Since 2020, several African coups have originated from primary, former French colonial territories.
When looking back at the French and British colonial empires, we can see two different strategies, implementation methods, and goals of both empires.
The British opted for economic control and seizing territories and trade routes that benefited British trade and the acquisition of local wealth and resources.
For the British, their imperial project was run like a corporation to increase their balance books. In contrast, the French imperial project was more ego-driven and focused on capturing big swathes of territory in the African continent.
The French vs. British Imperial Project
As written above, we can see that the British were a business-driven empire where the French wanted to be in charge of the whole political system.
This meant, in turn, that when the French left Africa and gave up its colonial empire in the 1950s and 1960s, the French hollowed out these nations’ political systems.
We fast forward to the present day; the French have packed their bags and left their old colonial empire primed for coup d’états and vulnerable places like Chad, Niger and other former French colonies vulnerable to the influence of China and the Russian Federation.
English Common Law vs. Roman Law
One of the reasons former British colonial territories tended to be far more successful than their other European counterparts was the two dominant legal traditions, Roman common law, favoured primarily on the mainland of Europe.
It was more of an imperial-based legal system where the sovereign made the laws and used the ultimate power of imperial power to dictate their citizens’ laws, beliefs, and ways of life.
Roman law was a microcosm of the wider European political environment controlling people’s lives.
The European monarchies favoured Roman law due to it is the legitimisation of centralising their kingdoms and being dictatorial in the beliefs and thoughts of their citizens.
In contrast, English common law is made by the people, for the people can only implement it with their consent.
This is why former British colonial territories were far better off than their French counterparts; French laws are dictatorial, and English laws are based upon consent.
This can be demonstrated by the famous quote from one of England’s famous Queens, Queen Elizabeth I of England, who ruled from 1558 to 1603, stating, ‘I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls.’
Queen Elizabeth uses the expression of not making “windows into men’s souls” to describe her unwillingness to persecute people based on their interpretation of texts, as it is their soulful way of perceiving things.
She does not see nor want to control what goes on in the minds and souls of her subjects.
The Future of France and Africa
As these coups run their course, French involvement could take on a number of different forms.
That makes this so interesting: the French are a wildcard, and their involvement comes down to how they see themselves.
This is also partly driven due to former French colonial territory apart from places like Niger that have uranium or other valuable minerals, which otherwise are worthless geopolitically and economically for the French.
That’s why seeing what the French will do is so unpredictable. Unlike their English counterparts, they have no scruples and are not squeamish when it comes to assassination, bribery and making alliances with strongmen to further the perceived French national interest.
All nations expand, die or prosper due to the environment of their geography, which we call geopolitics, which affects how policies are made and what countries can practically accomplish.
For instance, if a nation historically did not have access to coal and steel, it would not industrialise.
For England and the greater United Kingdom, made up of England, Scotland and Wales, its geography does not give a fantastic advantage that enabled the British to build the world’s largest empire ever or will ever be.
For the British Isles, half of its landmarks are mountainous, particularly in Wales and Scotland, which is why, even to this day, they have lower populations than different parts of the United Kingdom.
This is one reason why federalism will never work for the English constitution because for that system to work, England must be suppressed, according to the historian David Starkey.
This is all related to geopolitics because the much smaller population in England and Wales is because, in the case of Wales, it is much smaller than England, and both kingdom and principality are mountainous, making it much harder for agriculture.
It was not until the Industrial Revolution that the population in England reached over 6 million, and it was not until the Napoleonic wars that inflation went into two digits.
The demographic change was due to the Industrial Revolution, and the agricultural revolution of the 18th century meant that England could sustain a much larger population.
The Politics of Great Britain
When reading this, you may wonder why I write about England and Great Britain as two different entities; the truth of the matter is that the English constitution is not a union of nations but a union of Parliament with the act of Union in 1707.
The Scottish were given higher representation in Parliament and maintained a separate legal system based on Roman law and not English common law, an education system, a Presbyterian church and, in contrast, the Anglian Church.
This was because the Scottish nobility failed in building their colonial empire and needed England to pay off their debts.
The second reason was that the Scottish population in 1707 was around 400,000, compared to 6 million people in England.
The final reason the English were so interested in pursuing a Parliamentary union with the Scots was because, historically, Scotland was the back door and invasion route into England.
