The disciplines of geoeconomic and geopolitics are closely intertwined. The discipline of geopolitics has a burden full past and can only progress through self-critique: that is through criticism of the discipline itself. For instance, it must be made clear what in geopolitics is objective and what is normative. So far this criticism has come mostly from outside, from its opponents, whether they represent critical geopolitics, political geography, or mainstream political science.
“Intelligence can’t live with theory and can’t live without it.” Richard K. Betts The idea with this book is to show how the study of intelligence can be an alternative approach for the study of economics when the aim is to understand the competitive advantage of nations. We shall describe the study of geoeconomics as a part of normative intelligence analysis, written in the tradition of critical theory and based methodologically in the evolutionary sciences.
Geopolitics differs from the more empirically-focused social sciences in a number of ways. For one thing, apart from repeatable observations it also builds on a tradition of wisdom, anecdotal observations, and educated guesswork. It embraces not only economics, political science, history, and geography, but also the critical-theory tradition.
The reason for the link with critical theory is the conviction that continuing critique of contemporary society is essential not only to understand the world we live in, but also to maintain it into the future. A positivist methodology for the social sciences with a solid peer-reviewed system of journals is a fine path to follow once we have agreed how knowledge is to be built, once we are sure which route will give valuable results. This has been far from true for the social sciences since the Second World War. The current paradigm has instead been moulded by a conviction that ever-greater specialization and examination of small samples will yield new insights and social progress.
The historical method has been largely discredited since the Second World War. Part of the reason is that people have been learning less history since then, so the phenomenon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, a downward spiral. The disciplines of history and geography have been systematically neglected, in the USA and indeed in the West more generally, right up to university level.
If we knew more history, this would strengthen our ability to draw historical parallels, and thus to make more accurate predictions about future events. Instead it is often wrongly assumed that we know as much as there is to know about history. The field of economics suffers greatly as a consequence.
The end of the Cold War brought a renaissance to geopolitical thinking which coincides with the growth of our multinational enterprises. Since most of the world’s States now share the same understanding of which underlying factors give them more power, focus has shifted to a single dominant issue, economic interest.