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THE METHODOLOGY

OF GEOPOLITICS
Understanding the world from a new
perspective

INTRODUCTION

Forecasting and the Human Condition


Birth and Love
Love of Ones Own Writ Large
Place and Fear
Time and Resistance

THE PURPOSE OF GEOPOLITICS


The study of geopolitics tries to distinguish between those


things that are eternal, those things that are of long duration
and those things that are transitory using the prism of
geography and power.
Geopolitical inquiry not only describes, but seeks to predict,
what will happen.
Geopolitics is the next generations common sense.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HISTORY


and tomorrow, and tomorrow,


Tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllables of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
Lifes but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


-- MACBETH ACT 5, SCENE 5

THE TROUBLE WITH SHAKESPEARE


If history is random and meaningless, predicting the future


is impossible.
Forecasting is built into the human condition. All actions
taken are intended to have a predictable outcome.
Knowledge is imperfect, and some outcomes are not as
predicted.

BUT

the gulf between the UNCERTAINTY of a prediction and


the IMPOSSIBILITY of a prediction is vast.

RESISTANCE TO UNCERTAINTY

The search for predictability


suffuses all of the human
condition.

-- Dr. George Friedman

THOUGHTS ON FORECASTING

The simplest sort of forecast is about nature, since it lacks will


and cannot make choices. (For instance, Saturn will not
suddenly change its orbit in a fit of pique.)
The hardest things to predict involve human behavior.
Entire sciences are devoted to the forecasting of human
behavior:

Econometrics
Military modeling
Stock and labor market analysis
Etc.

THOUGHTS ON FORECASTING

All these systems operate in the same way:


Use of statistical models to predict general behavior.
Economic and war models both try to predict behavior of many
individuals interacting with nature and technology.

Birth and Love


BEGIN WITH THE OBVIOUS


To forecast the behavior of humans, begin with the simplest, most


obvious facts about humans. Dont leap ahead:
Humans are born and die.
Humans protect and care for themselves and their young by forming
families.

THE STRENGTHS OF TOGETHERNESS


Most families dont live in isolation, but within social systems


and constructs designed for further protection and economic
viability:
TRIBES

CITIES

Steven Muster
Pixabay

STATES/COUNTRIES

Ron Miguel

Colin Babb

TOWNS

VILLAGES

Rod Waddington

Public domain

CLANS

LOVE AND TRUST


With whom should one ally to create a larger community beyond


immediate family?
Historically, in-laws and relatives.

Why should you trust a relative more than a stranger?


The love of ones own stands at the heart of any understanding of
how humans behave and whether that behavior can be predicted. It
also contrasts sharply with a competing vision of love the love of
acquired things, a tension that defines the last 500 years of
European and world history.

10

A STRUGGLE FOR THE AGES


The idea that this acquired love,

which includes romantic love,


should pre-empty the love of ones
own introduces a radical new
dynamic to history, in which the
individual and choice supersede
community and obligation.

11

BACK TO SHAKESPEARE

Romeo and Juliet


Montagues and Capulets are warring
clans
Romeo and Juliet are smitten
Which love takes precedence?
Love of ones own family, religion,
tradition?
Acquired love chosen to please the
individual?

12

A CONFLICT OF LOYALTIES

In traditional societies, marriages are/were often arranged


promoting loyalty and obligation to family and tradition over the
individual.
As a dynamic, the notion of romantic or acquired love a la
Romeo and Juliet suggests the individual and choice
supersede community and obligation.
American Declaration of Independence elevates life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness over obligation a shift from
traditional societies.

13

INTRODUCING IDEOLOGY

Europe: Revolutionary Protestantism and the Enlightenment


Protestantism elevates conscience to the pinnacle of human
faculties, and conscience dictates choice.
The Enlightenment: Choice + Reason = Idea:
The individual is bound not by what he is taught to believe, but
what his own reason tells him is just and proper .

14

THE EUROPEAN ENLIGHTENMENT


Tradition is superseded
by reason and the old
regime superseded by
artificially constructed
regimes forged in
revolution.

-- Dr. George Friedman

15

BIRTH AND MODERNITY


Modernity is the enemy of birth in general.


Old order: Dynasties, empires and monarchies distributed
rights based on birth.
Modern revolutionary regimes: Hold that birth is an accident
that gives no one authority. Rights are distributed based on
individual achievement and demonstrated virtue, not virtue
assumed at birth.

