and George

Modelski and William R. Thompson 1996 Leading Sectors and World


Chris Chase-Dunn


>From Thu Jan 27 16:59:29 2000

Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 20:13:04 -0500 (EST)



Subject: Re: Prof Barendse's Discussion

Both Chase-Dunn and Barendse are right. How is this possible?

Because Barendse thinks of "hegemony" primarily as domination and

Chase-Dunn thinks of hegemony primarily as "leadership," or, better yet,

"decisively influential innovation." As Gramsci and others have argued,

the original meaning of "hegemony" is "leadership." The two meanings are

not interchangeable. For example, in my judgment, France was hegemonic or

at least trying very hard to be hegemonic between the reign of Louis XIV

and the reign of Napoleon I--but only in the sense of wielding

preponderant political, military, cultural, and economic power. Yet at no

time during this period could it be said that France was leading the way

to the future of Europe or Western or world civilization, except perhaps

in the realm of political ideas. The same goes for Germany in its

hey-day, from 1871 to 1945. Germany was the greatest power in Europe

during most of those years, but not conspicuously innovative, except in

certain areas of science and scholarship.

On balance, I think it is unfortunate that world-systems

theorists have landed on the word "hegemony," because its original Greek

meaning has largely been forgotten and most people think it means

literal domination, which is the only synonym listed in my Merriam-Webster

Collegiate Dictionary. Explaining to my students how, for example,

Giovanni Arrighi can properly call Renaissance Genoa "hegemonic" is a real

nuisance. They also cannot fathom why world-systemists have so little

interest in France and Germany. It doesn't help that the current

"hegemon," the United States, appears to be hegemonic in both senses of

the term, something that never quite applied to its predecessor, Britain.

The historic role of Britain, from William III on through George VI, was

to prevent any Continental power from becoming hegemonic (in the second

sense), but not to be hegemonic in itself (also in the second sense). To

be sure, Britain was clearly hegemonic (in the first sense), and for a

time also in the second sense, navy-wise. But her naval power did not

prevent Napoleonic France or Hitlerian Germany from grabbing nearly

all of Europe.


Warren Wagar


>From Thu Jan 27 17:00:16 2000

Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 01:20:56 -0500 (EST)

From: Boris Stremlin <>

Subject: Re: Comment on Chris Chase Dunn and Terry Boswell

I haven't read the new book, so the following comments are addressed not

so much to Chase Dunn as what appears to me to a consensus among most if

not all of the world-systems heavyweights regarding the importance of

intercore conflict in the coming decades. I should say at the outset that

I'm in substantial agreement with the thesis that "the world as we know

it" is coming to an end (and it is this claim above all others that lends

particular salience to world-systems analysis). And it is precisely for

this reason that I'm puzzled by the insistent efforts, no matter how

qualified, to define the trajectory of the current conjuncture in terms of

historical parallels in the modern world-system.

The divergences from transitions past have been

noted: the fact that throughout the last B-phase, capital flowed back to

the OLD hegemon; the failure of a substantial geopolitical challenge to

the US to materialize; and the absence of the start to a new "Thirty Years

War", which by all rights should have commenced at the conclusion of the

1980's, and not 20-30 years from now. And yet, despite clear signals that

the familiar systemic logic is being superceded by something new, we

continue to focus on economic challenges to the US as the

main engine of change. We hear that the Asian crisis is but a temporary

setback in the continued rise of Japan/China/East Asia as a whole. We

note that the American success of the past decade is the merely periodic

swing that favored Europe in the 70's and Asia in the 80's. We try to

wring every ounce of significance out of every disagreement between the US

and its allies (though it is really hard to say whether those

disagreements are any more profound today than they were 50 years ago).

These sentiments were particularly plentiful around the time of the Kosovo

conflict, which even at its conclusion was portrayed as an American


Arno Tausch has noted the role of ideological differences in the

preparation of armed conflict, and of course he is correct. But equally

important are the concretely common interests of the core powers. With

income differentials expanding system-wide, and with ecological

imperatives militating against a China or India "catching up", Germany,

Japan and the US have the maintenance of the value-added hierarchy to

unite them, and against this, the divisions appear quite petty. The fear

of large, poor states with little to lose (an ever-present challenge

in Europe and Asia but not North America) should be enough to keep the

Europeans and Japanese in their roles as clients of the US.

