08 September 2011

Looking north

Stratfor Global Intelligence has published a fascinating analysis of American global hegemony that argues, in effect, that geography is destiny: The Geopolitics of the United States. Here is a sample:
The American geography is an impressive one. The Greater Mississippi Basin together with the Intracoastal Waterway has more kilometers of navigable internal waterways than the rest of the world combined. The American Midwest is both overlaid by this waterway, and is the world’s largest contiguous piece of farmland. The U.S. Atlantic Coast possesses more major ports than the rest of the Western Hemisphere combined. Two vast oceans insulated the United States from Asian and European powers, deserts separate the United States from Mexico to the south, while lakes and forests separate the population centers in Canada from those in the United States. The United States has capital, food surpluses and physical insulation in excess of every other country in the world by an exceedingly large margin. So like the Turks, the Americans are not important because of who they are, but because of where they live.

On the other hand, all is not well economically in the "Land of the Free," and some Americans are queuing up at their northern border: Americans flee north to Canada for economic opportunity.
Canadian officials say the number of Americans applying for temporary work visas doubled between 2008 and 2010. Immigration lawyers in Toronto and the border city of Windsor, right across from job-starved Detroit, say they’re seeing a dramatic growth in clients seeking to come to Canada to work, or even as permanent residents. . . . Canada was one of the few to escape the 2008 financial meltdown relatively unscathed, a turn of events largely attributed to Ottawa’s long-standing refusal to deregulate the banking sector.

Canada is sometimes said to be cursed by its own geography, which tends to divide rather than unite Canadians. Yet we must be doing something right, even if we haven't the slightest chance of displacing America's global prominence.

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