Peace for Life: Geopolitics II

International Conference on Peace for Life in North East Asia
Korea Christian Faculty Fellowship
15. – 19. May 2005 at Roman Catholic Retreat Center, Uiwang, Korea

Geopolitics of Empire and Peace
Prof. M. J. Masango

If proof were needed that the 21st century will be about the struggle to shape Asia’s destiny, then it come from the month of Condoleezza Rice last march. In new Delhi for the day during her trip across the continent, the U.S secretary of state told the Indian prime minis-ter that America’s newest foreign policy goal was to “help India Become a major world power in the 21st century”.

A state department briefing elaborated by saying that Washington understood “fully the implications, including military implications, of that statement.” Sealed by the promise of a visit to New Delhi by president Bush later this year, these unequivocal statements imply that America wants India to be a permanent friend. The message is that India is not a great power, but it has the potential to emerge as one. Asia is a period of dramatic change, a time dominated by the breath-taking rise of china. Such upheaval suits the white house, which considers turmoil important because it offers hitherto unrealized opportunities. Those moments are America’s chance to determine the future of the world. The main question to ask is, why America is shifting and changing politics and geographical setting of the world?

Since September 11 and the commencement of the “war on terror” the world attention has been focused on the relationship between the U.S foreign policy in the middle east, Asia and Africa. The main focus of US is on resources that are on developing countries, espe-cially oil that lie beneath the region’s soil. Klaus traces this problem of oil impact on inter-national affairs since world war ii, reviling its influence on the Truman.Eiscuhower, Nixon and Carter’s doctrines. Klaus, 2000:31. He father shows how America’s own wells are dry-ing up as the demands increases. Finally, Klaus suggest that by 2010, the US will need to import 60% of its oil. Hence geopolitics of the empire , which seek to change the world. All the above have to come from chronically unstable, often violent anti American zones – the Persian Gulf, the Caspian sea, Latin America, and Africa. In short, their dependency is bound to lead to current military involvement. In other words blood and oil are changing political set up of the world, and violence is used to those who do not obey. The empire is stretching its arms in order to rule the countries.

the term ‘geopolitics’ was first used at the end of the nineteenth century by a Swedish po-litical geographer- Rudolph Kjellen. Since its formal inception, geopolitics has enjoyed a contested and controversial intellectual history. He was this as “the science, which con-ceives of the state as a geographical organism or as a phenomenon in space found favor in inter war Germany (cited in Parker 1985; 55).

The global world adopted this concept and started using it in ordering the world especially in the South. Later on John Agnew argues that geopolitics was inspired by a particular way of viewing the world (Agnew1998). Geopolitics now coincided with certain modernist be-lief that it was possible to view the world in its totality. It is interesting to note that the ear-liest innovators of geopolitics in Europe and America tended to view geopolitics as a form of geographical reasoning, which stressed the capacity of states to act, within a changing global arena. In other words geopolitics was therefore a decidedly state- centric enterprise in the sense that, the nation state was paramount. More over, the physical environment was frequently conceptualized as a fixed stage on which political events occurred, rather than a dynamic and shifting problem, which influenced the very conceptualization of world poli-tics. Agnew finally says that; “geopolitics is a discourse concerned with the relationship be-tween power - knowledge, social and political relations.” 1995:58.This is how geopolitics began affecting the global world –re arranging the world in pursuit of resources, which de-stroyed relations among states.

The geopolitics affected the Soviet Union as well. It suffered a triple agenda loss in the pe-riod of 1989-1991, especially its exit from the cold war. From history and finally the abro-gation of the capitalism-socialism-communism agenda, and giving up the idea of a Soviet Union, or the building of a multicultural society (with Russian dominance). As a result the Soviet Union needed a broader reach and it had to go back to history to rediscover an agenda from the debris –and hubris- of the past. Then the world had to face Wilsonian agenda –especially Eastern Europe. The above formula was needed in order to dismantle the Australian – Hungarian Hapsburg Empire the end result was Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and the illusion of Yugoslavia. In other words, the communist revolution touched Hungary and went as far as Bavaria, finally stabilizing the world’s biggest country and third biggest population- Soviet Union. As the result of the above, Soviet Union was not able to built a better socialistic program, a better Soviet Union –social democracy and more non-federal state. This was Gorbachev’s double agenda. In short, changes that occurred be-trayed the Soviet Union strategies. The war zone began splitting countries into different loyalties. There were three major actors of the non-aligned movement! West Asia, India and China. For example, the non-Arab part of west Asia did not form part of the Non aligned movement: Turkey ( with the small European part), the six ex-Soviet Muslim re-publics (known as central Asia), Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Three of these were aligned with the west, seven with the East. When the Empire works among counties with resources, it divides and conquers.

