2008/08/07

Geostrategy: Most interesting country in the world

Let's play a game; pick your favourite area from a geostrategic point of view!

My candidates are

Egypt
(Suez Canal)

Israel
(Western bridgehead in Arab region, in strike range to Suez Canal)

Taiwan
(at the PRC's sea trade lanes

Turkey (close to CIS, Europe and Arab regions, Bosporus, in strike range to Suez Canal)

Iran
(close to CIS, NATO & Arab regions and at the Strait of Hormuz)

Panama
(Panama Canal)

Malaysia
(at SE Asian sea trade hot spot)

Cuba
(a classic thorn in the U.S. backyard, somewhat close to Panama Canal)

South Africa
(link between Western World and Black Africa, controls sea trade close to Cape of Good Hope)

South Korea/Republic of Korea
(Western bridgehead in East Asia, in range of some of China's sea trade lanes, buffer between PRC and Japan)

Feel free to think about other candidates, of course!


My personal favourite is a close call; it's either Turkey or Iran.

These countries are not only close to global trade bottlenecks.

These nations are different than the people around them; Persians are neither Europeans nor South Asians nor Arabs. Turks are neither Europeans not Arabs nor Persians. Not all Iranians are Persians, though.
This lack of allegiance to a group of countries turns them into potential swing states, they could ally with many sides even in a case of such a thing like a cultural clash - or be neutral.

Turkey has been integrated into NATO and therefore into the European/Western/NATO bloc - but they're not really welcome as potential EU member in some EU nations (even though the governments may behave differently). They might turn away from Europe if disappointed too often, too much - or if the NATO fell apart sometime in the future.

Iran hasn't been integrated into any bloc, but has some ties to the PRC (which is a friend of Iran's neighbour Pakistan). It could as well drift into the CIS bloc if the pressure becomes too great.
Anyway; it's interesting from a geostrategic point of view and this might explain some of the interest in this country that the U.S. government under GWB has demonstrated in the past four years.

I believe I settle with Turkey.
That's probably not fashionable because Turkey isn't about oil (at least not directly), didn't allow U.S. forces to invade Iraq from north in 2003 and because it seems so firmly settled in the NATO.

Nevertheless, it appear to be more relevant once you look at the context of the CIS bloc. It controls the Bosporus (exit/entry for Black Sea) and is NATO's access point to the Persian Gulf region (other than from the sea). Sea lanes through Suez Canal/Eastern Mediterranean can be threatened or blocked from Turkey's soil.
It's the only almost-Western but Muslim country and could bridge the gap culturally between Europeans and Arabs, being in between both.

This begs the question; why are U.S. bases still in Germany instead of in Turkey?
Turkey would be an excellent host nation for forward air, sea and ground forces bases - especially its Southwestern coastal region.

S Ortmann

edit 2013-05: I should add that the Pan-Turkic ideology (a nationalist party got about 1/8 of the votes in the 2011 elections) could put Turkey into a rival position to Russia in regard to influence in Central Asia (Turkic languages there). The West's encroachment has been stopped in Belarus (as long as the dictatorship doesn't crumble) and Ukraine (where any national election can change the trajectory entirely). Russia would not exactly be happy to face a Turkish challenge on its southern flank.

3 comments:

  1. Hello? Perhaps you have never heard of Incirlik Air Base?
    It is relatively new, only about 60 years old. The staging bases in eastern Turkey are somewhat newer, but you definitely don't know about those.

    And you obviously have never heard of Kogalniceanu Air Base either, or Traian Vuia.

    You can't play geostrategy until you know the players.

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  2. Incirlik was used back in 90/91 for a show of force of German Alpha Jets.

    Those bases in Turkey are NATO bases IIRC, though.
    The U.S. Armed forces use them for short-time exercises and at least one base has forward-deployed material.

    Those are not really permanent bases with about 57,000 troops as in Germany afaik - the situation in December 2007 was like about 1,500 U.S. troops in Turkey.
    http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/MILITARY/history/hst0712.pdf

    And if there were lots of U.S. permanently manned bases in Turkey, you should simply read it like "why are still about 57,000 U.S. troops in Germany, which isn't a geostrategic hot spot anymore?
    It takes about as long to sea-lift Germany-based troops from Northern Sea harbours to the Mediterranean as to sea-lift troops from Eastern CONUS.

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  3. 57,000 American troops in Deutschelund? For what purposes, to place Russia between the horns of a dilemma? (The other prong being Japan.) There's no "New Cold War", is there?

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