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Philosophy of Geopolitics

1. Introduction To Geopolitics

All competition naturally stems from competition for scarce natural resources. Defense, law, and order are the first duties of a state. Peace can only be secured by preparing for war. You can ignore politics, but politics won’t ignore you.

Soldiers win battles, logistics wins wars. Or perhaps even better: Soldiers win combat, logistics win battles, and rich old men win wars.

Nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.

Friends don’t let friend declare war on their friends against their will. – Theodore Roosevelt

Youtube Channels For Learning About Geopolitics:

  • History Matters
  • Strategy Stuff
  • Politics with Paint
  • Caspian Report Geopolitics Youtube Channel by Shirvan Neftchi; I mostly recommend his older videos, particularly the ones where he talks about the geopolitical situations and goals of each country. Most of his newer videos since ~2022 aren’t very informative or accurate since he’s shifted to talking about speculative things that may or may not come true.
  • William Spaniel; This channel has good content about the War between Russia and Ukraine, although the content between some of the videos can get repetitive, and he also subscribes to this weird, autistic habit of drawing lines on maps as a way of negotiating land between countries, but this should be disregarded because it has no predictive or explanatory power, nor do countries ever actually think that way.

NOTE: I haven’t finished writing this file yet. I will add more content to this file some more when I have more time.

2. The Role of Geography

Mountainous countries are much harder to invade and control. They also often have the advantage of containing water sources that flow downstream into neighboring countries, and they have the luxury of damming said streams for hydro-electric power and/or as leverage against downstream countries.

3. General Geopolitical Objectives For Foreign Affairs

Countries strive to protect their economic interests, especially those of the elites and powerful companies.

3.1. Appealing To The People Versus Countries Abroad

When major government officials say things, sometimes they are appealing to their people (the people of their country or jurisdiction), and other times they’re appealing to foreign countries. When the country’s people and the people abroad have conflicting interests, these official comments trigger an uproar from the dissenting side. In general though, governments and officials are generally going to appeal to their people if they have to make a choice, since they derive their political power from the support of their people. There thus aren’t many cases (if any?) where a government official would say things that appeal to foreign countries but not to their people. A more effective strategy is to say things (or multiple different things) that will appeal or resonate with different parties, hopefully everyone.

One example is how the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan publicly blamed the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan for the rise of the Taliban reconquering the country. President Ashraf Ghani understood that much of the blame was due to the incompetence and deserting ghost soldiers in the Republic of Afghanistan military. He also understood that publicly blaming the US withdrawal for the rise of the Taliban wasn’t going to score him any brownie points with the United States. But he had to blame someone for the collapse of his government, to appeal to his people and deflect the blame from himself and his own government’s failures. In this case where he made this statement, he chose to appeal to his people, rather than appealing to the US and foreign governments.

Another example is how French President Emmanuel Macron made some comments regarding China in an interview in April 2023. At the same time, there were also a lot of ongoing riots and protests in France, due to the government’s decision to raise the retirement age by 2 years. Macron’s comments on foreign policy accurately reflected his views, but they were also controversial. It’s speculative, but one motive for saying these comments could’ve been to create a smokescreen for distracting the public’s attention away from the increase in the retirement age. Even if that wasn’t an intentional motive, I’d still argue that it partially had that effect since most people generally have limited attention spans regarding anything political. If enough time passes and enough new events and other distractions arise, the public will generally forget and memory most previous issues. In this case, the foreign policy comments would’ve been an appeal to the French people and to like-minded European governments, at the cost of displeasing the US.

There are also examples of where government official say things to appeal to foreign countries. It’s natural and expected that Vladimir Putin would give multiple reasons for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He needs reasons that appeal to the international community (e.g. Ukraine joining NATO would threaten Russian sovereignty, there is majority support in the Donbas to be part of Russia instead, etc). And he also needs reasons and excuses that appeal to Russian citizens (e.g. Ukrainian Nazis, Russian and Ukrainian ethnic unity, etc). Not everything that Putin says to justify the invasion (or special military operation) is going to resonate with everyone. But the more justifications he gives, the more support he will get. That’s true regardless of how rational or irrational each of his justifications may be when they are each evaluated individually.

