Geopolitics Among Nations Essay, Research Paper
Geopolitics is the relationship between the geography among nation states, and the state is an a territory with a sovereign body exercising predominantly within its geographic borders, and occasionally outside of them. Geopolitics can explain volatile relationships between a powerful core state and the states located at the periphery. The people occupying a region identify with the turf as being their land and these individuals or groups will go through great lightens to protect and defend their territory. These global rivalries will often lead to war. The politics of the leaders of these regions can also shape and mold the geography of a territory, especially after a war. The shape, location and the position of the land determines the influence that a government occupying that turf will have. The things that happen within the borders of a state will also be directly related to the things that happen outside that dominion. This is a simple example of how domestic and foreign policy are inter-related. These are several ideas that can explain geopolitics. The following concepts that will be explained will determine if a nations policy will be heard, will they be influential, will they grow geopoliticaly, and will they be powerful? These ideas will positively explain geography molds and is molded by politics.
A part of what happens geopoliticaly can be explained by scale on three different levels: the individual, the state or the community, and the national or international system. On the microlevel an individual can be the critical factor in a geopolitical situation, such as Iraqs Saddamm Hussein during the 1991 Gulf War. On the microlevel an individuals act is in direct response to the larger system in which that individual operates. Whats important on the microlevel is the personality of the individual and the human nature of that person, because those factors can be the underlying reason why a conflict occurred.
The nature of the state or community is also a cause to political conflict. Is the state democratic, communist, or a capitalistic one? The nature of society or state can be a good indicator of the occurrence of a war, and these wars can lead to major geopolitical changes. On the macrolevel, the actions that are going on domestically and internationally is a significant part in understanding the concept of scale. On any of these levels there usually arises a conflict with turf, which in turn becomes contested territory. Different religious and/or ethnic groups begin to battle over their differences and proximitys towards each other because a power vacuum is present. One group trys to achieve supremacy over all other groups. Outside forces from other countries may intervene along with the UN to remedy the situation, but that can become a complicated task. What are the consequences of intervening in terms of cost and benefits? Intervention can temporarily end a situation, but who is to say that these groups wont reconvene in war? Since the proximitys of these groups was the initial cause of the rivalry, then perhaps a reasonable solution to the problem would be to separate the groups and grant them their own geopolitical space.
The creation of a state is a long and tedious process that can take several years and maybe decades. Ratzels seven laws is a clear description of how a state is created and how it grows. First and foremost the energy required to fuse together political ideas and expand spatially is developed only through a common culture. With culture there also needs to be similarities and common aspirations that would help prepare the basis for political advancement. If there is going to be any spatial or political growth, then there has to be a strong commonality that will unify and support their quest for expansion. Next regional districts must amalgamate to build a stronger relationship between the people and the land. Through the passage of time, the state, which is an organic entity, will grow a stronger relationship to the land because the state is never at rest. Once the state plants its foundation it will begin to grow outwardly along its periphery.The Heartland theory describes and views the world geopoliticaly and shows what region is most dominant. Makinder was the original Heartland theorist and he placed the geopolitical power in Central Asia at the turn of the century. He didnt believe that England, as a sea power nation would continue its dominance like it did during the 17th and 18th centuries. Therefore Makinder placed England at the inner crescent and all other regions that were beyond Eurasia were at the outer crescent. Houshoffer drew his map by identifying strong economic regions that he called pan-regions. The core states of each pan-region were Germany, Japan and the US, and they each had there own peripheral states. Spykman depicted a bi-polar world with an area known as the Rimland located between the 2 superpowers; USSR and the USA, and Cohen identified many overlapping regions with areas of instability that he labeled as shatterbelts.
Economic power is sometimes a good indicator of who will have geopolitical power in a region or even around the world. Kondratief has an interesting way of explaining this power in cycles. He has documented these political-economic cycles going back 200 yrs., occurring every 50 yrs. A sign that a new Kondratief cycle has started, is the rise of a nation state among many other nation states in a multi-polar environment. While this state competes geopoliticaly, it eventually achieves hegemonic maturity . Around 50 yrs. after the rise of this hegemonic state, it will begin to decline and the global conditions become multi-polar again which will lead to a new hegemon.
Transition is an important concept to understand because it allows us to determine who is the next hegemonic state. According to Modelski, for the past 500 yrs, the world has followed 100 yr patterns of power. The approach of the 21st century could mean the rise of a new hegemon, or maybe even nuclear was between the present hegemon and a rising peripheral state. An indication that a Modelski cycle is coming to an end, is the rise of a multi-polar world competing for hegemony.
