Quote note (#241)
… globalization and the communications revolution have reinforced, rather than negated, geopolitics. The world map is now smaller and more claustrophobic, so that territory is more ferociously contested, and every regional conflict interacts with every other as never before. A war in Syria is inextricable from a terrorist outrage in Europe, even as Russia’s intervention in Syria affects Europe’s and America’s policy toward Ukraine. This happens at a moment when, as I’ve said, multinational empires are gone, as are most totalitarian regimes in contrived states where official borders do not conform with ethnic and sectarian ones. The upshot is a maelstrom of national and subnational groups in violent competition. And so, geopolitics — the battle for space and power — now occurs within states as well as between them. Cultural and religious differences are particularly exacerbated: as group differences melt down in the crucible of globalization, they have to be reforged in a blunter and more ideological form. It isn’t the clash of civilizations so much as the clash of artificially reconstructed civilizations that is taking place. Witness the Islamic State, which does not represent Islam per se, but Islam combusting with the tyrannical conformity and mass hysteria of the Internet and social media. The postmodern reinvention of identities only hardens geopolitical divides.
His core thesis seems quite obviously correct: “We are entering an age of what I call comparative anarchy, that is, a much higher level of anarchy compared to that of the Cold War and post–Cold War periods.”