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Geoeconomics: An Unfolding of Geopolitics?

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Power struggle is not an unfamiliar concept in the international political world order. The history has witnessed, how the actors have changed yet the struggle for power continues, heedless of time and space. In every era, political entities have always endeavored to gain maximum power to get other actors to do what they would not have done otherwise.

As Hans Morgenthau (1960) derives this cliché from the supposition that the desire to dominate is a “constitutive element of all human associations.”[1] Every independent entity is seeking to dominate other, irrespective of the aims and objectives, the upmost priority is either to obtain or if so, increase power. The maximisation of power proves the theoretical framework of structural realism.[2] Which underscores the behaviour of a state in the international system is simply because of the anarchic structure of the international order. The fact that states can never be certain ending up to a very powerful states with malign intentions, they tend to maximize power to protect their sovereignty and national security.

Dynamic World Order

Since the world order is very much dynamic in nature and not static. China’s economic rise changed the unipolar world order to multipolarity, challenging the United States decades long unipolar domination over the world, ever since the end of the cold war. At the same time, this led to an intensified geo economic and strategic nature of competition in international political system among the two great powers. Threatening the global peace and likewise provoking the unpredictable diplomatic directions. Considering the conventional and traditional warfare has lost its relevance in the modern-day world. China and United States has been indulged in an economic, information, trade warfare.

With its economic boom China became the sole practitioner of Geo-economics in the contemporary times – from a poor developing country to the world’s second prevalent economic power and the foremost trading state. The hardcore practitioner of geopolitics i.e., United States and Russia are today, regarded as the major players of geo-economics. As geopolitics, with the proxy wars, militancy bases, and the elite’s perception of broadening the sphere of influence to control other states land masses and expand territorial control by gaining control over other’s natural resources had deliver its dividends.

The Era of Fifth Gen Warfare

A relatively new concept, the fifth gen warfare refers to the use of non-traditional warfare tactics – economic warfare being one such. The use of economic instruments, trade restrictions, sanctions, financial pressure to accomplish strategic objectives. However, economic warfare helps mitigate the possibility of a direct military confrontation while achieving strategic objectives through non-military approach and without relying on traditional military force.

The logic of military competition into the spheres of international trade was highlighted by the end of the cold war era. Where geo-economics emerged as a new concept for understanding international relations and disputes, considering economic dimensions as element of power.  Today understanding the nature of economic warfare and tactics has become gradually significant part of strategic thinking and planning for military and political leaders.

Russia Ukraine crisis is a recent example, how United State unlike the usual did not send its troops but rather impose economic sanctions on Russia to defend and support Ukraine.

Geoeconomics Vs Geopolitics

It is to be understood that geoeconomics derives from classic geopolitics. Simply put, it’s the broader scope of geopolitics applied to international economic relations. From this perspective, geoeconomics is an unfolding of geopolitics. However, Geo economic policies cannot be instigated in a vacuum and consequently, must take in account geo political contemplations. For instance, a state’s trade policies may be subjective to its geopolitics in the specific region or by regional circumstances. Likewise, the foreign investments and assets are ultimately shaped by the security concerns of that particular country.

Making it evident, even when geo economic policies are swayed independently, they are eventually being moulded by geopolitical aspects. When integrated with broader geopolitical realities, geo economic policies will be fecund incorporating, regional dynamics, security apprehensions and international relations. When geopolitical factors are ignored or disregarded, they will ultimately lead towards overlooked economic opportunities and vulnerability to economic shocks.

Geopolitics is substantial because it helps comprehends a state behaviour in the international system and explains the global distribution of power. Playing a crucial role in shaping the security, trade, diplomacy and global governance. Where geoeconomics is the use of economic resources to safeguard national interest of state and likewise achieving geopolitical results.

With a multifaced approach, challenges posed by geo politics can be overcome to mutually beneficial geoeconomics. Focusing on encouraging trade, building infrastructure, promote regional cooperation, fostering innovation, prioritizing sustainability and inclusive growth and building trust by initiating dialogues.

In this era of economic warfare, changing emphasis towards geoeconomics with geostrategic vision through systematic inducement can help achieve the geopolitical objectives.

[1] https://www.jstor.org/stable/3013644

[2] https://www.commackschools.org/Downloads/8_mearsheimer-_structural_realism.pdf