Where Controls the What

When I hear others expressing opinions about world events, or even national events, and from their comments it becomes clear they have no idea of the geography of the land they are discussing, I quickly start lowering their score on my respect -an -opinion meter.   You don’t have to be a cartographer or meteorologist but some basic understanding of the geography of old mother earth sure can give much more cogent insight to why people and nations behave the way the do.
It was not only the “manifest destiny” of the US to migrate from east to west all the way to California and utilize the resources of this almost- continent, but ultimate destiny was indeed to be some day the leading naval power in the world.  Naval power both militarily and for merchant shipping.  Look at a globe, we are the only major power bordering both of the world’s dominant oceans.   People smarter than me have stated that it is indeed the most significant strategic interest of the US to control the sea lanes of world commerce.   Great Britain is an island, a big one, but an island nevertheless, and its Empire was built not with large land armies conquering huge swathes of land, but it was built from the decks of British ships sailing to the far corners of the world.  That control was so important that in the late 18th century and the public perception that the British did rule the seas, that they sent a force to seek and capture the surviving crew members of the HMS Bounty!   An expensive but vital undertaking to reinforce British authority of the seas.   But as mighty as that seafaring Empire was,  it did give way to the US.  This is an example of geographic destiny at work.  History is replete with many more.  Do your own research and confirm or disagree, but make it an informed assessment.
Look at a map every time events flare up.  And then reflect just a bit on the history of that region.  The numerous small conflicts of this world have usually been over basic resources–water, food, raw materials.  The major conflicts have been due to religious or ideological views.  But the geography always is a key factor.
Have some idea about the land– arid, swampy, cold, mountainous, etc.  Learn at least the major rivers and their flow; they track quite well the development of most cultures and civilizations.  Have a modicum of understanding the location and effects of the major ocean currents and the lands they affect.  You ask do such things really matter,,,,damn right they do.   Great Britain and western Europe would be quite different places but for the Gulf Stream.
These are tools for you.  Use them to your advantage when forming your opinions.

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Filed under Culture, Economics, Foreign Affairs, geography, government

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