16

Love of Ones
Own Writ Large

A STRUGGLE FOR THE AGES


struggle between the love of ones


The
own and the love of acquired things has
been the hallmark of the last 500 years. It
has been a struggle between traditional
societies in which obligations derive from
birth and are imposed by a natural, simple
and unreflective love of ones own and
revolutionary societies in which
obligations derive from choice and from a
complex, self-aware love of things that are
acquired lovers or regimes.

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INTRODUCING NATIONALISM

The love of ones own community, clan or nationality -- is an


ALMOST overpowering impulse.
Almost = not quite: Self-love and love of acquired things are
celebrated in the modern age.
i.e., Citizenship can be acquired or renounced
Place of birth and history can never be shed

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A NOD TO ADAM SMITH


The Wealth of Nations


Economist belief: Primary purpose of
the individual = maximize self-interest
in the material sense to acquire wealth
All men will naturally seek to acquire
wealth if left to their own devices
Self-interest is a natural impulse.

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IF SMITH IS WHOLLY CORRECT


Altruism is impossible.
No soldier would consent to fight and die for the sake of an idea
or country.

Self-sacrifice is illogical.
Nationalism could not exist.

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NATIONALISM AND LOVE OF ONES OWN


This is one of those cases

in which the imagination is


baffled by the facts.
-- Adam Smith

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NATIONAL SELF-DETERMINATION: AN IDEAL


Concept born of European and American revolutions.


Pre-revolution: Dynasties governed nations by right of birth.
European revolutions: Goal was to break the regime.
Driving force: Love of ones own community and nation, hatred of
foreign domination.

Doctrine of national self-determination emerged as a principle,


coinciding with doctrine of rights of man.

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AN INESCAPABLE FORCE

the root of modern liberal


At
society, the eccentric heart of the
human condition continues to beat
the love of ones own.

There is no escape from


love of ones own, at least
not for the mass of
humanity

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AN INESCAPABLE FORCE

Nietzche spoke of horizons. A horizon is an optical


but it is a comforting illusion. It gives you the
illusion,
sense that the world is manageable rather than
enormously larger than you are. The horizon gives you
a sense of place that frames you and your community.
It relieves you of the burden of thinking about the
vastness of things. It gives you a manageable place,
and place, after love, defines who you are

the most.

24

Place and Fear


THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACE



D. Wilkinson

The nature of communities


whether cities, nations or
nomadic groups derives
from place.

25

THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACE



Heequals2henry

Geography helps to shape


culture.

26

OBSERVATIONS ON GEOGRAPHY

In addition to culture,
geography helps determine
strengths, imperatives and
constraints of a nation-state or
community.
For example:

27

GEOGRAPHY: MOUNTAINS

When located along


borders, mountains
help to defend against
invasion and promote
the growth of an
economy and culture.

28

GEOGRAPHY: MOUNTAINS

Located within borders,


mountains are often
home to insular clans
or societies with
distinctive cultures.
Insurgencies and
ethno-sectarian strife
may be found in these
regions (example:
Balkans).

29

GEOGRAPHY: RIVERS

Rivers are conducive


to trade, capital
formation and the
wealth of a society
as long as they flow
in the right direction.

30

GEOGRAPHY: RIVERS

Rivers are conducive


to trade, capital
formation and the
wealth of a society
as long as they flow
in the right direction.
(Russias dont.)

31

GEOGRAPHY: PLAINS

A well-watered plain is
conducive to farming,
agriculture and some
degree of selfsufficiency for a
society.
Plains are also a
traditional avenue for
attacking armies in
times of war.

32

A FEW WORDS ON FEAR


Love of ones own is quickly followed by fear of the other.


Fear is a constant between separate communities, living in
proximity.
Unknown intentions = distrust and fear.
Distrust drives pre-emptive action to ward off worst-case
scenarios.

33

THE KEY POINT


and other communities act


Nations
out of fear far more than they act
out of greed or love. The fear of
catastrophe drives foreign policies
of nomadic tribes and nationstates. That fear, in turn, is driven
by place. Geography defines
opportunities; it also defines
vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
The fear of dependence and
destruction drives nations a fear
that is ultimately rooted in place.

34

Time and
Resistance

WEALTH AND CLASS: ONGOING FRICTIONS


Communities are not homogeneous, and rarely behave as a


single organism. Each community may be home to different:
ETHNIC GROUPS

The distinction between rich and poor remains the most


essential it helps to frame identity and predict behavior.