India suffer double blow as the agenda affected the non –aligned and socialism. Countries were moving from socialism into capitalism, or market free society.

Then there is China, which tried to keep people out – keeping the country in one peace, in-cluding Hong Kong, Macar and Taiwan. Add to the changes is the issue of capitalism. Above all these problems, China had its own agenda, and is accountable to no one else- ex-cept them. These are problems we are now facing.

When one analyzes changes that have occurred since early nineties, one can clearly see how politics have changed. For e.g. the demise of the entire basis of cold war ideological geo-politics, especially in the USA, the protective cocoon and organizing framework that the cold war provided to political and intellectual life has shriveled. In its place has come an extreme ontological insecurity, a wide spread sense of uncertainty about how to organize world politics in its absence. Now the reader will understand why a perception of increased insecurity was significantly heightened by the terror attacks of September 11 on the world trade center in New York, and the Pentagon in Washington Dc- the first major military as-saults on the US main land since the British army burned the white house during the war of 1812. Since September 11 the number of plausible geopolitical scenarios were constructed. Afghanistan and Iraq were attack in pursued of terrorist.

One point does seem clear: the ideological geopolitics of the cold war worked because two states pretending to the mantle of modernity confronted one another globally. Neither a militant Islam nor, for example, evil drug baron’s provide an equally well- defined, com-petitive and potent substitute, although some politicians in the US and Europe do offer demonized portraits of Japan, China, and or the Islamic world that will give the impression. In the absence of either a widely accepted alternative world – view or a convincing re-placement for the former Soviet Union the geopolitical imagination must once more be re-constituted. But there are confusing and contradictory signs as to how this will be done. It is how ever difficult to portray a single scenario as to what is in the process of replacing the cold war as an organizing template for global geopolitics

The process of globalization, regionalism and geopolitical fragmentation are exposing new challenges for geopolitics. Globalization emerged as a central point of theorization and de-bate within the recent changes in the world system is so profound that global politics, eco-nomics and culture have been radically altered. For example globalization emerged as a central point of theorization and debate within the humanities and social sciences. Over the last ten years, internationalization was replaced by globalization because it was considered to be more helpful in analyzing cross –boundaries interaction. The hegemony of the nation state (an alliance with an international system) is being challenged by a range of develop-ments, and the role and function of states as institutions and as forms of governance be-comes changed. The growth of multilateral organization, international agencies and multi-national corporations has challenged the capacity of the state to formulate and implement legislation. The management of national economies has had to be carried out in a context where the wishes of the state elite co-exist with the demands of international money mar-kets, international obligations and globalize flows of capital. Issues such as inflation, envi-ronmental damage, drugs and unemployment are trans boundary in the sense that no one states or grouping of state can control these concerns due to geopolitics. New forms of in-ternational cooperation have been required, such as the European union’s charter, which sort to regulate social and economic affairs within fifteen European states. Non- govern-mental organizations have challenged the capacities of states as globalization in thought to have increased the ranged of actions available to small groups and firms. For some analysis of globalization, the expanding influence of small groups in economics and environmental affairs may not be a positive step, because it could stimulate new forms of tribalism as op-posed to globalize shared human responsibility. (Naisbitt, 1995; Simai1997). These are but a few problems that are faced by developing countries.

