11 March 2021

Solving geopolitical issues

Solving geopolitical issues


Topic by Sara: Can we solve geopolitical issues?


Essay by Lawrence


For our purpose we can bring together both geopolitical issues and international relationships since there are overlaps and common causes in our topic. Of course, it would be reasonable to suppose that geopolitical issues are based on geographical factors and international relations of political relationships. But we might also take the view that geopolitics is all about conflict and international relationships are about peaceful relationships.


For example, I would argue that geopolitical issues would include: the Indo-Pakistan dispute, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Burma and China conflict and so on. International relations would include alliance forming for example the military alliance between the USA and Europe (NATO), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the European Union. Maybe the word politics in geopolitics should give us a hint on the nature of our topic.


Although geography seems to be a sufficient condition in a geopolitical issue, it is the political factor that would create an issue or a dispute. Indeed some geopolitical issues might seem to be a geographical issue, but in reality it is a local political issue made bad by international relations. The Palestine-Israel disaster is one such geopolitical failure. The issue comes down to who promised whom and what was promised as a consequence of helping defeat Turkey during the First World War and the Balfour declarations. The Palestinians believed they were promised their land back and the Jews believed they would be given the land for helping out. The bottom line is that two peoples who lived together were abandoned by the then world powers leaving them antagonised against each other. The problems that the League of Nations created were exacerbated by the United Nations.


What today we might label geopolitical conflicts are, under the surface, a failure of international political conflicts. In the second half of the 20th century most conflicts were proxy conflicts amongst the USA, Soviet Union, and China. Most important of which are the Palestine-Israel conflict, North and South Korea, Vietnam War (Civil war), the various civil wars in South America and Africa.


In most of these cases geography had nothing to do with the conflict, but more to do with ethnic and religious disagreements amongst peoples exploited by world powers. We can safely argue that in Africa many geopolitical problems stem from reckless division of lands by colonisers who did not account for tribal lands. Many political problems in Africa and the Middle East would be solved by simply redraw countries by tribal boundaries: but I doubt this will happen!


Two factors that cause geopolitical problems are the interference by powers that are not necessarily from the region or from issues based on local disputes that might encroach on the influence of world powers. What is clear is that world powers exploit local ethnic differences. But reality is not that simple: the Vietnam war was directly influenced by the geopolitics between the Soviet Union and China. China has a land border with Vietnam, but the same communist conflict at the time in Malaysia it did not involve an all out war with Britain, unlike the French and then the US. Malaysia also happens to be far away from both China and Russia; maybe that helps.


The concern of our topic is solving geopolitical issues and not just identifying the causes of geopolitical issues. The best way to solve geopolitical issues must be to avoid them. And if it doesn’t work, in my opinion, the next best thing to avoid issues is to form alliances with neighbours and maybe even powerful countries. Political alliances are quite effective although in some cases it is not a matter of choice but default. Anyway, political alliances also imply military alliances and consequently they involve trade deals.


Alliances do not necessary solve geopolitical issues but might rather prevent issues from escalating. Economic and cultural relationships might be better to strengthen ties for example the European Union. The EU was a necessity born out of the ashes from the Second World War, but today the EU is more of an economic alliance not so much to prevent conflict but to fight economic domination.


Money and personal wealth have always been intertwined with geopolitical issues, but this is nothing new. A by product of financial movements for trade within a region is corruption. Trade between China and Taiwan still takes place even though this is not publicised at all. China and Taiwan are also a good example of geopolitical conflict based on politics but equally dependent on each other for entrepreneurial activities. Cross boarder investments and business links are still necessary although today international trade is much easier than ever before.


After all is said and done, geopolitical issues always exclude the general population of a country. Some people of course do benefit from geopolitical issues and others lose out, but the general population is at the whim of what might best be described as 19th century international relations. And by international relations we mean relations amongst governments, states, and diplomacy. The evidence of this 19th century attitude to deal with geopolitics is the brexit experiment. Brexit is basically an abuse of human rights for the sake of interests of two super powers (USA and Russia) who want to dilute the influence of the EU 27 countries working together. But of course, despite being a bad political experiment to damage the EU, the EU was not bothered with the loss of the rights of 65million people directly and 400million people indirectly, although a good proportion of EU citizens live in the UK. In practice human rights are not an issue for geopolitics.


Best Lawrence




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