One of the key elements of global hegemony is the ability of a nation to project power. Ideally, this means a potential hegemon needs local security. In other words, a nation that faces significant proximate threats will struggle to project power globally. As a general rule, it’s easier to attack via land compared to the sea.
Rome’s power base was the Italian peninsula. It only needed to defend the northern part of the land mass. Spain had a similar situation. The Netherlands was the global hegemon for a while but was always facing a land threat from France. Britain, being an island, was geographically ideal for superpower status; the last successful invasion of the British Isles was in 1066. Finally, the U.S. has managed to create an island effect on a larger land mass giving America more access to natural resources compared to Britain, making the U.S. a nearly ideal hegemon.
In Part I of this report, we will examine American hegemony from a foreign nation’s perspective. In other words, if a nation wanted to attack the U.S. to either replace the U.S. as global superpower or to create conditions that would allow it to act freely to establish regional hegemony, how would this be accomplished? This analysis will begin by examining America’s geopolitical position. As part of this week’s report, we will examine the likelihood of a nuclear attack and a terrorist strike against the U.S. In Part II, we will examine the remaining two methods, cyberwarfare and disinformation, discussing their likelihood along with the costs and benefits of these tactics. We will also conclude in Part II with potential market effects.
The Americans are truly a lucky people. They are bordered to the north and south by weak neighbors and to the east and west by fish.
-- Otto von Bismarck
Although Bismarck’s quote is accurate in terms of borders, this circumstance was less due to luck than design. Successive presidents took great care to expand U.S. territory in such a manner as to leave Canada and Mexico with less hospitable border environments. This can be observed on a map of North American population density. The map below shows population density in North America. Note the low density along most of the Canadian/U.S. frontier as well as the lack of density along the Mexican border.
The U.S. pushed its northern border into areas that were less conducive to human development. Canada’s population mostly rests along the border with the U.S. and rapidly declines the further north one travels. The U.S. population is over nine times larger than Canada’s; Canada has 9.4 persons per square mile compared to 85.6 persons per square mile in the U.S. The opposite situation occurs with Mexico. Most of Mexico’s population lives in the southern parts of the state, with the northern desert region relatively unpopulated.