The national borders in Africa were drawn up by Europeans, with no concern for ethnic realities and tribal identity. More than ninety percent African States have conflict-ridden multiethnic identities (Glassner 1996). As if that was not enough, after the Second World War English-speaking countries expanded their territory at the expense of their neighbours, as Ghana did with Togo when they annexed those areas which were rich on natural resources (here first of all timber).

Turkey

The Turks are of Mongol origin, a people far from their original home. They are nomad warriors who adapted to Islam on their way through the Middle East. Having wandered too far to the west, and lost their connexion with the Islamic world, being now surrounded by hostile cultures, the Turks have a real need to make alliances. Since the establishment of the republic in 1923, Turkey has been a crisis-ridden country, always living on the brink of another military coup (Aydin 2005: 25–56), held together only through great compromises between the ruling classes, in fear of the alternatives.

Europe is shifting its borders eastwards again. This time it must not overstretch. In the thirteenth century, various Mongol tribes made Europe insecure and reduced its size: the Golden Horde took Kiev in 1240, spreading their terror as far west as France and Spain, the Seljuks conquered Constantinople in 1253. It has taken us 750 years to regain stability in Europe, delayed by disastrous adventures led by short men: Napoleon, Mussolini and Hitler. Now we must consolidate.

We are undergoing a revolution in Europe. At the same time we are in a period of transition and doubt. The new common political system is not yet in place and suffers from systemic problems; size, inefficiency, and inequality. These problems must be overcome. There is not one Europe but three:

North America

USA

Twenty years after the fall of the Communist bloc, the USA is about to default financially. What at first smelled like victory was a burned dish in the kitchen. It was a victory built on credit and an oversize army. This is the beginning of the decline of the American superpower, though not its end.

There will be no major foreign policy change with the Obama administration, because the country is ruled by the same industrial interests and Obama is a great compromiser. He is no true “wartime consigliere”, but a politician through and through. For the USA this will mean continuing war, but with a friendlier face. Soon the world will cease believing in his eloquent words, beginning with the Arabs in Gaza. There will be a lot of disillusioned Third World citizens. For a start, both Obama and Hillary Clinton have committed themselves to alliance with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most powerful lobby group in the world.

A collection of anecdotes and maxims is the greatest treasure for a man of the world, if he is able to bring the former into conversation at well-chosen points, and to recall the latter on appropriate occasions.

– Goethe

In this chapter we present a particular literary tradition associated with the study of geopolitics, which we shall call the art of essentialism. The art of essentialism can be described as a realistic and succinct form of reporting a complex social fact by observing individual and/or national characteristics and actions, with particular emphasis on history and geography, and subjecting them to a process of synthesis. It is an approach to knowledge which has few of the ambitions of the social sciences; it aims not to build theories after the model of the natural sciences for various types of behaviour (economic, political, psychological, and so forth), but to educate through wisdom defined and understood as a process of gathering and transmitting crucial individual experiences to future generations so as to allow them to compete in a global marketplace. Klaus Knorr, director of the Princeton Center of International Studies in the 1960s, was one of the first to point out the absence of any theory of intelligence, whether descriptive or normative (Knorr 1964: 46–8). This observation remains valid today, but such discussions often miss the larger problem, which is “How do you define a theory?”.

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