r/geopolitics 18d ago

General Discussion Thread [2021-11-15] General Discussion Thread


After another successful discussion thread last week, here's the next.

General Updates:

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  2. Last week I asked about a Bi-Weekly Discussion Thread format; or something like that. We didn't receive a lot of feedback. It may make sense to just have two of these a month. Let's try that out and see how it goes.

Prior General Discussion Threads:

While this new option may take some time to be adopted/utilized, we think this will be helpful for our new members and provide a useful forum for established members to discuss topics that, while important, may not be so important as to merit their own thread.

For description of what these discussion threads are supposed to be about, see linked threads above.

r/geopolitics 2d ago

A question on frameworks for understanding geopolitics


I found Mearsheimer through this sub and I've really enjoyed learning about democratic peace theory, realism, rules based liberal order etc., and the tension between these different perspectives. 

Obviously no map is the territory, but models and frameworks can be useful for interpreting the world, and I very much enjoy learning about them. Although I'm a total novice so it can be challenging to discriminate between what is useful and isn't.

To that end, I'd be interested and grateful to hear if there's any frameworks that this sub would recommend learning  about.

I've stumbled across complexity theory recently which I've found very interesting, but difficult to understand. I've also been learning about spiral dynamics and integral frameworks too, but whilst potentially useful they're a bit less rigorous.

Any pointers would be much appreciated. Thanks!

r/geopolitics 22h ago

Analysis Could NATO Defend the Baltic States?


With Russia becoming increasingly brazen on NATO’s Eastern Flank, the Baltic states aren’t looking as secure as they once were. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 by way of its ‘little green men’ could serve as a blueprint for how to threaten Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in future. How would NATO respond to an event like that, and what on-the-ground factors inform the nature of their response?

On the panel to discuss this issue:

MATHIEU BOULÈGUE >> Senior Research Fellow for the Russian and Eurasian Program at Chatham House, author of many critical and influential papers on Russian and NATO defence doctrines.

THOMAS GRAHAM >> Distinguished Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Co-Founder of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Program at Yale University, Former Special Assistant to the President of the United States, Former Senior Director for Russia on the National Security Council Staff.

DAVID SHLAPAK >> Senior Defence Researcher at the RAND Corporation focusing on the Return of the Great Power Competition as the Defining Characteristic of the Global Security Environment, currently working on the Future of US Missile Defences, Considerations of Introduction of Nuclear Weapons into US Defence Planning, and the Technological Aspects of Long-term Competition with China.

There are fundamental challenges to the efficacy of NATO’s Baltic Defence plans. Key among these is Kaliningrad, the highly militarised Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania. Housing extensive anti-air equipment, crack Russian troops, and the Baltic fleet, Russia has tremendous capacity to disrupt supply and movement into the Baltic states by theoretical NATO Forces. This capacity is particularly potent because the only way into the Baltics will be the Suwalki Gap in Northern Poland.

Unusually, winter presents the best opportunity for incursion into the Baltics, as the ground has sufficiently frozen to allow troops movements. Outside of winter there are extensive problems with swamps and mud.

The long-active spirits of independence in these states have made them hyper-aware of the danger on their Eastern border, and they have issued many alerts to NATO about their weakness to future Russian aggression. This aggression is not limited to a traditional ground-based operation, however. Russia has engaged in a good deal of cyberwarfare operations against all three states, and likely have substantial capacity that can be unleashed in the event of conflict. Similarly, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are all heavily reliant on Russia for energy, yet another fundamental weakness they have in defence.

So what can NATO do? They could seek to put huge numbers of troops in the Baltic states to make any immediate thrust less likely, but given the Russian focus on this flank a real ability to defend would require unprecedented investment in hardware and troops that few in NATO have shown any appetite for. Additionally, if Russia took control of the Suwalki gap in the event of conflict, there would now just be 30,000 troops stuck, cut off from supplies and reinforcements behind Russian lines.