3.2. Foreign Aid And Favors

Foreign aid to other countries is generally a bad thing because it is altruistic and highly susceptible to corruption. However, it can still be strategic if it’s a political favor that wins foreign and geopolitical interests. Right-wingers tend to oppose foreign aid more than left-wingers, but they tend to be more supportive of foreign favors. This makes sense because doing favors for other countries tends to socially obligate them to owe you favors back. Foreign aid can be a form of bargaining and cooperation.

3.3. Border Walls

There are many countries with border walls against other countries around the world. The list in the external link doesn’t even include famous walls that used to have important purposes historically, such as the Great Wall of China or Hadrian’s Wall in England. From this data, it seems clear that it’s normal for countries and societies to build walls, especially if it protects their citizens from invaders, mass immigration, and other possible threats to the society’s interests. There are also news articles about it: The World Is Witnessing a Rapid Proliferation of Border Walls.

3.4. Protecting Trade Routes

Protecting trading routes is very important. Examples:

4. General Geopolitical Objectives For Internal Affairs

As a rule, foreign-born citizens should not have access to classified material, nor should they be allowed to hold political offices, especially when their parents are from unfriendly countries. As an example, a US Navy sailor who tried to sell classified documents to China was encouraged by his Chinese mother. There are definitely plenty of examples beyond just that one. I haven’t fully decided upon the ideal criteria for determining when the descendants of immigrants should obtain the same freedoms as all other citizens, but the criteria should be strict enough to prevent incidents like the one in the example.

Rules for Rulers - CGP Grey

4.1. Do Governments Represent The Collective Values And Interests Of The People?

Do the governments really represent the collective desires of the people? – Not really. The exception is when the governments have brainwashed the people into following their desires and supporting X or Y action. Aside from whatever the people may be brainwashed / manipulated by the governments, the average person only wants to do what they want and raise their families. The rich are still at the top, and the poor are still at the bottom. That said, it may be more productive for people to only identify themselves by what class we’re in, not by what country we’re in.

In a sense, countries are just sports teams. It’s just Russia’s government wanting the War in Ukraine, China’s government wanting to invade Taiwan, and they brainwash their people into supporting their wars. Corruption and the American Establishment versus the People. When the leaders of two countries fight a war, to them it’s not a war, it’s just a videogame.

  • The proxy wars backed by the Soviet Union were the turning point when wars no longer represented the people’s interests in the Soviet Union.
  • The Iraq War was the turning point when wars no longer represented the people’s interests in the West.

“When elephants fight against each other, it’s the grass that suffers.” – East African Proverb

Relevant: Existential Comics: The Rise of the Pawns

To a large extent, I do agree that governments’ decisions are less representative of the people as they used to be historically. But I also believe that even when governments do things that are widely not in the public’s interests (e.g. the US invading Iraq, or Russia invading Ukraine) that the actions tend to correspond to a vague, subconscious desire of the public will, which often relates to the country’s (perceived) national security. To an extent, the manifestations of geopolitical and foreign affairs are the formation of the intrinsic selfish, violent, and competitive nature of life at a higher level. Societies can only eliminate violence within a society by expelling it outwards, and many of the aggressive acts on the international stage are just manifestations of that.

4.2. Keeping The Military Industrial Complex Aligned With The People

See: Wikipedia: Military-Industrial Complex (MIC)

In 2003, the US government claimed that it has intelligence that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), as part of its rationale for the Iraq War. After the country was invaded and thoroughly inspected for 18 months, no WMDs were found. It’s conceivable that the government lied to the people in order to gain public support for starting the war and achieving ulterior motives (e.g. counter terrorism, securing Iraq’s oil reserves, geopolitical motives in the Middle East, etc). In particular, one of these motives might have been to increase the profits made in the US military-industrial complex. This one would be especially indicative of corruption within the US government.

It is true that Russia wanted to stop Ukraine from joining NATO and potentially putting nuclear weapons across Russia’s borders, but it’s difficult to explain the war through a purely geopolitical analysis since it’s so costly to begin with, and since Russia could’ve instead chosen to cooperate with NATO and the West, whether than further antagonizing them. Initially, we can recall that Russia was initially optimistic that Ukraine’s military would defect and opt to join Russia. This didn’t happen, but it’s difficult to fathom why Russia would’ve been so willing to take such a huge gamble when the worst case scenario (Ukraine’s military doesn’t defect) was so likely and costly.

