Us Position In The New Era Politics

Essay add: 21-10-2016, 12:58   /   Views: 7

This paper reviews some proper studies concerning the effective role of energy, in particular, the Persian Gulf's oil and gas in the global objectives of the United States in order to attain the highest position in the Post-Cold War geopolitical world order. Many studies confirm that the US military presence in the Persian Gulf region is due to energy and security of energy flows to industrial countries and controlling the oil flow to the western and Asia- pacific countries. On the other hand, it is clear that the United States as the only superpower remained from the Cold war era is looking for maximizing its hegemon within the international system. There is another important point that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the old geopolitical world order as a cold war era also was finished and consequently, almost all relations among the states also was changed and the world entered to a new period as a geopolitical transition period (Taylor, 1992). It means that the world needs the new definition for interstates relations as well as the position of every country, particularly major countries, in the new world order. The activities of these countries on the one hand, and the role of various factors on the other hand, indeed, will be able to define the kind and circumstances of new era. In this respect, it is important answering this question that, hat is the role of energy resources in formation of the relations among great powerful countries in the new era? It is important also to specify those studies that refer directly to the role and impact of energy resources in the formation of new geopolitical world order, with stress over the position of the United States as the most powerful country in this era. Therefore, this paper reviews those geopolitical studies which have been done about above mentioned elements and also to specify the existing gap by using the study by study model(Creswell, 2008).

1. "The US position in the world geopolitical order after the cold war"/ John, Agnew/ 1992

Perhaps, this paper from Agnew is only work that refers directly to the US position in the Post-Cold War geopolitical World order. Although it has been written in 1992, it is important because it includes the ideas of one famous scholar in geopolitical world order context; also it is almost a unique study that correctly discusses position of the US in the "geopolitical world order'. Agnew (1992) believes that after collapse of the Soviet Union and end of bipolar system one important arguable theme is the position of the United States in the world. He explains three competing visions about changing the US position in the world, which is related to both America and geopolitical order.

The first one is related to ideas of academic commentators and in this group America has been known as country that exercised a global economic and military hegemony in the post-war II. According to Agnew this group argues that the US entered into "hegemonic decline" in the period 1968-1972. In this time the military commitment and economic stagnation were combined and some rivals emerged in Europe and Asia. The decline of US hegemon has also been indicated by some other scholars such as Taylor and Flint (2000), Nijman(1993) and Wallerstein (1993). This event coincided with oil crisis in 1973 (Billon, 2004) and the withdrawal the US from Vietnam (Mercille, 2008).

The second point of view is concerning to political conservatives, who believe that the economic and military problems of the US are the consequences of mistaken policies and are as a result of the lack of commanding leadership. This group refers to economic growth of the US in the Mid-1980s and its military abilities in the Reagan and Bush administrations as evidence. In fact they believe that the hegemonic decline of the US is a myth.

A third viewpoint is a popular idea among liberal politicians and in liberal "think-tanks". This perspective looks it in to supplant geo-economics instead of geopolitics. This standpoint "sees geo-economics replacing geopolitics with the decline of America's great post-war military rivalry and with the emergence of economic competition with Japan and economically unified Europe as the major threat both to America's economy and the US political position in the world"(Agnew, 1992, p. 7). In this group Luttwak view is arguable. He refers to difference between the goals of mercantilism and geo-economics, as for the first one was to maximize gold stock and for second one is to provide the best facilities for the largest proportion of population (Luttwak, 1990). This is what has been introduced as one of causes to collapse of soviet union; to neglect economic interests of its population (Ezzati, 2001, p. 107). Luttwak also mentions stages of evolving the commercial quarrels to war, so that, commercial quarrels forms political quarrels, then military confrontations are shaped, and finally these confrontations crate war. Perhaps the most important point that has been attention by Luttwak (1990, p. 128) is that, in contrast to mercantilism which their methods will be dominated by the methods of war, in the geo-economics era, both the causes and the instruments of conflicts will be economic. In other words, in this time the reasons of struggles are not like to past time and there is an economic reason beside any disagreement (Ezzati, 2001, p. 107).

