Thank you 2020: 3 Lessons on Geopolitics for Indonesia

Taken from

2020 is a year of surprises and full of crises at all levels (locals, nationals, and global). A single virus that crumbles the world so badly brings unprecedented implications to all aspects of human life including relations between countries.

What I learned, generally, is that the world is not ready for a global health crisis due to a lack of global cooperation. US’ absent global leadership led to the delay of the United Nations to agree to any resolution to recognize the Coronavirus as a global crisis that needs global solution and cooperation. Even China who was the president of the UNSC in March failed to lead the council to recognize the danger of the virus to global security well-being.

Not to forget that in the early time of COVID-19, European countries closed their border and did not immediately help their fellow European countries who were in need of immediate help.

What happened between states in the early time of the pandemic can be best explained through a realist perspective. States have become evidence that fulfillment of domestics has to come first. International cooperations are merely a vehicle to achieve domestic needs and every state tends to not willing to go the extra mile to contribute for the greater good.

As much as geopolitical development in 2020, here are 3 geopolitics lessons learned for Indonesian.

First, a pandemic does not stop geopolitical rivalry, tension, conflict, terror, dispute, and even war. We have seen that the tension between the US and China has expanded from trade to technology to military and diplomacy. The South China Sea is the exhibit for it. Armenian — Azerbaijan war over a territory take place for 6 weeks in September. BBC reported that the war took around 5000 lives from both sides. China- India skirmishes over the border between both brought into another geopolitical crisis in South Asia and in general for Sino-India relations.

Second, geo-economics is a prescription for better cooperation. I understand that today’s foreign policy is strongly driven by domestic needs such as economic development, foreign direct investment, and the creation of jobs. Regional economic and trade cooperation have become even more crucial. The concluded RCEP is the manifestation for the success of geo-economics cooperation.

Third, we are in a multipolar world and an era that provides an open opportunity for middle-power countries to act and do more. Many people believe that we are witnessing “cold war 2.0”. I would disagree as we are not in a game to win the title for the next superpower country. Jakarta based Think-tank — FPCI believes that China has no interest in replacing the US’ position as the world leader as China is not willing to bear the risks and responsibilities.

In the time of the US’ declining role and credibility, this is the time for middle-power countries like Indonesia to take steps to do and act more. I invite and call Indonesia to think larger than ourselves and even Southeast Asia. Let us think about Indo-Pacific or even the global agenda. Let us championed one global agenda, I would say clean energy. Since Indonesia is the largest Nickel producer in the world.

All in all, I believe that any geopolitical development always contain opportunities and risks. And the question is how do we respond to it? My advice to policymakers: No matter how hard the challenges are, please perceive them as opportunities.

Happy new year 2021 and let us hope for the best next year.



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Calvin Khoe

Calvin Khoe

Calvin is a foreign policy analyst and researcher at the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia. His focus areas are Geopolitics, Southeast Asia, and Indo FP