Whether they are staying at home or in hospice care, elderly people’s declining health has always been a cause of concern. After all, they are susceptible to a ton of illness. So, here are the top ten health issues that you need to watch out for as you grow older.

Elderly Health Issue No. 1: Heart Ailments
As people age, the health of their organs starts to decline. One of the most critical of these organs is the heart. According to the National Council On Aging, around 80 percent of seniors have at least one chronic heart ailment. Meanwhile, 70% have at least two or more.

One of the most common heart ailments for seniors is coronary heart disease. This is caused by the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries, which block the flow of blood. The disease can be exacerbated by various conditions like smoking, an inactive lifestyle, and diabetes.


Elderly Health Issue no. 2: Cancer
Cancer is the second leading cause of death among people over the age of 65. The disease happens when cells start to multiply uncontrollably, resulting in tumors. This leads to a severe disruption of the body’s health.

There are over 200 different types of cancer that affect older people. Scientists have yet to know what exactly causes these. But they have noted that an unhealthy lifestyle during their earlier years can influence seniors’ susceptibility. It should also be noted that cancer can be treated if detected and dealt with early.

Elderly Health Issue no. 3: Respiratory Illnesses
While people of any age can have respiratory diseases, seniors are especially vulnerable to them due to their weaker immune systems. The effects can also be more severe due to their age. Some of the common ailments that the elderly can encounter include:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Asthma
Bronchitis
Emphysema

These can increase the risk of other ailments like pneumonia and infections. However, with the right medication and careful health management, people with respiratory issues can breathe easier.

Elderly Health Issue no. 4: Diabetes
Diabetes is a condition where the body is not able to properly use insulin to metabolize sugar. This leads to an excessive amount of sugar in the bloodstream that can trigger various other complications. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of people aged 65 and older suffer from the disease.

The condition can be triggered by different factors, most notably improper dietary habits. But if detected early, patients can better control it. Aside from medication, seniors can lower their risk by having a healthy and balanced diet, as well as an active lifestyle.

Elderly Health Issue no. 5: Arthritis
Outside of the above serious conditions, arthritis is another major health concern for elderly adults. It occurs when the joints become inflamed. This results in severe pain and restricts a person’s movements.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type that affects senior citizens. It is mainly due to the gradual wear and tear that happens to the bones over time. The condition can be hastened by injuries or infections. Seniors have higher risks of falls due to arthritic joints. There is currently no cure for the condition but painkillers can make sufferers more comfortable and allow them to move more freely.

Elderly Health Issue no. 6: Cognitive Decline
As people grow older, their ability to remember, think and learn gradually decreases. This leads to a variety of cognitive disorders collectively known as dementia. One common disorder is Alzheimer’s, which affects around five million people in the United States yearly. The condition is characterized by progressive memory lapses that lead to significant personality changes.

As it is a progressive condition, doctors can only prescribe a management plan for the symptoms. This includes medication that lessens the severity of these episodes. Meanwhile, hospice care providers offer comprehensive care programs for seniors with severe cases.


Elderly Health Issue no. 7: Mental Disorders
The various health issues that elderly people experience can also take a toll on their mental health. Depression is one common disorder that they can suffer, occurring in seven percent of the elderly population. It can happen as they grapple with the realization that they aren’t what they used to be.

Mental issues can also be triggered by environmental factors. The COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, has had a significant effect on elderly mental health. Seniors found themselves not being able to do the things that they previously enjoyed due to travel restrictions. Aside from psychological intervention, strong support from family and friends will help them better cope with such conditions.

Elderly Health Issue no. 8: Sensory Impairment
With their declining bodies, elderly people also experience increasing sensory impairment. Vision and hearing are the two common types that they will encounter. In the US alone, one in six older people will have some form of visual impairment. Meanwhile, one in four have hearing issues.

Luckily, most of these impairments can be treated with the use of tools like glasses and hearing aids. Meanwhile, more severe ones like cataracts may require some form of surgical intervention. Early diagnosis also helps lessen their severity.

