Abraham Denmark, “The Revenge of Geography and the Asia-Pacific: An Interview with Robert Kaplan,” Policy Q&A, National Bureau of Asian Research, 12 September 2012.
In his new book, The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate, Robert Kaplan (Stratfor Global Intelligence) contends that current global conflicts, including wars, political instability, and clashes over religion, can be better understood and even forecasted through close examination of the maps that chart our world. In this Q&A, NBR’s Abraham Denmark asks Kaplan how this theory relates to the Asia-Pacific and what challenges geography will present for the United States’ policy toward the region.
Robert Kaplan is the Chief Geopolitical Analyst at Stratfor and is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Kaplan and Denmark have collaborated on several projects in the past; most recently, they co-authored the article “The Long Goodbye: The Future of North Korea” in the May/June 2011 issue of the World Affairs Journal.
For those looking at the Asia-Pacific, what do you think is the most important message of your book?
The most important message about the Asia-Pacific in my book is that China is both big and small at the same time. China is big in that its influence extends all the way into the Russian Far East and Central and Southeast Asia. China is small in the sense that inside China there exist many minorities—Turks, Tibetans, Inner-Mongolians—that are restless. As its economic crisis ramps up, we can expect more ethnic unrest within China.
We should not take the country’s stability for granted. China may have unstable times ahead that could affect everything in the Asia-Pacific region, including disputes in the South China Sea and relations with Japan. The fate of the region hinges on whether China will remain stable. …