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International relations theory
International relations portal

Geopolitics (from Greek γῆ "earth, land" and πολιτική politikḗ "politics") is the study of the effects of Earth's geography (human and physical) on politics and international relations.[1][2] While geopolitics usually refers to countries and relations between them, it may also focus on two other kinds of states: de facto independent states with limited international recognition and; relations between sub-national geopolitical entities, such as the federated states that make up a federation, confederation or a quasi-federal system.

At the level of international relations, geopolitics is a method of studying foreign policy to understand, explain and predict international political behavior through geographical variables. These include area studies, climate, topography, demography, natural resources, and applied science of the region being evaluated.[3]

Geopolitics focuses on political power linked to geographic space. In particular, territorial waters and land territory in correlation with diplomatic history. Topics of geopolitics include relations between the interests of international political actors and interests focused within an area, a space, or a geographical element; relations which create a geopolitical system.[4] "Critical geopolitics" deconstructs classical geopolitical theories, by showing their political/ideological functions for great powers.[5]

According to Christopher Gogwilt and other researchers, the term is currently being used to describe a broad spectrum of concepts, in a general sense used as "a synonym for international political relations", but more specifically "to imply the global structure of such relations", which builds on "early-twentieth-century term for a pseudoscience of political geography" and other pseudoscientific theories of historical and geographic determinism.[6][7][8][2]

Until around 2010, most discussions of geopolitics related to control over and access to oil and natural gas. From 2010 onwards, the geopolitics of renewable energy appeared received increasing attention.[9][10]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ China's Geography Problem
  • ✪ Brazil's Geography Problem
  • ✪ Geopolitics: A Brief Introduction
  • ✪ Iran's Geographic Challenge
  • ✪ How Geography Gave the US Power