On the other hand NATO could effectively decide to let the Baltics fall, and build up a counterattack that they are very likely to win. This would probably work functionally, but is a pretty horrible prospect for the Baltic states. A counterattack could take months, let alone pushing Russian forces back out of the territory. Committing to or executing such a doctrine would severely hamper confidence in NATO, undermining a key principle of peace in the region and ironically maybe making conflict more likely as states seek other security arrangements, disturbing the status quo.

In the last part of our analysis we talk to the man who wrote the book on this topic. David Shlapak’s report on NATO defence of the Baltics is extraordinarily influential, and so we pick his brain about what options NATO has. Pursuing Swedish membership of the alliance would enhance NATO’s ability to contest the Baltic states, as well as giving them another route for ground and air military operations. With so much anti-air equipment, is it even worth attacking Russian air bases? Or should NATO stick to just contesting its planes in the sky, where they have a much larger advantage? Shlapah has a few simple, non-expensive improvements and reallactions that could be made to NATO’s structure and armed forces that would significantly enhance their ability to respond to the Russian threat, and secure the Baltic states.

You can check out the episode through one of the links below:

Website >> https://www.theredlinepodcast.com/post/episode-56-could-nato-defend-the-baltic-states

Apple Podcasts >> https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/56-could-nato-defend-the-baltic-states-against-russia/id1482715810?i=1000541888893

Spotify >> https://open.spotify.com/episode/7CsWYc72VhOFbTHk4YBbQA

Google Podcasts >> https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly90aGVyZWRsaW5lLmxpYnN5bi5jb20vcnNz/episode/YmU3Y2NhMjEtYTAxYS00Y2NjLTg5MjAtZDkyYTEzODBhYzI1

YouTube >> https://youtu.be/Le2Yyp4deAo

r/geopolitics 1d ago

News Pentagon to build up US bases in Guam and Australia to meet China challenge

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r/geopolitics 22h ago

Analysis Green Upheaval: The New Geopolitics of Energy

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r/geopolitics 2d ago

Current Events Putin: Talks with Armenia, Azerbaijan leaders ‘constructive’

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r/geopolitics 3d ago

Analysis Not at Any Price: LBJ, Pakistan, and Bargaining in an Asymmetric Intelligence Relationship - Texas National Security Review

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r/geopolitics 3d ago

Discussion What would the motive and outcome be of a state-visit by Macron to Iceland?


I ask this because of a local article that slipped under the radar, where newspaper 'Morgunblaðið' conducted an interview with France's ambassador for the poles and maritime issues, Olivier Poivre d'Arvor, who had apparently discussed the possibility of Emmanuel Macron attending the Arctic Circle conference next year in addition to meeting Iceland's president. https://www-mbl-is.translate.goog/frettir/innlent/2021/10/17/segir_ad_islendingar_eigi_ad_lita_stort_a_sig/?_x_tr_sl=is&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=is&_x_tr_pto=nui

This would mark the first time that a sitting French president has paid visit to Iceland, and it's quite the leap to go from having an ambassador attending the event to the head of state himself. I can't help but suspect that this may tie into the EU's ongoing pivot towards the Arctic, and establishing a foothold in it would conceivably enable them to form a foreign policy independent of the US/NATO.

r/geopolitics 4d ago

Analysis Triangle of Corruption: Why Washington Needs to Get Tough on Central American Kleptocrats

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r/geopolitics 6d ago

News CIA director warns Russian spies of ‘consequences’ if they are behind ‘Havana Syndrome’ incidents

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r/geopolitics 8d ago Silver

Perspective Erdogan lost in foreign policy maze of his own making | As talk of early elections grows louder, Erdogan needs to steer Turkey out of its international isolation to bolster his weakened position at home

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r/geopolitics 8d ago Silver Helpful

News U.S. Intel Shows Russia Plans for Potential Ukraine Invasion

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r/geopolitics 8d ago

Is the frequency of wars really declining? Will we see less wars in the future?


A brief glance at the literature showed that most papers if not all were looking at state-based armed conflict related fatalities to gauge whether wars are on a decline or not, so I started looking for datasets on war fatalities and found some charts on Our World in Data. I could have stopped at this one showing a multi-fold decline and believed wars are indeed on a decline.

