Literature ǀ Politics on the River – Friday

It is a bit strange that geopolitics only plays a role in this country if, for example, the Left Party is supposed to “commit” to NATO in the election campaign. So it is convenient that the British journalist Tim Marshall can explain geopolitics particularly clearly. In his 2015 bestseller, The power of geography, he used ten maps to describe what the history of the great world powers and regions has to do with mountains, rivers and seas. A surprising amount. The following volume now devotes as many maps and chapters to the current global conflict zones. Marshall: “When it comes to foreign policy and defense, one must not ask what a country wants to do, but what it is capable of; and that is often determined by geography. “

Fittingly, it starts with Australia, which caused great resentment in NATO because, in view of the Chinese supremacy in the Indo-Pacific, it canceled contracts with France for the delivery of submarines in order to instead purchase nuclear drives for its own submarines from the USA . On the map you could now see how Australia is geographically “caught between the two strongest nations of our time: the United States and China” – if only the image section was chosen large enough, which would also show that Australia was about three times is as close to China as it is to the USA.

Of course, one can see very well on the map of Australia why more than 170 years after the attempt of the Brandenburger Ludwig Leichhardt to cross the gigantic British prison island with seven men and seventy animals from east to west, still no remains of the missing expedition can be found are. The distance from Australia’s north coast to the neighbors Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, which illustrate the exotic position of a western country in the middle of a sphere in which China’s power and influence is steadily increasing, is much shorter. One point of Marshall’s book is that it no longer illustrates the conflicts of the future as two superpowers facing each other. In addition to the Indo-Pacific, the conflicts between Iran and Saudi Arabia, in the African Sahel zone and – perhaps surprisingly for many – between Greece and Turkey are coming into focus. While Shiite Iran, for example, owes its immense regional power primarily to the fact that it is almost impregnable because of its mountains, Sunni Saudi Arabia is faced with the problem of continuing to be the largest country on earth in view of the increasingly declining demand for its oil. that doesn’t have a single river.

Meanwhile, in the eastern Mediterranean, the conflicts between Turkey and Greece are less about freshwater than about saltwater and the islands and gas fields within them.

Brexit! Catalonia!

And what NATO did not really take into account in its Assistance Pact in the event of an attack is that two NATO members could attack each other. Finally, in the Sahel zone, which was once drawn with a ruler between the Sahara and the savannah – especially in Mali, which is particularly hard hit by Islamist terror and one of the regions on earth most severely affected by climate change – illustrious Western powers, including Germany, are burning their fingers. The chapters that Marshall devotes to the former colonial empires Great Britain (Brexit, Scotland question!) And Spain (Catalonia!) – as well as a future colonial sphere, space – also fit in with this.

Stylistically, the book moves between brilliantly outlined constellations and astonishing anecdotes. Some things sound too detailed like the Wikipedia In the end it strengthens the feeling about that Power of geography To be well informed – and sorely needed – in the current and future conflicts that are affecting the world.

The power of geography in the 21st century. 10 cards explain the politics of today and the crises of the future Tim Marshall Lutz Wolff (translator) dtv 2021, 416 pages, € 24



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