This video was made possible by Squarespace. Build your custom website for 10% off by going to China is a country both blessed and cursed by geography. On one hand its land has allowed the country to grow to almost 1.4 billion people but on the other hand it really doesn’t have great geographical protection. The beginning of what most people call Chinese history often starts with the Yellow River Civilization and there’s a good reason why this settlement grew into the most populous country in the world—the floodplain of the Yellow River is some of the best agricultural land in the world. In fact, the entirety of eastern China is perfectly suited for Agriculture. This was and still is crucial to the country’s success. What’s more, this area is just warm and wet enough that farmers can do what is know as double-cropping. Once the main crop of rice is cultivated in June and July, another slightly less productive crop can be planted for October cultivation. This increases rice output by about 25% which means China can make more food using the same amount of land. Europe mostly relies on wheat to feed its population which only outputs 4 million calories of food per acre of farmland. Rice, on the other hand, grows 11 million calories worth per acre. It’s easy to see why there are so many people in China. But China does have its geographical challenges. To the south it borders three countries—Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. The borders between these three countries and China seem almost arbitrarily set because they sort of were. Vietnam’s was set after the Sino-French War, Laos’ was set following its involvement in the Vietnam war, and Myanmar’s was set following a small war with China in the 60s. None was naturally set by the environment; all were chosen arbitrarily by humans at war. These countries are not insignificant—combined they have nearly one million active military personnel while China, the much larger country, has just over two million. Significant conflict with any of these countries would not be a one-sided war. While China would have the technological advantage, any of these three countries would have a significant home-field advantage. Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar are all jungle countries—one of the most difficult environments for warfare. This was part of the reason why the Vietnam war lasted so long. It’s just so hard to move troops in the jungle so everything slows down. Without any geographical protection of its borders it would be significantly easier for Vietnam, Laos, or Myanmar to invade China than the reverse. But China does have an advantage elsewhere. China and India just aren’t good friends. They have border disputes, military conflicts, political differences, so its just hard for them to get along and that is why Tibet is so important. Tibet was historically its own empire; it was only in the last 300 years that China took it over. Tibetan people are ethnically different from the Han Chinese inhabiting China’s east. It just doesn’t make sense for Tibet to be part of China… except militarily. Only 0.2% of China’s population lives in Tibet which accounts nearly 13% of the country’s area. More people live in the inner four districts of Beijing than the entirety of Tibet. It’s just incredibly desolate, but it serves a purpose. If China didn’t rule Tibet, then India would. Maybe not formally, but there’s little chance that an independent Tibet would not be economically and culturally dominated by either India or China. It just doesn’t have enough power economically or militarily to resist, but in China’s view, it could not and cannot allow for an Indian Tibet. Indian rule of Tibet would mean that there would be no geographical protection between the populated area of China and India because Tibet is that geographical protection. Not only does Tibet extend China’s border to the Himalayas, it’s also an unpopulated area without the transportation infrastructure needed for an invading India to advance a large number of troops towards eastern China. But that also means that there’s not the transportation infrastructure necessary for China to advance towards India, but China is trying to change that. They recently opened the worlds highest railroad to Tibet, they’re building highways constantly, and they also opened a large airport in Nyingchi just miles away from the border. In the near term the goal of these projects is to further integrate Tibet into China. The government has all but failed at winning over the native Tibetan population, but they can change who lives in Tibet. Hundreds of thousands of Han Chinese have moved into Tibet and many more visit each year. The government knows that Tibet’s usefulness is diminished if when a foreign military shows up the population thinks that means liberation rather than invasion. But there’s another reason why China needs Tibet—water. That whole eastern zone of agricultural productivity exists because of all the water from Tibet. The Yellow and Yangtze Rivers—China’s two longest rivers—both get their water from Tibet and foreign control of the water supply of the country would, in the governments mind, strike a catastrophic blow to the country’s food security. If there were, hypothetically, a significant mountain range separating Tibet from eastern China, there’s a good chance it would still be independent. The water would still come from China and the mountains would act as the geographical protection that China desires. But to the North is another one of China’s assets—Mongolia. It’s an enormous, sparsely populated, friendly country. With the gobi desert and other desolate terrain, there’s just little chance that any modern land-based army could make it across with any efficiency. The supply lines would be enormously long and by the time they got to the Chinese border there would have been ample warning. But then again, who would want to invade? Mongolia’s only other neighbor is Russia which is a friendly ally of China both militarily and economically. China need not worry about its northern border until relations with Russia sour. But that leaves the eastern border. Now, you would think that this would be China’s safest border—the ocean—but you have to consider that powerful states lay just off China’s shores, the most powerful one being the US. The United States has a significant Pacific military presence with bases in South Korea, Japan, and Guam. It’s also a close ally with Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia meaning that, if a serious dispute with China occurred, the US would have no problem blockading China and cutting off its maritime access, and of course, China knows this. That’s why China has spent so much time, energy, and political capital to establish sovereignty in the South China Sea by building military bases and artificial islands. It knows that it needs these islands so it has sovereignty over the area so that it can reach the Pacific in case of war, but ironically, its actions in the area are souring its relations with the very nations that China needs on its side. The Philippines, for example, doesn’t have a bulletproof relationship with the US. While the two countries are allies, Philippine leadership has attempted to distance themselves from the US. If China hadn’t ruined its relationship with the Philippines over the South China Sea dispute it could’ve won them to their side which would allow China crucial access to the Pacific if the US attempted a naval blockade. China’s entire economy relies on exports so restrictions to access to the oceans would lead to economic ruin. With its enormous population, China also relies on the importation of food, most of which comes on ships. Without jobs or food, there’s a good chance that the population would rise up against the government and end the current regime. China didn’t want to be a global power spreading its influence to every continent until recently. It wanted to be the the dominant power in its region, Asia, but historically it kept its affairs within the region. It never colonized outside of Asia and for much of history it didn’t have a significant navy to project its power around the world. But that has changed just because China got so big. China is now of a size where it cannot support its population with its size alone. Self-sufficiency in food production has been a major aspect of China’s domestic policy for decades, but the country has found a way to move past that as its economy has grown. Africa has emerged almost as China’s China. It supplies the country that supplies the world. China has pumped enormous amounts of money into the continent in what some describe as a form of neocolonialism. Chinese state-backed corporations have bought huge amounts of land in Africa to mine minerals, drill for oil, and grow food. China now imports more food and oil than it exports. While that is a sign of the development of its economy, it also means that it is now reliant on foreign powers which is a vulnerable position for a country that is often at odds with some of those foreign powers. China doesn’t have bad geography, it has some of the best in the world which has allowed for it to grow into the largest country in the world, but as it grows into a more and more powerful and developed country, it needs to be cognizant of its vulnerabilities if the current regime wishes to continue. It’s clear that because of its geography, the country is in a more precarious position than some may think. If there were every a reason to go to war with China, the country is surrounded to the south and east by countries that would likely side with NATO powers. To the west and north, China is surrounded by countries and regions without the infrastructure to support China is a war. China is a nuclear power which means formal war with other superpowers is unlikely, but, if it ever were to happen, its hard to deny that its major disadvantage is geography. I just went through the process of building the new website for my other channel, Half as Interesting, which reminded me why I love Squarespace so much. All in, it took me about an hour to make this simple website and the hosting fees are very reasonable. For whatever you do, whether its a YouTube channel, a business, or anything else, having a professional web presence is incredibly important because that’s how people find you. Squarespace makes this so easy with their beautiful templates created by world-class designers, powerful website builder, and 24/7 award-winning customer service. No matter what you do, build your web presence for 10% off with Squarespace by going to Squarespace makes this show possible so please at least go check them out over at Thanks for watching and I’ll see you in two weeks for another Wendover Productions video.


