Energy and Geopolitics: the Ideals and the Realities of Geopolitical Strategies

Geopolitical Short Papers

Energy and Geopolitics: the Ideals and the Realities of Geopolitical Strategies

George McMillan
George McMillan
Founder and Head of Research

Tue January 30, 202410:22 PM EST7 Minute Read

Last Updated: Thu February 29, 20243:31 PM EST

The purpose for this series is twofold: First, to explain the role of energy in geopolitics to stakeholders in the oil and natural gas industries, and, concordantly, to elucidate the logic behind American foreign policy in the post-9/11 Global War on Terror (GWOT) era for those who were deployed overseas and are puzzled by the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The more one understands the history of post-Mahan “sea power-versus-sea power” and post-Mackinder “sea power-versus-land power” geopolitical strategies, the more one will understand the continual conflict zones of Eastern Europe and other key areas of the post-colonial Eurasian perimeter.

That includes the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the other countries that retired General Wesley Clark discussed repeatedly in his 2007 presidential campaign; in which he claimed that there had been a “foreign policy coup” in the US that needed to be brought to light and discussed in a democratic forum.

Since it is not the place of the more discrete government agencies of either side to disclose their strategic plans, intentions, and counter strategies, it is up to alternative media content providers to discuss possible explanations of prevailing fact patterns. This series of papers explains the history of geopolitical thought in the context of the ongoing conflict of the seafaring colonial powers on the coastal perimeter of West Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.

The more one realizes that the current conflicts are continuations of longer strategies, the more he will look for the underlying factors of human nature and geography which are the components of geopolitical and geostrategic thought respectively.

Differences Between Economic Development Strategies and Mercantile Geopolitical Strategies

Particularly useful in understanding international relations theories is the difference between political and economic development theories and geostrategic theories.

As demonstrated by my Unified Behavioral Theory of the Philosophical and Social Sciences, the complete lateral integration of micro and macro human behavioral theories can be placed in terms of the two extremes of human behavior: positive-sum (gain) relationships versus negative-sum (sabotage) relationships.

Since measurement systems are based on (a) devising a nominal continuum of extremes of human behavior, (b) one must divide the nominal continuum into gradations of constructive behavioral dynamics and destructive behavioral dynamics to attain ordinal level of measurement, which (c) sets the stage for the dichotomy to be further segmented into major categories to attain interval-level measurement scales; and these (d) are the prerequisite to uncovering a causal relationship between the two in which two interval scales can be correlated in a causal relationship to form an and y axis pairing in which the ratio modeling is achieved. It is this ratio modeling where the theorist can plot graphs, develop a rise-run, and calculate slope to develop equations and statistical models.

Human Behavioral Frameworks

With this understanding of the four fundamental steps of theoretical modeling, it is important to know that human behavior can be placed into (a) gradations of mutually beneficial positive-sum relationships on the constructive half of the behavioral continuum, (a) gradations of zero-sum extractive relationships on the first quarter of the destructive behavioral half of the continuum; and (3) negative-sum sabotage on the extreme antagonistic quarter of the most destructive end of the continuum.

It is this reality that the “real theories” of human behavior that meet the criteria of George Casper Homans Sociological Theory in The Handbook of Sociology (edited, R. E. L. Faris in 1964) and John Harsanyi’s “Explanation and Comparative Dynamics in Social Science” (Behavioral Science, 1960), share the common element of a constructive-versus-destructive behavioral dynamic.

The prime example is Aristotle’s Six Forms of Government based on the three neutral Forms of the rule of one, the rule of the few, and the rule of the many. These are valued accordingly in the Proper Forms of Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Constitutional Democracy (Republic) and the Perverted Forms of Tyranny, Oligarchy, and Mob Rule Democracy.

The Proper Forms, in modern economic terms, are characterized by a strata of elites who invest in their own societies which leads to a higher multiplier in growth terms, and Gini coefficients indicative of a rising economy; while the Perverted Forms are characterized by lower multipliers and Gini coefficients indicative of an extractive elite. The key feature of this framework is that it provides an interval model encompassing the full range of human behaviors in a singular macro-level framework.

