Geostrategy, a sub-field of geopolitics, is a type of foreign policy guided principally by geographical factors when they inform, constrain, or affect economic, political and military planning. Keywords are geopolitics, strategy, great power, hybrid wars, U.S.A., China, Russia. Also, there are terms of abuse used for the purpose of geo-political goals such as, ‘export of democracy’, ‘human rights protection’, ‘preventive war’, and historical rights’. In addition, geo-politics represents a common need for religious, racial, ethnic, and cultural proximity in order to have control over the territories in which people live with a collective identity.
The superiority of the West at the global level in political, military, economic, industrial and cultural development, dates as far back as from the conquest of the colonies and has therefore been imposing global domination for centuries. The latest decades have been marked by the global dominance of the United States and its allies, and the military superiority of the NATO pact. In the collective plans of the West, the famous strategy, ‘Anaconda’ (America as a sea power, and the idea of the political and economic destruction of its antagonists, especially Russia and China) is still seen as a fundamental orientation of the Anglo-American efforts. Today, it has three main dimensions: economic and financial (sanctions) military and information.
Seven countries strongly tied to the NATO orbit, which plays a significant role and could permanently monitor the central country (Heartland) include Western Russia, Ukraine and central Europe are: Poland, Hungary, Bohemia (the Checks Republic and Slovakia), Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and the new ones N. Macedonia and Montenegro, followed by Turkey and Uzbekistan. In these countries and in the Baltic republics, NATO has deployed arms and ballistic missiles encircling and suppressing Russia, without a justified strategic reason.
The U.S. as a global superpower still plays one of the key roles, but the twenty-first century is gradually taking the shape of a multi-polar world. The economic and military strengthening of China and the creation of new Russian foreign policies in line with new global trends and multi-polarity have led to new rules for geopolitical game-playing. New economic organisations and military powers have appeared, such as B.R.I.C.S (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), the biggest market on the planet, Euro-Asian Union and Iran. Iran's economic relations with India, China, Russia, Turkey and others could be viewed as a much larger process of Asian economic integration. Vast new economic and security partnerships between Iran and China would clear the way for up to $400 billions in Chinese investments over the next twenty-five years, thereby expanding China's presence in the Iranian economy in sectors which include: energy, telecommunications, banking, ports, high-speed railways and airports. There could also be increased military co-operation, including joint research, weapons development and intelligence sharing.
India's strategic long-term interests in Central Asia include accessing energy resources (natural gas, oil, coal, uranium), in order to reduce its over-dependency on crude oil from the unstable Persian-Gulf region and to therefore expand its economic influence. India has been engaged with Iran to expand its trade and investments in Central Asia, Russia and Europe, shipping its goods across the Arabian Sea to the southern Iranian ports. India is seeking to become a regional economic power in Central Asia and is pursuing this objective through increased trade and cooperation with Russia, and the Russian-led Euro-Asian Economic Union, (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan). Uzbekistan is an exporter of uranium and is strategically significant for India's nuclear power industry. India has also been working with Iran and Russia to establish the International North-South Transport Corridor, a 7,200 km multi-modal route that will ultimately connect India with Turkey.
The geopolitical struggle for energy, oil, gas, mining and the fight for resources by ‘hybrid wars’ are features of contemporary geopolitics. We do not yet know how the pandemic will re-shape the international landscape, and whether we are indeed witnessing the last gasp of American primacy, and with it great geopolitical changes. Although the United States may no longer enjoy non-rival dominance, it still has the world's strongest military, most influential economy, most expansive alliance system and the most potent soft power. A vital priority of American's geopolitical challenge is managing competition from China. The U.S. is still perhaps able to shape the environment into which China rises, taking advantage of allies, partners and the web, across the Indo-Pacific region, from Japan and South Korea to a rising India, which is also worried about China's ascendancy. Europe remains a crucial partner, and Biden's administration will have to make partnerships, choices and terms of engagement around the world. American economic and particularly, military-strategic interests, remain strong with the Middle East and Saudi Arabia, although the U.S. redistribution of force might be the re-direction of resources from the Middle East to Asia, and to review America's-China-related strategy in the Indo-Pacific region.