Agnew (1992) however believes that, it has been provided a large contribution to defining the world economy by the American activities whether American business or political leaders, since the 19th century. It has been happened in the first step from shifting a territorial mode to an international mode in relation to other parts of the world. Then in the second step, it has been increased the geographical sphere of the US interests from a continental to a hemispheric and then to a global level and the US has become a great global actor only in this century and since 1945. Consequently, according to Agnew the government of the US has operated as the global supporter and defender of business enterprise, regardless of the consequences for the territorial economy of the US. For him, the US influence in the cultural and financial forms has been more than the military and economic exaction and we saw that the political and economic achievements of the US have been remarkable particularly in the security, production, knowledge, and monetary.

Declining the US hegemony, Agnew (1992) continues that "the decline in the US share of global GNP and monetary shocks since the late 1960s have made the US territorial economy both more vulnerable and less able to respond to external challenge"(1992, p. 9). He believes that, since 1983 the US that has been as the great creator of the post-war geopolitical order has become the largest debtor in history and Japan has become America's leading creditor, and for this reason he believes that "For how long can the United states dictate military policy to countries which have a greater degree of economic autonomy?" (1992, p. 9). Finally, Agnew (1992) refers to the US position as victor of cold war country, but which country that cannot "reap the fruits of victory" because of the US hegemony cannot provide a permanent divided to the US territorial economy.

2. "The radical geopolitics of U.S foreign policy: geopolitical and geo-economic logics of power" / Julien. Mercille/ 2008

The main viewpoint of Mercille's paper is the argument of geo-economic and geopolitical logics. For him geo-economics particularly has been understood as main driver behind postwar American foreign policy. In fact both geo-economic and geopolitical logics refer to states policies, and Mercille (2008) relies on terms that applied by Harvey; the territorial and capitalist logics, the former refers to the political activities that are created by states and the latter refers to the firms activities and to the processes of capital accumulations. From this point of view, "the former is associated with the political, diplomatic, and military strategies invoked and used by a state…as it struggles to assert its interests and achieve its goals in the world at large and the latter with the molecular processes of capital accumulation in space and time which occur through the daily practices of production, trade, commerce, capital flows"(Mercille, 2008, p. 575).

According to Mercille (2008) there are three important ways to conceive of geo-economics; first refers to the natural resources which are located within a region and those policies that control and exploit such resources. Valdani (2002) has examined the geopolitics of Persian gulf and red sea regions on the basis of this method. He emphasized on the energy resources as an important geo-economic factor and introduced those regions as geo-economic regions. The second one includes the complex of discourses that are directly linked to the economic essentials of global economy, and third "to point to the flows of trade, finance and capital over global space and across borders, taking into consideration the political aspects behind such movements"(Mercille, 2008, p. 7) . Based on this viewpoint, he believes that economic forces prevail in adjusting the direction of state policy and geo-economics, in fact, "conceptualizes the relationship between economic and political factors by considering the interests of two different groups of actors, namely capitalists and state managers" (Mercille, 2008, p. 8).

According to Mercille what is more important particularly in forming the American foreign policy is that state's managers and capitalists act in the international arena in different ways, so that state's officials mostly follow the geopolitical logic and the capitalists act according to the geo-economic logic. Mercille (2008) explains this conceptualizing in a discussion of the Vietnam War and by a short interpretation of American policy over Iran. In this section he concentrates on the "why" of American involvement and later withdrawal from Vietnam. He states that the relative importance of geopolitical and geo-economic factors especially which they influence in the forming of the US policy make Vietnam as a case to study. In other words, there were two groups: the business opposition to American involvement that grew and finally created a majority in the corporate world who called for withdrawal because of highly negative consequences for America and world economy, and the paradox was who had chosen to remain in Vietnam for several more years, until 1973. That was in fact a contention and hostility between two geopolitical and geo-economic logics. On the base of this viewpoint, it showed that the geo-economic logic dictated withdrawal by 1969, but war was continued by President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger until 1973 and it was even expanding to Cambodia and Laos.

