It would beeasy to pretend that what happens in each area of the world won’t have anyconsequences in the neighbouring countries, but the truth is that everything isconnected, especially with the size of today’s global trade system as the2008-2009 American financial crisis has shown.
One examplebeing the tragedy that happened in the summer of 2005 due to a series ofhurricanes, in particular Hurricane Katrina, that led to a political, social,economic and security crises in the United States, with consequences thatbranched to everywhere else in the Globe. A disaster that the rest of the worldstudied from the outside trying to determine how a hurricane no stronger than acategory 3 hitting a vulnerable area, became one of the costliest natural disasters, and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the historyof the United States. With 1,833 fatalities, $41.
1billion in insurance claims, more than one million people in the Gulf region (areawhere 50% of the population lives by the coast) were displaced by the storm andin New Orleans it soon was chaos.Anarchy spread, gun battles andrapes were plaguing the hurricane afflicted areas, and this led to thequestionable and tragic order given by Senator Kathleen Blanco to the NationalGuard to “shoot to kill” if confronted with violent offenders. After this the Gulf of Mexico (which sees the production of over aquarter of U.
S. oil and close to 15% of U.S.’s natural gas) bore theconsequences of Hurricane Katrina and the consequential flooding, causing thedestruction of 113 oil platforms and the damage of 457 pipelines. This led oil prices to spike above $70 per barrel all aroundthe globe. Such an unprecedented impact on the American industrythat didn’t leave the rest of the world unshook. A lot of questions have beenraised after such an event by their allies and enemies; how prepared are theU.S.
for emergencies? How dependent is the rest of the world on the U.S.? Is analliance with the U.S. with interest in its resources going to create potentialvulnerabilities?The importance of trade has already been stated above in this essay, but another point worth looking at is the timeless importance for nations to have control over it. The stories about what people is capable of to have more power and control are numerous throughout history like the 1956 Suez crisis and the 1989 Panama invasion. It was 1956/not long after WWII when the conservative Anthony Eden got elected Prime minister of the UK and, with France and Israel as allies, tried to occupy Egypt.
The aim of this action was to take/get control over/of the Suez Canal and the removal of Nasser from power with the intention/plan to create a regime less hostile to the West. But Eisenhower didn’t approve such a drastic action, and when, during the invasion, the UK found itself in need of support, the US refused to back them up and caused the UK to leave and realize their new position in the world: the empire was long dead. The relationship with the US grew stronger as the UK realized that they weren’t the first superpower anymore and that advice from the US president needed to be taken seriously. The Suez crisis is an important milestone as it sets the basis for Colombian (owning the Panama Canal) discontent with the anti-colonial movements taking place around the world. Unlike the Europeans though, the Americans were perfectly able to handle the situation by themselves, managing to keep control over the Panama Canal until 2000, when the US handed it back to Panama because of its interests moving away from security and shifting towards commercial. Thus leaving China to dawn in one of the most strategic operation the world has ever seen. These two examples aimed to prove the importance carried by strategic chokepoints around the globe, as 7.
5% of world trade passes through the Suez and with the 9300 miles saved by the Panama Canal for ships traveling between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans by not having to route down around the tip of south America. While the Europeans created the Suez canal and the American created the Panama canal, it is Climate change that is opening the Northwest passage and the opportunity for new powers to take controlover world trade. The diagram above shows the changing levels of Arctic sea ice over a 30-year period. Due to climate change, glaciers have been melting, opening a sea route that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Sovereignty over these waters are contested between Canada, claiming its location in Canadian internal waters, and the U.S. (backed up by various European and Asian countries), asserting that the Northwest Passage is an international strait and should therefore allow freedom of navigation, essential for the United States naval activities worldwide undefined