Archive for the ‘GEOPOLITICS’ Category


June 18, 2017

Washington Times on June 13, 2017, published a commentary by retired U.S. Navy admiral James A. Lyons on the emerging Middle East doctrine of the Trump administration. Excerpts below:

President Trump’s historic visit last month to Saudi Arabia, where he met with the heads of more than 50 mostly Sunni heads of state, dramatically marked the end of eight years of Barack Obama’s appeasement of Iran. It signaled to all the Muslim leaders that the United States as the “strong horse” is back. There was no doubt in any of the Muslim leaders’ minds that Mr. Trump is a man of action and a leader who will keep his word.

Mr. Trump’s goal of establishing a coalition of nations that share the objective of defeating terrorist groups and providing for a stable and hopeful future made it clear that the assembled nations cannot be indifferent to the presence of evil.

Mr. Trump also made it clear that this coalition of nations must adopt a policy of “sovereign responsibility,” which means that they cannot wait for American power to defeat the enemy for them. They must be directly involved, with our assistance.

[On U.S. and vital Western interests]:

Eliminating ISIS as a functioning entity.

Preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon capability.

Preventing Iranian hegemony throughout the Middle East.

Preventing Iranian hegemony throughout the Middle East.

Removing the Iranian theocracy from power.

Re-establishing and strengthening …relations with…traditional allies.

Ensuring the survival of Israel.

[Establishing a sovereign Kurdistan].

Maintaining freedom of navigation throughout the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, including strategic choke points, e.g., the Suez Canal, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Strait of Hormuz.

The establishment of a Global Terrorism Center for Combating Extremism in Riyadh was a manifestation of the shared objective of defeating terrorist groups and isolating Iran, but its effectiveness will depend on results. The same can be said for the establishment of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States-United Arab Emirates Center to Counter the Online Spread of Hate.

…mosques and imams that preach hate and urge all Muslims to conduct violent jihad should be closed and the imams removed.

Concrete steps must be taken to stop funds from going to radical mosques and front groups that promote terrorism. Targeting funds being sent to various terrorists groups, e.g., ISIS and al Qaeda, must receive immediate priority. The source of these funds, be it from individuals or states like Qatar, must be identified and interdicted.
Qatar has been a particular problem because of its support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its cozy relationship with Iran.

An underlying element of the Trump doctrine that cannot be overstated is recognition that 65 percent of the population of the Middle East is under the age of 30, and that those youths must be provided with opportunities for a satisfying life as an attractive option to the lure of terrorist groups. While this is a worthy objective, Muslims don’t commit to jihad because they don’t have jobs. They commit to jihad because they are devout Muslims, many with university degrees.

Nevertheless, the indispensable principle for achieving the objectives of the Riyadh summit is the isolation of Iran, the prime mover of instability throughout the region. As a start, sanctions on the mullahs’ ballistic missile programs must be imposed. Further, until the unsigned nuclear weapons deal with Iran is formally canceled, real inspections by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency must be conducted on all the sites in their nuclear weapon infrastructure.

James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

Comment: Admiral Lyon’s commentary clearly shows that the foreign policy of the Trump Administration is clear and consistent. Defeating the Islamic State and isolating the Iranian regime is of vital strategic interest to the West. A new policy against Iran would be an important step to ensure the survival of Israel. The importance of the strategic choke points in the Middle East cannot be emphasized enough. The British territory of Diego Garcia (Indian Ocean) is an example of how important offshore islands are. Location and political reliability is everything to ensure the safety of the chokepoints. The United States, as always, with its NATO partners is facing a growing challenge in some of the world’s most dangerous areas. This challenge is now met in a decisive way.

Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory) offers politically unconstrained access near the Middle East and contributes greatly to safeguarding the chokepoints.



June 9, 2017

Washington Times on June 6, 2017, published a review of an important new book by Professor Eliot A. Cohen on the necessity of military force in strategic policy. ”The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force” (Basic Books, 2017) should be required reading for policy makers. Excerpts from Dan Negrea’s review below:

Professor Eliot A. Cohen, a Johns Hopkins University historian who served as an adviser in both the Defense and State Departments,…argues forcefully that strong American leadership is indispensable for peace and prosperity in the world, and relying on soft power alone to provide it is unrealistic.