It’s also unclear if Putin even supports the invasion himself. It seems that the Siloviki (basically the Russian Deep State) wanted the invasion to happen. Putin may not have had a say in it, but the reason why he asked the Siloviki for any objections on a national news broadcast right before he announced the invasion was so that he can’t be fully blamed for having started it, within the Russian oligarchy. Since no one objected, it’s implied that everybody in that room also supported the invasion. It seems that the invasion happened for a combination of geopolitical reasons and Deep State motives, but I can’t say much more since nobody has access to Putin’s inner circle.

Question: What can countries with strong military industrial complexes do to keep them aligned with the people’s values? The current MIC and deep state is motivated to lobby the government to start pointless military wars (military planned obsolescence), which benefit the MIC and deep state, at the expense of the people.

Perhaps it could be better if the military industrial complexes were managed by the government instead of private companies, so that they couldn’t be abused for making profit by personal CEOs. But if so, then there’d have to be some way to sure that they don’t go on reckless spending sprees, just as the other bureaus of the government do.

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5. General Geopolitical Strategies

5.3. Neutrality

Switzerland, Oman, Mongolia, and Ireland are among the most geopolitically neutral countries in the world.

Typically, neutrality is only a viable and/or practical geopolitical strategy when surrounded by much larger powers, when favorable geography permits non-alignment, and when it doesn’t benefit the entity to side with one power or the other. For these reasons, neutral countries are often buffer zones.

6. Buffer States and Buffer Zones

Wikipedia: Buffer Zones

Wikipedia: Buffer States

Small states that exist because competition from neighboring powers prevents them from getting conquered:

  • Switzerland (also due to its mountainous geography)
  • Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg (buffer zone between Germany, France, and Great Britain)
  • Uruguay (buffer zone between Argentina and Brazil)
  • The Appalachian Mountains (historical buffer zone between the British-American colonies and the Native Americans)
  • France wasn’t partitioned up between the powers of Europe after Napoleon was defeated, lest any country that took over France’s territory could be become too powerful against everybody else.
  • Afghanistan (historical buffer zone between the Russian Empire and the British Empire)
  • Alaska (buffer zone between the Russian Empire and the British Empire)
  • Finland (historical buffer zone between Russia and various Western powers)
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo (buffer zone between the British, French, Portuguese, and German Empires in Africa)
  • Thailand (buffer zone between the British and French colonial empires)
  • The Balkans (historical buffer zone between the Ottoman Empire and various European powers, including Austria-Hungary and Russia)
  • Mongolia (buffer zone between USSR / Russia and China)
  • The Eastern Bloc (historical buffer zone between the USSR and NATO)
  • Austria (between NATO and the Warsaw Pact); instead of partitioning Austria (as was done with Germany after WWII), both sides withdrew from Austria under the condition that it was forbidden from joining either military alliance.
  • The Korean Peninsula (historical buffer zone between China and Japan)
  • North Korea (buffer zone between China and Liberal South Korea)
  • North Vietnam (buffer zone between Communist China and Capitalist South Vietnam)
  • The Taiwan Strait, South China Sea, and the First and Second Island Chains between China, the US, and other Pacific countries.
  • Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet (buffer zones between China and India)

7. Power Vacuums

The main concern with destabilizing Russia is the power vacuum that it would create. The first time Russia experienced a power vacuum, the Communists seized power. And we all know how well that turned out for the entire world.

If Russia has a power vacuum that deposes Vladimir Putin, how can anyone be sure that someone else in the Siloviki won’t gain power instead? And how would that be any better? It’s more likely that someone from the Siloviki would take power, rather than someone aligned with the West.

The most dangerous countries to destabilize are the nuclear ones. If Russia breaks up, couldn’t that enable breakaway states to get their own nukes?

Power Vacuums That Went Wrong:

  • The Bolsheviks seizing power during the Russian Civil War, and later creating the Soviet Union.
  • The death of Vladimir Lenin, and the installment of Joseph Stalin.
  • The USSR’s conquering of Eastern Europe, and installment of Communist governments.
  • The overthrow of Muammar Qadafi, and the Anarchy in Libya.
  • The overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and the rise of ISIS in Iraq.

If there is a power vacuum, anyone could win, even people who might dislike. In most cases, they are not worth the trouble they cause.

8. Why The US And NATO Should Want Russia To Lose the War Against Ukraine

We don’t want Russia to destabilize because the next oligarchy that seizes power is unlikely to be aligned with the West. It would be nice if there was a way to install a pro-Western government, but it’s unfeasible. It is concerning if anybody takes over of Russia’s nukes, and we should also be concerned about how the ongoing instability in Pakistan could enable the Taliban and other radicals to gain nuclear weapons.