In addition, the possibility of competing effectively with the US is

precluded by continued political disunity on the part of the

"challengers". An article posted on this list sometime last summer (the

name of the author escapes me but I think it has since been printed by New

Left Review) argued that the Kosovo War effectively buried the dream of a

European counterweight to the US, both politically and culturally. No

political unity = smaller markets and greater difficulty of defending

one's interests in the international arena (witness the US successes in

the Gulf and the Caspian Sea basin in the last 10 years). Of course, the

geopolitically and militarily privileged position of the US also allows

it to destabilize its allies (by perpetuating conflict in Korea; by

creating and then containing Saddam Hussain and Milosevic) and thus keep

them on a short leash. Little wonder that under these conditions

international investors continue to seek out American markets as safe

havens (Clinton is right and the isolationists are wrong - the US

expansion of the last 10 years IS premised on the global economy). It

takes a stretch of the imagination to picture Europeans or Asians turning

the tables, even if their military spending begins to approach US levels

(not likely either). The struggle for hegemony appears to have been

replaced by the far more dangerous struggle for survival, in which the

lineups will probably conform to those suggested by Mr. Tausch.

I think that it is not too early to begin seriously investigating the

possibility that, given the concentration of power in the US we are now in

a transition to some form of world-empire. That eventuality has always

been mentioned as one of the three likely outcomes of the current crisis

(along with a new hegemony and chaotic disintegration) by world-systems

theorists, but for some reason it was the hegemonic variant that has

dominated all discussion. If this is indeed the case, then British and

Dutch hegemony lose their status as precedents, for which we will have to

look elsewhere (if anywhere at all). And a whole range of questions, up

to now subordinate to (and functional for) the struggle for hegemony will

suddenly open up as issues of the first order. Not only will we have to

identify the ideas which will serve as ideologies of a world-empire in our

time and locate their possible sources of origin, but we will also have to

confront the question of whether a far more fundamental shift in how we

know the world is in the making.


Boris Stremlin


>From Thu Jan 27 17:00:26 2000

Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 09:53:34 -0500

From: Carl Dassbach <>


Subject: Re: Prof Barendse's Discussion

If I understand Gramsci (and Arrighi) correctly, hegemony is not simply

leadership because leadership can be achieved in several ways and with

several outcomes. Instead, to be hegemonic means to lead through a

combination of "coercion and consent" and to lead in such a manner that this

leadership advances the best interest of the group or, if you will benefits

the group, but produces the GREATEST benefits for the hegemon.

Several examples comes to my mind. A good example is Bretton Woods (BW) and

its consequences. BW benefits the "world" but ultimately confers the

greatest benefits on the US, benefits which continue today despite the

collapse of BW.

BTW, to take this a step further, I would argue that all enduring

leaderships must take the form of hegemony. Leadership simply through

coercion eventually breaks down due to the resistance of the coerced parties

and leadership through cooperation breaks down because each party's agenda

has an equal claim to validity and this eventually undermines cooperation.

Moreover, I would argue that Weber concepts of "herrschaft" and

"legitimation" are germane (related to) the concept of hegemony. Seen from a

Weberian point of view, hegemony is "legitimate (as consensual) domination

(as coercion)." We can even say that Weber three forms of legitimation -

tradition, charisma, and legal rational - are also integral to any hegemony.

Carl Dassbach


>From Thu Jan 27 17:01:06 2000

Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 11:52:09 +0100

From: "Tausch, Arno" <>


Subject: further comments on Chase Dunn, Barendse, Stremlin et al.

I would like to thank all participants for their contributions for a serious

debate. I would like to include here some very up-to-date link-ups on some

of the issues we are facing in the context of the Chase-Dunn/Boswell


1) Quite frankly, I think that any serious debate must confront ongoing,

already existing armed conflicts in the world.

To ignore them, is scientifically untenable and morally wrong. Still, the

best site for world news is, I think, BBC world service which you might

search by using

also the Le Monde Diplomatique search engine in English is quite powerful:

Most, but not all articles are freely accessible (You will be luckier in

using the French language search engine at):

One of their major predictions for future conflicts is:

Indeed, NATO's forward strategy vis-a-vis Russia could have blocked, in

retrospect, any real democratic alternatives in that country. 150 billion of

barrels of crude oil are a good motive for expansion of Western Interests

into the Caucasus...

