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CLASSICAL
VIEWS OF
GEOPOLITICS
by:- Saumya
Mishra
GEOPOLITICS: Introduction
Geopolitics is derived from greek word “ge” means earth and “politike” means poltics.
Hence geop...
• 2nd world war is the base which divides the views
on geopolitcs into two parts-
1. before 2nd world war- claasical geopo...
Classical Geopolitics
A summary of key thinkers
and theories from the
classical period of geopolitics
Friedrich Ratzel (1844-
1904)• Freiedrich Ratzel was a German geographer and a
zoologist, also known as ‘father of modern ...
• Positing that states are organic and growing, with
borders representing only a temporary stop in
their movement, he held...
Criticism
• The geopolitical theory of Ratzel has been
criticized as his views gave justification for the
expansion of Ger...
Alfred Thayer Mahan
Sea Power
Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-
1914)
• Alfred Thayer Mahan was an American naval officer who
emphasized the importance of sea ...
• He said by mastering the seas, countries could
also gain huge benefits from trade. To him, sea
was a great highway, a wi...
• He evaluated Russia being land power and Britain
being naval power.
• According to him Russian Empire as a land power co...
Contemporary Relevance
• Even today most of the international trade is
done through sea routes only. Therefore rights
of s...
Halford Mackinder
Heartland Theory
Pivot-Area Concept
• Mackinder gave this theory in 1904. This theory regards
political history as a continuous struggle be...
• Thus only between the Carpathians and the
Black Sea is there a lowland route into the
Heartland
• With its vast industrial and agricultural resources, the Heartland
could conquer Europe, the Middle-East, India and the ...
• The Heartland is inaccessible from sea as all the rivers
either drain inland (e.g. Volga, Oxus, Jaxartes) or into the
ic...
Criticism
• The theory was formulated at the end of the railway
age. Mackinder saw it as a high point of
communication sys...
NICHOLAS SPYKMAN
Rimland Theory
• A perspective on geopolitics and international relations,
presented as a critical response to the Heartland theory
propo...
• Spykman retains the concept of the Eurasian
landmass representing a “Heartland,” but calls
the region that MacKinder lab...
Map: Spykman’s concept of the
Rimland
• In the Rimland theory, the Heartland does
not represent the pre-eminent seat of power
that it symbolizes in Heartland th...
Applicability
• He called for the consolidation of the Rimland countries to
ensure their survival during World War II. Wit...
Criticism
• It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
• In his concept of air power he did not include
the use of modern missiles...
Classical views of geopolitics
Classical views of geopolitics
Classical views of geopolitics
Classical views of geopolitics
Classical views of geopolitics
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Classical views of geopolitics

classical views and summarized theories of geopolitics- Ratzel, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Halford Mackinder and Nicholas Spykman with criticism and contemporary relevance.

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Classical views of geopolitics