Aside from a pro-Western takeover, the next best thing is a weaker Russia. Russia is an ally of China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, etc. All those countries are adversaries of the United States and the West, especially China. Weakening Russia would dampen China’s geopolitical goals, as well as their odds at winning a war against Taiwan, the United States, and their allies.

There are several geopolitical reasons why the US government should want Russia to lose the Russo-Ukrainian War:

  • Russia is still an empire with an imperial mindset. It is the last European country to still maintain most of its colonial territory, and the Russian head of government (Vladimir Putin) is well-known for wanting to restore the USSR. It is therefore in the US’s interest to weaken the Russian state.
  • Russia is China’s greatest ally, and China is currently the main geopolitical opponent of the US. Arguably, the Cold War was tri-polar (between the US, the USSR, and China) instead of bipolar. Although the USSR collapsed, China never did, so in a sense, the Cold War never really ended because there’s still two global factions competing against each other: The US and its allies versus China and its allies.
  • Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, which was a clear violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
  • Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022 because they were afraid that Ukraine would join NATO, because they wanted more buffer space between them and Europe, because they saw Ukrainians as belonging to the same ethnic group, because Putin wanted a distraction to boost his popularity, etc, among other reasons.
  • If the world wants the Russo-Ukrainian War to end as fast as possible, then the fastest way to make that happen is if the Russians lose sooner rather than later.

I strongly disagree that Poland and the Baltic states joining NATO was the work of government elites in the US and NATO. Every country that ever joined NATO did so with the strong democratic approval of all its citizens and all the member states of NATO. Poland and other Eastern European countries joined NATO because they wanted to protect themselves from Russia, who has a long history of invading its neighbors. Gaining NATO membership guarantees that a country will never be attacked ever again, since it controls a strong nuclear arsenal and is the most powerful military alliance in the World.

I’m sure that there’s corrupt and ulterior motives why the elites in the US want to give aid to Ukraine, like how it would benefit the military industrial complex to supply Ukraine with more weapons and equipment, but I still believe that most of the reasons the US has for opposing Russia since the fall of the USSR are geopolitical in Nature, not so much for supporting the interests of the deep state.

As for why Russia didn’t join NATO, there are multiple reasons for that. One is that Russia is so large that if they did join NATO, they might have too much influence in it. Another is that the CSTO was created after the Soviet Union fell, and that probably made it harder to join Russia join NATO since it was already in a potentially opposing military alliance. An of course, there were already the known geopolitical factors for why Russia has historically been opposed to NATO.

There are also many reasons why the US should want to replace the Russian oligarchy with a Western-aligned government, if it’s possible:

  • A Western-aligned Russia would increase the geopolitical security and stability of all of Europe.
  • Since Russia is the successor of the Soviet Union, Russia holds one of the five veto votes on the UN Security Council and has the largest nuclear arsenal of any country in the world. If the Russian oligarchy were to be replaced by a Western-aligned government, that would make it easier for the US to lead a global government.
  • Russia is the only other country in the world besides the US that reserves the right to make a claim to Antarctica. If Russia re-ailigns, then it will be easier for the US to make a claim to Antarctica that is harder to oppose. The US has the strongest claims to Marie Byrd Land, which just happens to be the most colonizable region of Antarctica if climate change continues to warm Antarctica and make it more habitable by humans.
  • Russian airspace is among the most valuable airspace in the world since the country is so large and in a strategic location for airspace. Re-aligning Russia with the West would make it easier to route airlines through that airspace if it doesn’t violate Russian sovereignty.
  • Re-aligning Russia will be easier to access natural resources in Russian territory without strengthening the Russo-Chinese sphere of influence.
  • Re-aligning Russia with the West would be a huge blow to North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, other opponents of the US, and especially China.

9. Why Taiwan Is Worth Defending With Cold, Dead Hands

Taiwan obviously won’t be able to defend itself against the much larger People’s Liberation Army.

If Taiwan falls, not only does that country fall, but South Korea and Japan also become at risk of falling to Chinese hegemony because their trade routes flow through the Taiwan Strait between China and Taiwan. If China conquers Taiwan, they could block off Japan and South Korea’s national trading routes from the rest of the world, which would endanger their sovereignty and all the people living in those countries. With the combined population of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, that is ~200 million people of the free world who will be at risk of falling under authoritarian rule, if the United States does not intervene to defend Taiwan.