2) Russia.

Russia comes out from the turbo-capitalist post-transformation depression.

Quite frankly again, anyone predicting a German US war in the next 40 years

must stand up to the question - and what about, say, Russia’s position in the

Caucasus? What about US-Russian rivalry over oil in the Caspian Sea? What

about Russian positions (correct or not) over the Kosovo war?

read also Michael Shafirs very thoughtful series on radical politics in

Eastern Europe

or the further resources on chauvinism in Russia today

3) The Indo-Pakistani-conflict is constantly overlooked as a possible future

trigger of major confrontations. The following Internet resources could be

helpful for a serious debate and peace-action:

5) Fundamentalism

Find this very helpful Le Monde Diplomatique English language web site on

that otherwise, often overdone issue

with very interesting, sometimes freely accessible link-ups

4) The western intelligence community and defense establishment quite

clearly establish a connection between the new power structure in Russia and

the old apparatus. The Cold War is easier to re-invent than a German or

Japan real or perceived threat

On the Pentagon search for visible enemies, see:

on US arms manufacturing:

Putin is precisely the figure that ideally fits their needs and


5) Germany:

First, the official web site of Joschka Fischer's ministry:

your might also find the following article very helpful:


Austria, Italy, other European countries:

The following documentations might be interesting in the context of the

Chase Dunn/Boswell debate:


(with the necessary link-ups to other important articles)

Summa summarum: world system research and the democratic political left

should be of course on the watch-out everywhere, but the main centers of

conflict in world society will be on the lines, predicted by me, amongst

others, as early as 1993 in my Macmillan book on the Socio-Liberal Theory of


Kind regards

Arno Tausch

PS: Andre Gunder Frank, in a personal reaction, sent to me, got my point on

19th century Germany completely wrong. Indeed, all German nationalist

ideologues, including Richard Wagner or Wilhelm Busch, helped to form a

pattern of anti-Semitism, and chauvinism. Jona Goldhagen is right in calling

it eliminatory anti-Semitism. But read

for comparison with Russia today!


>From Thu Jan 27 17:06:20 2000

Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 10:01:13 +0100

From: "Tausch, Arno" <>


Subject: Russett on the future structure of the international system

What Else Causes War?

Bruce Russett

Randall Forsberg's smart, perceptive diagnosis of the state of the

international system is about right, in my opinion. But her prescription,

while good as far as it goes, is in my view incomplete. At several points in

her essay she correctly attributes the decline in major war between

countries to three great changes: military technology, increasing wealth,

and the democratization of political values and institutions. Her

prescription to extend this decline, however, focuses overwhelmingly on

measures of arms control and disarmament, with scarce attention to enhancing

the other beneficial changes.

It may well be that the great powers can and will reduce their own

arsenals of mass destruction, in a way that will reinforce one another's

wish to do so and serve as an example to lesser powers. Possibly they can

even reach collective agreements to reduce arms sales to lesser powers whose

enhanced military capabilities, Forsberg sagely notes, ultimately constitute

the greatest short- and medium-term threat to the great powers' interests.

But the portents for such restraint are not terribly good. It certainly

would require an effective pact among the great powers, one that could

resist strong and ever-present temptations to cheat. After all, the standard

response to calls for restraint in the arms trade is, "If we don't sell it

the British (French, Germans, Russians, whoever) will." And there is a lot

of truth to that response. It carries special bite if the great powers' own

arms purchases, from their own industries, are declining. Then the pressures

of the military-industrial complex to keep the arsenals open and the workers

employed are especially hard to resist.

If the international circumstances of reduced security threats

around most of the globe seem propitious for such restraint, so too do

economic conditions in the industrialized world. For Europe (save Russia)

and even Japan, economic good times continue. If economic expansion has

slowed, even to a near-halt in some states, conditions are still far better

than in worldwide recession or depression, which we may yet see. Because

these circumstances seem propitious, the results in the United States are

particularly disheartening. The American economy remains on a roll. The

military budget is not declining, and a decent (or indecent) stream of new

orders to US arms industries continues to come in from the rest of the

world. Yet at the same time the administration lifts the embargo on the sale

of advanced weapons to Latin America. If this is what happens in prosperity,

what will happen in recession, when unemployed arms producers cannot readily

find alternative activities? Or when, as Forsberg and I hope, the US

military really does shrink significantly.

