Alternate History

Geopolitical Goals (Superpowers)

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Geopolitical goals are the restrictive personality traits that dominate the geopolitical policies of any large nation, from OTL's Uganda to the ATL Japanese Shogunate. Though the existence of geopolitical goals is debatable, if they are real the political landscape is far easier to comprehend and predict. Its primary tenets are that national entities have certain traits that have ingrained in their governments and peoples, and these affect the ways the countries react to national and international events. Based on this theory, a weak or strong leader can affect the proficiency by which a nation is governed but the government will always tend towards certain priorities and policies.

A real world example is the United States of America. Regardless of who was in power in the States following the September 11 attacks, the reaction would have always been to invade the Middle East and enact a law that would resemble the USA PATRIOT Act. Though a different administration may not have "declared a war on terror" or invaded in the same way or at precisely the same time as the Bush administration did, the major action would have always been the same. The strategic goals of the US would be the same.

While this may make it appear that history is set in stone from the beginning, that is a gross misunderstanding of the theory. Small events - events that are affected by human or natural intervention - have a cumulative effect on historical events. Something such as the Terreur of Robespierre had nothing to do with France's geopolitical goals, and was completely the product of independent human desires and fears. Additionally, well-supported leaders can make reforms that can not only ignore the geopolitical goals of a nation but even alter the current ones. Furthermore, traumatic events such as revolutions or foreign interventions can completely change a nation's ideals and therefore create new goals. The invasion of Washington DC through the Chesapeake and its influence on American naval policy is just one example of this kind of alteration.

Despite its shortcomings, the study of geopolitical goals is a useful tool that can help make short-term predictions of future geopolitics and give a rough idea of what the world could look like in the future. A mainstream example of their use in this way is George Friedman's book, "The Next 100 Years".


The purpose of this page is to outline the geopolitical goals of the nations in the Superpowers timeline and outline how they formed and what were some of their effects on vital world events. Therefore, it is worth noting that many nations have similar initial geopolitical goals that differ only in their specificity. This is because the primary, central goals of most new societies are very similar (survival, growth, etc) and these kind of ideals will often stick with a nation for the rest of its history.

Additionally, it should be noted that nations are not always, and are in fact frequently, unable to successfully follow their geopolitical goals. Only powerful nations like the ATL Roman Empire or OTL United States are able to do so consistently.

(OTL Case) United States of America

As an example, here are the 5 major geopolitical goals of the United States :

  • 1. Domination of North America by the US Army
  • 2. Elimination of the threat of a foreign power in America
  • 3. Complete control of the maritime approaches to the nation by the US Navy
  • 4. Complete domination of the world's oceans and international trading system
  • 5. Prevention of the rise of another world superpower

Roman Empire

Roman Imperial Flag

Flag of Rome

With an existence spanning over 2700 years, the Empire has very firmly held geopolitical goals that more often than not are closely followed. At the same time, the Emperor's extensive power makes his personal opinion an important factor in the nation's policies. This makes it so that while the big decisions of the Empire are very predictable, the butterfly effect of small scale policy decisions is much more noticeable in the Roman Empire than other not so autocratic nations.

1. Preservation of Rome (City) from any Military Threat

Though this has been a policy of the Romans since the foundation of the city in 753 BCE, it became a consistent geopolitical goal of the nation after the Sack of Rome by the Gauls in 387 BCE. Since that time it has been the single most important strategic goal of the Empire; so any decision that might compromise this goal would be impossible for the Roman government to make. Furthermore, failure to achieve this goal would constitute a crippling blow to the Empire.

It was this goal that spurred on the advancement of Roman space defenses to remove space as an avenue of attack on the Eternal City. Also many civil choices, such as the legal locations for caeliporta and nuclear reactors and the restriction of foreigners from Italy, were heavily influenced by the need to avoid putting the Imperial Capital in danger.

2. Complete Control of the Mediterranean Sea by the Navy

Essentially what this means is that the Romans must maintain their position as the dominant naval power in the Mediterranean. As they learned in the First Punic War, failure to do so can have serious consequences. Subsequently, it was the military failure of the Battle of Drepana in 249 BCE that cemented this as a vital geopolitical goal of Rome.