United States

Alfred Thayer Mahan and sea power

Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840–1914), a frequent commentator on world naval strategic and diplomatic affairs, believed that national greatness was inextricably associated with the sea—and particularly with its commercial use in peace and its control in war. Mahan's theoretical framework came from Antoine-Henri Jomini, and emphasized that strategic locations (such as chokepoints, canals, and coaling stations), as well as quantifiable levels of fighting power in a fleet, were conducive to control over the sea. He proposed six conditions required for a nation to have sea power:

  1. Advantageous geographical position;
  2. Serviceable coastlines, abundant natural resources, and favorable climate;
  3. Extent of territory
  4. Population large enough to defend its territory;
  5. Society with an aptitude for the sea and commercial enterprise; and
  6. Government with the influence and inclination to dominate the sea.[11]

Mahan distinguished a key region of the world in the Eurasian context, namely, the Central Zone of Asia lying between 30° and 40° north and stretching from Asia Minor to Japan.[12] In this zone independent countries still survived – Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan, China, and Japan. Mahan regarded those countries, located between Britain and Russia, as if between "Scylla and Charybdis". Of the two monsters – Britain and Russia – it was the latter that Mahan considered more threatening to the fate of Central Asia. Mahan was impressed by Russia's transcontinental size and strategically favorable position for southward expansion. Therefore, he found it necessary for the Anglo-Saxon "sea power" to resist Russia.[13]

Homer Lea

Homer Lea in The Day of the Saxon (1912) described that the entire Anglo-Saxon race faced a threat from German (Teuton), Russian (Slav), and Japanese expansionism: The "fatal" relationship of Russia, Japan, and Germany "has now assumed through the urgency of natural forces a coalition directed against the survival of Saxon supremacy." It is "a dreadful Dreibund".[14] Lea believed that while Japan moved against Far East and Russia against India, the Germans would strike at England, the center of the British Empire. He thought the Anglo-Saxons faced certain disaster from their militant opponents.

Kissinger, Brzezinski and the Grand Chessboard

World map with the concepts of Heartland and Rimland applied
World map with the concepts of Heartland and Rimland applied

Two famous Security Advisers from the cold war period, Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, argued to continue the United States geopolitical focus on Eurasia and, particularly on Russia, despite the  dissolution of the USSR and the end of the Cold War. Both continued their influence on geopolitics after the end of the Cold War,[15] writing books on the subject in the 1990s—Diplomacy (Kissinger 1994) and The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives.[16] The Anglo-American classical geopolitical theories were revived.

Kissinger argued against the belief that with the dissolution of the USSR, hostile intentions had come to an end and traditional foreign policy considerations no longer applied. "They would argue … that Russia, regardless of who govern it, sits astride the territory Halford Mackinder called the geopolitical heartland, and is the heir to one of the most potent imperial traditions." Therefore the United States must "maintain the global balance of power vis-à-vis the country with a long history of expansionism."[17]

After Russia, the second geopolitical threat remained was Germany and, as Mackinder had feared ninety years ago, its partnership with Russia. During the Cold War, Kissinger argues, both sides of the Atlantic recognized that, "unless America is organically involved in Europe, it would be obliged to involve itself later under circumstances far less favorable to both sides of the Atlantic. That is even more true today. Germany has become so strong that existing European institutions cannot by themselves strike a balance between Germany and its European partners. Nor can Europe, even with Germany, manage by itself […] Russia." Thus Kissinger belied it is in no country's interest that Germany and Russia should fixate on each other as a principal partner. They would raise fears of condominium.[clarification needed] Without America, Britain and France cannot cope with Germany and Russia; and "without Europe, America could turn … into an island off the shores of Eurasia."[18]

Spykman's vision of Eurasia was strongly confirmed: "Geopolitically, America is an island off the shores of the large landmass of Eurasia, whose resources and population far exceed those of the United States. The domination by a single power of either of Eurasia's two principal spheres—Europe and Asia—remains a good definition of strategic danger for America. Cold War or no Cold War. For such a grouping would have the capacity to outstrip America economically and, in the end, militarily. That danger would have to be resisted even were the dominant power apparently benevolent, for if the intentions ever changed, America would find itself with a grossly diminished capacity for effective resistance and a growing inability to shape events."[19] The main interest of the American leaders is maintaining the balance of power in Eurasia[20]

