Global strategy: the geopolitics of the USA

Effects on politics and strategy - from the Western Reserve via the Panama Channel to the opposite coast, and energy politics (part 3)

Friedrich W. Korkisch


Today geopolitics is both law politics and energy politics. The Gulf War 1990/91 was the containment of the Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein, who not only had occupied Kuwait, but who also had nuclear weapons and biological and chemical weapons developed, because he wanted to wipe out Israel and to occupy the western provinces of Iran. Thus, he would have controlled nearly one quarter of the worlds fossil fuels reserves as well. As the terrorist network of Al-Qaida could not be beaten off on the coasts of Long Island after the attacks of 11th September 2001, the USA directly intervened in Afghanistan. This was not done in order to transform Afghanistan into a Soviet Republic (as Moscow had tried after 1979), but in order to annihilate the Taliban who had declared war on the whole Western World. The USA let every nation act politically according to its own ideas. If actions, however, lead to the threat to an ally or to the destabilization of a whole region, this policy of watching and moral suasion will be replaced by law politics with the threat of intervention. According to Paul Kennedy, superpowers run the risk of “overextension” whenever their geopolitical and strategic ideas cease to correspond with available means, although many authors point out that the British Empire represented a global power for three decades only, whereas the USA have been a superpower for 120 years now. Since 1900 the American economy’s share of the global product has always amounted to 25%, except for the first years after 1945. The wars after Vietnam hardly would have affected American economy, because the additional expenses were for the most part spent in the own country; this also applies to Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus, the term “overextension” only goes for the military, as after the transition to an army of volunteers in 1970 the armed forces have rather been dimensioned too small. Many authors differentiate geopolitically between three great blocs of nations: the stable, western and friendly nations, the less calculable, often neutral or antagonistic nations, and the bloc of unstable (failed, failing) nations. The biggest security problem for all other nations are all those states which are in possession of nuclear weapons and missiles and slip down into the group of „dysfunctional-failed states“. In this article the components of American Geopolitics - from Mahan to Colin Gray - are portrayed and embedded into the higher activity framework of American positions of power.