Photo credit: Jeremy Bezanger (Unsplash)
Having lived in South America, the Middle East and North America, I am naturally fascinated by people. I seek to understand why people do what they do. After all, it’s what allowed me to adapt to such drastic cultures.
To my lovely surprise, I recently found — what is possibly the most interesting faculty of all — geopolitics!
Geopolitics takes a look at how international affairs are affected by geographical factors like landscape, natural resources, climate and demographics.
Together, all these factors interweave to influence political and military strategy (who knew?). It even influences languages, religion and commerce! MIND BLOWN.
In short, geopolitics helps to explain both the “what” and “why.”
How Geopolitics Affects Our Everyday Lives
We all know China and India are countries with long borders and large populations. They are powerful nations on their own. You’d assume they must’ve fought plentyyy of wars in an attempt to conquer Asia. Wrong!
Except for a monthlong war in 1962, they never entered into war with each other. Do you know why?
Because of geography!
Between China and India lives the highest mountain range in the whole wide world. It is basically impossible to move military powers through the harsh landscapes of the Himalayas. Therefore, the Himalayas acted as a powerful, physical barrier that makes fighting and warring basically impossible.
Instead of spending money trying to fight each other, China and India have focused on creating foreign policy on other regions; although they still maintain a close peek into each other.
Isn’t that interesting?!
Here’s another example of how different countries around the world are limited by their geography.
“In Russia, we see the influence of the Arctic, and how it limits Russia's ability to be a truly global power. In China, we see the limitations of power without a global Navy, and how, in 2016 it became obvious, the speed at which China is seeking to change this. The United States illustrates how shrewd decisions to expand its territory in key regions allowed it to achieve its modern destiny as a two-ocean superpower. Europe shows us the value of Flatland and navigable rivers in connecting regions and producing a culture able to kick-start the modern world, while Africa is a prime example of the effects of isolation.” — Time Marshall, Author of Prisoners of Geography
Nature vs. Man
Mother Nature has it’s natural borders. They are the seas, the mountains, the rivers, deserts and jungles. And life has always adapted to such limitations.
Then came Colonialism… which abruptly drew lines in regions without ever taking into account the physical realities of each region.
These man-made borders created wars and divisions between people (at times within the same culture). In the Middle East people are still paying the consequences for these lines with their own blood.
As you can see, geography — and the politics — that arise from it affect our history and our destiny. It determines whether we live at war or in peace.
Of course, there are some borders that are not man-made like Japan or the most Southern tip of Latin America (which unfortunately makes it difficult for global trade). There are also Arctic regions, which make it impossible to reach. But thanks to technology it’s getting easier to conquer (apparently, the Arctic has huge reservoirs of oil/energy!).…
We all know, political leaders will determine who gets access to this energy source and the luxuries they can afford.
All this to say, that yes! Leaders, ideologies and technology affect us all. But they’re also kind of temporary because — to a certain extent — it doesn’t really compare to the vast effects created by landscapes like mountains, or the severe challenges of the jungles, snow, ice and devastating floods.
Our environment will continue to influence our politics… and given the fact we’re headed towards environmental catastrophes, one would assume that politics will get more dangerous, more extreme, more unfair, in the war between man vs. nature.
Technology is Moulding Geopolitics
Technology is the future of battle. Long-distance planes that don’t need to stop to refuel now allow nation states to fight without needing to partner up with strategic allies in specific regions.
And it’s not just the advancement in war-related technology and machinery, it’s also the internet that continues to influence how a society thinks and behaves, how cultural practices shift and consequently how we relate to them. Eventually, how leaders decide to attack or defend against them.
What is even more fascinating to me is how technologies, like Bitcoin, will also affect geopolitics.
In the past, countries with no access to the sea, or to a powerful military base, or without natural resources were often rendered useless to the colonial nations (United States, U.K., etc) and their allies.
This disinterest was/is reflected by a lack of partnership, commerce and any kind of support or relationship. This metaphorical isolation impoverishes a nation and makes living a cruel reality.
But with a technology like Bitcoin everything changes…
Countries can now hold a valuable, decentralized and secure asset that will protect them against the inevitable cycle of poverty they face.
With bitcoin, they release themselves from the hard grip of the U.S. dollar over their economies because they no longer need the U.S. Dollar to be participatory nations in the global stage.
THAT IS MASSIVE.
Countries like El Salvador are now waging a currency war against the the U.S. Dollar. With bitcoin, they can finally save, get out of debt, finance their lives and fund their projects without needing intervention or saving from nations with hidden motives.
They get to reclaim their sovereignty. Imagine what that looks like for the world’s poorest countries!
As I wrap up this piece, I can’t help but wonder how much bitcoin will disrupt (geo)politics as we know it. Will it complicate it? Will it make it better? What will be the future of humanity?