It is essential, therefore, to broaden the prescription beyond the

military dimension. Like medical researchers, we can look at the

"epidemiology" of military conflicts in the world to understand their

causes. Like epidemiologists, we can study a very large number of cases of

peace and conflict. For example, we can look at all pairs of countries in

the world over much of the post-World War II period. We can ask whether any

particular pair experienced a military dispute (threat or low-level use of

military force, not just a war) in any particular year. We must look at

low-level disputes as well as wars, because most wars--rare events which are

hard to generalize about--begin as escalated disputes. All these cases--of

peace as well as dispute--give us about 200,000 "cases" to consider.

Analysis of this information, inspired by theory and some intuition, shows


After one takes into account the role of deterrence and military

balances, two of the other influences that Forsberg mentions stand out as

big restraints on the likelihood that two countries will get into a

situation whether they threaten to shoot at each other, or actually do.

First, it makes a big difference if both are democratic. A very

democratic and a very autocratic country were more than two-and-a-half times

more likely to get into a militarized conflict than were two very democratic

countries. And in this period, there were no wars between full democracies.

(Most of the civil wars, and all the cases of genocide, also occurred in

countries with autocratic or totalitarian governments.)

Economics also made a great difference. If two countries were highly

interdependent (their mutual trade accounted for a substantial portion of

their GNPs), they were again about two-and-a-half times less likely to have

a military dispute than if they traded little or at all. This was an even

greater disincentive than simply being wealthy, and the reasons are pretty

clear. If we bomb the cities or factories of a close trading partner--where

we also are likely to have heavy private investments--we are bombing our own

markets, suppliers, and even the property of our own nationals.

One additional influence is worth noting. International

organizations reduce conflict in many ways. A few of them can actually

coerce law-breakers; all can mediate conflicts of interest, convey

information and assist problem-solving, and socialize governments and

peoples to common norms and mutual identities. Countries that shared

membership in many international organizations (a few of them universal

organizations, most of them regional organizations for trade, security,

development, or environmental protection) were also less likely to fight

each other or threaten to do so.

Together, when these three influences (shared democracy,

interdependence, and dense international organization networks) were strong,

a pair of countries was 80 percent less likely to have a military dispute

than was the average pair of countries in the world. These results require

further analysis, but they appear to compare favorably with what we know,

for instance, about which influences produce many cancers or heart disease.

Further analysis also encourages me to believe that these relations are in

fact causal. For example, countries are unlikely to fight because they

trade, and not just vice-versa, and countries do not join international

organizations only with other countries that are already their close


Forsberg is probably right that the prospects for major conventional

war in the next decade or so are small. For the mid- or longer-term,

however, we need to think hard about supplementing the direct restraints on

militarization. By sometime in the second decade of the next century China

may well have a GNP (total, not per capita) equal to that of the United

States. If China keeps growing rapidly after that, the two could become

involved in the kind of deadly top-dog and second-dog rivalry that Forsberg

identifies as a roughly every-50- year phenomenon. It would be especially

dangerous if, as Forsberg warns, China continues to import high-level

military technology from Russia and even forms an alliance with Russia. The

"epidemiological" results suggest a way to handle that situation.

First, do our best to bring Russia firmly into the Western security

system as its democracy and free-market commitments become more secure. If

NATO is to expand, do not stop that expansion short of the border of a

Russia that is making reasonable political and economic progress--to do so

will drive it toward a tie with China. Second, do our best to bring China

firmly into the world network of economic interdependence and international

organization--it is in our interest as well as China's.

Because China is not likely to democratize soon or rapidly, it is

all the more important to strengthen the economic and institutional

incentives that discourage a turn to military expansion. (The Chinese

leadership has been far more willing to accept international pressures for

economic than for political liberalization.) This will not be easy, nor

always comfortable. But it is far wiser than relying primarily on a

"preventive" military build-up to contain China. The result of that strategy

could well be a self-fulfilling prophecy of conflict.

Some "rogue" countries will likely stay outside any system of

pacific relationships that can be built. But if they are few, deterrence can

be achieved with the lower levels of military capability that Forsberg

advocates, and citizens will more readily accept and insist on lowering the


1 These results are reported in John Oneal and Bruce Russett, "The

Classical Liberals Were Right: Democracy, Interdependence, and Conflict,

1950-1985," International Studies Quarterly, June 1997. Others are in the

review and publication pipeline.


