THE METHODOLOGY OF GEOPOLITICS

laws.of.life

zFoAw1

THE METHODOLOGY

OF GEOPOLITICS

Understanding the world from a new

perspective


INTRODUCTION

• Forecasting and the Human Condition

• Birth and Love

• Love of One’s Own – Writ Large

• Place and Fear

• Time and Resistance

1


THE PURPOSE OF GEOPOLITICS

• The study of geopolitics tries to distinguish between those

things that are eternal, those things that are of long duration

and those things that are transitory — using the prism of

geography and power.

• Geopolitical inquiry not only describes, but seeks to predict,

what will happen.

• Geopolitics is the next generation’s common sense.

2


THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HISTORY


Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllables of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. …

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.


-- MACBETH ACT 5, SCENE 5

3


THE TROUBLE WITH SHAKESPEARE

• If history is random and meaningless, predicting the future

is impossible.

• Forecasting is built into the human condition. All actions

taken are intended to have a predictable outcome.

BUT…

• Knowledge is imperfect, and some outcomes are not as

predicted.

• … the gulf between the UNCERTAINTY of a prediction and

the IMPOSSIBILITY of a prediction is vast.

4


RESISTANCE TO UNCERTAINTY


The search for predictability

suffuses all of the human

condition.


-- Dr. George Friedman

5


THOUGHTS ON FORECASTING

• The simplest sort of forecast is about nature, since it lacks will

and cannot make choices. (For instance, Saturn will not

suddenly change its orbit in a fit of pique.)

• The hardest things to predict involve human behavior.

• Entire sciences are devoted to the forecasting of human

behavior:

• Econometrics

• Military modeling

• Stock and labor market analysis

• Etc.

6


THOUGHTS ON FORECASTING

• All these systems operate in the same way:

• Use of statistical models to predict general behavior.

• Economic and war models both try to predict behavior of many

individuals interacting with nature and technology.

7


Birth and Love


BEGIN WITH THE OBVIOUS

• To forecast the behavior of humans, begin with the simplest, most

obvious facts about humans. Don’t leap ahead:

• Humans are born and die.

• Humans protect and care for themselves and their young by forming

families.

8


THE STRENGTHS OF TOGETHERNESS

• Most families don’t live in isolation, but within social systems

and constructs designed for further protection and economic

viability:

CLANS TRIBES VILLAGES

TOWNS

CITIES

STATES/COUNTRIES

Colin Babb

Ron Miguel

Pixabay

Public domain

Rod Waddington

Steven Muster

9


LOVE AND TRUST

• With whom should one ally to create a larger community beyond

immediate family?

• Historically, in-laws and relatives.

• Why should you trust a relative more than a stranger?

• “The love of one’s own stands at the heart of any understanding of

how humans behave and whether that behavior can be predicted. It

also contrasts sharply with a competing vision of love – the love of

acquired things, a tension that defines the last 500 years of

European and world history.”

10


A STRUGGLE FOR THE AGES


The idea that this acquired love,

which includes romantic love,

should pre-empt the love of one’s

own introduces a radical new

dynamic to history, in which the

individual and choice supersede

community and obligation.


11


BACK TO SHAKESPEARE

• “Romeo and Juliet”

• Montagues and Capulets are warring

clans

• Romeo and Juliet are smitten

• Which love takes precedence?

• Love of one’s own – family, religion,

tradition?

• “Acquired love” – chosen to please the

individual?

12


A CONFLICT OF LOYALTIES

• In traditional societies, marriages are/were often arranged –

promoting loyalty and obligation to family and tradition over the

individual.

• As a dynamic, the notion of “romantic” or “acquired” love – a la

Romeo and Juliet – suggests the individual and choice

supersede community and obligation.

• American Declaration of Independence elevates “life, liberty

and the pursuit of happiness” over obligation – a shift from

traditional societies.

13


INTRODUCING IDEOLOGY

• Europe: Revolutionary Protestantism and the Enlightenment

• Protestantism elevates conscience to the pinnacle of human

faculties, and conscience dictates choice.

• The Enlightenment: Choice + Reason = Idea:

The individual is bound not by what he is taught to believe, but

what his own reason tells him is just and proper .

14


THE EUROPEAN ENLIGHTENMENT


Tradition is superseded

by reason and the old

regime superseded by

artificially constructed

regimes forged in

revolution.


-- Dr. George Friedman

15


BIRTH AND MODERNITY

• Modernity is the enemy of birth in general.

• Old order: Dynasties, empires and monarchies distributed

rights based on birth.

