The Topography of Geopolitics

Quantifying power has always been central to the conduct of strategy. David Baldwin’s book Power and International Relations quoted Sir Francis Bacon who, in 1612, noted that “there is not any thing amongst civil affairs more subject to error than the right evaluation and true judgement concerning the power and forces of a state.”[1] He also quoted Stephen Jones who, more recently, stated that “so long as there is power among sovereign states, there will be estimation of power. Even though the best estimates are only rough, they are better than reliance on intuition or emotion.”[2] Both Sir Francis Bacon and Stephen Jones are correct. The need to estimate power remains central to politics, strategy and statecraft, but it continues to be a subjective and problematic undertaking.

 

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