by Kevin Barrett (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 8, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1445)
It is a hoary truism that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, when the US and its Israeli management talked Saudi Arabia, India, and a few other countries into launching an India-Middle East Corridor (IMEC) to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Uncle Scam (aka Uncle Schlemiel), was offering a sincere compliment to China’s globe-straddling infrastructure project. But while the compliment is real, is the competition? Will IMEC ever really challenge BRI?
To answer that question, we need to understand precisely what IMEC proposes to do. Middle East Eye’s detailed overview begins: “The transport link, dubbed the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, or IMEC, aims to establish new shipping lanes between India and the United Arab Emirates and a freight rail system cutting across the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, from where goods can be shipped to Europe.” IMEC’s promotors say it would cut transit time between India and Europe by 40%.
IMEC would compete with Egypt, which extracts lucrative tariffs from Suez Canal traffic, as well as with Iran and Turkey, which are building the Miyaneh-Bostanabad-Tabriz railway mega project that would—like IMEC—link East and South Asia to Europe. Iraq, too, has plans to build parallel rail transit links.
Which projects will actually get built, and which will forever remain pipe dreams on the proverbial drawing board? The answer will partly depend on which projects’ promoters can raise the colossal sums required for their realization. But money isn’t everything; another important factor is expertise. Can the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, or India deploy a sufficiently large and skilled labor force with experience in massive infrastructure projects?
The BRI showcases China’s impressive infrastructure-building infrastructure. The BRI will celebrate its tenth birthday in October, with more than 3000 projects and almost a trillion dollars’ worth of investment under its belt. China’s BRI success grew out of its domestic experience building new railways, subways, ports, highways, and communications networks. Meanwhile its main geopolitical rival, the USA, has been unable to upgrade its antiquated and often crumbling infrastructure, despite its illustrious status as the world’s wealthiest country.
Why can’t the USA maintain its highways, dams, and bridges? Why can’t it build high-speed rail? Why are its children’s brains damaged by contaminated drinking water? Why are so many of its airports international embarrassments? The primary reason is military spending. By some estimates the US spends as much on its military as the next 10 countries combined. The death-dealing Pentagon, with its gargantuan appetite, devours money that would otherwise have been earmarked for life-enhancing civilian projects.
It is also worth noting that the US military-industrial complex competes with civilian infrastructure for a limited supply of engineers and other experts. Today, fewer than one in five American college students opts for a STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) degree. While US graduate students dream up additions to the current list of 107 genders, or more prosaically major in law or business, almost half of Chinese students are in STEM programs. And while US graduate schools continue to brain-drain the world by bleeding talent from other countries, that trend has slowed considerably during recent decades.
Worse, from Uncle Scam’s perspective, more than one-third of foreign graduate students in the US are Chinese, 60% of whom are pursuing STEM degrees. So the official comparison of China’s roughly 50,000 STEM doctoral degrees per year versus America’s 30,000 actually understates China’s edge. What’s more, China’s five-point average IQ advantage over the west, together with its huge population, means that China has 300,000 people with 160+ IQ compared to 30,000 in the entire west. No wonder China is wrapping itself and the world in high-speed rail while the US can barely keep Amtrak chugging along at 50 miles per hour in 60-year-old trains that seem to derail with increasing frequency.*
The above considerations suggest that the connectivity race between China’s BRI and America’s IMEC is unlikely to be won by the latter. So, even if the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, high on ambition and who knows what else, waves around whatever sized wad of cash is left over after NEOM, and India manages to spare any railroad engineers who aren’t tearing their hair out trying to bring that country’s first high-speed rail system online (Indian rickety trains “are not always on schedule” and “are not the world’s best”) the odds that IMEC will end up dominating the Asia-Middle East-Europe rail business seem fairly negligible.
So, if IMEC isn’t likely to actually build much of anything, then what is its real purpose? The likely answer: It is political. The US and India are using IMEC as a rhetorical counterweight to China. Israel is using IMEC to vaunt its stranglehold over the Arab dictatorships ruling over artificially created entities on the western shores of the Persian Gulf and showcase the Saudis’ and Emiratis’ complete indifference to the fate of the Palestinians. And the US, Israel, and the Saudis are using IMEC against Iran and its plans to cooperate with both China and India to connect Asia to both Western Europe and Russia through Turkey.
While the BRI represents a Chinese-led attempt to knit the world together, IMEC amounts to a Zio-American riposte in the key of divide-and-conquer. Its real goal may be to “throw sand in the gears of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Russo-Iranian International North-South Transport Corridor.” By raising prospects of competition and attempting to discourage investment in its BRI-linked rivals, IMEC’s proponents may not be laying their own rail as much as they are laying debris on the BRI’s tracks in hopes of derailing it.
But the vandalism attempt is unlikely to succeed. In the larger geopolitical picture, every transport and communication line knitting together Eurasia and Africa is just another nail in the coffin of the Anglo-Zionists’ attempt to rule the world from an island in the Atlantic, whether a small one like England or a large one like North America. Even if IMEC succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its proponents, it would benefit Mackinder’s “Heartland” more than the offshore island power that seeks to rule it.
Like so many “American” efforts in Muslim West Asia, IMEC seems tailored to benefit Israel, not the USA. Whether or not it gets built, IMEC whitewashes the increasingly extremist character of the zionist entity by creating the perception of friendly, constructive ties between Tel Aviv and Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Amman, and New Delhi. The unnatural affinities between the genocidal and Islamophobic characters of Netanyahu’s zionism and Modi’s Hindutva are on full display in IMEC, as are the Gulf Arabs’ obsequious embrace of those murderously obnoxious movements.
At the end of the day, IMEC showcases what Americans and zionists and maybe even Indians do best: propaganda. Whether it is zionist-run Hollywood or the equally bathetic Bollywood, those zionist Jews and Hindutva Indians sure do know how to send a colorful dumbed-down message, void of meaningful content, straight into the stunted frontal lobes of the lowest common denominator.
*No insult to Amtrak intended. It is actually fun to travel in those antique double-decker western trains that move slowly enough that you can take in the scenery. And when the train gets stuck in the middle of nowhere for 12 hours, as happened to me once, Amtrak mollifies the distraught passengers with free Kentucky Fried Chicken.