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The Indian Ocean and the Future of U.S. Power

November 4, 2010

Robert Kaplan in The Globalist:

The map of Europe defined the 20th century: From Flanders Fields to Omaha Beach to the Berlin Wall to the burned villages of Kosovo — and from the Long European War, lasting from 1914 to 1989, to its bloody aftershocks — Europe was the center of world history.

Momentous trends and events happened elsewhere, to be sure. But great power politics, from the collapse of Old World empires to the bipolar struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, had more to do with Europe than anywhere else.

The Greater Indian Ocean, stretching eastward from the Horn of Africa past the Arabian Peninsula, the Iranian plateau and the Indian Subcontinent, all the way to the Indonesian archipelago and beyond, may comprise a map as iconic to the new century as Europe was to the last one. Hopefully, the 21st century will not be as violent as the 20th, but — to a similar degree — it could have a recognizable geography.

In this rimland of Eurasia — the maritime oikoumene of the medieval Muslim world that was never far from China’s gaze — we can locate the tense dialogue between Western and Islamic civilizations, the ganglia of global energy routes and the quiet, seemingly inexorable rise of India and China over land and sea. [More]

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