In this month’s edition of RUSI Journal, I have had published an article – ‘Geopolitics and the “Wider North”’ – focusing on the rise of the ‘Wider North’, looking particularly at what the United Kingdom should do to maintain security in Northern Europe and the North-West Pacific, in alliance with countries like Norway, Finland, Sweden, the Baltic States, South Korea and Japan. If – as I pointed out four years ago – a geopolitically-integrated ‘crescent’ is fast emerging around the underbelly of Eurasia, something similar now seems to be happening in the North – which could literally turn the world on its head.
Climate change in leading to a ‘great thaw’ in the Arctic, which has the potential to permanently open up the Northern Sea Route, connecting East Asia and North-Western Europe for the first time in history. Even if this route is only navigable for five to seven months during the summer of each year by 2040, it will still be by far the shortest route connecting the industrialised ecumenes of Europe and Asia. It will cut thousands of kilometres from the maritime communication lines between the two regions, and leave Russia in a particularly advantageous situation.
I argue that the United Kingdom – as the strategic gatekeeper of the North Atlantic, and Europe’s pre-eminent power – is ideally suited to act as a ‘pivot state’ in this coming geopolitical saga. I assert that the British government must capitalise on its ‘Nordic drive’ over the coming years to extend its influence to cover other important countries in the Northern proximities, not least Japan and South Korea. By constituting a new geopolitical constellation – and then undergirding it – the United Kingdom could relieve the burden of the United States as its shifts its attention to the Far East. Indeed, a new geostrategic ‘pincer movement’ by the British and Americans, one from the Atlantic West and the other from the Pacific East, locking around Eurasia from Britain’s island citadel and America’s continental homeland, may serve to prevent a future conflagration similar to those in the last century, thus maintaining a peaceful, maritime – and liberal – world order, rather than one haunted by the repressive tendencies of autocratic continentalism.
• Please click here to access the article.