• Modern revolutionary regimes: Hold that birth is an accident

that gives no one authority. Rights are distributed based on

individual achievement and demonstrated virtue, not virtue

assumed at birth.

16


Love of One’s

Own – Writ Large


A STRUGGLE FOR THE AGES


The struggle between the love of one’s

own and the love of acquired things has

been the hallmark of the last 500 years. It

has been a struggle between traditional

societies in which obligations derive from

birth and are imposed by a natural, simple

and unreflective love of one’s own and

revolutionary societies in which

obligations derive from choice and from a

complex, self-aware love of things that are

acquired — lovers or regimes.


17


INTRODUCING NATIONALISM

• The “love of one’s own” – community, clan or nationality -- is an

ALMOST overpowering impulse.

• Almost = not quite: Self-love and love of acquired things are

celebrated in the modern age.

• i.e., Citizenship can be acquired or renounced

• Place of birth and history can never be shed

18


A NOD TO ADAM SMITH

• “The Wealth of Nations”

• Economist belief: Primary purpose of

the individual = maximize self-interest

in the material sense to acquire wealth

• All men will naturally seek to acquire

wealth if left to their own devices

• Self-interest is a natural impulse.

19


IF SMITH IS WHOLLY CORRECT …

• Altruism is impossible.

• No soldier would consent to fight and die for the sake of an idea

or country.

• Self-sacrifice is illogical.

• Nationalism could not exist.

20


NATIONALISM AND LOVE OF ONE’S OWN


This is one of those cases

in which the imagination is

baffled by the facts.


-- Adam Smith

21


NATIONAL SELF-DETERMINATION: AN IDEAL

• Concept born of European and American revolutions.

• Pre-revolution: Dynasties governed nations by right of birth.

• European revolutions: Goal was to break the regime.

• Driving force: Love of one’s own community and nation, hatred of

foreign domination.

• Doctrine of national self-determination emerged as a principle,

coinciding with doctrine of rights of man.

22


AN INESCAPABLE FORCE


At the root of modern liberal

society, the eccentric heart of the

human condition continues to beat

– the love of one’s own.

There is no escape from

love of one’s own, at least

not for the mass of

humanity …

23


AN INESCAPABLE FORCE


Nietzche spoke of horizons. A horizon is an optical

illusion, but it is a comforting illusion. It gives you the

sense that the world is manageable rather than

enormously larger than you are. The horizon gives you

a sense of place that frames you and your community.

It relieves you of the burden of thinking about the

vastness of things. It gives you a manageable place,

and place, after love, defines who you are

the most.


24


Place and Fear


THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACE

• The nature of communities –

whether cities, nations or

nomadic groups – derives

from place.

D. Wilkinson

25


THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACE

• Geography helps to shape

culture.

Heequals2henry

26


OBSERVATIONS ON GEOGRAPHY

• In addition to culture,

geography helps determine

strengths, imperatives and

constraints of a nation-state or

community.

• For example:

27


GEOGRAPHY: MOUNTAINS

• When located along

borders, mountains

help to defend against

invasion and promote

the growth of an

economy and culture.

28


GEOGRAPHY: MOUNTAINS

• Located within borders,

mountains are often

home to insular clans

or societies with

distinctive cultures.

• Insurgencies and

ethno-sectarian strife

may be found in these

regions (example:

Balkans).

29


GEOGRAPHY: RIVERS

• Rivers are conducive

to trade, capital

formation and the

wealth of a society

• … as long as they flow

in the right direction.

30


GEOGRAPHY: RIVERS

• Rivers are conducive

to trade, capital

formation and the

wealth of a society

• … as long as they flow

in the right direction.

• (Russia’s don’t.)

31


GEOGRAPHY: PLAINS

• A well-watered plain is

conducive to farming,

agriculture and some

degree of selfsufficiency

for a

society.

• Plains are also a

traditional avenue for

attacking armies in

times of war.

32


A FEW WORDS ON FEAR

• Love of one’s own is quickly followed by fear of the other.

• Fear is a constant between separate communities, living in

proximity.

• Unknown intentions = distrust and fear.

• Distrust drives pre-emptive action to ward off worst-case

scenarios.

33


THE KEY POINT


Nations and other communities act

out of fear far more than they act

out of greed or love. The fear of

catastrophe drives foreign policies

of nomadic tribes and nationstates.

That fear, in turn, is driven

by place. Geography defines

opportunities; it also defines

vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

The fear of dependence and

destruction drives nations – a fear

that is ultimately rooted in place.


