Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Robert Kaplan: The Revenge of Geography

Heavyweight writer Robert Kaplan has a huge essay in Foreign Policy, about how we need to view the world, and its realities for the 21st Century. The focus is on Asia and the Middle East. All the big shot US government officials and policy makers read Foreign Policy.

I increasingly think a certain amount of isolationism is necessary for Europe and North America, away from the Middle East, and this article underlines some catastrophes and conflicts that could happen. Not to mention a power reorganization of Asia and the Middle East. (Guess what? There's not a lot of room for Americans.) We have to start looking at geopolitics in a new way and Kaplan gets the ball rolling. It's definitely one of those articles to plug in the coffee pot, find a comfortable chair, print it out (too long for on screen) and have a good read. There are too many parts to excerpt, but I'll put in this taster from the opening:
So now, chastened, we have all become realists. Or so we believe. But realism is about more than merely opposing a war in Iraq that we know from hindsight turned out badly. Realism means recognizing that international relations are ruled by a sadder, more limited reality than the one governing domestic affairs. It means valuing order above freedom, for the latter becomes important only after the former has been established. It means focusing on what divides humanity rather than on what unites it, as the high priests of globalization would have it. In short, realism is about recognizing and embracing those forces beyond our control that constrain human action—culture, tradition, history, the bleaker tides of passion that lie just beneath the veneer of civilization. This poses what, for realists, is the central question in foreign affairs: Who can do what to whom? And of all the unsavory truths in which realism is rooted, the bluntest, most uncomfortable, and most deterministic of all is geography.

(READ the entire article here.)


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