Geopolitics: how the world works

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Louise Hay

Geopolitics: how the world works

Last update: 17 September, 2019

Bars have several functions, the most important being to make the world a better place. Coffee and beer are just pretexts to discuss problems of global significance. The most important political negotiations take place in bars, and over a drink they always look better. However, if our intent is to refine our strategy to make proposals more relevant to reality, we just have to get closer to geopolitics.

Geopolitics is a discipline that studies the effects of geography, human and physical, on politics and international relations. It is a method of studying politics "from the outside" to understand, explain and predict the political behavior of nations starting from geographical variables. If you want to be the brightest in this kind of debates or at least those who have the clearest ideas, you just have to read the following paragraphs.

According to geopolitics, there are four unwritten rules. These simple rules condition the political activities of the different nations, in fact every political activity should try to take these rules into account. The first is that all countries want to achieve and maintain a certain level of power. The second is that for any country the most important thing is to safeguard territorial unity, which is why they all defend their borders (third rule). The last rule is that all countries need to establish relationships with other "reliable" nations that last over time.

Geopolitics is a discipline that studies the effects of geography on politics and international relations.

Goals of geopolitics

Achieving and maintaining a certain degree of power

The main goal of any country is to survive, and the basic rule to do so is to maintain an adequate level of power. Having power means influencing other countries, induce them to do anything even if they have no intention of doing it, even at the cost of jeopardizing their own stability. While military power is the most obvious, it is not the only force that nations can leverage. There are also "soft powers", such as culture, education, agreements, innovation, etc. To influence other countries, it is also possible to use these powers.

Getting power doesn't mean being the most powerful country, therefore it is enough to be more powerful than the countries with which it competes, reaching an adequate level of power. In this regard, it is possible to intervene on internal politics or increase the economic and military strength of the country, but it is also possible to forge or eliminate alliances with other states.

Strategies to increase one's power

Among the most used strategies to increase one's power we find:

  • Counterweight: this strategy consists in distributing power among the various countries to create a balance. In the case of the Middle East, attempts are made to make Saudi Arabia's power equal to that of Iran. If there is a balance, neither of them can take control of the region and it is easier to negotiate with them.
  • Blackmail: When you have more power than another country or have resources available that other countries lack, you can blackmail them. For example, by threatening them to go to war or to establish more favorable trade relations with other countries.
  • Bleed: if a country is in a difficult situation or is at war and nothing is done to help it, it is like letting it bleed and lose power. In this case the other countries would be strengthened.
  • Pass the witness: that is, letting someone else take care of the problems. If a neighboring country is in trouble, one can always wait for another state to intervene.
  • Fight: going to war with other countries can increase your power in case of victory. Above all the power over the country against which it is fought. However, this strategy is frowned upon and involves large investments of money and resources.

Maintain power

In the wake of the first fundamental rule of geopolitics, there are others that help us to respect it. For example, all countries try to safeguard their territorial unity. No state would like to face internal conflicts that would only end up damaging its image in the eyes of others and weakening the power it has achieved. A clear example of this situation is provided by Spain with the question of Catalonia, the separatist movements are a real threat to the survival of the countries.

To survive, states are forced to protect their borders, which they can pose a threat when the neighboring country is an enemy. For example, the borders between Spain and Morocco, located in the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, have been the subject of numerous discussions. Spain's goal is to keep relations with Morocco stable. Acting in the opposite direction could prove to be a threat to the country, as Morocco could stop guarding its borders and let thousands of people pass.

Ultimately, once the phase of the increase in power has also been completed, a further rule is to ensure foreign relations. Maintaining trade relations is necessary for the survival of all countries. Importing the goods that your state is lacking and exporting the products that are abundant are necessary to revive the economy. Good trade relations can certainly increase the prestige and power of a state.

On the basis of the four rules described, it is possible to interpret the behavior of various countries and their international relations. If in making our considerations we will also take into account geography, the graphic representations of the earth and the various borders, then we will talk about geopolitics.

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