Return of Marco Polo


Robert Kaplan recently wrote an incredibly expansive article about the future of the world. Its pretty massive in scope and refers to the disappearance of Europe into Eurasia. Here are some selected quotes and there is a url at the end for the entire article which is worth the read, whenever you have a sufficient amount of time to contemplate a very big picture.  Some of this transition fits in to our expectations of shifting borders in this era of transition.  Its a must read article for those that are interested in the ‘New Silk Road.”

“Noting how Rome only partially inherited the ideals of Greece, and how the Middle Ages virtually lost the ideals of Rome, the 19th-century liberal Russian intellectual Alexander Herzen observed that “Modern Western thought will pass into history and be incorporated in it, will have its influence and its place, just as our body will pass into the composition of grass, of sheep, of cutlets, and of men. We do not like that kind of immortality, but what is to be done about it?”

Indeed, Western civilization is not being destroyed; rather, it is being diluted and dispersed.”

As Europe disappears, Eurasia coheres. I do not mean to say that Eurasia is becoming unified, or even stable in the manner that Europe was during the Cold War and the Post Cold War – only that the interactions of globalization, technology, and geopolitics, with each reinforcing the other, are leading the Eurasian supercontinent to become, analytically speaking, one fluid and comprehensible unit. Eurasia simply has meaning in the way that it didn’t used to. Moreover, because of the reunification of the Mediterranean Basin, evinced by refugees from North Africa and the Levant flooding Europe, and because of dramatically increased interactions across the Indian Ocean from Indochina to East Africa, we may now speak of Afro-Eurasia in one breath. The term “World-Island,” early 20th-century British geographer Halford Mackinder’s phrase for Eurasia joined with Africa, is no longer premature.”

“The slowly vanishing West abets this development by depositing its seeds of unity into an emerging global culture that spans continents. Further encouraging this process is the erosion of distance by way of technology: new roads, bridges, ports, airplanes, massive container ships, and fiber-optic cables.”

“Geographical divisions will be both greater and lesser than in the 20th century. They will be greater because sovereignties will multiply; that is, a plethora of city-states and region-states will emerge from within existing states themselves to achieve more consequence, even as a supranational organization like the EU wanes and one like ASEAN is destined to have little meaning in a world of intimidation and power. Geographical divisions also will be lesser because the differences – and particularly the degree of separation – between regions like Europe and the Middle East, the Middle East and South Asia, and South Asia and East Asia will decline. The map will become more fluid and baroque, in other words, but with the same pattern repeating itself. And this same pattern will be encouraged by both the profusion and hardening of roads, railways, pipelines, and fiber-optic cables.


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