The words ‘geopolitics’ and ‘geopolitical’ are often used as synonyms for ‘relations between countries’ or ‘international’. In fact, many people seem to use the word geopolitics without being aware of its (possible) meaning(s). Very simply put, geopolitics is about control over a territory. Closely linked to this concept is geoeconomics, which concerns control over markets. Both concepts refer to countries and non-state actors.
The recent oil price decline shows how important geopolitics and geoeconomics are for a sound analysis of key global trends. Saudi Arabia’s large oil reserves are for example a geopolitical factor since they help its government control its territory and have a strong regional standing. The reserves are also a geoeconomic factor, since they explain Saudi Arabia’s important position on the global oil market. The country’s reasons for not increasing its oil production (as discussed by Daniel Yergin in this article) are a geoeconomic factor too.
The consequences of the low oil price at the start of 2015 are both geoeconomic and geopolitical. Starting with the first, according to Reuters, “[b]ankruptcy filings in the oil and gas sector are widely expected to increase in the coming months.” In addition, geopolitically speaking, the governments of some oil-exporting countries, such as Russia and Venezuela, now have less room to exercise power on their national territory. Moreover, the lower oil price also limits their ability to have an impact on other countries, either with military (e.g. support to rebel groups), economic (e.g. oil subsidies) or other means.
As this brief analysis shows, anticipating and managing geopolitical changes does not only require knowledge of key global trends, but also a good understanding of geopolitical concepts and ideas. The Geopolitical Summer Schools at Maastricht University could help you further develop the necessary skills. Alternatively, you could pay a visit to my website ExploringGeopolitics that offers over 200 contributions about geopolitics, geoeconomics and related concepts by 130 academic scholars.
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- Framing 115 Years of Geopolitics in 230 Words
- What do you mean by Cyberspace, Internet and Cybergeopolitics?
- What are Geopolitical Aspects of Cities?
- The Oil Price, Geopolitics and Geoeconomics
- Rare Metals, Global Power and National Security
- How useful are Maps?
- Words matter in Geopolitics – Czechia or Czech Republic?
- BREXIT and the Myth of National Unity
- Energy Security [Reading List]
- Foreign Policy, International Relations and World Politics [Reading List]
- Geopolitical Scenario Planning [Reading List]
- Geopolitics, Geoeconomics and Geostrategy [Reading List]
- Global Power [Reading List]
- International Boundaries and National Territory [Reading List]
- National Identity [Reading List]
- Natural Resource Scarcity [Reading List]
- Security [Reading List]