The new U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken hosted the virtual talks with his three counterparts from Quad (Quadrilateral security dialogue of Australia, India, Japan) about co-operation on climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, restoration of democracy in Myanmar and advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region. There were many points of tension between Quad members and China including disputes over territories, trade, human rights and alleged espionage, the fatal clashes along the Sino-Indian border and the Diaoyu-Senkaku island disputes in Japan. Biden's administration and like-minded partners from Quad intend to send a message to China, that military activities in the South China Sea and towards Taiwan are unacceptable, as are ongoing human rights abuses of the Uyghurs and in China's outlying areas, including Hong Kong, As the U.S. plays off China and India, it risks losing a nuclear-armed ally Pakistan, which is taking billions of dollars of investments from Beijing. China uses its Belt and Road Initiative to expand its influence and power.
The EU global strategy is to improve the effectiveness of the defence and the security of the Union member states, to promote citizen interests, global growth, mobility and technological progress, support multilateralism and its overseas regions. EU influence in the areas of diplomacy, military, economic investments and negotiation, has exposed weaknesses due to divisions between member states for effective EU action to address security issues. The serious problems affecting Europe come from geo-economic change and the major world geopolitical transition. The European Commission has set up a Strategic Forum for important projects of common European interest, a high-level expert group is representing member states. The challenges being raised with a strong geopolitical component are technological, economic and security and are the priorities of the Commission. Europe is dependent on the major digital operators, which pose a clear risk to security and the use of digital data. Could the consensus in supporting the important projects of common European interest impact China and the United States, or it is too late to develop its own search engines and network systems? Europe's strategic doctrine is to create a European Defensive Union and a Directorate-General for the defence industry and space. The European Commission has imposed fines on the internet giants, which pose a major challenge to the transatlantic relationship, while the United States has retaliated with customs duties. The North Stream 2 pipeline project is another geopolitical dispute that Washington is threatening sanctions against.
The U.S. is the most important strategic and economic EU partner, but there has been a significant drop in trade between them and China is now the biggest trading partner for goods. But Biden promised that, “America is back...and that we will restore transatlantic relationships”. Europe has to strengthen the connections with other countries and organisations to avoid aligning with China, or the US, and the growing strategic rivalry between them. The Union's excessive dependence and NATO's eastward enlargement is creating a serious situation for the EU. The Geopolitical Commission is trying to establish stability and prosperity with countries in the east (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldavia, Georgia and those in the Mediterranean region), and to focus on security issues in Libya, Turkey, Iran, Russia and Syria through its maritime operations and to also enforce the arms embargo.
The Western Balkans are an exclusive region for the EU, and it is in its own interest that the Union should secure the Western Balkans. The Balkan region has managed to retain its role as a bridge between the East and West and has become one of the most crucial playing fields for Russia, China, Turkey and all the other new actors, whose activities may hinder the European future of the region and in so doing change the geopolitical landscape.
Africa is a resource-rich continent, and yet remains home to the planet's poorest people. There is a direct line from colonial exploitation to modern days, which is not only from outside of the continent but also from corrupt and greedy African officials and corporations. The African continent holds more than 30% of global mineral resources, and yet the most extractive industries which promised growth and social development, have contributed to the devastation of whole countries, increased poverty, the rise of human rights abuses and irreversible damage to the environment. European colonial masters continue to use ex-colonies economically even after de-colonisation and Africa's independence. Europe's mercantile elite and mining companies have enormously enriched trading with precious metals, gems (diamonds, cobalt, copper, uranium) and other resources, and the western world has developed its industrialisation and economies, by the extreme exploitation of Africa.
The world capitalist system performs its leadership role in African countries and their Belgian and Netherland mining companies have never stopped ‘repatriating’ diamonds and gems extracted from the continent of Africa. British cobalt, gold, platinum mining companies have operations in 37 African countries and collectively control over $1 trillion worth of Africa's most valuable resources. They are fully aware that cobalt and the other minerals they use in their products are sourced by cheap slave labour and child labour, but are doing nothing to stop this. Africa remains the main source of raw materials for the industry of western countries, and hardly anything will happen towards the true development of Africa, despite many investment projects. The ex-French president Jacques Chirac, once said that without Africa France would slide down into the rank of a third world country. The fourteen French ex-colonies have never truly gained their independence from France and still keep half of their reserves in Paris.
