Deciphering the term ‘geopolitics’.

 8/1/2016  511

The furtherance of national interests of ones country while negotiating relations with foreign nations depends on the nation's economic might and respect commanded by it amongst the comity of World nations. The term 'respect' is symbolic of the trust developed between the nation and other world nations in context of fulfillment of trade treaties, support extended on issues of interest at international forums, defense cooperation, cultural contacts etc. that enables the nation to propel it's economic growth rate, raise per capita income of it's citizens, improve socio-economic indicators, achieve price stability, spur employment growth rate etc.

In deliberations ahead, we shall understand that relations between two nations may not be ideally of friendship, but are circumstantial as they may differ on most issues but may decide to collaborate on issues of common interest at international discussion platforms. The relations between the nations may also be guided by religiosity and thus may not have absolute economic underpinnings. It is in this context that relations between world nations are either fostered or maligned to achieve tangible economic progress or prevent the hostile nation's progress. Having explained the nature of engagements and collaborations in the above stanza, it would also be prudent to mention the exceptional case - the relationship between India and Pakistan, which is one of allergy between two blood brothers and thus is exploited by other opportunistic world nations to pin down either India or Pakistan.

In order to understand how World nations engage in politics at the international level to squeeze concessions from trading partners, let us critically analyse America’s policy of ‘Pivot to Asia’. It is known to all of us that America is the largest economy in the World in terms of GDP and GDP per capita, but how is it that it amassed so much wealth and knowledge since the American War of Independence (1776) and yet continues to lead research and innovation of new technologies. American diplomacy like others has always furthered domestic national interests and when terms of agreement are not considered favouring her, she backs out. For instance, America speaks of curbing emission of green house gases and yet is not a signatory of Kyoto protocol, even when the protocol asks for voluntary, non-binding declarations from nation states’.

American economy benefitted most in the post World War II era when it loaned funds for reconstruction of war torn Europe. And when Europe exhausted its capacity to repay loans and America could no longer honour the Gold-Dollar Exchange Rate monetary system, President Nixon out rightly denied Germany’s request to convert her dollar holdings to Gold, and in turn proposed Dollar-Dollar Exchange rate international monetary system in the Brettonwoods summit held in Hampshire, New Jersey. It also mooted the establishment of institutions of international repute popularly known as IMF and World Bank – Brettonwood twins, which, it has since then used to usher neo-imperialist policies, forcing cash strapped nations to tweak their domestic laws to suit American trade policy. The helm of these institutions is dominated by American minds or those belonging to like minded developed countries whose national interests act in synergy with US interests. It was during 1991 Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis of India when IMF put forth conditionalities to forward loan so as to tide over the shortfall in India’s BoP account, which stipulated that India open up her economy for trade relations with the global world, thereby providing market access to the MNC’s of these developed nations who benefitted the most by fulfilling the need of vast Indian populace.
Prior to this, in 1970’s, America interfered in Vietnam war so as to counter the check of socialist forces backed by Russia, and to further the hold of capitalist forces which would augment demand for western goods and provide market access.

America has carefully balanced its stance on the Kashmir issue so as not to favour either India or Pakistan, thus using both nations for specific power games. US needs Pakistan to act as a strategic ally in its war on terrorism and use Pakistani territory as launch-pad against terror groups having base in Swat valley, Afghanistan etc. America has been providing arms to Pakistan as well as finances under the Kerry-Luger bill to enable Pakistan to act as a partner in its war on terror, but this argument seems to be ill-founded and merely seems as an attempt to further the prospects of its domestic arms industry and keep the arms race in South Asia alive, which would deviate precious resources in South Asia nations away from productive and meaningful activities that help in human development, trade and commerce.

Secondly, US has been supportive of India’s stance at UNSC for a permanent seat as well as NSG membership as India’s rise would help contain the growth of Chinese economy, which could rise to challenge US hegemony in coming decades, as is evident from China’s plan to revive the silk route to boost foreign trade.

America’s ‘Pivot To Asia’ policy is also symbolic of its intentions to tap the growing trade potential with the ASEAN nations as well as to prevent China from asserting it’s hegemonic control over the South China sea. It is a certain fact that since China has no outlet to the Indian Ocean via which most of its maritime trade occurs, therefore China is desperate to secure the sea lanes of communication passing through the Strait of Magellan and South China Sea as well establish a string of ports in Indian Ocean littoral nations that will act as ports of call.

It is not only America but India as well who is concerned with Chinese presence in PoK, where Pakistan and China are constructing a tunnel of underground tunnels to provide year round connectivity from Pakistan’s Gwadar port to China’s South-west province, which will provide China an outlet in the Arabian sea thus bypassing the sea route via Magellan strait and disputed South China Sea.

However, America has been stonewalling India’s peace clause on the issue of ‘Public Stockholding of Food Grains’ and to counter similar claims of other developing nations, has fostered the emergence of Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement which will enhance it’s trade relations with Pacific Ocean littoral states who agree with US mooted policies at WTO but due to apprehensions posed by the lot of developing nations have not been able to enter into trade agreements with US.

US has been careful to usher regime change in countries with dictatorship such as in Libya, Egypt, Iraq and now Syria so as to propel the forces of capitalism which shall provide US MNC’s with greater market access. This fight for greater market access formed the basis of imperialist conquests that had gripped the entire World till the dawn of 21st century and resulted in two World Wars.

The fall in crude prices is by no means a chance event. It is a deliberate attempt by OPEC members to deter research and development of renewable energy technologies as they control the spiraling crude oil prices thus earning windfall profits. Oil producing nations have earned supernormal profits for many years now and the current low level of oil prices even if it continues for few more years would not dent the their profits. Oil importing nations too, are having a good time with crude prices way-off from their peak levels of $145/barrel. Therefore, it is the OPEC members who have entered into geopolitics to protect their hold over energy prices of the World which certainly are a driving force behind growth rate of World economies.

It is thus the urge to be at helm on the domestic front that nation-states engage in diplomacy to scout for resources, enhance market access and enter into partnerships with like minded nations to garner support at international forums to further their interests. It is the political engagement at the global level to fulfill national interests that is referred to as geopolitics for which diplomacy is the required qualification.

 

 

 

 

 

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