Ukraine: A Geopolitical Choke Point

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Rather than attempt to reduce a very complex system to a cartoonish "explanation" of events, we would be better served by seeking out the geopolitical linchpins.

In trying to put the fast-moving events in Ukraine in perspective, we are equally prone to lose our way in simplistic reductions or obfuscating complexities. Many commentators reduce the many dynamics in play to a conventional binary conflict: Russia vs. the U.S. (Cold War redux), Russia vs. Europe, neo-fascist nationalists vs. leftists, western Ukraine vs. eastern Ukraine, etc.

While each of these binaries reflect one facet of the totality, claiming any binary is the key context guarantees a fatal blindness to all that is excluded by such reductionism.

On the other hand, the inability to discern key dynamics from background noise and sensationalism (World War III, coming to a screen near you!) triggers a free-fall into incoherence.

Rather than attempt to reduce a very complex system to a cartoonish "explanation" of events, we would be better served by seeking out the geopolitical linchpins that have proven key in every era and theater of operations. These include:

1. Energy
2. Transport routes
3. Military control of transport and geographical chokepoints
4. The support or resistance of resident populaces

We would also be wise to recall what Napoleon had to say about the limits of raw power: "Do you know what amazes me more than anything else? The impotence of force to organize anything."

I think what the great military genius was referring to was the impotence of force to organize anything beyond the taking of chokepoints by superior force, strategy, tactics and/or leadership.

Once the chokepoints are in hand, however, events tend to organize themselves.

I also think that exploiting leverage leads to a reaction, a dynamic expressed byReversal is the movement of Tao. As I noted last week, Russia's exploitation of its natural gas leverage over Europe has driven those on the receiving end to seek other sources of natural gas and other sources of counter-leverage.

With these dynamics in mind, let's turn to my recent discussion with Gordon T. Long, UKRAINE: Energy, Economic & Military Choke Point: (22 Minutes, 25 Slides)

 

Of related interest:

Ukraine: Follow the Energy (March 4, 2014)

How the Empire Might Strike Back (March 5, 2014)