Home > Uncategorized > Europe’s third alternative: leapfrogging Putin

Europe’s third alternative: leapfrogging Putin

from Robert Locke

One big problem  in orthodox economics is the inability of its market orientation to cope with strategic implications of economic and political geography. I pointed that out in an article published in the rwer (“Reassessing the basis of economics:  from Adam Smith to Carl von Clausewitz,” #61, 26.09.2012, 100-114), to which nobody responded.  But the issue won’t go away and is especially pertinent today, because of the uproar caused by Trump’s failure to support the invocation of article 5.  This issue is being discussed within the framework of US post WWII geographical hegemony.  As Thomas Paley’s post “Trump and the Neocons: doing the unilateralist walz,” May 20 2017, states under the rubric The future of international relations, the implication is that

“Trump’s unilateralism may…reflect enduring neocon leanings within the current U.S. polity. Though the intensity of those leanings will ebb and flow, they are now a permanent feature…that has ramifications for the international relations order that foreign governments around the world will need to digest. One concern is excessive export dependence on the U.S. market which renders countries economically vulnerable to U.S. punitive market access restrictions. A second is U.S. corporate takeovers of foreign country champion firms. Europe also needs to recognize it may suffer negative backwash effects from unilateral U.S. interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere. In contrast, the U.S. is protected by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and that protection may even foster U.S. military recklessness.”

Discussing the subject within this context gives Europeans two policy-making options, to make some sort of accommodation with Putin or to let Trump call the tune.  But, if we explore the geographical options differently, there is a third possibility, leapfrogging Putin to China.  

If properly appreciated, this third possibility is attractive.  It is an old consideration, moreover, rooted in 19th century geopolitical thinking that exceeds the scope of the geographical analysis mentioned in Paley’s post. Within the analytical framework of this third option the US cannot be protected by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, nor engage in takeovers of foreign country champion firm, made accessible through US financial networks.

I am talking about the Heartland theory of world hegemony that challenges the idea of dominance through seaborne commerce.  Karl Haushofer (1869-1946), probably the most famous popularizer of the Heartland theory, seized on the concept of pan-regions, which he raised from an economic concept to a strategic concept as well. Drawing on “the strategic concept of the Heartland Theory put forward by the British geopolitician Halford Mackinder,” Haushofer noted that “[i]f Germany could control Eastern Europe and subsequently Russian territory, it could control a strategic area to which hostile seapower could be denied.” Quotes from Karl Haushofer in Wikepedia

Nazi Germany lacked the power to establish its hegemony over the Eurasian heartland, but China in its road and belt initiative is now creating this heartland, from which US financial markets and trade are being excluded.  Right now trains ship goods to and from Shanghai and Hamburg.

If central and eastern Europeans find that US unilaterialism compromises European security through NATO, they can seek that security in the East.  Russia would find itself caught in a vise between China and its European allies, in a heartland economic and industrial system that the British, Americans, and Russians could not easily penetrate or rival.

  1. May 31, 2017 at 9:31 am

    In other words, Trump’s “isolationism” is likely to give the Chinese government victory over the US in world trade and banking, and open wide the door to make China the world political leader, while decimating the US economy and social cohesion. To call it a catastrophe for the US is ironic, since it is a self-created catastrophe. My worries here are two. First, such a coalition is likely to improve relations between the US and Russia, the two nations with the most ICBMs and nuclear warheads in the world. Blackmail of China and Europe by Russian/American nukes is possible. Second, solving international problems like climate change is likely to become more difficult in this world. It’s also that such changes will signal the first stage of failure of the US as a world economic and political power.

  2. robert locke
    June 2, 2017 at 4:36 am

    Thanks for understanding the implications of Heartland theory; most people living in the US economic cocoon think it is global.

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