Another world war is looming large. China’s technology is advancing rapidly, while Russia is rich in resources, and the United States is still a world power. Who will win is uncertain. Future combat will verify the military might of the warring parties. The first world war started in Bosnia and Herzegovina; the second in Poland; will the third one start in the Far East?
Geopolitics and geostrategy deal with social and political processes and are preoccupied with the problem of the security of states relative to their location on the globe. Jacek Bartosiak, the advocate, doctor of social sciences, author of “Pacific and Eurasia. About War”, co-founder of the National Center for Strategic Studies, is a Polish expert in this field.
His views are worth discussing as they touch on the key global problems. He presents timeless rules governing politics and deriving from history, the mother of all knowledge. He analyzes the current political situation and draws conclusions for the future. His point of view differs from the one presented in most of the current studies and draws on the original theory of 1904 developed by British geographer and politician Halford Mackinder, which according to Jacek Bartosiak is still valid despite the development of technology.
For all practical purposes the globe contains one continent, Eurasia, and the rest are just islands. He who rules this continent rules the world. Eurasia can be divided into two zones: heartland (centre) and rimland (edge). The heartland has limited access to the sea, which hinders its participation in world trade and thus contributes to its economic weakness. So, in order to be able to play a role in the world, heartland countries, like Russia, tend to have strong armies and governments.
Rimland in turn is a coastal area which can benefit from cheap maritime transport while trading with the world and so is generally better developed. Profitable location favours capital accumulation. Rimland countries, like those of Western Europe, tend to fall under the dominance of a player with the strongest fleet. Heartland and rimland are separated by a crush zone where tensions accumulate and wars break out. Poland, and Ukraine, to give an example, lie in such a zone.
China, Russia, and the US intend to revise the global system and and gain a better position. The global order established after the Second World War has come to an end. Jacek Bartosiak believes that Beijing’s intentions are the most important question in the 21st century. The rapidly developing Middle Kingdom is seeking to deprive the United States of the latter’s influence in the Pacific and Eurasia, and does not accept Americans as arbitrators of almost all international disputes, especially in China’s sphere of influence.
Beijing has begun to influence former US allies such as the Philippines or Malaysia in a bid to make them stop cooperating with Washington. At the same time, through the project of the new Silk Road, China is striving to create a communication and trade link that will enable it to dominate Eurasia and become independent of sea routes. As we remember, naval blockade led to the German defeat in the First World War (though one can wonder whether this defeat was not the result of simply changing the balance of power after the US joined the war). The United States, in Mackinder’s view, is the strongest player which despite being island dominates the world, which turns out to be an anomaly. It is a maritime power that has influenced coastal states and controlled trade routes such as Malacca, the longest strait in the world, between Indonesia and Malaysia, connecting the Pacific to the Indian Ocean.
Strait of Malacca. Source: Wikipedia.
Jacek Bartosiak applies the term projection of strength or ability to move troops to distant regions, carry out military demonstrations, gain influence and use force to prevent competitive powers from coming into being. If the South China Sea islands were the theater of war, the United States would lose its advantage over China, due to long communication and supply lines.
Jacek Bartosiak also claims that the conflict in Ukraine took place because Ukraine is a gate to the heartland of Eurasia, with communication lines with all the world. Russia as a landlocked state is not safe on its outskirts and so it is trying to strengthen its position in an alliance with maritime powers, like it was during World War Two, though at present Moscow is in alliance with another heartland state, China. The Middle Kingdom is not a maritime power, is a typical heartland country because it has a great land area and first of all is seeking to dominate Eurasia. Because of location, Russia is doomed to imperial policy, dictated by the necessity to reach the ports of warm seas, needed for the development of its economy. Moscow can only be safe when its neighbours are economically and militarily endangered. It did not subject itself to the dictates of the United States because as a typical heartland state it has too large an area, which means that maritime blockade, otherwise effective, does not work in the case of Russia.
Concluding a temporary alliance with Beijing, Moscow is waiting for the development of events in the South China Sea, which will determine the steps Russia will take relative Ukraine. A possible US-China conflict will set in motion a process of the revision of the global power system. In such a case Russia’s alliance with China will be activated and then the final game in Ukraine will be launched. Russia will probably act like during World War Two i.e. it wants to join the war as a member of an alliance challenging the world system (like formerly with Germany), and then finish it as a member of the victorious allied camp, presumably as a NATO partner.
The United States is trying to preserve its current dominant position, and cannot stand idle by as China is taking over world trade. One may wonder whether this thesis has no weak point. How did the state of a typical center achieve such economic power?
America is mostly threatened by China. The main conflict is not between Russia and the United State but between China and the United States. The expert gives no prediction of who will win the global confrontation. He merely emphasizes that the US has lost the advantage (partly military) in 2008-2009. He also thinks that it is very difficult to assess the military power during peacetime. Future combat will verify the military might of the warring parties.
1. Jacek Bartosiak o Nowym Porządku Świata, YouTube 2017-04-01.
2. Jacek Bartosiak, Chiny przejmują świat, YouTube 2017-09-04.
3. Bartosiak: USA chciałyby rewizji porządku światowego na taki, który dalej sprzyjałby ich gospodarce, YouTube 2017-08-17.
4. Jacek Bartosiak – Chiny & USA Konfrontacja,YouTube 2017-03-06.
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