I’ve often been asked to recommend books to both explain the nature of the international system as well as the origins of and impetus for recent geopolitical events. In context of the recent seismological shifting of state alignments in the global power structure, questions about where to go to find educational material to explain events has become more important. This is especially true with regard to the tug and pull rapidly increasing in ferocity between Russia and the United States.
A good book upon which to begin study of why the German-American-Russian spying scandal and events in Ukraine, Xinjiang, and Pakistan affect the global power structure and the international system is Zbigniew Brezinski’s ‘The Grand Chessboard’. Without endorsing Brzezinski’s conclusions, it is a good place on which to begin a journey into understanding why powerful entities around the world pursue alliances with and control over governments in Eurasia. For those with only a modicum of study of international relations, the book is acceptably current and written in a way that non-studied individuals can understand and use to gain knowledge about the ‘why’ of international events.
Brzezinski is a hugely influential former National Security Advisor for President Jimmy Carter. Since leaving that position in 1982 (following the defeat of Carter by succeeding President Ronald Reagan), Brezinski has remained a powerful voice in matters of American foreign policy; at the Atlantic Council, as a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Along with former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Brzezinski remains among the most dominant (and controversial) voices in and on American foreign policy and national security in the latter half of the 20th and into the first part of the 21st centuries.
‘The Grand Chessboard’ is an examination of how greater Eurasia is valued by established and aspiring regional hegemons in Europe, Asia, and North America throughout history and into the modern ‘unipolar moment’ of the immediate post-Cold War era. Brzezinski does an admirable job of explaining how ‘The Heartland’ will play a pivotal role in the dynamic of the international system as China and Russia rise to compete with the U.S. for access to and dominance of the exploitation of natural resources in regions such as Central Asia. It is highly recommended for aspiring political scientists both inside and outside of academia.
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