Elderly Health Issues no. 9: Oral Health
This is often an overlooked issue but oral health can have a significant impact on an elderly person’s overall health. According to data from the CDC’s Oral Health Division, around 25% of adults over 65 will already have lost their original teeth. Meanwhile, around 68% of seniors suffer from gum disease.

If left untreated, poor oral health can impede a senior’s ability to eat a healthy diet. It can also lead to self-esteem issues that influence general well-being and might even lead to oral cancer. The main challenge is that seniors might have difficulty accessing dental services due to loss of insurance.

Elderly Health Issue no. 10: Malnutrition
As a person ages, their eating habits change significantly. This can lead to them not being able to get the right nutrition. Additionally, the above health issues can worsen any case of poor nutrition they have. Note that malnutrition can go both ways, seniors might be underweight or they might be obese.

Depending on their condition, they will need to undergo a significant change in diet to meet the proper nutritional needs. Services like hospice care providers can help implement these changes and manage their everyday meals.

When dealing with these health issues, seniors might find themselves at a loss. But don’t worry, many doctors like
Amavi and others can help you get past these and regain your health.

In a report published by Global Financial Integrity, the revenue generated by transnational crimes is estimated to be worth between $1.6 trillion and $2.2 trillion annually. Out of this value, it is appraised that the global illegal drug trade value is worth $426 billion to $652 billion (May, 2017). The value of the global illicit drug trade represents about one-third of the total value of transnational crimes (May, 2017). Globalization and the integration of the world economy can be seen as a significant catalyst to the growth of the illegal drug trade.

The United States of America Department of State and the United Nations labelled Guinea-Bissau as “Africa’s first narco-state” (BBC News, 2020) Furthermore, the report made by Global Financial Integrity suggests that Africa’s growing role as a transit point for drug trafficking has been a significant contributor to the growth of both drug smuggling and consumption over the last decade (May, 2017).

This essay seeks to identify Guinea-Bissau’s role in the global smuggling of drugs and suggest ways of resolving the issue. Consequently, this essay will argue that Guinea-Bissau has emerged to play a crucial role in drug trafficking due to its strategic location, historical linguistic relations, weak institutions and participating elite. However, these issues may possibly be combated through the re-establishment of a stable government that will enforce the rule of law, regeneration of the economy, investing in the security apparatus of the country, targeted campaigns to inform the population on the adverse effects of drugs and delegitimization the public support for controversial narcotic organizations.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) has defined drug trafficking as “a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances, which are subject to drug prohibition laws” (Drug trafficking, 2021). Globalization has “facilitated not only the movement of people, but also the flow of goods, capital, and services” (Petcu, C., 2017, p.2). Globalization also “had the negative effect of facilitating the expansion of transnational crime such as global terrorism, people and drug trafficking, immigrant smuggling and money laundering” (Petcu, C., 2017, p.2). The rapid development and growth of drug trafficking and other transnational crimes have had the consequences of increasing instability, corruption, and high levels of violence in producing and transit countries. (Petcu, C., 2017, p.3)

Since the 1990s, West Africa has been a significant trafficking hub for drugs originating from Latin America and Asia to European Consumers (Aning, K. and Pokoo, J., 2014). However, the “first significant contact between West African criminal organizations and Latin American countries emerged between 2000 and 2003” (Rousseau, R., 2017, p19). In addition, strong anti-laundering and anti-drug measures taken by other regions of the world can be seen as factors that have increased the importance of the West African region as a hub for drug trafficking (Shehu, A., 2009, p1).

Furthermore, the geographical location and well-established networks of smugglers and criminal syndicates have increased the region’s viability as a logistical and transit hub for drugs traffickers. (Aning, K. and Pokoo, J., 2014). Ashley Neese Bybee, in her dissertation, has also highlighted that the shift in demand for illegal drugs from the United States to Europe has forced traffickers to explore new routes to transport the drugs from Latin America to Europe. She also explains that “the realities that exist in Africa, such as its porous borders, lack of legitimate opportunities for economic advancement, abundant supply of unemployed, impoverished, and willing couriers and their existing diasporas networks in Europe, all facilitate the drug trade through West Africa.” (Bybee, A.N., 2011, p. 28-30)