>From Thu Jan 27 17:08:10 2000

Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 17:17:20 +0100

From: Dr. R.J. Barendse <>


Subject: My Discussion of Chase Dunn

To some extent I agree with Chase Dunn and Warran Wagar's responses for

which I kindly thank them that if you see `hegemony' as a central position

in the complex of markets within the European subsystem of global trade, and

if you say that this was a `decisive institutional innovation' then the

Netherlands in the seventeenth century certainly fits the definition of

hegemony. Nor would I deny that the seventeenth century Netherlands has

played a very important role in the rise of the modern capitalist

world-system - no doubt about it.

Certainly too in most respects the Dutch economy - at least that of

Holland, Zeeland and to an extent Friesland - was a capitalist economy.

Thus, for example, in the absolutely critical criterion of commercialization

of agriculture, the Holland or Friesland peasantry were working purely to

make a profit and to sell their products to the market - I should add that

is always somewhat more natural for a peasantry raising cattle than for a

peasantry growing grain. But unlike most of the rest of Europe by 1600 the

Dutch agricultural sector was thoroughly commercialized and controlled by

`capitalist' entrepreneurs - actually many of them originally of noble

descent -. Van Winter and De Vries recently wrote a book of 800 pages

enumerating further criteria of capitalism and I see no reason to disagree

with them.

I'm not so sure for the political system though as Chase Dunn argues,

for as some of you may know, the Dutch Republic was merely a lose Union of

Seven Provinces and decisions of the General Estates could be vetoed by each

of the seven provincial Estates. Now, while in Holland, Zeeland and to some

extent Utrecht the provincial Estates were dominated by the towns and the

voice of the nobility was purely nominal, in other provinces - particularly

in the province of Gelderland - the nobility very much dominated the

decisions and the towns had only a minor say. Thus - the capitalist

`regenten' certainly dominated the state-apparatus in Holland but they did

not dominate it throughout the country.

For the Dutch revolt was not primarily for religion and not primarily

about `national' identity but was primarily to defend the jumble of late

medieval local privileges against the centralizing impetus of the `modern'

Spanish state. It was in that respect a `conservative revolt' - meaning that

in provinces where the towns were already strong their position was further

strengthened by the revolt but where the nobility was strong - as in

Gelderland - the position of the nobility was rather strengthened. Thus,

while in Holland the towns flourished and the nobility - already in severe

debt in the fifteenth century - was more or less `bought out' by

land-investors; in Gelderland the towns (except the Rhine towns of Arnhem

and Nijmegen) actually declined and `feudal' dues were re-installed or

became even more heavy. Again, in Friesland - which unlike Holland and

Zeeland was almost fully rural - but which never had a feudal nobility but

instead a system of proprietor-farmers and farmers on various forms of

leasehold - the proprietor-farmers increasingly closed their ranks during the

seventeenth century and leasehold-farmers were increasingly reduced to

landlessness. Parallel to a decline of the few towns in Friesland after 1670

Friesland increasingly became a society divided between a prosperous rural

gentry and a class of landless or small sharecropping peasants. A case of

rural entrepreneurs considering itself a new `nobility' by 1750, or perhaps

becoming an `oligarcia' like in contemporary Argentina - in any case a very

different world than that of the commercial towns and prosperous tenant

farmers of Holland. I could go on with treating the situation in Overijsel,

Drente (a land of desperately poor, almost totally self-sufficient,

peasants, who as to material standards were in 1800 still rather living in

800) or in the again totally different `occupied territories' of Brabant and

Limburg but this ought to suffice.

What I'm trying to point out is this: though I agree with Chase Dunn

that the Dutch Republic was somewhere between a "capitalist city-state"

(this within a BIG ".." because I think it's simply rubbish to say Dilmun,

Tyre or Carthago were capitalist in any way we understand it, call them

`merchant-republics' or `commercial city states' instead) and a national

state it's simply not true "the capitalists of Amsterdam took over the

state" . That's not how the Dutch Republic functioned - it was a highly

complex structure, based on an intricate balance between the Prince of

Orange and the Estates General, between the towns and country, nobility and

burgers, and between the provinces. As a matter of fact, Amsterdam was the

last city in Holland to join the Dutch revolt because: A.) the good burgers

of Amsterdam were afraid independence from Spain would harm their trade and

B.) Amsterdam was a center for Roman Catholic pilgrimage from which it was

earning good money !