The EU is setting up development projects across Africa to stem the African migration. Ironically, neo-colonialism is the force driving African migration to Europe. But Europe has to stop exploiting Africa first if it really wants it to ‘develop’. Between 2010-2017, at least one million Sub-Saharan migrants arrived on the coasts of Europe. The Millennium Development Goals (succeeded by the Sustainable Development Goals) which aimed at reducing poverty, hunger, illiteracy, gender equality and developing malfunctions, failed in every country in Africa. African governments have to adopt national strategies, efficiently manage processes and the export of their natural resources and share the revenues, all of which are aimed at poverty reduction and inclusive growth and focused on projects that can generate more jobs.
The nature of American's interests in Africa is maybe strategic, political, commercial, economic or psychological. In recent years, U.S. strategic interests in Africa have been growing, especially in natural and energy resources, thus alleviating U.S. energy dependency on the Persian Gulf with alternative partners (Nigeria). The ongoing concern by Africa's many humanitarian crises, more general challenges, public health, devastating effects of disease, poor drinking water as well as concern over armed conflicts, violent extremists’ activities, maritime piracy and illicit trafficking are strategic priorities, and the U.S. administration has asserted that it will work with others for the African continent so that people can live in liberty and peace. The US armed forces have intervened in many parts of the African continent and Washington has dispatched several thousand combat troops, fighter planes and warships to battle dictatorships, or to unseat adversarial regimes in dozens of countries. It must be noted that the United States had unilaterally announced the establishment of the Unified Combatant Command (UCC), U.S. Africa (AFRICOM) to protect, ‘U.S. security interests’ in energy and other natural resources in fifty-three African countries and its surrounding waters, (the Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, in 2011, which ousted Muammar al Gaddafi). Such security facility on the continent by the U.S. designed to promote peace and security was forcefully imposed and illustrated the tendency of the imperialists to look down upon African ideas and institutions. The U.S. is carrying out a vast power intervention in the armed conflicts in modern-day Africa, focusing on global struggles against terrorism (in the Horn of Africa, Djibouti, Somali pirates). America's administration aims to work with African governments and encourage U.S. companies to do business in Africa, strengthen investments and create jobs, all whilst bearing in mind that the continent’s population will double by 2050. Also, it also plans a multi-billion dollar investment (Democratic Republic of Congo) in hydro and gas power, as well as healthcare over the next few years. In addition, the U.S. is making billions of dollar business deals, largely in arms. Already, U.S. and Russian interests have been at odds within the continent of Africa.
Russia, like China, likes to create a sense of friendship with Africans by reminding them that they have never colonised any part of Africa. However, Russia just like other world powers, also has interests in Africa's raw materials and is creating joint projects and investments. In supporting African countries, Russia is cultivating allies in its challenge to the current United States and Euro-Atlantic security order. Russian companies take part in activities in the mining of resources such as cobalt, gold, diamonds (in Zimbabwe, Angola). Russia's African imports are remarkably agricultural, including fruit, coffee, cocoa. Russia has become a large supplier of arms in Africa and is expanding its military intervention (Central African Republic) and its diplomatic influence. Energy and power development in Africa are supported through Russian companies such as: Gazprom, Lukoil, Rosneft, with activities concentrated in Angola, Egypt, Nigeria, Uganda.
China is strengthening co-operation with African countries in all fields. Africa-China relations are focused on Beijing's massive infrastructure projects and growing military engagement on the African continent. Africa is a strategic node in the maritime of the One Belt One Road (O.B.O.R) strategy, known as the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, that links China to East Africa, the Persian Gulf, Europe and South-East Asia. China is prioritising open trade, industrialisation and infrastructure development, and makes clear that the O.B.O.R is compatible with the African Union's Agenda and will form part of the strategic partnership between the A.U. and China. Chinese companies are investing in agriculture, mineral and metallurgic resources and conducting drilling, generating industrial economic and strategic partnerships. China is the major player in Africa's maritime space and it builds ports and infrastructure along African coasts and has also opened its foreign naval base in Djibouti. China prioritises peacekeeping in Africa with the presence of 80% of all U.N. peacekeeping troops there and it is taking part in peacekeeping operations in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But at the same time, China is selling arms and is involved in intelligence co-operation. Algeria, Angola, Gabon Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan are major importers of weapons from China.