  1. 1. CLASSICAL VIEWS OF GEOPOLITICS by:- Saumya Mishra
  2. 2. GEOPOLITICS: Introduction Geopolitics is derived from greek word “ge” means earth and “politike” means poltics. Hence geopolitics is the study of the effects of geography on international politics and relations. • The word ‘geopolitics’ was coined by the Swedish political scientist Rudolf Kjellen. • Arguments about the political effects of geography particularly climate, topography, arable land, and access to the sea, have appeared in Western political thought since at least the ancient Greek era and were prominent in the writings of philosophers as diverse as Aristotle (384–322 BC) and Montesquieu (1689–1745). • The best-known body of geopolitical writings is the extensive literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, much of which focused on the impact on world politics of the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution. Alfred Thayer Mahan, Halford Mackinder, John Seeley, Karl Haushofer, Friedrich Ratzel, H.G. Wells, Nicholas Spykman, Homer Lea, Frederick Teggart, Frederick Jackson Turner, James Burnham,E.H. Carr, Paul Vidal de la Blache etc.
  3. 3. • 2nd world war is the base which divides the views on geopolitcs into two parts- 1. before 2nd world war- claasical geopolitical views:- a) Friedrich Ratzel b) Rudolf Kjellen c) Halford Mackinder d) Alfred Thayer Mahan e) Nicholas Spykman 2. After 2nd world war- contemporary geopolitical views
  4. 4. Classical Geopolitics A summary of key thinkers and theories from the classical period of geopolitics
  5. 5. Friedrich Ratzel (1844- 1904)• Freiedrich Ratzel was a German geographer and a zoologist, also known as ‘father of modern geography’. • He was influenced by following people- a) Charles Darwin- survival of the fittest b) Herbert Spencer- social darwinism c) Sorokin (a sociologist) d) Herder (a historian) • He contributed to ‘Geopolitik’ by the expansion on the biological conception of geography, without a static conception of borders.
  6. 6. • 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 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.
  7. 7. Criticism • The geopolitical theory of Ratzel has been criticized as his views gave justification for the expansion of German Empire. • Being a zoologist he imposed political map over ecological map of the world which was impractical. • Generalizing a state as an organism having a life cycle was also criticized. • And he over emphasized on expansion of states.
  8. 8. Alfred Thayer Mahan Sea Power
  9. 9. Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840- 1914) • Alfred Thayer Mahan was an American naval officer who emphasized the importance of sea power as a major factor in geopolitics. • His ideas are pieced together from the numerous statements scattered throughout his large number of writings, three of them are most important- a) The Influence of Sea Power upon History (1890) b) The Influence of Sea Power upon The French Revolution and Empire (1892) c) The Life of Nelson (1897) • He was of firm believe that the essential condition for world power status for any state was an effective control of the seas.
  10. 10. • He said by mastering the seas, countries could also gain huge benefits from trade. To him, sea was a great highway, a wide common overbridge. • Six fundamental elements of seapower- 1. Geographical Location 2. Physical Conformation 3. Extent of Territory 4. Size of Population 5. National Character 6. Political Leadership and its Policies
  11. 11. • He evaluated Russia being land power and Britain being naval power. • According to him Russian Empire as a land power could be shut off by any hostile sea power whereas Britain, because of its geographical location, is in advantage despite its small homebase. • He then on various grounds said that the only state having similar advantages as those of Great Britain was United States of America which could well develop as a world power in future replacing Britain. • He was also the first one to suggest that Panama Canal can be built to join oceans on either sides of USA (namely the Atlantic and Pacific ocean) to enhance trade and strengthen security.
  12. 12. Contemporary Relevance • Even today most of the international trade is done through sea routes only. Therefore rights of sea transport are very important for a state’s economic development. • China’s unlawfully negation of claims of vicinal states on South China Sea reflects the importance of sea power in present time.
  13. 13. Halford Mackinder Heartland Theory
  14. 14. Pivot-Area Concept • Mackinder gave this theory in 1904. This theory regards political history as a continuous struggle between land and sea powers with the ultimate victory going to the continental power. • According to this theory, the continental power was represented by the world island which consisted of Eurasia and Africa (comprising seven- eighth of total world population and two-third of the total land area of the world). Mackinder called it the Heartland (total area being 11 million square kilometres). This Heartland was perceived as the greatest natural fortress on earth surrounded on all sides by geographical barriers.
  15. 15. • Thus only between the Carpathians and the Black Sea is there a lowland route into the Heartland
  16. 16. • With its vast industrial and agricultural resources, the Heartland could conquer Europe, the Middle-East, India and the Far-East. The other landmasses would follow later. • These landmasses included the following: • Inner or Marginal Crescent: • This included the rest of Europe, India, South-East Asia and East Asia. • Outer or Insular Crescent: • These included North and South America, Australia, Africa south of Sahara, Great Britain and Japan. • Secondary Heartland: • This was represented by Sub-Saharan Africa connected to the main Heartland through a main bridge (Saudi Arabia).
  17. 17. • The Heartland is inaccessible from sea as all the rivers either drain inland (e.g. Volga, Oxus, Jaxartes) or into the icy sea (e.g. Obi, Yenisei, Lena which drain into the Arctic Sea). • He predicted: “Whoever rules East Europe, will rule Heartland, Whoever rules the Heartland, will rule the World Island.” Whoever rules the World Island, will rule the world.” • During the Second World War, Mackinder’s theory was put to the test. The Heartland (or pivot area) could have become the focus of power if either Russia had united with Germany or Russia had been overthrown by China and Japan.
  18. 18. Criticism • The theory was formulated at the end of the railway age. Mackinder saw it as a high point of communication system capable of uniting the whole Heartland into a cohesive unit. That never actually happened. Although the age of aeroplanes had begun, the theory failed to take into account its potential. • His map (Mercator projection of the world enclosed within an ellipse) exaggerated the extent of the Arctic Ocean. • He completely ignored Russia which also emerged as world power after 2nd world war.
  19. 19. NICHOLAS SPYKMAN Rimland Theory
  20. 20. • A perspective on geopolitics and international relations, presented as a critical response to the Heartland theory proposed by J. Halford MacKinder. The Rimland theory was the brainchild of Nicholas Spykman, a political theorist and professor of international relations at Yale University. • Writing in the 1940s at the height of WorldWar II, Spykman suggested that the Heartland theory put forth by MacKinder several decades earlier was flawed, in that it overemphasized the role of the Heartland in determining the balance of power in global relations. • The Rimland theory appeared in Spykman’s 1944 book The Geography of the Peace, published posthumously the year following his untimely death. He adopted the basic spatial framework of the Heartland theory, but made some changes in terminology.
  21. 21. • Spykman retains the concept of the Eurasian landmass representing a “Heartland,” but calls the region that MacKinder labeled the “inner” or “marginal” crescent the “Rimland.” • He rejects MacKinder’s characterization of North and South America, Australia, Japan, and Great Britain as lying in the “outer” or “insular” crescent, and instead simply terms this region the “off-shore islands and continents,” although he agrees with MacKinder’s view that for these countries sea power is of paramount importance, and represents the main means of projecting power.
  22. 22. Map: Spykman’s concept of the Rimland
  23. 23. • In the Rimland theory, the Heartland does not represent the pre-eminent seat of power that it symbolizes in Heartland theory. Rather, it is the Rimland that is the foremost seat of power and is the key to dominating the Heartland. • Paraphrasing MacKinder’s summary of the Heartland theory, Spykman offered his own summary: “ Who controls the Rimland rules Eurasia; Who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world.”
  24. 24. Applicability • He called for the consolidation of the Rimland countries to ensure their survival during World War II. With the defeat of Germany and the emergence of the USSR, Spykman's views were embraced during the formulation of the Cold War American policy of containing communist influence. • Therefore USA’s policy of containment to prevent socialism and formation of NATO, CENTO and SEATO reflect the importance of rimland. • But as the states within the Rimland had varying degree of independence, and a variety of castes, races, and culture, it did not come under the control of any single power.
  25. 25. Criticism • It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. • In his concept of air power he did not include the use of modern missiles with nuclear war heads. • The Rimland is not a region but a unit, otherwise the epitome of geographical diversity. • The Rimland-Theory is biased towards Asian countries.

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