Mercille (2008) believes that the factors such as credibility, prestige and also ideology were more important for the American statesmen and although there was four years divergence between White house policy and the wishes of the corporate world, Nixon did finally withdraw from Vietnam and it is interesting that the cost of the war reduced from $28.8 billion in 1969 to $9.3 billion in 1972 and it was as a result of the geo-economic logic's pressures and the wishes of American elites. In this manner, he also refers to the current Iranian crisis as a post-cold war event. Since Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, Tehran in fact moved outside of Washington sphere of influence and the American Hegemony was threaten by the Iranian theocratic regime. Obviously, Iran was an important economic player particularly in the Middle East; meanwhile the oil and gas reserves in Iran are very significance for all industrial countries. Based on Iran abilities this country could establish fruitful trade relations with the united sates, but "since the 1980s, American state officials have stated economic sanctions against Iran, labeling it as a pariah state. Nevertheless, important sectors of the American business community have voiced opposition to such policies and called for increased trade with Iran" (Mercille, 2008, p. 13). For Mercille (2008), the interests of the united states in Iran is based on geo-economic logic, because of the Iran vast oil and gas reserves, and because of this country has world's third and second largest reserves of oil and natural gas. On the other hand, "American control of those reserves would meet important goals, such as the possibility to regulate the world economy's energy requirements and opening them up to American energy firms"(Mercille, 2008, p. 13). Mercille (2008) of course believes that this is where the geopolitical logic comes into opposing with geo-economic logic. Indeed, this is where the maintaining American credibility in the international arena is as concern of state's officials and they attempt to make it clear to Iran that challenging American hegemony is not satisfactory. On the other hand, according to Mercille, reports has been shown that Americans often are opposed to military action against Iran, they comprise about two- thirds of the United States' population. This issue is also important that the American officials know that the energy reserves of Iran are controlled by some countries which have friendly relations with the US and these reserves in fact are in the hands of friendly leaders and supply to the development of the world economy. In this context there is this view also that energy resources can create wars and conflicts and the related regions are scene of competitions and activities of great powers such as the United States(Billon, 2004; James & Wescoat, 1992; Klare, 2001).

3. "Energy insecurity and military misadventures in the Persian Gulf region" / K. R. Singh/ 2007

Singh (2007) generally, refers to objectives of first Iraq war; to liberate Kuwait and restore Kuwait's oil fields to a friendly regime, also to weak of the Baathi regime and collapse of it. These objectives, certainly, has been mentioned by Bush (1991) in his speech. Bush has also emphasized Kuwait oil as US national interest. Singh also discussed objectives of second Iraq war and defines it; "killing the leadership and destroying the regime and military" (Singh, 2007, p. 6). He refers to Afghanistan war and poses this question that "Is the NATO military presence in south West Asia only to fight terrorism and introduce democracy or is there a hidden agenda like dominating the energy sources for the use of the west? Are the spending billions of dollars to maintain large number of troops not only in Iraq but also in the neighborhood for political philanthropy, like establishing democracy, or is it an investment for energy security in the future? " (Singh, 2007, p. 8) . He with reviewing of some studies says "that the aim of the neo-cons was to bypass Iraqi National Oil Company in favour of a free market approach to oil" (Singh, 2007, p. 9) and it could be to reduction the dominance of other oil producers and OPEC. He says that according to a report in The Independent, the US is preparing a law that would give oil companies thirty-year contracts to take out Iraqi oil reserves, these companies are such as BP, Shell and Exxon.

Singh (2007) emphasised that the Gulf oil will remain vital for stability in the global oil market. He believes that the oil reserves the Persian Gulf region- 725.2 bnbls- constitutes 63 per cent of the global oil reserves. For him 25.2 per cent of world oil is produced in the Persian Gulf, and any decline in export of oil from this region will destabilize the world's energy market. On the other hand the natural gas reserves in the Persian Gulf are also important. Singh declares that the gulf has possessed about 70 trillion cubic meters (tcm) and by contrast in the North America and North Sea it is only 7.5 tcm and 4.3 tcm. It is even less than gas reserves of Qatar. Therefore "no wonder the OECD, especially the US-led coalition, is keen to retain control over the huge oil and gas reserves of the Gulf region"(Singh, 2007, p. 13).

