Posts Tagged ‘geopolitics’


China, India and the Geopolitics of Water

April 25, 2013

Supplies of freshwater – for drinking, for irrigation, and for hydropower – are as pressing a need for growing China as are supplies of oil, gas and minerals.  For most of the latter three, China can simply compete on the worldwide market for its needs and avoid any direct conflicts with other powers (although concerns about future supplies have them behaving aggressively in the South China and East China Seas).

Water, however, is another matter.  China contains the headwaters of many rivers on which neighboring nations are also dependent.  Unlike most nations, however, China rejects the notion of water-sharing treaties.  I have written several times in the past about China and the Geopolitics of Water, but their behavior has grown aggressive even by their own historical tendencies.  This has raised hackles in India, the nation most effected by Chinese water policies, leading a geostrategic thinker to pen a column in the Times of India calling China’s most recent actions “a covert water war.”    China and India have fought small wars in the past, and it is not inconceivable that a much larger clash between the Dragon and the Elephant could arise over water rights.


Energy, geopolitics and strategy

August 14, 2012

I will be traveling for the next two days, so no blogging until Thursday.  In the meantime, here are a number of links I have collected recently but haven’t fully blogged about:

Australian Strategic Policy Institute on Indian Naval Strategy

A new waterless shale extraction method

The Republican blunder on Law of the Sea Treaty




New book released on contemporary Geoeconomics

June 19, 2012

There is  a school of thought that economic matters are so fundamental in the era of globalization that geoeconomics has surpassed geopolitics in importance.  Personally, I take geoeconomics to be a subset of geopolitics, but that is just a matter of personal pedagogic organization.  Geoeconomics is a crucial area of study whether you think it is a subset of something else or a fundamental, stand alone subject.

Swedish economist Klaus Solberg Søilen’s new book Geoeconomics is now available for free download at   I have not read it yet, but I am familiar with other of Soilen’s publications and though I do not fully agree with him, I will read this new effort and recommend it to readers of this blog (especially at this price!).  Publisher’s description:

With the shift from geopolitics to geoeconomics the focus is no longer the Heartland or the Rimland, or any coherent geographical region, but the set of all geographical locations containing economically-important natural resources, what we shall call the Nareland (Natural Resource Lands). This new logic of dispersed geographical locations marks the shift from geopolitics to geoeconomics.

The centre stage has been taken over by the private-sector organization, the corporation. This means that power has been transferred from the public to the private sphere. It means that the nation state is ceding its power to individuals – less in some countries and more in others, for instance less in Sweden than in the USA; but the trend is clear, and it is global.


Sri Lanka, China pledge military cooperation

June 8, 2012

The commander of the Sri Lankan army and China’s Minister of Defense Liang Guanglie on Thursday pledged to boost military cooperation.

China’s ‘String of Pearls’ strategy edges ever forward.  Although some insist that this policy is not dangerous, a Chinese military presence in Sri Lanka would be highly provocative.

Sri Lanka/China in 2012 is to India as Cuba/USSR was to the US in 1960.


Terror as geostrategic lever

January 24, 2012

Geopolitically, Pakistan is hemmed in between Iran to its west and India to its east.  In India, it has what it believes to be a mortal enemy with which it has been at various levels of war since independence; in Iran, it has a rival for leadership in the Islamic world.   Pakistani leaders would like their nation to be the center of a pan-Islamic quasi-Caliphate to balance the growing power of India.  To that end, it’s Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence has built what some call “an empire of terror” throughout the nations of Central Asia.  ISI has a in every pie, with the dual goals of thwarting other Islamic nations for leadership (Iran and, increasingly, Turkey) plus building a deterrent for India.  Window on the Heartland has recently posted an overview of Pakistan’s use of terror as a geostrategic lever:

Pakistan has always desired to expand its influence in Afghanistan and beyond. Central Asia is seen as an area of natural expansion for the country. Islamabad’s objectives in the region are determined by its geopolitical imperative: to turn itself into the leader of an Islamic bloc stretching from the Black Sea to China able to counter India’s influence and become an autonomous actor on the international scene. In this context, the destabilizing efforts carried out by the ISI through support to terrorist groups in Central Asia since the early 90s have been aimed at creating the right conditions so that the Pakistani leadership could gradually take over from of other major powers such as Russia, China and the United States.

