The Return of Marco Polo’s World – Robert D. Kaplan (2018) – Euroasia’s Energy Superhighways have been build on Shifting Sand…

More to the point, Robert D. Kaplan endears other realist writers such as John Mearsheimer, who also embraces realist principles in the study of geopolitics. Key to his analysis is the concept of the World Island, such a concept as first explored by Halford Mackinder, a British geopolitical thinker who first conceptualized the existence of a tripartite geographic entity that coheres naturally he called Euroasia, and on this supercontinent nations located near the center of Euroasia attempt to control the core region of the Euroasian landmass, while they are projecting power outwards, all the while nations on its periphery pivot toward the center of the Euroasian supercontinent which consists of the Asian, European and African continents.

Robert D. Kaplan is a prolific writer who generally takes more of a realist bend to existential problems in the geopolitical arena, although Robert D. Kaplan does acknowledge that human action can have an impact on geopolitical events.

This partly explains why the Middle East and Iran continue to play a major role in world politics, throughout the history of civilization. And while Halford Macspecial emphasized the Eurasian landmass, Western writers in the Anglo-American tradition, such as James J. Stavridis, provide a counterbalancing argument, exploring the possibilty that sea power limits power projection of nations located close the core region of Euroasia.

The nations most suited to take advantage of this geopolitical game of chess are Russia, China and Iran. It is worth noting that all these nations attempt to control as much territory as they can, in order to become secure on land and project their power outward into the seas. This competing dynamic leads to rim nations forming their alliances against nations attempting to control the inner space of the Euroasian continent.

China’s economic growth, tied in with its immense ability to reach outward, brings it quite naturally into competition with the United States, the world’s only sea power. Just as the worlds main land power tries to control the Eurosian supercontinent, the main sea power attempts to control all sea lanes in order to preemptively strike through a network of coalitions at the world’s main land power.

Due to the costs involved in maintaining a capable navy that is ready to strike at any foe on the high seas it is necessary to form such coalitions, at the same time it is important to remain first among equals and control all the world’s sea lanes. This leads us to the Belt and Road initiative with which China intends to unify Euroasia, creating one coherent economic unit, to countervail American power on the high seas which should prevent rim nations working with the leading sea power of the day.

The Belt and Road initiative largely follows the route that Marco Polo has travelled more then 500 years ago to China through the Middle East, Iran and Afghanistan. Its layout cohereres perfectly with the world’s main energy superhighways, and on Marco Polo’s backward journey he circumnavigated the strait of Malacca, Bangladesh, India, Oman, Arabia and back into Europe.

As Europe disintegrates into diferent political factions, Euroasia coheres into one single economic entity, shaped by conflict, which provides opportunities along the economic arteries of this mighty supercontinent, along the energy superhighways that are currently under construction.


Kaplan, R 2018, The Return of Marco Polo’s World, Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

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