This is the first “full” entry in our ongoing “X-Men Foreign Policy” series, a dynamic look at the nuanced politics in the recent X titles. If you haven’t already, be sure to read the handy introduction guide.
In the recent House of X/Powers of X miniseries, the island nation of Krakoa was established as a homeland and a safe place for mutants. Attempts had been made at creating such spaces for mutant kind in previous X-Men runs, but with the advent of Krakoa, mutants would have more than might and strength to use as a bargaining chip: the Krakoan flower.
The Krakoan flower seems to have multiple uses. They act as a portal to connect mutants to the mainland of Krakoa but also have health benefits to mutants and humans alike. The flowers may provide longer life and cure most ailments. In essence, they are a wonder drug that could radically change the world.
Xavier and the Krakoan Council recognize the value of this resource. In chapter 10 of HoX/PoX, Xavier speaks directly to every person psychically, offering them access to this resource if they accept two things: Krakoan nationhood equal to all other states in the international system as well as amnesty for all mutants in human society.
While Krakoa has more in the way of talent and ingenuity than just the Krakoan flower (we have already seen a slew of brilliant mutant scientists on the island), and it seems as if the island produces all the necessary elements of life for its mutant population. That being said, the Krakoan flower appears to be the resource that mutants are relying on to change their standing on the world stage and avoid catastrophes that have befallen mutant states in the past.
This brings up an interesting international relations question: how would this natural resource dictate the behavior of the Krakoan government? Obviously, no item exists in the real-world that is comparable to the Krakoan flower, but we do have examples of states with access to highly-desired commodities that clearly impact how said countries act on the world stage. To answer this question, we should examine research related to states with a great deal of natural resource wealth and find some commonalities in their foreign policies that may be similar to what we can expect from Krakoa.
Probably the closest actual resource we have to the Krakoan flower is oil. While not nearly as valuable or exclusive as the actual Krakoan resource, it operates as a stand in for a couple of reasons:
- It is exclusive. Only some states have oil reserves while all countries rely on it.
- It is a resource that allows states with little in the way of influence in other economic/military/political realms a high degree of influence.
According to Hendrix and Noland, oil producing states “behave more aggressively than non-exporting states, but this belligerence rarely intensifies into actual armed conflict…Generally, oil endows exporting countries with a freer hand with which to pursue their aims” (Hendrix & Noland, 2012, p.52). Unlike oil, Krakoa is the only nation in the world that can produce this miracle drug, giving them an even stronger hand in demanding recognition and respect. While creating a homeland for mutants that includes murders and psychopaths like Apocalypse and Sabretooth may not sit well with countries around the world, few of them were willing to let that stand in their way of endorsing statehood for Krakoa at the UN, as more than 100 countries accepted the deal offered by Xavier.
It’s not hard to imagine Krakoa going further than the initial demands for recognition and amnesty, even if they may not initially have intended to do so. We see in the first issue of X-Force that Xavier was assassinated on Krakoa and issue 4 of X-Men that a group of hitmen again tried to off him. Krakoa’s leadership may feel that even though they have received acceptance by most of the world’s states, there is a covert effort to undermine their security and objectives. In the pages of Marauders, we see that Krakoa’s leadership has given power to the Hellfire Club to work on the black market to help secure mutant rights and interests in nations that do not accept Krakoan sovereignty.
If we assume human governments will continue to work against Krakoa in covert ways, it’s fair to assume Krakoa’s foreign policy will also become more belligerent. Access to the Krakoan flower will force states to tolerate illegal actions by the mutant state because they will have no other choice.
Hendrix and Noland go on to note the way states with great oil wealth often empower bad leaders in their host states. While illiberal leaders may rise and trounce human rights or international law, it is very difficult to punish them for their “bad” behavior (Hendrix & Noland, 2012, p.54). Two oil rich countries, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, have demonstrated just how far a state can go in flaunting international norms without facing serious consequences. Venezuela has spent years funding armed rebel groups in South America (Goncalves, 2014) and the Saudi Arabian government has murdered journalists overseas.
While these actions were condemned by large swaths of the international community, neither act meaningfully impacted the relationship these oil-rich states have with the world. One could see a clear scenario where Apocalypse, Mr. Sinister, Sebastian Shaw or one of the many villains now home on Krakoa, committing illegal acts with few repercussions.
The research supports the conclusion that Krakoa will have a strong hand to play on the international stage that may result in more belligerent behavior as time progresses. Previous mutant homelands like Genosha were still made up of superpowered mutants capable of projecting their power around the globe, but there was less incentive to treat that country with respect by other states. Mutants were a hated group, and many countries tolerated organizations bent on their destruction because they had fewer incentives to reign in those organizations due to distrust for mutant kind common among their populations.
Now that mutants have a highly desirable resource not found in any other state, their ability to make increased demands on the international community is almost surely to occur.
Goncalves, M. (2014). “Conditional Convenience: Venezuelan Support for FARC Since Hugo Chávez” | The Yale Review of International Studies. [online] Yris.yira.org. Available at: http://yris.yira.org/essays/1251 [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].
Hendrix, Cullen S., and Marcus Noland (2014). Confronting the Curse: the economics and geopolitics of natural resource governance. Washington, DC: Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Hickman, J., Larraz, P., Silva, R., Gracia, M., Curiel, D., Benedetto, A. and Cowles, C. (2019). House of X / Powers of X. 1st ed. New York: Marvel.