UNODC has estimated that between 40 to 50 tons of cocaine destined to Europe pass through Africa each year. (UNODC, N., 2008. P1) the region has moved from not only being a transit route for these illegal drugs but also a final destination. UNODC has reported a marked increase in drugs consumption in Africa by 40%. (UNODC World Drug Report 2021)

With the increasing role that the West African region plays in the drug trafficking business, Guinea-Bissau has played a very prominent role in drug trafficking and has often been dubbed “Africa’s First Narco-State” by journalists. Guinea-Bissau has become a particularly strategic hub for drug traffickers due to the many islands dotting the Atlantic Ocean off the country’s coast. (DW, 2012). Ashley Neese Bybee also elaborates that “Guinea-Bissau has 350 km of unpatrolled coastline, and the Bijagós Archipelago has 88 unpoliced islands” (Bybee, A.N., 2011, p. 31). Many of these Islands have defunct airstrips left over by its former colonial power, Portugal, thereby allowing traffickers to use these airstrips to fly in their drugs without detection.

Andreas Zeidler attributes the cultural and linguistic ties between Guinea-Bissau and other producing and destination countries as another reason why Guinea-Bissau has become an important transit hub for drug trafficking. (Zeidler, A., 2011, p. 61) The historical ties between Guinea-Bissau with Portugal and other drugs producing counties have made Guinea-Bissau a viable hub for drug smuggling.

The weak institutions of the country have also contributed to Guinea-Bissau becoming a “Narco-State”. Bybee illustrates this by giving an example of the police in the country who “are numerous yet under-resourced. The gendarmerie (military force with the responsibility to enforce the law with civilians) and police combined to give a ratio of 284 law enforcement officers per 100,000 citizens – one of the highest in West Africa and only slightly below the European average” (Bybee, A.N., 2011, p. 33). A large number of public officers, takes away a large portion of the budget leaving little for other aspects of operations. This can be seen with Judicial Police who “for example, have 60 agents, one vehicle and often no fuel. As a result, when culprits are apprehended, they are driven in a taxi to the police station – In the military, one rusty ship patrols the 350-kilometre coastline and 88 islands”; (Bybee, A.N., 2011, p. 31). This clearly illustrates how it has become almost impossible to enforce laws and provides an opportunity for drug smugglers to carry out their actions without any hindrance.

It is not only the police force that lacks the resources to carry out its operations. Insufficient resources and the lack of qualified personal have left the judiciary inefficient, ineffective and incapable of carrying out fair prosecution and sentencing of suspected criminals. (Zeidler, A., 2011, p. 65)

Bybee also views the activities of drug smugglers in fragile states such as Guinea-Bissau as one of the drivers of instability in the region. The instability of the area has, in turn, has become a hindrance to the strategic interest of the United States in Africa. (Bybee, A.N., 2011, p. 37). Thus, the concern of the United States in achieving their strategic interest in Africa, particularly in the areas of terrorism, explains the role of the United States in finding a solution to the problem of drug trafficking in the region.

Another impact of the drug trafficking business in Guinea-Bissau is the erosion of the rule of law in the country. Bybee argues that drug traffickers rely on the presence of corruption to carry out their activities (Bybee, A.N., 2011, p. 37). While the lack of the rule of law and good governance is why drug traffickers have picked countries like Guinea-Bissau to carry out their business, drug trafficking operation further impedes any development to improve the situation in the country. Often drug trafficking worsens the situation. The involvement of the political and security elite of Guinea-Bissau in the drug trafficking business has been widely reported. The ruling class have often leveraged the unstable political climate to increase their wealth by supporting the illicit drug trade, which (as previously stated) is highly lucrative.

Mette Kaalby Vestergaard reports that “It is common that the bigger seizures of drugs involve arresting government officials, who are later convicted for having played central roles in the organizing of the smuggling activities” (Kaal Vestergaard, 2021). Furthermore, the lack of adequate infrastructure Is further demonstrated in the fact that a country facing a big problem of drug trafficking only has two poorly equipped prisons in the whole country. Due to political instability, their upgrading has been put on hold. (BBC NEWS, 2021). It has also been reported that within the two prisons in the country, the guards have not been adequately equipped with sufficient tools to fully govern the prison and control the activities of their occupants (BBC NEWS, 2021). This has potentially disastrous consequences as convicted prisoners may continue to exercise considerable influence on society despite their incarceration.

