May 25, 2014
In the allocation of world power, the periods of hegemonic transition have always been fraught with major confrontations.
One hundred and ten years have passed since the British geographer and economist Halford J. Mackinder published his notorious paper on geopolitics, The Pivot of History, otherwise known as the Heartland Theory.
In his view, economic and military power was about to pass from what could be considered fringe, peripheral sea powers like England and the United States, to mainland Europe, namely to Germany. Mackinder noticed that Germany’s technological and industrial base, rail infrastructure and military capabilities, combined with Russia’s enormous natural resources would ultimately displace seafaring powers like England from their hegemonic position.
Last week’s historical, 400 billion-dollar Sino-Russian gas contract over 30 years, however, seems to point towards a mega-realignment of geopolitical alliances, which in future will indeed favour Eurasian powers (China, Russia) at the expense of the United States and its NATO allies.
As Anatole Kaletsky has also recently noted, China and Russia have by now acquired a common enemy (USA-EU-NATO). They have highly complementary economies, an established economic and military potential, as well as a clear desire to be recognised as leaders in a new, multipolar international order. China’s rise as a world power, supported by Russia in the background, is already attracting in its sphere of influence countries from all over Asia such as Iran, Pakistan and the five ‘stans’. Meanwhile, the US’s appetite for global leadership is on the wane even if, for the time being, it still counts as the world’s foremost military and economic power.
The early recognition of this mega geopolitical shift in world affairs should become a main objective of EU diplomacy. Our continent, exhausted by two world wars, happens to be severely lacking in natural resources as well. Blunders like the one in which the EU has found itself embroiled with Ukraine, and the sterile promotion of the Washington consensus’ agenda in countries surrounding the Union, should now give way to more sober foreign policy calculations. Failing this, the new Sino-Russian alliance might provide European diplomats – especially those from the Baltic states, much too vocal for their own good – with a few nasty and unwelcome surprises in the future.Florian Pantazi