Sir Halford John Mackinder, one of Britain’s most prominent theorists in the field of geopolitics, discusses the significance of land connectivity between nations in his 1904 essay called The Geographical Pivot of History. Besides introducing his notable Heartland Theory, Mackinder argued that advancements in transportation technology, such as the development of railways, have altered the balance of power in international politics by enabling a powerful state or group of states to expand its influence along transport routes. The establishment of blocs, like the EU or BRICS, for instance, aims to enhance communication between member states. This objective has positive implications for the economy and helps reduce the risk of tensions among them.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been widely described as the beginning of a new cold war, much like the old one in both its cast of characters and ideological nature. “In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake — freedom will prevail,” President Biden asserted in a televised address to the nation the day Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine. But while Russia and the West disagree on many issues of principle, this is not a replay of the Cold War. It’s an all-too-geopolitical twenty-first-century struggle for advantage on a highly contested global chessboard. If comparisons are in order, think of this moment as more akin to the situation Europe confronted prior to World War I than in the aftermath of World War II.
The Trump administration mandated “five Chinese state-run media organizations to register their personnel and property with the US government”: Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International and the parent companies of the China Daily and People’s Daily newspapers (Politico, 2/18/20). The administration also “limited to 100 the number of Chinese citizens who may work in the United States” for those organizations (New York Times, 3/2/20). The privately owned Hong Kong newspaper Sing Tao was forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act because it “is viewed as a pro-Beijing outlet” (South China Morning Post, 8/26/21). US state media organ Radio Free Asia (8/27/21) trumpeted the “foreign agent” designation for Sing Tao, quoting one Hong Kong journalist saying that it is “a fairly open secret that it is an underground CCP [Chinese Communist Party] organization.”
Imagine, the so-called world leader invites you to a foreign country to help mediate between different factions, you accept, and when you arrive at the airport, he kills you. Then he smiles and boasts in utter satisfaction that he has given the order to kill – kill by remote control, by drone. Much worse than extra-judiciary murder, because there was never any accusation launched against you – except for lies.
There’s nothing like a wake-up howl from nature to freeze the sound and fury convulsing the geopolitical chessboard – and drown dreams of regime change, accusations of “aggressive behavior”, and petty power plays. The latest comprehensive report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), associated with various UN agencies (UNEP, UNDP, Unesco, FAO), is a stark reminder of where global priorities should concentrate. Sir Robert Watson, the IPBES chair, was able to summarize the report in two dire sentences: “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever.
The most fluid arena in the modern world-system, which is in structural crisis, is arguably the geopolitical arena. No country comes even near to dominating this arena. The last hegemonic power, the United States, has long acted like a helpless giant. It is able to destroy but not to control the situation. It still proclaims rules that others are expected to follow, but it can be and is ignored. There is now a long list of countries that act as they deem fit despite pressures from other countries to perform in specified ways. A look around the globe will readily confirm the inability of the United States to get its way. The two countries other than the United States that have the strongest military power are Russia and China. Once, they had to move carefully to avoid the reprimand of the United States.
For the past century, the owners of the fruit companies called our country “Banana Republic” and characterized our politicians as “cheaper than a mule” (as in the infamous Rolston letter). Honduras, a dignified nation, has had the misfortune of having a ruling class lacking in ethical principles that kowtows to U.S. transnational corporations, condemning our country to backwardness and extreme poverty. We have been subject to horrible dictatorships that have enjoyed U.S. support, under the premise that an outlaw is good for us if he serves transnational interests well. We have reached the point that today we are treated as less than a colony to which the U.S. government does not even deign to appoint an ambassador.
By Johan Galtung for TRANSCEND Media Service - We can sense that all four, direct world elections and referenda, world dialogue of civilizations (not only West-Islam), world police and welfare world are waiting back stage to be enacted, and to act. But on stage are states and super-states; singing their swan songs? Let us try to dig more deeply into this. We have about 200 domestic state polities–193 are UN members–can anyone be a model? Or, do we have to think anew for the whole world population to feel at home, domus, for anything to become world domestic politics? The best candidates as possible models would have only LAs (local authorities) between the state and individual humans. There may be something else for administrative reasons, but the local level would count more. Norway was once such a country (“Formannskapsloven“, 1837), but the present conservative government, supported by the equally or more conservative, Labor Party, is busily building “regions”, like in France and Spain and other countries. The reason is rather obvious: regions can be steered from above by the state, LAs from below by the people. The justification is economistic, in terms of big scale advantages.
By Robert Fisk for The Independent - Nigel Farage is not a Nazi and nor is Donald Trump. But what is terrifying – and deeply akin to fascism – is our ability to ‘think’ our way from truth into lies. We do not live in a “post-truth” world, neither in the Middle East nor in the West – nor in Russia, for that matter. We live in a world of lies. And we always have lived in a world of lies. Just take a look at the wreckage of the Middle East with its history of people’s popular republics and its hateful dictators. They feast on dishonesty, although they all – bar the late Muammar al-Gaddafi – demand regular elections to make-believe their way back to power. Now, I suppose, it is we who have regular elections based on lies. So maybe Trump and the Arab autocrats will get on rather well.
By Staff of Barrow Press - The U.S. has recently shown its official stance on Kashmir again, by avoiding any appearance of taking sides on the conflict and restating that it is up to India and Pakistan to resolve the issue. It’s been stated by other countries as well. But that’s hogwash. The interest of other countries in the Kashmir dispute is warranted and highly recommended. The Kashmir dispute is not simply to be left to India and Pakistan, and the interest of other countries does not represent unnecessary interference in the internal affairs of India
By Stephen Kinzer for The Boston Globe - WHETHER OR NOT the world is in an unusually bad state these days, it certainly seems so. Even Americans, famous for our lack of interest in world affairs, now closely follow news from far away. Much of it is frightening. Terror attacks are claiming innocent lives around the world. Syria is being torn apart. China and Russia boldly pursue their national interests and defy American dictates. Turkish democracy is evaporating. Iran and Saudi Arabia are at each other’s throats.
By Staff of Wikileaks - Today, 23 February 2016 at 00:00 GMT [updated 12:20 GMT], WikiLeaks publishes highly classified documents showing that the US National Security Agency bugged a private climate change strategy meeting; between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin; singled out the Chief of Staff of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for long term interception targetting his Swiss phone; singled out the Director of the Rules Division of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)...
By Michael Hudson for Counter Punch - The nightmare scenario of U.S. geopolitical strategists seems to be coming true: foreign economic independence from U.S. control. Instead of privatizing and neoliberalizing the world under U.S.-centered financial planning and ownership, the Russian and Chinese governments are investing in neighboring economies on terms that cement Eurasian economic integration on the basis of Russian oil and tax exports and Chinese financing. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) threatens to replace the IMF and World Bank programs that favor U.S. suppliers, banks and bondholders (with the United States holding unique veto power).