Facts are stubborn, the reality of world conflicts is not pretty, and…leaders better be prepared to deal competently and unsentimentally with the tough decisions they must make.

The author’s overview of America’s adversaries starts with increasingly aggressive China, whose rapid economic and military rise he views as the most important international phenomenon of the 21st century. Still, China has many obstacles on the road to becoming a superpower and a weak strategic position because of its border disputes with every single one of its neighbors.

As for confronting al Qaeda, ISIL and other terrorist organizations, Mr. Cohen asks for clarity of purpose: We need to state plainly that their ideology is rooted in Islam and that we are engaged in a generational war to eradicate them. But he also believes that their barbarism limits their appeal and will eventually halt their momentum.

A chapter titled “Dangerous States” Cohen treats…adversaries [like Russia] and Iran They are…authoritarian, willing to use force, and economically fragile. And their nuclear weapons or nuclear aspirations are central to their national defense…[They] have a “paranoid style” in politics, with their media filled with presumed plots by enemies both foreign and domestic.

…America’s military spending dwarfs that of its opponents. Since it represents today just 3 percent of our GDP (compared to 8 percent in the Reagan years), America’s strategic solvency is high. Its many alliances are a critical asset that give it “an extraordinary global logistical infrastructure.” And considering its powerful economy, positive demographics and robust political system, the odds are that America will prevail: “No other country, or collection of countries, has a better hand to play in international politics.”

…this is a book about difficult decisions imposed by unforgiving facts. Diplomacy has an important place in the tool kit of statecraft, even when it requires political compromises with “odious regimes.” So does soft power, which, Mr. Cohen argues, is not always gentle: Sanctions, for example, can deprive a country’s poor of food and medicine.

But when all else fails, our leaders must make politically difficult decisions involving hard power. Like increasing military spending to at least 4 percent. Or like stationing troops for many years in areas of potential conflict, which worked well in the past: Leaving American troops for decades in Germany and South Korea helped those two war-torn nations find their way to democracy and prosperity. In the interest of global stability, today’s American politicians must find the courage to station American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Poland and the Baltic states.

The ultimate hard power decisions, though, deal with going to war and even doing so preemptively. The most sobering passages of the book regard pre-emptive strikes, especially necessary if weapons of mass destruction fall into “utterly irresponsible hands.”

This is a lucid book about war by a man who loves peace…But he also knows that appeasing evil is not an option. Tragically, the world continues to add to what Churchill called the “dark and lamentable catalog of human crime.”

“The Big Stick” is a valuable resource for those trying to keep America’s flame of liberty burning bright in this stormy world.

Dan Negrea is a New York private equity investor.


April 18, 2017

Harsh Vasani, an Indian geopolitician, on January 19, 2017, in The Diplomat warned of the rising power of China in Outer Space. Below are excerpts from his article:

In the highly “informatized” and technologically advanced battles that characterize the 21st century, outer space will play a dominant role. Space assets direct military operations and help in making crucial battleground decisions. In this regard, attempts to weaponize space and command this sphere are to be expected from great powers. The United States and USSR started weaponizing space in the in the 1950s and 1960s respectively, and China is now following suit.

The weaponization of space includes placing weapons in outer space or on heavenly bodies as well as creating weapons that will transit outer space or simply travel from Earth to attack or destroy targets in space. Examples include the placing of orbital or suborbital satellites with the intention of attacking enemy satellites, using ground-based direct ascent missiles to attack space assets, jamming signals sent from enemy satellites, using lasers to incapacitate enemy satellites, plasma attacks, orbital ballistic missiles, and satellite attacks on Earth targets. These can be further classified into direct-energy and kinetic-energy weapons.

The weaponization of space is different from the militarization of space, which includes using space-based assets for C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance). The militarization of space assists armies on the conventional battlefield, whereas via the weaponization of space, outer space itself emerges as the battleground, sometimes referred to as the “fourth frontier of war.”

China has been making impressive headway in its ICBM program and in theory, these ICBMs can target U.S. Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) satellites.

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping… acknowledged that the space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger. “With the development of space programs, Chinese people will take bigger strides to explore further into space,” he said.

