Laurent Murawiec

The Spirit of Nations Cultures and Geopolitics Publication date : March 1, 2002

“What drives the many nations that crowd onto the stage of world politics? The study of geopolitics seeks to find the force that moves them, by examining their geographical position and national interests, but it does not exhaust the subject of motives. How, for example, is their position perceived and understood? How are national interests regarded? The present investigation rests on a number of postulates, without which it would be impossible to proceed: the spirit of a nation must be real, characteristic and recognisable; it must matter; and the nations themselves must continue to matter. The sources of power need to be examined: not only a nation’s geographic characteristics and natural resources, but also its people, the degree of scientific and technical development, economic forces, education, and so on. But just as the mind, or spirit, guides individual wills in their relations with others, so nations need a spirit to move these elements of power. The spirit of nations is used here to mean a composite whole — which is both coherent and evolving — of representations shared by a large population during extended historical periods. Such representations pervade and inspire the thought, behaviour and action of that population, its groups and institutions. Any attempt to forecast the development of future events, based on an analysis of the internal dynamics driving nations, of their mutual influence, and of their permanent challenges, requires that choices be made. Although many nations warranted being studied in the same manner (and they will be, at a future date), the present work is limited, both by design and by necessity, to a reduced number of nations, and particularly to those whose impact on world affairs is likely to grow. They will doubtless be called upon to perform in the great geopolitical dances of the 21st century. This book begins with Russia, the giant that straddles Europe and Asia, and whose decay has carved a gaping hole in the heart of the world. It will be followed by the Chinese giant. Japan, stricken by lethargy today, will arise next, followed by that other Asian giant which has for long been underestimated,” writes Laurent Murawiec.

Laurent Murawiec is a consultant for the Rand Corporation, Washington, D.C., the world-renowned think-tank for strategic and geopolitical studies. He is the author of La Guerre au XXIe siècle.