Sunday, February 13, 2005


Vodkapundit has an interesting project, a map of the world redrawn to reflect the interpenetration of nations better than the traditional black lines of absolute sovereign independence. He draws the US-Mexican border as a blur showing Mexican immigration into the US on one side and US investment in Mexico on the other. It's not much as yet, but the idea is fascinating. If we stick to the economics and finance for the moment, then, we shade land according to foreign investment flows and presumably trade links too. I suspect this will be simple enough along the big fracture lines, between the core and the periphery, but it will be when we get to the globalised world, the extended West, McWorld, the intelligence special relationship, the functioning core, the rich or minority world or whichever fancy IR-theory name you want to use that things get interesting.

Briefly, just as US capital spills into Mexico, so European capital flows into the US: masses of it at the moment with the monster twin deficits. On the other hand, US finance owns quite a lot of things in Europe - or anywhere else. Lumps of capital investment from surprising places will also be discerned: the national investment portfolios of oil states, the capital-flight of third world potentates on the take. Much the same goes for goods: the great mass of trade is between the industrialised economies (yet another term for those places we love where there's internet access, clean toilets, and a gratifying lack of malaria or cleaver-brandishing religious mobs), and it's diverse. All of them trade with all the others. (This paragraph could be summarised as "that globalisation stuff".)

What will emerge, unless a really subtle technique is used for the map, is a sort of brown blur of mixed colour that marks out the (here it goes again) free world from, well, everywhere else. It will get fainter and gain more individuation as you move from north-west Europe, say, to Turkey, and then crack open in a riot of colour once you cross the eastern border of NATO into the Middle East. I await the map with interest. Another interesting map would plot the world by density of telecoms, the denser nearer the centre. (If anyone's done that, please send me a link!)

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