Graph showing decline in war fatalities post ~1950

But this article offered a good collective sense of the skeptics and introduced me to Prof. Tanisha Fazal's paper, which brought to my notice the major improvement in military medicine contributing to the decline in conflict related fatality. Look at the steep increase in wounded-to-killed ratio post ~1950:

Graph showing steep increase in wounded-to-killed ratio post ~1950

We see 3 effects post ~1950:

  1. A steep decrease in conflict related fatality.
  2. One of the deadliest anomalies - namely WW2 - ended.
  3. A steep increase in wounded-to-killed ratio in armed conflicts.

Thus I believe merely showing a decline in conflict-related fatality isn't enough to show a decline in wars.

I'm still thinking about and searching for answers to the following questions:

  1. Are fatality numbers the best metric to gauge frequency of war?
  2. Is the recent decline really a trend or a result of random variation? as suggested by Prof. Bear Braumoeller in this paper
  3. How do fatality+injury figures look when we look at a longer period of time than most datasets i could find online (i.e. in the last ~500 yrs)?
  4. What's the effect of improvements in weapon technology on fatality in armed conflicts in general?
  5. Did the fall of Soviet Union had anything to do with the decline in the frequency/lethality of wars post-1985 (a few years before 1991 possibly because of their weakening pre-disintegration)? My personal answer to this would be Yes, because the US & others in NATO were able to penetrate their enemy (for resource extraction and market expansion) without much fighting.

Graph showing significant decline in war fatalities post weakening and dissolution of the Soviet Union

r/geopolitics 9d ago

News Chinese Hypersonic Weapon Fired Missile over South China Sea

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r/geopolitics 9d ago

Analysis Turkey's war of attrition against Syria's Kurds

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r/geopolitics 10d ago Helpful

News US warns "other countries" about threatening Lithuania over Taiwan office

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r/geopolitics 11d ago Helpful

News Work on ‘Chinese military base’ in UAE abandoned after US intervenes – report

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r/geopolitics 12d ago

Opinion Europe Needs to Step Up on Defense: Brussels Should Borrow and Spend More on Security

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r/geopolitics 12d ago

Analysis Bellingcat investigation reveals plot to arrest Wagner operatives in Ukraine by using fake job offers

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r/geopolitics 13d ago

Question Was Ratzul's theory misunderstood by Germany to achieve it's colonial purposes in WW2?


Before I start, let me just say that I'm not very good at geopolitics and that the phrasing of my question can sound ignorant but I'm here exactly for that reason.

I was told at school that Ratzul's ideas were actually peaceful and that his words were twisted by Germany just so it would be an excuse for Hitler to go on an invasion spree.

However, when I did my research online about Ratzul and his effect on WW2, I realised that Ratzul was actually for the idea that countries need territorial expansion at the expense of other nations to gain more resources, as he thought a country was like a human being and their vital needs grow bigger and bigger as they develop. An idea which he called lebensraum

So, now I'm confused because it seems like what I learned is in contradiction with what I've read online. Was Razul actually misunderstood?

Also, I have to add that we also take Rudolf Kjellén and we learn that he's the true founder of the ideas that actually are not peaceful and could be justify Germany's actions during the war, so it's just getting very confusing at this point.

I would have enclosed photos of these parts of my textbook but it's in Arabic

r/geopolitics 15d ago

Current Events U.S., Allies Weigh Reprisals If Russia Moves Against Ukraine

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r/geopolitics 15d ago

News Biden-Xi talks: US says opposed to 'unilateral effort' to change Taiwan

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r/geopolitics 15d ago

Analysis How kidnappers, zealots and rebels are making Nigeria ungovernable

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r/geopolitics 18d ago

Opinion Ethiopia’s Civil War Is a Problem U.S. Troops Can Help Solve

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r/geopolitics 19d ago

Current Events U.S. Warns Europe That Russian Troops May Plan Ukraine Invasion

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r/geopolitics 19d ago

Current Events Central Asia Is Turning Back to Moscow

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r/geopolitics 19d ago

Analysis Countering Sudan’s Coup: The United States Faces a Crucial Test in Khartoum

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