Definitions

geopolitics

geopolitics

[jee-oh-pol-i-tiks]
geopolitics, method of political analysis, popular in Central Europe during the first half of the 20th cent., that emphasized the role played by geography in international relations. Geopolitical theorists stress that natural political boundaries and access to important waterways are vital to a nation's survival. The term was first used (1916) by Rudolf Kjeflen, a Swedish political scientist, and was later borrowed by Karl Haushofer, a German geographer and follower of Friedrich Ratzel. Haushofer founded (1922) the Institute of Geopolitics in Munich, from which he proceeded to publicize geopolitical ideas, including Sir Walford J. Mackinder's theory of a European "heartland" central to world domination. Haushofer's writings found favor with the Nazi leadership, and his ideas were used to justify German expansion during the Nazi era. Many expansionist justifications, including the American "manifest destiny" as well as the German Lebensraum, are based on geopolitical considerations. Geopolitics is different from political geography, a branch of geography concerned with the relationship between politics and the environment.

See A. Dorpalen, The World of General Haushofer (1942, repr. 1966); W. A. D. Jackson, ed., Politics and Geographic Relationships (2d ed. 1971); S. B. Cohen, Geography and Politics in a World Divided (2d ed. 1973); P. O'Sullivan, Geopolitics (1986).

The study of geographic influences on power relationships in international politics. Geopolitical theorists have sought to demonstrate the importance in the determination of foreign policies of considerations such as the acquisition of natural boundaries, access to important sea routes, and the control of strategically important land areas. The term was first employed in the early 20th century by the Swedish political scientist Rudolph Kjellén (1864–1922). Geopolitical factors have become less significant in the foreign policies of states because of improvements in communications and transportation.

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Geopolitics is the study that analyzes geography, history and social science with reference to spatial politics and patterns at various scales (ranging from the level of the state to international). It examines the political, economic (see geoeconomics) and strategic significance of geography, where geography is defined in terms of the location, size, function, and relationships of places and resources.

The term was coined by Rudolf Kjellén, a Swedish political scientist, at the beginning of the 20th century. Kjellén was inspired by the German geographer Friedrich Ratzel, who published his book Politische Geographie (political geography) in 1897, popularized in English by American diplomat Robert Strausz-Hupé, a faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania...

Halford Mackinder

The doctrine of Geopolitics gained attention largely through the work of Sir Halford Mackinder in England and his formulation of the Heartland Theory in 1904. The doctrine involved concepts diametrically opposed to the notion of Alfred Thayer Mahan about the significance of navies (he coined the term sea power) in world conflict. The Heartland theory hypothesized the possibility for a huge empire being brought into existence in the Heartland, which wouldn't need to use coastal or transoceanic transport to supply its military industrial complex but would instead use railways, and that this empire couldn't be defeated by all the rest of the world against it.

The basic notions of Mackinder's doctrine involve considering the geography of the Earth as being divided into two sections, the World Island, comprising Eurasia and Africa; and the Periphery, including the Americas, the British Isles, and Oceania. Not only was the Periphery noticeably smaller than the World Island, it necessarily required much sea transport to function at the technological level of the World Island, which contained sufficient natural resources for a developed economy. Also, the industrial centers of the Periphery were necessarily located in widely separated locations. The World Island could send its navy to destroy each one of them in turn. It could locate its own industries in a region further inland than the Periphery could,so they would have a longer struggle reaching them, and would be facing a well-stocked industrial bastion. This region Mackinder termed the Heartland. It essentially comprised Ukraine, Western Russia, and Mitteleuropa. The Heartland contained the grain reserves of Ukraine, and many other natural resources. Mackinder's notion of geopolitics can be summed up in his saying "Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland. Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island. Who rules the World-Island commands the World." His doctrine was influential during the World Wars and the Cold War, for Germany and later Russia each made territorial strides toward the Heartland.

Mackinder's geopolitical theory has been criticised as being too sweeping, his interpretation of human history and geography too simple and mechanistic. In his analysis of the importance of mobility, and the move from sea to rail transport, he failed to predict the revolutionary impact of air power. Critically also he underestimated the importance of social organization in the development of power. The theories of Mackinder fall into the category of geo-strategy which is no more than a single sub-component within the broader study of contemporary Geopolitics and Geopolitical change.

Other theories

After World War I, Kjellen's thoughts and the term were picked up and extended by a number of scientists: in Germany by Karl Haushofer, Erich Obst, Hermann Lautensach and Otto Maull; in England, Mackinder and James Fairgrieve; in France Vidal de la Blache and Camille Vallaux. In 1923 Karl Haushofer founded the Zeitschrift für Geopolitik (Journal for Geopolitics), which developed as a propaganda organ for Nazi Germany. However, more recently Haushofer's influence within the Nazi Party has been questioned (O'Tuathail, 1996) since Haushofer failed to incorporate the Nazis' racial ideology into his work.