Additionally, if the United States does end up going to war with China over Taiwan, the US won’t have to fight alone. In the event of a war, India would definitely seize the opportunity to invade Tibet with full force at the same time to open another front in the War against China since:

  1. The countries have a contentious border dispute.
  2. They are strong enemies against each other.
  3. The best time to attack China is when they’re distracted with invading Taiwan.

Japan, South Korea, and maybe even the Philippines would also be strongly incentivized to defend Taiwan as well since it would be in their national security interests. And if China attacks the US, the United States could summon Article 5 of NATO. So not only defending Taiwan make sense in the name of freedom, but if China were to attack Taiwan, the odds would be strongly in favor of the US.

9.1. The Potential Consequences Of China Invading Taiwan

10. Some History Musings And Analysis Regarding The Soviet Union

The Soviet Union was essentially a Communist Empire that was a continuation of the earlier Russian Empire. That being said, it can and should be argued that the although the European colonial empires lost all of their colonies by the 1980s, with the exceptions of Macau and Hong Kong during the late 1990s, that the USSR was actually the last European-founded empire to lose most of its territory, since the USSR didn’t fall until 1991, and didn’t start losing most of its territories / puppet states until 1989-1991.

Although each member of the Soviet Union was called a Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR), each SSR was equivalent to a colony, albeit the colonies were not separated by oceans, and were all continuously connected by land mass.

When viewing the Soviet Union as a Communist Empire, and knowing that the Siloviki of the Russian elite still strongly adhere to an outdated geopolitical strategy from 1900 that focused on world domination by aiming to dominate as much of the Eurasian continent as much as possible, it becomes more clear that the Siloviki of the Russian Federation’s political elite are basically trying to apply a colonial geopolitical strategy to a modern world where nearly every country has advanced technology (and thus can’t be easily conquered without a fight, also depends on geography), where peace/influence/diplomacy are the usual norm in geopolitics, where many countries are allied with nuclear weapons, and where globalization makes colonization less feasible. The massive failure of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a clear indication that applying a colonial geopolitical strategy simply won’t work anywhere in the world anymore.

It should be noted that the Portuguese Empire held on to its overseas colonies considerably longer than other colonial powers did, and this was because the Portuguese Empire was ruled by a dictator who held an iron fist over the Empire, which didn’t cease until he died in 1974/1975. The Soviet Union was also ruled by an iron fist, and it didn’t fall until 1991, thus making it the last European-founded empire to fall in the 20th century.

With these factors being said, one can analyze that ruling an empire with an iron fist will absolutely help the empire last longer. This is the same reason why other countries ruled by dictators like China, North Korea, Cuba, Cambodia, Russia, Cameroon, etc have not fallen. Even though other regimes ruled by iron fists have collapsed, that doesn’t imply that every regime that is ruled by an iron fist must collapse, especially if said regime is very strategic and mindful about what it must do to maintain its reign and power.

Given the Sino-Soviet Split that happened in 1961, and also given that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) never fell after the Soviet Union fell in 1991, it can be argued to an extent that the Cold War never ended.

Yes, most of the Communist countries around the world did collapse after the Soviet Union fell in 1991, but Communist China never fell, so the Tri-Polar World Order that had existed ever since 1961 got reduced to a (dual) polar world order in 1991 between China and the United States, which still continues to this day (2022).

There is also the great possibility that China and the Russian Federation will ally together to form an alliance of their own, which would be a continuation of the old Cold War conflict, but this time lead by China with Russia following behind as the junior partner of the alliance.

10.1. The Effects of Communism on World History

Communism is arguably the best thing to have ever happened for the US, since it crippled China and Russia, the world’s biggest competitors to American global geopolitical dominance. However, this assumes that a non-Communist China and Russia would continue to be as equally antagonistic towards the US and the West as in the current timeline. The whole Russia-West rivalry would never exist. Russia would be just another European country and there would probably be rivalries between European countries. Instead, we’d basically have a heavily nationalistic world.

If it wasn’t for the rise of Communism, then Nazism may not have become so prevalent either. The Nazis saw the Communists as their foremost greatest enemies. Much of the Nazis’ success during the early 1930s was due to the public fear of Communism.

Last Modified: 2024 July 08, 11:38

Author: Zero Contradictions