Recently, a friend, who I assumed was a completely reasonable person, phoned and said, "The problems we have today are all based on geopolitics." He then went into a detailed explanation about how the federal reserve was controlled by aliens.
Conspiracy theories aside, I was quite frustrated by his use of the term, *geopolitics*. So lets go over what it really means.
Historically, groups of people created stable communities when they settled resource rich tracts of land surrounded by natural, geographical barriers. Typically the kinds of barriers we are talking about are rivers, mountain ranges and oceans etc.
Before we go on, “stable” here does cover a wide range or social/political systems. This includes kingdoms or tyrannies, for example. So stable, here, just means a political system that lasts even for a relatively short period of time.
So its easy to understand why Egypt, for example, had long lasting, “stable” kingdoms both within its borders; and, when it came under the control of the Roman empire. It's natural borders included the Mediterranean on one side and its large supply of fresh water, brought by the Nile, made it the breadbasket and center of that region's power (no mater who controlled it) for centuries.
We can also see why the European part of the Roman empire had much of its border politics play along the Rhine and the Danube rivers. Their mastery of the political issues that developed along these rivers (both through diplomacy and war) is one of the key reasons they were one of the longest lasting empires.
But, just like large, stable, resource rich, areas surrounded by natural barriers become centers of power (in one way or another); areas broken up, divided, or exposed to a larger culture, (thus giving them little natural defense), become fault lines, buffer zones and “choke points” where instability and conflict never seem to go away as empires use these zones against each other.
What we now call The Balkans and the region surrounding Syria, seem like troubled regions now; but, they were during Roman times as well. These “broken” regions separating big powers from each other, have been pawns and buffer zones of those same big powers for centuries.
So the next time you hear, Americans or the Russians should stay out of Balkan or Syrian (or Ukrainian issues, for that matter) because these regions have “nothing to do” with issues back home; consider if the commentator is talking realistically, in terms of geopolitics. Or, maybe just blame it on the aliens in the federal reserve.