"Endemic state weakness in Sharfland is a product of Great Power Politics." Discuss.
Date of submission: 30/06/2016
Date of submission: 30/06/2016
Pierre M. Syirfegi, Grenoble Institute of Geopolitics
Professor J. Le Poit PhD, Grenoble Institute of Geopolitics
Political economy of Central Crataean states
Percentage of module grade:
This assignment is submitted as part of the Master’s Degree in Central Crataean Studies. By submitting the assignment, the author certifies that the text is from his/her own hand, does not include the work of someone else unless clearly indicated, and that the thesis has been produced in accordance with proper academic practices and guidelines.
It is difficult to dispute the fact that Sharfic politics have for the last one hundred years been characterised by endemic insecurity. From the Great War of the early twentieth century to the more recent, harrowing civil war of the twentieth, the Sharfland has been in a state of near or total state collapse for almost the entirety of the last century. Attempts at analysing this phenomenon have drawn mixed results, with scholars blaming both physical factors (geography and resource stress) to less tangible social, economic and cultural factors (for example “ethnic hatreds” and more recently, globalisation). All of these approaches deserve a level of recognition; however this paper will primarily attempt to deconstruct the role of “Great Powers” in Crataea (Dumanum, Questers, and historically Songia and Quiberon) in the contemporary Sharfic situation.
The Great War of 1899-1910 could be seen as the first major manipulation of Sharfland by the “Great Powers”. Sharfland’s situation pre-war, whilst not utopian, was one of relative comfort; the then-Kingdom of the Dragon Mountain was richer than its neighbours, and governed by a benevolent monarch who poured vast resources into modernising his state (Thompson, 1993, p.14). The outbreak of hostilities however severely damaged the economy – the Free Port of Freiburg, chartered by the King to the Praetonian Sharfland Company, saw a reduction in trade of around 35% due to naval battles between Praetonia and Quiberon in the Oryontic (Draskovic, 2008, p.290). This severely stunted the modernisation drive, weakening the King’s position in an era of creeping democratisation and giving birth to revolutionary elements within Sharfic society. This Great Power rivalry certainly served to foster instability in Sharfland, forcing the previously neutral state to become dependent on Dumanum for imports and exports of goods (ibid, p.295). Dumanum’s subsequent coercion of its Crataean clients (including Sharfland) into raising expeditionary forces to fight in Questers was a deeply unpopular action in Sharfland that further eroded the King’s authority and painted him in the eyes of many Sharfics as less demigod and more Dumani puppet (ibid, p.316).
Post-war Sharfland remained an unfortunate vassal of Dumanum, having Birbiriya (roughly a third of its territory) ceded to Sandirius in the Dumani-brokered Treaty of Rema in 1921 (Valls, 2001, p.83). Whilst the re-integration of Freiburg in 1924 did have some effect in rebuilding national morale (ibid), the continued post-war economic disruption had depressed Sharfic living standards to a level more akin to that of Uiri, Sharfland’s poor, landlocked and hated eastern neighbour (ibid, p.85). The masses of dispossessed peasantry were easy targets for Songian communist agitators, who tapped into the general feeling of disenfranchisement within the Sharfic population and began to educate the rural peasantry in the norms of Songian communism (ibid, p.96). While there was certainly support for communist ideas in Sharfland, Valls asserts that its supporters did not have the strength to overthrow the monarchy independently (ibid, p.101). The population was instead galvanised by the end to royal yak subsidies in 1932 – an economic move pushed for by Dumanum, which had grown tired of supporting its southern neighbour – that doomed millions of peasants to inevitable bankruptcy (ibid, p.102). The subsequent Yak Revolution was not a communist insurrection, as it has been portrayed in the past – it was an explosion of suppressed anger that became a generalised, directionless revolt against the monarchy, that was only hijacked by the more politically aware Songian revolutionary cadres at least a week after the first uprisings (ibid, p.110). It is certainly feasible that without the continued interference of Dumanum in Sharfland’s affairs the Kingdom would have remained intact for at least another decade; without the interference of Songia Sharfland’s communisation may have been avoided altogether.
This communisation of Sharfland resulted in a state that for sixty years lurched from economic crisis to political crisis to military crisis, only managing to suppress constant uprisings with its monopoly on air power (Rex, 1998, p.88). Certainly the 1997-2010 civil war was an inevitability – the Sharfic Soviet was effectively hollow, having never rebuilt the foundations of the state eroded between 1899 and 1932, either directly or indirectly, by the” Great Powers”. Even the current post-war settlement, with Sharfland divided into two entities, has been brought about by the interference of both Dumanum and the Praetonian Commonwealth during the war years (Ekiferi, 2014, p.30). The Sharfic Federation has returned to the Dumani sphere and is unlikely to escape the orbit of Urbs Dumanus within the next few decades (ibid, p.86). Both entities remain weak and unstable, with Sovereign Sharfland in particular described as little more than an “outlaw state” that bleeds insecurity into its neighbours (ibid, p.89). However, the anarchist territory being as it is under protection from the Estates-General and Freeholder’s Association it is unlikely that this source of insecurity will be plugged in the near future. Sharfland itself has federated along ethno-linguistic lines in an effort to placate its many minorities, which is a short-term solution at best – many scholars assert that Sharflands federalisation will lead to renewed civil war and total disintegration within a decade (ICPG.org, accessed 2016).
It is undeniable that the course of contemporary Sharfic history has been charted primarily by the political and economic interests of the “Great Powers”, who can be provably implicated in almost any trauma experienced by Sharfland in the last century. The stability and relative prosperity of the Sharfic state prior to the Great War contrasts strongly with the chronic insecurity beginning in 1899 – the period in which Sharfland found itself incidentally and explicitly subject to the machinations of far larger and more powerful nations.
Arguments on ethnic and religious “ancient hatreds”, often touted when discussing the wider region, have little currency when the relatively peaceful Monarchy period is evidence against it. The only common factor in the state decay of the 20s to the 90s is the shaping of Sharfic history by those who are not Sharfics. The current status quo in Sharfland certainly suits the powerful nations of the world, who have little appetite to go to war over their respective fiefdom. However it most certainly does not suit the interests of the Sharfic people, who remain economically and politically crippled by decades of bad governance. With a world still riven by ideological rivalries and power politics, it is unlikely that Sharfland will cast off its neo-colonial shackles, overcome its political hurdles and become a functioning state in the near future.
Word count: 1063
Thompson, E (1993) “The road to modernity” in The Dragon Mountain – reassessing the Sharfic Kingdom, Kingston Publishing House.
Draskovic, M (2008) “The war in the Oryontic” in The Great War – a definitive history, Jacksonville Press.
Valls, G (2001) “Sharfland” in Red tide – the spread of Communism in south Crataea, Editions du Evian
Rex, L (1998) “The inevitable collapse” in State of Emergency – Sharfland’s seventy year crisis, Gladiator Books
Ekiferi, M (2014) “Introduction” and “The future of Sharfland” in Sharfland in the 20th Century, Axum Paper Company
International Crataean Policy Group (2016a) Sharfland’s continued decay [online] available from http://www.icpg.org/articles/2016/sharf ... nued_decay