In this respect he refers to physical control over the energy reserves of Persian Gulf since 1974-75 as western strategy that after this date military dimension was explicit, although before that, the efforts were more political and convert. He believes that this western strategy is clear from four successive steps that the first one was taken in 1974-75 with the explicit warning by the USA about military occupy oil fields and was accompanied with constitute of Rapid deployment of forces (RDF). the second step happened after 1979 in response to Islamic revolution of Iran, military intervention of Soviet Union in Afghanistan and Iran-Iraq war which its consequences in Persian gulf and Hormuz strait was as the tanker war. These all caused close cooperation between some Arab countries and the west. And of course the third step has been specified the period of after the first Iraq war. Singh believes that the politico-military situation had been changed between 2001 and 2003. He refers to the role of non-state actors and the new challenge to the west about radical Islamic groups and though 'war on terrorism' which became a popular slogan after the events of 11 September 2001, and of course that was the pretext for the attack on Afghanistan in 2001 and also on Iraq in 2003.

However, "the post-2001/2003 period marked the fourth step in the direction of western strategy of dominating the energy reserves around the Gulf region"(Singh, 2007, p. 18). Singh believes that the nature of threats to energy security changed radically. For him before this date it was from the governments and regimes but after that time until now and in the absence of such regimes generally threats are from non-state actors or the so-called jihadist. Singh noted that "Hence, the new military response is marked by a massive deployment of armed forces in the region so as to virtually dominate and, if need be, to occupy the oil and gas fields militarily"(Singh, 2007, p. 18). In this respect, Singh (2007) refers to military interventions by US and argues that the reason of military interventions until 2003 was to repel regional radical countries for the ensure of energy security and the free flow of energy resources, but now the non-state actors are as threat seriously. He also introduces a new dimension about some proposals to use the oil fields of Iraq by the foreign oil firms, mostly from the OECD states.

4. "Political geography and geopolitics" / P. Mojtahedzadeh/ 2002

Mojtahedzadeh (2002) in his work refers to some post-modern geopolitics characteristics and believes that, in the scene of global geopolitics, the global geographical classifications of modern age which had been suggested by Mackinder and Cohen have been changed and today instead of Heartland and Rimland, and also geostrategic and geopolitical regions of Cohen (1991), the world involves the regional convergences and the global market. For him, although with the end of cold war and collapse of Soviet Union the world faced the unipolar system, the political world has a set of indications which show that world is going toward a multipolar system. In this system the economic competitions will become more important than ideological rivalries and as such, the system of free trade economy or Capitalism will dominate over the world geopolitics. He says that in this regard some American politician attempt in the "new world order" framework to design a unipolar system that the United States on the top of the hierarchical system plays the role of global-police.

He also believes that the American new world order is not applied by American politicians because the world didn't accept it; however, they pursue it in their expected plans. He determines the structure of American new world order in the pyramidal structure and the powerful countries have a specific position, and the United States possesses in the top of pyramid to control the global affairs. In this respect, Mojtahedzadeh (2002) refers to some American thinkers activities to conceptualize in the America such as the Huntington's clash of civilizations, which attempted to prove a forming of unipolar geopolitical world order with the presence of the United States on the top of its pyramidal structure.

However, the core of his discussions in the post-modern geopolitics issues is related to return of the Heartland into geopolitical arguments. To pay attention to Eurasian Heartland and to mention the important role of this area in the global strategies has been mentioned by some other scholars from the different perspectives. Iseri (2009) tries to establish the relation between Central Asia energy reserves and Heartland and the grand strategy of the US, and Taylor (1994) discusses Heartland of Mackinder in relation to Hegemony specially Britain's role in the world. But Mojtahedzadeh believes that, from the United States' viewpoint two important regions of Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf are known as producer to supply the world's energy demand in the twenty first century. This is important, due to controlling the scarce material particularly the energy resources are known as a necessity to forming a unipolar geopolitical order and to create global hegemony. He estimates the Caspian sea fields about 30-40 (and even till 200) billion barrels and stresses that only Iran and Russia have possessed about 70 per cent of total world's natural gas and this characteristics show that region enjoys from a particular position in the world. On the other hand, he refers also to Geoffrey Kemp ideas about Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea area what he has been called 'the strategic energy ellipse'(Kemp & Harkavy, 1997).