Following World War II, the study of Geopolitics and, by association Political Geography, was blackballed by most universities. It started to return from the 1980's onwards, firstly through the study of Critical Geopolitics, and later with the publication of an academic journal, initially known as Geopolitics and International Boundaries and published by Frank Cass, later to be taken over by Taylor & Francis (Routledge) under the name, Geopolitics . This is now published as a peer reviewed quarterly journal and is edited by David Newman at Ben Gurion University in Israel, and John A Agnew at UCLA in the United States.

Anton Zischka published Afrika, Europas Gemeinschaftsaufgabe Nr. 1 (Africa, Complement of Europe) in 1952, where he proposed a kind of North–South Empire, from Stockholm to Johannesburg.

Since then, the word geopolitics has been applied to other theories, most notably the notion of the Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington. In a peaceable world, neither sea lanes nor surface transport are threatened; hence all countries are effectively close enough to one another physically. It is in the realm of the political ideas, workings, and cultures that there are differences, and the term has shifted more towards this arena, especially in its popular usage. Traditionally, it strictly applies to geography's effect on politics.

Definitions

The study of geopolitics has undergone a major renaissance during the past decade. Addressing a gap in the published periodical literature, this journal seeks to explore the theoretical implications of contemporary geopolitics and geopolitical change with particular reference to territorial problems and issues of state sovereignty . Multidisciplinary in its scope, Geopolitics includes all aspects of the social sciences with particular emphasis on political geography, international relations, the territorial aspects of political science and international law. The journal seeks to maintain a healthy balance between systemic and regional analysis. (Geopolitics Journal home page - http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/14650045.asp)

In the abstract, geopolitics traditionally indicates the links and causal relationships between political power and geographic space; in concrete terms it is often seen as a body of thought assaying specific strategic prescriptions based on the relative importance of land power and sea power in world history... The geopolitical tradition had some consistent concerns, like the geopolitical correlates of power in world politics, the identification of international core areas, and the relationships between naval and terrestrial capabilities.—Oyvind Osterud, "The Uses and Abuses of Geopolitics", Journal of Peace Research, no. 2, 1988, p. 192

By geopolitical, I mean an approach that pays attention to the requirements of equilibrium. Henry Kissinger in Colin S Gray, G R Sloan. Geopolitics, Geography, and Strategy. Portland: Frank Cass Publishers, 1999.

Geopolitics is studying geopolitical systems. The geopolitical system is, in my opinion, the ensemble of relations between the interests of international political actors, interests focused to an area, space, geographical element or ways.—Vladimir Toncea, Geopolitical evolution of borders in Danube Basin, PhD 2006.

Geopolitics as a branch of political geography is the study of reciprocal relations between geography, politics and power and also the intractions arising from combination of them with each other. According to this definition, geopolitics is a scientific discipline and has a basic science nature.(Hafeznia, M.R. 2006. Principles and Concepts of Geopolitics. Popoli Publications: Iran, pp 37–39.)

Institutions for geopolitics

An increasing number of (inter)national institutions exist that work on (aspects of) Geopolitics:

  • International Centre for Geopolitical Studies (I.C.G.S.) located in Geneva (Switzerland):

Founded in June 2001, I.C.G.S. has the objective of reinforcing international stability and security through the promotion of a better understanding of the causes of conflicts and tensions. As such, I.C.G.S. engages in analysis and studies of world geopolitical issues in order to facilitate a more complex reading of the evolutions taking place in contemporary international relations. It organises a successful annual Summer University Course Geopolitical Analysis of International Relations (two weeks in July each year).

  • Institut Français de Géopolitique (I.F.G.) located in Paris (France):

Created in 1989 out of the journal 'Hérodote. Revue de Géographie et de Géopolitique', the I.F.G. is embedded within the University Paris VIII. It offers a Master in Geopolitics and a Ph.D.

  • Instytut Geopolityki (Institute of Geopolitics) located in Czestochowa (Poland).

See also

Notes

References

  • Ankerl, Guy Global communication without universal civilization. Geneva: INU Press.
  • O'Loughlin, John / Heske, Henning. "From 'Geopolitik' to 'Geopolitique': Converting a Discipline for War to a Discipline for Peace". In: Kliot, N. and Waterman, S. (ed.): The Political Geography of Conflict and Peace. London: Belhaven Press, 1991
  • O'Tuathail, Gearoid, et al. (1998). The Geopolitics Reader. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-16271-8.
  • Spang, Christian W.: “Karl Haushofer Re-examined—Geopolitics as a Factor within Japanese-German Rapprochement in the Inter-War Years?”, in: C. W. Spang, R.-H. Wippich (eds.), Japanese-German Relations, 1895–1945. War, Diplomacy and Public Opinion, London, 2006, pp. 139–157.
  • Diamond, Jared, Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997)
  • Amineh, Parvizi M. and Henk Houweling, Central Eurasia in Global Politics, (London, Leiden: Brill Academic Publishing. Introduction and Chapeter 1.

External links

  • Theory Talks frequently publishes interviews with geopolitics scholars]

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