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The Emerging Pattern of Geopolitics

The Emerging Pattern of Geopolitics - Cover

Authored by Dr. Peter W. Rodman.

September 2007

13 Pages

Brief Synopsis

Without ignoring the two wars that are currently taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) sought to reframe the debate over security within a global context. Thus Mr. Rodman’s address sets contemporary security challenges to the United States within a framework of both an Islamist challenge rising from the Jihadi movement across the Muslim world that mostly finds its expression in terrorism and in the dynamics of the rise and decline of great powers.


The theme of this conference is especially important. Iraq and Afghanistan, important as they are, do not exhaust the strategic landscape. There is a global strategic environment, which presents many challenges in many different regions of the world that bear close attention in their own right. In fact, that global environment forms the context in which we should be thinking about Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the reasons it is so important how well we do in Iraq and Afghanistan is its impact on American credibility—a precious commodity that will affect our success in these other theaters.

I have chosen for my topic the phrase “The Emerging Pattern of Geopolitics” because I do see a pattern emerging. For a long time, it was not clear what to call the post-Cold War world. I still do not have a name for it, but we can see already, in my view, two dominant features of the world we are in:

• One is what we call the Global War on Terrorism, but it is really an assault against the West by Islamist extremism, which is a virulent political ideology feeding on centuries of historical and cultural resentments. I would also argue that this ideological challenge is taking on a new geopolitical form, as Iran attempts to make itself the leader of it.

• The second challenge lies in the traditional dimension of relations among the major powers. I see the reemergence of Russia as one important feature of the current scene, but over the longer term the emergence of China represents probably a more dramatic change in the strategic landscape. It is the classical problem of a new great power appearing on world stage, raising some complicated challenges of adjustment, for us and for them.

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