The lack of resources for the security officials and Judiciary to carry out their tasks in eradicating the problem of drug trafficking, coupled with the absence of the rule of law and involvement of the political and security in the drug smuggling business, has made it difficult to combat the issue of drug trafficking in the country. Colonel Stephen K. Van Riper also sees the high profitability of drug smuggling and the low cost of conducting the business. The “it is not my problem” as other barriers which have made it challenging to tackle the issue of drug smuggling in Guinea-Bissau. (Van Riper, SK, 2014. P. 16-17)

However, great strides have been made to convict drug smugglers in the country. In September of 2019, the most significant drug bust in the country was carried out. An estimated 1.9 tons of cocaine were seized; the seizure also led to the arrest and conviction of 12 men of Bissau-Guinean, Colombian, Mexican and Portuguese nationalities. While the drug bust is seen as a significant achievement in the country’s fight against drug trafficking, there is concern that drug trafficking may increase with the controversial Umaro Cissoko Embaló becoming the country’s president. (BBC NEWS, 2021).

Van Riper insists that any significant effort that involves challenging the issue of drug smuggling in Guinea-Bissau must include the re-establishment of a stable government that will revive a robust culture of obedience to the rule of law in the state (Van Riper, 2014). This reformed government must also ensure to distance the military from all political affairs and introduce adequate checks and balances to assist the fight against corruption. While establishing a stable government is a significant step in eradicating the problem of drug smuggling in Guinea-Bissau, it is not sufficient. The new government must also revitalize the economy to provide the population with alternative ways to earn a living other than trafficking drugs. The government must collaborate with International Organizations such as the United Nations and regional organizations such as the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) in finding solutions to enhance the economy.

The newly re-established government must also find solutions to the chronic problem of the lack of security infrastructure. This can be done through investing in equipments for the security officials especially the border controls and custom officers. Training judicial officials and investing in new prisons and rehabilitation centres will also improve the situation of the Guinea-Bissau. While all these investments maybe capital intensive, the government may consider using confiscated drug money to rehabilitate the security infrastructure of the country. Considering that drug trafficking is a global problem that is affecting the whole world, Guinea-Bissau should also consider collaborating with other countries in tackling the problem and to learn from best practices of countries who have tackled the problem of drug smuggling.

Introduction of stricter punishment and penalty for people who have been involved in the business would deter individuals from participating in drug trafficking. To combat the drug trafficking problem, adequate sensitization campaigns will need to be launched and promoted to the broader public. Analysis of historical drug trafficking case studies has provided empirical evidence that the host transit countries will always suffer the adverse effects of drug trafficking (Van Riper, 2014).  This signifies that the transit countries will eventually experience issues such as a drastic increase in the local consumption of drugs and general societal effects on population stability and security. A vital example of this is Brazil, which as a major drug transit country, has become the second-largest consumer of cocaine in the world and payment for products is often done via drugs (Van Riper, 2014).

The sensitization campaigns will need to present evidence to convince people of the adverse effects of drugs in society. People will need to be sufficiently informed and educated on the impact of Guinea-Bissau being a transit country and future issues that could potentially arise from it. Concise, targeted efforts will need to be made to conceptualize drugs as taboo and ensure it viewed as a non-tradable commodity amongst people. Guinea-Bissau could leverage international bodies such as the ECOWAS – which is prevalent within West Africa – for support in terms of human capital and resources to ensure that drug trade is reduced within the region, to begin with.

Nonetheless, as previously noted, drugs are indisputably a local problem, which needs to be resolved. This is especially true as it has been estimated that approximately 8% of global cocaine users are West African, with Guinea-Bissau’s user growing exponentially (Brown, 2013, p37). Moreover, the sub-optimal state of public health infrastructure in Guinea-Bissau and other countries in the region signifies a growing need to resolve these issues as they are likely to have catastrophic effects on broader society.

