Geopolitics remains important


Geopolitics is the consideration of geography as a determining factor in foreign politics and often involves the use of military force to control certain strategic locations. In a globalized world where millions of people are simultaneously staring at TikTok or Instagram videos in English on their phones, it seems as if something like geopolitics has become irrelevant. In many countries of the West, with its value-driven foreign policy and the focus on upliftment and equality, geopolitics is regarded as an evil relic of the past.

Great Britain was par excellence a country for whom geopolitics was decisive. If one looks at the map of British possessions in the colonial era, they were spread over the entire globe, but were mainly concerned with the control of important sea routes, the lifeblood of Britain’s maritime and trading power. The exploitation of resources, primary driving force behind earlier Spanish colonialism, or the spread of religion, language and culture, as with French and Portuguese, was rather secondary.

The control over the sea route to India, Britain’s most valuable colony, via the Cape route and later through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, explains the focus of British geopolitics on the South and East coast of Africa, and on countries such as Egypt, Yemen, Cyprus and Malta, all of which are located near the routes. Even the failed conquest of the wild and economically worthless Afghanistan is explained by geopolitics, namely to secure the borders of India. For the USA as a great power of the 20th century, control over the Panama Canal was extremely important and therefore Panama and especially the Panama Canal Zone de facto became an American colony.

This brings us back to current geopolitics. Currently, the shipping route through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea is under threat again since the Houthi rebels in Yemen, in support of the Islamic Hamas in Gaza, attack ships with drones. This forces the US to send warships to the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, the narrowest passage between Africa and Arabia. Many cargo ships are now again taking the route via the Cape of Good Hope, which is much longer but safer.

Geopolitics repeats itself in another guise: to ensure international trade, colonies are no longer established in strategic places, but friendly or at least neutral governments are supported in key countries along such trade routes. In Egypt, the quasi-dictatorship of gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was accepted by the West and attempted to fight the Houthi rebels through a regional alliance with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. However, this has so far been unsuccessful.

China also conducts geopolitics; in fact, China’s foreign policy is free of any goals other than the strategic interests of this country. Access to raw materials is even more important than the protection of trade routes. The well-known Belts and Roads Initiative is the friendly version of Chinese geopolitics especially for countries of the developing world, while in its own backyard, the South China Sea, China has occupied numerous strategic islands with disputed ownership to extend its reach in the sea area. raise and make it his own maritime backyard. In that part of the world, the Strait of Malaka is the geostrategic eye of the needle and is also threatened by modern-day pirates from time to time.

To summarize, even in the era where permanent access to the Internet is considered the key to power and wealth and many futurists talk excitedly about AI, means of power from the past, such as a fleet and geographical insight, remain important.