For this reason, no foreign nation is permitted to allow any military vessel into the Mediterranean Sea under any circumstances. This has made the naval choke points of Mons Calpi, Suez and Constantinopolis vital areas for naval defenses. Not a single foreign military vessel has been able to enter or exit any of these points since 434, and this tightening of the Roman grip on the Basin was further emphasized by the creation of the naval trading post of Melita at its center.

3. Maintenance of the Internal Stability of the Ethnic Populations of the Empire

Since the Icenian Revolt in 60 CE, the Roman government has become cautious of the state of mind of its people, particularly those that even been more recently annexed into the Empire. Luckily the old tactic of steady Romanization of territories, and the integration of native traditions, has made the Romans very malleable in this regard. What truly pacified most remaining feelings of dissent in local populations was the Sullan Edict enacted in 212 CE.

Giving citizenship to most people living in Roman territory, this allowed for the grasp of Rome to be even more strongly tightened over the Empire, and ensured a greater stability, one which would only continue to increase over the next two millennia.

4. Domination of all Land Empires on the Main European and North African Subcontinents and Maintaining the Presence of Geographical Barriers

Having such vast territories in a rich continent like Europe, the Romans have had their borders frequently harassed by countless numbers of tribes and empires. Though these borders have steadily been driven farther from the Empire's main population centers, this has only increased the difficulty of maintaining them without anyone occasionally breaking through. The Romans have therefore, since 453 CE, always attempted to maintain borders along major geographical barriers, such as the Vistula River and it was from that point onwards that these have been integral strategic goals of the Roman Empire.

At the time period, the major barriers of defense for the Empire were; the Great Judean Wall, the Sahara Desert, the Vistula River and the Baltic Sea. These remained relatively stagnant borders for the next millennia, until the Romans began a rapid period of expansion following the horrors of the Great War. Still, even today, no land force has ever been successful in passing these points, save at a weak point in Cimbria, since the inception of this goal into the Roman political consciousness.

5. Maintenance of a Significant Presence on Every Major Landmass

The most recently added geopolitical goal of Rome, and the most difficult to succeed at, this became a major point of imperial policy in 1704 with the end of the Great War. Nearly losing their only territories on three different major continents combined with the great cost to Europe to actually keep from losing these lands made the Roman government fully aware of this very real threat to the Empire.

To this end, the Romans made sure that the concessions brought on by the Treaty of Naniwa furthered this goal as greatly as possible. Not willing to take on the responsibility of controlling larger territories in far off lands, the Romans opted to create several small nations to act as barriers between themselves and foreign powers. Though this would prove detrimental in the next great war, the Romans enjoyed two centuries of relative peace because of it.

6. Control of Travel into Outer Space

Space travel has opened up an entirely new strategic window over the world. Weapons can be deployed there, troops can be transported through it and surveillance can be performed from the outside as well, and all can be done in a place that is tremendously difficult for most nations to counter from. Much like the world's oceans were once the primary strategic route that empire's had to control if they wanted to prosper, space provided all the advantages that could once be gained from owning sea lanes.

This need for the control for space is closely tied into the primary goal of the Empire as well, which is the protection of Rome. Since space represents a vulnerability, the Romans were forced to "annex" it, becoming the regulators for all inwards and outwards travel of the atmosphere. Through its position in the Alliance, the Romans managed to contain the availability to space travel technology to only its two major allies. Even more, the Romans put themselves into a position to control the space lanes, and thanks to new technologies, have practically monopolized the very act itself.

Japanese Shogunate

The ethnic Japanese, while not in possession of the oldest empire, are the people who have remained independent from foreign powers for the longest period of time. Though the nation states had always felt a strong influence from China, their ideals are still very independent and represent a culture that is distinctly "Japanese". The traumatic event of the Mongol invasion of the Japanese Isles has been one of the most influential foreign events on Japanese policy and culture. From that point onwards their ideals shifted towards satisfying their needs for isolation and economic independence.

1. Protection of the Central Government (Emperor)

Though throughout its history the ruling class has changed or been divided into many ruling families, the Japanese have always believed strongly in respect for authority, and so the head of state was always to be venerated and protected at all costs.

For the periods of time which there was one single Emperor of Japan, this was especially important. Though no precise date can be given for when this was a primary geopolitical goal of the Japanese, it can be estimated that it occurred sometime around the Asuka Period, once the Yamato Polity was emerging in the archipelago in the VIth century AD.