It is interesting to note that, Iran acts as a strategic bridge to connect these two great world's energy fields to each other. Mojtahedzadeh (2002) stresses to recognize this condition by the united states and believes that although the united states has delayed to recognize strategic location of Iran, Washington, step by step will accept that not only Heartland has been returned into geopolitical studies, but also it has been moved from its old location toward south and has been settled between Caspian sea and Persian gulf area. It means that Iran will be placed in the heart of heartland, and of course according to Mojtahedzadeh this geopolitical reality could be either pernicious or developer to Iran. In fact, for Mojtahedzadeh it seems that, the United States will have to establish the friendly relation with Iran to control the new heartland. Of course, otherwise the United States will pursue the replacing policy to substitute some small country instead of Iran.

5. "The US grand strategy and the Eurasian heartland in the twenty - first century" / Emre. Iseri/ 2009

This paper, from an offensive realist theoretical perspective, argues that the major powers have been always looking for opportunities to achieve more power because of feeling more secure. Author, actually seeks to understand some dimensions of the US foreign policy in the post-9/11, as such to introduce primacy or global hegemon as the main objective of the US grand strategy.

In this respect, Iseri explains that, in this time, achieving global hegemony for a great power is nearly impossible because there always are some regional hegemons which compete with great power particularly in a distinct geographical region, and this geographical distance is an obstacle for the potential global hegemon to exert its power in other parts of the world. For Iseri the regional hegemon only dominates over the specific and limited geographical area, but the global hegemon have to dominate over the whole world and in fact this is a heavy task for global hegemon. He mentions the united states as an example in the cold war era when it was only a regional hegemon in the western hemisphere because there were great powers in the eastern hemisphere, countries such as Russia and china, and after cold-war the united states have focused on Eurasia to become the global hegemon and its policy-making elites have been designing their plan to prevent emergence of any regional hegemon in this area.

Iseri refers to oil reserves as important element in the US grand strategy. Iseri (2009) generally, believes that because the USA imports oil from the energy markets, in fact any threat to these markets will be a threat to the US interests, therefore, the US grand strategy needs to keep its ability to respond to any such threat. It is important to note that, with the end of Clinton presidency George W. Bush took office with a complex of people that had good experience in the oil industry as his cabinet, people such as Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, etc. indeed, "oil and geopolitics were back at center stage in Washington"(Iseri, 2009, p. 6). He adds that according to National Energy Policy Report (NEPR) of May 2001, which was assigned by Cheney as a comprehensive review of US energy policy, has been determined the energy security as a priority of US foreign policy.

On the other hand, although the Middle East is an instable area, its oil reserves are still cheapest source of oil in the world. Thus, for secure of the supply of oil from Middle East to world markets the governmental intervention have been determined as a requirement. In that regard, Iseri states that, because of the vast undeveloped oil reserves in Iraq, even bigger than Saudi Arabia reserves, that country became an important objective for Cheney and the Bush administration, and On the basis of this viewpoint, "the Iraqi oil reserves were too large and too valuable to be left to the control of Iraqi state-owned companies, hence, a regime change in Iraq was required" (Iseri, 2009, p. 6). It is interesting to note that one of the US statesman has said that there is an important different between North Korea and Iraq and it is that the Iraq swims on a oil sea(Billon, 2004).

Iseri (2009) determines primacy as the ultimate objective of US grand strategy, and it is clear that it means global hegemony and leadership. For him, this aggressive strategy to expand the US hegemony has been outlined in the national security strategy of the United States of America, which has been known as the Bush Doctrine.

