22 January 2005

World Power Blocs (Future)

The following is a thought experiment.

Definite Power Blocs
Potential Power Blocs
Buffer Zones

Throughout history, the social systems of mankind have consistently favored more complexity, specialization, and strength of numbers. Starting with ancient times, when larger tribes began to displace smaller wandering bands, and not long after that when semi-sedentary people and more densely populated farming cities began to gain a foothold. There is little doubt about the outcome when 1 strong tribal hunter-gatherer comes into competition for resources with 100 weak farmers.

In time, these social systems with their respective religions, languages, governments, education, training, and culture in general continued their march toward expansion, with the city states growing into small then large empires, nation states, and today, the introduction the super-state, places like the USA and old USSR. These are really in effect world power blocs, ultra-organized social systems that compete to control the world’s resources and trade through institutions and strength of might via their respective militaries.

We can follow through on current trends to project who and were these world power blocs will be centered. There are a number that could or could not coalesce depending on events that are too difficult to predict, and some regions that could gravitate towards being dominated by one or another bloc. These are as follows.

North America
The United States is currently the strongest super-state on the planet. The institutions and military might developed and enhanced in the US contribute to a dominant role in controlling trade and policy on the globe. After the fall of the USSR, the USA pushed to expand its influence in areas like the Balkans, central and eastern Europe, central Asia, the middle east, etc. Within a century or 2, there could be political union between most of the major countries on the North American continent: primarily the USA, Canada, and Mexico. A dominant influence will certainly be extended into Caribbean and central America. There is an unlikely possibility that the South American bloc will not develop, extending the hegemony, or influence of the north into northern and possibly western South America as well.

The subcontinent of Europe, after many centuries of division or inter-competition, finally appears to be heading towards unification. Instead of conquest by a dominant ethnic nation, its form appears to be peaceful and diplomatic via the European Union. Monetary unification has already taken hold and the political cannot linger far behind. The EU is expanding eastward, and in time will no doubt encompass nearly the entirety of the subcontinent to the borders of Russia and Turkey.

Despite having lost an astonishing amount of power during the fall of the communist regime of the old soviet republics and subsequent breakup, Russia continues to possess a sense of purpose in world affairs. Even with a low population and birth rate, their technological and scientific prowess will help them harness the nearly inexhaustible resources of the vast Siberian wilderness, fueling what could be centuries of development.

Having successfully resisted being carved up by European, American, and Japanese powers over the last few hundred years, China already has the apparatus in place to ensure it will be a strong power bloc in the future. It maintains tight controls over its own evolution and directs its long term development towards gaining strength exponentially in years to come. As their economic, technological, and military might increases, their influence over world affairs will become more and more apparent.

The Indian subcontinent is in an early stage of development, with rampant poverty, disorganization, and as of yet, a certain lack of national unity that is necessary to become a power broker in world affairs. Despite this, they have a burgeoning population, nuclear weapons, and have invested heavily in technology. Though they will coalesce later than any of the powers listed above, India will undoubtedly become a power bloc within 200 years.


South America
Being led by the rapidly developing nation of Brazil, a power bloc is likely to form in South America. It may encompass the entirety of the continent or most of it, depending on interference and competition from the North American bloc. It has the apparatus in place to do this rather quickly, should the people there be convinced that it is in their best interest to put their differences aside and strive towards that common goal.

Islamic World
With its strict values and simple code of conduct, the Islamic Koran has become a culturally unifying force in every Muslim country. Despite this similar world view and common cultural ties, the countries in northern Africa, the middle-east, and central Asia consistently seem doomed to division. It is definitely possible that they could overcome the infighting and form a common super-state, but will have to double their efforts to resist the economically rooted colonial divisions perpetuated by the planets reliance on oil. There are a lot of forces at play to keep the region divided, so this may or may not evolve into a united power bloc.

Sub-Saharan Africa
The rapid formation of a nation state from a more primordial tribal organization is a colonial legacy that has both strengthened and simultaneously hampered Africa. Though it is a method of organization far superior by means of extending influence than the old systems, it has split ethnic regions along lines that have more to do with resource allocation. In our time, Africa is a place of ceaseless rebellion and warfare, far from a likely candidate to come together for a shared goal. Yet, should a dominant power begin to successfully swallow up neighboring states, we might have a candidate to forge the way towards becoming a power bloc. Such countries could be Nigeria or South Africa. Yet, this remains a remote possibility in the next 300 years, and the continent is likely to remain a place split between empires.

Indonesia and Australia
This region is the most unlikely candidate for cohesion into a world power bloc. Australia and New Zealand have the social systems, technology, and military might that could extend influence, but with such inconsequential birth rates, their influence will continue to decline in the coming decades. Indonesia is quite the opposite, with a swelling population with none of the social mechanisms in place to effectively extend its influence beyond its own waters. Should there be some type of synthesis between the two, there is an outside chance that this region could become a world power bloc, even encompassing a good parcel of south-east Asia as well.

Between each power bloc is territory that could end up being dominated by one or the other, depending on unfolding events. These are briefly described below.

