この時評の末尾で紹介する文章、「シルクロード征服」(Conquering the Silk Road)は、アメリカ人の文章のようであるが、やっとのことで、わが5年前の旧稿の俯瞰的観察に追い付いてきた。
以下が、本日、手元に届いた英文記事である。副題は、「アメリカの地政学的戦略と儒教・イスラム教の連携」(US Geostrategy and the Confucian-Islamic Connection)である。
Conquering the Silk Road:
US Geostrategy and the Confucian-Islamic Connection
By Allan Noble
March 24, 2006
Much has been said and written about the neoconservative 'Project for A New American Century', yet the geostrategic import of this project has only emerged in bits and pieces. However, the pieces do indeed fit into a comprehensive design for continued American predominance and hegemony in world affairs. The long-term objective of this project is the containment and possible elimination of a rising China, as America's greatest perceived geopolitical threat. The means via which the US intends to obtain this goal is through a bold (and foolish) attempt to conquer the ancient 'Silk Road'.
In 1993, Samuel Huntington wrote in his infamous essay, 'The Clash of Civilizations?', about what he termed as 'the Confucian-Islamic Connection'. In Huntington's words,
"Those countries that for reason of culture and power do not wish to, or cannot, join the West compete with the West by developing their own economic, military and political power. They do this by promoting their internal development and by cooperating with other non-Western countries. The most prominent form of this cooperation is the Confucian-Islamic connection that has emerged to challenge Western interests, values and power" (Huntington 1993).
Of course, the thesis that a ﾔclash of civilizationsﾕ is inevitable is disproved theoretically by the fact that there can even be a cross-civilizational 'Confucian-Islamic Connection' in the first place. In short, cooperation is just as possible (and indeed, as desirable) as is competition in international relations, as in human affairs in general.
Nevertheless, such perceptions do matter, particularly when formulating policy. Given this, it is extremely unfortunate that Huntingtonﾕs 'Confucian-Islamic Connection' thesis has now become the Bush administrationﾕs foreign policy. According to the recently released US Quadrennial Defense Review (2006),
"Of the major and emerging powers, China has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States and field disruptive military technologies that could over time offset traditional U.S. military advantages absent U.S. counter strategies" (US Department of Defense 2006, p.29) (My emphasis).
US foreign policy in the long term, therefore, is directed towards countering a rapidly rising China. The 'War on Terrorism' (code-term for the 'War on Islam in the Middle East') must be seen as a short term component of this larger strategy.
Hence, it is no coincidence that of the countries that the US has invaded militarily, or has threatened to invade, over the past few years--Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran--not only are all Islamic, but they are all, also, situated upon 'the Silk Road'.
Stretching from Baghdad to Beijing, the Silk Road was an ancient trading route that connected the diverse peoples and cultures of the West and East. Partially opened from the Western end by Alexander the Great, who conquered the Persian Empire in 330 BCE, it was completed from the Eastern end (present-day China) by Zhang Qian of the Han Dynasty, around 130 BCE. Silk was one of many commodities that traversed this route (hence the name) to as far as ancient Rome, while gold and other precious metals went along in the other direction.
Marco Polo (1254-1324) documented the Silk Road in his The Travels of Marco Polo, and the passage was used by Genghis Khan in 1206 CE, to establish the Mongol Empire--ﾑthe largest contiguous land empire in world history--extending through China to present-day Iran: uniting Confucians with Islam.
To return to Huntington, his words are eerily prophetic, considered in the light of recent events:
"The conflict between the West and the Confucian-Islamic states focuses largely, although not exclusively, on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, ballistic missiles and other sophisticated means for delivering them, and the guidance, intelligence and other electronic capabilities for achieving that goal. The West promotes nonproliferation as a universal norm and nonproliferation treaties and inspections as means of realizing that norm. It also threatens a variety of sanctions against those who promote the spread of sophisticated weapons and proposes some benefits for those who do not. The attention of the West focuses, naturally on nations that are actually or potentially hostile to the West" (Huntington 1993).
Just like Iraq, the US is currently pursuing an aggressive, and threatening, campaign towards Iran in relation to its pursuit of nuclear technology. It will be no surprise if it also attacks Iran militarily. China, on the other hand (which imports 13.6 percent of its oil from Iran) is the US' main obstacle in this regard.
Meanwhile, the US Bush administration is treading softly with India, promising it civilian nuclear cooperation, and effectively allowing it to proliferate nuclear weapons. The reason for this is that India is not majority Islamic, nor is it 'Confucian' (or 'Sinic', as Huntington prefers to call it these days--so as to include North Korea).
Critics of Huntington are correct to point out that a 'clash of civilizations' is not inevitable in that 'civilizations' may choose to cooperate with one another rather than antagonize. However, it is Huntingtonﾕs argument for a ﾔConfucian-Islamic Connectionﾕ that has most directly guided the current US Bush administration into an erroneous and unjust strategy--that is, conquering the Silk Road.