Unfortunately for the Japanese, they have frequently failed at this goal, leading the Empire to go into periods of division, greatly weakening it once it had reemerged again. Since Oda Nobunaga and Hirate Masahide reunited the isolated Japanese people in 1577, the Japanese have been able to succeed at this goal, and the Empire of Japan has not been divided since.

2. Control of all Maritime Entrances into the Islands

After the successful establishment of a Mongol beachhead in 1315, the Japanese entered a period of paranoia over an invasion by sea. Economic activity became centered around the construction of a navy, and naval fortifications were built all along the coasts and two were even built right on the water as well. This imperative would prove to have been helpful once the Mongols invaded Japan with their largest army yet in 1425.

Even once the Japanese entered isolation, control of their surrounding waters was immensely important. The government established a "Safety Zone" up to 20 km from land. Any foreign ship entering this area would be detected immediately by a patrol boat and the enemy presence would be alerted by a flare like device, the number of flares indicating the number of ships. The appropriate number of Japanese warships would then crack down on the enemy.

3. Maintenance of Ethnic Homogeneity and Domination of all Japanese Isles

When the Mongols invaded Japan for a fourth time in 1425, the Japanese had finally had enough. Internal conflict, combined with the ever present threat of an invasion, was too much for the Japanese people. Since coastal fortifications were already built, and the navy was strong, they decided to simply restrict any foreign ship movement within their waters. Envoys were also sent to warn other nations about the restrictions they had put up.

All foreigners still on the islands when the laws went up could either leave then, or be forced to stay permanently. Regardless, over the next century, they were steadily killed by riots or government sanctions, or became integrated into the culture through marriage, though that last fact would never be told to any of the authorities. From that point onward, defense of the island from all foreigners became the third of Japan's geopolitical goals.

4. Maximization of Economic Efficiency

To actually maintain a situation of isolation, the Japanese must be completely self-sufficient. Due to the already high population of the Isles, this would prove to be quite a challenge. All resources would have to be used to their maximum potential, and recycling of materials was a must. Personal consumption of individuals was given no importance, and over nearly 3 centuries of isolation, the Japanese came to be the most efficient economists in the world.

Furthermore, technological advancement was given prime importance as well, as it could lead to a more easily sustainable situation. Due to this, the Japanese managed to actually advance their technology to a marginally greater level than either the Romans or the Mayans could individually. Only the Roman's electrical technology still eluded them.

During this time, the island of Hokkaido was chosen to provide for the agricultural needs of the main island, and so massive farms were built there, and the cities almost underwent a reverse urbanization as citizens flocked to the farms in order to better serve their nation. Fishing as well became of greater importance, and many navy boats were even converted to serve as fishing platforms, in addition to their military role.

5. Control over the Pacific Trading Networks

Once the Japanese had emerged from isolation in 1704, they had a new potential market opened up to them. Using their still massive navy, they entered into trade with Rome, the Inca and even the Mongols and Khmer. Their large population then became the work force for a massive industrialization, producing thousands of different goods for the world's economies.

As Pacific Trade took up 37% of the world sea lanes (69% of international trade), this desire for control proved massively beneficial for the Japanese. Emerging as a technologically developed, over-populated nation with a small industrial infrastructure, the Japanese's economic gains during the XVIIIth Century brought them from the 7th industrial power in the world to the third largest by the turn of the century. This was know by Roman economists as the Miraculum Nipponum (Japanese Miracle).

6. Complete Domination of the World's Oceans and International Trading System

This economic stimulation helped fund the further increase of naval power, and they would become the dominant naval power of the world before the next World War would begin. Eventually, the Japanese were able to spread their influence over all the world's oceans, becoming involved in the economies of every empire on Earth.

Not even the Romans had this kind of economic influence, though their much larger land holdings helped them to maintain as strong a presence in world markets as Japan. Eventually, with the advent of space travel and weaponry, naval power became superseded by space power, and the Romans came to once again dominate the world markets. Still, the Japanese continue to have the strongest navy in the world, nearly double the size of the Roman Classis, the second strongest navy, and they currently have the ability to blockade nearly any nation on Earth at will.

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