…the Chinese strategic community sees space as the ultimate high ground, the key to military success on the terrestrial battlefield.
Washington believes that underlying the various civilian aspects of China’s space program is an active military component. A 2015 report prepared by the U.S. Department of Defense suggests that China has invested in advanced space capabilities, with particular emphasis on “satellite communication (SATCOM), intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), satellite navigation (SATNAV), and meteorology, as well as manned, unmanned, and interplanetary space exploration.”

A report prepared for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recognizes that in a time of war it must deny enemies the use of strategic information about troop and ship movements, incoming missiles, navigation, communication, etc, along with depriving its opponents the use of C4ISR systems.

There is considerable merit in Washington’s claims about the dual-use nature of China’s space program. For instance, Colonel Li Daguang, writing in his book Space War published by National Defense University in 2001, recommends that the Chinese should combine military and civilian technology and integrate peacetime and wartime facilities. His rationale was that space equipment is costly to develop and maintain, hence it is important to have civil-use technology that can also have military applications.

A brief survey of recent tests by Beijing confirms that China is rapidly improving its counter space program and making advances in its anti-satellite systems. China’s first ASAT test was conducted in May 2005 and its capabilities have come a long way since.

A 2013 test by Beijing involved its new missile, the DN-2 or Dong Neng-2, and the test was conducted in “nearly geosynchronous orbit,” where most of the United States’ ISR satellites are located.

…The Washington Free Beacon quotes unnamed defense officials as saying that the DN-3 is “primarily a direct-ascent missile designed to ram into satellites and destroy them, even if intelligence assessments hold that the weapon has some missile defense capabilities.”

Beijing’s recent space activities indicate that it is developing co-orbital anti-satellite systems to target U.S. space assets. Co-orbital anti-satellite systems consist of a satellite “armed with a weapon such as an explosive charge, fragmentation device, kinetic energy weapon, laser, radio frequency weapon, jammer, or robotic arm.” Besides the “hard-kill” methods, Beijing is also testing soft-kill methods to incapacitate enemy satellites. For instance, China has been acquiring a number of foreign and indigenous ground-based satellite jammers since the mid-2000s. These jammers are designed to disrupt an adversary’s communications with a satellite by overpowering the signals being sent to or from it.

The Chinese believe that the greatest threat to them comes from the United States. To counter the United States’ conventional strength and gain strategic parity, Chinese strategists believe, Beijing will need to strike at the U.S. Achilles heel — Washington’s over-reliance on satellites for C4ISR. Beijing plans to exploit the vulnerable space infrastructure of the United States in the case of a war.
According to a recent RAND report, space and counterspace operations would be important elements in any armed confrontation between the United States and China.

The PLA’s interest in the use of space for military purposes gained momentum after the 1991 Gulf War, which has been referred to as the “first space war,” and has only increased since.

The DN-2 2013 test jolted Washington and made the United States realize that crucial national security satellites, parked in geostationary earth orbit, are well within the reach of Beijing. As a response, Pentagon announced the launch of a “Space War Center” to counter threats from China and Russia in space, part of a $5 billion boost in space security spending for the Department of Defense. However, over a year and a half later, precious little has come of the Center.

Harsh Vasani is a Postgraduate Research Scholar at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal University.

Comment: The Chinese development of its warfare capability in space is growing threat to American national security. It is yet another area in which Democratic administrations after 1991 have neglected the rising threat of China. Beijing is not interested in ”strategic partnership”. The communis regime views America as an adversary. The first step for China is to displace U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific region. It is modernizing its military forces especially in the nuclear field.

China does not want open war with the United States. It relies on Sun Tzu, the ancient Chines strategist who wrote: ”Supreme excellence in war consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”.

China is with Russia and Iran/Persia one of the three powers in the Rimland of Asia that are presently challenging the West. It is important that the United States reviews its nuclear posture and extends its control of outer space as one step to counter the three empires on the World Island.


April 2, 2017

”We should have such an Empire for Liberty as [the world] has never surveyed since the Creation…” wrote Thomas Jefferson to James Madison on April 27, 1809. After the defeat of Soviet communism in 1991 the United States has been an unchallenged hegemon in the world. Now it is challenged by three empires on the World Island: China, Russia and Iran/Persia. As America is promoting liberty it must not sacrifice the liberties it has at home. To continue to function as the strong defender of the West America must also heed the warnings of Jefferson. It must not be entangled in a profusion of treaties and institutions that will serve only to hinder it from defending its moral and national security interests. That is why the Iran deal of Obama was wrong and could only strengthen Iran to continue its attacks on the United States (and Israel).