Aristotle’s Six Forms is the time-tested cornerstone for the analytical system that readily integrates with Fromm’s productive-versus-sadomasochistic character orientation model to map independent variables at the micro end of the model, and virtuous-versus-vicious economic growth cycles tracking dependent variables on the macro end of the model, where the outcome measure framework is expressed in the categories of First and Second First World more developed countries (MDCs) or Third and Fourth Word less developed countries (LDCs).

Since the MDCs tend to have higher levels of economic growth and lower levels of population growth, and the LDCs have lower levels of economic growth and higher levels of population growth, it is the economic growth-to-population growth proportions that define the wage labor rate that ultimately defines modality within Aristotle’s Geopolitical Form categories.

An Ideal World and its Discontents

A utopian world comprised of Republics with the democratic process as discussed in Kant’s “Toward Perpetual Peace” in 1795 can only be achieved by (a) building more accurate theories of human behavior following the nomos-physis (constructive-destructive behaviors) distinction of the Ancient Greeks, and (b) incorporating the positive-sum gain aspect of political and economic development theories as explained by Seymour Lipset in “Some Social Requisites for Democracy” (1959), Walt Whitman Rostow in The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto (1960); and (c) the role of technological innovation and infrastructure in economic growth captured in Solow-Swan models.

Of importance in this series is the emphasis that Walt Rostow of the Second World War-era OSS placed on targeting petroleum fields, as well as delivery and storage facilities, supporting the German war machine for aerial bombardment. He also was a strong advocate for a strategic petroleum plan for the United States to support its allies during the war and the Cold War peripheral conflicts. Today, energy independence should be pursued in distinction to prevailing utopian “net-zero” ideals that the ruling coalitions in the Western “democracies” extol to the dismay of the working class.

Rostow would later become a leading theorist on economic development and National Security Adviser to John F. Kennedy. He emphasized the importance of the US in using soft power diplomacy to guide countries through the five stages of growth: (1) traditional society, (2) pre-conditions for take-off, (3) take-off, (4) drive to maturity, and (5) high mass consumption.

The more one understands how a country must traverse the five stages of growth to attain full sectoral development as discussed by Baumol and Blinder’s Macroeconomics (1988) and other writings, the better one is able to understand the basis of post-Mahan and post-Mackinder Grand Strategies: That overt and covert geostrategic plans are based on preventing an adversary from attaining all five stages.

In contrast, the land power strategies of Friedrich Ratzel and Karl Haushofer are essentially based on the idea of land powers using their overland logistical supply routes to attain all five stages themselves while assisting their allies to attain all five stages alongside full sectoral development. The result is a positive-sum gain relationship for the region under Proper Forms of government as defined in my Unified Behavioral Theory writings.

The Kantian Ideal of Pareto-optimality and the Reality of Nash Equilibriums

From this simple synopsis one can see how political and economic development and modernization theory is designed to achieve positive-sum relationships en route to a Kantian ideal, while geopolitical strategy is based on the “sole superpower supremacy” of Wolfowitz (Defense Planning Guidance, FY 1994-99) and zero-sum antagonistic relationships that give rise to low-intensity conflicts and the “never-ending wars” the Western middle and working classes decreasingly support.

This distinction between the role of energy in modernization theory, democratic peace and prosperity ideals, and foreign policy based on geostrategic “beggar-thy-neighbor” mercantilism is the aim of this series of articles. As economist Jeffrey Sachs has been arguing over the last year and a half, the US is sleep-walking towards World War Three and people are not aware of the policy alternatives. The difference between political and economic development theories and geopolitical theories needs to be more widely understood by decision-makers and stakeholders alike.

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About the Author

George McMillan
George McMillan
Founder and Head of Research

As the Founder of the G3Strat Group, he combines business acumen with military precision to guide companies in risk resilience. With over a decade of experience, he has held multiple roles in security, intelligence, and training. His expertise includes risk assessment, national security, operational planning, and intelligence analysis.

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