The Geopolitical World Cup: FINAL

We’ve finally made it: the Geopolitical World Cup Final is here! Our version of the quadrennial global soccer competition took a geopolitics-oriented view to determine which nation would come out on top in a no-holds-barred contest on all dimensions of power: economic, military, population, geography, development, and more.

In case you missed the lead-up to this final post on the fictional tournament, you can check out the Group Stage (Part I, Part II), Knockout Stage (Part I, Part II), Quarterfinals, and Semifinals on Rational Policy and learn how we got to this epic final match-up. If you don’t want to read through all of that awesome content, or already have, here’s a recap of our Semifinal round to showcase how each team got to where it is now. In the first Semifinal match-up, France eked out a victory over a very good United Kingdom side, while Germany took a far easier win against Australia. In this final post on the tournament, we’ll be breaking down the Third-Place Game between the UK and Australia, as well as the big kahuna: France v. Germany for the tournament title. As always, we’re judging these nations on a variety of categories, from economic prowess to military power, from historical success to alliance relationships.

Without further ado, here are the final two matches of the 2018 Geopolitical World Cup.

Bracket


Third Place Game: United Kingdom v. Australia

Before we get to the main event, we need to decide who will place 3rd in this tournament of nations. This match-up pits two Anglophone countries against each other, one of which was a former colony of the other. In the battle of Australia versus the United Kingdom, we have an interesting contest that is closer than one might expect.

Let’s start our analysis by looking at the Geopolitics Scores of these two sides. Australia has a solid overall score of 18.225, but the British have an excellent 12.45 (lower scores are better). Within that total score lies some interesting data; Australia beats out the UK on per capita economic figures, as well as thoroughly trouncing the Brits on Human Development Index (UK is 16th, Australia is 2nd). However, the United Kingdom wins out on all of our other metrics within the score, including military strength, population size, and overall economic success. What of our alternative measures? To this point both Australia and the United Kingdom have been very successful on the geographic criterion, so it will be fun to parse those differences. Both nations are islands (or chains of islands) and are defended geographically by water on all sides. But all islands aren’t created equal. Australia is far larger than the UK is, is surrounded by quite a bit more water (the Indian & Pacific Oceans are slightly larger than the English Channel), and has a very intense interior environment: the Outback. In geography, Australia takes the win.

How about alliances and history? Well, neither turn out particularly well for the Aussies. On the alliance front, both the United Kingdom and Australia are allies with the same crew of nations: the United States, Europe, and specific nations in Asia. Both are members of the Commonwealth, a group of former British territories that continue cultural and economic ties. That brings us nicely to the historical aspect. This is where the British truly win out over the Australians. The United Kingdom once had a globe-spanning empire that included possession of and control over the territory of Australia. Not only that, but Australia’s flag actually includes the British flag within its design. By dint of those facts alone, the British win on history. Altogether, the Australians put up a good fight, but are relegated to finishing 4th in this tournament of nations. The United Kingdom wins this match and takes 3rd place.

Australia - UK
The flags of Australia (L) and the United Kingdom (R).      Image Credit: Manila Bulletin

The FINAL: France v. Germany

This final match-up of the 2018 Geopolitical World Cup sure is a doozy. Not only does it pit two of Europe’s most powerful and influential nations against each other, but it absolutely reeks of history. Germany and France have been at odds since almost time immemorial, but they’ve become close allies in the modern age. Not so today. Let’s break this contest down to see who comes out on top and returns home with our nonexistent trophy.