The purchase of Alaska in 1867 (celebrated in 2017) marked the end of Russian efforts to increase its imperial and colonial expansion to the East. For America it was the beginning of its rise in the Asia-Pacific. In 1725 Peter I sent the Dane Vitus Bering to explore the area around the strait that would later be named the Bering Strait. America had expanded over the continent to the west during the first half of the 19th century. It then had to compete with Russian traders. Fortunately the Russian empire lacked the financial resources to establish a heavy military presence in what was called Russian America.

Russia therefore in 1859 wanted to sell Alaska to the United States in 1859 but the American Civil War delayed the sale. It was not until after the war that Secretary of State William Seward agreed on March 30, 1867, to purchase Alaska for $7.2 million. The Senate approved the treaty of purchase and President Andrew Johnson signed the treaty on May 28.

It was however not until October 18, 1867 that United States formally took posession of the new territory in a ceremony in Sitka, Alaska. In 1884 a civil government was constituted. It was not until 1896 that a major gold deposit was discovered in the Yukon and made Alaska into a gateway to the goldfields.

The strategic importance of Alaska was discovered during World War II and the Cold War. In 1959 the territory joined the United States as a state.

This contribution will be followed by a sketch of the influence of admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan and his classical geopolitical works on the policy of the United States after 1890 to secure the Empire For Liberty of Jefferson.


February 15, 2017

Rudolf Kjellén (1864 – 1922), a Swedish geographer published his works in Swedish, which made him less accessible to those who were not familiar with the Swedish language. This denied large parts of academia the acquaintance with and examination of his work. Some of his books were translated into German, but there has so far been little interest in him in the Anglo-Saxon world.

One of his classical geopolitical works, The Great Powers (Stormakterna), appeared in a first edition 1905 in Sweden. It had over 20 editions in Germany.

Latin America

Today he is probably best known in South America, where classical geopolitics has remained strong (see Phillip Kelly, Checkerboards & Shatterbelts – The Geopolitics of South America, Austin: University of Texas Press 1997).
In 1902 Kjellén had been appointed professor of political science and statistics at the University of Gothenburg.


Kjellén was interested in Japan and its rise in the Far East. In his view Japan and China, once free of Western control, would be great powers of the future. Their rise would come as the European powers declined. He was also critical of colonialism and racism.

In 1909 he traveled to Japan and China, a journey that would have significant influence on his geopolitical research. On this trip around the world he travelled first by train through Siberia and arrived in Beijing in April 1909. After 12 days in the Chinese capital he concluded in his diary that the days of European power were coming to an end. The powers, in his view, acted with hubris and arrogance.

On steamer he continued to Japan and made his base in Yokohama. There he was invited to stay in the home of the Swedish diplomat Gustaf Oskar Wallenberg (1863 – 1937).

For more on Kjellén and Japan see Bert Edström’s “Rudolf Kjellén och Japan”, journal Orientaliska studier, No. 89, 1996, pp. 12 – 35 and Storsvensken i Yttersta Östern – G.O. Wallenberg som svenskt sändebud i Japan, 1906 – 1918, Working Paper 52, August 1999, Center for Pacific Asia Studies, University of Stockholm.

In June he sailed on the “Empress of India” across the Pacific Ocean to Vancouver. From there he crossed Canada on the Canadian Pacific Railway to board the Atlantic liner for Europe and Sweden. On July 13 he was back in Gothenburg after a four month tour.

In the autumn of 1916 Kjellén wrote the introduction to a work that would give him international fame, ”The State as a Life-Form”. The book was a bestseller in its Japanese edition.

Great Britain and Russia

After the Great War he saw Great Britain and Russia grow into “planetarian” powers or superpowers in today’s terminology. The United States is today a hegemon far more powerful than the United Kingdom. Already in 1919, he predicted a development towards superpower influence in the world. These views were based on the future strength of geographically and demographically large countries. In fact his predictions were proven correct. During the Cold War, for instance, the United States and the Soviet Union were the geographically large and dominating superpowers. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 China and India, for example, have risen to become great powers, both having large populations.

