Time Dimension of Geopolitical Process – The world is not flat

Geopolitical Environment is a result of several variables including Historical events, cultural elements, resources at a given location, development process of the inhabitants of a place. Theoretically all these variables can be categorised in terms of three important dimensions of Geopolitical Process – Time Dimension, Location dimension and demographic dimension. Of these 3 dimensions, Time dimension remains a leading factor which influences the Geopolitical outcomes most.

If we look from the perspective of global geopolitical environment in the present times as a whole, the impact of Time dimension can be studied in blocks of mainly 3 periods of the recent history – The period from 16th century to 1940s, Post WW II period (cold war period) till 1991 and thirdly the post Soviet Period starting 1991 till date. Out of these perhaps second period (cold war period) seems to be most influential to the Geopolitical outcomes which we see today in the world.

From Henry IV in 16th century to 1940s, it was the colonial period. Geopolitics of the world during this period was characterized and motivated with the control of world resources by the colonial masters. The intercontinental relationships were based on ‘imports – resources’ equation. It was this equation which resulted into a unique state – private partnership among colonial masters nations. Under this partnership while state provided army protection and legitimacy to the overseas businesses of private enterprises in their colonies, it also provided much needed private investments and entrepreneurship to control the resources among colonies. Lack of local entrepreneurship helped develop this kind of partnerships. Britishers not only got much needed natural resources from India as their most prized colony, but also provided hard working labor to run their businesses elsewhere in the world.

These sea powers competed with each other to control world resources and sometimes even shared the booty. By the early 1940s, this competition took the ugly turn and perhaps became an important reason triggering the WW II.  While US was an isolationist state till the WW I, by 1940 it was emerging as an important factor. Elsewhere in USSR, the ideological fortunes were keeping the invaders at bay making it a strong nation with strong economy. The post WW II period saw the emergence of two superpowers of the world. Rest of the world was to toe the lines of anyone of these two super powers. While India unsuccessfully tried to create a third front, it was US which took the lead and favored China, observing cracks in USSR – Sino relationship, to become stronger to help the world come out of the bipolar rivalry which was not helping the multinational business community specially from the west and TRIAD. Kissinger’s geo -strategy to make the world tri polar worked and resulted into the split in the USSR into CIS states. An obvious beneficiary of this geo strategy has been China, the phenomenon which gave rise to the ‘Rise of East’ which unwittingly helped India work hard and become an aspiring potential and competing power of the world despite no strategic orientation of US towards India.

Therefore the second period (the cold war period) has the most potential effect on the current geopolitical situation. In geopolitical terms the third period is most recent to study and gauge its impact. However this third period is full of global events which can have long term effects on the geopolitical fortunes of the world in medium to long term future. Cracking US economy due to severe competition from emerging economies, debt crisis of both US and certain European countries, looming & increasing threat of Islamic terrorism, purple and orange revolutions in gulf and Central Asian states, increasing pressure on oil prices, aspiration of less developed states, sagging Japanese economies are some of the important developments in the world during the post cold war period, some of these events are of direct consequences of the cold war period.

There are some missed opportunities too. While China benefitted from the fortunes of time dimension and cold war period, India failed to share the booty, when China offered it to agree for a free trade agreement. China perhaps wanted India to follow suit like Canada did and which benefitted by being party to NAFTA agreement when US was growing and Canada grew piggybacking on US. China is definitely emerging as the world’s super power, India should have accepted to be part of this rise. However political ideology and past memories of Indo – Sino skirmishes kept the two countries disunited in the surging fortunes of East. Both countries could not maximize the benefits of the time dimensional fall out of these favorable geopolitical events. Today any Chinese corporate intervention in India is seen with suspicion, same is true in China. Therefore this third period of Time Dimensional Study is a story of missed opportunities. Unresolved issues of border disputes through out Asia and elsewhere have fueled these missed opportunities.

In short Time Dimension is a saga of mad stories, sometimes bad stories and ideas which have resulted into some very poor geopolitical outcomes. An intertwined world with advancement of technology and transportation is as far apart or even farther apart as had been centuries ago. Multinational businesses, global finance & global technology have however tried to survive on a global scale and are affecting the daily life of every individual on this planet. Thereby shaping the world into a pseudo global village with contradictory ideologies, dangerous powers among rogue groups, lesser control of any clear superpower on the world economy. Downgrade of US rating after 90 years is the recent example of the changing world.

Above issues were discussed in the class of GEB last week. Students are supposed to write the class assignment 2 – Explaining the time dimension and its importance in Geopolitics with the help of an example. In this assignment, students are supposed to do these steps – 1. What is time dimension of geopolitics? 2. Give some examples of geopolitical outcomes which are direct result of historical events explaining those events. 3. Explain how these examples affect the businesses worldwide or on local level. The assignment must be submitted before the end of this week.


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