The United States is the most powerful nation in the world and it often acts unilaterally, but is it an Empire? Though some insist that “empire” means only direct rule over large scale conquered territory, the United States today looks decidedly imperial. The term em-pire has entered common usage, not only among critics but also among advocates of mus-cular US policy and global superiority. Economist Niall Ferguson has written about the British Empire as a lesson-book for contemporary US power. Influential Washington neo-conservatives are using the E-word freely, insisting that the US is the world’s most benevo-lent nation and that it should use its imperial power robustly to expand “freedom” across the globe. This section considers not only the utility of the Empire concept but also the way which the Us (empire are not) deploys its economic, political and military power glob-ally, limiting the force of international law, shrinking the capacity of international organiza-tions, and reducing the possibility of multilateral action and democratic self- governance in an increasingly interdependent world. We ask also: what limits will this empire encounter, can it sustain “full spectrum dominance” for the foreseeable future or will it provoked such broad opposition that its era of hegemony and prosperity comes swiftly and decisively to a close?

The use of the word “Empire” in relation to American power in the world was once con-troversial often restricted to the left- wing critiques of us hegemony.

Galtung once again had this to say about US. “under the logic of the new world
Order, the United States is assumed to be not just a hegemony’s hegemon, the seat
Of ultimate power in the world system. (1995:47).

The use of power in Europe gathered allies together, and the undamaged west started help-ing damage western countries. In the south the west continues to divide and rule. Now you have US agenda and European union as clear examples of allies helping each other. Today Europe is working towards federation. This kind of union is aiming at oppressing Southern countries. The main question to ask, is what about Japan, The eastern country that is part of the west in the cold war sense, but only in that sense. Let me warn you that Japan is not on the same agenda as western countries. My analysis is in two areas, the ascendancy over its near neighbors, and secondly the “Asia for the Asians” projects. The last one led to two major wars against Russia, as well as against colonialism of England, France, The Nether-lands, Portugal and finally United States. Japan succeeds in all this except in the case of US- especially in its bid to become a major non-colonial power in Asia- pacific region. The geo-politics of that time concerned western colonial to withdrew from the region-an agenda that pleased Japan. The United States was the only power that remained. The above facts will lead us to conclude that Japan should be on the collision course with the US. But we need to note that military defeat in 1945 made for the suspension of the above agenda i.e. the cold war, and Japan’s transformation from passive to active. Apart from the above, Ja-pan continues to pursue these long- term agendas economically. Galtung remarks are worth noting here “if war is politics pursued through other means, is not economics war pursue through other means?” 1995:45. The rhetoric differs, but the organization form as well as many of the actors is the same. Now a nations political discourse, the concept of Empire, and even the phrase “pox –American” are increasingly referred to in unapologetic ways. Today hegemony has become a deroqotory by word of US foreign policy, and the unilater-ally driven by selfish pursuit of its national interest, the US is said to be willing to step on any bodies head to keep and to protect it primacy in the world. But even if this blunt analy-sis is accurate, this is in the end amounts to a normal imperial policy. The cruelty of empire is seen through out the world. Rome is the good example. It is important to note that em-pires are made of blood. The cross, which now symbolizes Christianity and its ideals of mercy and tolerance, was for centuries a sign of power and of the most atrocious death the Roman empire could devise. Lines of crosses holding thousands of people were erected on the sides of roads leading to Rome warning the foreign travelers and reassuring the Roman citizens of the pitiless power of Rome. Rome was a cruel empire, and it new it so well that Cato, speaking of the enemies of Rome, would say “let them hate us as long as they fear us” (cited in Hobsbawn , 1995: 293). One can understand the aggression that comes from USA, especially amongst Islamic world. The US though also an empire, can’t bring its self to adopt the Roman ways. It can’t stand other peoples hatred and even resent the fact that its foreign policy is labeled (hegemonistic). In this way the United States is unconsciously thinking along lines similar more similar to those of the Chinese rather than of the Roman Empire force, although sometimes necessary they say, must be used as the instrument of the last resort, persuasism, wining the heart of potential enemies must be preferred to ter-ror striking the heart of the people. But this preferred policy doesn’t work so well, or it is not implemented well enough. How can the US avoid being regarded as the hegemonistic, or empire.

Galtung remind us about agenda that are set by the power full
“it is rather obvious that the cold war (like the USA) was a great agenda setter. It gave the elites all over the world something to do; kept them off the streets, if not out of mischief within its construct were three agendas easily identifiable as super or overarching agendas that did not vary very much from country to country, or from one elite in power to the next.( cited in Delimaand Karag-dageds, 1995:44).

