Tuesday, 5 July, 2022

New Geopolitical System and Strategic Prospect

Dr. Muhammad Akram Zaheer

New Geopolitical System and Strategic Prospect
Dr. Muhammad Akram Zaheer

Political geography is a framework that we can use to understand the complex world around us. Global politics, or "getting what you want in the world", involves thinking and acting geographically. But what does that mean? Geopolitics explains how countries, corporations, terrorist groups, etc., try to achieve their political goals by controlling the geographical features of the world. We call these features geographical entities. Geographic entities are the places, regions, territories, scales, and networks that make up the world.

Geopolitics sees a particular use of force: How countries and other groups compete for control of these institutions in the international arena. The control of these institutions is seen as helping countries and groups achieve their goals. Geopolitics has always been viewed from both an international and global perspective, which means that the issues under consideration are global. Political geography seeks to define international politics in terms of geography—location, size, and resources. It seeks to identify the relationship between geographic location, resources, and foreign policy. Thus, political geography can be defined as the struggle for control of geographical entities with an international and global dimension and the use of these geographical entities for the security, political and economic achievement. Geopolitical examples may include trade agreements, war treaties, border or territorial acknowledgements, climate agreements, and more. Two recent examples are NAFTA and the Kyoto protocol.

The year 2019 revealed another mystery that is called the era of “hybrid geopolitics”. The role of traditional geopolitics, which dominated the nineteenth century, declined in the twentieth century with scientific and technological progress and the emergence of international governments. But the 21st century, especially 2019 was a rebirth a set of the new frontiers of science and technology. It is difficult to explain this trend in the context of bilateral relations or regional development. When we study current international system, hybrid geopolitics is observed as a phrase that is accurately described in 2019.

This new form of geopolitics has different characteristics and forms in different regions. In Europe, Brexit has repositioned the central European Union on the regional scene since the late twentieth century, as nations seek to advance their own interests. With changes in United States alliance policy under the Trump administration, it cannot be rule out possible political differences between the USA and Britain over the transatlantic alliance with continental Europe. In the Middle East, Russia has re-emerged as a major player due to its geographic proximity, after years of declining influence in the aftermath of the Cold War and the declining role of the United States in the region.

In Northeast Asia, the complexity of hybrid geopolitics has been even more dramatic, as evidenced by the strategic rivalry between the United States and China. The United States and China compete not only in traditional geopolitics but also in cyberspace and on "new fronts" of science and technology. In 2019, Northeast Asia was the center of the competition. Japan sought to improve relations with China and Russia within the framework of the US-Japan alliance to achieve limited gains. Meanwhile, North Korea, sought to widen the scope for manipulating the new geopolitical order in the region, but failed to achieve concrete results with the end of the Hanoi summit.

The problem is that the world of hybrid geopolitics is vaguer than in the past and also increases the likelihood of unstable regional or international order. Despite the growing need for cooperation on emerging security issues, mistrust and strategic animosity between the major powers is growing. The strategic calculations of each country to ensure its survival and prosperity are becoming complex. In this context, we can understand the choice of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to stand with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and the US Indo-Pacific Strategy while trying to develop a joint strategy on its own. On the other hand, Korea's choices are more complicated because it cannot rely on the collective solidarity of its ASEAN partners and is a divided country surrounded by more powerful neighbors. Thus, 2019 was the year that most clearly expressed these concerns. The forces that drive competition and cooperation between states on the basis of "hybrid geopolitics" in 2019 will become even stronger in 2020. At the same time, with this new geopolitical math, changes in regional and global power relations will accelerate. Above all, the field of hybrid geopolitics is likely to be more diverse as strategic competition between the United States and China continues. More specifically, the trade dispute between the United States and China will escalate over dominance in science and technology, as well as in finance. In addition to geography, they will compete to win over others by using cultural and military similarities, driving international public opinion, and using security responsibilities as weapons. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person. Both sides are well aware that their competition is of a long-term nature and they have good reasons to avoid a full-blown surge.

However, it is inevitable that the strategic rivalry between the United States and China will continue and intensify. This is because both sides consider the current contest uncompromising and are confident that they will win in the end. While the Trump administration maintained that its allies were doing their "fair share," the Trump administration was unlikely to end its influence over its existing allies and partners. In this context, the Trump administration was expected to eventually implement a policy that will put pressure on its allies and partners to accept a multilateral "trap."

Instead of withdrawing from the competition with the United States, China will try to draw other countries into its orbit regionally and globally. Japan and Russia will also promote their strategies based on hybrid geopolitics to bridge the gap between their internal stability and the uncertainty surrounding their position in the international system. Given this, Northeast Asia will see competition in various areas, such as existing borders, new fictitious borders and borders of future interest, and it is likely that countries will cooperate and compete with each other on a case-by-case basis.

Confusion has increased in Europe due to Brexit in 2020, its impact on the escalation of tensions between the UK and the EU and the re-ignition of tensions between the UK and Northern Ireland will remain strong. Indeed, a confrontation between France and Germany over the future role of NATO could undermine the unity of the European Union, which has already collapsed since Brexit.

Meanwhile in the Middle East the decline of the United States and the resurgence of China and Russia are more prominent. Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia are struggling for a new geopolitical map that would increase instability throughout the region. In Southeast Asia, the ongoing strategic rivalry between the United States and China will exacerbate ASEAN's difficulties. ASEAN sought to consolidate its position in 2019, but in the process, it also demonstrated its potential and the limits of its strength as a collective actor. Therefore, it will be interesting to know the strategic calculations and policy versions provided by ASEAN when Vietnam takes over the presidency in 2020.

Despite the emergence of hybrid geopolitics, emerging security challenges will ensure cooperation and collaboration between states. States may continue to work ostensibly for "global governance" but even in the emerging field of security, they have to see the boundaries imposed by the national interests of individual states. That is, the uncertainty in hybrid geopolitics will extend to emerging security issues. While all nations will emphasize the need to cooperate on common public goods and common causes of concern, individual national interests and the geographical locations of countries will be a major challenge.


The writer is PhD in political science