Central Asia
The old soviet republics around Kazakhstan and the territory extending down to Pakistan could well prove to be a flashpoint for the super-states in the future. Previously under the Soviet umbrella, this region will certainly be vied for by the new Russian bloc, eager to reestablish its hegemony, a newly confident China, and India. If an Islamic empire forms, that will make 4 power brokers competing for this region.

Southeast Asia
This is most likely area of dispute between China and India. With the exception of Vietnam, this region is more culturally similar to India, and is thus more likely to end up part of their sphere of influence. Yet, with an ambitious China maturing earlier, they could certainly preempt the Indian overtures, and swallow up the region as well. Should the unlikely Indonesian/Australian power bloc grow past an embryonic state, they could also attempt to gain control (less they become an area to compete for themselves).

Saharan Desert
With scarce resources and very sparse population, there is little interest in the Sahara save potential for future agriculture or development. Unless both the Islamic and African power blocs consolidate their blocs, the Sahara will have little impact on world affairs.

11 January 2005

Olympus Camedia C-770

My digital camera finally arrived! My last camera was a 20 year old Minolta Freedom III. I paid ~$170 for it way back. My new camera is probably the best toy Ive had since my laptop: 4.0 megapixels, 10x optical zoom, ergonomic, etc. $400 with a few accessories. This will certainly help in posting shit on this blog in the future (along with the free image webhosting at http://www.imagevenue.com/

10 January 2005

Middle East

07 January 2005

European Union

Current British Interference
How Great Britain is sabotaging the EU. The last time the British Isles were subject to foreign domination was the Norman era a millennium ago. It has since been its primary goal in foreign policy to keep the European subcontinent divided. Everytime a major power would rise, England would weave alliances against it to protect its own sovereignty. Look at it, England was opposed to the communist Soviet Union, before that Hitler and the Kaisers Germany, before that Napoleonic France, etc.
The peaceful coming together of European nations presents a new challenge to British diplomacy: how to hamstring the EU. The European Union is the culmination of the 50 years efforts. Its dream is the creation of a superstate in a contiguous region of Europe. It has wisely been introduced in a slow, steady, series of phases:

Phase I was the monetary unification: the Euro
Phase II is expansion and introduction of real legislative power
Phase III will be an empowering of the executive branch of the EU

We are currently in phase II. Great Britain, especially the ultra-conservatives have been violently opposed to membership in the EU. They reason correctly that it will lead in time to a loss of sovereignty. Their shortsightedness however keeps them from seeing the alternative: a weak and divided Europe in a global market of increasingly competitive and aggressive capitalism. As the European powers used to divide and conquer, dominating trade routes, and fueling empire, so could China, India, and a host of other superstates that are currently in embryonic form in the third world. The UK conservatives are ultimately shooting their countries long
term interests out.

The EU need walk cautiosly here. If Britain cannot be seduced to overcome its inhibitions on full membership, it should be left out entirely. As well, the temptation to even entertain the idea of a Turkish membership need be quashed right here and now. Turkey is an exploding Islamic hotbed. It is delusional to think that their integration will lead to anything but instability and exploitation, possibly even dissolution of the EU body. Would Morocco or Iraq be next?

Bring in all of the former Yugoslav republics, Albania, and the Ukraine. Leave an open door for Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. Allow potential for Belarus and should they opt out, the UK at some point. But move on. Delay equals death.

Instead of being a superstate of nations, the borders of the provinces in the EU need to be redefined. Anyone who has travelled Europe understands clearly how diverse the different regions, even within each country are. Yet there are concise patterns of language, religion, and culture in general. Subdivide each nation into its component regions and make these the basis for representation in the greater legislative body of government. For instance: on the Iberian peninsula we would have Portugal, Catalonia, the Basque counry, Galicia, Andalucia, and Castilla. Each region could have certain powers within its territory, and elect 1 or 2 representatives to the national assembly. In all, there would likely be 100 or so regions in the realm of the EU.
Should Great Britain eventually grow up and join the future, they would likely have 3 regions: Wales, Scotland, and England. Until that day, let them either ride the bus or get off.

Geopolitical model for the EU
This will be organized in regions consisting of a number of provinces. Each region and province therein should be in similar size and population as realistically possible to best attain a balance. Each of these provinces can further be subdivided into counties, districts, localities, etc. Keep in mind each of these is merely a suggestion based on shared language, custom, religion, and culture, and should by no means be considered to be a final map.



Rationale Behind Unification
You have to look at this from a global perspective. A unified subcontinent will put Europe in an advantageous competitive position in the world for the next 250 years. China and India are currently weak and poor, but this won’t last. Within a century, they will be exponentially more powerful and deem a serious challenge to control the world’s resources. Russia in an omnipresent power, albeit seriously weakened since the abolishment of communism. North America is slowly unifying under the weight of the United States. South America is heading in the same direction. And there is always the remote possibility that the Islamic world or sub-saharan Africa may achieve a state of cooperation and cohesion as well.