The U.S. established its hegemony on the Latin American continent after the Declaration of Monroe's Doctrine in 1823 and is as relevant today, as it was when it was first written. Its idea was to divide the world into European and American zones of interest. And the declaration emphasised - America to Americans. Today, China, Europa and Russia claim that Monroe's Doctrine is outdated and that a new system of regulating international relations, is needed. Latin America has experienced a damaging combination of high inequality, lack of economic growth, corruption, unemployment and weak political institutions. The gap between rich and poor is ever-widening and inequality worsened by the pandemic. Latin America has deep strategic, economic and cultural ties with the U.S. The U.S. involvement in Latin America has undoubtedly benefited through democracy, economic cooperation, but also damaged because of military interference and conflicts with many countries (Chile, Brazil, Cuba). The U.S. is concerned about regional terrorism, trafficking of drugs and illegal immigrants, and Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela are its top military concerns. The U.S. has been conducting a brutal twenty-year-long campaign of destabilisation against Venezuela in an attempt to cause regime change, with economic sabotage, financial manipulations and support of right-wing forces. All done in order to control the Venezuelan oil reserves. Colombia and Venezuela are among the largest suppliers of oil and export billions of barrels to the United States, after Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Canada.
Economically, the United States wants to keep Latin America open to U.S. goods and capital and to pursue bilateral and regional free-trade agreements. Brazil attempted to reduce its dependency on trade with the U.S. because of the unfair tariffs. It did this by looking at new markets for its products, including China, Russia and the E.U. Most of Latin America's governments continue to pursue policies that are favourable to North American economic interests and in addition, they know that their long-term prosperity is tied to Washington. Latin America is a nuclear-free zone with no wars, minor conflicts, minimal advanced arms competition, limited terrorism and a policy of constructive engagement from U.S. The U.S. seeks to prevent hostile powers from gaining influence in the L.A. region and Washington is wary about the increasing presence of China in Latin America.
China is establishing dynamic economic and trade ties with Latin American and Caribbean countries. China is also becoming increasingly interested in Latin America's energy, mineral resources and other primary commodities, and is not in competition with the increasingly energy-rich and agriculturally-wealthy United States. Brazil took advantage of China's investments and rapidly increased its economic growth. China made substantial loans to Cuba and provided other forms of assistance too. But with the China boom came postponed industrialisation and a flood of cheaper Chinese goods and undue reliance on China as a banker. China's geopolitical interests in Latin America include greater bilateral and multilateral military engagement and exercises, training and humanitarian missions. The Chinese navy participated with navies from Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru in 2014 and 2016 in the Rim of Pacific exercises, organised by the U.S. Pacific Command. Argentina and China have made military agreements to co-operate in the production of advanced products for the navy and amphibious craft for the army as well as strategic space co-operation. Despite a lack of formal diplomatic ties with Panama, Chinese cargo ships are passing through the Panama Canal. Chinese investors from Hong Kong intend to build a new $50 billion canal through Nicaragua, which still recognises Taiwan rather than China. On the security front, it is giving its contribution to UN peacekeeping units in Haiti, proving its capacity to support global security.
Moscow’s renewed interests in Latin America are focused on diplomatic, economic and military activities. Russia has pursued an increased presence in this region through military arms, equipment sales, counterdrug agreements, and trade. Putin is interested in relationships with Latin American leaders, such as the strategic partnership agreement he signed with Argentina’s leaders, as well as expanding its standing in the region, and enhancing its long-standing ties with Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, and also cultivating its relationship with Brazil via B.R.I.C.S. Russia's increasing presence in the Western Hemisphere is unwelcome, and could further ruin relationships between the U.S. and its southern neighbours. The U.S. manifests its anger about the Russian presence in Venezuela. O.P.E.C members Iran, Russia and Venezuela control 60% of the oil produced and could disrupt Washington's plans to set the price of black oil. Russian oil companies (Rosneft) are increasingly present in the business with Latin American companies (Citgo) in the oil industry.
The pandemic is provoking a new mind-set, disorder and disruption in the world. The strategic interests of the superpowers in energy fuels will not change, and the need for black gold, gas, coal will remain until other sustainable clean renewable sources prevail, including the most discussed, advanced nuclear power. Only these superpowers will continue to fight for resources. Huge technological progress is changing our lives, therefore the world will change and geopolitics and the Mappa Mundi - the human factor, resources, interests, dominance, sea power, space - will too.