Geopolitics in a Post-Cold War Context: From Geo-Strategic to Geo-Economic Considerations?

Par Jean-François Gagné
Chaire Raoul-Dandurand en études stratégiques et diplomatiques | UQAM

The disintegration of the Soviet Union symbolized the end of a planned, centralized and above all closed economy. Most countries in the “East” embraced capitalist virtues by integrating financial, monetary and commercial global systems and rapidly engaging in a process of reform. On one hand, they were confronted with an increase in movements of capital, goods, services, people and knowledge as a result of the spread of new technologies. On the other hand, new actors — such as multinational firms with revenues sometimes higher than the GDP of developing countries — were now operating across borders.

This globalization process was challenging the role of the State as the dominant actor in the international system. It no longer held the exclusive right to the legitimate use of force, especially given that it included a non-military dimension such as economic power. However, the State is still the main actor in the international system and retains its prerogatives on its own territory. The State is not passive. It adapts to new situations and competes in the economic race. In fact, the State’s national security objectives — gain control over territory and expand its sphere of influence — are no longer bound by military deployments ; they are more complex and involve new considerations such as control of and access to scarce resources and the conquest of foreign markets with geo-economic weapons.

This reorientation required a re-examination of the relevance of geopolitical analysis, centering on strategic aspects of international relations and the inclusion of emerging geo-economic considerations. That being said, geo-economics is not a substitute for geopolitics. It only means that significant new components must be added to the understanding of State behavior and of the international system.

ISBN : 978-2-922844-56-6
Octobre 2007
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