Kjellen and the Genocidal Vladimir I Lenin

The Swedish geopolitician published a number of articles with sharp criticism of Lenin and communist ideology. The article on Lenin ended with the words: “Only history will in the future show if Vladimir I. Lenin was a scourge or God or the devil.”

On Marx he remarked that he was a curious bastard of Hegel (form) and Rousseau (content). Half a million Bolsheviks ruled the 100 million of Russia. This half million was controlled by a couple of hundred tyrants in the Kremlin. If one of the usual labels is to be attached to that kind of state, it would be that of aristocracy in the degenerate form known as oligarchy.

Finally Kjellén focused on the question of the “historical side” of a state and movements that can occur. The “historical side” of Russia has for instance been the movement from the Baltic Sea-the Barents Sea to the Black Sea-the Mediterranean and then (1878) to the Far East and after 1905 mainly southward. An important aspect of this is also the movement of capital cities: Moscow to St. Petersburg and back to Moscow and in Turkey from Istanbul to Ankara.

Geopolitics, both as Kjellén viewed it and in its main Western stream, (Mackinder, Mahan, Spykman et al) is a science between history, geography and political science but it can also be regarded as an aid to all three.

Kjellén correctly predicted the collapse of the Habsburg Empire, the gradual decline of France as a great power and the decay of the British Empire.

These predictions were based on the view that the European great powers were influenced by hubris of superiority, which would lead to resistance and liberation in the colonial world. The father of geopolitics also believed Islam would be a rising threat in global politics due to the weakening of European great powers.

He also correctly predicted the coming of World War I already in 1899. In that he was not of course alone. Kjellén based the forecast on the growing antagonism of on one side of Great Britain and France. On the other side was Germany and Austria.


It is possible that Kjellen would today have viewed Russia, China and Iran (Persia) as the foremost challengers to the United States, Great Britain and Japan. The Swedish geopolitician could in the 21st century be a valuable tool for grand strategists, geopoliticians and geostrategists. We live


October 12, 2016

Washington Times on October 6, 2016, published an opinion piece by Wesley Pruden on the dangerous world the Obama administration is leaving behind. Mr. Pruden reflected on Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. Excerpts below:

…everyone agreed that Mr. Obama certainly didn’t deserve the prize, cheapened as it had become by politics. Nearly eight years later the president has become something of a maker of war, not peace, which is the usual lot of any man or woman elected, like it or not, leader of the world.

The world is a far more dangerous place now. Radical Islamic terrorism, which the president still dares not call by its name, has become the new normal everywhere, gruesome death of innocents in the name of a prophet dead for centuries. The world hasn’t measured so many deaths in battle since the end of the Vietnam War, and refugees from war and terrorism have washed over Europe in numbers to remake the map, and threaten now to overwhelm the culture in America.

Mr. Obama…has pulled more than 100,000 soldiers out of Iraq, enabling the success of ISIS in taking vast territory for its so-called Islamic State, and now he has to begin the painful and embarrassing task of sending some of them back…

He rewarded Fidel Castro and the old men of the Cuban revolution, eager for the comforts of capitalism as they lie dying, but he is unable to do anything but draw imaginary red lines in the sand, like a child with his coloring book, to prevent the destruction of the Syrians.
But the president’s peacemaking legacy will be the sweetheart deal he made with the mullahs in Iran, preserving their dream of an Islamic bomb, which the mullahs promise to use to make a second Holocaust of Israel.

Hillary Clinton goes along with the president’s cynical assurance that against emerging evidence he has halted the development of the Iranian bomb.

Mr. Kaine, trying to reassure with his Howdy-Doody smile and happy talk, said three times that the Iranian nuclear-weapons program had been “stopped” or “capped.” He divided the “credit” between Mr. Obama and his negotiating skill and Hillary’s performance as secretary of State.

Whether manufacturing peace or disarming Islamic terror, Barack Obama and his protege have demonstrated incompetence all but unique in the history of the American presidency. And Hillary Clinton wants America to reward the incompetence with four more years.

Wesley Pruden is editor-in-chief emeritus of The Times.