However, Wagar's use of "leadership" instead of "hegemony" remains an

extremely difficult thing to define - it's really in my view much too vague

to be of much epistemic use. Let me discuss Wagar's Genoese example in

detail to make this clear. I would absolutely agree with Arrighi if he says

that Genoa's role was paramount in developing the institutions of modern

financial capitalism - however, if it goes to any other criterion, such as

international banking, international trade and above all, of course,

literature, architecture, painting and science then Florence - for art

together with Rome - would have been `hegemonic'.

Again, if I were to look at fifteenth century Europe from a strictly

contemporary point of view (say around 1410) and pick the place which from

the perspective of that period would have seemed hegemonic I would not have

picked ANY of the Italian city-states, which - except Venice - were military

midgets and hopelessly divided at that but instead the Duchy of Burgundy.

For not only was Burgundy way and out the richest state of Europe and

united powerful centers of trade - like Gand, Antwerp or Bruges each of them

well comparable to Florence though perhaps not to Venice or Genoa if Gand

came close - under a single crown but it also had certainly the most

efficient and progressive administration in Europe, as well as the most

productive agriculture and the largest merchant-fleet of Northern Europe.

And above all, of course, a dazzling court-life and late chivalric culture

(the culture of Van Eyck or of the paintings of the Tres Riches Heures du

duque de Berry) which served as muster for the Spanish court-ceremonial in

the sixteenth century and hence for the Austrian in the seventeenth century.

In a way the glitter of the yearly new-years' concert from Vienna is a vague,

pale, memory of the dazzling culture of early 15th century Burgundy.

Now, I could go on saying that if I were really to look at the system as

a whole and were to pick one hegemonic center of military, state and

commercial power around 1420 I would not look to Europe at all but would

rather look at Central Asia and to the city of Samarkand under the Timurid

dynasty in particular but I hope this suffices.

So - to save Arrighi because I agree with Wagar he has a point with

Genoa, if we were to reformulate `hegemony', we ought probably to ask "what

place was the central location for placing commodity and financial

transactions within the European subsystem before the formation of the

nation-state" and then around 1400 this would undoubtedly have been either

Florence or Genoa. Other candidates would for earlier periods certainly

include Venice, Sienna - which for reasons unclear to me is totally ignored

by Abu Lughod although it was THE financial center of the mid-thirteenth

century - Bruges and - in the tenth-twelfth century - Amalfi, Palermo and -

yes ! - Cordoba.

Now, let me try to explain why commodity and financial transactions

tended to `cluster' in a single location and why therefore the ancient

European `world-economy' "invariably had a town at its center" as Braudel

claims for the Middle Ages and the early modern period. And, indeed, this

already to some extent applied to Antiquity. A town which then could be

styled `hegemonic' for the conduct of international trade. To explain this I

would refer to the concept of `transaction-costs', meaning the costs

involved in buying and selling a product - including for the purpose

transport-costs and not the least `protection-costs' - The `economy of

scale' in transaction-costs quite easily explains why banking, shipping,

insurance etc. and even bulk-good transactions tended to cluster in a single

place - logically mostly a town although fairs such as those of Champagne in

the late twelfth or those of Piacenza in the sixteenth century could fulfill

some of these functions. For transaction-costs were a considerable part of

costs involved and therefore the easiest way to cut overall costs of

products was to cut transaction-costs. Indeed, innovation in the

pre-industrial epoch first and foremost involves the reduction of


That's easy to grasp. Obviously, if you want, for example, to book a

trip on a ship to another place it's much cheaper if many ships are going

from there then if there's only one. If you want to change your money with

money-changers it's much cheaper to do that if there are many active and

they have large stocks of foreign coins -and so on and so forth.

