GEOPOLITICS – NEW USE OF AN OLD SCIENCE (II)

Part II

Karl Haushofer and German Geopolitik
German Professor Karl Haushofer identified strong economic regions or spheres of influence, which he called pan-regions (Geopolitik der Panideen). Germany, Japan and the United States were core nations of each region. They in turn controlled peripheral states. Haushofer´s geopolitical theories centered around a synthesis of history, economics, politics and the physical sciences with application of a spatial and territorial perspective. In practical terms Haushofer, who has been accused of having had great influence on the foreign and military policies of Nazi Germany, recommended a powerful alliance of continental states, which would give Germany strength to challenge the sea-power of Great Britain. In reality later research has proven that Professor Haushofer had little access to the inner circles of the German Reich. German Geopolitik of the Haushofer school is to-day mostly of historical interest. His geopolitics was misused by the Nazi authorities in Germany to promote the idea of Lebensraum. There is a modern geopolitical debate in Germany reunification, which has nothing to do with Geopolitik of the 1930s and the 1940s.

Economic Power

Economic power is playing a growing role in geopolitical analysis. Such a great role that it might even be said that geoeconomics has replaced geopolitics as an instrument of analysis. Russian Professor Nikolai Kondratieff presented a system of “cyclical economic rythms” in the 1920s. He has documented cycles with an average length of 50 – 60 years going back around 200 years. A sign that a new Kondratieff cycle has started, is the rise of a nation state among many other nation states in a multi-polar environment. While this state competes geopolitically, it might achieve hegemonic maturity.

Cycles and Trends
Other cycle rythms are claimed by American Professor George Modelski (“The Long Cycle of Global Politics and the Nation State”). According to him for the past 500 years, the world has followed 100 year patterns of power with different “hegemonic states”: Portugal, the Netherlands, Great Britain, the United States and others. The approach of the 21st century could mean the rise of a new hegemon challenging the United States.

Professor Immanuel Wallerstein (The Capitalist Economy) of the Fernand Braudel Center (FBC) in New York has created the world-system theory. He identifies a single world market, a multiple state system, and a three-tier structure. The world-system creates, so Professor Wallerstein, an environment of inequality, through exploitation and separation of classes and is thus basically Marxist in nature and of little relevance in today’s geopolitical debate.

The world-systems, according to Wallerstein, follow a 300 year cycle rythm. In this world-system one core power ismuch more powerful than other core powers. It thus can obtain its way with minimal use of power. According to the FBC there has only been three hegemonic powers in the modern world-system: the United Provinces (Netherlands), Great Britain and the United States.

Conclusion and Prognosis

It is obvious from the different analytic tools of prognosticism concerning future global development that a new system is emerging. The United States will remain hegemon for decades to come. It may be the final hegemon. Much depends on how America comes out of the global financial crisis that started in 2008.

At the same time imperialist China (PRC) will try to expand. Probably first northward – into the Russian Far East and southward (India, Burma, Indochina ?) and eastward against Australasia. If the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) remains in power well into the 21st century and stops democratization it may align China with aggressive Muslim regimes (notably Iran). Thus might a core of a new “counter-allance” comprising anti-Western nations be created. This would in effect be a return to the bi-polar world of the 1944 – 1991 era. On the other side a democratic alliance led by the United States emerge..

It is important that the Russian Federation is integrated into the new democratic alliance. For the time being Russia seemms to be on the road to becoming an autocratic state. Should Russia join the democracies the new alliance could be identified as the Eurasian Transcontinental Bloc (ETB), a group of land and
sea-powers, but this need not be the final term chosen. The European Union(including Eastern Europe), the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Japan might in the future establish this Eurasian partnership in co-operation with seapowers United States and Japan. This would be a combination of economic and military strength that could not be challenged in the 21st century and onward. The development after 2000 has however made a cooperation between ETB and the United States and Japan unlikely. Instead there are signs of a growing co-operation between Russia and China.

Ongoing struggles on the border between the bloc taking shape and the counter-allian has been seen in Bosnia, in the Greek-Turkish conflict, in attacks against US installations in Saudi Arabia and in the Middle East conflict involving Israel and opponents.

A growing Chinese market which might make it the world´s largest by 2020 will provide China and the CCP with a blue-water navy and the ability to provide aggressive Muslim regimes in the Third World with modern weapons including long-range missiles. The powerful Chinese navy will be able to operate against the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand and other nations.

The focus of tomorrows conflict will probably be in the China Sea and in the Pacific but also in the Indian Ocean. Sneak attacks on America, European and Japanese interests will grow in number. For deterring attacks they will depend on the ability of their intelligence services, aided by growing technical sophistication, to infiltrate, to predict.

It is important for the United States to strengthen Thailand, prevent growing Chinese influence in Burma and help foster a free economy and prosperity in Indochina. Russia could be aided in developing a Far Eastern infrastructure to prevent Chinese subversion if the circumstances are right. Japan should take on a greater responsibility for this development as China has replaced Russia as Japan´s main enemy. This has of course to be preceeded by a solution of the Kurile Islands conflict.

It is possible that no new hegemonic power challenging the United States will emerge in the 21st century. The United States might well be the last superpower and single hegemon as well as the only superpower. Claims that the rise of India and China is creating a multipolar order in the world are premature. The 1990s did not, as envisioned, produce a “new world order”. The influence of the United Nations, which was never great anyway, is waning. Strong forces in the United States demand a reduced influence of the UN.

United States hegemony will in a forseeable future guarantee freedom and democracy worldwide. The challenger will be a China ruled by the CCP with global reach possibly allied to a number of aggressive Muslim regimes. It is for the G 8 to prepare for the Chinese and extremist Muslim threat of the 21st century. The recent policy of Russia, however, makes a Russian co-operation in the new system after 2000 unlikely at (at least for now, in 2009).

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