Up until February 23rd, 2022, the powerful countries of the world played a very rarified game.
Too many people try to analyze geopolitics like it is a game of chess. Move, counter-move. Push a pawn? Threaten a knight, that type of thing. It’s easy to understand and makes for good copy.
In the past I’ve tried to liken it to a multi-player version of Go, with anywhere from four to 6 different colored stones on the board trying to take territory. It was a better metaphor but nearly impossible to describe adequately. In fact, at times, it was exhausting.
The reality is that neither of these metaphors are explanatory.
Because the only accurate model for geopolitics is actually Calvinball.
You know that game. That’s the one from Calvin & Hobbes.
Contrary to your memory of the legendary comic strip, there were rules to Calvinball that went something like this: Calvin got to make the rules up as he went along.
In geopolitics it pretty much comes down to whoever is the strongest player got that power.
Here’s the thing. Up until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (and yes, it is an invasion, justifiable or otherwise) there was something called the ‘rules-based order’ promoted mainly by the US but also supported directly by the European Union and the Commonwealth.
The rules of the ‘rules-based order’ were simple. We make the rules, you follow them. We reserve the right to change the rules whenever we want to suit our purpose.
It was the geopolitical equivalent of Sam Francis’ idea of ‘anarcho-tyranny,’ which boils down to, “rules for thee, but not for me.”
We’ve heard the Russian diplomats complain about this for years. Why have these rules if they are not ever enforced?
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