For - and that's a difference between nation-state societies and

pre-national societies which is ever more marked the further you go back

into the Middle Ages - transaction-costs are nowadays to a large extent

shouldered by the state and paid through imposts whereas before they were

`privatized' and thus had to paid by individual merchants and customers. A

trivial example (although it was a major expense of merchants up to the

sixteenth century in Europe) before the rise of regular postal services in

Europe you had to pay literally the cost-price for a letter. For you had to

hire a runner to get a letter from A to B. No minor expense since any

merchant would send several letters daily. Since the installation of regular

postal services since the seventeenth century the state has gradually

shouldered those costs, so that they are not directly charged in the price

of products anymore. That's true for post and it's true for hundreds of

other services, of which the price is not directly charged in products but

instead is charged through taxes and thus - more or less equally or rather

unequally - spread over the population. So - with this as with other things,

the rise of modern capitalism can not be imagined without the constant role

of the state

Albeit there's now a dialectic at work - on the one hand, capitalism

still expects the state to assume the transaction-costs and in fact it

expects the state to constantly lower the prices charged for that - I'm

talking things like fibre cables, safety regulations on airports, quality

guarantees for goods etc . (Note that advertisements etc. should really be

seen as intrinsic to the price of the product itself. If one company sells

forty different times nearly the same detergent but in forty different

packages for forty different prices then the price really depends on the

advertising and not on the product.) On the other hand, though, capitalism

wants to get `global' and not to contribute to paying these transaction

costs - instead the tax-payers of the national states have to pay, since

it's supposedly also in his/her interest: e.g. if the state has to clean up

pollution caused by a factory mostly nearby tax-payers have to pay the costs

since they don't want to sit in the stench too.

So, here's the dialectic of globalization: on the one hand companies

expect the national state more and more to shoulder transaction-costs - take

e.g. the thousands of volumes of legislation and the thousands of inspectors

which the state now needs to insure the quality of products and which

remains a responsibility of national states even within the EU - Yet on the

other hand they don't want to pay for that since they're supposedly no

longer tied to a national state. We all know already what has been the

historic solution to that problem in the US and increasingly in Europe and

Japan too - namely the growth of a whole new branch of private provision of

services: claims for indemnities in court. If you can't tax them - sue them.

And to be sure companies are no often paying more to their lawyers than they

ever did in taxes.

I will here not comment on Chase-Dunn's rather off-hand remark that

"feudalism is an exceedingly decentralized form of the tributary mode of

accumulation" to which I don't agree at all: this whole concept of Tributary

Mode should be abolished the sooner the better. But I' ll be specially

coming to the US in June to comment on feudalism and the supposed tributary

mode of production as it's a much too vast a topic to deal with in a single


Best wishes to all and hope others enjoyed this discussion as much as I did

R.J. Barendse

The Netherlands


>From rhutchin@U.Arizona.EDU Thu Jan 27 17:21:46 2000

Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 12:50:42 -0700 (MST)

From: Richard N Hutchinson <rhutchin@U.Arizona.EDU>



Subject: economic reductionism and WW5

This post on economic reductionism raises an interesting point relevant to

speculation on a possible "World War 3," or "World War 5" in world-system

terms. There are those who maintain that the growing volume of U.S. trade

with Asia will bring about an Asia-U.S. bloc, based on strictly economic

considerations. Similarly, a German/EU-Russian bloc can be projected

based on economic integration alone. So a core war might pit, not the

U.S. against Germany per se, but a Pacific bloc versus an Atlantic

bloc, or in geostrategic terms, the Eurasian Land Power versus the

Rimlands Maritime Power, in a classic rematch with the Pacific bloc

playing the old British role.

BUT, this scenario ignores cultural factors. Culturally speaking, as Arno

Tausch rightly points out, the web of Atlantic ties is quite strong. It

is true that right at the moment it is hard to envision the U.S. going to

war with its (militarily subordinate) European allies. It is also hard to

envision a durable alliance between the U.S. and China, which would be

necessary in the Asia-U.S. bloc scenario, not to mention the Japan-China

alliance! So, the possibility of U.S.-EU and Asian blocs shouldn't be

ruled out either.

(In all this, I am not assuming that a 2025 core war is inevitable, only

an all-too plausible projection based on past cycles.)

Tausch's discussion of Russia, China and other non-core powers as current

targets of U.S. military strategy is one thing, but relevant for the short

term. In the medium term, the conflict among core powers is likely to

reassert itself. So, the race between the Old (nationally based capital),

and the New (the trend toward some form of world state, whether capitalist

or socialist).



