All in Geopolitics

What Explains the Tension Between Taiwan and China?

The road from Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport to the capital, Taipei, looks like the sort of highway you would see anywhere else. However, in Taiwan, things are not always what they seem. Sections of this road double as runways. They aren’t normally used for planes, but they are ready in case Chinese missiles ever destroy the country’s conventional airstrips. Cruise missiles stand ready in unmarked trucks. City neighbourhoods hide tanks. There is a hollowed-out mountain with room for on hundred fighter jets. The shoreline boasts an oil-filled pipeline ready to greet invaders with a wall of fire. Taiwan has good reason to be nervous.

Why is Russia So Big?

If you visit russianrailways.com, you can buy a ticket from Moscow to Vladivostok. It’s a journey of almost 6,000 miles that takes you across eight time zones all the way to the Pacific Ocean in seven days. Russia is much larger than any other country. The next three biggest—Canada, the USA, and China—are less than 60% its size. Why is Russia so big?

Why is the Israel-Palestine Conflict So Hard to Resolve?

“Look, this isn’t rocket science!” We hear the phrase from teachers when they want their students to know when an issue isn’t that complex. But there’s a problem with this phrase: it implies that rocket science represents the ceiling of human intelligence, and in using it we leave our rocket scientist professors without a complex problem of their own to which they can refer. So here’s a phrase that might be helpful: “Look, this isn’t the Israeli-Palestinian conflict!” Is it really that bad?

Why Don't Cuba and the USA Like Each Other?

For more than fifty years now, the US and Cuba have snarled at each other across the Florida Straits. Havana is one of the few airports in the world won’t come up on expedia. American credit cards don’t work there. US law prohibits all trade with the island—the United Nations has regularly said this is illegal, but the American government doesn’t care. The bad blood is thick and old. Why?

How Did China Become So Powerful?

Once upon a time there was a beautiful kingdom called China. It had stunning mountains, gorgeous valleys, and hundreds of miles of coastline. Its government was sophisticated and efficient. Its leaders dressed in silk.  It was the wealthiest country in the world. Alas, the beautiful kingdom’s glory did not last. Foreigners invaded the land and exploited it. The people tried to resist foreign domination—their failure only made their condition worse.

After a century of humiliation, China is once more a major player in world affairs.It is the world’s second largest economy. 700 million people have escaped poverty. How did China do it?

Why Do India and Pakistan Hate Each Other?

Pakistan and India don’t like each other at all. With good reason. Pakistan’s intelligence agency has given support to Pakistani terrorists in India, who have killed hundreds over the past decade. On the Indian side of the border, where many would prefer to live under Pakistan’s authority, Indian troops have killed tens of thousands. Both countries have nuclear missiles pointed at the other. They have fought four wars in living memory. The relationship between India and Pakistan is one of the most hostile in the world today. Why?

Why is Afghanistan So Hard to Control?

Every time Tom Collins returned to Chicago, people asked him the same question. They wanted to know why Afghanistan was such a mess. His friends and family followed the news from that part of the world more closely than most because Tom had been working there for more than a decade. He had a group chat to reassure people that he was OK after every tragedy.