This is a map of the world-wide population density in 1994,
based on NASA data.
A much higher resolution version is here.
It's very impressive in my opinion. The centre of gravity of mankind is obviously in Asia. The "Western" regions of the world appear to have a rather mediocre population density.
I know the figures and many maps, but this kind of map is every time a kind of wake-up call.
It lets me take those people who want to stem against the Western world's loss of influence (beyond its frontiers) less seriously.
We are rich, educated, trained, experienced and have a huge capital stock. The sheer quantity of humans in Asia will likely still trump this in the long run. The benefits of being influential are doubtful anyway, swimming against a current is rarely advisable - why do that many people insist on maintaining "influence", "reach" and "power" in such distant places that are clearly in the periphery of other powers?
This isn't really about Afghanistan.
It's about the growing quantity of voices which talk of the Indian Ocean as an important area of operations for European navies in the future.
It's also about apparent Western-driven containment policies in Central Asia and East Asia.
Sure, population ain't everything. Yet, as a democratically-minded individual I've got some difficulties grasping the logic behind the idea that we Westerners should (or are entitled to) exercise global, decisive influence. I hope that we won't stumble stupidly into unnecessary great wars because of the insistence on global meddling.