Comment: The Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama has certainly left the Western world during his four years in power in a dangerous position. The traditional challengers of the West, Russia, China and Iran, have become increasingly powerful as the Obama administration has abandoned the wise and traditional policy of securing the rimland to avoid one or more powers to rise in Eurasia. It was Nicholas J. Spykman, the founder of the Institute of International Studies at Yale in 1935 who formulated the Rimland Doctrine. He argued that geography was everything and the United States as hegemon had to be involved in the rimland from Scandinavia to Japan. The reason was that the rimland was key to world power. The United States has followed Spykman’s advise since the Second World War but since 2009 America has been withdrawing from the rimland opening up the West to international terrorism and the three anti-Western empires Russia, China and Iran. It is up to the next U.S. president to steer America back to the Rimland Doctrine and increase American presence in the Middle East and the Far East.


September 8, 2016

Washington Times on September 7, 2016, published a commentary by Charles Hurt on the dangers of the Obama Doctrine. Excerpts below:

Everybody remembers the Monroe Doctrine, jealously defending the U.S. sphere of influence in North and South America from European meddling.

Normally, presidential foreign policy doctrines do not end in a question mark.

Ronald Reagan had a few that worked pretty well. “Peace through strength” and “Trust but verify” seemed to do a pretty good job of keep the world on its toes and our enemies at bay.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have not officially announced what their foreign policy doctrines would be, but isn’t it pretty well clear by now?

Riding as she does her husband’s coattails everywhere she goes, Hillary Clinton ends at least one of her doctrines with a question mark: “Cash or credit?” Her other doctrines would be more declarative. “Pay here.” That one includes a red arrow pointing to Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.

The other one: “Insert cash or credit into slot.” What is really cutting edge about that last one is that it comes with ATM machines to be installed in 7-Elevens around the world, particularly in third world countries led by savage dictators and brutal theocracies where women are second-class citizens and little girls are tortured. The only difference is that these machines do not dispense cash. They only collect payments. Donald Trump has not declared his foreign policy doctrine yet either…

But for at least four more months, we must settle for “Surrender without peace.”

That is assuming Mr. Obama does not declare this November’s election null and void after Mr. Trump wins in a massive orange landslide…

Anyway, “Surrender without peace” is not pretty, but it is what [the US has].

It is what paved the way for a future nuclear Iran and rewarded them handsomely with pallets of cash for kidnapping Americans. That was the largest terrorist bailout program in world history.

“Surrender without peace” is what gets children gassed in Syria after declaring a “red line” against chemical weapons use.

“Surrender without peace” is what promotes human trafficking and child rape on death trains headed for the U.S. Southern border after you invited tens of thousands of illegals illegally into the country. Illegally.

“Surrender without peace” is what attracts Iranian boats to taunt U.S. warships and Russian jets to buzz American planes.

“Surrender without peace” is what invites the president of the Philippines to publicly declare that Mr. Obama is a “son of a whore.” And it is what emboldens the Chinese to publicly humiliate him by refusing to allow him to deplane Air Force One except though the little aft hole at the back of the plane.


May 16, 2016

Revised Abstract of an article published in 1999 by Swedish author Bertil Haggman.

An attempt is made in this essay to explain the importance of a new link around the Baltic Sea (the development since 1999 is now preventing this link to be constructed due to the present politics of Russia) being constructed to the core of Europe with a possible net of the Superspeed Maglev System Transrapid with a speed of 300 miles/hr.
The geopolitics of Baltic Sea communication is to a great extent based on the peripheral position of Europe’s northeastem countries. A Transrapid net around the Baltic Sea Helsinki – Stockholm – Hässleholm – Copenhagen – Hamburg – Berlin – Warsaw – Riga – Tallinn would link these countries to the core of Europe. An important ingredient in the link is bridges and tunnels.

The Oresund Fixed Link with its future tunnel (Helsingborg – Elsinore) and bridge will be the first fixed link between Denmark and the Scandinavian Peninsula in history. The bridge was fully completed in the summer of 2000. A railway tunnel between Elsinore (Denmark) and Helsingborg (Sweden) is needed in the beginning of the 21st century as an additional link. Other submarine tunnel projects of geopolitical importance are the Belt.

lmportant new possibilities exist for extending tunnel construction. The Symonds Group (a London construction and planning company) was in 1999 working on prefab submarine tunnels. These could be used across the St. George Channel between Dublin and Holyhead (about 90 km). The tunnel technique has been used for the Oresund Fixed Link and the Danish tunnel section of the link was completed in March 1999. Sweden, Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania would receive a structural boost with substantial consequences with the Northern Transrapid Net and its submarine and bridge links.