First, we need to talk through Geopolitics Scores. In this measure, comprised of economic, population, military, and development factors, Germany comes out on top. The Germans have the best overall Geopolitics Score in the entire tournament, coming in at a stellar 9.075. The French, on the other hand, come in just below that at 13.5. That is still a very good score, but it does not compare with the exceptional score of the Germans. When we delve a bit deeper into what makes up these scores, we see things in a slightly different way. Germany still leads, but France looks better in comparison. France beats out Germany on a single category (out of 7), military strength. This is likely due to both France’s good regular military as well as their possession of nuclear weapons. Germany beats out France on all of our other metrics, including overall economy (it is closest here), per capita figures, population size, and human development. Germany wins over the French on total economy, but not by much, as France falls only a few spots below Germany on those ratings. On per capita figures, the difference is slightly larger, but still not huge. The big challenge for France with contrast to Germany is clearly human development; Germany comes in 4th overall here while the French fall to 21st. The Geopolitics Score comparison definitely favors Germany over France.

Now on to our alternate factors: geography, alliances, and history. Let’s begin with geography. Both nations are situated in Western Europe, and share a border as well as some common neighbors, including Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. There are significant agricultural areas in each country too, so that won’t decide it. France is physically larger than Germany is, as it comprises 247,368 square miles compared to Germany’s 137,903 square miles. That larger size bodes well for France on this metric, as does France’s superior sea access; France borders the English Channel, Atlantic Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea, while Germany only borders the North Sea and Baltic Sea. On the metric of geography, France takes the win. How about alliances? On this front, the Germans and French are very comparable. Both are strong leaders of the European Union, are part of the NATO alliance, and share good relations with the United States and other European nations. The slight advantages in this category go to France, as that nation has a permanent spot on the UN’s Security Council along with veto power in that body, as well as having very good relations with many North and West African countries that were formerly within the French colonial sphere of influence. Those extra relationships propel France ahead of Germany on the alliance question.

France - Germany
Locations of France (blue) and Germany (red) on a map of Europe.     Image Credit: Wikipedia

Finally, we need to discuss history. From the dawn of the French Revolution in the late 18th Century to the post-WWII era, France and the polities that would eventually become Germany were basically mortal enemies. For over 150 years, these two European powers were at each other’s throats and engaged in a wide variety of continental wars to cement their power. From the wars that came out of the 1789 Revolution in France to the Napoleonic Era to the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 that established the state of Germany, the 19th Century was a back-and-forth between these two great states for control over the fate of continental Europe. Those fights ended in 1871 with the victorious Prussians marching through the newly-widened streets of Paris in celebration of German unification and might. The fighting ceased for a short while, but the rivalry never fully subsided. It would strike back with a vengeance in the 20th Century, as World Wars I and II could both be seen as moves by the Germans against the French, for various reasons. The outcomes of those two major conflicts was the same: the Germans were defeated and France saved. But the journey to that end result couldn’t have been more different; France in WWI was a military powerhouse, fighting the Germans to a standstill on the Western Front and eventually taking the battle to the Germans themselves. In World War II, by contrast, France was completely and entirely overwhelmed in just a few weeks. The Germans sacked Paris and established the Vichy government to carry out their wishes as essentially a proxy state. Although the Germans ended up losing that particular war, thankfully, France was devastated in the process and had to focus on underground resistance and sabotage to avoid total German control of the country. As we can see, the recent history of Germany and France is one of seemingly never-ending conflict and war, with each side claiming victory and experiencing total loss. On history, this match is a toss-up.

So who wins in this clash of the European titans? As we stated, France takes geography and alliances, while history is a tie. Germany, however, beats out the French on our Geopolitics Score, and it isn’t all that close a margin. Given all of this information, we have a conclusion. The French put up a valiant fight, particularly on our alternative metrics, but the German success in the modern era is just too much for them to overcome. Germany is the winner of our 1st quadrennial Geopolitical World Cup.

Bracket Final
The completed Geopolitical World Cup bracket, with inaugural tournament winner Germany.

So that’s it. We’ve spent a few weeks and several articles breaking down an entirely fictional tournament based on the World Cup. Besides the excellent action going down in the real competition, I hope you enjoyed our series and will let me know what you think of our ultimate result. All I can say now is that I sincerely hope the result of the actual World Cup final turns out differently for the French. We’ll be back with regularly scheduled programming soon. Until then, enjoy the remainder of the World Cup and ‘Vive la France!’

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