On the Eastern border of the EU
There may need to be some hard negotiations with Russia. There are segments shown on my map that may gravitate towards Russia rather than the EU, in particular Belarus and Eastern and southern Ukraine. There may be parts of Russia that wish to join the EU, for instance the Uralic speaking Murmansk peninsula and St. Petersburg. Russian Kaliningrad (historically East Prussia of Germany) is another potential thorn, for having it remain part of Russia is completely unrealistic. Should St. Petersburg and the surrounding regions end up as part of Russia, a good exchange would be to guarantee free access of the Baltic Sea shipping lanes in exchange for free access via land from Finland to Estonia. It must be stressed that though Russia is too large and cumbersome to be integrated into the EU, shared cultural beliefs clearly make them agreeable allies, so relations must remain positive in the long run. They would present an effective partner to the EU in centuries to come.

Regional Freedom vs National Unity
To unify a land so diverse as the European subcontinent, a certain amount of watering down of national and regional tendencies is a must. A common culture will emerge, and though remain different, will provide a degree of uniformity necessary to keep the bonds from breaking. Yet, this should a very slow and gradual process. Safeguards need be in place to protect provincial and regional cultures. This is why the regional divisions should reflect specific cultural regions, like the Basques for instance. There must be a constitutional guarantee of a balance of power between the EU governing body, each Province, and each Region. As well, within each region, the counties, districts, wards, etc. should each maintain a certain degree of power in their own affairs.

A New European Capital
To celebrate the commencement of such a historic undertaking as the peaceful unification of this magnitude, and to foster an atmosphere of shared direction and responsibility, a new capital should be built. To pick an existing city would encourage too great a degree of infighting that could linger for generations. To celebrate the grandeur and ambition of the EU, this new capital should be constructed in the finest jewel of Europe, the Alps. The capital should be a different zone, with strict controls to ensure no one ethnic group dominates it. Populations from each province and region should be guaranteed the ability to live there, in restricted numbers. In fact, the city should have a limited maximum population, say one million. Being designed from scratch, the EU capital has potential to be the most beautiful, enjoyable, and ergonomic capital in the world, with grand scale architecture, generous green space, flawless public transportation, etc. Constructing it in the Alps will clearly present nightmares in logistics and cost, yet it will be worth the effort, and be remembered for a millennia.

06 January 2005

Irish Partition

Earlier last century, the island of Eire (Ireland) was in an upheaval. Most of its citizens were tired of English occupation and domination. When open hostilities commenced, the British likely started looking for the door out. Enter the northeast of Ireland, county Ulster, with a large population of scottish and english colonial transplants, many families having ties to Ulster centuries old. These constituents, representing approximately half of the Ulster population, clearly wanted to remain in the UK (United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland). So the authorities devised a compromise: partition of the Irish homeland.

This division kept districts with a strong protestant presence in the UK (6 of the 8 districts in Ulster), but denied the catholics living there membership in the Irish Republic. This is the root of the problem which continues to play itself out today.

04 January 2005

New Clear Thinking

Whopee, we're all gonna die !!

Well, I guess everyone has to go sooner or later. Dying is as natural to life as birth, yet as sentient beings who can see our innevitable demise, it is a grim prospect. I find it good to try to look at life thru the eyes of an old man who is remeniscing on his youthful days. what opportunities did I seize? Which ones did I squander? It becomes easier to see current decisions from a greater perspective this way, allowing one to cast off the shackles of what we should do, with what we really want to do. What is this life, if not a finite adventure in which to explore, have fun, and learn about ourselves?
Posted by Hello

03 January 2005

Currency: Coins vs Paper

I dont know why so many people seem to want to abolish the penny. They absurdly claim that since you cant actually purchase anything with it, its value is "meaningless", and on top of the time, energy, and resources needed for them, they are nothing more than bulk weight and an unnecessary complication in peoples lives. some jerks even go so far as to throw every penny they get on the street! how dare they. These are usually the sellout freaks that usually push for such idiotic things as the dollar (or...gasp...even $2 or $5 coin), adoption of that overly complicated Celsuis temperature system, and even that hellish of all things...the METRIC SYSTEM.

Why not go in the other direction. Perhaps we should reintroduce the half-penny coin. And while we're at it, why not create an entirely new set of coins, like the 1/10th and 1/100th of a penny. Just think of how grand life would be if we would have our god-given American freedom to carry around hundreds of 1/100th of a penny coins in our pockets at all times. And the pure delight of sorting through all the coins, finding the right change. what could be better for a practical use of that math they force us to learn.

On top of that, how about abolishing the quarter and dime coins, making them paper notes instead? Doesnt that make sense? Just think about how wonderful it would be to pay 19.9787 for something with a ten, five, 5-one, 3-quarter, and 2-dime notes, along with 2 pennies, 1-half penny, 3-tenth pennies, and 7-hundredth of a penny coins. Simple as pie. What are those eggheads thinking when they argue we should simply round everything. What fun would it be to simply pay for that same material possession that will so fulfill our lives with a mere $20 bill?