This is an excellent survey of the world’s geopolitical landscape SLL has seen; long but worth the read. From Charles and Louis-Vincent Gave at Gavekal via zerohedge.com:
Carthago Est Delenda
“Carthage must be destroyed”. Cato the elder would conclude his speeches in the Roman Senate with the admonition that salt should be spread on the ruins of Rome’s rival. Listening to the US media over these summer holidays from Grand Lake, Oklahoma, it is hard to escape the conclusion that most of the American media, and US congress, feels the same way about Russia. Which is odd given that the Cold War supposedly ended almost 30 years ago.
But then again, a quick study of history shows that clashes between land and sea-based empires have been a fairly steady constant of Western civilization. Think of Athens versus Sparta, Greece versus Persia, Rome versus Carthage, England versus Napoleon, and more recently the US versus Germany and Japan (when World War II saw the US transform itself from a land-based empire to a sea-based empire in order to defeat Germany and Japan), and of course the more recent contest between the US and the Soviet Union.
The maritime advantage
Such fights have been staples of history books, from Plutarch to Toynbee. Victory has mostly belonged to the maritime empires as they tend to depend more on trade and typically promote more de-centralized structures; land-based empires by contrast usually repress individual freedoms and centralize power. Of course the maritime power does not always win; Cato the elder did after all get his wish posthumously.
With this in mind, consider a mental map of the productive land masses in the world today. Very roughly put, the world currently has three important zones of production, with each accounting for about a third of world GDP.
- North and South America: This is a sort of island and is not reachable by land from the rest of the world. It constitutes the heart of what could be called the current “maritime” empire.
- Europe ex-Russia: This is an economic and technological power as large as the US but a military minnow. Its last two wars have been fought between the then dominant maritime power (the US), first against Germany, then the Soviet Union to gain the control of the so called “old continent”.
- A resurgent Asia: Here China is playing the role of the “land-based challenger” to the “maritime hegemon.”
To continue reading: Gavekal On The Coming Clash Of Empires: Russia’s Role As A Global Game-Changer