Author also discusses the Heartland theory and it's important in the various times. He determines central Asia as heartland of Mackinder and believes that according to Mackinder it could provide to obtain global hegemony, although the Heartland of Mackinder was more expanded than this area and that emphasized upon the priority of land-power instead of sea-power(Mackinder, 1904). Iseri also reminds that The US cold war foreign policy was based on the intellectual ground of heartland theory, so that this theory beside the Rimland theory- which offered by Spykman - formed containment policy which has referred by George Kennan. This containment policy was against Union soviet during the cold war era, but now, they are china and Russia as competitors and in fact the Eurasian landmass is once again the main focus of the US policy.

He believes that region of Caspian Sea and its surrounding area is Eurasian Heartland and it is because of rich energy resources in that region. In other words, the vital strategic resources of this area have been leading powerful countries to use these resources and to achieve their objectives in the global level. Among these countries, "US interests in the Caspian region go beyond the country's domestic energy needs. The political objective of the US government is to prevent energy transport unification among the industrial zones of Japan, Korea, China, Russia, and the EU in the Eurasian landmass and ensure the flow of regional energy resources to US-led international oil markets without any interruptions"(Iseri, 2009, p. 11).

For Iseri, it sounds the objective of US policy in this region is a part of a larger grand strategy to construct and forming its regional hegemony in order to become the global hegemon in this century. In sum, Iseri believes that the presence of US in the central Asia region as Eurasian heartland is due to controlling the energy flow to consumer countries and finally to create its regional hegemony in order to maximise its global hegemony. This is similar to Mojtahedzadeh's idea about domination of American new world order as the main objective of US policy in this region(Mojtahedzadeh, 2002).


Since with the end of Cold War the old geopolitical world order was demised and the world entered to a geopolitical transition period, it became significance studying developments of new era; in particular the role of geoeconomic factors in interstate relations, and also position of major powers within new hierarchical system. In this respect, Energy resources (oil and gas) as geoeconomic factor have been introduced as most important factor in the scene of world political economy. Among different geographical regions, the Persian gulf with about 65 per cent of world's oil reserves is most important region, where has attracted the great power attention and formed serious competitions within the international system. On the other hand, the United States as sole remained superpower from the Cold War has always had most significant role in the new era developments. Therefore, almost all studied which are related to global developments have examined the role of the US in the global developments.

Agnew, in this respect, has explicitly referred to the position of the US in the geopolitical world order and believes that after collapse of the Soviet Union and end of bipolar system one important arguable theme is the position of the United States in the world. As characteristic of a hegemonic state, the US influence in the cultural and financial forms has been more than the military and economic exaction and we saw that the political and economic achievements of the US have been remarkable particularly in the security, production, knowledge, and monetary. In this manner, the US government has played an important role as supporter for the US business in regard to "globalization" of the world economy.

Emphasising the importance of both geopolitical and geo-economic logics in the US policy particularly in international level has been studied in the paper of Mercille. It indicates that, the US private and business sectors or geo-economic logic has always been opposite to the US statesman or geopolitical logic. In this regard the withdrawal of the US from Vietnam and the US current policy against Iran are good instances in relation to justify the importance of geo-economic logic. Mercille also justifies the geopolitical policy of the US because of its credibility and prestige in the world. In fact he similar to Agnew refers to strong relation between geo-economic factors and the US policies or the strong cohesion between the US business and government.

But Singh and Mojtahedzadeh directly refer to importance of energy reserves (in the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea) and have a critical view to the US policy of unilateralism. To keep its position, from this view, Washington needs to cooperation those countries that are regional players and major oil consuming in the Asia and also in the west. In this respect, the western countries have shown great reluctance to commit themselves in support of the US policy for military occupation of oil fields in the Persian Gulf. According to Mojtahedzadeh and Iseri, beside the Persian Gulf region, Caspian Sea reserves have founded an important position in the American strategies. Indeed, the role of oil and gas reserves in the central Asia or Eurasia heartland and also Persian Gulf in the creating of the US regional hegemony toward obtaining the global hegemony is core of their studies. As a result, these studies emphasis the role of energy resources, in particular the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea reserves, in the US actions in the Post-Cold War era.

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