Having converted from ideologist into geopolitician, Kissinger in retrospect interpreted the Cold War in geopolitical terms—an approach not characteristic for his works during the Cold War. Now, however, he stressed on the beginning of the Cold War: "The objective of moral opposition to Communism had merged with the geopolitical task of containing the Soviet expansion."[21] Nixon, he added, was geopolitical rather than ideological cold warrior.[22]

Three years after Kissinger's Diplomacy, Brzezinski followed suit, launching The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives and, after three more years, The Geostrategic Triad: Living with China, Europe, and Russia. The Grand Chessboard described the American triumph in the Cold War in terms of control over Eurasia: for the first time ever, a "non-Eurasian" power had emerged as a key arbiter of "Eurasian" power relations.[23] The book states its purpose: "The formulation of a comprehensive and integrated Eurasian geostrategy is therefore the purpose of this book."[24] Although the power configuration underwent a revolutionary change, Brzezinski confirmed three years later, Eurasia was still a megacontinent.[25] Like Spykman, Brzezinski acknowledges that: "Cumulatively, Eurasia's power vastly overshadows America's."[23]

In classical Spykman terms, Brzezinski formulized his geostrategic "chessboard" doctrine of Eurasia, which aims to prevent the unification of this megacontinent.

"Europe and Asia are politically and economically powerful…. It follows that… American foreign policy must…employ its influence in Eurasia in a manner that creates a stable continental equilibrium, with the United States as the political arbiter.… Eurasia is thus the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played, and that struggle involves geo- strategy – the strategic management of geopolitical interests…. But in the meantime it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America… For America the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…and America's global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained."[26]

United Kingdom

Emil Reich

The Austro-Hungarian historian Emil Reich (1854–1910) is considered to be the first having coined the acceptance in English[27] as early as 1902 and later published in England in 1904 in his book Foundations of Modern Europe.[28]

Mackinder and the Heartland theory

Sir Halford Mackinder's Heartland concept showing the situation of the "pivot area" established in the Theory of the Heartland. He later revised it to mark Northern Eurasia as a pivot while keeping area marked above as Heartland.
Sir Halford Mackinder's Heartland concept showing the situation of the "pivot area" established in the Theory of the Heartland. He later revised it to mark Northern Eurasia as a pivot while keeping area marked above as Heartland.

Sir Halford Mackinder's Heartland Theory initially received little attention outside geography, but some thinkers would claim that it subsequently influenced the foreign policies of world powers.[29] Those scholars who look to MacKinder through critical lenses accept him as an organic strategist who tried to build a foreign policy vision for Britain with his Eurocentric analysis of historical geography.[30] His formulation of the Heartland Theory was set out in his article entitled "The Geographical Pivot of History", published in England in 1904. Mackinder's doctrine of geopolitics 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. He saw navy as a basis of Colombian era empire (roughly from 1492 to the 19th century), and predicted the 20th century to be domain of land power. The Heartland theory hypothesized a huge empire being brought into existence in the Heartland—which wouldn't need to use coastal or transoceanic transport to remain coherent. The basic notions of Mackinder's doctrine involve considering the geography of the Earth as being divided into two sections: the World Island or Core, comprising Eurasia and Africa; and the Peripheral "islands", including the Americas, Australia, Japan, 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.

Mackinder posited that 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, and could locate its own industries in a region further inland than the Periphery (so they would have a longer struggle reaching them, and would face a well-stocked industrial bastion). Mackinder called this region the Heartland. It essentially comprised Central and Eastern Europe: Ukraine, Western Russia, and Mitteleuropa.[31] The Heartland contained the grain reserves of Ukraine, and many other natural resources. Mackinder's notion of geopolitics was summed up when he said:

Who rules Central and Eastern Europe commands the Heartland. Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island. Who rules the World-Island commands the World.

Nicholas J. Spykman is both a follower and critic of geostrategists Alfred Mahan, and Halford Mackinder. His work is based on assumptions similar to Mackinder's,[32] including the unity of world politics and the world sea. He extends this to include the unity of the air. Spykman adopts Mackinder's divisions of the world, renaming some:

  1. The Heartland;
  2. The Rimland (analogous to Mackinder's "inner or marginal crescent" also an intermediate region, lying between the Heartland and the marginal sea powers); and
  3. The Offshore Islands & Continents (Mackinder's "outer or insular crescent").[33]

Under Spykman's theory, a Rimland separates the Heartland from ports that are usable throughout the year (that is, not frozen up during winter). Spykman suggested this required that attempts by Heartland nations (particularly Russia) to conquer ports in the Rimland must be prevented. Spykman modified Mackinder's formula on the relationship between the Heartland and the Rimland (or the inner crescent), claiming that "Who controls the rimland rules Eurasia. Who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world." This theory can be traced in the origins of Containment, a U.S. policy on preventing the spread of Soviet influence after World War II (see also Truman Doctrine).