Read the whole thing.

The ISI has built what is in essence a model for a low-tech, asymmetric analog to the integrated defense network centered on complex weapons systems that the US is building.


Containing China even as she peaks

November 17, 2011

It is my belief that, while it continues to be a major economic force and will challenge US supremacy in the coming decades, China’s long term potential is at or near its peak.  Like a supertanker that takes a long time to turn, this peak may not be evident for awhile, and policy makers will continue to make moves as if China is still, inevitably, rising.  Still, the signs that China has peaked are around.   Yesterday, there was a report that a major Chinese economist had made a secret speech claiming that many of China’s financial numbers are fabricated and that, in fact, the nation is close to bankruptcy.  Today, it is Amitai Etzioni at National Interest, with an essay on the Overblown Fears About China’s Rise.

Of course, this does not mean that China is suddenly rendered impotent.  Indeed, as they recognize their peak, they may become more dangerous, knowing that their moment is slipping away.  For that reason, the US will still attend to its coalitioning moves, strengthening ties with allies surrounding China. Earlier this week, we noted the moves to share the advanced F-35 aircraft withIndia and Japan.  Yesterday, it was announced that the US would establish a naval presence in Northern Australia.   These moves are not just aimed at China, but also at the various nations of the Southern Asian periphery that have concerns about China.  A US presence in the region serves to bring many of them into our orbit, as analysts in India have already noted:

The US move to create a naval base in northern Australia close to the South China Sea can actually mean more dollars in the Indian kitty, and put more strategic and business opportunities in New Delhi’s way, sources said. The first piece of evidence has come by way of Australia’s decision to sell uranium to India.

The US move will provide a sense of protection to East Asian countries including Japan, who have serious conflicts with China but buy vast amounts of Chinese goods. The new found protection will encourage East Asia to reduce its dependence on China for goods and enhance economic ties with India, sources said.

“Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia will feel more secure. India and Indonesia can get together to control the Malacca Straits, which is the route though which 90% of Chinese goods to East Asia passes,” Subramanian Swamy, Janata Party president and a widely regarded China expert, told TNN.

I have not agreed with everything they have done (especially the failure to maximize the strategic domestic energy resources), but this is a very strong move by the Obama Administration.


Turkey seeks to preempt potential Israeli gas bonanza

October 27, 2011

Last year, the USGS assessed the potential energy bounty of billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, primarily around Israel.    Since its inception, Israel has had the misfortune of being one of the very few Middle Eastern nations without massive energy reserves.  This discovery would change the character of Israel both economically and strategically.  Not only would there be enough oil and gas to power the nation, but the potential to export resources to energy hungry Europe would not only bring in foreign revenues, but also fundamentally change a number of dependency relationships.

However, Israeli-Turkish relations have been on the decline (since before this discovery, but more rapidly since then).  Now, Turkey has taken things a step further, announcing that Turkey would block any Israeli access to European markets via the pipeline network that transits Turkey:

Turkey will not permit the transit of natural gas produced in Israel, linking the rejection to the present state of relations between the two nations.  Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Turkey has turned down requests private firms to allow the transit of natural gas produced in Israel through Turkey to Europe.

Turkish-Israeli relations have been tense since the attack on a Gaza-bound flotilla on May 30, 2010 that killed nine Turkish nationals.  In very blunt terms, Yildiz stated: “Had not nine of our nationals been murdered, there could be major developments in the energy distribution in the Mediterranean Sea. [Then] we would not have rejected the demand by private firms,” he said on Friday.

The Minister’s comments also reflect adverserial positions on the contested drilling by Cyprus in the Levant Basin of Mediterranean Sea.

The flotilla deaths are a cover, IMO, for a hard nosed geopolitical calculation.  Turkey seeks to dominate the Eastern Mediterranean militarily and economically.  It needs to weaken Israel in both realms, and as an aside, probably has its own designs on the energy resources.