The Asian Pivot meets the Indo-Pacific Turn

July 15, 2013

James Rogers writing at European Geostrategy gives a preview and a short summary of his piece “European (British and French) Geostrategy in the Indo-Pacific.”   The full text of the article is published in the Journal of the Indian Ocean Region and is available from journal publisher Taylor & Francis for paid download.   The important part of the summary is Rogers’  identification of key strategic moves by the British and French navies to increase their presence in the Indian and Western Pacific oceans, and to strengthen their relations with key nations (such as Japan) in that region.

Nine of the world’s ten largest navies now have significant presences in the Indo-West Pac operational area, with Italy the only navy in the top ten not heavily involved there; here is the list of the world’s largest navies in descending order:

  1. United States
  2. Russia
  3. People’s Republic of China
  4. Japan
  5. Britain
  6. France
  7. India
  8. South Korea
  9. Italy
  10. Taiwan

Of those nine nations, seven of them are loosely affiliated, though not formally allied, in what is increasingly clear is a nascent maritime containment of China.  This is precisely the sort of  self-organized coalitioning predicted by Long Cycle Theory.  This would also be predicted by some readings of classical geography as an eternal contest between nations oriented to the maritime world (Thalassocracies) and those oriented to continentalism (Tellurocracies) – this is the view of Russian geopolitical analyst Aleksander Dugin and, arguably, by Halford Mackinder (one of the founders of the discipline).

In addition to his own piece, Rogers links to four others that taken together form a preliminary set of strategic readings on the European interest and presence in the Indo-Pacific (all four are downloadable at no cost; I will review them and perhaps post about them in the coming weeks).  He also concludes his essay with a call for more aggressive and detailed thinking about European geostrategy amongst a new generation of thinkers:

So this raises a question: are we now witnessing the rise of a new group (or generation) of British and French scholar-strategists, who are advocating a renewed European emphasis on the Indo-Pacific region? Perhaps – although there is still some way to go until they match the knowledge base in North America, or the Indo-Pacific region itself. What is needed now is for European analysts to remember once again that the world is bigger than their homeland – as well as its adjacent neighbourhoods, particularly to the South – and for them to understand that their security and prosperity is directly related to their influence, even their command, over distant but crucial areas, not least in the Indo-Pacific.


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