What Is the Definition of a Buffer State

A buffer state is an area between the borders of two powerful and potentially hostile powers. The armed forces of both rival powers do not exist in the buffer area and often the war occurs when one or both powers try to invade the buffer state territory. However, the existence of a buffer state could allow rival countries to solve their problems through peaceful negotiations and diplomatic actions instead of engaging in a direct armed war.

Historical examples

The concept of buffer states emerged in the 17th Century, when the great European powers of England, France, Spain and Portugal began exploring and exploiting vast areas of land on foreign continents and establishing their empires in these areas. Since the colonial empires of these powers often approached each other closely, thus increasing the possibilities of conflict, the powers decided to leave certain areas among the invulnered empires to act as a “buffer”. These areas, or buffer states, were left to local governance by the natives and helped to maintain the balance of power. Often, these historic buffer states were created as a result of the presence of natural barriers along imperial extensions, such as high mountains or dense and dangerous forests, or even exceptionally violent indigenous inhabitants. For example, Afghanistan served as a buffer state between the Russian empire in the north and the British colonial empire (in what is now India and Pakistan) in the south. Siam (between the British colonial empire in South Asia and French Indochina) and the colony of Georgia (which separated the Spanish-controlled Florida from the American colonies controlled by the British), were other worthy examples of bearing during the era colonial.

Moderators Reserve States

To prevent wars and conflicts, many modern states around the world have received the status of buffer states. Although Nepal and Bhutan have their own government systems and armed forces, these countries could be considered as buffer states between India in the south and China in the north. As tensions continue to exist between India and China and there is a conflict between the Sino-Indian wars of 1962 along the border between China and India, the importance of Nepal and Bhutan as potential buffer states becomes quite clear. Poland and other Eastern European countries have often been treated as buffer states between Russia and Western European nations. There have also been several high-level diplomatic talks on the labeling of the Ukraine as a buffer state between Russia and the NATO bloc. However, both Poland and Ukraine are unhappy with these proposals, as neither want to be treated as a buffer country.

Strategic importance

In today’s extremely complex geopolitical world, buffer states play an important role in keeping warring factions at a safe distance from each other. The rival powers that cannot trust each other and live side by side have the space to breathe from these buffer states. Buffer states provide strategic depth to rival powers, allowing them to measure their opponents’ future moves without directly putting their territories into play. Unfortunately, the buffer states usually bear the brunt of the first attacks, giving the powerful entities on both sides time to prepare against their rival. Therefore, from the point of view of a buffer state, things often seem not ideally secure. Being a buffer state puts a nation in danger, and often the warring factions will use the buffer status to launch their initial attacks against each other. Powerful entities often also try to influence the internal policies of the buffer state, hindering their independent nature.

Dynamics of international trade

Buffer states play a very significant role in influencing the dynamics of international trade. These states act as a handshake between rival factions, a place where the exchange of goods between two rivals can take place by maintaining the buffer state as an “average man”. The exchange of exchanges through a buffer state allows the growth of the buffer state economy, as well as benefiting the respective economies of rival powers.

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