The Scots had invaded northern England before the Norman conquest in 1066 and historically allied with the French to force England to spread its resources by fighting two-front wars with France and Scotland.
On a final note, people within and without Great Britain often forget that to the rest of the world, the British are British.
Still, within the union itself, its peoples are Welsh, Northern Irish, Scottish and English, with separate histories, languages and cultures.
There is a political reckoning that needs to happen for the regions of Great Britain to understand their place within the British constitution and where they stand culturally.
The people of Scotland have a choice regarding how much they wish to be English or Scottish, which is a significant factor in the Scottish National party’s and the fight for independence for the Scots.
According to the geopolitical analyst Peter Zilhen, they have a choice to make regarding the cultural union within Great Britain.
British Geopolitical Advantage
Within the island of Great Britain, you are never more than 70 miles away from the coast; this has historically meant that England had access to capable seamen that could be used for international trade and the defence of England.
Historically, from the Norman conquest in 1066 until the rain of England’s 1st Tudor king, King Henry VII, from 1485 to 1509, the English navy only existed as a means of transportation between the kings of England and their much richer continental holdings in France.
What this meant geopolitically was that English kings, until the rain of the Tudor dynasty from 1485 to 1603, were not interested in developing their navies to defend the English coast, which enabled during the Hundred Years War from 1337 to 1453 French armies to attack and invade English coastal cities and towns at least 50 times.
The Hundred Years War and England’s defeat in the conflict in 1453 meant that England became untethered to the European continent, and it took until the rain of King Charles II of England and the brief English Commonwealth in the 17th century for England to focus on naval power.
British policies focused on the high seas provided a quantitative and qualitative advantage for British power. For instance, Louis XIV of France’s 400,000-man army could not invade England due to security provided by the English navy that was not even 80,000 strong.
Furthermore, English sailors could fire three shots per Spanish or French gunners, effectively doubling English firepower.
As continental armies got bigger, reaching the Hundred thousand mark in the 16th century, England, with a much smaller population than France at over 25 million, was larger than Russia in the early 19th century and had the largest population in the European continent.
The British were not able to compete on the European continent or willing to invest in its land-based military due to the army being seen as a force of tyranny that suppressed the freedom of the English people, which was used by Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, King Charles II and King James II to suppress English freedoms.
What this meant for the British was that rather than pursuing continental holdings, the English opted for colonialism, control of the world seas and trade routes to enrich themselves.
The wealth extracted from England’s colonial empire could fund the enlargement of the British Navy and keep France contained to the European and African continent in the 19th century.
The English in the 18th century successfully removed French influence from North America, the Indian subcontinent and the Far East; this was possible because England was primarily a maritime power; in contrast, France was tied to the European continent.
Throughout the 18th century, France spent 45 years at War and had to maintain an army of over 400,000 and, during peacetime, at least 150,000, making France priority on maintaining its army at the expense of naval development.
The Industrial Revolution
The home of Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain in 1769 with the implementation of the first steam engine.
Britain would create wealth through the technology of steam and the development of manufacturing.
Historically, economics was the process of household management, according to philosopher Aristotle or the administration of limited and finite resources.
What the British could do with the Industrial Revolution was to create continuous wealth, which meant it could improve its prosperity and had the cash to finance the enemies of France, building its empire and using geographical and industrial advantages.
The British Empire was able to do this because the Empire reached the height of its power in the late 18th and early 19th century due to this process happening during the Industrial Revolution.
In contrast, the Spanish Empire built its empire from the 16th to the early 18th century with gold and silver from South America.
The Spanish bought the goods and services it needed by giving precious metals in exchange, which destroyed the European gold and silver markets and led to high inflation, and that’s how the Spanish destroyed their economy.
In contrast, the British Empire began to rise to power in the 18th century in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, which meant that its economy was based upon liberalism, free markets and the creation of wealth, which was the first time this happened in human history where peoples became more prosperous.
Since the Industrial Revolution, life expectancy, technological advancement and the ability to generate wealth through specialisation enabled the British Empire to be the first nation to industrialise, which was a massive quantitative and qualitative advantage.
Economically and in some cases literally, the British were bringing guns to a knife fight.
The United States, since the end of the Cold War in 1989, began an approach meant and integration of the Chinese economy into the international financial markets and global trade in hopes that the growth of the Chinese economy would lead to economic and, most importantly, democratic reforms.