The German company Siemens has extensive experience in the Maglev field and there have been plans for that type of high speed railway between Hamburg and Berlin as well as in Bavaria.

It is crucial the Swedish Green Party does not manage to push through an out of date type of high speed railway at very high cost in Sweden. Maglev is the railway of the future and it is important that Sweden has a competitive infrastructure that benefits free enterprise.

KEYWORDS geopolitics, combined transport, transport in the Baltic Sea area

The complete 1999 article is available on the web.

Traffic Planning Scientific Paper U.D.C. 656.61(261.24) in the scientific journal Promet, Traffic & Transportation, Croatia-Italy.
Accepted: Mar. 2, 1999
Approved: Apr. 19, 1999 GEOPOLITICS OF BALTIC SEA


April 26, 2016

Washington Times on April 25, 2016, published a commentary by two Asia experts, James A. Lyons and Richard D. Fisher Jr on theI necessity to deter Chinese military aggression with superior strength. The foreign policy of the Obama administration encourages aggression. Excerpts below:

Recent reports that the Obama White House sought to muzzle criticism of China by PACOM Commander Adm. Harry Harris — which he has denied — at least contributes to a longstanding impression that the White House has preferred to pull its punches as China seeks to impose increasing control of the strategic South China Sea.

China has deployed to Woody Island in the Paracel Island Group its 150-kilometer-range HQ-9 anti-aircraft missiles and then its 400-kilometer-range YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missiles. This now sets a pattern for Chinese missile deployment to its new large bases in the Spratly Island Group: Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef, which is only 216 kilometers away from Palawan Island of the Philippines, a U.S. defense treaty ally. China could also be building a new base on Scarborough Shoal, only 265 kilometers away from Subic Bay in the Philippines.

In demonstrations executed by PACOM, on March 23, the nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine USS Ohio made its first visit to Subic Bay, a former and future base for U.S. naval forces. Then in the first week of April as part of the annual U.S.-Philippine “Balikatan” military exercises, the United States for the first time deployed its precision-guided High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

This is the correct way to begin to respond to China’s increasing missile threat. The Ohio class submarines can carry up to 154 1,300-kilometer-range Tomahawk cruise missiles, and the U.S. Navy has four of these submarines. The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System demonstrated the firing of 70-kilometer-range artillery rockets and can fire the 300-kilometer-range Army Tactical Missile System.

…Washington needs to deploy a “wall of missiles” that can utterly destroy China’s new air-naval and missile bases if it uses them against U.S. friends and allies.

…deployment of hundreds of Army tactical missiles to the Philippines [is needed] to allow for instant retaliation if China uses its new island military bases. Pentagon could convert older U.S. Air Force bombers like the B-52 or B-1 to carry scores of small but smart and long-range missiles, making them “arsenal aircraft.” But the U.S. Navy also requires “arsenal ships” and “arsenal submarines” to complete a “wall of missiles.”

When used in concert, the arsenal aircraft, arsenal ship and arsenal submarine could be used to overwhelm China’s new small island bases in the South China Sea, quickly mobilize multiple thousands of missiles to deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, or deter China from attacking Japan’s islands in the East China Sea.
These U.S. missile platforms are needed to counter China’s other missiles, the ones usually called North Korean intercontinental range ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Washington’s goal should be to rapidly build these arsenal platforms and equip them with new intermediate- and medium-range ballistic missiles, which complement defensive missiles. Such a “wall of missiles” can deter China well into the next decade, which is far preferable to allowing China to start skirmishes that will lead to wars and destroy the peace that is the foundation of Asian and American prosperity.

James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Richard D. Fisher Jr. is a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

Comment: The geopolitical danger of China is obvious.The country is the largest continental nation in Eurasia and presently occupies the globe’s most advantageous position. As Sir Halford Mackinder pointed out already in 1919 China then had the potential to build for a quarter of humanity a new civilization, neither quite Eastern nor quite Western.Already in the 1950s China has called for the return of so called “lost territories”. Chinese maps also include eastern Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.