Another famous follower of Mackinder was Karl Haushofer who called Mackinder's Geographical Pivot of History a "genius' scientific tractate."[34] He commented on it: "Never have I seen anything greater than those few pages of geopolitical masterwork."[35] Mackinder located his Pivot, in the words of Haushofer, on "one of the first solid, geopolitically and geographically irreproachable maps, presented to one of the earliest scientific forums of the planet – the Royal Geographic Society in London"[36] Haushofer adopted both Mackinder's Heartland thesis and his view of the Russian-German alliance – powers that Mackinder saw as the major contenders for control of Eurasia in the twentieth century. Following Mackinder he suggested an alliance with the Soviet Union and, advancing a step beyond Mackinder, added Japan to his design of the Eurasian Bloc.[37]

In 2004, at the centenary of The Geographical Pivot of History, famous Historian Paul Kennedy wrote: "Right now with hundreds of thousands of US troops in the Eurasian rimlands and with administration constantly explaining why it has to stay the course, it looks as if Washington is taking seriously Mackinder's injunction to ensure control of the geographical pivot of history."[38]

Division of the world according to Haushofer's Pan-Regions Doctrine
Division of the world according to Haushofer's Pan-Regions Doctrine


Friedrich Ratzel

Friedrich Ratzel (1844–1904), influenced by thinkers such as Darwin and zoologist Ernst Heinrich Haeckel, contributed to 'Geopolitik' by the expansion on the biological conception of geography, without a static conception of borders. Positing that states are organic and growing, with borders representing only a temporary stop in their movement, he held that the expanse of a state's borders is a reflection of the health of the nation—meaning that static countries are in decline. Ratzel published several papers, among which was the essay "Lebensraum" (1901) concerning biogeography. Ratzel created a foundation for the German variant of geopolitics, geopolitik. Influenced by the American geostrategist Alfred Thayer Mahan, Ratzel wrote of aspirations for German naval reach, agreeing that sea power was self-sustaining, as the profit from trade would pay for the merchant marine, unlike land power.

The geopolitical theory of Ratzel has been criticized as being too sweeping, and his interpretation of human history and geography being too simple and mechanistic. Critically, he also underestimated the importance of social organization in the development of power.[39]

The association of German Geopolitik with Nazism

After World War I, the thoughts of Rudolf Kjellén and Ratzel were picked up and extended by a number of German authors such as Karl Haushofer (1869–1946), Erich Obst, Hermann Lautensach and Otto Maull. In 1923, Karl Haushofer founded the Zeitschrift für Geopolitik (Journal for Geopolitics), which was later used in the propaganda of Nazi Germany. The key concepts of Haushofer's Geopolitik were Lebensraum, autarky, pan-regions, and organic borders. States have, Haushofer argued, an undeniable right to seek natural borders which would guarantee autarky.

Haushofer's influence within the Nazi Party has recently been challenged,[40] given that Haushofer failed to incorporate the Nazis' racial ideology into his work. Popular views of the role of geopolitics in the Nazi Third Reich suggest a fundamental significance on the part of the geo-politicians in the ideological orientation of the Nazi state. Bassin (1987) reveals that these popular views are in important ways misleading and incorrect.

Despite the numerous similarities and affinities between the two doctrines, geopolitics was always held suspect by the National Socialist ideologists. This was understandable, for the underlying philosophical orientation of geopolitics did not comply with that of National Socialism. Geopolitics shared Ratzel's scientific materialism and geographic determinism, and held that human society was determined by external influences—in the face of which qualities held innately by individuals or groups were of reduced or no significance. National Socialism rejected in principle both materialism and determinism and also elevated innate human qualities, in the form of a hypothesized 'racial character,' to the factor of greatest significance in the constitution of human society. These differences led after 1933 to friction and ultimately to open denunciation of geopolitics by Nazi ideologues.[41] Nevertheless, German Geopolitik was discredited by its (mis)use in Nazi expansionist policy of World War II and has never achieved standing comparable to the pre-war period.

