The New Great Game

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For the book: "The New Great Game: Blood and Oil in Central Asia", see Lutz Kleveman.
Middle East geopolitical map

The New Great Game is a conceptualization of modern geopolitics in the Middle East as a competition between the United States, the United Kingdom and other NATO countries against Russia and China for "influence, power, hegemony and profits in Central Asia and the Transcaucasus".[1][2] It is a reference to "The Great Game", the political rivalry between the British and Russian Empires in Central Asia during the 19th century.[3]


Many authors [clarification needed] and analysts view this new "game" as centering around regional petroleum politics. Now, instead of competing for actual control over a geographic area, "pipelines, tanker routes, petroleum consortiums, and contracts are the prizes of the new Great Game".[4] The term has become prevalent throughout the literature about the region, appearing in book titles, academic journals, news articles, and government reports.[5]

In a leaked US Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks, it was reported that Prince Andrew, Duke of York, supports the concept of a New Great Game:

Addressing the Ambassador directly, Prince Andrew then turned to regional politics. He stated boldly that “the United Kingdom, Western Europe (and by extension you Americans too)” were now back in the thick of playing the Great Game. More animated than ever, he stated cockily: “And this time we aim to win!”[6]

Difference with the Great Game[edit]

Noopolitik in the New Great Game[edit]

After Halford Mackinder in his book The Grand Chessboard, Zbigniew Brzezinski had emphasized the unparalleled value Central Asia had among US geostrategic imperatives. Yet in his later book, "The Choice: Global dominance or Global Leadership"[7] Brzezinski notably argued the USA should resort to more Soft Power in attempting to politically command key areas of central Asia. Similarly, Idriss Aberkane claimed Noopolitik was playing a more central role than ever in the balance of power of the New Great Game, as innovation was the simplest way for Great Gamers to alter the complex status quo and regional balance of power.

Aberkane therefore argued that the projection of development and Confidence building measures was gaining momentum as a means to leverage political intercourses by other means in Central Asia, and that such was a novel feature of the New Great Game as opposed to the Great Game.

Man is thus free to demonstrate the realist political profitability of peace and the Millennium Development Goals in this new round of the Great Game (...) we anticipate it be defined by noopolitik and the knowledge economy, beyond geography, the most promising means for any Great Gamer to decisively prevail over the many others.[8]

Similarity with the Great Game[edit]

"The Graveyard of Empires"[edit]

Afghanistan expert Seth Jones published In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan, a book analyzing Afghanistan's popular name as "The Graveyard of Empires".[9] It is argued that Afghanistan is a position of the Great Game that is impossible to hold over a protracted period, which seems to have remained an invariant from the Great Game to the New Great Game[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Edwards, 85.
  2. ^ Edwards, Matthew (March 2003). The New Great Game and the new great gamers: disciples of Kipling and Mackinder. Central Asian Survey 22 (1). pp. 83–103. doi:10.1080/0263493032000108644. 
  3. ^ Meyer, Karl (2006). Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Asia. Basic Books. p. 704. ISBN 978-0465045761.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  4. ^ Brysac & Meyer, xxiii.
  5. ^ Edwards, 83.
  6. ^ "Wikileaks files: US ambassador criticised Prince Andrew". BBC. November 30, 2010. 
  7. ^ Brzezinski, Z. The Choice: Global Dominance or Global Leadership, NYC: Basic Books 2004
  8. ^ a b "Brzezinski on a US Berezina: anticipating a new, New World Order". e-International Relations. 
  9. ^ Milton Bearden, Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires Foreign Affairs November/December 2011

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]