Over ten years ago, Guinea-Bissau, a small state in the Western region of Africa, became the first narco-state in the continent. Multiple factors such as its geographical location, the lack of a stable government, lack of rule of law, and the military’s interference in the country’s politics have contributed to the increasingly prominent role the country is playing in drug trafficking. The new role of Guinea-Bissau as a hub for drug smuggling has worsened the situation of an already fragile state with the erosion of the rule of law and increasing the rate of corruption in the country.

While giant strides have been made in the fight against corruption, significantly more needs to be done. A reformed government that will enforce the rule of law in the country and revitalize the economy is required to win the battle against drug trafficking.  Other strategies such as upgrading the security infrastructure of the country, collaborating with the international community to tackle the problem of drug smuggling, introducing stricter punishment for individuals caught in the business, as well as sensitization of the general population about the ills of drug trafficking will also prove fruitful in fighting drug trafficking out of the country.

 

 

 

Bibliography

BBC News. 2021. Cocaine and Guinea-Bissau: How Africa’s ‘narco-state’ is trying to kick its habit. [online] Available at: <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-52569130> [Accessed 9 November 2021].
May, C., 2017. Transnational Crime and the Developing World. [online] Global Financial Integrity, p.xi. Available at: <https://secureservercdn.net/50.62.198.97/34n.8bd.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Transnational_Crime-final.pdf> [Accessed 9 November 2021].
Petcu, C., 2017. Globalization and Drug Trafficking. The New School University.
United Nations: Office on Drugs and Crime. 2021. Drug trafficking. [online] Available at: <https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drug-trafficking/> [Accessed 10 November 2021].
Aning, K. and Pokoo, J., 2014. Understanding the nature and threats of drug trafficking to national and regional security in West Africa. Stability: International Journal of Security and Development, 3(1).
Shehu, A., 2009, July. Drug Trafficking and its impact on West Africa. In Meeting of the Joint Committee on Political Affairs, Peace and Security/NEPAD and Africa Peer Review Mechanism of the ECOWAS Parliament, Katsina, Nigeria, on July (Vol. 28).
Rousseau, R., 2017. West Africa–the Region’s Pivotal Role in International Drug Trafficking.
UNODC, N., 2008. Drug trafficking as a security threat in West Africa. Vienna: UNODC.
Bybee, A.N., 2011. Narco state or failed state? narcotics and politics in Guinea-Bissau. George Mason University.
DW.COM. 2021. West Africa is hub for international drug trafficking | DW | 01.03.2012. [online] Available at: <https://www.dw.com/en/west-africa-is-hub-for-international-drug-trafficking/a-15776001> [Accessed 11 November 2021].
Kaal Vestergaard, M., 2021. Europe’s back door left wide open: The role of Guinea-Bissau in drug trafficking – Human Security Centre. [online] Human Security Centre. Available at: <http://www.hscentre.org/africa/europes-back-door-left-wide-open-the-role-of-guinea-bissau-in-drug-trafficking/> [Accessed 13 November 2021].
Zeidler, A., 2011. The state as a facilitator in the illicit global political economy: Guinea-Bissau and the global cocaine trade (Doctoral dissertation, Stellenbosch: University of Stellenbosch).
Van Riper, S.K., 2014. Tackling Africa’s First Narco-State: Guinea-Bissau in West Africa. Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, US Army War College.
Brown,. 2014. The Challenge of Drug Trafficking to Democratic Governance and Human Security in West Africa.

