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A Little Geopolitics Is a Dangerous Thing

Summary:
The term geopolitics first came into vogue after Germany's defeat in World War I and has since come to be used as a rationalization for zero-sum conflicts. But insofar as it represents a false notion of geographical determinism, it is utterly inappropriate for a globalized world. PRINCETON – Any hope that Donald Trump’s messy departure from the White House would at least restore a modicum of calm to the world must now be discounted. Already, there is a dangerous new international threat: the return of “geopolitics” in shaping international security. The Death of Free Speech in Hong Kong Bertha Wang/AFP via Getty Images Market

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The term geopolitics first came into vogue after Germany's defeat in World War I and has since come to be used as a rationalization for zero-sum conflicts. But insofar as it represents a false notion of geographical determinism, it is utterly inappropriate for a globalized world.

PRINCETON – Any hope that Donald Trump’s messy departure from the White House would at least restore a modicum of calm to the world must now be discounted. Already, there is a dangerous new international threat: the return of “geopolitics” in shaping international security.

Consider the events of the past six months. Within weeks of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, his secretary of state, Antony Blinken, got into an extraordinary spat with his Chinese counterpart at a bilateral meeting in Alaska. The United States has also tussled with the European Union over Nord Stream 2, a pipeline that will deliver Russian natural gas directly to Germany, bypassing (and thus weakening) Ukraine. And, for its part, the EU imposed tougher sanctions on China, citing its policies in Xinjiang, to which China responded with sanctions of its own.

Then, in June, a naval

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