While the origins of chess are unknown, it is traditionally believed that the game began in Indo-Persia, or China. It is a truly complex game of strategy played on many levels. It is virtual warfare played on a game board of sixty-four squares. Every move can be critical and each move has the potential for altering the game forever—affecting the final outcome. The pieces are symbolic and the value of each piece—be it pawn, rook, bishop, knight, or queen—literally changes with each move. Chess requires intellect, vision, focus and the ability to assess/adapt.
In chess and global affairs, there is really only one king, and that king must be free to move and to dominate everything else on the board/planet. The one true king of the planet transcends individuals, nation states, or governmental collectives. Since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, we have witnessed the evolution of a new dichotomy in the battle of the two kings. I refer to the US Dollar and oil. What will be the one true “King of the World"?
It may seem crass to reduce everything which has happened in the past three-quarters of a century to a battle between the buck and black gold for world supremacy, but think about it—and particularly think about our current crises/situations. You can’t fire the souls of the masses to shed the blood of their sons and daughters for the supreme interests of the central bankers versus petroleum moguls. You need the diversion of a Judas goat with terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear Armageddon, or the promise of free elections becoming the pawns, rooks, knights, and bishops in rallying world opinion, the troops, and their families. Chess and world domination by one true king are played/sought by a series of gambits, or games/scenarios, within the overriding ultimate game. The political and economic gambits change with each new move, the stakes keep rising, and the pace keeps accelerating. I find it particularly of interest that global attention (and action) is once again focused on the chessboard of the Middle East—one of the two perceived origins of the game of chess itself.
Sometime within the next 64 days, the Tehran Bourse will commence. This exchange will make Iran the main hub for oil, gas, and petrochemical deals in the region. And that region is the mother-lode of the planet’s known oil/energy reserves. More importantly, “the Bourse” will feature the Euro as the transactional currency of choice for the sales. This is not only a threat to the US Dollar’s monopoly status as the official currency of OPEC, but will challenge the US Dollar’s ultimate kingship as the world’s reserve currency. It becomes the current gambit in the chess match for supremacy of the one store of value versus the other.
Now “honestly” targeting Iran to stop “the Bourse” and circling the wagons around the US Dollar just is not going to cut it as far as justification in the court of world opinion. It will not rally the troops, nor will it prepare their families for the loss and sacrifices to come. Once again, we will see the false Judas goats of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear Armageddon, or the promise of free elections on the parade banners and in the political rhetoric. Will “behind-the-words analysis” of the themes emanating from Bush’s Jan. 31 State of the Union message support my chess metaphor?
In chess, the losing king is never actually captured; the “winner” rather puts the opponent/adversary in a position whereby he cannot make a move without self- destructing. The game ends when one king finds himself effectively “amBUSHed” in whatever action he might choose to take. In this game of chess, who will succeed as “King of the World”—the US Dollar, or oil?
I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.
This story was published on January 31, 2006.