>From Thu Jan 27 17:22:24 2000

Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 10:57:46 +0100

From: "Tausch, Arno" <>


Subject: where the real conflicts emerge

Russia: Turkey Challenges Leadership Role In Caspian Region

By Michael Lelyveld

As fears of instability spread through the Caspian region, Turkey is

pressing its leadership role. But its initiatives may bring it increasingly

into conflict with Russia, which would likely resent any trespass on its


Boston, 24 January 2000 (Radio Free Europe) -- It was perhaps only a matter

of time before some Russian interests would come to regard Turkey as a

threat in the Caucasus and Central Asia. That appears to be the point of a

front-page article in the Russian newspaper "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on Friday.

The daily, owned by Boris Berezovsky, reacted strongly to a Turkish

statement last week calling for creation of a cooperative group to include

countries with Turkic populations. Abdulhaluk Cay, a state minister in

charge of relations with the ethnically-linked nations of the region,

compared the proposed organization to the Arab League.

But "Nezavisimaya gazeta" characterized the plan as a Turkish challenge to

Russia, charging that Cay had called Moscow "too weak" to oppose the

formation of such a group. In fact, Cay's interview with the Reuters news

agency on January 19 made no reference to Russian weakness. Instead, he was

quoted as saying that such an association could be formed even if Russia

objected, because of the strong historical ties among Turkic countries.

"They will get used to it," Cay said, according to Reuters. "They have to.

We governed the Ottoman Empire for centuries. But today in our relations

with ex-Ottoman states we do not act like the big brother," he said.

Cay may have exaggerated the reach of the Ottoman Empire, which even at its

height in the 16th century did not cover the entire Caucasus or include

Central Asia. But the point of citing Turkey's modern-day ethnic influence

in the Caspian region was clearly to draw a contrast with Russia's waning

power. Ankara also sees itself as a unifying force at a time when the war in

Chechnya threatens to break the Caucasus apart.

Cay's comments followed a less inflammatory call by President Suleyman

Demirel for a "Caucasus stability pact," which was also a reaction to the

chaos in Chechnya. Although Russia is technically welcome to join both

initiatives, Turkey has made itself the driving force.

Even without the strained interpretation by "Nezavisimaya gazeta," it is

little wonder that Russia would view Turkey's proposals as a challenge to

its position. Instead of bringing control to the region with a short and

overwhelming war to stamp out terrorism, Moscow has heightened fears across

several borders. The Turkish proposals follow concerns over refugee problems

and Russian charges of aid to the rebel Chechens.

It is ironic that Russia's attempt to safeguard the unity of its federation

has proved instead to be a divisive force, not only in the region but also

in its relations with the West. Perhaps in reaction, Turkey is seeking to

provide a new orientation, if not a unifying force.

"Nezavisimaya gazeta" was quick to pick apart the logic of the Turkish

proposals, claiming that "Armenia may become the first victim" of the

attempt to create a "Turkish commonwealth." But the appeal to historic

hatreds and fears may only add to the divisiveness that has already opened

the door for Turkish ambitions.

The remarkable recent changes in Turkey's external relations could soon make

it a more logical gateway to the Caspian region than Russia can be. Beyond

ethnicity, the most obvious link is the thread of petroleum pipelines that

is slowly forming between the Caspian countries and Turkey. These will

eventually provide export routes for the region's oil and gas, returning

hard currency to countries that must often settle for Russian bartered


Turkey's position as a large energy-consuming country, drawing supplies from

both Russia and the Caspian, is now being regarded as a source of influence

and strength, rather than weakness. This in itself is a remarkable change in

Ankara's position relative to Moscow.

But even beyond energy and pipelines, Turkey's recent warming toward Greece

suggests that it can play a more important role in east-west linkages. Last

week's series of accords between the two countries and the visit to Ankara

by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou raise hope that relations may

continue to improve.

Turkey's easing toward its westward rival has smoothed its way toward

membership in the European Union. That in turn may raise hopes for countries

with Turkic ties that see their future in drawing closer not only to NATO

and its members but also to Europe as a trading partner.

If Turkey is representing itself as a bridge to survival, security and

prosperity, it is only because the protections of Russia have failed. While

it is preoccupied with war, Moscow appears heedless to the damage it has

caused, both within and beyond its borders. By sowing divisions, Russia may

harvest a future in which it can no longer be a unifying power.