This, unfortunately, is proving to be a colossal strategic mistake because rather than becoming a beacon of democracy, China has become the biggest threat to American and Western influence, with the economic prosperity being built upon the working classes in the United States and the Global North.
The way globalisation works is that each nation, where originally generalists were good at manufacturing, financial services, and cash crops, after 1945, national become specialists.
A great example of this economic specialisation is Germany and China creating manufacturing goods, the United Kingdom with its financial services and the legacy of the British Empire regarding finance. And finally, the Chinese handle the lower and middle end of manufacturing, such as semiconductors.
China is currently the world’s largest semiconductor market in terms of consumption. In 2020, China represented 53.7% of worldwide chip sales or $239.45 billion out of $446.1 billion. However, a large percentage are imported from multinational suppliers.
What is Globalisation, and How is this Relevant to Conflict with China
Globalisation, as we understand it, only truly began at the end of the Second World War lasting from 1939 until 1945; with the creation of economic world order under the American security blanket, the Americans would guarantee will trade and access to resources for the alliance fighting against the Soviet Union.
The United States has become embroiled in so many wars since the end of the Second World War because America is not just fighting for its strategic interests but also the interests of its allies in Europe.
American involvement in Vietnam began in 1947 due to America’s ally France. The Gulf War conflict was launched from 1990 to 1991 to protect the oil supply of its European allies, and the concern about Saddam Hussein violating the sovereignty of Kuwait was a secondary concern.
What is truly unique about the USA is that rather than building an Empire to secure access to goods and services, and resources necessary to wage war and build a prosperous nation, it instead made an environment where nearly everybody, as in every nation, would become a winner if they were allied to the USA.
If a nation in the past did not have access to steel, that nation would not be able to industrialise; the Americans made it so all countries from 1945 forward could begin the economic development process and secure the protection of smaller nations.
Nations like Estonia, Latvia, Poland and many other smaller nations could exist before 1945 due to them being too small, lacking resources or other reasons why they lacked viability as independent nations.
By the end of the 18th and 19th centuries, Europe was dominated by France, Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire/the Austrian Empire, Spain and a few other nations due to previous independent states such as Poland and Lithuania Commonwealth not being able to survive due to the nature of great power competition.
The Americans ended the international circles of rivalry called the great game of international politics by creating an environment where each nation had access to resources and trading markets without waging wars of conquest, colonialism and piracy to get resources.
A changed world can be seen with the doubling of the world population between 1950 and 1987: a doubling from 2.5 to 5 billion people in just 37 years — the population doubled within a little more than one generation. The world population as of 2023 is over 8 billion.
Also, the World trade volume today is roughly 45 times the level recorded in the early days of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 4500% growth from 1950 to 2022. World trade values today have ballooned by almost 400 times from 1950 levels.
How America Can Defeat China
If there is going to be a conflict with China, according to the geopolitical strategist, analyst, and author Peter Zeihan USA could defeat China in a conflict within 6 to 8 months by blocking shipments of oil from Saudi Arabia to China. Saudi Arabia is China’s leading crude oil supplier.
In 2021, China imported nearly 81 million metric tons of crude oil from the Middle Eastern producing giant.
The majority of China’s oil imports originated from countries in the Middle East. Access to oil is necessary for China to keep its cities, transport networks and food available for its population.
Within 6 to 8 months, China will be starving to death because, like all nations engaged in the international world order created by the United States, they depend on the security blanket made by the Americans to run their economies.
The growth of China during the last 40 years is dependent upon the Americans for security, and particularly the Navy of the USA China still does not have a deep water Navy and cannot get past the China Sea, making that nation locked within its region and borders.
In a war, Taiwan and Japan may be devastated. Still, China would ultimately be defeated by an American blockade and the destruction of food imports, oil imports, and technological aid provided to China by other nations.
The Americans have created world peace by making the globe’s nations dependent upon the United States to run the economy due to the American security guarantee that has existed since 1945.
As Americans continued to vote for presidents since George HW Bush, in office from 1989 to 1993, was voted out of office 1993, American presidents have become more isolationist and more American first focused and ignoring the rest of the world.
Should the Americans retreat from their security commitments since 1945 and revert to a more traditional view of American foreign policy consistent since its first president George Washington (1789 to 1797), of being isolationists and not being pulled into foreign conflicts?
