Why bother with such a study? Why learn what geostrategic resources are and why they are important? Or why aren't people interested in economic geography? There are some legitimate questions we need to answer before reading this book. Well, if you've opened and leafed through this paper at least a little, you probably have at least a passing interest in world economic geography. And you are not alone, many others before have tried to understand and study the geographical distribution of certain resources, in order to elucidate the mystery behind the development or, on the contrary, the underdevelopment of states. It is true that resources, human or natural, do not matter, which does not fully explain the development of states. But it is a good starting point in the analysis of economic development.
Let's go back in history to what Niall Ferguson says about the struggle between civilizations. Leaving aside the wars that have overwhelmingly dominated human history, the struggle between political entities (empires, states, etc.) over time has meant fierce competition for strategic and economic advantages over opponents, in this case a struggle for resources. . Referring indirectly to the economic aspects of competition between political entities, Ferguson wonders what is the real reason for European trade incisiveness in relation to other areas over the past five centuries. Why were Europeans so cheap about money that they were willing to do anything? The answer he gives is purely geographical. Ferguson says that if we look at the map of medieval Europe, on which appears an impressive number of competing states, we will unravel the mystery, which is not a very complicated one. The simplest answer, says the author, is geography. Compared to China - which until the 1500s was much more developed than Europe - Ferguson believes that geography has helped European states to motivate themselves in a competitive spirit and to offer them a naturally increased protection, thanks to accentuated morphological fragmentation. China's geography, much flatter and less fragmented, has given it a character of self-sufficiency that has led to the capping of the Chinese population.
So geography or, as Robert Kaplan says, the position of a state on the map is the first thing that defines it, even more than the philosophy of government that guides it. Obviously, Kaplan includes in the philosophy of government also the economic aspects, since he states that geography represents the preface of the whole chain of human events. Geography is responsible for many realities of international relations, and for this reason, very often, geographical aspects are omitted because they are considered self-evident. However, some economists do not allow us to (more) omit from the equation geography, especially the economic one. They are the ones who put an end to and restore in rights this discipline so important in understanding other aspects of human society. Eugen Ovidiu Chirovici finds a natural explanation regarding the T0 moment of the economy. He states that the opportunity for the development of states lies in relief and in geographical chance, because what we call today as wealth meant, millennia and millennia in a row, land wealth, that is, land. Thus, simplifying Chirovici's argument quite a bit, we arrive at the source of inequity of chances and at what he called T0 moment of the economy, in this case geography.
The three specialists mentioned above, a historian, a journalist in international politics and an economist, admit the importance of geography and natural resources. The morphology of the relief, the position of the states on the political map, the land wealth, the natural resources, all these aspects invoked by the three specialists represent elements of the study of geography. The population makes daily contact with iridescences of the mentioned elements, in various forms, hence the discussion about the geographical chance. However, some influence more than others, and this aspect is even more valid for resources than for the other geographical components. The presence of resources is an advantage, their lack is a handicap. The same is true for each resource. Therefore, some resources are more important than others. For example, if we were to define the society of the present in terms of a resource, then it would have to be one of oil, a civilization created on and influenced by oil.
However, since many other resources have their well-defined role in ordering humanity, it is not at all constructive to reduce reasoning so much. People in postmodern society need oil just as much as they need food, housing, a mobile phone, or clothing. So all the resources! The finished products are made with the help of raw materials, most of them extracted from nature. Which the resource is more important than what, pragmatically speaking, is difficult to say. In the arena of global politics, however, the issues are somewhat clearer. Those resources that have generated geopolitical events are considered to be geostrategic resources. Their importance in a certain period of time, for development or for other political purposes, made them stand out from the range of natural resources. This is the case of fossil mineral fuels or energy resources as they are also known, radioactive metals, precious metals and, why not, the population.
The strategic nature of resources can change over time as much as the economic nature of certain resources has changed. Here is the difference between resource and wealth. The first term, resource, refers to that natural means that can be used by society to meet needs. And the second, wealth, means a means, not necessarily natural, by which human communities meet their needs. Man is the key element of the resource-wealth relationship. While natural resources exist in the absence of human action, riches do not. They are a result of human action. Somewhat similarly, resources become geostrategic due to the crucial importance that man / states attach to them and may lose their status when their utility decreases. For example, when there is a possibility of substituting them. Also, geostrategic resources can fluctuate. Sometimes they can be spatial, other times they can be revitalized, and in exceptional cases they can be a permanent tool of geopolitical maneuver.
How does this book differ from other books in the field of economic geography? One of the differences is that economic geography is not viewed in its usual womb, but is analyzed in relation to the arena of global politics. Therefore, I tried to make it as easy to follow and understand. In each chapter we have defined the resource treated as comprehensively as possible, but without slipping into the side of unnecessary details. Then, we treated from a spatial point of view the geographical distribution of resources, and where it was the case (for most), their reserves, productions and utility were analyzed. The last sections of each chapter focus on the geopolitical, geoeconomic and geostrategic role of resources. Due to the multitude of aspects that could very well represent so many subjects of analysis, I chose to present only those that had a decisive role in defining resources as geostrategic. Finally, the second difference from other volumes of economic geography is that this book contains a lot of information about the real world. And when I say "world," I mean the world. As will be seen, the information is not limited to one, two or three countries, or to a type of country (for example, rich or poor countries, great powers or regional powers). A large part of the information is in the form of figures: how big are the reserves, how many of the reserves are transformed into productions, who consumes the most and who needs imports, etc. But quantitative information is accompanied by a lot of qualitative information about geographic data, historical contexts, geopolitical strategies and the like. My hope is that, after reading the paper, the reader will be able to say that he has some idea about how economic geography works in the real world.
My last hope is also connected to the last idea. That most of those who will say that they have not only an idea, but more, about economic geography and its relationship with international politics, will be my students and masters, to whom this book is dedicated. The structuring of the paper in this way was thought not only in a methodical spirit, but also to make it easier to understand the topics approached.