The resultant negative association, particularly in U.S. academic circles, between classical geopolitics and Nazi or imperialist ideology, is based on loose justifications. This has been observed in particular by critics of contemporary academic geography, and proponents of a "neo"-classical geopolitics in particular. These include Haverluk et al., who argue that the stigmatization of geopolitics in academia is unhelpful as geopolitics as a field of positivist inquiry maintains potential in researching and resolving topical, often politicized issues such as conflict resolution and prevention, and mitigating climate change.[42]

Disciplinary differences in perspectives

Negative associations with the term "geopolitics" and its practical application stemming from its association with World War II and pre-World War II German scholars and students of Geopolitics are largely specific to the field of academic Geography, and especially sub-disciplines of Human Geography such as Political Geography. However, this negative association is not as strong in disciplines such as History or Political Science, which make use of geopolitical concepts. Classical Geopolitics forms an important element of analysis for Military History as well as for subdisciplines of Political Science such as International Relations and Security Studies. This difference in disciplinary perspectives is addressed by Bert Chapman in Geopolitics: A Guide To the Issues, in which Chapman makes note that academic and professional International Relations journals are more amenable to the study and analysis of Geopolitics, and in particular Classical Geopolitics, than contemporary academic journals in the field of Political Geography.[43]

In disciplines outside Geography, Geopolitics is not negatively viewed (as it often is among academic geographers such as Carolyn Gallaher or Klaus Dodds) as a tool of Imperialism or associated with Nazism, but rather viewed as a valid and consistent manner of assessing major international geopolitical circumstances and events, not necessarily related to armed conflict or military operations.


French geopolitical doctrines broadly opposed to German Geopolitik and reject the idea of a fixed geography. French geography is focused on the evolution of polymorphic territories being the result of mankind's actions. It also relies on the consideration of long time periods through a refusal to take specific events into account. This method has been theorized by Professor Lacoste according to three principles: Representation; Diachronie; and Diatopie.

In The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu outlined the view that man and societies are influenced by climate. He believed that hotter climates create hot-tempered people and colder climates aloof people, whereas the mild climate of France is ideal for political systems. Considered as one of the founders of French geopolitics, Élisée Reclus, is the author of a book considered as a reference in modern geography (Nouvelle Géographie universelle). Alike Ratzel, he considers geography through a global vision. However, in complete opposition to Ratzel's vision, Reclus considers geography not to be unchanging; it is supposed to evolve commensurately to the development of human society. His marginal political views resulted in his rejection by academia.

French geographer and geopolitician Jacques Ancel is considered to be the first theoretician of geopolitics in France, and gave a notable series of lectures at the European Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Paris and published Géopolitique in 1936. Like Reclus, Ancel rejects German determinist views on geopolitics (including Haushofer's doctrines).

Braudel's broad view used insights from other social sciences, employed the concept of the longue durée, and downplayed the importance of specific events. This method was inspired by the French geographer Paul Vidal de la Blache (who in turn was influenced by German thought, particularly that of Friedrich Ratzel whom he had met in Germany). Braudel's method was to analyse the interdependence between individuals and their environment.[44] Vidalian geopolitics is based on varied forms of cartography and on possibilism (founded on a societal approach of geography—i.e. on the principle of spaces polymorphic faces depending from many factors among them mankind, culture, and ideas) as opposed to determinism.

Due to the influence of German Geopolitik on French geopolitics, the latter were for a long time banished from academic works. In the mid-1970s, Yves Lacoste—a French geographer who was directly inspired by Ancel, Braudel and Vidal de la Blache—wrote La géographie, ça sert d'abord à faire la guerre (Geography first use is war) in 1976. This book—which is very famous in France—symbolizes the birth of this new school of geopolitics (if not so far the first French school of geopolitics as Ancel was very isolated in the 1930s–40s). Initially linked with communist party evolved to a less liberal approach. At the end of the 1980s he founded the Institut Français de Géopolitique (French Institute for Geopolitics) that publishes the Hérodote revue. While rejecting the generalizations and broad abstractions employed by the German and Anglo-American traditions (and the new geographers), this school does focus on spatial dimension of geopolitics affairs on different levels of analysis. This approach emphazises the importance of multi-level (or multi-scales) analysis and maps at the opposite of critical geopolitics which avoid such tools. Lacoste proposed that every conflict (both local or global) can be considered from a perspective grounded in three assumptions:

  1. Representation: Each group or individuals is the product of an education and is characterized by specific representations of the world or others groups or individuals. Thus, basic societal beliefs are grounded in their ethnicity or specific location. The study of representation is a common point with the more contemporary critical geopolitics. Both are connected with the work of Henri Lefebvre (La production de l'espace, first published in 1974)
  2. Diachronie. Conducting an historical analysis confronting "long periods" and short periods as the prominent French historian Fernand Braudel suggested.
  3. Diatopie: Conducting a cartographic survey through a multiscale mapping.