Chinese civilization has a superficial Western modernity but also a heritage of hydraulic civilization similar to civilizations in the Near East. In the 21st century China is still an oriental despotism that believes Nepal, Burma, Indochina, Taiwan, Korea, the island of Sakhalin, Outer Mongolia, Amuria, and Ussuria should be returned to the Fatherland. The belief that Chinese expansion can be contained by including the country in global trade organizations is a false hope. At present the annual GDP growth is slowing down but this development may only hasten the aggressive policies especially in the South China Sea. Peking may feel it needs to use its growing military strength before a serious slowdown of the economy. An American “wall of missiles” is therefore a prudent contribution to the defense of the democracies of East Asia.

Before Mackinder the Swedish Professor Rudolf Kjellén, the father of geopolitics, warned that Japan’s soul in the Chinese body would mean a world empire that would put both the United States and Russia in the shadow.


February 22, 2016

Washington Times on February 21, 2016, published a review of a new important book on one of the first empires of a small European nation – Portugal (Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire by Roger Crowley, Random House, $30, 368 pages). Excerpts from the review below:

Most of us think of the Age of Discovery as a westward movement: Columbus seeking a new route to the Indies by crossing the Atlantic and — quite by accident — discovering the Americas. That discovery of offshore islands in the Caribbean was quickly followed by the subjugation of vast Native American empires like the Aztecs and the Incas on the mainland, accomplished by tiny bands of incredibly tough, confident and ruthless conquistadors.

But the pioneering Spanish conquest of the Americas was only half of the story — in some ways, the less remarkable half. Both began on the Iberian peninsula where the indigenous Christian populations of Castile, Aragon and other future components of a united Spanish monarchy, and the tough, impoverished little kingdom of Portugal, perched on the tip of the peninsula, drove out the Muslim Moorish invaders who had overrun their lands starting in the 8th century.

If the crusader spirit — coupled with the thirst for gold — drew the Spaniards westward to the Americas, the same twin motives drove the Portuguese eastward. Beginning in 1415 with the conquest of the rich Moroccan port of Cueta, as popular historian Roger Crowley explains in his splendid new account, “the Portuguese pushed faster and farther across the world than any people in history … [working] their way down the west coast of Africa, round the cape, and … [reaching] India in 1498; they touched Brazil in 1500, China in 1514, and Japan in 1543.”

This was an incredible feat; in the 15th century, “Portugal’s whole population was hardly more than that of the one Chinese city of Nanjing.” Yet this tiny, impoverished kingdom of fisherman and rural peasantry, led by a feudal warrior class, created a colonial empire based on a string of strategic coastal enclaves — fortified trading posts — that imposed Portuguese commercial dominance by land while Portuguese naval superiority controlled the maritime trade routes that brought the riches of Asia and Africa — spices, silks, slaves, gold and ivory — to a resurgent Europe.

In Affonso de Albuquerque,Portugal found such a man. Already middle-aged when he began his great eastward venture, Albuquerque had “fought the Ottoman Turks in Italy, the Arabs in North Africa, and the Castilians in Portugal … he had imbibed the honor code of the fidalgos [the Portuguese knightly, class], with its rooted hatred of Islam and its unbending ethic of retribution and punitive revenge … fiercely loyal to the crown, incorruptibly honest, and utterly sure of his abilities: to sail ships, command fleets and armies, build fortresses, and rule empires.”

Albuquerque’s legacy was a Portuguese Empire that predated British, Dutch and French colonial projects in Africa and Asia and, while quickly outpaced once such major powers entered the competition, still outlasted the British Raj in India and Africa.

In hindsight it is clear that, from the very beginning, Portugal’s reach had far exceeded its grasp. The reviewer is Aram Bakshian Jr., an aide to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan.

Comment by Bertil Haggman: Later other small nations created empires. The Netherlands created its own. Sweden built an empire around the Baltic Sea. For more on empires in world history see Imperien und Reiche in der Weltgeschichte – Epocheübergreifende und globalhistorische Vergleiche – Teil 1: Imperien des altertums, Mittelalterliche und früneuzeitliche Imperien (Hrsg. Michael Geber und Robert Rollinger), Harrasowitz, Wiesbaden, 2014.

On the Dutch empire see Ulbe Bosma, Amsterdam, “Dutch Colonial Empire” and on the Swedish empire see Professor Jens E. Olesen, “Das schwedische Reich – ein frühneuzeitliches Ostimperium?” of the University of Greifswald in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. Pomerania is a former Swedish territory in Germany.