With this way of thinking, we could see a world looking very similar to the 18th and 19th centuries, and there may be global famines, supply shortages, and a host of other tragedies happening without American security keeping the system alive.
The United States, in this kind of situation, would suffer the at most high inflation due to the need to rebuild its manufacturing capacity at home. Still, regarding energy security and economies of scale, America doesn’t need the rest of the world to be prosperous.
In nearly every way, America is blessed with their land and an entire continent with no rivals, with Canada and Mexico becoming dependencies of the United States.
Sources and Bibliography
China Power How is China Feeding its Population of 1.4 billion? Link
Council of Foreign Relations China Increasingly Relies on Imported Food. That’s a Problem link
Statistics Main suppliers of crude oil to China in 2020 and 2021 link
The Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese state have had a tough time establishing their soft power around the globe, unlike their harder power initiatives, which is China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The Belt and Road Initiative attempts to replicate the trade routes built by the British Empire from the 16th to the mid-20th century.It has the historical legacy of the ancient Chinese Silk Road established during the Han Empire.
The definition of soft power in politics, soft power is the ability to co-opt rather than coerce.
It involves shaping the preferences of others through appeal and attraction.
A defining feature of soft power is that it is non-coercive; the currency of soft power includes culture, political values, and foreign policies.
The Chinese are failing and establishing their soft power due to continuous candles and the growing rift between the West and the Chinese state.
This is due to the Chinese support of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian in 2014 with the seizure of Crimea.
Also, the fact that the Chinese continue to support the Russians in their deliberate grab for territory during the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine has led to an all-out war between both nations.
With the Chinese supporting the Russians and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation supporting Ukrainians, it damages relations and increases mistrust between both countries.
Ukraine war is leading nations like the United States to bring their industrial plant back to their home nations and become less reliant on Chinese manufacturing goods, which were the key to the rise of China throughout the 2000s.
The Chinese Image Problem
The Chinese committed three great crimes that severely impacted their ability to project soft power around the globe due to their bad-faith actions and going against agreements they have made with other Western powers.
When the British Empire finally ended on July 1 1997, the handover of Hong Kong’s 1997 to China from British rule used to be a day of celebration in the city.
Now, it has morphed into a morbid reminder of Hong Kong’s tragic decline under the ever-worsening repression brought on by Beijing.
Since 2017 with the yellow umbrella movement and protest continuing into 2020, the mainland Chinese engaging in a hard crackdown has led to mistrust among Western nations due to China reneging on its agreement’s secure democracy in Hong Kong.
This was part of the China one-state and two-system solution when securing the freedoms and liberties the people of Hong Kong enjoyed during British rule, which China stated they would maintain.
Naturally, it was incredibly stupid, maybe even treacherous, for British policymakers to expect a global superpower and raising power in the Far East to keep to its original agreement.
The British Empire and Britain’s ability to project its power around the globe has declined since the early 20th century and continues to this day with a decaying carcass of the British Commonwealth.
Still, despite all these political facts and reality on the ground, the Chinese reneged on their agreements by not securing the democratic freedoms of Hong Kong, and this led to the damaging the Chinese soft power and their perception abroad.
The final major factor that severely damaged Chinese soft power barring their actions in supporting Russia and cracking down on the democratic movement in Hong Kong, is the fact that the Chinese are using concentration camps reminiscent of Hitler’s Nazi Germany during World War II (1939 to 1945).
Or the British concentration camps used during the Boer War (1899 to 1902) both concentration camps were horrific and inhumane, and the Chinese were performing similar actions.
About 12 million Uyghurs, mostly Muslim, live in Xinjiang, officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which is experiencing concentration camps or re-education camps called by the Chinese Communist Party.
What the Chinese are engaging in is a form of cultural genocide in the attempt to remove religious minorities and other ethnic groups that are not culturally Han Chinese and disease actions that make Western policymakers incredibly uncomfortable in maintaining any cordial relationship with China.
Suppose a nation wishes to be taken seriously in international politics and project its influence and power globally.
If that is the case, it will require a powerful navy to meet the needs and requirements of its strategic goals, the long-term goal of policymakers, and the perceived national interests.
To make the correct choices, it’s first necessary to understand what a Navy is for and what it can do regarding geopolitics.
