Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Stratfor Video: Forecasting Geopolitics

This video by Stratfor is a long one, and a good one.  Two very knowledgeable, educated, and expert geopolitical analysts talk about their views on geopolitical forecasting.  For those of you who do not know Stratfor, a private intelligence gathering company, operates under two premises.  One is that all nations are ration actors, even if occasionally lead or beholden to by irrational men, the other is that there are constraints, demographics, resources, and geographical, that limit the number of moves a nation makes.

This means that while knowing what nations will do in the short term can be very difficult to forecast accurately, in the longer term you can see what a nation will do.  Economics alone doesn't dictate the actions of a nation, something we libertarian minded individuals forget.  There are also cultural, historical, and geographic causes for the events that we experience in the world, however, given the uniqueness of the United States relative to most older nations and nation states we often forget about these causes and think of it purely in economic terms. However, just because a nation has prosperous economic ties to another doesn't mean that the chance of future armed conflict is off the table.

  Just look at Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, both having extensive trade relations with one another, yet war broke out.  The theory has also been restated as the Golden Arches theory of war, the idea that having a McDonalds represents an economic development level were war becomes increasingly unpalatable between the two nations, which has been dis proven multiple times. 

A nation's foreign policy is shaped by externalities around it. Switzerland and Canada aren't neutral nations militarily out of the kindness of their national character; no, they do so because they can achieve their ends via other means and because it would be difficult for them to use military means to achieve their ends.  France, for all its bluster about American warmongering in Iraq and Kosovo, had no problem joining a conflict in Libya when it thought that she had something to gain from it. China and Russia's calls for caution in Syria, and opposition to the invasion of Iraq, have nothing to do with respecting the sovereignty of nation states, and everything to do with their own interests.

Either way I have rambled long enough when Mr. Kaplan and Mr. Friedman do a much better job explaining the theory of geopolitical forecasting and their own ideas on it.

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.