Connected with this stream, and former member of Hérodote editorial board, the French geographer Michel Foucher developed a long term analysis of international borders. He coined various neologism among them: Horogenesis: Neologism that describes the concept of studying the birth of borders, Dyade: border shared by two neighbouring states (for instance US territory has two terrestrial dyades : one with Canada and one with Mexico). The main book of this searcher "Fronts et frontières" (Fronts and borders) first published in 1991, without equivalent remains as of yet untranslated in English. Michel Foucher is an expert of the African Union for borders affairs.

More or less connected with this school, Stéphane Rosière can be quoted as the editor in Chief of the online journal L'Espace politique,[45] this journal created in 2007 became the most prominent French journal of political geography and Geopolitics with Hérodote.

A much more conservative stream is personified by François Thual. Thual was a French expert in geopolitics, and a former official of the Ministry of Civil Defence. Thual taught geopolitics of the religions at the French War College, and has written thirty books devoted mainly to geopolitical method and its application to various parts of the world. He is particularly interested in the Orthodox, Shiite, and Buddhist religions, and in troubled regions like the Caucasus. Connected with F. Thual, Aymeric Chauprade, former professor of geopolitics at the French War College and now member of the extreme-right party "Front national", subscribes to a supposed "new" French school of geopolitics which advocates above all a return to realpolitik and "clash of civilization" (Huntington). The thought of this school is expressed through the French Review of Geopolitics (headed by Chauprade) and the International Academy of Geopolitics. Chauprade is a supporter of a Europe of nations, he advocates a European Union excluding Turkey, and a policy of compromise with Russia (in the frame of a Eurasian alliance which is en vogue among European extreme-right politists) and supports the idea of a multipolar world—including a balanced relationship between China and the U.S.

French philosopher Michel Foucault's dispositif introduced for the purpose of biopolitical research was also adopted in the field of geopolitical thought where it now plays a central role.[46]


In the 1990s a senior researcher at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vadim Tsymbursky  [ ru ] (1957-2009), coined the term "island-Russia" and developed the "Great Limitrophe" concept.

Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov (retired), a Russian geopolitics specialist of the early 21st century, headed the Academy of Geopolitical Problems (Russian: Академия геополитических проблем), which analyzes the international and domestic situations and develops geopolitical doctrine. Earlier, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov headed the Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation.

Vladimir Karyakin, Leading Researcher at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies [ru], has proposed the term "geopolitics of the third wave".[47][clarification needed]

Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian fascist and nationalist who has developed a close relationship with Russia's Academy of the General Staff wrote "The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia" in 1997, which has had a large influence within the Russian military, police, and foreign policy elites.[48]