34


Time and

Resistance


WEALTH AND CLASS: ONGOING FRICTIONS

• Communities are not homogeneous, and rarely behave as a

single organism. Each community may be home to different:

RELIGIOUS GROUPS ETHNIC GROUPS SOCIAL CLASSES

Public domain

Hepingting

Ariff Ahmad Tajuddin

• The distinction between rich and poor remains the most

essential – it helps to frame identity and predict behavior.

35


OBSERVATIONS ON CLASS AND MARXISM


For the rich and the intellectual, an optical

illusion frequently emerges: that

nationalism doesn’t really matter. The

world’s richest people, able to place layers

of technology and servants between

themselves and nature, live far more like

each other than like their own countrymen.

Wealth appears to dissolve place. The

same with the intelligentsia, who have more

in common with each other than with the

townsfolk who serve the food at the

university.


36


OBSERVATIONS ON CLASS AND MARXISM


One would think that similar universalization of interest

would take place among poorer people. Karl Marx argued

that the workers have no country and they feel

transnational solidarity with other workers. But there is not

the slightest empirical evidence that the workers or

peasants have felt they have no country or, at least,

community. Certainly, the 20 th century has been the

graveyard of intellectual fantasies about the indifference of

lower classes to national interest.


37


TWO AXES OF COMMUNITY

• When catastrophe occurs, who

shares your fate?

LARGE COMMUNITY

• Small communities

(example: Israel): All are

affected, rich and poor

alike

POOR

RICH

• Larger communities are

impacted to differing

degrees, based on the

resources available to

individuals

SMALL COMMUNITY

38


TWO AXES OF COMMUNITY

• Conclusion: As a rule, poorer

classes are more conservative

about taking risks, and less

resilient if risk-taking results in

loss.

POOR

LARGE COMMUNITY

RICH

SMALL COMMUNITY

39


FEARS OF THE COMMON MAN


If love is the first emotion that men

experience, then fear is the second. Love

of one’s own is rapidly followed by fear of

the other. The weaker the person, the

fewer the resources he has and the more

dependent he is on the community he

inhabits. The more dependent he is, the

more cautious he will be in taking risks.

The common man lives his life

in fear – and he is not at all

irrational in doing so.


40


CLASS STRUGGLE IN THE DEMOCRATIC AGE

• Struggle between (wealthy) internationalists and (common)

nationalists.

• Internationalists: Transnational adventures – the IMF, WTO,

European Union, NAFTA – will benefit society as a whole in the

long run.

• Common man: Less capacity to invest in, and sacrifice for, the

long run.

• The distant future is a prospect that only the wealthy can enjoy.

41


FUNDAMENTAL TENSION BETWEEN NATIONS

AND INDIVIDUALS

• Economic growth, on a macro scale, is a multi-generational

endeavor.

• Societies and people run on different clocks:

• Society counts in terms of generations and centuries

• Individuals count in terms of years and decades

42


THE BOTTOM LINE


Under most circumstances, where the

individuals affected are few and

disorganized, the nation grinds down the

individual. In those cases where the

individual understands that his children

might make a significant leap forward, the

individual might acquiesce. But when the

affected individuals form a substantial

bloc, and when even the doubling of an

economy might not make a significant

difference in the happiness of children,

they might well resist.

43


THE BOTTOM LINE


Focus on the clock – on the

different scales of time, and how

they change things.


44


IMAGE CREDITS

• “The Hatfield Clan in 1897,” U.S. public domain

• “Hamer Tribe, Turbi, Ethiopia,” Rod Waddington, shared under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-

ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.*

• “Shanklin Old Village,” Steven Muster for the Geograph project collection, shared under terms of the Creative

Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.*

• “Victorian Town, Blists Hill,” Colin Babb for the Geograph project collection, shared under terms of the Creative

Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.*

• “Atlantic City at Night,” Ron Miguel, shared under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

license.**

• “Europe at the Beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, 1700,” public domain

• “An Inuit boy untangles dogsled harnesses,” D. Wilkinson, 1952, via Library and Archives Canada, shared under

terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.**

• “Times Square, looking south from 47 th ,” Hequals2henry, shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-

ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.***

• “Jerusalem, Dome of the Rock,” public domain

• “Group of friends smiling,” Hepingting via Flickr, shared under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-

ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.*

• “Beggar at Petaling Street,” Ariff Tajuddin, shared under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

license.**

Note: Non-Stratfor images have been used here for illustrative purposes only, and are not intended to imply

endorsement of Stratfor by any artist. No outside artwork has been altered in any way, other than cropping or resizing

for purposes of this presentation.

*Terms of the license can be viewed at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

**Terms of the license can be viewed at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

***Terms of the license can be viewed at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en


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