A Navy can control important points of international trade and leverage its naval power into leveraged against other nations (Just think of the Brits in the 18th Century).
The Navy, particularly the British Navy of the 19th century and the American one of the 20th to the present day, policed the global oceans, thereby facilitating the viability of globalisation and prosperity.
Previously if a nation could not access coal and steel, that nation would not be able to industrialise.
In previous centuries, governments operated on principles of imperialism and Mercantilism, a form of economic nationalism that sought to increase the prosperity and power of a nation through restrictive trade practices.
Its goal was to increase the supply of a state’s gold and silver with exports rather than to deplete it through imports. It also sought to support domestic employment.
The imperialist economic system meant that nations like Britain or France would conquer other countries, capture their internal markets, and sell to those markets goods from the home nations.
A great example is the English control of India and flooding the market with British textiles during the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain in the 1760s.
During the Imperial error, nations predominantly traded within the internal markets of the empires they established, and trading between other Imperial centres was greatly limited.
This only changed because the United States made it so all nations could peacefully trade on international waters without fearing piracy and privateers being backed by other countries against their rivals.
The American Navy Since World War II
On victory over Japan Day in 1945, the U.S. Navy had 1300 ships.
This count only considers major vessels and not individual landing craft or short-range patrols, and by the end of the Korean War, the Navy shrank to 600 vessels.
During the Vietnam War (1955 to 1975), the American Navy was 450 vessels, and when Ronald Reagan entered the White House in 1981, his primary goal was to have the American Navy of 600 ships by the end of his time in office United States at 594 ships.
This was partly done due to Ronald Reagan’s administration’s plan to bankrupt the Soviet Union, which according to the geopolitical analyst Peter Zhilan had already lost the Cold War by 1986.
Today’s American Navy stands at 295 vessels, again not considering smaller vessels used by the United States Navy.
It also must be strongly stated that a modern American military vessel would have been able to destroy the Japanese Navy of 1941.
The Navy is much smaller than the peak during World War II, and the capabilities and capacities of the modern Navy are vastly more effective and powerful than anything else that has existed on this earth.
The biggest concern about the current United States Navy is its overreliance on supercarriers.
The journalist and author of The Blue Age of the U.S. Navy Created Global Prosperity and Why We’re in Danger of Losing it, by Gregg Easterbrook.
In his book The Blue Age, he compared heavily gunned ships like the Dreadnought (1906) created by the British Empire in the early 20th century to compare the global view of the capacity of modern-day supercarriers.
As of 2021, an estimated 46 aircraft/helicopter carriers are in service worldwide.
The United States has 11 aircraft carriers and 9 “hello” carriers, nearly as many as all other countries combined, followed by Japan and France, each with four.
These carriers need Destroyer escort, with the American Navy only having 150 destroyers to escort its Carriers.
According to Peter Zilhen, American supercarriers can knockout nations, but there are not enough destroyers and smaller ships of the American Navy to protect the world’s oceans.
American Spending on Its Navy
In today’s American dollars, Ronald Reagan’s arms buildup in the 1980s to cripple the Soviet Union financially came to $400 billion yearly, more than twice the 170 billion United States spent on its Navy in 2020.
A study by Brown University found that American fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria has cost $6.4 trillion in funding as well as future obligations to injured soldiers from these deployments.
The current budget of the United States Navy in 2020 worked out as $700 per American adult.
During the COVID crisis of 2020 to 2021, the United States added 5.3 trillion in debt to tackle the crisis, which in terms of emergency aid, gave American households an extra $25,000 per American adult transferred from 2020 to 2021.
Following the rising American national debt, which stands at $31,462,154,854,903 as of May 23, 2023, there is also a consumer increase in total household debt in the first quarter of 2023, increasing by $148 billion (0.9%) to $17.05 trillion.
This led to comments by the former American senator and ex-presidential runner John McCain, who stated in 2013 that a 300-ship Navy is an ‘a fantasy’ again due to the USA’s national debt and government debt.
Even more alarming is that Social Security and retirement for American citizens may no longer be feasible.
In 2020 trustees of the Social Security system they reported $43 trillion in unfunded liabilities for pensions and healthcare for the ever-growing ranks of the ageing that the money does not exist.
The Blue Age of the U.S. Navy Created Global Prosperity and Why We’re in Danger of Losing it, by Gregg Easterbrook. Link