See also


  1. ^ Devetak et al. (eds), An Introduction to International Relations, 2012, p. 492.
  2. ^ a b Overland, Indra (2015). "Future Petroleum Geopolitics: Consequences of Climate Policy and Unconventional Oil and Gas". Handbook of Clean Energy Systems. pp. 3517–3544. doi:10.1002/9781118991978.hces203. ISBN 9781118991978 – via Researchgate.
  3. ^ Evans, G & Newnham, J., (1998), "The Penguin Dictionary of International relations", Penguin Books, London, UK. ISBN 0-14-051397-3
  4. ^ Vladimir Toncea, 2006, "Geopolitical evolution of borders in Danube Basin"
  5. ^ Mehmet Akif Okur, "Classical Texts Of the Geopolitics and the "Heart Of Eurasia", Journal of Turkish World Studies, XIV/2, pp.76-90
  6. ^ Gogwilt, Christopher (2000). The Fiction of Geopolitics. Stanford University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0804737319. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  7. ^ Jason Dittmer, Jo Shar (2014). Geopolitics: An Introductory Reader. Routledge. p. 64.
  8. ^ Deudney, Daniel. "Geopolitics as Theory: Historical Security Materialism" (PDF).
  9. ^ Overland, Indra (2019-03-01). "The geopolitics of renewable energy: Debunking four emerging myths". Energy Research & Social Science. 49: 36–40. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2018.10.018. ISSN 2214-6296.
  10. ^ Sandalow, David; Overland, Indra; O'Sullivan, Meghan (2017-06-26). "The Geopolitics of Renewable Energy". Rochester, NY.
  11. ^ Sea Power Archived March 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Problem of Asia and the Effects upon International Politics, (Washington and London: Kennikat Press, 1920, p 26-27).
  13. ^ Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Problem of Asia and the Effects upon International Politics, (Washington and London: Kennikat Press, 1920, p 25-27, 167-8, 172).
  14. ^ The Day of the Saxon, (New York & London: Harper and Brothers, 1912, p 122).
  15. ^ Mehmet Akif Okur, "Classical Texts Of the Geopolitics and the "Heart Of Eurasia", Journal of Turkish World Studies, XIV/2, pp.83-85
  16. ^ (Perseus Books, New York, 1997)
  17. ^ Kissinger, Henry, (1994). Diplomacy, New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 814
  18. ^ Kissinger, Henry, (1994). Diplomacy, New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 821-2
  19. ^ Kissinger, Henry, (1994). Diplomacy, New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 813
  20. ^ Kissinger, Henry, (1994). Diplomacy, New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 810
  21. ^ Kissinger, Henry, (1994). Diplomacy, New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 804
  22. ^ Kissinger, Henry, (1994). Diplomacy, New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 703-732
  23. ^ a b Zbignew Brzezinski, (1997). The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Perseus Books, New York, p. 31
  24. ^ Zbignew Brzezinski, (1997). The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Perseus Books, New York, p. XIV
  25. ^ Zbignew Brzezinski, (2000). The Geostrategic Triad: Living with China, Europe, and Russia, The CSIS Books, Washington, p. 55
  26. ^ Zbignew Brzezinski, (1997). The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Perseus Books, New York, pp. XIII-XIV, 30-31
  27. ^ Christopher Lloyd GoGwilt, "The Geopolitical Image: Imperialism, Anarchism, and the Hypothesis of Culture in the Formation of Geopolitics", Modernism/modernity, Volume 5, Number 3, September 1998, pp. 49–70 et The Fiction of Geopolitics: Afterimages of Culture, from Wilkie Collins to Alfred Hitchcock. Stanford. Stanford University Press, 2000, pp. 35–36.
  28. ^ Foundations of Modern Europe, London, George Bell, 1904, 284 pages
  29. ^ Sloan, G.R. "Sir Halford Mackinder: the heartland theory then and now", in Gray C S and Sloan G.R., Geopolitics, geography and strategy. London: Frank Cass, pp. 15–38.
  30. ^ Mehmet Akif Okur, "Classical Texts Of the Geopolitics and the "Heart Of Eurasia", Journal of Turkish World Studies, XIV/2, pp.75-80
  31. ^ See map in Polelle, Raising Cartographic Consciousness, p. 57.
  32. ^ Mehmet Akif Okur, "Classical Texts Of the Geopolitics and the "Heart Of Eurasia", Journal of Turkish World Studies, XIV/2, pp.81-83
  33. ^ See map in Polelle, Raising Cartographic Consciousness, p. 118.
  34. ^ Karl Haushofer, Pan-Ideas in Geopolitics, 1931, (tr. Usachev I. G., Mysl', Moscow, 2004, p 312).
  35. ^ Michael Heffernan, The Meaning of Europe: Geography and Geopolitics, (London & New York: Arnold, 1998, p 134).
  36. ^ Karl Haushofer, "Pan-Ideas in Geopolitics", 1931, (tr. Usachev I. G., Mysl', Moscow, 2004, p 312).
  37. ^ Karl Haushofer, "The Continental Bloc: Mittel Europa – Eurasia – Japan," 1941, (tr. Usachev I. G., Mysl', Moscow, 2004).
  38. ^ cited in Klaus Dodds & James Sidaway, "Halford Mackinder and the 'Geographical Pivot of History': a Centennial Retrospective," Geographical Journal, 170/4, (2004): p 292.
  39. ^ O Tuathail (2006) page 20
  40. ^ O'Tuathail, 1996
  41. ^ Mark Bassin, "Race Contra Space: The Conflict Between German 'Geopolitik' and National Socialism," Political Geography Quarterly 1987 6(2): 115-134,
  42. ^ Haverluk, Terrence W.; Beauchemin, Kevin M.; Mueller, Brandon A. (2014). "The Three Critical Flaws of Critical Geopolitics: Towards a Neo-Classical Geopolitics". Geopolitics. 19: 19–39. doi:10.1080/14650045.2013.803192.
  43. ^ Geopolitics: A Guide to the Issues - Bert Chapman - Google Books
  44. ^ Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II La part du milieu (vol. 1) ISBN 2-253-06168-9
  45. ^ [1]
  46. ^ Ingram, Alan (2017). "Art, Geopolitics and Metapolitics at Tate Galleries London" (PDF). Geopolitics. 22 (3): 719–739. doi:10.1080/14650045.2016.1263186.
  47. ^ See: Kariakin, V. V. (2013). Geopolitika Tretiei Volny: Transformatsiia Mira v Epokhu Postmoderna [Geopolitics of the third wave : The transformation of the world in the postmodern epoch] (in Russian). Moscow: Granitsa. ISBN 9785946915632.
  48. ^ "The Unlikely Origins of Russia's Manifest Destiny". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2017-10-23.


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External links

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