 

 

By Bello Jibir Kabir

 

 

 

 

The American fiasco in the Middle East, coupled with the bequeathed legacy of Trump’s era, is posing tremendous challenges to the new American administration. Though the latest Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing horrendous chaos in the global economy are distracting Washington from China, the Biden’s administration so-called “Indo-Pacific” strategy entails that Asia remains a top priority to Washington. In one of his latest works titled “Destined for War”, Graham Allison examines whether China and the US are heading towards a prolonged war. Although the recent lockdowns in China are presenting challenges to it is goals of taking over the US as the biggest economy in 2030, Beijing’s military activities in South China continue to puzzle the Biden’s administration.
Geopolitically speaking, the rise of China has prompted US policy makers to alter their prolonged “Asia-Pacific” strategy to deal with the so-called Chinese threat .Coupled with the formation of trilateral security alliances, including the AUKUS, the so-called “Indo-Pacific” strategy aimed at thwarting Beijing’s growing influence from the Western Pacific to the Indian Ocean. The released document says explicitly that Washington is expected to focus on “every corner” of the region. Yet, despite this, the so-called “Indo-Pacific” strategy is not confined to containing China only; it aims to develop a new security architecture in Asia as well.
The concept of “free and open” Indo-Pacific, therefore, offers an ideological and political justification for the American deployment in the region. It is an ideological and political construct that aims at preventing the rise of China, while securing the American interests in the “imagined” region. Last Month, Kurt Campbell, the U.S. National Security Council coordinator for the “Indo-Pacific”, said that America is more likely to witness a strategic surprise in the Pacific region. In addition to that, the latest security pact between China and Solomon Islands has provided American and Australian policy makers with the opportunity to further securitize the region.
The aim of this paper, however, is not to examine China’s actions and policies, but to assess the applicability of the post-structuralism approach in the case of the Indo-Pacific. In other words, the aim of the paper is to examine how the “Indo-Pacific” was imagined and constructed through political discourse.
Instead of dealing with the region as naturally given, the paper questions the “naturalness” of the region. Since Post-Structuralism and critical geopolitics are interested in studying the relationship between geographical knowledge and power, it has become increasingly necessary to study how the so-called “Indo-Pacific” region is developed.
To achieve this goal, the paper relies on critical geopolitics approach to examine how the region was “imagined” and securitized. Hence, the paper argues that the “Indo-Pacific” region is an outcome of political construction and imagination to build new (American) security architecture in Asia.
Knowledge-Power Nexus
Although Post-Structuralism is an approach that is originally developed in sociology and literature, it is still widely utilized in studying international relations, especially by scholars of the critical school in IR. Though it does not provide it is readers with a “world view”, post-structuralism remains an important tool of analysis in IR. Critical Geopolitics as a strand in Post Structuralism, questions geographical assumptions and how they are dealt with, especially within policy circles.
The so-called concept of “Indo-Pacific” is widely used in many countries of the region, including Japan and Australia. Though the focus of the paper is on American imagination of the Indo-Pacific, it is important to, at least, note that countries in Asia have interests as well in developing biased knowledge of geography.
Although the term “Indo-Pacific” was not explicitly used, until very recently, maritime strategists, such a Gurpreet S. Khurana in India, criticized the strategy of the “Asia- Pacific” for ignoring the growing importance of involving India into a new strategy that aimed at containing China. According to Khurana, East Asia and New Delhi should enhance their political and economic alliances across the “Indo-Pacific”.
Likewise, Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minster, gave a speech before the Indian parliament in August 2007, arguing for the growing importance of enhancing relations between the Asia Pacific and South Asian regions. Though he did not explicitly use the term of “Indo-Pacific”, it was clear that there was a general urge to alter Washington’s policy regarding the containment of China.
President Biden perceives the so-called Chinese threat as a factor that endangers the “democratic” and “liberal” Indo-Pacific order. Hence, by portraying the struggle between China and the US as a prolonged struggle between democracy and authoritarianism fits the assumption of Post-Structuralism in IR. According to this school of thought, politics in IR is treated as black or white. The securitization and political imagination of the Indo-Pacific, therefore, are outcomes of this binary division and subjectivity.
Issue of Representation:
