Three important literary pieces clearly shows the development in the idea of geopolitics in the world. These important works are: Halford Mackinder’s “The Geographical Pivot of History”, Thomas Barnett’s “The Pentagon’s New Map, and Samuel Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations. ” An analysis of these aforementioned writings express that the concept of geopolitics as well as the idea of power that comes with it tend to change as time goes by. Moreover, the actors that are involved in the geopolitical scene also vary as some played bolder roles while the dominant position of others are threatened.
These arguments will be further proven and supported in the succeeding paragraphs. “The Geographical Pivot of History” is an article written by Halford John Mackinder. In 1904, he submitted his work to the Royal Geographical Society that further popularized his “Heartland Theory”. Mackinder further extends the scope of his analysis about geopolitics to include the entire globe. Many people often regard the theory of Mackinder as merely a kind of geographic determinism. However, he pointed out that his theory was not only limited to such.
He emphasized the importance of non-geographic factors in taking into consideration geopolitics. He argued that the balance of political power at any given time is the effect of geographical conditions. These conditions include both economic and strategic robustness as well as the people’s relative number, virility, equipment, and organization (Mackinder 436-437). According to Halford Mackinder the surface of the earth is divisible into different parts namely: world-island, offshore islands, outlying islands, and the Heartland.
The world-island is composed of the interconnected continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa. This part of the earth is considered as the largest, most populous island, and the land combinations that have the richest possible resources. The offshore islands include the British Isles and the islands of Japan. The outlying islands are made up of the continents of North America, South America, and Australia. Nevertheless, the most important of all is the Heartland that is situated at the center of the world island.
This territory stretches from the Volga to the Yangtze and from the Himalayas to the Arctic. This Heartland that Mackinder is referring to is previously ruled by the Russian Empire and then by the Soviet Union. In relation to this, the main point of Mackinder’s theory is summarized as one who rules East Europe will technically control the world. This is due to the fact that Eastern Europe plays an important role in commanding the Heartland and the World-Island because of its strategic geographic importance.
Furthermore, having the control of the heartland is also synonymous to having authority over the world because half of the world’s resources (Mackinder 434-436). In this sense, it is quite clear that Mackinder’s perception of geopolitics is based upon rich abundant resources as the source of power. He also argued that the Heartland can be acquired through land invasion and he forego of the idea of maritime power. Thomas Barnett’s “The Pentagon’s New Map” somehow follow the approach of Mackinder when it comes to geopolitics. Barnett expound on the reason behind America went to war in Iraq.
He said that military engagement in Iraq is not only necessary and inevitable but it is also a good decision because this paved the way for Washington to take the real ownership of strategic security during the age of globalization. In line with this, Barnett’s arguments with regards to geopolitics echoes Mackinder’s theory of basing power through resources like economic success. This is due to the fact that Barnett believes that it is through globalization that nations can be able to enhance the situation of their country through time.
This is observable in terms of the practices that often characterized globalization like free trade. Furthermore, he asserted that the world could be categorized into two namely: the “Functioning Core” or “Core” and the “Non-Integrating Gap” or “Gap. ” The core pertains to those nations that adhere to the standard and practices of globalization while the gap are the nations that are still not interconnected with the world because they refuse globalization (Barnett).
In this sense, America’s war on Iraq is the start of the country’s advocacy in addressing this gap that is still observable in some countries in the world. Moreover, Barnett also follows Mackinder’s belief that the actor that will inflict change in the international politics will come from the western part of the globe. Nevertheless, the perspective of Barnett and Mackinder tend to differ when it comes to the idea of interconnectedness. Barnett regarded globalization as the means to make nations more interconnected with each other. Adhering to globalization makes a state a Functioning Core.
On the other hand, Mackinder perspective is more competitive rather than collaborative because he tend to advocate the competition of nations especially the western world to acquire the heartland. Samuel Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations” tends to veer away from Halford Mackinder’s idea of geopolitics that is grounded on strategic territorial expansion and economic robustness. Huntington emphasized that the fundamental source of conflict in the present situation of world politics is no longer about ideologies or economic matters.
The great division among humankind and the major source of conflict will be in terms of cultural concerns. The most powerful actors are the nation states but the main conflicts of international politics will happen between nations and group of various civilizations. The clash of civilization will dominate the situation in the international politics (Huntington 22). Huntington gave more importance to non-tangible factors as a source of conflict among nations and civilizations. These intangible factors are exemplified by an individual’s race, religion, norms, beliefs, and other cultural factors.
These are something that are part of an individual’s identity, which make these very difficult to address as compared with ideological or economic differences. However, Huntington also repeated some of Mackinder’s argument. One of which is the competition and conflict among nations. This is clearly seen when Huntington emphasized that the global politics will be dominated by the conflicts among nations and different civilizations. In the same manner, Mackinder also highlighted the competition among nations that often result to conflict through the acquisition of the Heartland.
On the other hand, there are still notable differences in the way they analyzed the conflict that will occur. This is due to the fact that Mackinder perceive that the leaders in the western part of the world especially a nation coming from Eastern Europe will dominate the world. This is in contrary to the belief of Huntington that Non-western nations and civilizations will no longer be the objects in international politics but rather they will become the main actors that will change the world events.
The emergence of non-western movements will see to it that they will change the current condition of world politics through their own ways instead of simply following with the decisions and actions of the west before. Moreover, he believes that in order for these different civilizations to prevent the conflict to lead in a global war, these nations and civilizations must learn to coexist among each other (Huntington 48-49). The development of the geopolitical order of the world has dramatically changed through time.
In the past century, various voyagers were just slowly exploring the different territories in the globe. Their main objective during that time was to acquire as many territories as possible and gain control over them in order to establish their power and dominion over the world. The beginning of the time of exploration is already motivated by some civilizations desire to achieve authority and to outlast their competitors. Nevertheless, the present situation of the international community has also changed and this also affects the states and people’s perception towards the concept of geopolitical order.
The evolution of the concept of geopolitics is best explained by three notable personalities that have contributed in the development of this topic. They were able to show the different approaches in considering the events of international politics by using the lens of geopolitics. Works Cited Barnett, Thomas. “The Pentagon’s New Map. ” 22 February 2009 < http://www. thomaspmbarnett. com/published/pentagonsnewmap. htm>. Huntington, Samuel. “The Clash of Civilization. ” Foreign Affairs 72 (1993): 22- 49. Mackinder, Harfold John. “The Geographical Pivot of History. ” The Geographical Journal 4 (1904): 421-437.
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