A Blessed Land

I was reading this article over at Stratfor.com titled The Geopolitics of the United States: The Inevitable Empire. Basically the article is an analysis of the favorable geography of  the continent of North America which has virtually assured that any nation that controls at least the central core will become a great power. Here are some excerpts:

The American geography is an impressive one. The Greater Mississippi Basin together with the Intracoastal Waterway has more kilometers of navigable internal waterways than the rest of the world combined. The American Midwest is both overlaid by this waterway, and is the world’s largest contiguous piece of farmland. The U.S. Atlantic Coast possesses more major ports than the rest of the Western Hemisphere combined. Two vast oceans insulated the United States from Asian and European powers, deserts separate the United States from Mexico to the south, while lakes and forests separate the population centers in Canada from those in the United States. The United States has capital, food surpluses and physical insulation in excess of every other country in the world by an exceedingly large margin. So like the Turks, the Americans are not important because of who they are, but because of where they live.

The most distinctive and important feature of North America is the river network in the middle third of the continent. While its components are larger in both volume and length than most of the world’s rivers, this is not what sets the network apart. Very few of its tributaries begin at high elevations, making vast tracts of these rivers easily navigable. In the case of the Mississippi, the head of navigation — just north of Minneapolis — is 3,000 kilometers inland.

The network consists of six distinct river systems: the Missouri, Arkansas, Red, Ohio, Tennessee and, of course, the Mississippi. The unified nature of this system greatly enhances the region’s usefulness and potential economic and political power. First, shipping goods via water is an order of magnitude cheaper than shipping them via land. The specific ratio varies greatly based on technological era and local topography, but in the petroleum age in the United States, the cost of transport via water is roughly 10 to 30 times cheaper than overland. This simple fact makes countries with robust maritime transport options extremely capital-rich when compared to countries limited to land-only options. This factor is the primary reason why the major economic powers of the past half-millennia have been Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Second, the watershed of the Greater Mississippi Basin largely overlays North America’s arable lands. Normally, agricultural areas as large as the American Midwest are underutilized as the cost of shipping their output to more densely populated regions cuts deeply into the economics of agriculture. The Eurasian steppe is an excellent example. Even in modern times Russian and Kazakh crops occasionally rot before they can reach market. Massive artificial transport networks must be constructed and maintained in order for the land to reach its full potential. Not so in the case of the Greater Mississippi Basin. The vast bulk of the prime agricultural lands are within 200 kilometers of a stretch of navigable river. Road and rail are still used for collection, but nearly omnipresent river ports allow for the entirety of the basin’s farmers to easily and cheaply ship their products to markets not just in North America but all over the world.

Third, the river network’s unity greatly eases the issue of political integration. All of the peoples of the basin are part of the same economic system, ensuring constant contact and common interests. Regional proclivities obviously still arise, but this is not Northern Europe, where a variety of separate river systems have given rise to multiple national identities.

So long as the United States has uninterrupted control of the continental core — which itself enjoys independent and interconnected ocean access — the specific locations of the country’s northern and southern boundaries are somewhat immaterial to continental politics. To the south, the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts are a significant barrier in both directions, making the exceedingly shallow Rio Grande a logical — but hardly absolute — border line. The eastern end of the border could be anywhere within 300 kilometers north or south of its current location (at present the border region’s southernmost ports — Brownsville and Corpus Christi — lie on the U.S. side of the border).

There is a lot more and I really recommend you read the whole thing. I am not sure I agree completely, though. Geography is important but it is not the only thing. The Native Americans lived on the continent for millenia but remained in the stone age and were easily dispossessed by the Europeans. This, of course, was because the oceans that have protected the United States in its formative years isolated the New World from the mainstream of technological innovation before the development of ships that could sail across the ocean. Then too, I simply can’t imagine that the history and political culture of North America would have been the same if the dominant colonists had been the French or Spanish, rather than the English. And then, if the French had settled their colonies as densely as the English North America could still be divided between hostile English and French speaking nations.
Still, there cannot be any doubt that we Americans have been unusually fortunate in our homeland. It reminds me of this passage in Deuteronomy:
Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. 7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. (Deut 8:6-9)
If ever a land deserved to be called the Land of Milk and Honey it would be our country. God has truly blessed us above any other nation, and yet we fail to thank and honor Him or to follow His wishes. If God drove the Israelites into exile for worshipping false gods, what must He be planning for us?
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3 Responses to “A Blessed Land”

  1. Justin Hoffer Says:

    No offense intended, but it seems more than a little arrogant to claim the prophetic description of the Holy Land (which still rings true to this day) as the descriptor of the United States of America.

    America may be powerful, but it is by no means eternal. America has shown itself to be little different from empires that came before, and it is in the same process of decline that preceded the destruction of the great empires of history.

    Israel was dispersed, but was powered by a singular promise that held true for 2000 years; that G-d’s people would never perish. While other peoples that suffered similar fates assimilated and faded from history, the Jews lived on, against all odds and contrary to an immutable rule of history.

    “The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then . . . passed away. The Greek and the Roman followed. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts. … All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” – Mark Twain

    Do not forget this simple truth, or your arrogance will destroy you much in the same way as it had once destroyed Israel. Do not claim to be more than you are, do not pretend to be invincible. Never claim a title that has not been granted to you. G-d did not sever us from the land because we worshiped false gods. In the Bar Kochba revolt, we almost won. Rome sent 12 legions to fight the rebellion, the largest mobilization against a rebellion in all of Roman history. It was our arrogance, our belief that it was us alone, that began the spiral towards defeat. We forgot that it was the strength of G-d that gave us our victories.

    And for that, we were punished. Don’t make that same mistake.

  2. David Hoffman Says:

    I did not mean that America is the Holy Land, only that, as the article states , North America is unusually favorable for development. Any people who settle this continent are likely to rise to power. I don’t think people in America are thankful enough for this. We assume that our present position of wealth and power are entirely our own doing. We assume, falsely that we are in control of our destiny and we worship false gods of materialism, etc.

    As for the Jews, I was referring to the Babylonian Captivity. The prophets warned the people of Judah and Israel not to worship the false gods of the Canaanites but they didn’t listen and were taken into exile by the Babylonians.

    15 The LORD, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians,[g] who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. 18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the LORD’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.

    20 He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah. (2 Chronicles 36:15-21)

    By the way, when are you going to start your new blog?

  3. Justin Hoffer Says:

    Oh, the Babylonian exile… Well that changes a lot of what I said.

    Still, don’t use such descriptors such as “The Land of Milk and Honey” for America. That is a title for one nation alone.

    As to the blog, quite possibly tonight, tomorrow at the latest. Been doing several things with my health and there was a wedding over the weekend, so I haven’t had time. Also, sending you a friend request for this Facebook account.

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