Based on the current literature, there are two reasons why the political construction of the so-called “Indo-Pacific” region seemed a plausible option for the Biden administration. Firstly, the American administration realized the horrendous military and political activities of Beijing from the Western Pacific to the India Ocean. Secondly, the Biden administration realized the tremendous importance of incorporating India into the new security architecture. This explains why India is incorporated into the Quadrilateral Dialogue (QUAD), which is formed to establish New Delhi as the new “security provider” in the region.
Although New Delhi’s imagination of the region is an extension of it is “Look East Policy”, India’s strategy is more cautious than Australia and Japan. Though it is part of the “QUAD”, it has been unable to determine whether it is imagination of the Indo-Pacific is aimed at excluding China. Nonetheless, the political imagination of all the “Indo-Pacific” in the Indian, American, and Australian circles entails that world maps are adjusted to fit strategic concerns of the respective time.
Hence, it has become clear that “mental maps” are all about power relations; it is the language of the “powerful”. The so-called “Indo-Pacific”, which is an outcome of political construction, aims to privilege certain nations, including Australia, Japan, and India, over the others. Therefore, it seems that we cannot have a permanent or balanced understanding of the world. In other words, policy makers asses the growing threats in a specific area and they employ the suitable strategy, which includes securitizing the “imagined” region in order to serve their strategic interests.
In one of his latest statements, Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, said that the so-called “Indo-Pacific” is expected to shape the “trajectory” of the world in the 21st century. During his speech in Jakarta, Indonesia, Blinken said that Washington will adopt a strategy of “deterrence” to promote “peace” and ‘“stability” in the Indo-Pacific, arguing that threats are evolving dramatically in the (imagined) region.
During her latest visit to Singapore, Kamala Harris kept warning her counterparts of the Chinese “incursion” in the region, arguing that Beijing’s policies are intimidating. Again, she repeated the word “free and open” Indo-Pacific, stressing on the importance of enhancing relations with Washington’s allies to defend the “imagined” region. It has become clear; therefore, that Biden’s so-called “Indo-Pacific” strategy is a continuation of Donald Trump’s designation of China as a foe.
According to South China Morning Post, a journal based in Hong Kong, White House officials started using the term of “Indo-Pacific” during Trump’s presidency. It was an attempt to distance the Trump administration from Obama’s “Pivot to Asia”. Biden’s decision to officially use the concept, therefore, entails that the term is becoming the new “normal” in Washington’s approach towards the “imagined” region.
Yet, Biden’s strategy differs in the sense that it puts emphasis on “integrated deterrence”, and instead of constraining economic relations with the region like Trump did when he left the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Biden initiated an economic Indo-Pacific framework. Though the new strategy prompted fierce debate in Chinese policy makers, it is still adopted by the US, Australia, Japan, among others.
In his article “Maritime politics as discourse in the Indo-Pacific”, Tim Summers, an Assistant Professor and Research Fellow at Chatham House, argues that China has always been placed at the center of the geopolitical discourse within the American policy circles. He says that the Chinese threat itself is part of the evolving the geopolitical discourse in Washington.
Besides, Summers (2021) believes that maritime space, politics, and boundaries are parts of the geopolitical discourse in Asia. Therefore, Summers argues that geopolitics is material and ideological at the same time; it is a process through which knowledge is produced and internalized. By analyzing the map of the South China Sea adopted by the West, one can easily find an orientalist and biased representation of China in this area. The usage of pink or red colors in areas that are witnessing Beijing’s rise provides a virtual representation of China as a penetrator of the Sea area.
To conclude, there is a limited literature written on the political imagination and construction of the Indo-Pacific. Yet, it has become increasingly necessary to study this “imagined” region, especially in times when the US is shifting it is attention towards China. In contrary to the prevailing analysis, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is less likely to distract the Biden’s administration from China’s activities in the Indo-Pacific. In the midst of political chaos in the US, China is initiating security pact with Solomon Island to ramp up it is influence in the imagined region.
The paper tried to apply post-structuralism and critical geopolitics on the case of the Indo-Pacific, with a special focus on issues of false representations, subjectivity, and binary divisions. Yet, given the limited literature, the author of the paper advice future scholars to thoroughly examine the written and spoken statements in the US regarding the Indo-Pacific. Analysts are not exaggerating the threats of War; it might happen in the not-too-distant future. The fact that countries like Australia are allying with the US, says a lot about the growing polarization in the so-called Indo-Pacific. Analysts are not exaggerating the threats of war when they say that China is more likely to kick Washington out of the South China sea; it might happen in the not-too-distant future
Load More ...