35

Ariff Ahmad Tajuddin

SOCIAL CLASSES

Hepingting

Public domain

RELIGIOUS GROUPS

OBSERVATIONS ON CLASS AND MARXISM


the rich and the intellectual, an optical


For
illusion frequently emerges: that
nationalism doesnt really matter. The
worlds richest people, able to place layers
of technology and servants between
themselves and nature, live far more like
each other than like their own countrymen.
Wealth appears to dissolve place. The
same with the intelligentsia, who have more
in common with each other than with the
townsfolk who serve the food at the
university.

36

OBSERVATIONS ON CLASS AND MARXISM


One would think that similar universalization of interest


would take place among poorer people. Karl Marx argued
that the workers have no country and they feel
transnational solidarity with other workers. But there is not
the slightest empirical evidence that the workers or
peasants have felt they have no country or, at least,
community. Certainly, the 20th century has been the
graveyard of intellectual fantasies about the indifference of
lower classes to national interest.

37

TWO AXES OF COMMUNITY


When catastrophe occurs, who


shares your fate?
Small communities
(example: Israel): All are
affected, rich and poor
alike
Larger communities are
impacted to differing
degrees, based on the
resources available to
individuals

38

LARGE COMMUNITY

POOR

RICH

SMALL COMMUNITY

TWO AXES OF COMMUNITY


Conclusion: As a rule, poorer


classes are more conservative
about taking risks, and less
resilient if risk-taking results in
loss.

LARGE COMMUNITY

POOR

RICH

SMALL COMMUNITY

39

FEARS OF THE COMMON MAN


love is the first emotion that men


Ifexperience,
then fear is the second. Love
of ones own is rapidly followed by fear of
the other. The weaker the person, the
fewer the resources he has and the more
dependent he is on the community he
inhabits. The more dependent he is, the
more cautious he will be in taking risks.

The common man lives his life


in fear and he is not at all
irrational in doing so.

40

CLASS STRUGGLE IN THE DEMOCRATIC AGE


Struggle between (wealthy) internationalists and (common)


nationalists.
Internationalists: Transnational adventures the IMF, WTO,
European Union, NAFTA will benefit society as a whole in the
long run.
Common man: Less capacity to invest in, and sacrifice for, the
long run.
The distant future is a prospect that only the wealthy can enjoy.

41

FUNDAMENTAL TENSION BETWEEN NATIONS


AND INDIVIDUALS

Economic growth, on a macro scale, is a multi-generational


endeavor.
Societies and people run on different clocks:
Society counts in terms of generations and centuries
Individuals count in terms of years and decades

42

THE BOTTOM LINE


most circumstances, where the


Under
individuals affected are few and
disorganized, the nation grinds down the
individual. In those cases where the
individual understands that his children
might make a significant leap forward, the
individual might acquiesce. But when the
affected individuals form a substantial
bloc, and when even the doubling of an
economy might not make a significant
difference in the happiness of children,
they might well resist.

43

THE BOTTOM LINE


Focus on the clock on the


different scales of time, and how
they change things.

44

IMAGE CREDITS

The Hatfield Clan in 1897, U.S. public domain


Hamer Tribe, Turbi, Ethiopia, Rod Waddington, shared under terms of the Creative Commons AttributionShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.*
Shanklin Old Village, Steven Muster for the Geograph project collection, shared under terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.*
Victorian Town, Blists Hill, Colin Babb for the Geograph project collection, shared under terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.*
Atlantic City at Night, Ron Miguel, shared under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
license.**
Europe at the Beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, 1700, public domain
An Inuit boy untangles dogsled harnesses, D. Wilkinson, 1952, via Library and Archives Canada, shared under
terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.**
Times Square, looking south from 47th, Hequals2henry, shared under the Creative Commons AttributionShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.***
Jerusalem, Dome of the Rock, public domain
Group of friends smiling, Hepingting via Flickr, shared under terms of the Creative Commons AttributionShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.*
Beggar at Petaling Street, Ariff Tajuddin, shared under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
license.**

Note: Non-Stratfor images have been used here for illustrative purposes only, and are not intended to imply
endorsement of Stratfor by any artist. No outside artwork has been altered in any way, other than cropping or resizing
for purposes of this presentation.
*Terms of the license can be viewed at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
**Terms of the license can be viewed at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en
***Terms of the license can be viewed at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

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