In those days the western were fighting communism which made them form a block guided by the super power and developing armament armed at military superiority in all theaters and major weapons systems, building democracy and capitalism through market systems. Any country, which fought against their system, was crucified and destroyed in the name of democracy. On the other hand the eastern agenda was fighting “imperialism” by forming a block guided by the super power and developing arms aimed at military party in a broad sense building single- party guidance system and socialism through planning.

The developing countries enrolled in neither bloc, becoming a client of neither super power and putting them against each other, building modern nation- states that identified their own mix of democracy/ single party and capitalism/socialism. The above developed as a result of reacting to communism, which set the agenda that re order the world. Gal-tung summarizes the above move of geopolitics and the changing world in especially its agenda the following way: “the war created an agenda for every one even for the (more or less) neutral countries ( just as the cold war created one for the non –aligned countries). There was a very clear job to do, win, after the second war, rivalry started among western world with (militant) Japan which brought a new challenge, with their allies in the back ground e.g., Germany (Nazi), Italy ( Fascists), Spain and Portugal (fascists). Now the west had to identify two possible countries for confrontation in developing countries, e.g. third and fourth world, in South east world (Buddhist-Confucian cultures) which is the counter –pole in economic growth in the west. History share one part dominating and oppressing other part. We need to revisit the history of Christians in Rome. During those days, Chris-tians could withstand all of the roman cruelty- they were not afraid of painful death, but will gladly embrace it as martyrdom. When subject are no longer afraid of punishment they can’t be ruled.

For this reason the spiritual rule of the church would try to work on the principle of per-suasion rather than terror. It is easy for Christians to create peace rather than terror. It hap-pened in South Africa and Ireland, Rwanda and other parts are following the trend of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. It is important to note that the analytical framework of critical geopolitics is derived from a mixture of sources, including discourse analysis, in-ternational political economy, feminist approaches and postmodern social theory. The above lead us to globalization,-a new concept that introduces technology and other new developments

Luke says that
“the changes associated with globalization have been enabled by a host of technological, economic and cultural changes – from Just in time ware housing shipping, containerization, the fax machine, the internet, and easy round –the- world air travel through offshore pro-duction and integrated world commodity, currency and stork markets to world wide con-sumer tastes, the massive spread of Diaspora communities, and the mass availability of ex-otic vacations. Luke 2103:228.
The above has caused the western countries to stretch their arms in trading aggressively to developing countries. As a result, the developing countries are flooded by these commodi-ties, and undermine cultural closure. The flow of information, goods, people and capital around certain parts of the world ( especially between Europe, north America, and east Asia) not only cause potential friction between cultures, but also tire cultures together, and increase tension within culture areas as different social group and individuals make differ-ent judgments about this or that external influences.

For peace to function in the midst of all these problems, countries need to unite, especially in the South. Churches , non-governmental organizations, and grass roots organizations need to work together in fighting the empire. This agenda will force us to dialogue and strategies with each other. Peace full demonstration are next in the agenda, especially where the G8 and world trade organizations meet. These organizations that challenges empire, must create a new international order, and create also an active and constructive participa-tion with each other. The above will help us create a new international community, (which will help us contribute towards a new world, addressing issues of injustice, oppression, globalization etc. finally, the most important change that Americans could make in US pol-icy would be to dismantle their imperial presidency and restore a balance among the execu-tive , legislative and judicial branches of their government. The massive and secret powers of the department of defense and the CIA have subverted the republican structure of our democracy, and left them exposed to the real danger of a military take over. Reviving their constitutional system would do more than any thing else to protect our peace and security. This is one way of securing peace. The above can be a strategy embarked by concerned Americans, who are angry at their system.


1.Agnew J. 2003. Geopolitics –re-visioning world politics. London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.
2.Clark I 1998 Globalization and Fragmentation –international Relations in the twentieth century. UK: Ox-ford University Press.
3.De Lima V. and Karagdag C. (Editors) 1995. Peace Disarmament and Symbiosis in the Asia –Pacific Phil-ippines: Solidaridad Foundation
4. Dodds K. 2000 Geopolitics in a changing world. England: University of London.
5. Hobsbawm E 1995. Age Of Extremes. The short twentieth century 1914-1991 UK Abacus.
Parker , g.,1985, Western Geopolitical thought, London: Croom Helm.