You are holding a warped travel book. This warped travel book remixes three main themes: globalization, energy wars and the Pentagon's Long War, originally packaged as the "war on terror." Call it a--what else--war travel book. Or a warped geopolitical travel book.
You will be traveling mostly in the arc from Middle East to Central Asia, but also in China, Russia, Western Europe, Western Africa, South America. You're going to revisit the asymmetrical wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. You're going to crisscross the Islamic world. You're going to follow a lot of pipelines. You'll be acquainted with the Iran the next war will probably hit. You'll see how national resistance wars have nothing to do with "terrorism." You'll be confronted over and over again with "strategic competitor" Asia--where the future of the 21st Century is being played out. You're going to revisit how, where and who profits from economic globalization and especially war corporatism. You'll see how more trade does not necessarily mean more peace. You'll see how and where possible New Orders are emerging, and Old Orders disintegrating. And you will finish the pilgrimage back in the middle of a--predictable--global war of the privileged few against the excluded many.
9/11 was the first globalization war. Our warped travel book argues we are now living an intestinal war, an undeclared global civil war. In this early 21st Century context of re-medievalization, where those who control power control weapons, money and The Word, this book also aims to provide a counter-narrative.
You will cross a lot of "stans." The re-medievalized world is being fragmented into "stans," some very exclusive (Pipelineistan, Europeistan, Nuclearistan), some feeding on war (Talibanistan, Americastan in Iraq), some regarded as a supreme threat (Shiiteistan), some spreading like a virus (Slumistan). We still live in a world of nation-states. But you will see that as civilian peace between nations and their populations is being slashed, basically because of economic imperatives, now virtually everyone seems to be threatened by a permanent state of emergence--which is just another way of referring to a global state of siege. This includes of course the plural culture of Islam constantly demonized in a lethal magma as The Barbarian Other--that silly "clash of civilizations" working out as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You may ask where I'm coming from. Well, to talk about nomad global wars it helps being a nomad--and a pure product of globalization. As a writer I have lived and worked in North and South America, Western Europe and all across Asia and Islam; since the end of the Cold War I have been tracking the West drunk on its own secular mission civilisatrice, eager to globalize Russia, China, Islam/Arabia, Africa. Home is wherever I happen to be. Not accidentally this short introduction comes from one of the great world cities, to the sound of electronic tango. Or as they say in Bangkok and Hong Kong, it comes from "the other side of the world." For me it makes perfect sense being in the Paris of South America dreaming of Asia and selected cities of the heart (and work)- Kabul, Baghdad, Tehran, Peshawar.
You should know that I do not answer to any corporate sponsor; no political party; no intelligence agency; no academic body; no think tank. And I got nothing to spin. The online publication I write for--Asia Times, owned by a Sino-Thai visionary businessman and based in Thailand/Hong Kong--allows me total freedom of expression.
This book is another way to tell a story--dissected by towering figures like Immanuel Wallerstein, Zygmunt Bauman, Ulrick Beck or Gabriel Kolko--from the ground level. Bauman's concept of liquid modernity gave me the inspiration for "Liquid War." Only then I found out there was already a videogame called Liquid War. Pop culture rules! The game, whose basic rules are inspired by Japanese go, is described as a sort of "psychedelic action" where strategy is crucial. Sounds like a definition of the world out there. Indonesia would say the world out there is like wayang theatre--we see the shadows, but we never see the puppeteer.
Beyond strategic and political conflict, Liquid War tends towards the destruction of singular cultures and everything capable of resisting globalization. Its optimum is anthropological genocide. If the future is being configured by Liquid War all actors are positioning themselves for the decisive moment, the catharsis in Greek drama, when Liquid War boils to the point of Hot War. Dear Leader Kim Jong-il is a weak link; his acts are very revealing, denouncing real fears. So are Hugo Chávez's.
Revered Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh prays that we may all escape the wheel of samsara--our addiction to nefarious vicious circles. If only we could accumulate enough compassion--instead of designer weapons: "touched by the Dharma", we would have an instrument to cut through the wheel of samsara, we would not legate so much bad karma for future generations, we would escape this demented war logic.
Hope lies in selected humanitarian, social, juridical and ecological NGOs, and the emergence of globally connected civil society. Even Professor Stephen Hawking, with his global-sized brain, does not know "how can the human race sustain another 100 years." He admitted: "I don't know the answer," suggesting improvements in genetic engineering to make humans less addicted to war.
Perhaps Groovemaster General James Brown had come up with the best answer after all: it's time to get funky. But on a less escapist level, maybe what we need is a post-modern Paolo Ucello. We have to come up with a different real time perspective for virtual space, learn how to deal with the telecity, the metacity, telesex, telepolitics, telewar. Paul Virilio warned us that the end of geopolitics is leading us to metropolitics. The enemy is undeclared. The logic is of fear. And widespread urban panic is already drowning for good the political character of the City.
Military/intelligence elites of Globalistan are all immersed in electronic tracking of deterritorialization, monitoring every turbulence caused by globalization--local conflicts, the shrinking of the middle classes, abysmal poverty, incipient civil wars, Salafi-jihadist reaction. Conflicts should be perpetuated, just about anywhere, but without turning into irreparable catastrophe. For these elites, this is just a technical matter. A question of managing chaos.
Robert Musil wrote that parallel universes could be as relevant as reality. Physic-ists go for a Multiverse that resembles boiling water (where, in Michiko Kaku's words, "the Judeo-Christian genesis takes place within the Buddhist nirvana, all the time"). In philosophical terms, the universe itself may even be a dream. I wonder what Jorge Luis Borges would make of all this. Against our world of nomad wars and Liquid War he would probably counterpunch with a dazzling play on cultures, History and signs. Could it be Kim Jong-il drinking an absinthe at the café La Puerto Rico? Could it be George W. Bush browsing books on Islam at the venerable Libreria del Colegio? Could it be Osama bin Laden dancing a tango with one of his wives at the ultra-atmospheric Bar Sur?
If only Liquid War was no more harmful than a drink. So here's to you, dear reader, a glass of fabulous Malbec. Cheers. Now let's hit the road.