The World System concept was generated by Wallerstein and he identifies a single world market, a multiple state system, and a 3-tier structure, that combines to explain the world system. This system creates an environment of inequality, through exploitation and separation of classes. The time pattern that these worlds systems follow are 300 yr. cycles, known as logistical waves. The first wave wave was the feudal era that began in 1050, and the second wave was agricultural capitalism that began in 1450. The mode of production was then changed to an industrial capitalistic one in 1750. The capitalistic system has been dominated by a multi-national world, and at the same time the world politics have become more complex. The peripheral states organize themselves in a position that will allow them to trade with the core state. Later, semi-peripheral states want to join in and trade also, making the system more complicated. This complication of the system creates an uneven development, that causes the exploitation of the peripheral areas while the semi-peripheral states undergo exploitation from the core. In the former Yugoslavia, since 1991, there has existed a problem with contested territory since the fall of USSR. Now, in a post-Communist era the regions of Slovenia and Croatia declared themselves as independent of the Republic of Yugoslavia. The former Yugoslavia shows how volatile ethnic groups, on a mesoscale, can react towards each other. The differences in identity and nationalism have created enormous conflicts among groups that have close proximitys. These successions lead to an outbreak of war between several different ethnic enclaves. The leaders of Serbia and Croatia want to divide and partition Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Croats claim that they fight as allies of the independent Bosnian government, but it is known that they fight under there own command. In 1993 there was war between the Croats and Muslims in Bosnia, and the Croats also went against the Serbs. The Serbian minority in Croatia and the Croats differ only in religion. The Serbs are Serbian-Orthodox and the Croats are Roman-Catholic. The process of mediation has been a failure, and the UN involvement has been unsuccessful. The only viable solution would be to partition Bosnia, which the Vance-Owen Plan and the Owen-Stoltenberg resolution plans to accomplish. But the partition plan is unfair to the Muslims, because they are only granted the same number of provinces(3) as the Croats and the Serbs, but the Muslims make up 44% of the pop. while the Croats are 16% and the Serbs are 32% of the pop. Many problems have gone unsolved, but the Serbs and Croats did create their own ministate based on the idea of ethnic homogeneity.
Israel is a state that was created by an entirely different process. At the beginning of the century there was a strong Zionist movement that called for the creation of a separate state for the Jews. With the constant growth of the Jewish people in and around Europe, combined with the rise of Hitler and increased anti-Semitism in Germany, Jewish immigration into Palestine began to increase. After the UN plan of 1947, the boundaries were drawn and the state of Israel was proclaimed with Arab resentment. Later large numbers of immigrants from Europe and Islamic communities arrived and settled. The Jews began to conquer their land , and they started to live on its soil, drew their sustence from it, and are otherwise attached to it by spiritual relationship.(Kasperson and Minghi, p.16) This Arab-Israeli conflict produced 6 wars with some of these resulting in the envelopment of geopolitical valuable positions acquired by Israel; Golan Heights, West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Gaza Strip. To this day the Israel occupies all these region with the exception of the Sinai Peninsula. Through these land acquisitions and constant border changes we see how this state has been a living organism and how it follows Ratzels laws. Todays current geopolitical world map looks similar to Cohens geostrategic regions and their political boundaries. Since the demise of the superpower USSR, the world is no longer bi-polar, and there are many regions of influence that overlap. His identification of shatterbelts are consistent with the lack of political unity and unstability in area like the Middle East, South Africa and South-East Asia.
Our world system is currently in the mode of industrial capitalism. The US has maintained the capitalistic system and has assumed the position of the core state. Here in the US there is a definite distinction between the upper, middle and lower class. Immigrants from the peripheral states, like Mexico and Central America are exploited while working for low wages in sub-standard environments. Many companies and individuals in this free market system will knowingly hire undocumented workers to make a profit, further exploiting members of the peripheral states. While this greed continues, the gap between the upper and lower class increases, isolating the ones who are less fortunate.
After WW2 the US had attained economic hegemomy. The US had become the commercial global giant. As the US had matured economically it started to exercise free trade more willingly with Europe and Asia. It had prospered as the richest, and most powerful military nation on earth. The US was at the center of technology and production. The automobile industry was strong along with the electronics industry. At this point the trade policy in the US had become more open, allowing weaker peripheral states like Taiwan, Mexico and Japan to compete. At this point the US had a wide open free trade market. As their trade policy became more open , the peripheral states began to make economic gains. Japan started to export many of their automobiles and electronic equipment into the US and other countries. Japan and other countries utilized cheaper labor cost and increased production efficiency to be more competitive with the US. Now Japan has emerged as the biggest competitor of the US and is a perfect example of the arrival of a new economic giant that has follfollowed Kondratiefs 50 yr. economic cycle.
As the end of an economic cycle approaches so does the end of a long cycle. As noted earlier these cycles run in 100 yr. intervals. It is apparent that we are in the fifth step of Modelskis long cycle, because of the rise of a multi-polar world. There has been a decline in the US economically and politically, and the military has be reduced due to current budget reductions under the Clinton administration. Countries such as China, North Korea and Japan threaten the current geopolitical position of the US. Since Japan has had the upperhand economically it appears that Japan is a country on the threshold of a geopolitical transition.