International Relations Of Asia EssaySTRATEGIC GEOMETRY”This is the only region in the world where so many combinations andpermutations of two- three and four- and even two plus four or three plus three-power games can be played on the regional chessboard with all their complexitiesand variations. “introductionThe concept of strategic geometry comprises the notion that that theinteractions and interconnections between a number of political actors within aparticular system of international relations, either global or regional can beseen in terms of geometric patterns of strategic configurations.
It can be acase of simple geometry, in which A interacts with B: but in a more complexsystem such as that of Asia, with the presence of more than one major actor,each with their distinct, sometimes conflicting political agendas, theinteraction between A and B will be likely to affect C or influenced by C. The concept of an international system’ itself implies that events arenot random, and units within the system are interrelated in some patterned way. This patterning’ maybe envisaged or conceptualized as patterns of strategicgeometry. Any attempt to analyze the transition from a Cold War system ofinternational relations to a post Cold War one, will incorporate an analysis ofthe general nature of the system itself, in this case the system ofinternational relations in Asia; of the actors involved and their respectiveroles; how changes in the political environment and in specific policies of theactors shape the evolution of a new system; and finally the nature of the newsystem with its own actors, their new roles, and new concerns. The concept of strategic geometry enables us to understand thesechanges in the political dynamics from one system to another, in our case thetransition from the Cold War to the post Cold War era, by serving as an analytictool. If we view the international relations of Asia, more and the interactionsof the main actors in terms of strategic configurations and geometric patternsof alignments and oppositions, then we can assess changes in the politicalsystem over time by way of the changes in the strategic geometry.
Some strategicconfigurations change, others remain the same, while new patterns of strategicgeometry appear, as the old forms dissolve–the explanations behind the shiftingpattern of strategic geometry is what enables us to understand the transitionfrom the Cold War era to the post Cold War. Geopolitical and politico-economic factors have in some cases changedthe content, but not the form of the particular strategic configurations and insome cases however, we find both form and content are changed. In my essay Iwill focus on this dual analysis of the content and form of the major patternsof strategic geometry and their change over time from Cold War to post Cold War. In order to assess the usefulness of the concept of strategic geometry, we mustfirst see how well the concept is expressed in the international relations ofAsia.
Firstly I will briefly outline the general strategic concerns or tenets ofthe Cold War era, the roles and interactions of the actors involved, and themajor strategic geometric patterns this produced. The second part of my essaywill comprise an analysis of the evolution of the system, and the tenets of thenew post cold war system, drawing attention at the same time to the usefulnessof the concept of strategic geometry to explain the transition. One may even conceptualize pre -Cold War international relations instrategic geometric terms: the past is replete with instances of three-wayinteractions between Japan, China and the Soviet Union. According to Mandlebaum,the fate of the region has “for the last two centuries’ depended on the fate ofthree major powers–China, Japan and Russia, on the stability and tranquillityof their mutual relations. ” Hence we may presume that it is not novel orunknown to apply the concept of strategic geometry to Asia and as I shallillustrate it will prove particularly useful in understanding the transitionfrom the Cold War to the post Cold War era. Let us begin with a simpler model of strategic geometry which existed inEurope during the Cold War.
From 1948 onwards, a more or less clear-cut linedivided Europe into two main political and military blocs: the communist blocand the free world of Western Europe, resulting in an almost perfect bipolarity. However, the politics in Asia during the same period were more dynamic andnuanced than just the simple East-West divide of Europe. .